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 September 26

'1606: Shakespeare and the Year of Lear', by James Shapiro - Review
1606: Shakespeare and the Year of Lear James ShapiroFaber, pp.423, £20, ISBN: 9780571235780 We don't usually pay all that much attention, as James Shapiro points out, to the Jacobean Shakespeare. We're in the habit of thinking of him as an Elizabethan...
'America's Dreyfus: The Case Nixon Rigged', by Joan Brady - Review
America's Dreyfus: The Case Nixon Rigged Joan BradySkyscraper, pp.431, £20, ISBN: 9780993153327 In the more than 40 years since Richard Nixon resigned as president -- disgraced as much by his inveterate lying as by his actual crimes related to Watergate...
Ancient and Modern: Corbyn's Democracy
The virtuous Mr Corbyn is insisting that New Old Labour should return to its traditional republican ways and take decisions 'democratically'. The emperor Tiberius (ad 14-37) tried this one and it did not work.The first Roman emperor Augustus agreed...
Cinema: 99 Homes
99 Homes15, Nationwide99 Homes is an American drama about house repossession. Bummer, you might think, but here is what you don't yet know: films about house repossessions can be electrifying. Or at least this one is. Set in 2008 or thereabouts, against...
Dear Mary: Your Problems Solved
Q. I am an impoverished artist living in a famously cheap European city, largely for reasons of economy. I love it when friends and family relieve the monotony of lonely days in my garret by coming to stay, but every time anyone does they want to...
Diary: Tom Holland
Jeremy Corbyn has been compared to plenty of people over the past few months -- a geography teacher, Michael Foot, Brian from the Monty Python film -- but my favourite comparison was to a horse. Steve Fielding, professor of politics at Nottingham,...
'Dogs of Courage: When Britain's Pets Went to War', by Clare Campbell and Christy Campbell - Review
Dogs of Courage: When Britain's Pets Went to War Clare Campbell and Christy CampbellCorsiar, pp.367, £14.99, ISBN: 9781472115669 If you love dogs and or live with one -- I declare an interest on both counts -- there is enough here about what the...
Drink: Bruce Anderson
When it comes to nightclubs, many have written, but none has surpassed the Perroquet in Debra Dowa. Le tout Debra Dowa was present, including Madame 'Fifi' Fatim Bey, the town courtesan; Prince Fyodor Krononin, the manager; and Seth, the Emperor...
Exhibitions: Brion Gysin: Unseen Collaborator
Brion Gysin: Unseen CollaboratorOctober Gallery, until 3 October Among my more bohemian friends in 1980s London, Brion Gysin was a name spoken with a certain awe. He was the man who William Burroughs, the author of Junky and Naked Lunch , said was...
Exhibitions: Celts: Art and Identity
Celts: art and identityBritish Museum, 31 January 2016 'Celtic' is a word heavily charged with meanings. It refers, among other phenomena, to a football club, a group of languages, a temperament, a style of art and a fringe, once the stronghold of...
Exhibitions: Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age
Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space AgeScience Museum, until 13 March 2016 'The dominant narrative of space,' I was told, in that strange language curators employ, 'is America.' Quite so. Kennedy stared at the moon and saw a promotional opportunity. Nasa's...
'Gothic for the Steam Age: An Illustrated Biography of George Gilbert Scott', by Gavin Stamp - Review
Gothic for the Steam Age: An Illustrated Biography of George Gilbert Scott Gavin StampAurum Press, pp.208, £30, ISBN: 9781781311240 Briefing his illustrator for the jacket of A Handful of Dust (1934), Evelyn Waugh asked for a country house in 'the...
'Grief Is the Thing with Feathers', by Max Porter - Review
Grief is the Thing with Feathers Max PorterFaber, pp.114, £10, ISBN: 9780571323760 A dead parent, the interrogation of a literary inheritance, and over everything, a bird: Max Porter is apparently unafraid to step into massive shoes. Not just the...
High Life: Taki
GstaadJeremy Clarke has wiped me out again, for a change. His accounts of the high jinks on board the Spectator cruise had the mother of my children laughing out loud, something she's not known for among those of us who consider laughing loudly a staggering...
How God Could Save Jeremy Corbyn
If Labour's atheist leader could show he was at peace with religion, it would go a long way to making his job more secure On religion, Jeremy Corbyn is interestingly moderate, circumspect -- not the angry atheist you might expect. In a recent interview...
Interview: Don McCullin
The thing that the photojournalist Don McCullin likes best of all now, he tells me, is to stand on Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland in a blizzard. He made his name in conflicts in Vietnam, Cambodia, Biafra, Uganda -- hot places full of fury, panic...
