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 2

Ancient and Modern: The Greek Donald Trump
Why does the Republican party loathe Donald Trump? Because Trump is the ultimate loose cannon, beholden to no one. And even worse, he is popular. What trumpery! Ancient Athenians would have loved him.With no known political or military experience behind...
Arts Feature: Virtual Reality and the Movies
With the release of Oculus Rift - virtual reality you can buy from a shop - cinema will never be the same again, says Peter HoskinOculus Rift. It sounds like something from a science fiction novel, and in many ways it is. Its release this week is the...
Boxing: The Brain-Damage Game
In most sports, injuries happen when things go wrong. In boxing, they're the ultimate goal. It isn't rightIn the course of a queasy hour in Harley Street 30 years ago I learned a great deal about the brain -- what Woody Allen called 'my second favourite...
Charles Moore: The Spectator's Notes
You might expect that the murder of Christians would excite particular horror in countries of Christian heritage. Yet almost the opposite seems to be true. Even amid the current slew of Islamist barbarities, the killing of 72 people, 29 of them children,...
Cinema: Eddie the Eagle
I once forced some pals on a skiing holiday to spend an afternoon off the slopes watching Chalet Girl . Suffice it to say, I have a high tolerance for lowbrow ski films. So if saccharine tales about plucky Alpine underdogs really aren't your thing you...
Confessions of a Saga Lout
Baby boomers like me aren't giving up irresponsible hedonism as we age. We're just getting worse at itIt's chucking-out time at my local pub, and the high street is full of idiots. They've all had a lot to drink, but they're in no hurry to go home. They're...
Dance: Ballet Black: Triple Bill
Ballet's romantic mantra could be summed up by John Keats's ballad 'La Belle Dame sans Merci', in which a young man remembers his terrible encounter with a supernatural 'fairy's child'. Beguiled to sleep with this ravishing fantasy creature, he dreams...
Dear Mary: Your Problems Solved
Q. Twice recently our host has clinked his glass, required us to stop relaxing and instead take part in a round-table discussion. My wife and are involved in the maelstrom of the Westminster village by day and we have had enough of it by the evening....
Diary: Sam Leith
I'd like this to have been one of those Spectator diaries that gives the ordinary reader a glimpse into the sort of party to which they'll never be invited. Unfortunately, I'm never invited to those parties either; and even had I got the last-minute...
Exhibitions: Death on the Nile
The Fitzwilliam Museum is marking its bicentenary with an exhibition that takes its title from Agatha Christie: Death on the Nile . But it turns out it was another writer of a different type of fiction who was directly involved. M.R. James, author of...
Food: Tanya Gold
Islington is a bellwether, and also a joke: the most unequal borough in London, where social housing leans against £4 million terraces (for now, loyal Conservative voters, only for now), and also the holy font of Blairism as it appears in 'It's Grim...
'George Bell, Bishop of Chichester: Church, State and Resistance in the Age of Dictatorship', by Andrew Chandler - Review
George Bell (1883-1958) was, in many respects, a typical Anglican prelate of his era. He went to Westminster and Christ Church, and passed his career in the C of E's fast stream. Never a parish priest, he became, first, chaplain (and later, biographer)...
High Life: Taki
My old friend and one-time doubles partner Ray Moore has stepped down as chief executive of the Indian Wells Tennis Tournament for telling the truth. As Rod Liddle wrote in these here pages a couple of weeks ago, 'There is nothing more damaging to a...
Hugo Rifkind: I Have Seen the Future, and It's a Racist, Filthy-Mouthed Teenage Robot
'I'm a nice person,' said the robot. 'I just hate everybody.' Maybe you know the feeling. The robot in question was Microsoft's first great experiment in artificial intelligence, given the tone of a teenage girl and the name of Tay. The plan was for...
James Forsyth: Can Anyone Stop Boris?
