The Spectator

A weekly, UK-based magazine covering current political, economic, and cultural issues. Articles include interviews, commentary, opinion pieces, essays, and cultural criticism.

Articles from February 2015

Ancient and Modern: What Real Debate Looks Like
Ancients would have been astonished that parties never debate against each other in open, public forum except on the telly before general elections -- and even then they do their best to resist. The reason is that politicians understand 'debate'...
Arts: Russia with Love
They're doing fantastic deals on five-star hotels in St Petersburg the weekend the Francis Bacon exhibition opens at the Hermitage. With tensions between Russia and the west at their highest since the Cold War, 'no one', I'm told, wants to come here....
'Birth of a Theorem: A Mathematical Adventure', by Cédric Villani (Translated by Malcolm DeBevoise) - Review
Birth of a Theorem: A Mathematical Adventure Cédric Villani (translated by Malcolm DeBevoise)The Bodley Head, pp.250, £18.99, ISBN: 9781847922526 I've got a mathematical problem. Birth of a Theorem is by one of the great geniuses of today, a cosmopolitan,...
Cinema: The Boy Next Door
The Boy Next Door15, NationwideHinterland15, Key Cities Stateside critics, who panned Jennifer Lopez's new film The Boy Next Door on its US release last month, may be unaware of the ability of the British to enjoy a film so bad it's almost good....
Dance: What the Body Does Not Remember
What the Body Does Not RememberTouring, until 20 MarchFlamenco FestivalSadler's Wells, until 1 MarchCirkopolisPeacock Theatre, until 28 February then touring until 11 April Funny how things turn upside-down with time. A work of contemporary dance...
Dear Mary: Your Problems Solved
Q. I was not brought up in England and don't appear in Who's Who. This means that there is no printed record of my date of birth. I'm not vain, but have good reason to believe the work I do would dry up if my age became known. (I look about 50.)...
Diary
It'll be a Skype interview, says the producer from Greek television, and not live. In TV-speak that usually means not urgent and not important, but I've become vaguely interesting to Greeks because of the 'Moscovici draft' -- a doomed attempt to...
Drink: Bruce Anderson
When we consider poets who perished before their day, thoughts turn to the Romantics or the war victims: Burns, Keats, Shelley: Owen, Keith Douglas. (Had both lived, Douglas would have ended up a greater poet than Owen: discuss.) But 16th-century...
Exhibitions: Elvis at the O2: The Exhibition of His Life
Elvis at The O2: The Exhibition of His LifeO2, until 31 August In the giftshop at the new Elvis exhibition at the Dome, you can buy your own version of his flared white jumpsuits. I can't think of anyone who could wear one and not look ridiculous...
Exhibitions: Sculpture Victorious
Sculpture VictoriousTate Britain, until 25 MaySalt and Silver: Early Photography 1840-1860Tate Britain, until 7 June In the centre of the new exhibition Sculpture Victorious at Tate Britain there is a huge white elephant. The beast is not, I should...
'Girl in a Band', by Kim Gordon - Review
Girl in a Band Kim GordonFaber, pp.288, £14.99, ISBN: 9780571313839 For 30 years Kim Gordon was one half of a cool couple in a cool band. With her husband Thurston Moore she formed Sonic Youth, who sprang partly from the New York art world and partly...
High Life: Taki
GstaadA naked, very good-looking young man skied down the mountain evoking shrieks of laughter and admiration from the hundred or so skiers lining the slopes. He turned out to be J.T., my son, and it was an act of protest against the mind-numbing conversation...
James Delingpole: A Tale of Two Shops - and Two Philosophies
Are you Lush or are you Aldi? Me, I'm Aldi all the way. So much so that when someone -- usually my daughter -- tries to drag me anywhere near one of Lush's painfully ubiquitous high street cosmetics shops, I respond a bit like the Antichrist does...
James Forsyth: The Not-Very-General Election
There's normally an easy way to tell which party is losing a general election campaign. Whenever one side starts telling you to ignore the national polls and look at what is happening in certain key seats, it is a sure sign that they are in deep...