James Delingpole: The Truth about Me, Dave and the Drugs
ListenThis week I woke up shocked to find myself on the front page of the Daily Mail . Apparently I'm the first person in history to have gone on the record about taking drugs with a British prime minister. But it's really no big deal is it? Had I thought...
James Forsyth: Will Anyone Fight, Fight and Fight Again to Save What's Left of New Labour?
ListenFive years ago this Saturday, Ed Miliband was crowned Labour leader. Three days later, he had to deliver his first conference speech in that role. It was a distinctly underwhelming address. Miliband was overshadowed by his brother, who ticked Harriet...
Leading Article: The Pope's Moment
On Tuesday, Pope Francis set foot in the United States for the first time in his life. His plane touched down at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, where American presidents depart and arrive on Air Force One. But, according to a Spanish journalist...
Letters
Have faith, NickSir: Rarely have I read an article as powerful as Nick Cohen's ('Why I left',19 September). As a lifelong Tory, all I feel qualified to say is that I think I understand. I am certain, however, that Messrs Corbyn, McDonnell et al will...
Long Life: Alexander Chancellor
It's hard to turn on the television nowadays without being shown a robot. It might be looking like a grasshopper doing something terribly important, such as helping a surgeon with an operation, or just be a cute little metal humanoid designed to...
Low Life: Jeremy Clarke
I was looking after Oscar, my five-and-a-half-year-old grandson, for the day. We'd played football in the garden, then we'd come indoors and played three games of chess, one game of Battleships, and several memory card games. I lost the football...
Martin Vander Weyer: This Will-They-Won't-They Rate-Rise Saga Has Dragged on Long Enough
When news broke last Thursday evening that the US Federal Reserve had decided to keep interest rates on hold, I happened to be surrounded by serious economists representing a range of viewpoints and nationalities. None seemed surprised by the decision,...
Mary Wakefield: Is My Only Choice to Be a Cynic or a Sucker?
It's all the rage to mistrust the powerful these days, to say politicians are scum, or all bankers are selfish. Journalists are considered particularly disgusting post-Corbyn, which encourages all manner of needling on Twitter: 'I'm sorry, but if...
Mind Your Language: Fuckebythenavele
A great discovery has been made by Dr Paul Booth, a fellow of Keele University. It is a 14th-century example of fuck . We might think the word Anglo-Saxon, but it's hard to find written examples before the 16th century. Chaucer never uses it. The...
'Money, Money, Money': The Dalai Lama Interviewed
The Dalai Lama on Cameron's China policyListen The Dalai Lama is a connoisseur of absurdity. When we met in London on Monday I reminded him that two years ago, desperate to resume relations with China, No. 10 said it had 'turned the page on that issue,'...
Notes On. Autumn
Each year when I see the first conker of the autumn I think: fire up the ancestral ovens! This incendiary thought comes from the Ronald Searle cartoon in Nigel Molesworth's How to be Topp of a sooty retainer sliding a tray of the young master's...
Opera: Le Nozze Di Figaro
Le nozze di FigaroRoyal Opera House, in rep until 14 OctoberRiders to the Sea; SavitriPeacock Theatre Is there a more extraordinary, more heart-stilling moment in all opera than the finale of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro ? The Count, suddenly understanding...
Piers Gaveston Memories: Pigs, Pranks, but No Dave
Memories of partying with the notorious Piers Gaveston Society at Oxford I attended the Piers Gaveston Society in the mid-1980s, when I was at Oxford in the year above David Cameron. The parties were debauched and tremendous fun. But Dave was not...
Portrait of the Week
HomeIn a speech at the Shanghai stock exchange, George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced a feasibility study into the trading of Chinese and British shares in both countries. At least half of all British banknotes in circulation are...
Radio: From Our Own Correspondent; Dead Girls Tell No Tales
Two significant anniversaries, each very different but both reflecting the BBC's mission and the reasons for its continued success. From Our Own Correspondent has been on air for 60 years, reporting on events across the world not just as news but...
Real Life: Melissa Kite
After pulling out of my flat sale and U-turning on the idea of moving to the Cotswolds, it took me a while to realise why.But there is a reason I can never seem to find what I'm looking for. No matter where I go to house-hunt for the cottage of my...
Rod Liddle: I Knew It! All These Toffs Have Depraved Tastes
ListenA friend of mine once watched Jeremy Corbyn try to rape an owl. This was the early to mid-1980s. The Labour leader used to come round to my squat in Leytonstone and we'd sit cross-legged on the floor, sniffing glue from a large plastic bag, and...
