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 November 4

'A Revolution of Feeling: The Decade That Forged the Modern Mind', by Rachel Hewitt - Review
Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey were undergraduates when they met in June 1794, Coleridge at Cambridge university and Southey at Oxford. One of their earliest conversations concerned the political implications of the passions. A month later,...
Charles Moore: The Spectator's Notes
Poor Gordon Brown. He embodies the problem traditionally associated with being male, which is that our sex finds it difficult to understand human feelings. Mr Brown recognises, he says in his forthcoming autobiography, that he was not suited to a touchy-feely...
Cinema: The Killing of a Sacred Deer
You know where you aren't with director Yorgos Lanthimos. The Greek allegorist creates parallel worlds which superficially resemble our own. In Dogtooth an overweening patriarch incarcerates his three adult children in a state of infantilised innocence....
Dear Mary: Your Problems Solved
Q. Twice in one week I have been found unready for my guests. Occasion one: in the garden, finishing my lunch. A knock at the front door. Standing there, smiling expectantly, a groomed guest to play bridge at 2 p.m. The time was 1.40 p.m. Occasion two:...
Diary
Where better to be than in Liverpool on a crisp autumn evening, haranguing an open-air meeting of students? I hadn't done a soapbox speech since my Trotskyist days 45 years ago, and had forgotten how exhilarating it is -- the questions sharper, the audience...
Drink: Bruce Anderson
An artist ought to draw on broad human sympathies and an intense commitment to his craft. In both respects, Charles Church qualifies. As a youngster, he set off for art school, in search of instruction, and found it: a worthless curriculum. There was...
DVDs: Life after Death
According to the accountants' ledgers, DVDs are dying. Sales of those shiny discs, along with their shinier sibling the Blu-ray, amounted to £894 million last year, which is almost a fifth lower than in 2015 and less than half of what was achieved a...
Exhibitions Monochrome
Leonardo da Vinci thought sculpting a messy business. The sculptor, he pointed out, has to bang away with a hammer, getting covered in the process with a nasty mixture of dust and sweat. In contrast the painter can sit at his easel, dressed like a gentleman,...
'Gerry Adams: An Unauthorised Life', by Malachi O'Doherty - Review
When I recently asked a sardonic Northern Irish friend what historical figures Gerry Adams resembled, the tasteless reply came back: 'A mixture of Jimmy Savile and Oswald Mosley.' There are elements of both archetypes in this new unauthorised portrait,...
'God: A Human History', by Reza Aslan - Review
Do not fear God, Reza Aslan tells us. You are God. But preaching this form of pantheism can be dangerous, warns Alexander WaughEating human brains, burying one's face in dead people's ashes and publicly deriding the president of the United States as...
High Life: Taki
I have a message for the London mayor, Sadiq Khan: you and your policies stink! While the fuzz are busy scanning the internet for racist or sexist material, crime in the capital is up by six per cent over the past 12 months and the police -- handicapped...
James Delingpole: On Twitter, You Reap What You Sow
The nastiest person on Twitter has quit Twitter. Because I'm so generous I shan't mention his name. All I'll say is he that he co-wrote one of the 1990s' warmest, funniest, daffiest sitcoms -- which is possibly what made his attack-dog vitriol so especially...
James Forsyth: What to Do about Returning Jihadis
In normal times, the reported return of 400 Isis fighters to Britain would be the biggest story out there. But with policymakers preoccupied by Brexit, and the press examining the sexual culture of Westminster, this news has not received the attention...
'James Ravilious: A Life', by Robin Ravilious - Review
In 1970 I wandered around an unfamiliar part of West Devon. Down a grassy lane I came across a farmyard in which stood three circular hay stacks, each beautifully thatched. It resembled a picture by the 18th-century painter George Morland. There was...
Leading Article: The Brown Delusion
Gordon Brown has pitched his memoirs as the honest confessions of a decent man. He failed to win the one general election he fought, he asserts, due to a personality that was unsuited to an age of Twitter and emotional displays. His is the Walter Mondale...
Letters
Equality of outcomeSir: Rod Liddle exposes some deep flaws in the way children are prepared to play their part in adulthood ('The kids aren't all right', 28 October). But one in particular merits further analysis. He is right to say that teachers' imperative...
Lionel Shriver: When Did Fiction Become So Dangerous?
The assignment of books for review has always been haphazard. Fellow fiction writers can be tempted either to undermine the competition, or to flatter colleagues who might later judge prizes or provide boosting blurbs. There are no clear qualifications...
Low Life: Jeremy Clarke
The French countryside around here is teeming with wild boar. They visit the shack at night to eat the pansies and nose up the flower-beds, and their violent flare-ups over a disputed morsel wake us up. Standing about in the lane the other night, blocking...
Martin Vander Weyer: Yes, the City Needs New Global Clients - but Should They Include Putin's Pal?
In connection with the receding possibility of a London Stock Exchange listing for Saudi Aramco, I wrote that the City authorities' apparent eagerness to accommodate companies 'from places not best known for their accounting standards, business probity...
Meet Liberia's Lady Macbeth
Liberians so love the murderous Charles Taylor they want his ex-wife to ruleJames Sackie would make a good frontman for a campaign to help ex-child soldiers. At the age of 17, he was press-ganged into one of Charles Taylor's juvenile militias. Twenty...
Mind Your Language: Dot Wordsworth
John Farquhar of Salisbury writes to say he is irritated. He is not just irritated, he has long been long irritated, which is either a virtue or a vice, depending on the irritant. In his case, the grain of sand in the oyster is the pronunciation 'by...
