6th Annual Stand Up For Heroes - Show

What’s your favourite Robin Williams one-liner?

12 August 2014 10:49

Mr S was saddened to hear of the death of Robin Williams — a man who contributed to the gaiety of nations. People wax lyrical about Williams’s ability to inhabit… Continue reading

Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming, James Bond and The Spectator

12 August 2014 10:30

It’s 50 years since the death of Ian Fleming and The Spectator has always taken James Bond seriously. The writer of the Spectator’s Notebook in 1962 went along eagerly to… Continue reading

Simon Hoggart was one of the finest and funniest writers in Britain.

RIP: Simon Hoggart. The finest and funniest sketch writer to date

7 January 2014 11:54

Terribly saddened to hear of the death of Simon Hoggart, a lovely writer and to my mind the finest and funniest purveyor of the House of Commons sketch that we… Continue reading

Tom Sharpe, who died yesterday, at work on a novel (probably Ancestral Vices) in 1979.

Tom Sharpe nearly killed me

7 June 2013 12:13

I was on a train when it happened. I was bent double with my head between my knees, gasping for air and unable to speak. The Surrey matriarch sitting opposite… Continue reading

A giant fresco of Charlie Chaplin. (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Seriously eccentric – Chaplin & Company by Mave Fellowes

16 May 2013 14:19

Chaplin & Company is an alarming proposition for anyone with a low threshold for the cute and quirky. Its main character, Odeline Milk, is a mime artist. She is serious… Continue reading

The Humans by Matt Haig will be published on Thursday by Canongate Books.

Alienation effect

7 May 2013 12:54

‘To give you an idea of the way people here consume stories, I have put this book together as a human would’ writes the alien narrator of Matt Haig’s novel… Continue reading

Soldiers take a cigarette break at base Kalsu on July 17, 2011 in Iskandariya, Babil Province, Iraq. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Fobbit by David Abrams – review

10 April 2013 9:58

Fobbit, by David Abrams, is an attempt at describing a wartime tour from different perspectives, including soldiers and support personnel. Chapter by chapter our viewpoint rotates within this cast of… Continue reading

Heavy Snow Fall Hits Southern England

Death Comes For The Poets by Matthew Sweeney and John Hartley Williams – review

19 March 2013 10:00

Death Comes For The Poets is an unliterary book with a highly literary subject. It’s usually done the other way around: exquisite quodrilogies about American car salesmen; towering works about… Continue reading

Kate Thorton, Claudia Winkleman, Emma Freud and Helen Skelton attend a photocall to celebrate 25 years of Red Nose Day for Comic Relief. (Photo by Stuart Wilson/Getty Images)

The Scots are more generous than the English. What a Red Nose Day joke

18 March 2013 13:08

Scottish people are more generous than English people, contrary to the widely held belief that the Jocks are comically tight-fisted. A new study suggests that they are more likely to… Continue reading

Graydon Carter and Anna Scott at this year's Vanity Fair Oscars party. Image: Getty

Shelf Life: Graydon Carter

5 December 2012 9:23

Editor of Vanity Fair, Graydon Carter, is this week’s Shelf Lifer. He reveals a predilection for Herman Wouk, an in depth knowledge of certain sections of the Eaton’s catalogue and… Continue reading

1 Comment
Hitler and Goering trying to locate the German sense of humour. Rudolf Herzog's book argues that humour was often the only weapon Germans could use against the Nazis. Image: Getty.

The Fuhrer was not amused

6 November 2012 11:00

‘The German sense of humour,’ Mark Twain famously observed, ‘Is no laughing matter.’ Although many Greeks, stretched on the Euro’s rack at Berlin’s behest, may be inclined to agree, Rudolph… Continue reading

Which of the conveniences listed in 'The Good Loo Guide' are still convenient? Image: Getty.

The Good Loo Guide

20 September 2012 9:46

Funny the ways you can learn about a book. Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones alerted me to one recently, 43 years after his death. I was at Somerset House… Continue reading

1 Comment
Howard Jacobson's Zoo Time has some claim to be the first great novel about the revolution reading is currently undergoing. Image: Getty.

Review: Zoo Time by Howard Jacobson

14 September 2012 15:19

Winning the Booker can do strange things. For one, critics tend to become noticeably shyer around authors with some bling in their trophy cabinets, hyperbole blunting their edge. But if… Continue reading

1 Comment
Image: Getty

Three northern breakfasts

5 September 2012 9:44

I’ve been in Scarborough, working on a story. Stayed in a perfectly nice hotel and this morning came down for my breakfast. I was greeted at the entrance to the… Continue reading

British Business Secratary Peter Mandels

Jeremy Vine’s survival guide

29 August 2012 18:34

I first knew Jeremy Vine as a very young, charming, earnest and totally driven political correspondent for the BBC in the 1980s. So when I started reading It’s All News… Continue reading

House of Lords, Getty Images

The fictional House of Lords

6 August 2012 12:38

The House of Lords has yet again survived reform. ‘We have been discussing this issue for 100 years and it really is time to make progress,’ the Prime Minister said… Continue reading

1 Comment
Investitures at Buckingham Palace

A knight’s tale

5 July 2012 12:00

I can’t help thinking that the literary editor is having a little chuckle to himself, in his own private way, as he hands me Walking Home: Travels with a Troubadour… Continue reading

1 Comment
Hay Festival Alhambra - Day Three

Martin Amis and the underclass

16 June 2012 13:30

New Martin Amis novels haven’t always received a fine reception of late. So much so that even tepid praise now reads generously. In the current magazine Philip Hensher reviews the… Continue reading


Across the literary pages: Amis Asbo special

11 June 2012 17:45

The promotional tour for Lionel Asbo: State of England has been suspiciously quiet. The fact that Martin Amis hasn’t sworn, bitched or nominated the queen as guinea pig for euthanasia booths… Continue reading


Happy birthday, Edward Lear

1 June 2012 17:00

The god of nonsense, Edward Lear, is 200 years old this year. (Yes, the Inimitable can’t have the whole stage for himself, and must give way to another peculiarly English… Continue reading


Ed Miliband volunteers for a kicking, gets kicked

15 June 2011 18:22

"First he denies his own policy, then he tries insults." So said Ed Miliband of David Cameron’s performance in PMQs today. But I wonder what he’d say of the hundreds… Continue reading