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 August 2

A Choice of Recent Crime Fiction: Andrew Taylor
Philip Kerr is best known for his excellent Bernie Gunther series about a detective trying to survive with his integrity more or less intact in Nazi Germany. His latest novel, however, is a standalone thriller set in literary territory that might have...
Ancient and Modern: Hadrian on the Limits of Power
Michael Fallon, the new Defence Secretary, is a classicist by training. What lessons, if any, might he take from his study of the ancient world, especially in relation to military adventures in far-off places?Hadrian offered the key insight on the...
'Britannia and the Bear', by Victor Madeira - Review
Britannia and the Bear Victor MadeiraThe Boydell Press, pp.339, £55, ISBN: 9781843838951'No, we must go our own way,' said Lenin. The whole world knows him as Vladimir, while he was in fact Nikolai. 'Nikolai Lenin' was the party alias of Vladimir Ilyich...
Charles Moore: The Spectator's Notes
This week's issue is dated 2 August. On that date 100 years ago, my great-grandfather, Norman Moore (always known as 'NM'), went to Sunday Mass. 'Father Ryan,' he noted in his diary, 'seemed hardly to have thought of the war... I told [him] I felt...
Cinema: Deborah Ross
Mood Indigo12A, Nationwide Your enjoyment of Michel Gondry's Mood Indigo may entirely depend on how much visual whimsy you can take, what your threshold might be, whether you can go with it or whether it wears you out and brings you to your knees....
'Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage', by Haruki Murakami (Translated by Philip Gabriel) - Review
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage Haruki Murakami (translated by Philip Gabriel)Harvill Secker, pp.298, £20, ISBN: 9781846558337 When Haruki Murakami -- Japan's most successful novelist at home and abroad -- was interviewed by...
Culture Notes: War Memorials Trust
One fight that seems to have been won is that spearheaded by the War Memorials Trust to preserve the thousands of memorials -- monuments, statues, plinths, tablets -- erected across the country to honour our war dead. Through conservation grants...
Dear Mary: Mary Killen
Q. At a drinks or a dinner party, when very attentive waiters are hovering, I tend to let them keep topping my glass up since the alternative -- continuing to say 'no thank you' -- is so disruptive of conversation. However, my wife tells me that...
Diary
I knew that the historian Sir Richard Evans was a rather abrasive and quarrelsome man, but I was staggered by his vicious attack on Michael Gove in the Guardian last week. Here's Evans's first sentence: 'Gove presided over the disintegration of...
Drink: Bruce Anderson
'Don't you think you're drinking too much?' said the nurse, contemplating the array of bottles. 'But I feel so thirsty,' I replied. A doctor arrived and concluded that powerful intravenous antibiotics did require a lot of liquid, so that the orange...
'Dusty: An Intimate Portrait', by Karen Bartlett - Review
Dusty: An Intimate Portrait Karen BartlettThe Robson Press, pp.340, £20, ISBN: 9781849546416 Call me a crazy old physiognomist, but my theory is that you can always spot a lesbian by her big thrusting chin. Celebrity Eskimo Sandi Toksvig, Ellen DeGeneres,...
'Empty Mansions', by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr - Review
Empty Mansions Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell JrAtlantic, pp.456, £16.99, ISBN: 9781782394761 The robber barons of the gilded age, at the turn of the 20th century, were the most ruthless accumulators of wealth in the history of the United States,...
Exhibitions: British Folk Art
British Folk ArtTate Britain, until 31 AugustKeith Vaughan in EssexThe Fry Art Gallery, Castle Street, Saffron Walden, until 14 September British folk art has been shamefully neglected in the land of its origin, as if the popular handiwork of past...
Germany's Forgotten War
A century on, Germany prefers to ignore the first world war In 1912 Kaiser Wilhelm had an ambitious task for my great-great-great uncle Karl Max von Lichnowsky. He sent him to London to be our ambassador there, with orders to try to ensure Britain's...
High Life: Taki
GstaadI am looking out of my window at the green landscape and forested mountains rising beyond, as peaceful a scene as there is in this troubled world, but this is Switzerland, a country that hasn't fought a war in 700 years, resisting both Napoleon...
