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 July 12

Ancient and Modern: The Ancient Way of Death
There is something mildly unexpected about religious groups' hostility to euthanasia. After all, in the ancient world one of the major differences between e.g. Christians and pagans was that Christians were renowned for welcoming, indeed rejoicing...
Arts Interview: West End Producers Duncan Weldon and Paul Elliott
Stars, playwrights and even set designers are constantly being lionised in the papers. But why not producers? They, after all, are the ones who choose the plays, the stars, and then make it all happen. Duncan Weldon and Paul Elliott are two veteran...
A Very British Witch Hunt
The present paedomania follows the classic rule of our establishment: wait 30 years, then strike hardI suppose we must accustom ourselves to the fact that some 30 years ago Britain was in the grip of a terrible paedo-geddon -- even if, at the time, we...
Charles Moore: The Spectator's Notes
Like almost everyone else, I have no idea whether the accusations about paedophilia in Parliament in the 1980s are true. One thing I do feel quite confident about, though, is the business of the lost 'dossiers'. The suggestion is that the disappearance...
Cinema: Boyhood
Boyhood12, Nationwide Richard Linklater's observational chronicle, Boyhood , was 12 years in the making and is 166 minutes long -- that's nearly three hours, in real money -- and I wasn't bored for a single moment. Isn't that miraculous? Have you...
Culture Notes: Ryedale Festival
There are festivals of everything, everywhere. So why get excited about the Ryedale Festival (11-27 July) apart from the fact that it happens on my Yorkshire home ground -- and I used to be its chairman?Every summer music festival proclaims the richness...
Dance: Sehnsucht/Schmetterling
Sehnsucht/SchmetterlingNederlands Dans Theater 1, Sadler's Wells Aesthetically speaking, last week's performance by the Nederlands Dans Theater 1 was one by the slickest of the season. Fashionably engineered juxtapositions of black and white, sets...
Dear Mary: Mary Killen
Q. We have recently returned from Provence where we stayed the first night with distant relatives. We woke on a perfect morning to sounds of laughter in the pool, so we happily slipped on our swimsuits and went down. Our host and hostess were in...
Diary: Joan Collins
Can there be anything more perfect than early July in London, when the sun is shining, the sky a cloudless azure and the temperature hovers in the mid-seventies? Sorry, I still do Fahrenheit. It's party time everywhere, with all the annual events...
'Elvis Has Left the Building: The Day the King Died', by Dylan Jones - Review
Elvis has Left the Building: The Day the King Died Dylan JonesDuckworth Overlook, pp.320, £16.99, ISBN: 9780715648568 With Elvis has Left the Building , the longstanding editor of GQ has inexplicably written a book that could serve as a handy, if...
'England and Other Stories', by Graham Swift - Review
England and Other Stories Graham SwiftSimon & Schuster, pp.288, £16.99, ISBN: 9781471137396 A calculated ordinariness unites the protagonists in Graham Swift's new collection of short stories. In each of these mini fictions, as in his novels,...
'Everyman's Castle: The Story of Our Cottages, Country Houses, Terraces, Flats, Semis and Bungalows', by Philippa Lewis - Review
Everyman's Castle: The story of our cottages, country houses, terraces, flats, semis and bungalows Philippa LewisFrances Lincoln, pp.250, £20, ISBN: 9780711233386 'Phlogiston' is an interesting, if obsolete, word. Of Greek origin, it referred to...
Exhibitions: The Wonder of Birds
The Wonder of BirdsNorwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery, until 14 September These days, as the sparrows and starlings so common in my youth are growing scarce, there's less need for a rarity like the osprey or butcher bird (the red-backed shrike)...
Food: Tanya Gold
Occasionally a critic must review a restaurant in which they are prepared to spend their own money. So here is the Dean Street Townhouse. It is a terrible name, because all houses in Dean Street, a fusty artery of Soho, are town houses; they are...
High Life: Taki
Island of RhodesWhen I'm on the water, I feel I was born to it. Yachting has always been a way to enjoy the sea and the nature associated with it. The motion through water, the breeze and spray on the face, the looking forward to a landfall, the sheer...
'How to Be a Husband', by Tim Dowling - Review
How to Be a Husband Tim DowlingFourth Estate, pp.304, £12.99, ISBN: 9780007527663 Over the past 12 months, I've proposed to my girlfriend, moved house, got married, and become a father. The most stressful of these tests, without a doubt, was moving...
Hugo Rifkind: When Did Israel Start to Seem So Bafflingly Foreign?
