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 May 3

A Bishop's Connections
The Rt Revd John Bickersteth on guns, gays and the QueenCredit: Matthew BellThe bishopric of Bath and Wells comes with more bear-traps than most. For one thing, there's the baby-eating. Ever since Blackadder told Baldrick he was being chased for a debt...
Ancient and Modern: Boris's Periclean Optimism
Credit: Peter JonesWhat is Boris's great secret? Does it lie in the bust of the Athenian statesman Pericles (c. 495-429 bc) that he keeps in the Mayor's office in London?The key can be found, perhaps, in Pericles' passionate commitment to the idea of...
Beyoncé's Family Values
Meet popular culture's most powerful advocate for marriageCredit: Fraser NelsonListenWhenTime pictured an underwear-clad pop star on its cover, hailing her as one of the world's most influential people, it looked like a crass sales ploy. But in Beyoncé...
Broadway's Great Tradition
Credit: Richard Eyre'America,' said John Updike, 'is a vast conspiracy for making you happy.' If that's true, there have been few more successful conspiracies than the Broadway musical -- that is, the 'book' (meaning 'play') musical -- a dramatic form...
Charles Moore: The Spectator's Notes
Credit: Charles MooreThe conviction of Max Clifford for indecent assaults feels like a vindication of the jury system, as did the acquittal of the many other showbiz characters charged under Operation Yewtree. One reason I keep raising questions of justice...
Cinema: Blue Ruin
Credit: Deborah RossBlue RuinKey CitiesLooking for Light: Jane BownKey CitiesBlue Ruin is a low-budget yet highly accomplished revenge thriller although whether you have the stomach for it is another matter. I do not have a strong stomach, as we know,...
Culture Notes: Spirit of Soho
Credit: Jack WakefieldEvery so often, John Deakin, jug-eared chronicler of Soho and hanger-on at the Colony Rooms, is breathlessly rediscovered as the unknown giant behind Bacon and the forgotten man from Soho's  generation of genius. All that is so...
Dear Mary: Mary Killen
Credit: Mary KillenQ. My sister and I own a popular caravan park which, for 30 years, has given happiness to around a hundred caravan owners a week. Over the past three years, however, our small profit has turned into a loss due to the craze for wet...
Diary: Sam Neill
Credit: Sam NeillI am back in the UK for work. Great time to turn up -- after the grim, grey grind of the British winter. Here in Manchester, people stroll in shirtsleeves or T-shirts, though it's still only 15 degrees. They are, in truth, dazzlingly...
Exhibitions: Art and Life: 1920-1931: Ben Nicholson, Winifred Nicholson, Christopher Wood, Alfred Wallis & William Staite Murray
Credit: Andrew LambirthArt and Life: 1920-1931: Ben Nicholson, Winifred Nicholson, Christopher Wood, Alfred Wallis & William Staite MurrayKettle's Yard, Cambridge, until 11 MayThis exhibition examines a loosely knit community of artists and their...
Food: Tanya Gold
Credit: Tanya GoldIt is now two decades since I lived in Oxford. I was then a drunk and lonely puddle of a person, with only a gift for screaming; but no matter how low I sank, to paraphrase Alcoholics Anonymous literature, I never sank quite as low...
'Georgie & Elsa: Jorge Luis Borges and His Wife: The Untold Story', by Norman Thomas Di Giovanni - Review
Credit: Ian ThomsonGeorgie & Elsa: Jorge Luis Borges and his Wife: The Untold Story Norman Thomas di Giovanni The Friday Project, pp.259, £16.99, ISBN: 9780007524389When Jorge Luis Borges died in 1986, at the age of 87, he left behind 100-odd slender...
'Gwynne's Latin', by N.M. Gwynne - Review
Credit: Harry MountGwynne's Latin N.M. Gwynne Ebury Press, pp.256, £8.99, ISBN: 9780091957438The wisest words about learning Latin were said by that gifted prep-school boy, Nigel Molesworth: 'Actually, it is quite easy to be topp in lat. You just have...