Music: Benjamin Johnson/ Benjamin Appl
If a symphony is, as Mahler famously put it, 'like the world', then songs and lieder are like seeing that world in Blake's grain of sand. Their span may be short, but their emotional horizon is infinite -- a lyric window on to an epic landscape. And...
Notes On. Dinner at Modigliani's
When you arrive for dinner and your host is massaging a purple cauliflower, you know you're in for an interesting evening. I am in a top-floor flat in Paris, which was once the domain of Amedeo Modigliani. The Italian artist was famous for his louche...
Opera: Rodelinda/ the Consul
ENO has revived Richard Jones's production of Handel's Rodelinda. It was warmly greeted on its first outing in 2014, though Jones was, as he remains, inveterately controversial. The opera itself seems to command universal admiration among Handelians,...
Portrait of the Week
HomeA great ferment of accusations of sexual impropriety was made against people in Parliament and out of it. Bex Bailey, a Labour party worker, said she was raped, not by an MP, at a party event in 2011 and a senior Labour official discouraged her from...
Radio: Before I Go/ Close to the Edit
Mandy was 38 when she was told she was 'in the end stage', suffering from COPD and finding it more and more difficult to breathe. Matthew, in his twenties, was given just four to five years of life after being diagnosed with a brain tumour. Vivek, also...
Real Life: Melissa Kite
'The colour of this kitchen is inspired by a blend of heather, bracken and the mountains of the Isle of Skye,' says the brochure.'Oh, sweet Lord,' I think. 'I just want a kitchen.'Five months into the renovation and my fondest wish is simply for it all...
Robert Mueller Closes in on Trump
Special counsel Robert Mueller is closing in on Paul Manafort - and TrumpKievBefore he was Donald Trump's campaign manager, Paul Manafort worked for the president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych started out as a petty thief in the bleak Soviet...
Rod Liddle: So What Attracted You to That Powerful Man?
Somewhere towards the end of the 1980s I was suddenly promoted three grades upwards in my job at the BBC; a bit like going from the middle of the old fourth division to the top of the Championship. Yay. The immediate consequences were more money, more...
Sexual Freedom Has Turned to Fear
Sexual freedom has turned into sexual fearWe are in the middle of a profound shift in our attitude towards sex. A sexual counter-revolution, if you will. And whereas the 1960s saw a freeing up of attitudes towards sex, pushing at boundaries, this counter-swing...
Status Anxiety: Toby Young
I had the unusual experience last Sunday of appearing on a panel to defend free speech having been the victim of censorship 24 hours earlier. As Claire Fox, the chair of the event, said: 'We are lucky enough to have our very own free speech martyr on...
Television: Exodus/ Blue Planet II
Anybody who wants to maintain a strong and untroubled stance against mass migration to Europe should probably avoid BBC2's Exodus: Our Journey Continues. In theory, the case for limiting the numbers may be more or less unanswerable -- but this is a joltingly...
Theatre: Young Marx/ the Lady from the Sea
Bang! A brand new theatre has opened on the South Bank managed by the two Nicks, Hytner and Starr, who ran the National for more than a decade. Located near a river crossing, their venture bears the unexciting name 'Bridge'. If these two adopted a child,...
The Death of Cosy Christie
Directors are taking Agatha Christie to increasingly dark places - and about time too, says Francesca SteeleThis is not Midsomer Murders. The new film adaptation of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express is thick with violence and sexual innuendo....
The Forgotten 'Poster Girls'
Lara Prendergast celebrates the 'poster girls', the little-known women artists who helped to emancipate the London UndergroundEvery weekday, I travel by Tube to The Spectator's office, staring at the posters plastered all over the walls. I like looking...
The Irony of Netanyahu's Triumph
There are many reasons political journalists get so many things so badly wrong. One is our tendency to overvalue liberal politicians. This explains why we have misunderstood Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, who has flown to London this...
The Listener: Liam Gallagher's as You Were
Grade: C+There was a certain thrill to be had from that first Oasis album, Definitely Maybe. Liam's yob howl and Noel's magnificent pillaging of T. Rex, the New Seekers, the Pistols, Zep and, of course, the Beatles. By the time the second one came along,...
The Sexual Reformation
A new schism is opening up between women and menNell Minow, an American film critic, recently described how in 2010 she had interviewed the Friends actor David Schwimmer. When the noise in the restaurant grew too loud, he asked her whether she might...
The Wiki Man: Rory Sutherland
It took a spate of air disasters in the late 1970s, in particular the Portland crash of United Airlines Flight 173, for aviation experts to pay attention to something called Crew Resource Management. This is a set of procedures first conceived by Nasa...
What's Happened to Scottish Schools?
Scotland used to have the best school system in the world. Then devolution happenedOnce one of the best in the world, Scotland's education system has been steadily marching backwards for the past ten years. From the outside, it seems baffling: why, given...
'Why We Sleep', by Matthew Walker - Review
I've read several books about sleep recently, and their authors all tell me the same three things. The first is that, in the modern world, it's hard to get enough sleep. The second is that sleep is very important. Every night, we pass out. Every morning,...
Wild Life: Aidan Hartley
LaikipiaFlying home across Laikipia's ranchlands with Martin after a farmers' meeting, I see the plateau dotted with cattle and elephants. Stretching away towards the north, it is all green after good rains. I think to myself that farming is hard enough...
'Winter', by Ali Smith - Review
In 1939, Barbara Hepworth gathered her children and her chisels and fled Hampstead for Cornwall. She expected war to challenge her passion for abstract form. But her commitment deepened. The solid ovoids she sculpted carried the weight of grief and the...
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