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 July 19

'A Dog's Life', by Michael Holroyd - Review
A Dog's Life Michael Holroyd MacLehose Press, pp.237, £12.99, ISBN: 9781848665224There were several times when reading A Dog's Life that I felt as if I'd fallen into a time warp. It starts with a quote on the cover from Hugh Massingberd:...
Ancient and Modern: The Rumour Mill
Geoffrey Dickens's ancient dossier of (alleged) paedophiles in high places cannot be found among the 138 miles of government files, and rumour immediately takes wing. The ancients knew all about rumour: phêmê in Greek, fama in Latin,...
Attack of the Token Women
The PM doesn't want the new women in his cabinet to do anything but look niceListenAsk anyone who really knows David Cameron and they will tell you he likes a certain kind of woman. He has a very specific type, the Prime Minister. It is almost spooky...
Charles Moore: The Spectator's Notes
ListenThis must be the worst reshuffle since Mrs Thatcher demoted Geoffrey Howe in 1989. Unlike that one, its errors are unforced. This year, David Cameron had established a surprisingly strong position as the leader whose unpopular but necessary policies...
Cinema: Finding Vivian Maier
Finding Vivian Maier12A, NationwideFinding Vivian Maier is a documentary about the American nanny who led a wholly secretive life as a photographer and who, posthumously, has been described as 'one of the greatest photographers of the 20th century'....
'Cornwall', by Peter Beacham and Nikolaus Pevsner - Review
Cornwall Peter Beacham and Nikolaus Pevsner Yale University Press, pp.800, £35, ISBN: 9780300126686Before writing this review I spent an hour looking for my original Pevsner paperback on Cornwall, published in 1951 (the first in the 'Buildings...
Culture Notes: Scotland Art Project: Generation
Since spring this year, art venues across Scotland have been dedicating themselves to a gigantic project called Generation . Involving more than 100 artists and 60 venues, the programme is a celebration of Scottish artistic success over the...
'Dangerous Rhythm: Why Movie Musicals Matter', by Richard Barrios - Review
Dangerous Rhythm: Why Movie Musicals Matter Richard Barrios OUP USA, pp.288, £22.99, ISBN: 9780199973842Do movie musicals matter? Most readers, even those who love them, will embark on Richard Barrios's short history of the genre with the thought:...
Dear Mary: Mary Killen
Q. My former cleaner has now retired and lives nearby. I visit her with clockwork regularity and always enjoy seeing her, but the problem is that although we may have just been chatting and laughing or sitting in companionable silence, as soon as I say...
Diary: Anthony Horowitz
I have written a play, but a month after it was sent to half a dozen theatres, I have heard nothing. Either they're being slow or they're so shocked that they cannot bring themselves to respond. The play is called Dinner With Saddam and takes...
Drink: Bruce Anderson
Where two or three British males are gathered together, the agenda often includes a glass or two. One thing can lead on to another. To facilitate the supply of glasses, clubs are sometimes formed. These can vary in size and splendour, from the palaces...
Education Reform Must Not Be Abandoned
During his time as Education Secretary, Michael Gove would often have occasion to quote a passage of Machiavelli: 'There is nothing more difficult, more doubtful of success or more dangerous than to initiate a new order of things. For the reformer has...
Exhibitions: Dennis Hopper: The Lost Album
Dennis Hopper: The Lost AlbumRoyal Academy, Burlington Gardens, until 19 OctoberRadical GeometryRoyal Academy, until 28 SeptemberIn an age when photographs have swollen out of all proportion to their significance, and are mounted on wall-sized light...
Farewell Notebook
So we are all going to have to pay for fatties to have stomach bands and bypasses, are we? It may be 'cost-effective' to treat the obese before they go on to develop diabetes and other medical problems, but I'm not sure how much sympathy they will get...
High Life: Taki
  GstaadI write this on 14 July, France's big day and the 25th anniversary of my father's passing. He died at dawn, on the bicentennial of the uprising, as if he couldn't bear French triumphalism of the foul event one more second. Actually he had...
James Delingpole: Fear and Libertarianism in Las Vegas
Great God, Vegas is an awful place. I realised this the moment I arrived. My cab driver -- who'd been perfectly agreeable en route from the airport -- mistook my post-flight sluggishness for reluctance to give him a tip, and drove off angrily cursing...
