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 June 13

Adulterers' Web of Sin
Why don't more people object to online promotion of adultery? The website illicitencounters.com connects married people who are interested in straying, in cheating on their spouses. Or, as the website puts it, people who are 'looking for a little...
Ancient and Modern: The Game of Survival
Apparently Fifa emperor Sepp Blatter received a ten-minute standing ovation from his 400 staff when he addressed them after his resignation. But why? Were they expressing sorrow at his departure? Relief? Or prudently watching their backs?Life was...
Arts Inteview: James Turrell, Sculptor of Light
James Turrell gave me extremely precise instructions. After dinner, I was to walk out through the grounds at Houghton Hall to the skyspace he has built. Here I should observe the gradual darkening above as brightness fell from the Norfolk air. At...
Barometer
Forty years onThe forthcoming EU referendum has rekindled memories of the in-out Common Market referendum of 1975. But it seems a strange looking-glass world now.-- Mrs Thatcher was a keen 'yes' campaigner, sporting a jumper with the flags of EC member...
Britain's Crisis of Faith
England's churches are in deep trouble It's often said that Britain's church congregations are shrinking, but that doesn't come close to expressing the scale of the disaster now facing Christianity in this country. Every ten years the census spells...
'Buy Me the Sky: The Remarkable Truth of China's One-Child Generations', by Xinran - Review
Buy Me the Sky: The Remarkable Truth of China's One-child Generations XinranRider, pp.320, £20, ISBN: 9781846044717 This book starts with a Chinese boy so privileged and pampered that, at 21, he can't open his own suitcase, let alone unpack it. It...
Charles Moore: The Spectator's Notes
Two beautiful volumes in a cloth-bound case reach me. They are Speeches and Articles by HRH The Prince of Wales 1968-2012 , published by University of Wales Press. The explanatory list of abbreviations and acronyms alone gives a charming sense of...
Cinema: The Look of Silence
The Look of Silence15, Nationwide With Joshua Oppenheimer's The Act of Killing you'd be minded to think that's it, that's the Indonesian genocide (1965-66) done, but now he's returned with a second film that is equally stunning, equally riveting...
'Colouring in', by Angela Huth - Review
Colouring In Angela HuthLong Barn Books, pp.384, £9.99, ISBN: 9781902421261 Lovely, gentle Isabel, just 40, makes masks. Her husband Dan, erstwhile 'student of the Classics' and playwright manqué, is 'bored by the import-export business'. Enter long...
Dear Mary: Your Problems Solved
Q. My parents brought me up to write only my name in a visitors' book. However, following a recent long weekend in the house of a friend's father, I was last to sign and found the other guests had all written lengthy gushing tributes to our host....
Diary
Down here in west Cornwall, the days are long and summer is on the wing. Like the Tories in Scotland, the tiny population of Cornish choughs continue to defy extinction, clinging on like crazy with their little red feet, simply refusing to die out....
'Farthest Field: An Indian Story of the Second World War', by Raghu Karnad - Review
Farthest Field: An Indian Story of the Second World War Raghu KarnadWilliam Collins, pp.320, £18.99, ISBN: 9780008115722 It is often said that cricket was 'a game invented by the English and played by Indians', and every so often a book comes along...
'Federer and Me: A Story of Obsession', by William Skidelsky - Review
Federer and Me: A Story of Obsession William SkidelskyYellow Jersey, pp.276, £16.99, ISBN: 9780224092357 Good writing about sport is rare -- and good writing about tennis is that much rarer -- so it's conspicuous that we've had so much of it about...
Food: Tanya Gold
The Beaumont Hotel is a bright white cake in the silent part of Mayfair, where the only sound is Patek Philippe watches, tick-tocking. We are in the eye of the storm, where it should be quiet; of the cacophony of Selfridges, just to the north, we...
High Life: Taki
There's nothing to add to Martin Vander Weyer's item about Hellas of two weeks ago in these here pages except a Yogi Berra pearl, 'It ain't over till it's over.' The Greek drama will go on and on until the brinkmanship is exhausted. The EU has blinked,...
'How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century and the Patient Zero of Piracy', by Stephen Witt - Review
How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century and the Patient Zero of Piracy Stephen WittViking, pp.304, £20, ISBN: 9781847922823 In 1994 I was working in marketing at London Records, a frothy pop label part-owned by the Polygram...
