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 April 15

Ancient and Modern: Osborne and the Athenians
As a result of George Osborne taking up five jobs on top of his role as MP for Tatton, an ethics watchdog wants to know what the public thinks about MPs having other jobs. One problem is that people's low opinion of MPs makes balanced judgment difficult....
Barometer
Also in Barometer: the demise of the free in-flight meal; egg-hunts without Easter; what's the minimum wage around Europe?Cabin fodderBritish Airways proposes to stop serving free meals on long-haul flights.-- Although passengers once took it for granted...
Bias and the BBC: Nick Robinson vs Charles Moore
Is it fair over Brexit and can it survive in the 21st century?Last week, Nick Robinson wrote an article in the Radio Times saying Radio 4's Today programme no longer has an obligation to balance its coverage of Brexit. This led to criticism from Charles...
Charles Moore: The Spectator's Notes
Each Easter, I think of David Jones (1895-1974). He was a distinguished painter and, I would (though unqualified) say, a great poet. There is a new, thorough biography of him by Thomas Dilworth (Cape). A sympathetic review in the Guardian wrestles with...
Cinema: The Sense of an Ending
The Sense of an Ending is an adaptation of Julian Barnes's 2011 Man Booker prize-winning novel starring Jim Broadbent (we love Jim Broadbent), Harriet Walter (we love Harriet Walter) and Charlotte Rampling (we love, love, love Charlotte Rampling). With...
Dance: Matthew Bourne's Early Adventures
'Modern' dance was no laughing matter in 1987. Harold King, director of the now-defunct London City Ballet, cattily typified it as 'lesbians in bovver boots playing a mouth organ and banging a drum on the banks of the Thames'. Camp, funny and unashamedly...
Dear Mary: Your Problems Solved
Q. My aunt lives in a small market town with narrow roads and limited parking. A neighbour opposite acquired a large and gruesome camper van and parked it right outside her front door. The neighbour was polite enough to ask, and my aunt was polite enough...
Diary: Raymond Briggs
Don't get old! Everything takes so long - it's an hour to get down to breakfast. And I'm not only slow, but confused as well. Sometimes I can't find a garment I took off the night before, or can locate only one sock (I usually have two). I've always...
Exhibitions: Queer Art - the Good, the Indifferent and the Awful
'There is only one thing worse than homosexual art,' the painter Patrick Procktor was once heard to declare at a private view in the 1960s. 'And that's heterosexual art.' It would have been intriguing to hear his views on Queer British Art at Tate Britain....
Food: Tanya Gold
Barbecoa is Jamie Oliver's new restaurant on Piccadilly, and no matter how many times I mutter the name, I do not know what it means, if it means anything; it may be a posh riff on barbecue, which does not need gentrifying, because barbecue is cuisine's...
High Life: Taki
Things that I once loved -- Fifth Avenue & 57th Street, brownstone terraces on hot summer afternoons, cold beer and fried eggs at 5 a.m. after a night of carousing, the Sherry-Netherland -- and now miss have grown ever more monumental upon reflection....
If Trump Is Listening to His Generals, It's Great News for Britain
The Russian president is learning the drawbacks of interventionFor Vladimir Putin, Syria has been the gift that kept on giving. His 2015 military intervention propelled Russia back to the top diplomatic tables of the world -- a startling comeback for...
James Forsyth: If Trump's Listening to His Generals, That's Great News for Britain
'Great Britain has lost an Empire and not yet found a role'. Fifty-five years on, Dean Acheson's remark has not lost its sting. British statecraft is, even now, an attempt to lay claim to a place in the post-imperial world. The events of the past few...
Leading Article: Parting on Good Terms
Many EU officials would like to present the Brexit negotiations as a case of one nervous member, weak at the knees, appearing before a menacing and united panel of 27. But that ignores the political and ideological rifts which are already apparent in...
Letters
On Pamela HarrimanSir: When it comes to grandes horizontales and naughty girls, I defer to Taki (High Life, 8 April). On either topic, he could win Pulitzer prizes. I am also unsure whether I should have described Pamela Harriman as a naughty girl. Most...
Low Life: Jeremy Clarke
I ran for the airport terminal shuttle bus; the doors shut behind me as I skipped on. I sank into a seat beside a young chap who was turned sideways and chatting with the fellow behind him, who was leaning forward. They were speaking in English, quietly,...
'Mail Men: The Unauthorized Story of the Daily Mail -- the Paper That Divided and Conquered Britain', by Adrian Addison - Review
According to Private Eye, executives at the Daily Mail were alarmed by the impending publication of Adrian Addison's new history of the paper. They expected an onslaught. So their hearts must have sunk when they saw the cover of Mail Men. Stephen Fry,...
Mary Wakefield: Who Dares Face Down the Teenage Gangsters?
The baby, unbothered by diesel fumes, enjoys an outing down the main road through London N1. Each passing bus is marked by a fat and pointing finger: 'There!' On the way to our local park last Thursday, we had just begun to cross the road, pointing up...
Matthew Parris: Give Me the Anglican Option
The Algerian government's official tourist guide describes 'the walled town of Beni Isguen -- normally closed to foreigners -- where the women, clad entirely in white, reveal only one eye to the outside world'. Rod Dreher's Easter call to devout Christians...
Mind Your Language: King Charles's Head
'It has become something of a King Charles' head, or should that be a King Charles's head?' said my husband, laughing, as though he had made a joke. By 'it' he meant the apostrophe, which forces its way into any discussion of grammar, just as the head...
Music: The Decade the Music Died
For much of the past half-century, London has been the world's orchestral capital. Not always in quality, but numerically without rival. Five full symphony orchestras and twice as many pint-sized ones kept up a constant clamour for attention. Each month...
