Dream of a salesman

It is a complicated thing to buy a dress for another woman. It can backfire

Wise words from an expert on fools

It is a fool’s job to take you down a peg or two, and that is probably the ugliest of the English bloodsports

Making each moment sublime

‘I’m less reticent about pleasure now. I am plotting for it, hailing it like a taxi, grabbing it by the lapels’

Christmas and I, we can’t go on like this

‘I know children of six with yule-grief because it doesn’t make them feel the way it did when they were four’

A turn-up for the books

‘If invited to talk about your work, can’t you assume people like it? That people are at least interested?’

Ways and meanings

Like an apprentice on ‘The Apprentice’ who’d be ashamed to give only 100 per cent, you need to go in very high

The Apple of my eye

‘I feel tenderly towards my laptop. It is not long for this world and so it is deserving of my sympathy’

The young and the restless

‘Teenagers now have to run publicity campaigns for themselves with the vigour of Hollywood agents’

A dance to the music of time

‘I wish I had applied some pale blue eye shadow. I hadn’t even thought to put my hair in a bun’

A lion, a wizard and a wardrobe

‘I did not tell John Lahr I love Judy Garland because I suspected he would say she was a nightmare’

A rocky horror picture show

Recently hypnotised out of swearing, I am now incapable of swearing. Could I do the same with fear?

My bureau of joy for all-comers

‘Doctors, priests, a man who’s brilliant with cracked skin on hard heels — I have their numbers’

We wish you a merry birthday

‘As for presents: could I check in a 22kg football table only to bring it back again?’

Standing up for being ready

‘Throughout the day of my ordeal, whenever I passed a chair, I threw myself upon it’

Snapshots take centre stage

A photograph could serve instead of a Christmas card, I thought: ‘Thinking of you and, look, here you are!’

Communication breakdown

‘It was a standard letter but it had a nasty tone, as if addressed to a notorious troublemaker’

Slot machines, cockles . . . and murder

‘I have been insulted in gondolas, even stayed with people who made a small entry in a notebook when I ate a biscuit’

Words of comfort

‘Mourners miss the comfort of reading, the access to other worlds that are not one’s own. Yet they do not want to do it’

What clothes can say about you

I spied an ivory shift dress with a collar appliquéd with the word ‘amour’

Why good-enough is better than best

‘Trying to excel is a mug’s game . . . the more you do, the more people expect, and so it goes round’


Susie BoytSusie Boyt writes a column on shopping for the FT Weekend supplement. She is a novelist and lives in London.

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