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 23

Ancient and Modern
Peace with his enemy Kim Jong-un on the one hand, conflict with his European allies on the other: what sense can one make of President Trump? The ancients would have understood him all too well.The 5th c bc Greek historian Thucydides, seeing how anarchic...
'A Shout in the Ruins', by Kevin Powers - Review
We're in Virginia, in the 1850s. A girl called Emily is tormenting her dog, Champion, and her father's teenage slave, Rawls. Seeing this, Emily's father, Bob, beats her with his belt and kicks the dog. Of Rawls, Bob says: 'Now leave him be so he can...
'Broken Lives: How Ordinary Germans Experienced the 20th Century', by Konrad H. Jarausch - Review
The distinguished historian Konrad Jarausch's new book is a German narrative, told through the stories of ordinary people who lived through his chosen period. Six dozen Germans -- mostly from the generation born in the 1920s -- testify through their...
Charles Moore: The Spectator's Notes
Seen from almost any point of view, the government's decision to increase spending on the NHS is disgusting. It is cynical in its timing to coincide with the Health Service's 70th birthday in England; weak in its refusal to tie the increase to any improvements;...
Cinema: Hereditary/ the Happy Prince
Hereditary is the horror film that has been described as a 'ride of pure terror' and likened to The Exorcist and Rosemary's Baby and The Shining, to which I can say only: in its dreams. Given I'm such a wuss when it comes to anything frightening -- the...
Dear Mary: Your Problems Solved
Q. Being professionals in trade, we find ourselves increasingly being asked by friends, who could well afford to use our services, how to achieve certain things. They know we depend on these skills -- which have taken years to learn and perfect -- for...
Diary: Andrew Marr
At Chequers last week to interview the Prime Minister, I hear some sad news of Churchill's mouse. The story goes that the rather fine painting there by Rubens and Frans Snyders, illustrating Aesop's fable of the lion and the mouse, was 'touched up' by...
Don't Fight Racism with Racism
Dear 2016 WriteNow mentees,Thanks so much for your open letter to me. It seems only good manners for me to write back.You're rightly proud of having been admitted to a challenging programme at Penguin Random House that mentors gifted young minority authors...
Drink: Bruce Anderson
It is enough to make a man turn to drink. On a distinctly non-abstemious day, I was sitting in one of my favourite places on earth. It is not a great garden, merely a characteristically English one: roses, benign verdancy and the joyous sunshine of gentle...
Exhibitions 1: Alexander Calder
In the Moderna Museet in Stockholm there is a sculpture by Katharina Fritsch, which references Chekhov's famous story 'Lady with a Dog'. It was part of a Jeff Koons mini-show. At the time (2014), I thought it was by Koons. The postcard disabused me....
Exhibitions 2: Aftermath: Art in the Wake of World War One
Some disasters could not occur in this age of instant communication. The first world war is a case in point: 9.7 million soldiers died, 19,240 British on 1 July, 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, alone. If all that had been seen on social...
'Girl with Dove: A Life Built by Books', by Sally Bayley - Review
Girl with Dove is a memoir by Sally Bayley, a writer who teaches at Oxford University, of growing up in a squalid, dilapidated house in a Sussex seaside town. It contains her mother Ange, her aunt Di, her grandmother, an unspecified number of siblings...
High Life: Taki
New YorkI write this on my last day in the Bagel, and it sure is a scorcher, heat and humidity so high that the professional beggars on Fifth Avenue have moved closer to the lakes in Central Park. Heat usually calms the passions, but nowadays groupthink...
'In Pursuit of Civility: Manners and Civilization in Early Modern England', by Keith Thomas - Review
Philip Hensher describes how our notions of civility and consideration slipped almost imperceptibly into a sense of superiority and a mission to civilise the worldIn the gap between what we feel ourselves to be and what we imagine we might in different...
James Forsyth: It's Brexit Business as Usual
The cabinet's trip to Chequers next month will be a tense affair. Things always are when Brexit is the only item on the agenda.This week's cabinet meeting, convened to discuss the new NHS funding settlement, offered a preview of some of the arguments...