James Forsyth: If the Tories Win the Election, the Gove Gamble Will Have Paid Off
'There's no shame in a cabinet to win the next election,' declared an exasperated senior No. 10 figure on Tuesday night. This week's reshuffle was not one for the purists: it was designed with campaigning, not governing, in mind. With less than ten months...
Letters
No ban on LawsonSir: You write that the BBC 'has effectively banned' Lord Lawson from items on climate change unless introduced with 'a statement discrediting his views' (Leading article, 12 July). There's a lot of muddled reporting of this story. Lord...
Long Life: Alexander Chancellor
How amazing to have two former Anglican archbishops, George Carey of Canterbury and Desmond Tutu of South Africa, supporting Lord Falconer's bill to legalise assisted suicide! It has always been, and remains, a firm doctrine of the Church of England...
Low Life: Jeremy Clarke
They do love a party at The Spectator . I was invited to four in ten days last week: the Apollo Summer party, the Spectator 'At Home' Summer party, the annual Spectator 'Meet the Readers' afternoon tea party, and our...
'Margot Asquith's Great War Diary, 1914-1916: The View from Downing Street', by Michael and Eleanor Brock (Eds) - Review
Margot Asquith's Great War Diary, 1914-1916: The View from Downing Street Michael and Eleanor Brock (eds) OUP, pp.568, £30, ISBN: 9780198229773When Margot Asquith's name crops up these days, it is usually in a retelling of the story about her...
Martin Vander Weyer: We Should Keep an Eye on the Trouble Spots of European Banking
'1914: Day by Day', the Radio 4 series by the historian Margaret MacMillan, is a gripping reminder that significant global events often arrive not in a single eruption but in a series of lesser happenings that only afterwards form an obvious pattern....
Mary Wakefield: The Ambulance Service Is in a State of Emergency
Tom leant back against the bathroom wall, his face streaked with blood from the nosebleed, eyes half shut like an owl. 'I'm passing out,' he said. Then his legs gave way and he slumped to the floor. 'Tom? Tom?' I shook him but -- nothing, no response....
Mind Your Language: Toe-Rag
'I am glad to say that I have never seen a toe-rag,' said my husband, assuming, as unconvincingly as one would expect, the demeanour of Gwendolen from The Importance of Being Earnest . 'It is obvious that our social spheres have been widely...
Music: Damian Thompson
The Hallelujah Chorus crops up in the most unexpected places, says Michael Marissen in his new book about Handel's Messiah . For example, it's used in a TV ad 'depicting frantic bears' ecstatic relief in chancing upon Charmin toilet paper in...
Notes On. Prague
Prague, 'Golden Prague', is rich in music, architecture, glassware, pilsner and natural beauty. It is one of those places where laughter -- innocent laughter, not laughter in the dark -- seems a natural response. It is a playful city, and the people...
Opera: The Jacobin; Orfeo Ed Euridice
The Jacobin; Orfeo ed EuridiceBuxton FestivalDvorak's The Jacobin and Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice , the two operas that opened this year's Buxton Festival, are both relative rarities today, but their creators' fortunes tell an interesting...
Portrait of the Week
HomeIn a ministerial reshuffle, William Hague, who promised to leave Parliament at the election, was made Leader of the House, being replaced as Foreign Secretary by Philip Hammond, who was replaced as Defence Secretary by Michael Fallon. Sir George...
'Prisoners, Lovers and Spies: The Story of Invisible Ink from Herodotus to Al-Qa'eda', by Kristie Macrakis - Review
Prisoners, Lovers and Spies: The Story of Invisible Ink from Herodotus to al-Qa'eda Kristie Macrakis Yale University Press, pp.377, £18.99, ISBN: 9780300179255John Gerard, a Jesuit priest immured in the Tower of London in 1597, and tortured by...
Radio: Kate Chisholm
You might (if you're over a certain age) still think it pretty amazing that TV not only allows you to watch Mario Götze put in that amazing goal, live, as it happened, in Rio de Janeiro's Estádio Maracanã, but also that you can witness so immediately...