Most MPs greet the parliamentary recess with a sense of relief. But Conservatives are welcoming this Easter break like the bell at the end of a boxing match. They are exhausted, tempers must be cooled and they now have a fortnight to think about how...
Leading Article: Power Failure
A fortnight ago, the energy minister, Andrea Leadsom, declared grandly that Britain, alone in the world, would commit to a target of reducing net carbon emissions to zero. 'The question is not whether but how we do it,' she told Parliament. It is now...
Letters
Amber warningSir: James Forsyth's interview with Amber Rudd ('The Amber Express', 19 March) was very revealing, but also slightly disappointing. She is right about the succession of 'zealots' who preceded her in setting British energy policy, but after...
Long Life: Alexander Chancellor
The Parish Church of St Luke in Sydney Street, Chelsea, is enormous. Vaguely reminiscent of King's College Chapel, Cambridge, it was built in the 1820s to accommodate a congregation of 2,500 people and was one of the earliest Gothic Revival churches...
Low Life: Jeremy Clarke
While I was in Provence, my hostess and I went out one day for a walk in the hills. We walked for three hours and didn't encounter another soul, and apart from a couple of blue-tits, nor did we see any wildlife. At one point we came to an old stone monastery...
Martin Vander Weyer: Osborne's on the Back Foot but His Living Wage Deserves Praise
It was unfashionable of me to write in praise of George Osborne on Budget day. I did so, you may recall, because 'at least we have a finance minister who's always on the front foot': I wanted to make a contrast between our Chancellor's relentless activism...
Matthew Parris: The Winged Rabbit Who Made Me a Tory
His father's dental cast, writes Graham Greene near the beginning of The Power and the Glory 'had been [Trench's] favourite toy: they tried to tempt him with Meccano, but fate had struck'. Trench is a dentist, trapped by his chosen profession in a godforsaken...
Mind Your Language: Gender Fluid
Benjamin Franklin thought that an excess of electric fluid gave rise to positive electricity, and a deficiency of the fluid to negative electricity. 'New flannel, if dry and warm, will draw the electric fluid from non-electrics.' By an electric he...
'Never a Dull Moment: 1971 -- Rock's Golden Year', by David Hepworth - Review
According to David Hepworth, the year he turned 21 was also the year when 'a huge proportion of the most memorable albums ever made were released'. Having been a rock journalist for four decades, he does of course know the theory that everybody thinks...
Notes On. Florence
Once, it seems, Sandro Botticelli played a trick on a neighbour. Next door was a weaver who possessed eight looms. He and his assistants kept these in constant use, creating such a judder-ing racket that the poor painter was unable to concentrate on...
Opera: Riders to the Sea/Savitri/L'Enfant et Les Sortilèges
In a remote fishing village a lone figure confronts an unexplained death, standing tormented but unbroken against fate, the community and the elements of sea and wind that surge through every note of the score. No, not Peter Grimes : this is Vaughan...
'Patience', by Daniel Clowes - Review
If you could travel back in time, would you kill Hitler's mother, seek out your old house and play ball with your former self, or locate your (eventual) wife during her unhappy adolescence and punch her violent boyfriends? These are the dilemmas facing...
Portrait of the Week
HomeThe Indian company Tata decided to sell its entire steel business in Britain, putting more than 15,000 jobs in jeopardy. The buy-to-let business was squashed by the Prudential Regulation Authority imposing more stringent borrowing criteria in parallel...
Radio: Syrian Broadcasters in Exile
Could radio, and in particular a weekly soap, have a role to play in the Syrian crisis? You might think, no chance, given the levels of violence and terror that have overtaken the country. How can a mere broadcast signal have an impact compared with...
Real Life: Melissa Kite
After a year of affordable car insurance, I knew I had to be in for it when my premium came up for renewal. Nothing prepared me, however, for the quote that came through from Aviva, who I am thinking of re-naming Amorta, or Adversa, which just sounds...
