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 October 24

Ancient and Modern: Pericles vs Corbyn
Whatever else one can say about Jeremy Corbyn, one thing is clear: he is a leader who does not believe in leadership. But he is (he believes) a democrat, and thinks democracy means acceding to the views of those who voted him into the leadership....
Arts Interview: Colm Tóibín
Jenny McCartney talks to unstoppable literary force Colm Tóibín about loss, priests and half-said things 'No matter what I'm writing,' says Colm Tóibín, 'someone ends up getting abandoned. Or someone goes. No matter what I'm trying to do it comes...
'Beatlebone', by Kevin Barry - Review
Beatlebone Kevin BarryCanongate, pp.263, £12.99, ISBN: 9781782116134Beatlebone is an account of a journey, a psychedelic odyssey, its protagonist -- at times its narrator -- John Lennon, seen through the prism of Kevin Barry's imagining. Barry's first...
Charles Moore: The Spectator's Notes
How good a deal for Britain is it that the president of China got a state visit and a nuclear power station and Prince William got the chance to go on Chinese television and complain about the ivory trade? The Prince was listened to politely, of...
'Charlotte Brontë: A Life', by Claire Harman - Review
Charlotte Brontë: A Life Claire HarmanViking, pp.446, £25, ISBN: 9780670922260 Preparations for next year's bicentennial celebrations of the birth of Charlotte Brontë haven't exactly got off to a flying start. At Haworth Parsonage the Brontë Society...
'Children of Monsters: An Inquiry into the Sons and Daughters of Dictators', by Jay Nordlinger - Review
Children of Monsters: An Inquiry into the Sons and Daughters of Dictators Jay NordlingerEncounter Books, pp.336, £17.99, ISBN: 9781594038150 What was it like, asks Jay Nordlinger, to have Mao as your father, or Pol Pot, or Papa Doc? The answer is...
Cinema: Listen to Me Marlon
Listen to Me Marlon15, Key CitiesListen to Me Marlon is a documentary portrait of Marlon Brando that has him burbling into your ear for 102 minutes, but if you have to have someone burbling in your ear for 102 minutes -- and there is no law saying it's...
Dear Mary: Your Problems Solved
Q. As an old trout, large in height and breadth, I have taken a leaf out of the documentary Advanced Style (which celebrates elderly chic) and purchased a pair of oversize specs with big solid frames, plain in style, not à la Dame Edna. My problem...
Diary: Boris Johnson
Frankly I don't know why the British media made such a big fat fuss last week when I accidentally flattened a ten-year-old Japanese rugby player called Toki. He got to his feet. He smiled. Everyone applauded. That's rugby, isn't it? You get knocked...
Drink: Bruce Anderson
The Scots do not know what to do. For once, they have a justified grievance. In recent years, this once-proud nation has been bawling and belly-aching and girning over fictitious complaints to such an extent that Wodehouse's crack about the ray of...
'Edmund Campion: A Scholarly Life', by Gerard Kilroy - Review
Edmund Campion: A Scholarly Life Gerard KilroyAshgate, pp.458, £80, ISBN: 9781409401513 Martyrdom, these days, does not get a good press. Fifty years ago English Catholics could take a ghoulish pride in the suffering of their 16th-century Tyburn...
Exhibitions: Giacometti: Pure Presence; Soaring Flight: Peter Lanyon's Gliding Paintings
Giacometti: Pure PresenceNational Portrait Gallery, until 10 January 2016Soaring Flight: Peter Lanyon's Gliding PaintingsCourtauld Gallery, until 17 January 2016 One day in 1938 Alberto Giacometti saw a marvellous sight on his bedroom ceiling. It...
Here Come the Humanists
'Women's issues' are for everyone. So feminism is obsolete Like all right-thinking lefty men who came of age in the women's liberation movement of the 1970s, I always thought of myself as a feminist. But now, thanks to Meryl Streep, I've been liberated...
'High Dive', by Jonathan Lee - Review
High Dive Jonathan LeeHeinemann, pp.373, £16.99, ISBN: 9780434023370 Sadly, I can't see it catching on, but one of the notable things about Jonathan Lee's new novel is that it features a fleeting appearance by John Redwood. The late Geoffrey Howe...