High Life: Taki
Credit: Taki The vicissitudes of getting old are linked to the mystical innocence of childhood as one daydreams the precious time away. I'm a daydreamer par excellence, and lately I've been thinking non-stop about my daughter. She's getting married this...
Hugo Rifkind: Why Do Racists like Ukip?
Credit: Hugo RifkindThe most thought-provoking discussion about racism I ever heard took place five years ago on Channel 4'sCelebrity Wife Swap . No, it did. On the one side they had the former TV pundit and football manager Ron Atkinson and his wife...
In Praise of E-Cigarettes
The e-cigarette means that tobacco is going the way of the top hat. So what is the medical establishment's problem with it?Credit: Matt RidleyIf somebody invented a pill that could cure a disease that kills five million people a year worldwide, 100,000...
'In Search of Gielgud: A Biographer's Tale', by Jonathan Croall - Review
Credit: Keith BaxterIn Search of Gielgud: A Biographer's Tale Jonathan Croall Herbert Adler, pp.220, £10.95, ISBN: 9781842890226In the summer of 1955 a group of finals students trooped into a classroom at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. We had come...
James Forsyth: Why Osborne Wants Hague's Job
Credit: James ForsythListenConfidence is coursing through Downing Street at the moment. The economy is growing at a good clip and senior Tories feel more optimistic than ever about the result of the next general election. With this belief in retaining...
'John Ruskin: Artist and Observer', by Christopher Newall - Review
Credit: John McEwenJohn Ruskin: Artist and Observer Christopher Newall National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa/ Paul Holberton Publishing, pp.376, £37.50, ISBN: 9781907372575This stout and well-designed volume nicely complements Tim Hilton's classic biography...
'Language!: 500 Years of the Vulgar Tongue', by Jonathon Green - Review
Credit: Julie BurchillLanguage!: 500 Years of the Vulgar Tongue Jonathon Green Atlantic, pp.432, £25, ISBN: 9781848878983I've always said that speech is my second language, so naturally I'm somewhat slang-shy; I love words all written down properly...
Leading Article: The National Trust and Fracking
Credit: The SpectatorWhat has happened to Dame Helen Ghosh? Last October the director-general of the National Trust seemed prepared to stand against the green orthodoxy which exists in the public and voluntary sectors. She declared that she had an 'open...
Letter from Australia
Credit: Andrew NeilNo rest for the wicked. We touch down before dawn in Sydney after a 22-hour flight and by 7 a.m. I'm live on radio2GB with Alan Jones. I'm aware talk radio is big in Australia -- as you'd expect in a country full of refreshingly forthright...
Letters
Credit: The SpectatorBurchill's flimsy faithSir: It is funny that it now falls to the Julie Burchills of this world, the old rebels of the cultural left, to speak up for Christianity in Britain ('For God's Sake', 26 April). Good for her, I say, especially...
Long Life: Alexander Chancellor
Credit: Alexander ChancellorThe appointment of Sajid Javid as the new Secretary of State for Culture has been much criticised on the grounds that culture is not his forte; and in an interview with theTimes the other day he confessed that he had never...
'Lost for Words', by Edward St Aubyn - Review
Credit: Sam LeithLost for Words Edward St Aubyn Picador, pp.261, £12.99, ISBN: 9780330454223Edward St Aubyn's new novel is a jauntily malicious satire on literary prizes in general, the Man Booker Prize in particular and, it may be presumed, the 2011...
Low Life: Jeremy Clarke
Credit: Jeremy ClarkeSharon's back. As soon as I heard, I went straight round to the house and let myself in. She was standing in the kitchen wearing that deceptively vulnerable look that she has. Also in the room was a little girl aged about three with...
