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 11

'A Decent Ride', by Irvine Welsh - Review
A Decent Ride Irvine WelshJonathan Cape, pp.482, £12.99, ISBN: 9780224102179 Irvine Welsh, I think it's safe to say, is not a writer who's mellowing with age. His latest book sees the return of 'Juice' Terry Lawson from the novel Glue and the short...
Ancient and Modern: Voting with Hercules
To judge from elections, the purpose of politics is to win power by promising to make people better off. Plato, feeling this made the politician the equivalent of a procurer or pimp, argued that the purpose of politics was to make people not better...
Arts Feature: How Fellini Made His Modernist Masterpiece
Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita was a box-office triumph in Italy in 1960. It made $1.5 million at the box office in three months -- more than Gone With the Wind had. 'It was the making of me,' said Fellini. It was also the making of Marcello...
Cinema: Woman in Gold
Woman in GoldPG, NationwideWoman in Gold feels rather like a Jewish version of Philomena as this too is about an older woman seeking justice for what has been stolen from her in the past but, unlike the Jewish version of almost everything, this is...
Dance: Bayadère - the Ninth Life; A Streetcar Named Desire
Bayadère - The Ninth LifeShobana Jeyasingh Dance, touring until 13 MayA Streetcar Named DesireScottish Ballet, Sadler's Wells For an Indian woman to make a dancework about La Bayadère is a promising prospect. This classical ballet of 1877 by Russia's...
Dear Mary: Your Problems Solved
Q. For ten years, I have made a reasonable freelance income working from home. During this time my husband has gone out to an office to work, leaving home in the early morning. Now my husband has announced that he is going to retire and will be at...
'Defending the Motherland: The Soviet Women Who Fought Hitler's Aces', by Lyuba Vinogradova, Translated from the Russian by Arch Tait - Review
Defending the Motherland: The Soviet Women who Fought Hitler's Aces Lyuba Vinogradova, translated from the Russian by Arch TaitMacLehose Press, pp.352, £20, ISBN: 9780857051929 The name Lyuba Vinogradova may not ring any bells, but her ferrety eye...
Diary: Andrew Marr
So far, what an infuriating election campaign. We have the most extraordinary array of digital, paper and broadcasting media at our fingertips -- excellent political columnists, shrewd and experienced number-crunchers, vivid bloggers and dedicated...
Drink: Bruce Anderson
For many years, the Central American republic of Guatemala had a grievance against the United Kingdom. It claimed sovereignty over British Honduras, then a colony of ours. Eventually, all that died down. Calling itself Belize, British Honduras became...
'Ebola '76', by Amir Tag Elsir, Translated by Charis Bredin and Emily Danby - Review
Ebola '76 Amir Tag Elsir, translated by Charis Bredin and Emily DanbyDarf Publishers,, pp.134, £8.99, ISBN: 9781850772743 Remember Ebola? It killed more than 8,000 people last year -- before we were all Charlie -- with a quarter as many again dying...
Ed Miliband Could Still Win. Here's What Would Happen Next
He could still win. Here's what happens if he doesListenWhat if Ed Miliband wins? His victory is still seen, especially by those on the right, as a near-impossibility -- an event so improbable as to defy the laws of political gravity. But then again,...
Exhibitions: Ravilious
RaviliousDulwich Picture Gallery, until 31 August The most unusual picture in the exhibition of work by Eric Ravilious at Dulwich Picture Gallery, in terms of subject-matter at least, is entitled 'Bomb Defusing Equipment'. In other ways -- crisp linear...
'Galileo's Telescope: A European Story', by Massimo Bucciantini, Michele Camerota and Franco Giudice, Translated by Catherine Bolton - Review
Galileo's Telescope: A European Story Massimo Bucciantini, Michele Camerota and Franco Giudice, translated by Catherine BoltonHarvard University Press, pp.352, £24.95, ISBN: 9780674736917 We live in an age of astronomical marvels. Last year Europe's...
'God & Mrs Thatcher', by Eliza Filby - Review
God & Mrs Thatcher Eliza FilbyBiteback, pp.432, £25, ISBN: 9781849547857 As I swink in the field of Thatcher studies, this book brings refreshment. It is a welcome and rare. Far too many writers attitudinise about Margaret Thatcher (for and against)...
'Gold Fever: One Man's Adventures on the Trail of the Gold Rush', by Steve Boggan - Review
Gold Fever: One Man's Adventures on the Trail of the Gold Rush Steve BogganOneworld, pp.336, £14.99, ISBN: 9781780746968 In 2008, the price of gold lofted above $1,000 an ounce for the first time in history, inspiring a rush of small-scale panners...