High Life: Taki
As everyone knows, journalists tend to take themselves seriously, especially American journalists, who take themselves very, very seriously. Dan Rather was such a man, and I use the past tense because although he's still very much alive, he's no...
Iran's Hidden War
It's up to Britain to ensure that the nuclear deal does not allow a greater threat to the Middle East When British troops were on patrol in Iraq and Afghanistan, we faced many enemies, from jihadis to press-ganged civilians. But for me, the most terrifying...
James Delingpole: Adventures in the Dodgy World of Car Insurance
The car insurance industry is a racket: I think we all suspected that. But unless you've had personal experience of its devious workings you probably have no idea just how much of a racket. I didn't myself until just recently when I had to make a...
James Forsyth: Will Theresa Lead the out Tribe?
Who is the most politically interesting member of David Cameron's cabinet? There's a good case to be made for Michael Gove. He is as intent on reforming the justice system as he was our schools. If he succeeds, it will be the biggest transformation...
Justin Cartwright's Johannesburg Notebook
Oddly enough, the cabin service people on the plane are constantly eating during the night, helping themselves to the first-class snacks. They are bulging out of their uniforms. They cannot pass each other in the aisles without difficulty. This is...
Labour's Red-Brick Revolutionaries
Labour was once the clever party. Under Jeremy Corbyn, its front bench is purged of Oxbridge intellectuals 'I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty...
Leading Article: The Human Factor
Just over 30 years ago, Margaret Thatcher's government decided to look at local government finance. A young aide, John Redwood, outlined 'some kind of poll tax which is paid by every elector'. Discussions continued, and bright young men (including...
Letters
Scotland isn't failingSir: It will take more than Adam Tomkins descending from the heights of academe to persuade the Scots that education, health, policing and everything else in Scotland is failing ('The SNP's One-Party State,' 17 October). Scots aren't...
Long Life: Alexander Chancellor
As I grow older, I find myself increasingly reluctant to travel, which is why it's been a few years now since I last visited New York. I like New York, but there are few nastier experiences than going there. The usual horrors associated with modern...
Low Life: Jeremy Clarke
The bar at the Special Forces club has the marvellous rule for newcomers that they should talk to the person on their right. So I was standing at the end of the bar in the Special Forces club, ordering a round of drinks to take back to a table. The...
Martin Vander Weyer: How Fumes, Finance and Mayoral Votes Could Still Halt Heathrow's Bulldozers
The Great British Runway final between Heathrow and Gatwick is beginning to look like a game of two halves. The visit of China's President Xi Jinping is a bonus for the west London team, who can claim that Chinese investors with bulging wallets are...
Mind Your Language: Whipsmart
A friend of my husband's asked me to explain why the usually impeccable critic Francine Stock had recently used the term whipsmart . That I cannot tell, but I do know that he has identified a cliché in the casting. Everyone is suddenly using it.Joaquin...
'More Letters of Note: Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience', by Shaun Usher - Review
More Letters of Note: Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience Shaun UsherCanongate Unbound, pp.384, £30, ISBN: 9781782114543 This book is a serious bit of kit. Its hard covers measure 28.9 by 21 centimetres, and it weighs 1.62 kilograms -- 324,000...
'More Lives Than One: The Extraordinary Life of Felix Dennis', by Fergus Byrne - Review
More Lives than One: The Extraordinary Life of Felix Dennis Fergus ByrneEbury Press, pp.369, £20, ISBN: 9780091959685 This is not only an authorised but a commissioned biography. Felix Dennis, the tiny, depraved, manipulative media mogul, was hardly...
Notes On. Anglesey
We teased our friends by saying that our holiday would be on a far-away island. The Maldives, perhaps? No, Anglesey, off the northwestern tip of Wales. Mentally far-away, that is: but by train, it is only three and a half hours to Bangor, where we...
Opera: Werther; the Tales of Hoffman
WertherEnglish Touring Opera, until 18 NovemberThe Tales of HoffmannEnglish Touring Opera, until 21 November There are some things the French do better than everyone else. Cheese, military defeats and extra-marital affairs are a given, but what about...