Status Anxiety: Toby Young
Amid all the excitement about David Cameron this week, I fear that Jeremy Corbyn's first major policy announcement may have been overlooked. That would be a shamae because the policy is really, really bad. I'm talking about his proposal to 'renationalise'...
'Sweet Caress', by William Boyd - Review
Sweet Caress William BoydBloomsbury, pp.464, £18.99, ISBN: 9781408867976 Amory Clay, photographer and photo-journalist, was born in 1908, only two years after Logan Mountstuart, writer, poseur and 'scribivelard'. Amory died in 1983; Logan in 1991....
Television: Midwinter of the Spirit
For years, Ian Fleming was famously self-deprecating about the James Bond books. ('I have a rule of not looking back,' he once said. 'Otherwise I'd wonder, "How could I write such piffle?"') Towards the end of his life, though, he finally produced...
'The Art of David Jones: Vision and Memory', by Ariane Bankes and Paul Hills - Review
The Art of David Jones: Vision and Memory Ariane Bankes and Paul HillsLund Humphries, pp.176, £40, ISBN: 9781848221604 David Jones (1895-1974) was a remarkable figure: artist and poet, he was a great original in both disciplines. His was an art of...
Theatre: Photograph 51
Photograph 51Noel Coward, until 21 NovemberFuture ConditionalOld Vic, until 3 October Michael Grandage's latest show is about an old snap. Geneticists regard the X-ray of the hydrated 'B' form of DNA as one of the loveliest images ever captured. To...
'The Company of Trees: A Year in a Lifetime's Quest', by Thomas Pakenham - Review
The Company of Trees: A Year in a Lifetime's Quest Thomas PakenhamWeidenfeld, pp.224, £30, ISBN: 9780297866244 I have never written much about the one-acre shaw of native trees I planted in 1994, even though it is the delight of my heart, especially...
'The Great British Dream Factory: The Strange History of Our National Imagination', by Dominic Sandbrook - Review
The Great British Dream Factory: The Strange History of our National Imagination Dominic SandbrookAllen Lane, pp.656, £25, ISBN: 9780241004654 Is it true that, having lost an empire, we reinvented ourselves as an island of entertainers? Do we channel...
The Great British Kowtow
Cameron and Osborne have a very clear China policy: do whatever China wantsListenAny British Prime Minister who meets the Dalai Lama knows it will upset the Chinese government -- but for decades, no British Prime Minister has much cared. John Major met...
'The Past', by Tessa Hadley - Review
The Past Tessa HadleyCape, pp.361, £16.99, ISBN: 9780224101691 In The Past (set chiefly in the present) four middle-aged siblings spend an eventful summer holiday in the Devon country house vacated by their dead grandparents. When Alice, a failed...
The Royal Road to Peace in the Middle East
What the Middle East needs is more constitutional monarchies Watch the videos of 1950s Iraq on YouTube and you glimpse something close to an idyll. It's true that Pathé News was not big on gritty realism, but history relates that here it was not using...
The Wiki Man: Rory Sutherland
Afamily member is thinking of moving and asked for commuting advice.Well, first add 25 per cent to any journey time estimate containing the phrase 'door to door'. When commuters cite journey time to work, the journey they have in mind is one which...
Trouble Brewing for Britain
Indian magnate Nirmal Sethia on what the English get wrong about tea - and the other countries seeking to recruit our discontented non-doms 'Milk?...Milk!' rages Nirmal Sethia, clutching the side of the table in ill-disguised apoplexy. 'If you put...
Why Putin Backs Assad
The West's strategy on Syria is a complete shambles At the outset of Syria's brutal four-year civil war, I was an almost unique voice in the British media deploring the push to depose the secular dictator President Bashar al-Assad, especially in the...
Wild Life: Aidan Hartley
LaikipiaA lion has just mauled and partially eaten a warrior who tried to throw a spear in my guts while trespassing on my farm a few months ago. This man was from the same gang that in April attacked me with rocks and smashed up my left hand so badly...
'Woody Allen: Film by Film', by Jason Solomons - Review
Woody Allen: Film by Film Jason SolomonsCarlton, pp.256, £25, ISBN: 9781780976730Woody Allen: A Retrospective Tom ShoneThames & Hudson, pp.287, £29.95, ISBN: 9780500517987 Woody Allen (born Allan Stewart Konigsberg), the prolific, Oscar-winning...
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