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 February 14

'After Hitler: The Last Days of the Second World War in Europe', by Michael Jones - Review
After Hitler: The Last Days of the Second World War in Europe Michael JonesPublisher, pp.400, £25, ISBN: 9781848544949 'If the war is lost, then it is of no concern to me if the people perish in it.' Bruno Ganz, who not so much portrays Hitler as...
Ancient and Modern: David Davis vs Cicero
The MP David Davis has lamented that the British seem to prefer laws that protect their security rather than guard their liberty. But the first duty of the state is to protect its citizens. If it could not do that, argued Thomas Hobbes, citizens...
Arts Feature: Vincent Van Gogh - the Coal-Mining Years
In December 1878 Vincent Van Gogh arrived in the Borinage, a bleak coal- mining district near Mons. He was 25 years old. He'd failed to become an art dealer. He'd failed to become a schoolteacher. Drawing was just a hobby -- an artistic career was...
'A Spool of Blue Thread', by Anne Tyler - Review
A Spool of Blue Thread Anne TylerChatto, pp.368, £18.99, ISBN: 9780701189518There was nothing remarkable about the Whitshanks. None of them was famous. None of them could claim exceptional intelligence, and in looks they were no more than average....Their...
Cinema: Love Is Strange
Love Is Strange15, Nationwide You will be wondering why I haven't seen Fifty Shades of Grey as this is very much Fifty Shades of Grey week and although I'm as curious and excited as anybody -- how has Sam Taylor-Johnson filmed a book which, let's...
Dance: The Associates: Prince/Pite/Shechter
The Associates: Prince/Pite/ShechterSadler's WellsJonathan Burrows & Matteo FargionLilian Baylis Studio The prodigious streetdancer Tommy Franzén pops up everywhere from family-friendly hip-hop shows by ZooNation, Boy Blue and Bounce to serious...
Dear Mary: Your Problems Solved
Q. I have a friend with multiple sclerosis. She lives alone in the countryside. There is no bus service and, due to her physical condition, she was disqualified from driving two years ago. I made my friend an open offer that should she need a lift,...
Diary: Sebastian Faulks
Just back from Sri Lanka, a place I first went to in 1981. It was then a dreamy island. I remember giving the room boy who had brought my case to the bandicoot-infested bedroom in Colombo a few rupees, but he wasn't interested. He just wanted to...
Drink: Bruce Anderson
We were discussing wit. I uttered a self-evident truth which proved gratifyingly controversial. Of all the people I encounter, the soldiers are much the funniest. I took no prisoners among those who tried to disagree, merely telling them to get out...
EastEnders: Thatcher's Soap
How EastEnders became a positive reflection of Tory values Albert Square full of Thatcherites? You 'avin a larf? No, it's true. EastEnders , conceived 30 years ago partly as a means of enraging the Conservative party, has blossomed into a Tory commercial.Iain...
Exhibitions: PJ Harvey: Recording in Progress
PJ Harvey: Recording in ProgressArtangel at Somerset HouseChristian MarclayWhite Cube, Bermondsey, until 12 April The album is not what it was. It still exists, in record collections, as part of the torrential streaming of everything, and in the sentimental...
High Life: Taki
GstaadOnce upon a time clergymen saw mountain peaks as natural steeples leading them ever closer to God. Doctors considered mountains the best medicine for tuberculosis, while explorers saw them as rocks never before touched by humans. I thought of those...
'Imagining Xerxes: Ancient Perspectives on a Persian King', by Emma Bridges - Review
The 'Great Kings' of Persia were renowned for their good looks and imposing stature, but they will always, throughout history, be eclipsed by the Greeks, says Tom HollandImagining Xerxes: Ancient Perspectives on a Persian King Emma BridgesBloomsbury,...
In Praise of Ed Miliband
The Labour leader's fiercest critics hate him not for his failures but for his genuine successesListenMost political commentators consider Ed Miliband a useless leader. In a narrow sense they are right. He is not very good at getting a positive press...