High Life: Taki
Ah, spring! The spring of our frostbitten age. At the Polish Club in London, a wonderful place studded with portraits of Polish patriots who have fought and sacrificed for the West's freedom. In this beautiful and heroic setting, your High life correspondent...
In Praise of Fringe Candidates
In praise of eccentric election candidates No election night is complete without a man dressed as King Arthur waving a plastic sword as the result is read out. Eccentricity is the bedrock of British democracy. The freedom of a madman to waste £500...
James Delingpole: I Went Looking for a Used Car - and Found My Inner Boy Racer
A bit late, I know, to put in a bid for Jeremy Clarkson's old job. But I think I might just accidentally have rediscovered my inner petrolhead.What happened was this. We'd just replaced our old sensible family car (a Ford Mondeo) with another sensible...
James Forsyth: A Scottish Revolution Is Coming, and Everyone's Losing Their Heads
Normally, if a candidate whose party came fourth in a constituency last time tells you they're going to win, you put it down to election derangement syndrome. But in post-referendum Scotland the normal political rules don't apply. When Joanna Cherry,...
'King John: England, Magna Carta and the Making of a Tyrant', by Stephen Church - Review
King John: England, Magna Carta and the Making of a Tyrant Stephen ChurchMacmillan, pp.311, £25, ISBN: 9780230772458King John: Treachery, Tyranny and the Road to Magna Carta Marc MorrisHutchinson, pp.346, £25, ISBN: 9780091954239 This being the...
Leading Article: Is Anyone Trying to Win This Election?
The age of two-party politics is over: we know that because everyone keeps saying so. We are entering an era of coalitions, apparently, where compromise is king and a wider variety of views will be represented in parliament. These barely comprehensible...
Letters
In defence of CatholicismSir: Michael Gove gives an excellent defence of Christianity (4 April), but his embarrassment about the Roman Catholic part of the story is unnecessary. He writes of his discomfort as, declaring oneself to be a Christian, 'You...
Long Life: Alexander Chancellor
It's April. It's spring. The daffodils and the cowslips are in flower. The birds are chirping merrily. But where are the tortoises? There were two of them, a big one called Alice and a small one called Gertrude. They have been in my care since last...
Low Life: Jeremy Clarke
Spectator Life 's third birthday party was a glamorous affair. It had paps, pop stars and Pippa. One went in and waiting at the top of the stairs were Spectator Life 's editor and deputy editor, super-dazzlers both, offering their cheeks to be kissed....
Martin Vander Weyer: Switch over to the Greek Debt Drama: The Final Episode Must Be Coming Shortly
Bored with the election? Switch over to the Greek debt drama. In this week's cliffhanger, silver-tongued finance minister Yanis Varoufakis visited IMF chief Christine Lagarde on Sunday, promised to meet his country's obligations 'ad infinitum', and was...
Mary Wakefield: Original Sin Makes Us Better People. I Wish Muslims Believed in It
These days, on the subject of Islam, non-Muslims have mostly divided into two camps -- though there's a little wandering about between the tents. Camp one says Islam is a religion of peace, and points for proof to the millions of non-violent Muslims...
Meet the Mobility Scooter Louts
The mobility scooter plague How many of the people driving mobility scooters these days actually need a mobility scooter? The invention of the vehicle was a great move forward (literally) for those who genuinely needed it: the disabled and the infirm....
Mind Your Language: Pious
Married to a public-school man (I almost said boy) for many a long year, I can't bring myself to disqualify politicians for that crime alone. But during last week's party leaders' debates I did detect the tang of the Shell, as I think they call upper...
Music: The Golden Age of Pop Obituaries
The golden age of pop music may be long gone, but the golden age of pop musicians' obituaries is definitely with us. Soon I shall have to start apologising for returning to this subject with such regularity, but barely a week now seems to pass without...
Notes On. the First Spectator Cruise
It's a complete recipe for disaster of course. By which I mean being trapped at sea with The Spectator 's 'Low life' correspondent for an entire week. That's seven whole days. At sea. Crikey!Not that Jeremy Clarke isn't the best of company (he is...
Opera: The Ice Break; Madama Butterfly
The Ice BreakBirmingham Opera CompanyMadama ButterflyRoyal Opera HouseThe Ice Break is Michael Tippett's fourth opera, first produced at Covent Garden in 1977 and rarely produced anywhere since, though there is an excellent recording of it. Its brevity...
