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 June 2013

Barom E T E R
Painting the town The tarting-up of Northern Irish villages on the route between Belfast International airport and Lough Erne, the resort which hosted the G8 summit, has been likened to the 'Potemkin villages' employed by the Soviet Union in the 1920s...
Boarding School
I made my first skateboard at the age of 12 by pulling apart a roller skate and nailing each half to a plank of wood. Less than half an hour later, my mother was taking me to the family GP to have my little toe stitched up. She decided to buy me a proper...
Cinema the End Is Far from Nigh
Before Midnight 15, Key Cities To quote the watch adverts, here's a timepiece that will last a lifetime: the Doomsday Clock. And the reason it will last that long? Because when it stops, so will your life. This is the figurative clock that has been...
CUL T U R E N O T E S the Secret's Out
The word 'concert' means different things to different people. For some it evokes dinner jackets and not clapping between movements; for others, jumping up and down in a stadium, desperately trying to spot the band through a sea of blinking smartphones....
Cuts? What Cuts?
When the Chancellor stands up to present his spending review next Wednesday i t w i l l be w i th the reputation of a crazed axeman. Much of the country, whether it thinks it a good thing or not, subscribes to the belief that George Osborne is shrinking...
Dear Mary: Your Problems Solved
Q. A man I know has invited me and some other journalists, most of whom I admire, to join him in the Whitehall penthouse of the Corinthia Hotel for drinks and canapes with a view to our contributing to an online magazine he plans to start up. When I...
Designs for Living
Sir Hugh Casson PRA: Making Friends Tennant Gallery and Council Room, Royal Academy, until 22 September It is nothing short of a miracle that this aptly titled exhibition could be shoehorned into just two rooms at the Royal Academy, such was the range...
Diary
The calendar of British summer events often involves a master class in surviving a deluge cheerfully, and recent years have tested that cheer almost to destruction. On Saturday it was the turn of the annual summer fair in Highgate, north London, home...
Drink an Economist's Glasses
My friend Mitch F eierstein is a jolly, cheerful, life - enhancing fellow. He is emphatically not one of those economists whose purse - lipped response to any new phenomenon is 'no good will come of this' and who have predicted six of the past two recessions....
Every Which Way
Backing into Light: My Father's Son by Colin Spencer Quartet, £25, pp. 251, ISBN 9780704372962 Colin Spencer first came to my notice in the Swinging Sixties when a fellow undergraduate alerted me to his larky romp Poppy, Mandragora and the New Sex,...
Exhibitions Master of Pictorial Logic
Patrick Caulfield; Gary Hume Tate Britain, until 1 September Patrick Caulfield Waddington Custot Galleries, 11 Cork Street, W1, until 29 June In the wake of the Roy Lichtenstein blockbuster at Tate Modern comes Patrick Caulfield at Tate Britain, and...
Found in Translation
Gove is quite right to suggest we turn English into Latin. One of the most rewarding exercises a Latinist can attempt is to turn a piece of English prose into Latin. The reason is quite simple: it means getting under the surface of the English meaning...
Great Russian Prophet
The Dostoevsky Archive by Peter Sekirin McFarland & Co, distributed in the UK by Eurospan Group, £26.95, pp. 366, ISBN 9780786402649 eurospanbookstore. com After you decapitate someone, might their severed head continue thinking? Prince Myshkin...
High Life
A first-round loser at Wimbledon this year will receive £23,000 for showing up. Back in 1957 I got £80 for losing in the singles qualifying draw and getting into the draws for the men's doubles and mixed. Call it inflation, if you like, but today's...
Hobson's Choice
An Iranian on the wireless was complaining that disqualification of presidential candidates had left voters with 'Hobson's choice'. No doubt this idiom was learnt from a careful teacher, but I wondered how many English people would use it or even know...
Hooray for Me!
We need more indivindualism, not less. It's the funniest scene in Monty Python's Life of Brian . A parable-seeking mob gathers outside Brian's home. They think he's the messiah and will dispense some wisdom they might live their lives by. Instead he...