Referendum Rage
Scots know all too well how it feels. The rest of Britain is about to learnIn Scotland's grittier pubs, a simple rule has long applied: no football colours and no talking about politics. With enough drink, talking about either can lead to violence --...
'Robert Mapplethorpe: The Photographs', by Paul Martineau and Britt Salvesen - Review
Robert Mapplethorpe made his reputation as a photographer in the period between the 1969 gay-bashing raid at the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street and the identification of HIV in 1983. This was the High Renaissance, the Age of Discovery, the Bourbon...
Rod Liddle: Why I Feel Compelled to Defend Boris
I got Boris Johnson into trouble once, without meaning to. The two of us had been driven hither and thither across Uganda by Unicef in the back of an expensive Mercedes 4×4 to gaze at the fatuous projects they had delivered for the benighted natives....
'Six Facets of Light', by Ann Wroe - Review
There has been extraordinarily little bright sunlight in the far northwest corner of Britain over the past year. Damp, drizzling summer, an endless sequence of howling autumnal gales and downpours, a muddy dismal winter. Then at the beginning of February,...
Spectator Sport: Roger Alton
Well the sun is out, the sky is blue, and poor Boris Johnson is taking such a pounding from Matthew Parris and Petronella Wyatt that it makes the battle of Kursk look like an Easter Parade. Plenty to be cheerful about, then, and nowhere more so than...
Status Anxiety: Toby Young
As someone who believes in limited government, I feel conflicted about universal academisation. I'm a fan of the academies policy because it reduces the involvement of politicians and bureaucrats in taxpayer-funded education, but there's something a...
Television: Love at First Sight
Now the kids are back for the school holidays, I have a licence to watch complete trash again. No more brooding Scandi dramas (though Follow the Money is shaping up very nicely -- plus, as an added bonus, its anti-windfarm theme is really winding up...
Theatre: The Painkiller
Sir Ken's excellent West End residency continues with a sugar-rich confection. Sean Foley has adapted and updated an elderly French farce about an assassin who befriends a needy depressive. Hitman Ralph rents a hotel suite overlooking a courtroom where...
The Moths Are Coming!
After this mild winter, you can expect a clothes-ruining epidemic. They've already got my best suitLast month a friend invited me to lunch at the Garrick Club. As an impoverished writer, I don't get many offers like this, so the week before, in a state...
The Poetic State of the Nation
What I've learned from reciting verse in the streetIt was past midnight in Norwich. There was a keen wind rifling up London Street. It was dark and it was January. I was hoarse, my feet hurt and, more to the point, I was cold. I had been punishing myself...
The Return of Eugenics
Scientists don't want to use the word. That hasn't stopped them running ahead with the ideaThe only way of cutting off the constant stream of idiots and imbeciles and feeble-minded persons who help to fill our prisons and workhouses, reformatories, and...
The Turf: Robin Oakley
Everybody has their glory memory from Cheltenham this year. Some celebrate the extraordinary seven victories for the quietly confident Willie Mullins, together with such versatile horses as Douvan and Annie Power. Others will forever remember a misty-eyed...
'This Orient Isle: Elizabethan England and the Islamic World', by Jerry Brotton - Review
The idea for a mechanical cock was never going to work. In 1595 the English ambassador to Constantinople, Edward Barton, advised Queen Elizabeth I that the surest way for her to impress Sultan Mehmed III, the new leader of the formidable Ottoman empire,...
'Trencherman', by Eben Venter, Translated by Luke Stubbs - Review
Trencherman was first published in Afrikaans in 2006 and translated into English for a South African readership shortly afterwards, but has only now found a UK publisher. Eben Venter -- one of the notable voices in white South African writing post-Apartheid...
'Waking Lions', by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, Translated by Sondra Silverston - Review
Nordic noir is passé. Now we have Israeli noir. Waking Lions is a mordant thriller written by a clinical psychologist who knows how the mind is tortured by deception, infidelity, obfuscation, suspicion and sex. Eitan Green is a neurosurgeon who, exhilaratedly...
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