I find myself wondering what the very first words were that Georges Salines and Azdyne Amimour spoke to one another when they first met in a café in the Bastille area of Paris.
Do you believe in Richard Dawkins?
When you are depressed, there can be something alienating about other people’s festivities, especially at Christmas.
I am thinking of buying the Prime Minister a Christmas present.
In a courtroom in Michigan, USA, last week, a row of five-year-old children, only their eyes and noses visible above the height of the front row barrier, waved pink paper hearts on sticks, like little love lollipops.
In a poem once voted the nation’s favourite, Jenny Joseph contemplated the delights of pensioner freedom. “When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple, with a red hat which doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me,” she wrote in Warning, before listing exploits for the elderly that are more in keeping with Just William than granny gangsters – pressing alarm bells, picking flowers in other people’s gardens, learning to spit.
It was not what he said, but the way he said it that interested me.
It has been described widely as the PR car crash of the century – Prince Andrew’s out-of-control navigation of the communication highway.
In the 1990s there was a kind of cheerful militancy about the unprecedented march of women into parliament.
Memories. They swirl for me at this time of year, like fallen leaves.
The mobile phone has changed life in so many ways but one of the most extraordinary is in the ability to communicate during the darkest of moments, as death approaches.
Of the many books piled in corners of my house as a child, there was one whose illustrations charmed and delighted me most. She may have died in the 1960s but even today, Mabel Lucie Attwell’s illustrations remain iconic.
Oh, you’ve got to laugh. Celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal is causing a stir – see what I did there? – with his wacky views about why women aren’t making it as chefs.
The dichotomy of being a writer is that you need enough sensitivity to feel so deeply about the world around you that you want to write about it, and enough steel to tell the truth about it.
Years ago, when writing about a high-profile Highland murder, I was shown wedding photographs of the female victim and the husband who was later convicted of killing her.
According to my daughter, she became my mother round about the age of 10.
Next week, around 400 people will gather in Piccadilly for the midnight launch of The Testaments, Margaret Atwood’s Booker nominated sequel to her dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale.
The first time I saw the “Run Like a Girl” adverts for Always, I had a lump in my throat.
For months before my third child was born, my son, then five, was adamant about his preferences.
The girl’s face, I remember, seemed blanched and was framed with straggling waves of dark hair. She was young but her pale skin had the grey pallor of sickliness, her hooded eyes surrounded by dark circles.
The original copper of the Statue of Liberty is famously green now, tarnished with the vagaries of time, but the lamp of Libertas, of welcome, still supposedly gleaming and lifted to the world.
I always thought there must be some esoteric purpose to Jacob Rees-Mogg but for the life of me, could never work out what it was.
We kept very still as the tiny bird fluttered above our table in the coffee shop courtyard yesterday, periodically swooping to peck up scattered cake crumbs.
What were you doing at 16, the age of Sweden’s teenage climate change activist, Greta Thurberg?
It is always salutary to - metaphorically - walk in another person’s shoes, feel the ways the uppers chafe, or pebbles cut through thinning soles.
My optimistic enthusiasm for lotteries died around the time that I was told my chances of winning were roughly equivalent to my chances of being murdered.
Old photographs are bitter sweet, a captured moment lost forever.
Hearing about the egalitarianism of the Open University at a conference on life-long learning last week, the classics teacher of my all-girls convent school sprang to mind.
Given that a side effect of taking cocaine is losing touch with reality, it surely can’t just be Boris Johnson and Michael Gove who have indulged in the Hooray Henry party.
This year, my father will have been dead twenty years. I still feel shocked. The original explosion has long gone, but the aftershocks still reverberate through my life.
It is the lure of the serendipitous find that takes me to the charity shop at the end of the lane, an Aladdin's cave of "stuff" that I don't need when I walk in but can't walk out without.
It is always so disconcerting to see a man get on in life when his shoe size is bigger than his IQ.