Real Life: Melissa Kite
'Cydney,' I have just told the spaniel, 'you had better enjoy this tin of dog food because it cost me £67.50.' I hear you ask, 'How on earth is this possible? Are you feeding foie gras to your cocker?' I might as well be. It would be cheaper than buying...
Rod Liddle: The NHS 'Wellbeing' Monkey Deserves to Die
My young daughter has a furry beaver -- lifelike in all but its eyes, which to me seem cold and dead. I bought it for her in the United States and I think it has pride of place within her impressive menagerie of anthropomorphised cuddly toy animals....
Status Anxiety: Toby Young
I tried to reach Michael Gove on Tuesday shortly after the news broke that he'd been moved to the Whips' Office. I'm quite relieved he never called back, because my intention was to offer my condolences, never a good idea when a friend suffers a setback....
'Subtly Worded', by Teffi - Review
Subtly Worded Teffi Pushkin Press, pp.240, £12, ISBN: 978-1782270379Nadezhda Alexandrovna Lokhvitskaya was a literary celebrity in pre-revolutionary St Petersburg. She chose the pen-name 'Teffi' because it was androgynous, and because it was the...
Theatre: Great Britain
Great BritainLyttelton, in rep until 23 AugustPerseverance DriveBush, until 16 AugustMr Bean, one of our greatest comic exports, has an alter ego. The second Mr Bean, forename Richard, is the author of One Man, Two Guvnors , which thrilled audiences...
The Catholic Missionary and the Masai Runner
The remarkable story of the missionary and the Masai running championIn 2012, David Rudisha, a Masai warrior from Kenya, ran what many say was the greatest race in the history of the Olympics. He led the 800m final from the front and smashed his own...
'The Man Who Was Norris: The Life of Gerald Hamilton', by Tom Cullen - Review
The Man Who Was Norris: The life of Gerald Hamilton Tom Cullen Daedalus, pp.338, £11.99, ISBN: 9781909232433In his time, Gerald Hamilton (1890-1970) was an almost legendary figure, but he is now remembered -- if at all -- as the model for the...
The Reopening of Mauritshaus Museum in the Hague
If things had turned out differently for Brazil -- I don't mean in the World Cup -- Recife might now be known as Mauritsstad. But when the Portuguese expelled the Dutch in 1654, the name of the new capital of Pernambuco built by governor Johan Maurits...
The Wiki Man: Rory Sutherland
What would happen, I wonder, were we to rescind the smoking ban as Nigel Farage wants? My guess is not much. Most restaurants would keep the existing rules. Some pubs might set aside a room for smokers. Casinos, comedy clubs and jazz clubs might revert...
Tory Girls Are Sexier
A lust that dare not speak its nameListenNot long ago I was out drinking with a group of friends and we started playing the If-You-Had-To game. The idea is to present players with two people they would never want to sleep with -- and then make them choose...
Under Fire in Israel
The anti-Semitic West almost seems to want Israelis to suffer   JerusalemIt's the moral equivalence which is so devastating. When Egypt this week proposed its ceasefire in Gaza, a BBC presenter asked whether both sides would now conclude that there...
Waiting for War in Gaza
 GazaThe main entrance to Al-Shifa Hospital was crowded with what seemed to be journalists. This wasn't unusual. They wait here most days for ambulances ferrying in the dead and wounded from Israeli air strikes; but this time there seemed to be more...
Wild Life: Aidan Hartley
  Kenya HighlandsI've just descended Mount Kenya with Eve, my 13-year-old daughter, and her class of school leavers from Pembroke House. Afterwards our guide Steve, an ex-Grenadier guardsman, emailed me to say Pembroke kids were his favourites on...
Women Bishops at Last
The vote on women bishops is a triumph for our diplomatic ArchbishopsThe result of Monday's vote on women bishops, the Archbishop of York stipulated, must be greeted in silence, as is the convention at the General Synod. This, perhaps, was a misjudgment:...
'World without End: The Global Empire of Philip II', by Hugh Thomas - Review
World Without End: The Global Empire of Philip II Hugh Thomas Allen Lane/Penguin Books, pp.464, £30, ISBN: 9781846140839'Every schoolboy knows who imprisoned Montezuma and who strangled Atahualpa.' Macaulay, anticipating Gove, was complaining...
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