Insulin & Innocence

If, like me, you spend much of the year in Newport, Rhode Island, you will have suffered, since 1981, moments of acute mental distress, matched, after the first months, by unbearable boredom. They arose from a local scandal which quickly had international reverberations. A member of the Newport summer colony, …

Sparkle Plenty

It is many years now since British society brought off one of its greatest accomplishments: the effortless ability to dazzle. Effortless this may have been, but it did need one or two things not nowadays easy to come by, such as confidence, a little surplus of money (or, better still, …

The Clowning Victim

Like buoys in a treacherous estuary, guiding or warning the traffic, a succession of literary reputations still scatters light on the crowded lanes of the twentieth century. Some of them have dimmed, just as some of the lanes are now silted up. Nobody steers by Wells or Bennett, once so …

Smothered in Onions

“Derivations,” they used to be called in school. “Pryce-Jones, give me a word that derives from the Hungarian.” Silence. “I know, sir, ‘coach’.” “Why?” Silence. “I know, sir, isn’t it from a town called Kocs?” “Good boy. And now tell me where ‘marmalade’ comes from.” “Isn’t it from Mary, Queen …