How to Defend Britain's Jews
What our political leaders would say if they really cared about halting anti-Semitic attacks The mask has been torn away. Supposedly anti-Israel protests over the Gaza war have convulsed Europe in the worst scenes of open Jew-hatred since the 1930s....
Interview: Pumeza Matshikiza
Some of my most enjoyable evenings, when I reviewed opera weekly for The Spectator , were spent at the Royal College of Music, in the tiny but elegant and comfortable Britten Theatre. The performers, onstage and in the pit, are mostly current students...
James Delingpole: The Eternal Beauty of John Clare
This has been a terrible year for horseflies. It's bad enough if you're human: often by the time you swat them off the damage has already been wrought by their revolting, cutting mandibles and it's not till 24 hours later, I find, that the bite reaches...
Leading Article: Unfair Welfare
With Ukip snapping at the Conservatives' heels, it is not difficult to see why David Cameron has hit upon the idea of limiting the entitlement of EU migrants to working-age benefits in the UK, so that they can claim only for three months, not six,...
Letters
Nepotism rulesSir: Julie Burchill's piece 'Born to be famous' (26 July) was very strong and as, like her, I'm an ex-Labour supporter turned conservative, it echoed my opinions. The performing arts in particular were a great outlet for the untapped talents...
Long Life: Alexander Chancellor
For a politician to draw attention to his own deficiencies is a desperate attempt to curry favour with the electorate that has been tried before with dismal consequences. The most famous case is that of the former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith who,...
Low Life: Jeremy Clarke
Le tout Torquay was there, cramming into the Princess Theatre with a drink in each hand ten minutes after the show had begun. I pressed in among them. Jim Davidson, in a black shirt, a baggy old pair of jeans and business shoes, was already onstage...
Martin Vander Weyer: Sanctions Rarely Work, but They Might Make Oligarchs Whisper in Putin's Ear
'Sanctions,' said Kofi Annan, 'are a necessary middle ground between war and words.' Neither the EU nor the US will deploy troops or missiles to defend Ukraine against Russian-backed separatists, while Vladimir Putin basks in hostile Western words...
Meet the Porn-Again Parents
It's not just the young whose expectations of sex are warped by dirty videos online I met a nice, middle-aged, middle-class mother at a dinner party who told me that she was very worried about the effects of internet porn on adolescent males. What,...
Mind Your Language: Dot Wordsworth
I don't much care for being called Wordsworth. Oh, the name is rather distinguished, though it came from my husband, but I mean that I don't like to be referred to as 'Wordsworth' without the Mrs. It makes me sound like a convicted criminal.I don't...
Music: Peter Phillips
To go from the second day of the England v . India Test match at Lord's to the Albert Hall for the opening night of the Proms was to make a journey that a chosen few might find enviable. Nonetheless, different though the two activities are, there...
Must Hospitals Ration Tea and Sympathy?
Nurses might be overworked but they could still be kind Sometimes I have a quiet time as a voluntary hospital visitor. But recently I've witnessed a lot of distress from people of all ages and types. The other week I saw an elderly Middle Eastern...
Next on Radio 4: A War Drama That Lasts Four Years
In a studio in Birmingham, there's an air of excitement. Jessica Dromgoole and her team are recording new scenes for Home Front , Radio 4's specially commissioned drama commemorating the first world war. They know that they're about to launch on...
Notes On. Gleneagles
Pity the folk at Gleneagles. They have the misfortune to host the Ryder Cup this year. Nothing, surely, can surpass the drama of the previous contest between the United States and Europe, held at Medinah Country Club near Chicago in 2012. The Yanks...
Opera: Tannhäuser
TannhäuserTheater Freiburg, Norwich Seventeen years ago the Norwegian National Opera staged two cycles of the Ring in Norwich's Theatre Royal, performances that have remained vividly in the minds of anyone who saw them. Now Theater Freiburg has visited...