Leading Article: Refugee Lives Matter
The photographs of children in cages at US migration centres, apparently separated from the parents with whom they illegally entered the country, do not reflect well on the Trump administration. Talking tough on migration helped the President to win...
Legalising Cannabis Won't Help Billy Caldwell
Legalising cannabis won't help Billy CaldwellWas there ever a more fatuous contribution to a political debate than Lord Hague following up the case of 12-year-old Billy Caldwell -- the boy whose mother says he needs cannabis oil to control his epilepsy...
Letters
Song of myselfSir: As a disabled writer, I thoroughly despise the idea of being the beneficiary of a publisher's tokenistic diversity initiative ('When diversity means uniformity', 9 June). If I'm going to achieve success, I'm going to do so on merit...
Low Life: Jeremy Clarke
Homesick for England, family and friends, I flew back, and the next day went for a long walk with my brother.We've both had the same cancer, my brother and I, and we've both been chemically castrated. We attend the same oncology department, and we are...
'Lucia', by Alex Pheby - Review
In 1988, James Joyce's grandson Stephen destroyed all letters he had from, to or about his aunt Lucia Joyce, the novelist's daughter. Many saw the destruction of documents pertaining to Lucia, who had spent the majority of her life in asylums and had...
Martin Vander Weyer: The Myth and Menace of Cryptocurrencies
'So, Professor Shin, tell us what you really think about cryptocurrencies.' I'm guessing that's the brief the Bank for International Settlements (the Basel-based central bank of central banks) gave economist Hyun-Song Shin to write a chapter for its...
Matthew Parris: Lost in the NHS Maze
Next month the National Health Service turns 70. The institution is greatly loved, and not for nothing. The fear of ill-health runs deep in most of us and is ineradicable; but the fear of not being able to afford treatment, which must haunt most of the...
#MeToo Is Bringing Sexy Back
Forbidden flirting is more excitingSexual intercourse, Philip Larkin famously wrote, began in 1963. And listening to contemporary commentators, you'd think that it came to an end in 2017 with the birth of the #MeToo movement. For these voices of doom,...
Mind Your Language: Dot Wordsworth
'They should say, irritation, not iteration,' exclaimed my husband as a voice on the wireless spoke about men's fashion and the promise of 'a new iteration of softer suiting'.Suiting in itself is a comical word when found outside the technical pages...
Music: The Truth about Music Competitions
A young Korean, 22 years old, won the Dublin International Piano Competition last month. Nothing unusual about that.Koreans and Chinese, raised in a school of hard knocks and rounded off in western conservatories, are winning most prizes. A few -- like...
No Sacred Cows: Toby Young
An academic paper by a group of child psychologists caused a stir earlier this week. 'Helicopter parenting is bad for children,' was how the Times reported it, and other news outlets summarised it in the same way. Here was proof, apparently, that wrapping...
Notes On. New Jersey
When my American friends invited us to stay with them in New Jersey, my 13-year-old daughter was thrilled. She'd never been to the States before, and she couldn't wait to see Manhattan. I had to break the news to her that there were no skyscrapers where...
Opera: Acis and Galatea/ the Dragon of Wantley
On a sward of AstroTurf somewhere off Silicon Roundabout, Mountain Media is hosting its summer party and, well, it's the sort of bash you'd pluck your own eyes out to avoid. Hipsters sprawl on dayglo beanbags. Lads wearing fairy wings strike aftershave-advert...
Portrait of the Week
HomeTheresa May, the Prime Minister, said that spending on NHS England would increase by £20 billion a year by 2023. Some of the money would come from economic growth and a 'Brexit dividend', but more would come from taxes to be announced by the Chancellor...
Radio: The Excitement of Emigrating on Your Own as a Child
There was one of those moments late on Sunday night when a voice is so arresting (either through tone, timbre, or from what's being said) that you just have to stop what you're doing and listen, really concentrate, anxious not to miss a word. Floella...
Ray Davies: 'The Kinks Could Have Found a Better Frontman'
At 74, Ray Davies is as sharp as ever. Michael Hann talks to him about America, angry groupies and being a reluctant frontman'I like your shirt today,' Sir Ray Davies says to the waiter who brings his glass of water to the table outside a café in Highgate....