If You Saw a TV Chef Being Throttled in a Restaurant, Would You Intervene or Film It?
Which television chef would you most like to see throttled in a restaurant? I have to say, Nigella Lawson would be well down the list for me, as I've always rather liked her. It's true that some of her recipes are a little precious, especially all that...
I Might Not Be Politically Correct Enough for UKIP
A few weeks ago I drove to Market Harborough for my test as a potential Ukip candidate. The process was very thorough. There was a media interview section, where one of my examiners did a bravura impersonation of a tricksy local radio presenter (he...
In from the Cold
Tom Rosenthal looks forward to the shamefully long overdue Lowry retrospective at Tate Britain. ARTS In f rom the coldong overdue O ne day in Berlin, I saw the rerun of the RA's Young British Artists exhibition at the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin's equivalent...
Letters
Being good without God Sir: It is a rash person who tangles with the Chief Rabbi, but his piece on 'Atheism and barbarism' (15 June) shocked me. After championing until his last paragraph the old lie that religious belief is a necessary foundation for...
Long Life
My collection of poultry here in Northamptonshire (consisting at present of six ducks and eight hens) includes two little chattering call ducks named Boris and Marina. I called the drake Boris after the Mayor of London, and its partner Marina after...
Low Life
'Good morning, sir!' said Wendy: black shirt, green craftsman's apron. The idea of having a person loitering by the entrance to greet and welcome the customer has spread from trendy California-based clothing-chain outlet Hollister to the DIY megastores....
Middle Kingdom
Could China be the key to peace between Israel and Iran? It's exactly ten years since Iranian dissidents first blew the cover of a secret uraniumenrichment facility under a mountain at Natanz, in a bleak stretch of desert near Isfahan. Ever since, relations...
Neanderthal Man
What Fresh Lunacy is This? The Authorised Biography of Oliver Reed by Robert Sellers Constable, £20, pp. 500, ISBN 9781472101129 Midway through this startling book, Robert Sellers asks himself a question with such apparent seriousness I barked with...
Opera Great Britten
Death in Venice ENO, in rep until 26 June Lohengrin Birmingham Thomas Mann, Gustav von Aschenbach, Benjamin Britten, united in a common interest, one the expression of which is still taboo, yet which Mann succeeded in writing a bestseller about, and...
Osborne's Green Shoots
The other day, George Osborne was walking with his wife across the courtyard of the Royal Academy. In the evening sunshine, the Chancellor spotted another Tory MP in the opposite corner. The MP was on his mobile: a wave would have seen courtesies observed....
Portrait of the Week
On the eve of the G8 summit, at a press conference with David Cameron, the Prime Minister, President Vladimir Putin of Russia bluntly opposed British proposals to aid the Syrian opposition: 'People who not only kill their enemies, but open up their...
Puzzling Messages
Paul Nash: Landscape and the Life of Objects by Andrew Causey Lund Humphries, £35, pp. 168, ISBN 9781848220966 Andrew Causey opens his book on a slightly defensive note: Paul Nash, he says is often identified as Britain's outstanding 20thcentury landscape...
Radcliffe the Radical
Former Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe on Che, Noam Chomsky, giving up drink and being 'frighteningly thorough' MOLLY GUINNESS Daniel Radcliffe is wearing the standard rehearsal outfit of T-shirt, black jeans and trainers. 'Ah, this is for The Spectator...
Radio Portrait of a Mother
At 17.05 on the afternoon of 18 September 2010, Sebastiane Hegarty made what was to be the last recording of his mother's voice (she died in April 2011). As he says, the digital tape 'invented our last moment'; a moment of no great significance, nothing...
Real Life
The Indian bellboy was sweetness and courtesy itself as he took my bags and escorted me to my room. But even he, with his impeccable manners, could not disguise his horror at my appearance. The word dishevelled doesn't do it justice. My hair was standing...