Hugo Rifkind: Why Does No One Blame Cameron for Libya?
Call me petulant, but I'm not sure Britain is getting enough credit for our fine, fine work in Libya. The Islamic State, so recently present only in the semi-mythical lands of Syria and Iraq -- places you see on the news, but don't really have to...
In Defence of Undertakers
By looking after the dead, funeral directors allow the living to love and mourn them I adore undertakers. Unlike dentists or buses or boyfriends, they're always there when you need them: even if you call in the middle of the night you will be answered...
'Invisible Threads', by Lucy Beresford - Review
Invisible Threads Lucy BeresfordQuartet, pp.240, £15, ISBN: 9780704373853 When Sara discovers that her husband died in India, rather than being killed in Afghanistan as she was told, she travels to Delhi to uncover the circumstances of his death....
James Forsyth: Cameron's Dark Evening of the Soul
At 6.30 p.m. on 7 May, the Camerons invited guests at their home in Oxfordshire into the garden for a drink. Everyone stood on the patio, wrapped up in coats and shawls and drinking wine. They were understandably nervous. The Prime Minister had prepared...
Leading Article: Cameron's European Mission
David Cameron is now facing the biggest challenge of his leadership: how to renegotiate Britain's membership of the EU without destroying his party. His dilemma mirrors the situation of Harold Wilson 40 years ago this month. So far, the old Labour...
Letters
The long arm of the FBISir: The White House may be less willing than it was to play the role of the world's policeman in international affairs, but the FBI seems eager to be the world's cop. No doubt, as Martin Vander Weyer has noted (Any other business,...
Long Life: Alexander Chancellor
It's June, and the country-house summer opera festivals are now in full swing. Glyndebourne, which opened the season last month, has now been joined by its leading emulators -- Garsington in Oxfordshire, The Grange in Hampshire and Longborough in...
Low Life: Jeremy Clarke
On Sunday morning, I was kicking a football in the back garden with my grandson. I had bought him his first pair of football boots, Optimum Tribals, junior size 11, blue and orange, each boot furnished with six very adult-looking steel studs: four...
Martin Vander Weyer: The Surfer, the Sailor and the Horseman: Prosperity Is All about Personal Stories
The tectonic plates of economic life rumble and shift. As ever, market watchers are obsessed by big themes -- and the demand for predictions about them even though so many past predictions have turned out wrong. Right now, we're gripped by the endgame...
Matthew Parris: Ed's Campaign Was Fine. the Problem Is His Party
Patrick Wintour is one of the best political editors around. For the Guardian he's been for decades a cool and well-sourced voice: even-handed, informed, interesting but in the best sense dry. So when I heard he'd written the most comprehensive...
Mind Your Language: Trigger
A notion is going about that, just as readers of film reviews receive spoiler alerts, so readers of anything should get a trigger warning . Otherwise something nasty in the woodshed might trigger post-traumatic stress disorder or worse.'I use the...
Notes On. Tel Aviv
Just so you don't get it confused with the City That Never Sleeps, Tel Aviv -- my favovurite place on earth -- now markets itself as the Non-Stop City and, indeed, it never lets up for a moment.We like to refer to the Blitz Spirit; Israel has it....
Opera: The Queen of Spades; Cosi Fan Tutte
The Queen of SpadesENO, in rep until 2 JulyCosì fan tutteGarsington Opera, in rep until 11 July The opera director David Alden has never been one to tread the straight and narrow. Something kinky would emerge, I'm sure, even if he directed the Queen's...
Phoney Fact-Checking - a Pedants' Revolt
Jonathan Portes, master of the political correction It used to be that the most annoying thing in academic life was political correctness. But a new irritant now threatens to supplant it: the scourge of correct politicalness.The essence of correct...
Pop: Mumford & Sons
Like a lot of essentially cautious people, I like my music to take some risks, play with fire and damn the consequences. In truth, of course, most musicians are every bit as conservative as the rest of us: they do whatever it is they do and if it...
Portrait of the Week
HomeDavid Cameron, the Prime Minister, said of the EU referendum: 'If you want to be part of the government, you have to take the view that we are engaged in an exercise of renegotiation to have a referendum and that will lead to a successful outcome.'...