'Landmarks', by Robert Macfarlane - Review
It is not only archaic or dialect terms in natural history we're now missing in everyday speech, says Adam Nicolson. Soon children won't even know what a dandelion isLandmarks Robert MacfarlaneHamish Hamilton, pp.388, £20, ISBN: 9780241146538Uncommon...
Leading Article: Out of Touch
Had the public been asked, before Monday morning, to identify two MPs who stood for honesty and decency, the names Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind would have been prominent among their replies. Both have served as foreign secretary, Straw also...
Letters
The presence of a churchSir: The challenge for the Church of England and the wider community is to ensure that our village churches are a blessing and not a burden ('It takes a village', 21 February). The Church of England has approximately 16,000 churches,...
Long Life: Alexander Chancellor
I went last week to see the justly praised production of Wagner's The Mastersingers at English National Opera, and I didn't see a single black face there, nor even much dark hair (except in the case of Melvyn Bragg who, though now greying a bit,...
Low Life: Jeremy Clarke
Last week was the tenth anniversary of the last running of the English hare-coursing classic, the Waterloo Cup. I shan't start raving on about the perversity of banning a so-called blood sport in which the death of the hare, should it happen, is...
Martin Vander Weyer: Just in Time, Osborne Answers Labour's 50p Tax Trick with a Bumper Monthly Surplus
Last week's public borrowing and tax-receipt figures, headlined 'Chancellor hails biggest monthly surplus in seven years', received considerably less attention than the employment and wage-growth numbers a week earlier, underlining my belief that...
Mary Wakefield: Why Do Bright Schoolgirls Run Away to Syria?
How could they? How could girls brought up in the wealthy West abandon their families and their own bright futures to join Isis, a gang of vicious thugs? It's not just our girls, either, they're sneaking off to Syria from across Europe and America...
Mind Your Language: Robust
'Heart of Oak are our ships, Jolly Tars are our men,' shouted my husband unconvincingly. He has taken to doing this every time someone on air says robust , and that is pretty often.On this occasion it was someone from the Arts Council rambling on...
Music: Glad to Be Grey
Great works of art may have a strange afterlife. Deracinated from the world that created them they are at the mercy of what people think is important centuries later. Nothing shows this more clearly than the contribution that Tallis's 'Spem in alium'...
Notes On. the Turquoise Coast
Legend has it that Mark Antony considered Turkey's Turquoise Coast so beautiful that, in about 32 bc, he gave it to Cleopatra as a wedding present. The country's southernmost shore stretches for nearly a thousand miles and combined incredible scenery,...
Opera: Gianni Schicchi/La Vida Breve
Gianni Schicchi/La vida breveOpera North, in rep and touring until 24 March Is there a more beautiful aria than 'O mio babbino caro' from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi ? There are more overwhelming moments in opera, to be sure, but few arias can rival...
Portrait of the Week
HomeSir Malcolm Rifkind, the former Conservative foreign secretary, resigned as chairman of Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee and promised not to stand for Parliament in May after he and Jack Straw, the former Labour foreign secretary,...
Radio: Podcasts
No phrase is better calculated to tense the neck muscles of a regular podcast listener than 'We have something special for you now.'Having your radio shows downloaded to your phone, music player or computer, rather than plucked out of the air the...
'Reading the World: Confessions of Literary Explorer', by Ann Morgan - Review
Reading the World: Confessions of Literary Explorer Ann MorganHarvill Secker, pp.336, £16.99, ISBN: 9781846557873 One day in 2011, while perusing her bookshelves, Ann Morgan realised her reading habits were (to her surprise) somewhat parochial. No...
Real Life: Melissa Kite
My request to see my medical notes has sparked all-out panic at the GP surgery.'What do you mean?' said the receptionist who answered the phone when I called to ask. She sounded even more furious than the time I rang to ask if I could possibly have...
Rod Liddle: That'll Teach Sean Penn to Attempt a Joke
What a pleasure it is to see the Hollywood actor Sean Penn neck deep in PC ordure. The rodentine thespian was handing out an award at the Oscars to his friend the Mexican film director Alejandro González Iñárritu, for his film Birdman . 'Who gave...
