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 22

Ancient and Modern
A year ago, the Danes reached into their groaning cracker barrel and pulled out 'hygge' as their own solution to the world's problems. That was bad enough, but now it is the Swedes' turn, offering up 'lagom' as the shrine before which all must now grovel...
Anti-Social Media
Until the election is over, it's best avoidedOn Tuesday morning I was thinking to myself how oddly pleasant social media seemed. Then Theresa May dropped her election bomb. Immediately the posts started appearing: 'Tory scum' and 'Tories launch coup',...
Charles Moore: The Spectator's Notes
The fact that nothing leaked about Mrs May's snap election tells you much of what you need to know about her. It shows how iron is her discipline and how close her inner circle (so close, in fact, that it is a triangle rather than a circle). It suggests...
Cinema: Rules Don't Apply
Rules Don't Apply is Warren Beatty's first film appearance in 15 years and his first as writer, director, producer and star since Bulworth, 19 years ago. Plenty of time, then, to figure out what he wanted to say, and how he wanted to say it, but Rules...
Dear Mary
Q. May I pass on a tip to readers wishing to reject a hopeful romantic partner without hurting their feelings? I recently made an overture towards a friend I have long admired. At first I was hurt when he confessed he didn't return my feelings. However,...
Diary: Andrew Marr
We are all drama queens, really, we political hacks; and so we were all thoroughly delighted by Theresa May's Tuesday coup. I have long been arguing that we would have an election this year, and I had been beginning to feel lonely. But one big thing...
Drink: Bruce Anderson
I argued that it was unnecessary to have made sacrifices during Lent in order to celebrate its conclusion. It is the thought that counts. Others were less sure, though none of them exhibited the stigmata of austerity. Anyway, we ate some magnificent...
Faute De Mieux
The rivals for the French presidency offer crooked competence at best, economic meltdown at worstWho will win the French presidential election? Does it even matter? Nothing in the programmes or personalities of the leading contenders gives confidence...
'Gastrophysics: The New Science of Eating', by Charles Spence - Review
After reading Gastrophysics: The New Science of Eating, you might, as I did, sit for a bit wondering what a chef is, exactly. We think of chefs as cooks, people in charge of a kitchen, ingredients, pan and heat, who hopefully produce great dishes of...
High Life: Taki
If any more proof were needed that Brexit is the best thing to happen to Britain since 1066 and all that, here it is: geologists have at last assembled a picture of the forces that tore a ten-million-year-old land bridge away and turned Britain into...
Hollywood's Horrors
As she moves into producing, Gemma Arterton tells Tanya Gold why she hated Hollywood and nearly gave up actingGemma Arterton's new film, Their Finest, is about second world war propaganda. Her character, who is bookish and sensitive, is allowed -- because...
Hugo Rifkind: What Can May Say to the Tory Remainers?
I don't see it. I do not see the anatomy of how it all pans out. Theresa May will be the next Prime Minister because, jeez, who else is going to be? What I cannot see, though, is what she says, and to whom, along the way. Most of all, I cannot see what...
'Idaho', by Emily Ruskovich - Review
If you go down to the woods today... That is the starting point for Idaho by Emily Ruskovich, who grew up on Hoodoo mountain in the Idaho panhandle. A family -- mother Jenny, father Wade, daughters May and June -- leave their little house in the big...
I'm Proud to Be a Prude
Forget compromises - women must learn to say 'no, I'd rather not'What advice would you give to this modern moral question posed by my friend's younger sister? A boy at school had asked her to send him a selfie. Nude, naturally. She was dithering. She...
James Delingpole: Is Trump's Revolution Already Over?
There were three reasons why I so badly wanted Donald Trump to win the US presidential election. One was that the alternative was Hillary; another that I knew it would annoy all the worst people in the world; but the third was a positive one: I genuinely...
'Killers of the Flower Moon: Oil, Money, Murder and the Birth of the FBI', by David Grann - Review
In the early 1920s, while the United States was entering its crazed phase of prohibition and prosperity, a group of Native Americans had also just struck it rich. The Osage were a tribe who had been driven west (like others), and had settled in a rocky...
Leading Article: May's Manifesto
Never has the Conservative party entered a general election campaign feeling more confident about victory. Much of that confidence is due to the abject weakness of the Labour party, but much is also due to Theresa May.Since taking office she has made...
Left in the Shadows
For Corbyn's comrades, staying in opposition is a point of honourIn the early hours of 9 June 2017, Jeremy Corbyn conceded defeat. For the luckless political journalists forced to cover the Labour campaign this was a rare moment. The leader of the opposition...
Letters
Benedictine engagementSir: Matthew Parris has missed the point ('Give me the Anglican option', 15 April). He compares Rod Dreher's suggestion that modern Christians emulate the Benedictines with the retreat into self-imposed exile of groups like ultra-Orthodox...
'London's Triumph: Merchant Adventurers and the Tudor City', by Stephen Alford - Review
Tudor merchants -- shivering in furs in tiny creaking ships, sailing through the ice of unknown winter seas -- knew something that today's careworn EU and civil service officials might be irritated to hear: that despite all travails, trade deals can...
Low Life: Jeremy Clarke
When I was depressed 20 years ago, the (then) new antidepressant drug Prozac sorted it easily. It took six weeks for it to lift me up and I stopped taking it after four months. I experienced no side effects and lived happily ever after, believing that...
Martin Vander Weyer: Disaster versus Chaos for France's Economy? My Village Neighbours Don't Seem Bothered
The lovely Dordogne village of St Pompon that is my holiday hide-away has only 350 voters, but is a perfect predictor of presidential elections. It voted heavily for Jacques Chirac against Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2002, marginally for Nicolas Sarkozy against...