Notes On. Frank Matcham
Go inside the Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, preferably when it is empty. Look round. Look up. And there it is, with its elegant decorated and gilded curves, rising to the ornate cupola, panelled in duck-egg blue. Look at the proscenium arch, the swagged...
Opera: Les Fêtes d'Hébé; Academy of Ancient Music/Jordi Savall; Les Talens Lyriques/Christophe Rousset
The English weren't the first cowpat composers. Jean-Philippe Rameau raised the art of frolicking in the fields to such heights he filched pastoralism for the French. Rameau's mastery of landscape is not just a question of orchestral colour, though that's...
'Plundered Skulls and Stolen Spirits: Inside the Fight to Reclaim Native America's Culture', by Chip Colwell - Review
A few years ago, a group of Native American leaders drove 12 hours from Oklahoma to Denver Museum of Nature and Science, a natural history museum in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, to collect 26 sets of human remains. When Chip Colwell, the museum's...
Portrait of the Week
HomeBoris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, having cancelled a trip to Moscow over the Syrian poison gas incident, consulted other foreign ministers at the G7 summit at Lucca in Italy about how to get President Vladimir Putin of Russia to abandon his support...
Radio: At the Foot of the Cross; Bach: The Great Passion; My Body Clock Is Broken
It's the oddest place to find a profound meditation on the death of Christ, but there it is on Radio 2 every year on the night of Good Friday, on the 'light music' station, and not on Radio 3 or Radio 4, where you might expect to find it. This year At...
Real Life: Melissa Kite
Some people get into the choosing of tap fittings. I am not a person who gets into the choosing of tap fittings. After a day looking at tap fittings, I don't so much feel like I'm choosing tap fittings as the tap fittings are choosing me.It is imperative...
'Resolution: Two Brothers, a Nation in Crisis, a World at War', by David Rutland and Emma Ellis - Review
In the north transept of Westminster Abbey, there is a memorial by Joseph Nollekens to three British captains killed at the Battle of the Saintes. It is hard to imagine that many visitors notice it, but when the news of the battle reached London from...
Rod Liddle: What Message Do Trump's Missiles Really Send?
Let me take this opportunity to join with our Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary in commending President Trump's swift and decisive military action against the Syrian government as being 'appropriate' -- one of my favourite words and one which I like...
Side-Saddle Is Sexy
It's safer and more elegant than riding astrideThese days there are more than 1,000 members of the Side Saddle Association. Well, of course there are. People go to Bisley to shoot muzzle-loaders with black powder instead of modern rifles with laser-sights;...
Spectator Sport: Roger Alton
What a treat to be Sergio Garcia. Not only have you just won your first major and trousered a small fortune, you are also loved by all and sundry without exception; not least by your absolute corker of a fiancée, the sensational Angela Akins, who looks...
Status Anxiety: Toby Young
Against my better judgment, I agreed to go to Center Parcs for an Easter weekend break. We chose the one in Sherwood Forest, not because of any sentimental attachment to Robin Hood, but because it was the most inexpensive. Even then, it was hardly cheap:...
'That Was the Midweek That Was', by Libby Purves - Review
This is a gem of a book for Radio 4 lovers, particularly those of us who work out which day of the week it is by who's speaking on the station at 9.02 a.m. Published the week that Midweek was abolished for ever, it is Libby Purves's story of the programme...
Theatre: Consent; the Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?
It's like Raging Bull. The great Scorsese movie asks if a professional boxer can exclude violence from his family life. Nina Raine's new play Consent puts the same question to criminal barristers. We meet four lawyers engaged in cases of varying unpleasantness...
The Benedict Option
By embracing their minority status, Christians can revive their faithHannah Roberts, an English Catholic friend, was once telling me about her family's long history in Yorkshire. She spoke with yearning of what she had back home and how painful it is...
The New Social Menace? Serial Flakes
No shows. Repeat cancellations. And all excused by 'flakiness'It was the third time in a row that she had cancelled our date for drinks. The first time she'd forgotten. The second time she remembered a previous engagement and the third time she claimed...
'The Surreal Life of Leonora Carrington', by Joanna Moorhead - Review
The surrealists' muse and a distinguished artist in her own right, Leonora Carrington captivated all who met her, says Jane RyeLeonora Carrington was strikingly beautiful with 'the personality of a headstrong and hypersensitive horse' (according to her...
The Turf: Robin Oakley
Every Grand National reminds me of a hero of my youth: Beltrán Alfonso Osorio y Díez de Rivera, the 18th Duke of Alburquerque, a Spanish amateur rider who became obsessed with the race but whose only entry in the record books is for breaking more bones...
'The Village News: The Truth Behind England's Rural Idyll', by Tom Fort - Review
The old coaching inn on the green. The Sunday morning toll of church bells. The ducklings paddling on the pond. The soft sound of leather against willow. Nothing, absolutely nothing, defines England's idea of itself more than the sleepy rural village....
'To Be a Machine: Adventures among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death', by Mark O'Connell - Review
Are you a deathist? A deathist is someone who accepts the fact of death, who thinks the ongoing massacre of us all by ageing is not a scandal. A deathist even insists that death is valuable: that the only thing that gives life meaning is the fact that...
Trump, the Emptiest Mind
Howard Jacobson talks about his new novel, a hypothetical exploration of the US President's childhoodHoward Jacobson awoke to the news of Trump's victory in November. He had no newspaper column so, what could he do? Write a novel, said his wife, and...
Vatican II and Architecture's Wild Men
In the 1960s, the Catholic Church gave carte blanche to architecture's wild men, says Jonathan Meades, with overwhelming resultsThe Catholic Church's Second Vatican Council provides a salutary example of a tiny 'elite' foisting 'anti-elitist' practices...
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