Glaring, the ennui over Israel. The way we drag our eyes to the page, and sigh, and want to read something else. Sympathy is hard. Even anger is hard. It's just... bleurgh.Israel drifting away. Never mind whose fault it is; that's a whole other point....
James Forsyth: In Search of the Eurosceptic Nick Clegg
In recent weeks British government visitors to Berlin have been confronted with a persistent question: when will David Cameron make up his mind about who he'll send to Brussels?Picking a European commissioner is a big decision: Tony Blair sent Peter...
Letters
Real help for those in painSir: The fickleness of existence is exemplified by the fact that being Tony Blair's ex-flatmate puts you in the position of further eroding the moral fabric of the nation without ever having had stood for office. An advert...
Libel: This Time It's Personal
When everyone's a potential journalist, it's time to tame libel costs Trying to count posts on the web is like trying to number grains of sand on a beach. In June 2012, a data management company called Domo attempted the fool's errand nevertheless....
Long Life: Alexander Chancellor
One problem from which I am confident I don't suffer is paedophilia. I have always liked picking up babies and hugging them, especially my own children or grandchildren, but never in the 'Rolfie deserves a cuddle' kind of way. The idea of sexually...
Low Life: Jeremy Clarke
Tap tap tap at the door. I opened my eyes. 'Check-out 10.30,' said a neutral or possibly slightly hostile female voice on the other side of the door. I looked at my phone. As I looked, the clock changed from 10.29 to 10.30. Then I heard what I perceived...
'Mammon's Kingdom: An Essay on Britain, Now', by David Marquand - Review
Mammon's Kingdom: An Essay on Britain, Now David MarquandAllen Lane, pp.276, £20, ISBN: 9781846146725 Once upon a time, a powerful unkillable beast menaced the nation. It had to be tamed. It could only be tamed by a robust ethos of the common good....
Martin Vander Weyer: Gold-Fixing Was Never like Match-Fixing but Its Days Must Surely Be Numbered
In a season obsessed with sport and personal misbehaviour -- separately or in combination -- the word 'fixing' immediately brings to mind 'match-fixing', as in 'Two World Cup referees suspected' of it, and 'Former New Zealand cricketer banned for...
Matthew Parris: There's No Fighting Paedophile Panic. but I'll Try
As essay titles go, 'On losing an argument with Tim Loughton MP' may fail to catch the imagination; but there we are: I don't need to be re-elected.You know before you start when you're on a losing wicket, and I had fully expected to lose this argument,...
Mind Your Language: Cost of Living
Labour's appeal to the cost of living has a rather old-fashioned feel to it: as if the whole nation still heated water with a geyser over the bath and darned (or got me to darn) its socks of an evening. 'Till recent years the phrase "Cost of Living"...
Notes On. Killarney
Here's a question for a Guinness-sponsored pub quiz: who or what is a 'jarvie'? The answer is the gypsy driver of a 'jaunting car' -- or pony and trap -- you can hire to drive you up the Gap of Dunloe between the Purple Mountain and Macgillicuddy's...
Obama's Dearest Enemies
The Republicans would be crazy to try and impeach the lame-duck President. It would only revive himWashington DCSo it's come to this: the only thing that can save President Obama from his own complacent and lofty self-regard, not to mention his serial...
Opera: Maria Stuarda
Glyndebourne, in rep until 21 August London is lucky to have heard Joyce DiDonato at the height of her powers in two consecutive seasons. The American mezzo has arguably done less well out of the arrangement, however, finding herself at the centre...
'Pleasures and Landscapes', by Sybille Bedford - Review
Pleasures and Landscapes Sybille BedfordDaunt Books, pp.176, £9.99, ISBN: 9781907970405 Sybille Bedford all her life was a keen and courageous traveller. Restless, curious, intellectually alert, she was always ready to explore new territories, her...
Pop: Marcus Berkmann
I am still listening to the new Coldplay album, and liking it more and more, and not just because everyone keeps telling me how terrible it is. There is perversity in all enthusiasm, for sure, but the unanimity of critical disapproval in this case...
Portrait of the Week
HomeTheresa May, the Home Secretary, ordered a review, taking perhaps ten weeks, by Peter Wanless, the head of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, of how her department, the police and prosecutors handled historical child...
Radio: Kate Chisholm
It seems incredible now but when the BBC's youth station, Radio 1, was launched in 1967 there were no female presenters. That's right. Not a single woman's voice to leaven the mix of Fluff, Blackburn and co. One-half of the young people the Corporation...