'Quartz and Feldspar: Dartmoor --A British Landscape in Modern Times', by Matthew Kelly - Review
Quartz and Feldspar: Dartmoor --A British Landscape in Modern Times Matthew KellyCape, pp.484, £25, ISBN: 9780224091138 In his poem 'Eden Rock', Charles Causley conjures up a dreamy memory of a childhood picnic 'somewhere beyond Eden Rock'. He reported...
Radio: The Bottom Line
Evan Davis's series on business life, The Bottom Line (made in conjunction with the Open University), has become one of those Radio 4 staples, something that's just there in the schedule and all too easily taken for granted. Productivity, contracts...
Real Life: Melissa Kite
The doctor eyed me suspiciously as I walked into her consulting room. 'Ye-es?' she said, nervously, eyeing me up and down, after I knocked softly and entered apologetically, as I always do.Whenever I go to see her, my GP gives the impression of being...
Rod Liddle: My Time of the Month
I have spent the last few days posing with a tampon as part of an international campaign to demystify the important issue of menstruation. I do not usually menstruate myself, although out of a wish to show solidarity with those who do I set aside...
Spectator Sport: Roger Alton
A rather desultory Test series is taking place in the Caribbean where Australia are marmalising the West Indies, with a one-time Bournemouth club cricketer called Adam Voges scoring his maiden Test century at the near-pensionable age of 35 (the oldest...
Status Anxiety: Toby Young
I've been reading Fire and Ashes , Michael Ignatieff's account of his disastrous foray into politics, in an attempt to understand where it all went wrong for Ed Miliband. In combination with the election postmortems and interviews with the people...
Television: Napoleon
I adore Andrew Roberts. We go back a long way. Once, on a boating expedition gone wrong in the south of France, we had a bonding moment almost Brokeback Mountain -esque in its bromantic intensity.Roberts had hired an expensive speedboat for the day...
Theatre: King John; Stop - the Play
King JohnGlobe Theatre, in rep until 27 JuneStop -- The PlayTrafalgar Studio, until 27 JuneKing John arrives at the Globe bent double under the weight of garlands from the London critics. Their jaunt up to Northampton for the première seems to have...
The EU vs Magna Carta
The European Arrest Warrant is incompatible with our tradition of justice On the 12th of January, 500 of the great and good, or at any rate the well-heeled, sat down to a sumptuous dinner at the Guildhall at a cost of £500 a head. This was to celebrate...
The Heckler: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
For anyone who has been interested in classical vocal music since the middle of the last century, whether choral, operatic or solo, there has been one inescapable name and voice: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. His repertoire was gigantic, surely larger...
'The Last English Poachers', by Bob and Brian Tovey, with John F. McDonald - Review
The Last English Poachers Bob and Brian Tovey, with John F. McDonaldSimon & Schuster, pp.288, £16.99, ISBN: 9781471135675 The publicity blurb about the two unpleasant criminals whom this dismal book romanticises says that they are 'continuing...
'The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets', by Darra Goldstein, with a Foreword by Sidney Mintz - Review
This Oxford Companion ranges from the sweet to the decidedly salty, while being the most politically correct reference book you will ever consult, says Paul LevyThe Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets Darra Goldstein, with a foreword by Sidney MintzOUP,...
The Turf: Robin Oakley
Nothing has been lost since William Powell Frith painted his Derby Day panorama in 1858: today, instead of the carriages and corseted courtesans, the acrobats and pickpockets, he could cram his canvas with scarlet-lipped ladies in shades posing for...
Who Won at Waterloo?
The French would still prefer to think of Napoleon's last defeat as a moral victory Three weeks ago, a journalist from Le Figaro asked France's Ministry of Foreign Affairs who would be attending the 200th anniversary ceremony at Waterloo. 'When is...
'Why Did the Chicken Cross the World? the Epic Saga of the Bird That Powers Civilization', by Andrew Lawler - Review
Why Did the Chicken Cross the World? The Epic Saga of the Bird That Powers Civilization Andrew LawlerDuckworth, pp.336, £16.99, ISBN: 9780715649978Lesser Beasts: A Snout-to-Tail History of the Humble Pig Mark EssigBasic Books, pp.310, £18.99, ISBN:...
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