Pedro Friedeberg: Letters from a Mexican Artist
Duncan Fallowell on the elusive Mexican artist and man-of-letters who has been his friend and faithful correspondent over many years -- though they have never met The year 2015 has been designated one of Anglo-Mexican amity, with celebrations planned...
Portrait of the Week
HomeTony Blair, the former prime minister, opposed a referendum on membership of the EU. In a speech at Sedgefield he said that, following the Scottish referendum, David Cameron, the Prime Minister, knew 'the perilous fragility of public support for...
Radio: Easter on the BBC
There was no shortage of Easter music and talks across the BBC networks with a sunrise service on Radio 4 followed by much fuss and fanfare for the 'live' relay of Libby Lane's first Easter sermon as Bishop. A significant milestone for the C of E...
Real Life: Melissa Kite
After I phoned the Aviva call centre for the ten thousandth time, a girl called Adele had to sort it in the end. If she hadn't, I would have climbed on to the roof of the House of Commons in an outfit made of Lycra, waving a banner bearing the legend...
Rod Liddle: The Jihadi Bride and Her Astonishing Dad
Like you, I suspect, I have been terribly worried these last few weeks over the plight of 15-year-old Amira Abase. Amira fled the country on 17 February in order to take up an exciting and challenging position as an in-house whore for the vibrant...
Sam Waley-Cohen's Grand National Notebook
'How's your shoulder?' someone asked recently, and it was only then I realised, for the first time in a while, that my shoulder felt good again. In last year's Grand National -- you might recall if you watched it on television -- I had a heavy fall...
Status Anxiety: Toby Young
I've been trying to think of a good football analogy to describe the battle between the two main parties as the general election approaches. One suggestion is the second leg of a Champions League game, with the Conservatives having won the first...
Television: Stand-Up Travelogues
Who says British television lacks imagination? You might have thought, for example, that every possible combination of comedian and travel programme had been exhausted long ago. After all, it's now 26 years since Michael Palin set the trend by following...
The Age of the Skype Dad
What happens when a divorce court accepts video calls as a substitute for visiting your children Could you be a useful and loving father to your children if you only ever saw them on a computer screen? Most of us would say no. So much of being a parent...
Theatre: Rules for Living; Spend Spend Spend
Rules for LivingDorfman, in rep until 8 JulySpend Spend SpendUnion Theatre, until 18 April Experts are concerned that Alan Ayckbourn's plays may soon face extinction. Fewer than 80 of these precious beasts still exist in their natural habitat, so...
The Catholic Crack-Up
It's not just Vatican infighting any more. Pope Francis has a potential schism on his handsListenA scurrilous rumour recently swept Rome: the Pope had summoned the Vatican's finance czar over his expenses. When Cardinal George Pell admitted spending...
The Heckler: Why It's Time to Kill off James Bond
For fans of the franchise who remain unconvinced by Daniel Craig's time on her majesty's secret service, the stories leaking from the production of the latest film Spectre are further evidence that the time has come to hand 007 a glass of scotch...
The Miliband Agenda
There will be tax rises to suit every taste. But the people he's expecting to pay will probably just leave Here's what to expect52p top rate of taxEd Balls won't be looking for money when he says the 'additional' top rate of tax will go back up --...
'The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature', by Daniel Hahn - Review
The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature Daniel HahnOUP, pp.668, £30, ISBN: 9780199695140 Go to any bookshop -- always supposing you're fortunate enough to have any left in your neck of the woods -- and chances are that lots of window space...
'The Ransom of the Soul: Afterlife and Wealth in Early Western Christianity', by Peter Brown - Review
The Ransom of the Soul: Afterlife and Wealth in Early Western Christianity Peter BrownHarvard University Press, pp.288, £18.95, ISBN: 9780674967588 Peter Brown's explorations of the mindsets of late antiquity have been educating us for nearly half...
The Wiki Man: Rory Sutherland
In the late 1980s, the parks service in the United States were concerned about the deterioration of the stonework on the Lincoln Memorial. So they asked the maintenance staff why the stone was decaying.The crew explained that they used high-power...
'Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart and Mind', by David J. Linden - Review
Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart and Mind David J. LindenPenguin, pp.272, £16.99, ISBN: 9780241184035 I used to think we had five senses -- sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. And I used to think I knew how they worked. Using specialised instruments,...
'Words without Music', by Philip Glass - Review
Words without Music Philip GlassFaber, pp.432, £22.50, ISBN: 9780571323722 Philip Glass is by now surely up there in the Telemann class among the most prolific composers in history. There must be an explanation, preferably a non-defamatory one, for...
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