Real Life: Melissa Kite
'I have a feeling,' said my father, 'that this evening is not going to go well.'We were sitting in the bar of a local fish restaurant near my parents' home having pre-dinner drinks, and I was throwing a wobbly because my tomato juice wasn't right.I...
'Secrets in a Dead Fish', by Melanie King - Review
There can't have been this many books about the first world war since -- just after the first world war. One publishing craze of the 1920s was books about spying, in which retired war spooks gave away their trade secrets and told tall stories about...
Should the National Theatre Support Itself? Lloyd Evans Says Yes
Isn't it time we asked the National Theatre to support itself? Lloyd Evans says yesTwo glorious playhouses grace the south bank of the Thames. Shakespeare's Globe and the National Theatre stage the finest shows available anywhere in the world. Both...
Sloanes vs Arabs
In Knightsbridge and Chelsea, tension simmers between Sloanes and super-rich Arabs Perhaps you're aware that it's Ramadan right now, the month in which all good Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex during daylight. What you might...
Spectator Sport: Roger Alton
A jaw-dropping moment on the front page of Her Majesty's Daily Telegraph the other day: 'How to fix England', read the blurb, 'by Kevin Pietersen'. Rather like 'How To Stamp Out Diving, by Arjen Robben'; or 'Take Vanity out of Football, by Cristiano...
Status Anxiety: Toby Young
Unlike 99 per cent of my colleagues, I was quite touched by John Bercow's comment about how fed up he is with jokes about his height. 'Whereas nobody these days would regard it as acceptable to criticise someone on grounds of race or creed or disability...
Television: James Delingpole
'Fingers on buzzers!' says Jeremy Paxman on University Challenge. But technically this is inaccurate. Only one of the teams actually has buzzers. The other side has push-button bells, instead.I've been watching the programme religiously for God...
Theatre: Wonderland
WonderlandHampstead, until 26 JulyJulius CaesarGlobe, in rep until 11 October Hampstead's new play about the 1984 miners' strike was nearly defeated by technical glitches. Centre stage in Ed Hall's production there's a clanking great iron chute that...
The BBC's Climate Correctness
It is only a matter of time before Nigel Lawson -- if he is allowed on the BBC at all -- has to have his words spoken by an actor in the manner of Gerry Adams at the height of the IRA's bombing campaign during the 1980s. In the case of Mr Adams, whose...
The Betrayal of Wales
Devolution has left my country with catastrophic misgovernment In England, success in life is bound up with where you went to school. In Wales, where I come from, the standard of education can be so miserable that you'd do better to get expelled.I...
The End of Authority
One by one our great institutions have tumbled Who would trust MPs? Until recently most of us thought they were just in it for the expenses. Now it turns out they're in it to abuse kids too.We know because we've read it in the papers. Not that they're...
'The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union', by Serhii Plokhy - Review
In the latest - and best - of the books on the end of the USSR, Victor Sebestyen finds that the only good thing about the Soviet empire was the manner of its passingThe Last Empire: The final days of the Soviet Union Serhii PlokhyOne World, pp.484,...
'The Mongol Empire: Genghis Khan, His Heirs and the Founding of Modern China', by John Man - Review
The Mongol Empire: Genghis Khan, His Heirs and the Founding of Modern China John ManBantam, pp.357, £20, ISBN: 9780593071243 Genghis Khan, unlike most Mongols in history, is a household name, regularly misappropriated as a right-wing totem. If we...
The Turf: Robin Oakley
Fretful horses who waste their energies -- and often their racing potential -- ceaselessly pacing their stable dormitories are known as 'box walkers'. Some trainers merit a similar description, dragging nervously on one racecourse cigarette too many....
Wave Power - That Sinking Feeling
Civil servants think wave power will transform the country. They're wrong. You're paying The surface of the sea is a hostile and unforgiving place. Although it covers 71 per cent of the planet, nothing much bigger than a speck lives there. Obviously,...
What's Wrong with Airport Security
Added security flummery at airports does nothing to make us safer. In fact, it may do the opposite Here we go again: another summer of airport fun. This year it's been announced that due to a 'heightened' security threat, any Brit attempting a holiday...
Why I'm Scared of Book Clubs
Writing frankly about Jamaica has made me nervous of invitations from strangers. How would this one turn out? 'Hi Ian!' the email began. 'We are a group of mostly females who meet regularly in London to review really good reads. We are currently reading...
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