Portrait of the Week
HomeXi Jinping, the ruler of China, came, with his wife Peng Liyuan, a folk singer, for a state visit to Britain, to address both Houses of Parliament and to stay at Buckingham Palace. Tata Steel announced the loss of 900 jobs in Scunthorpe and 270 in...
Radio: Short Cuts; Journey of a Lifetime
'I've never met a human being who doesn't appreciate being listened to, being taken seriously,' said Asbjorn Rachlew, the Norwegian homicide detective who one afternoon in the summer of 2011 found himself listening to Anders Breivik, who had just...
Real Life: Melissa Kite
Devotee of the old ways though I am, I can just about understand why a misguided animal lover might oppose fox-hunting.If you enjoy eating KFC while pretending the chicken you are eating hasn't suffered, then it follows that you will worry about...
Rod Liddle: Simon Schama's Migration Muddle
Sooner or later, in this trade, one runs out of television historians to antagonise. I am doggedly working my way through the pack -- and I don't think any of the really big ones are left. I began by annoying Mary Beard and then swiftly moved on...
'Slade House', by David Mitchell - Review
Slade House David MitchellSceptre, pp.233, £12.99, ISBN: 9781473616684 David Mitchell's new book, Slade House , is not quite a novel and not really a collection of short stories. It is, rather, a puzzle and an amusement. A member of the same family...
Spectator Wine: October Wine Club
A serious wine merchant stands or falls by the quality of its own-label or house wines. When I worked at Berry Bros & Rudd over 20 years ago, doing shamefully little to help make it the award-winning success it is today, my boss, Simon Berry,...
Status Anxiety: Toby Young
At the last minute, a friend invited me to a 'Distinguished Speakers Dinner' at the Oxford and Cambridge Club earlier this week. The dinner was being hosted by Christ's College and the speaker was Sir Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate galleries...
Television: The Last Kingdom; Fargo
The opening caption for The Last Kingdom (BBC2, Thursday) read 'Kingdom of Northumbria, North of England, 866 AD'. In fact, though, an equally accurate piece of scene-setting might have been 'Britain, Saturday teatime, the 1970s'.The series, based...
Theatre: The Wars of the Roses: Henry VI ; A Wolf in Snakeskin Shoes; Playground
The Wars of the Roses: Henry VIRose Theatre, in rep until 31 OctoberA Wolf in Snakeskin ShoesTricycle Theatre, until 14 NovemberPlaygroundOld Red Lion, until 7 November The RSC's The Wars of the Roses solves a peculiar literary problem. Shakespeare's...
The Bernie Sanders Effect
Could the socialist senator of Vermont be on track to win the Democratic nomination?BostonA woman's voice carried through a lull in several conversations around the table at a smart East Coast dinner. 'But he's not even a fucking Democrat...' She was...
The End of Feminism
Victory has left 21st-century feminists in a morass of social-media sniping It would be easy to believe from the papers these days that women have never been more oppressed. From the columnist Caitlin Moran to the comedian Bridget Christie, a new...
The Hinkley Point Disaster
Britain's new nuclear plant has hardly left the drawing board, but it's already a case study in what not to do How easy it would be to scorn the environmentalists who are up in arms about George Osborne's new pet project, the Hinkley Point C nuclear...
'The War in the West: Germany Ascendant, 1939-1941', by James Holland - Review
Ordinary Germans under the Third Reich did have wills of their own, argues Dominic Green . Most actively embraced Nazi ideology, and were aware of the extermination of the Jews. As the war worsened for them, what did they think they were fighting for?The...
The Wiki Man: Rory Sutherland
A fascinating newcomer on the British high street is the vape shop. These were perfectly described by my friend Paul Craven as 'like a cross between an Apple Store and an Elizabethan apoth-ecary'.In the splendid All About da Vape in Deal, there is...
Wild Life: Aidan Hartley
I once found myself on a lonely road in southern Ethiopia with the famous Polish author Ryszard Kapuscinski. We were travelling through bandit country when we got a puncture. We had a rendezvous at a bush airstrip with an aircraft that had to take...
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