Martin Vander Weyer: Patience Is Exhausted with Bankers and Their Bonuses: This Debate Won't Go Away
Credit: Martin Vander WeyerA bouquet to Alison Kennedy, 'governance and stewardship director' at the Edinburgh-based pensions provider Standard Life, for leading the rebellion of Barclays shareholders against the bank's decision to pay increased bonuses...
Matthew Parris: Ukip Isn't a National Party. It's a Tory Sickness
Credit: Matthew ParrisIt can happen that something ought to feel wrong yet somehow doesn't; and you wonder whether this means that in some deep way it could be right. Take for example a discussion on BBC Radio 4'sToday programme on Saturday last week....
Mind Your Language: Shouty
Credit: Dot WordsworthHitler was 'dark, shouty, moustachioed' in Churchill's eyes, or rather, that was Jonathan Rose's view of how Churchill saw Hitler, according to Sam Leith, writing in the books pages on 19 April.Shouty is not a word Churchill would...
Music: Perfect Harmony
Credit: Peter PhillipsTo curate a festival these days is to put oneself in the firing line. There is every chance that all one will earn is the charge of stirring up apathy. It is a risk; and there will be no knowing how it has gone until it is much...
'Nagasaki', by ÉRic Faye (Trans Emily Boyce) - Review
Credit: Lee LangleyNagasaki Éric Faye (trans Emily Boyce) Gallic Books, pp.109, £7.99, ISBN: 9781908313652There is a problem with describing what happens inNagasaki : impossible to reveal much of the plot without flagging up serious spoiler alerts....
Notes On. the Alpes-Maritimes
Credit: Mark PalmerMy mother always said she wanted to 'die tidy'. But I never imagined she would file everything away quite so neatly as she did.One drawer in her desk was given over to travel. It included a little Hermès box containing a leather docket...
Opera: Khovanskygate: A National Enquiry
Credit: Michael TannerKhovanskygate: A National EnquiryBirmingham Opera Company, until 2 MayCosì fan tutteMet Opera LiveWithin the space of a few weeks we have had the rare chance of seeing the two great torsos of Russian opera, Borodin'sPrince Igor...
'Other People's Countries: A Journey into Memory', by Patrick McGuinness - Review
Credit: Wynn WheldonOther People's Countries: A Journey into Memory Patrick McGuinness Cape, pp.180, £14.99, ISBN: 9780224098304Patrick McGuinness's prose trembles on the edge of poetry, occasionally indeed tipping gently over into it. This is thoroughly...
Portrait of the Week
Credit: The SpectatorHomeThe British economy grew by 0.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2014, disappointing hotheads who'd expected 1 per cent. It was 3.1 per cent bigger than a year earlier, but 0.6 per cent smaller than in 2008. Pfizer, the American...
Radio: Kate Chisholm
Credit: Kate ChisholmDid you hear those bloodcurdling screams from Kirsty? Those long-drawn-out wails that echoed horrifically through the ancient walls of St Stephen's Church last Thursday -- in a strange, unwelcome echo of Nigel's unfortunate descent...
Real Life: Melissa Kite
Credit: Melissa KiteReally, I do wish people would stagger their baby-making. Absolutely every professional person whose services I have required in the past few weeks has declared themselves out of action for procreational reasons. And before I get...
Rod Liddle: We've Proved That Mice Despise Women. but Are We Sure That Dogs Love War?
Credit: Rod LiddleApparently, mice think that women are useless. I don't mean that they think women mice are useless -- they're keen enough on them, all right. I mean women women, like Rachel Reeves, the shadow secretary of state for work and pensions,...
Shopping for the Apocalypse
America's doomsday preparedness industry is boomingCredit: Tom Leonard New York CityAn architect friend who usually designs Manhattan skyscrapers was recently asked to pitch for a far more interesting project. The client, a senior partner at Goldman...