Speaking Up Softly
Things I Don't Want to Know: A Response to George Orwell's Why I Write by Deborah Levy Notting Hill Editions, £12, pp. 108, ISBN 9781907903632 In her powerful rejoinder to Orwell's 1946 essay 'Why I Write', Deborah Levy responds to his proposed motives...
Spectator Wine
The other day I was chatting to Mimi Avery, of the famous Bristol wine importing firm. She said that she couldn't understand how some supermarkets can offer bottles of wine at, say '£4.95 reduced from £9.95'. If the normal selling price was a tenner,...
Summer Cocktails
Call me a terrible lightweight, but I'm a l itt le wary of dr ink ing cockta i ls when the sun is out. A summer drink should be like a good soak in the pool, but the sort of cocktails I love - martinis, manhattans etc - are all about a sharp injection...
Television Looking for Love
Channel 4 is deep into its summer of love. It's having a Mating Season and - unusually for the network - it's not all about sex. Instead, it's about those fluttery butterflies that occur before the birds and the bees come in, when two people meet for...
Theatre Religious Chicanery
The Amen Corner Olivier, in rep until 14 August Sweet Bird of Youth Old Vic, until 31 August Good and bad at the National. The Amen Corner by James Baldwin is a wryly observed comedy drama written for a studio theatre. It's an excellent small play....
The Borderland of Half-Hearing
Song Without Words: Discovering My Deafness Halfway through Life by Gerald Shea Da Capo Press, £17.99, pp. 320, ISBN 9780306821936 At the age of six, Gerald Shea had scarlet fever. The sounds of birds passed into memory to be replaced by the sound of...
The Inconstant Wife
Constance by Patrick McGrath Blooomsbury Circus, £12.99, pp. 256, ISBN 9781408821138 Patrimony and infidelity are defining themes of the Anglo-American relationship, as they are of Constance, a novel with alternating narrators: Sidney Klein is English,...
The Peril of Telling Politicians the Truth: Why Number-Cruncher Hester Had to Go
Quite a spell of bowling from the Chancellor last week, skittling Stephen Hester's stumps at RBS and causing Paul Tucker of the Bank of England to walk even before the new Canadian umpire had time to raise his finger. The kindest thing to be said about...
The Spectator's Notes
When he arrived for the G8 in Co. Fermanagh, President Obama told the people of Northern Ireland that those living with conflict in farflung places are 'studying what you're doing' and that 'You're the blueprint to follow'. If they really were studying...
The Turf the Master Trainer
For a moment it seemed incongruous reading obituaries in the same week of Sir Henry Cecil and of Esther Williams, the Hollywood star whom most of us only ever remember seeing in a swimsuit amid whirling patterns of leggy lovelies in water ballets. Then...
The War Next Door
Syria's civil war is tearing Lebanon apart. Beirut On New Year's Eve 2011, I asked a senior Swedish diplomat, who had just crossed over from Damascus and was ready to see in the New Year Beirut-style, how long he gave Bashar al-Assad as Syrian president....
The Wiki Man Voting for Darwin
An ardently left-wing friend of mine is travelling over from Thailand next week to look for a private school for his daughter. My email to him was short. It read 'Charles Darwin 1, Karl Marx 0'. Nobody among the sharp-elbowed middle class ever allows...
When Will We Learn
It's not just soldiers who risk their lives in Afghanistan. Anyone who enters the country's judicial service becomes an assassination target. Only last week, six Afghan judges were killed by a suicide bomb outside Kabul's Supreme Court. A Taleban spokesman...
Who Lost China
While the second world war raged in Europe, a separate conflict was devastating China, whose effects still linger to this day, says Jonathan Mirsky China's War with Japan 1937-1945: The Struggle for Survival by Rana Mitter Allen Lane, £25, pp. 450,...
Why Can't We Be Honest about Syria?
Wouldn't it be nice just once in a while to have a war in the Middle East that wasn't predicated on outright duplicitous nonsense? Just occasionally? There are, after all, any number of sincere reasons one could advance for intervention now in Syria....
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.