Stand Up for Ex-Muslims
These people are risking their lives for the freedom not to believe - and liberal Britain is betraying them A few days ago Imtiaz, a solar engineer; Aliya, a campaigner for secular education; Sohail, a gay Somali in his twenties; and Sara, a bright...
Status Anxiety: Toby Young
Last year, I had an exchange with Hugo Rifkind on Twitter in which I bet him dinner at Clarke's that his father would stand down before the next election. My reasoning was that, at the age of 68, his dad wouldn't want to serve another five years...
Television: James Walton
Sky1's new hospital drama Critical (Tuesday) can't be accused of making a timid start. Within seconds, an urgent request had come over the loudspeaker system for 'the trauma corps' to head to the emergency department, causing the main members of...
Theatre: Muswell Hill
Muswell HillPark Theatre, until 14 MarchHow I Learned to DriveSouthwark Playhouse, until 14 March Torben Betts is much admired by his near-namesake Quentin Letts for socking it to London trendies. Letts is one of the few individuals who enjoys the...
'The Buried Giant', by Kazuo Ishiguro - Review
The Buried Giant Kazuo IshiguroFaber, pp.352, £20, ISBN: 9780571315031 If you'd been asked at the beginning of the year whose new novel would feature ogres, pixies and a she-dragon called Querig, I suspect you might have taken a while to guess that...
'The Glass Cage: Where Automation Is Taking Us', by Nicholas Carr - Review
The Glass Cage: Where Automation is Taking Us Nicholas CarrThe Bodley Head, pp.276, £20, ISBN: 9781847923080 Nicholas Carr has a bee in his bonnet, and given his susceptibilities this might well be a cybernetic insect, cunningly constructed by a...
The Great American Tradition
Making up traditionsFredericksburg, VirginiaAmericans crave traditions. The older they are the more we cherish them. Thanksgiving, which beats out Christmas, was invented by Abe Lincoln in 1863 but it is an outgrowth of the timeless harvest festival...
'The Lost Imperialist: Lord Dufferin, Memory and Mythmaking in an Age of Celebrity', by Andrew Gailey - Review
The Lost Imperialist: Lord Dufferin, Memory and Mythmaking in an Age of Celebrity Andrew GaileyJohn Murray, pp.464, £30, ISBN: 9781444792430 The first Marquess of Dufferin and Ava is largely forgotten today -- rotten luck for the great diplomat of...
The SNP and Westminster: A Scottish Tragedy
A landslide for the SNP will inevitably lead to the end of the Union Anyone seeking to understand the strength of the SNP should look to those parts of Scotland where the party is supposed to be weakest. At the last election, the nationalists took...
The War on Rural England
The coalition is letting developers concrete over the countryside, but that won't help young people buy houses There is no such thing as the English countryside. There is my countryside, your countryside and everyone else's. Most people fight just...
The Wiki Man: Rory Sutherland
If I were to give you a budget to choose your perfect house, you would quickly have a clear idea of what to buy. And typically your perfect house will be a bit boring. That's because, when you can only have one house, it cannot be too weak in any...
'What's That Thing?': Introducing the Spectator's Prize for Bad Public Art
Like peace, love and lemon-meringue pie, 'public art' seems unarguably attractive. Who but a philistine curmudgeon would deny the populace access to the immediate visual thrills and the enduring solace of beauty that the offer of public art seems...
Why I Hate My Stove
My trendy wood-burning stove is leaving me cold, wheezy, red-eyed and exhausted One of my earliest memories is seeing my father in the early morning raking out the ashes of our coal fire. I was interested in the blue veins around his ankles and bare...
'Widows and Orphans', by Michael Arditti - Review
Widows and Orphans Michael ArdittiArcadia, pp.351, £14.99, ISBN: 9781910050231 Duncan Neville is an unlikely hero for a novel. Approaching 50, divorced and the butt of his teenage son Jamie's utter contempt, Duncan is also the eloquent yet mild-mannered...
Zac Goldsmith: My Dad Saved the Pound
If you're grateful not to be in the euro, it's James Goldsmith and his 'rebel army' you should thank In recent weeks Ed Balls has been offering a new reason to vote Labour: it was his party, he says, that saved Britain from joining the euro. Now,...
Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.