'Sicily: A Literary Guide for Travellers', by Andrew and Suzanne Edwards - Review
Credit: Duncan FallowellSicily: A Literary Guide for Travellers Andrew and Suzanne Edwards I.B. Tauris, pp.256, £16.99, ISBN: 9781780767949At the opposite end of the Continent to ourselves, Sicily has always been an attraction for the English who, from...
Spectator Sport: Roger Alton
Credit: Roger AltonIt's hard to love Saracens rugby club -- their centre is called Bosch, a word that also describes their bulldozing style of play -- but you have to admire the demolition job they did on Clermont Auvergne in the semi-finals of the Heineken...
Spectator Wine
Credit: Jonathan RayWe're thinking ahead with this offer, with summer firmly in our sights. Think of barbecues, picnics by the river, summer fêtes and lazy days on the beach. And think of red wine. Chilled.I've never understood our obsession for serving...
Status Anxiety: Toby Young
The only way to survive as a London cyclist is to behave like a complete nutterCredit: Toby YoungI wonder how many cyclists are killed in London during tube strikes? I had a 10 a.m. meeting in the West End on Tuesday that I couldn't cancel so made the...
Television: James Delingpole
Credit: James DelingpoleI was so looking forward toGeneration War (BBC2, Saturday) -- a three-part drama series covering the second world war from the perspective of five young men and women on the German side. Any nation capable of producing the ME-109,...
'The 21st Century Digested', by John Crace - Review
Credit: James WaltonThe 21st Century Digested John Crace Constable, pp.329, £12.99, ISBN: 9781480338583Fiction'So how come we're in the same book?' Paul fromThe Stranger's Child asked Florence fromOn Chesil Beach .'Apparently,' replied Florence looking...
Theatre: Relative Values
Credit: Lloyd EvansRelative ValuesHarold Pinter, booking until 21 JuneArchimedes' PrinciplePark, until 11 MayCripes. How did I get that one wrong? A few issues back I blithely predicted that Harry Hill's musicalI Can't Sing would run for three years....
The Descent of Man
It's not just that women are doing better. Britain has a crisis of masculinityCredit: Isabel HardmanListenLast week saw another victory in the battle for equal pay. Workers in Swansea are now looking forward to receiving around £750,000 in back pay after...
'The Kept Girl, A Mystery of 1929 Los Angeles', by Kim Cooper - Review
Credit: Michael ParaskosThe Kept Girl, A Mystery of 1929 Los Angeles Kim Cooper Esotouric Ink, pp.274, £19.99, ISBN: 9780991049400If the inclusion of the erstwhile master of the genre, Raymond Chandler, as a fictonalised character in a pastiche 1930s...
'The Trigger', by Tim Butcher - Review
Credit: Victor SebestyenThe Trigger Tim Butcher Chatto, pp.308, £18.99, ISBN: 9780701187934Amid the vast tonnage of recent books about the first world war this must be the most unusual -- and one of the most interesting. The 'Trigger' of the title is...
The Turf: Settling Up
Credit: Robin OakleyMrs Oakley takes a dim view of my using the BMW that consumed much of her savings to ferry sacks of garden refuse and discarded paint tins to the council dump. She took an even dimmer view when, in executing a three-point turn recently,...
The World of Audio Description
Credit: Selina MillsI did not mean to snort so loudly. There I was watching the amazing Simon Russell Beale inKing Lear at the National Theatre and things were all getting a bit nasty -- what with daughters scheming and people having their eyes gouged...
'Thursday's Children', by Nicci French - Review
Credit: Susie DentThursday's Children Nicci French Michael Joseph, pp.420, £14.99, ISBN: 97807181656992The term 'psychological thriller' is an elastic one these days, tagged liberally on to any story of suspense that explores motivations while keeping...
Tripping through Psychedelia
Credit: Hugo WilliamsThe Exploding Galaxy flashed brightly in the black-and-white world that was just coming to an end as I was growing up. When I first met them, my opinion of art was fixed firmly against what I thought of as amateur. I came from a...
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.