Investment: Build Your Own Pension
Deciding the destiny of your retirement is about to get easier. But be sure you know the answers to these questions first... If you want something done properly, it often pays to do it yourself. So it must be good news that as of 6 April, when George...
Investment: Euro Stars
Panic in Europe means opportunity for investors If you want something to worry about, you need only cast your eye across the channel to find yourself spoilt for choice. There is the background noise of massive unrepayable sovereign debt levels. There's...
Investment: How to Bet on Oil
The ins and outs of betting on an oil price bounce Buy jerry cans and fill them while you can. You won't want to be caught out by the great oil shortage of 2016. Maybe that is exaggerating a little, but when you start hearing people talking about...
James Delingpole: A Life-Changing Lunch with an Old Acquaintance
God it's nauseating when an exact university contemporary of yours turns out to have become a hugely successful investor with a fund worth many millions. The bit during our meeting where I most wanted to throw up my ravioli was when this fellow --...
James Forsyth: Where Is the Tories' Secret Weapon?
'You did this,' David Cameron repeatedly declared to Tory donors as he reeled off a list of the government's achievements at the Black and White ball on Monday night. Three months before the general election, the atmosphere at this lavish fundraiser...
Leading Article: Laying Down Our Arms
Britain is forfeiting its position on the world stage. With no national debate, we are surrendering our claim to be a major player in international affairs and undermining the Atlantic alliance that has kept Britain and Europe secure for 65 years....
Letters
A vandalistic proposalSir: Igor Toronyi-Lalic (Farewell, ENO, 7 February) displays a lack of judgment in advocating ENO's demise and in suggesting that opera needs no opera houses, companies or subsidy. That its new arts editor should plead for the closure...
Long Life: Alexander Chancellor
I was listening to the radio the other morning to hear people complaining about the huge cuts in the number of traffic police patrolling English roads. This meant that drivers would disobey motoring laws with impunity, they said. They would babble...
Love in the Smartphone Age
Romance is being killed off by the brutal marketplace of dating apps such as Tinder My foray into the world of online dating was short-lived. Within a few hours of my profile going live, a deluge of young men in their early twenties began to bombard...
Low Life: Jeremy Clarke
My grandson and I had a lovely hour-long swim at the leisure centre. We had the learner pool to ourselves for the first half an hour, during which we threw and dived for our little weighted plastic sharks. Then a stocky man, tattooed like a Maori,...
'Mad Men and Bad Men: What Happened When British Politics Met Advertising', by Sam Delaney - Review
Mad Men and Bad Men: What Happened When British Politics Met Advertising Sam DelaneyFaber, pp.320, £14.99, ISBN: 9780571312382 It is a common prejudice about modern politics that it is all focus groups and spin, all public relations and advertising....
Martin Vander Weyer: Green Must Answer for HSBC's Faults -- but He's Another Victim of Big Banking's Perils
Stephen Green -- the former trade minister Lord Green of Hurstpier-point, who became this week's political punchbag-- was always a rather Olympian, out-of-the-ordinary figure at HSBC.This was a bank that traditionally drew its top men from a corps...
Mind Your Language: Likely
What, asks Christian Major of Bromley, Kent, do I think of 'this new, I assume American, fad for using the word likely as an adverb', as in the great Taki's remark that Alan Turing 'likely won the war' (Spectator , Letters, 31 January)? Well, I...
Modern Paganism: Gods and Fairytales
The rise of modern paganism - and the persistence of the real thing The first pagan temple to be built in Iceland for a thousand years has just been granted planning permission, a wonderful bureaucratic detail that shows up just how much this revival...
Music: Dudamel's Dilemma
On 8 March 2013, Gustavo Dudamel stood by the coffin of the Marxist autocrat Hugo Chavez and conducted the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra in the Venezuelan national anthem. He assumed, like everyone else, that the coffin contained a fresh corpse:...
Notes On: Fez
Fez is one of the seven medieval wonders of the world. An intact Islamic city defined by its circuit of battlemented walls, it is riven by alleyways. You pass doorways that look into a 10th-century mosque, then a workshop courtyard, before coming...
'Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible', by Peter Pomerantsev - Review
Nothing is True and Everything is Possible Peter PomerantsevFaber, pp.284, £14.99, ISBN: 9780571308019 'We all know there will be no real politics.' A prominent Russian TV presenter is speaking off the record at a production meeting in 2001. 'But...
Opera: The Mastersingers of Nuremberg
The Mastersingers of NurembergENO, in rep until 10 MarchDer fliegende HolländerRoyal Opera, in rep until 24 February ENO's new production of Wagner's The Mastersingers of Nuremberg is a triumph about which only the most niggling of reservations can...
Portrait of the Week
HomePhilip Hammond, the foreign secretary, told Parliament that Britain reserved the right to supply arms to Ukraine, as 'We could not allow the Ukrainian armed forces to collapse.' The Prince of Wales, embarking on a six-day tour of the Middle East,...
Radio: Golf on 5 Live; an Image of Sound
Perhaps the news that Radio 5 live will be the only BBC station (under the new broadcasting rights agreements) to broadcast 'live' golf will ensure that its audience stays above the six million listeners now dreamt of by its controller Jonathan Wall...
Real Life: Melissa Kite
'Hello, Vodafone customer s..., can I h...you?'This is typical, I thought. I'm ringing to complain about them charging me £137.08 for one phone call to directory inquiries and I can't even hear them properly because the mobile reception they provide...
Rod Liddle: Why I May Bail out the Guardian
One of the highlights of my week comes on a Saturday morning, when I make myself a cup of fair-trade coffee and settle down to read the letters page of the Guardian . My wife usually joins me -- it's a sort of date thing, romantic in its own way...
Saint Joan and the Treacherous Phone
My time with Joan Collins was wonderful - except for one mortifying moment I did a film with Dame Joan Collins once. No no, not The Stud . It wasn't as good as that. It was called The Clandestine Marriage . And although it wasn't that fun to watch,...
'Second Life', by S.J. Watson - Review
Second Life S.J. WatsonDoubleday, pp.432, £14.99, ISBN: 9780857520197 Few first novels are as successful as S.J. Watson's Before I Go to Sleep , which married a startling and unusual premise to a tightly controlled and claustrophobic thriller. Its...
Status Anxiety: Toby Young
I suppose we should be thankful that Nicola Sturgeon has acknowledged there's a problem with Scotland's public education system, even if she's hit upon the wrong solution. Earlier this week, the First Minister announced that the Scottish -government...
Television: Better Call Saul
I lost count long ago of the number of dinner parties and pub conversations where I've had to utter the humiliating words, 'Actually I haven't seen Breaking Bad .' The social isolation became even more shaming when my 81-year-old mother rang to ask...
Theatre: Goodbye, the [after] Life of Cook & Moore
Goodbye, The [After] Life of Cook & MooreMuseum of Comedy, until 28 FebruaryThe SeparationTheatre503, until 21 February New venue. New enticement. In the undercroft of a vast but disregarded Bloomsbury church nestles the Museum of Comedy. The...
The Trouble with Kids Company
It's a favourite charity of David Cameron and many celebrities. But does it do what it claims to do? In 2006, when David Cameron was leader of the opposition, he made an infamous speech that is remembered as an exhortation to hug a hoodie. Feral youth,...
'The Utopia Experiment', by Dylan Evans - Review
The Utopia Experiment Dylan EvansPicador, pp.225, £14.99, ISBN: 9781447261292 Dylan Evans, the author of this book, was one of those oddballs who rather looked forward to the apocalypse, because it promised 'challenging times ahead'. If, in the not...
The Wiki Man: Rory Sutherland
Are you sitting comfortably and wearing your tinfoil hat? If so, open YouTube and watch a full-screen version of the Zapruder film, in particular the section after frame 215 where the presidential limousine passes behind the Stemmons Freeway sign....
Wild Life: Aidan Hartley
JubaI discovered a 1954 Morris Minor parked outside the Catholic mission station in Mopoi, South Sudan. The car had been there for so long that a guava tree was growing up through the gearbox. To me it was a tragic memorial to Daniel Comboni, the canonised...
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