Real Life: Melissa Kite
Every day in every way we are paying for more and more. I realise this increasingly. Things we took for granted as free are added inexorably to the list of things we are charged for.And now we have rural parking charges, by which I don't mean we are...
Rod Liddle: VAR Is Rapidly Becoming a Farce
Flies, millions of them, vast swarms of them, spawned in the filthy Volga river: mutant flies, probably. Gathering in clouds around each player on the pitch (one crawled into a Tunisian's ear), the footballers suddenly resembling 22 Simon Schamas, flapping...
Television: The Bataclan Massacre
There were 1,500 punters in the audience when Eagles of Death Metal played their fatal gig at the Bataclan theatre in Paris in November 2015. By midnight, every one of those fans would either be dead, bereaved, in hospital with gunshot wounds or so traumatised...
Theatre: Julie/ Machinal
Polly Stenham starts her overhaul of Strindberg's Miss Julie with the title. She gives the 'Miss' a miss and calls it Julie. The wonder of Strindberg is that his characters speak to us with such force, knowingness and candour that they seem to belong...
'The Blind Spot: An Essay on the Novel', by Javier Cercas - Review
I wonder what your idea of a good novel is. Does it embody the attributes of solid plotting, characterisation and an impermeable membrane between invention and reality -- the novel, that is, being a box from which nothing can leap out, and into which...
The Diversity Trap
Britain is succumbing to the same madness as AmericaBritain seems to be following America down a dangerous path. There's your politician David Lammy accusing Oxford and Cambridge of racial bias -- and refusing to listen when they point out they simply...
'The Electric Woman: A Memoir in Death-Defying Acts', by Tessa Fontaine - Review
In 2013 Tessa Fontaine joined up with the World of Wonders, a circus sideshow that travels around the United States each year displaying sword-swallowers, human-headed spiders, snake-charmers and fire-eaters to a marvelling/cynical public. Sideshows,...
The Joy of Bird-Listening
The focus is often too much on sightHere's a rum thing: you can tell the quality of a piece of land with your eyes closed. Your ears alone will tell you if it's any good or not. And this, as it happens, was good land.I was attempting to explain this...
The Listener: Father John Misty's God's Favourite Customer
Grade: A+While the young bands plunder the 1980s for every last gobbet of tinny synth and hi-hat, the singer-songwriters remain happily anchored in that much more agreeable decade which came directly before. The 1970s was the era of the introspective,...
'The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America', by Timothy Snyder - Review
If social media manipulation has influenced elections, and dark money has influenced our elected representatives, then we are already on the road to unfreedom, as Timothy Snyder, the well-known historian of Russia, argues in his new book. He sees threats...
The Turf: Robin Oakley
On the famed Whitsbury gallops, as corn buntings and stonechats fluttered from the fence posts, a dozen of Marcus Tregoning's team were stretching nicely. The sun reflected from the chestnut flanks of the filly Viva Bella. The handsome head of Moghram,...
The Wiki Man: Rory Sutherland
An Iranian friend of mine recently brought me some gaz from Isfahan. Commonly known as Persian nougat, gaz is perhaps the most delicious thing I have ever eaten. The only thing to avoid is learning how it is made. Pistachio nuts are mixed with 'honeydew'...
The YouTuber
Older readers will perhaps recall the once popular Sunday evening TV programme Scrapheap Challenge, in which oily, boilersuited blokes competed to build machines out of materials scavenged from a scrapheap.Even older readers will recall The Great Egg...
Trump, Mueller and the British Connection
Is the government sucking up to Trump over the Mueller inquiry?Washington, DCWhen the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu visited London in 1978, the British government did some serious sucking up. Ceausescu was an egomaniac and possibly crazy. When...
'Wine -- A Way of Life', by Steven Spurrier - Review
Fine wine rarely makes it into the public consciousness, but one event in 1976 has proved of perennial interest: the so-called Judgment of Paris. It heralded the arrival of wine from the New World, but also tapped into popular prejudice. Who can resist...
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.