'Mask of the Sun: The Science, History and Forgotten Lore of Eclipses', by John Dvorak - Review
Marek Kukula was surprised to find himself moved to tears when he first witnessed a solar eclipseMask of the Sun: The Science, History and Forgotten Lore of Eclipsesby Norton, £20, pp. 336On 28 May 1900 Mabel Loomis Todd, friend and editor of the poet...
Music: St John Passion - Britten Sinfonia; Thomas Tallis: Songs of Reformation - Alamire/David Skinne
'The dripping blood our only drink/ The bloody flesh our only food.../ Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.' In spite of that. Anglo-Catholic convert T.S. Eliot knew a thing or two about Easter. The Passion story might end with resurrection...
North Korea's Idea of Britain? David Beckham
When I arrived in Seoul, I joked to my editor that I hoped this was not going to be like Ukraine. I went there for three days and ended up staying for five weeks because a war broke out. This time the threat of war is implied, rather than real, although...
Notes On. Genoa
Some say Genoa takes its name from Janus, the two-faced god of time and doorways. Perhaps. What's certain is the city has two aspects: the vast industrial port, its docks the bared teeth of the Italian Riviera; and, in the ruched strip of land between...
Opera: Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria
Monteverdi 450 -- the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists' tour of his three operas to 33 cities across two continents -- began with his penultimate work Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria, at Bristol's Colston Hall. It was a marvellous occasion,...
'Past Mortems: Life and Death Behind Mortuary Doors', by Carla Valentine - Review
I grew up with a skeleton in the attic. My mother's clinical training bestowed on our family a short man's dry remains, and his residency at home fed the nightmares of my siblings. When I started medical school, he came too, but now as an ally in passing...
Portrait of the Week
HomeTheresa May, the Prime Minister, having repeatedly said that there would be no election until 2020, surprised the nation by suddenly standing at a lectern in Downing Street, while the wind ruffled her hair, and saying that she sought a general election...
'Pussy', by Howard Jacobson - Review
I think we're all agreed about Donald Trump -- by which I mean all of us who read the literary novel, buy hardbacks and take pleasure in good writing. The novel as a form is interested in different points of view; is protean and humanly various; listens...
Radio: S-Town; Only Artists; Keeping in Touch
How about this for an inspiring response to what could have been a personal tragedy. Chi-chi Nwanoku was in the sixth form at school, a promising athlete hoping to represent Great Britain as a 100-metre sprinter, when she injured her knee playing football....
Real Life: Melissa Kite
Goodbye then, Bal-ham. You were my gateway to the south. I loved you for so many more reasons than that, but the fact that I could get away from you and go down the A3 to the verdant grasslands of Cob-ham was probably one of the biggest ones, if I'm...
Rod Liddle: What I Expect from This Pointless Election
A general election is called and in a matter of hours a neutral and unbiased BBC presenter has likened our Prime Minister to Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Governments rise and governments fall, but some things stay just as they always were. It was Eddie Mair...
Status Anxiety: Toby Young
The people I feel most sorry for in the wake of Theresa May's shock announcement are not moderate Labour MPs, nor even the pollsters, who really will be in trouble if they get another election wrong. No, it's the bankers' wives of west London. If the...
Television: Born to Kill; First Dates
Psychological thrillers -- or 'thrillers' as they used to be known -- have become almost as ubiquitous on television as they are in the average bookshop. On the whole, this is now a genre where contented domesticity exists solely to be undermined, and...
The Allure of Shipwrecks
Daisy Dunn investigates the allure of shipwrecks - from Caligula to Damien HirstThere isn't a luxury ship that wouldn't look better for having sunk. Barnacles and rot bring such romance to the lines, like spider webs in the sea. Even the decay Damien...
Theatre: Much Ado about Nothing; Finders Keepers
Even the Bard's staunchest fans admit that 'Shakespeare comedy' may be an oxymoron. That's the assumption of the touring company Shit-Faced Shakespeare, which produces the plays as adventures in boozy slapstick. The audience is encouraged to swig along...
'The Durrells of Corfu', by Michael Haag - Review
When I was at boarding school in the early 1970s, the Durrells, or at least Gerald, were immensely popular. My Family and Other Animals made us laugh out loud; we squealed as the scorpions skittered across the family's dining table and groaned empathetically...
'The Forensic Records Society', by Magnus Mills - Review
Every year at this time, as trees come into bud and flowers bloom, middle-aged men (and a few women) sleep overnight on pavements to ensure they don't miss the year's crop of Record Store Day releases; April may indeed be the cruellest month if one fails...
The Irish Seesaw
June's vote will be decisive for Northern Ireland's balance of powerWhen David Cameron called his Brexit referendum, the potential difficulty of Northern Ireland was not uppermost in his mind. Nor does it seem to have worried Theresa May greatly when...
Theresa May's Party Tricks
A supposedly cautious Prime Minister has taken a dangerous gambleTheresa May has long been clear about what sets her apart from other politicians: she doesn't play political games. When she launched her bid for the top job last year, she was clear that...
The Suburban Battleground
The PM knows victory will be found among the privet hedgesIn Westminster, all the general election chatter is about Brexit. Will Tory Remainers turn Lib Dem? Will Labour leavers desert Jeremy Corbyn? As polling day draws near, however, the Europe obsession...
The Wiki Man: Rory Sutherland
Crowdfunding is a promising idea, and has created useful products. The Canary home-security system I wrote about recently was funded in this way. One big problem remains, though: how do you reward your early backers if you become too successful? Many...
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