'Peggy Angus: Designer, Teacher, Painter', by James Russell - Review
Peggy Angus: Designer, Teacher, Painter James RussellAntique Collectors Club, pp.176, £25, ISBN: 9781851497683 During the second world war, when not only food, but paper and artists' materials were scarce, Peggy Angus made a virtue of necessity....
Politics: James Forsyth
At this time of year, whenever you see a British politician looking particularly busy, you can take it as a sign that they are about to go off on holiday. In this puritanical age, nearly all political leaders are afraid to be seen enjoying themselves,...
Portrait of the Week
HomeBritain is to halve to three months the time that EU migrants without realistic job prospects can claim benefits, David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said in an article for the Daily Telegraph . Workers for the Passport Office who belong to the Public...
Radio: Kate Chisholm
What's been missing from the schedules during the Commonwealth Games has been a straightforward reminder about who makes up the roster of nations and why. When, for instance, did it suddenly become OK to talk about the Commonwealth without that frisson...
Real Life: Melissa Kite
With a heavy heart, I have just conducted my biannual lying session. I hate that I have to do this. I am an honest person driven to the extremes of fib-telling by a situation that I can see no other way out of.Every time I find myself in this situationI...
Rod Liddle: Take It from an Ex-Slut - Cameron Is Indulging PC Lunacy
Is it ever appropriate to use the word 'slut'? I always take my lead from the Prime Minister and he has assured the country that it is never appropriate or acceptable, so henceforth I shall desist from employing the term. If, one evening, I come...
Status Anxiety: Toby Young
I spent last weekend at Port Eliot in Cornwall. This is supposed to be a literary and music festival and my reason for being there was to talk about my new book What Every Parent Needs to Know . In reality, though, it's just an excuse to go camping...
Television: James Walton
Channel 4's Kids and Guns (Thursday) began with an American TV advert in which a young boy's eyes shone with gratitude when his parents gave him a large gun, proudly marketed as 'My First Rifle'. And just in case that seemed a bit macho, the ad...
Theatre: Medea
MedeaOlivier, in rep until 4 SeptemberHolesArcola Tent, until 9 August Carrie Cracknell's new version of Medea strikes with overwhelming and rather puzzling force. The royal palace has been done up to resemble a clapped-out Spanish villa that seems...
'The Birdcage', by Clive Aslet - Review
The Birdcage Clive AsletCumulus, pp.328, £18.95, ISBN: 9780953664719 It is difficult to know whether Clive Aslet intended a comparison between his debut novel, The Birdcage , set in Salonica during the first world war, and Sebastian Faulks's similarly...
The Creative Power of Mistakes
Some of art's most important steps forward began simply as misconceptions One day in 1959, the Minimalist sculptor Carl Andre was putting the finishing touches to an abstract sculpture in wood. The work, entitled 'Last Ladder', was carved on only...
'The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream', by Dan Washburn - Review
The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream Dan WashburnOne World, pp.316, £12.99, ISBN: 9781851689484 I was in Shanghai interviewing a Chinese film director and an actor. We were discussing government censorship. How did anyone manage in China,...
The Rise of Crowd Culture
Individualism is dead: we have succumbed to the lure of the crowdHell, as one of Jean-Paul Sartre's characters said, is other people. Unless, that is, you happen to be British and born after about 1980, in which case hell is the opposite: being alone...
The Wiki Man: Rory Sutherland
One inarguably good thing about electronic publishing is that it solves that old quandary about what books to pack for your holiday -- you just take a tablet or Kindle and buy books on a whim. The downside, however, is that this old dilemma has been...
This Week's Other Big Anniversary
Some reasons to remember this week's other great anniversary: the accession of George I The centenary of the start of the first world war is getting much more attention than the tricentenary of the accession of George I, which also falls this week....
'Wilhelm II: Into the Abyss of War and Exile, 1900-1941', by John C.G. Röhl, Translated by Sheila De Bellaigue and Roy Bridge - Review
The life of Kaiser Wilhelm II is also a guide to how to ruin a country, says Philip Mansel He who must be obeyed: portrait of the Kaiser by Ferdinand Keller, 1893Wilhelm II: Into the Abyss of War and Exile, 1900-1941 John C.G. Röhl, translated by...
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