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 August 29

An Atheist Case against 'Assisted Dying'
If you don't think legalising 'assisted dying' is a slippery slope, you haven't been paying attentionListen>A couple of years ago I contacted Holland's top pro-euthanasia organisation. Our House of Lords looks likely to approve a bill legalising euthanasia...
Ancient and Modern: Just How Republican Is Jeremy Corbyn?
True to his antique, bearded ideology, guru Corbyn is a 'republican', a form of government invented 2,500 years ago.'Republic' derives from the Latin res publica -- 'people's property, business' (not politicians'). It defined Rome in contrast to...
Arts Feature: God's Architect
Palladio gave his name to a style that spread around the world. But was it too successful for its own good, wonders Stephen Bayley Somewhat magnificently, I made the notes for this article sitting in the back of a Rolls-Royce travelling between London...
'Borderlines', by Michela Wrong - Review
Borderlines Michela WrongFourth Estate, pp.352, £14.99, ISBN: 9780008147402The Watchmaker of Filigree Street Natasha PulleyBloombury Circus, pp.336, £12.99, ISBN: 9781408854280The Last Pilot Benjamin JohncockMyriad, pp.320, £8.99, ISBN: 9781908434845Among...
Breast-Feeding Battles
New mothers who can't keep to the breast-feeding orthodoxy face needless misery and shame How should a new mother feed her baby? You might well imagine that was up to her. While some mothers take to breast-feeding as if their bosoms have been waiting...
Cinema: 45 Years
45 Years15, Nationwide Andrew Haigh's 45 Years stars Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay as a long married couple whose relationship is disturbed by a letter relating to his first girlfriend, a German who died in the Swiss alps 50 years earlier....
'Cursed Kings: The Hundred Years War, IV', by Jonathan Sumption - Review
Cursed Kings: The Hundred Years War, IV Jonathan SumptionFaber, pp.909, £40, ISBN: 9780571274543 Charles VI of France died on 21 October 1422. He had been intermittently mad for most of his long reign, 'a pathetic figure' flitting, often witless,...
Dance: Lo Real/Nijinsky's Last Jump/Seven
Lo Real/Nijinsky's Last Jump/SevenEdinburghSwan LakeLondon Coliseum Every August when London dims, Edinburgh calls, promising nothing less than 'the greats of the arts' at the International Festival. As if this beautiful, haunting city wasn't enough...
Dear Mary: Your Problems Solved
Q. How do you persuade someone drunk to leave a party when it doesn't make sense for them to stay? When the taxi arrived to take me and two friends back to my house after a 21st, one girl refused to leave. She said she was having too good a time....
Diary: Val McDermid
There are many good reasons for being in Edinburgh in August, when the population doubles and nobody looks twice if you walk down the street in a sequinned basque with a man dressed as a leopard on a leash. One of those reasons is a certain kind...
Disrupting the Drug Dealers
Fierce competition is forcing drug dealers to adjust their sales methods It's Notting Hill Carnival this weekend. Two days of skanking, dutty dancing and daggering (the dance, rather than the weapon).No carnival experience would be complete without...
Drink: Bruce Anderson
Do-orzaat. Dorset is part of L'Angleterre profonde . It is possible to find evidence of modernity, but only in limited areas. Around 120 miles from London, west Dorset and the Somerset marches are around the same distance from the 21st century, let...
'Dylan Goes Electric! Newport, Seeger, Dylan, and the Night That Split the Sixties', by Elijah Wald - Review
Dylan Goes Electric! Newport, Seeger, Dylan, and the Night that Split the Sixties Elijah WaldHarperCollins, pp.368, £16.99, ISBN: 9780062366689 Five songs, only three of which were amplified. Thirty-five minutes, including interruptions. That's how...
Exhibitions: The Art of Acquisition: The Great Bardfield Artists' Houses; from Eric Ravilious to Grayson Perry
The Art of Acquisition: the Great Bardfield Artists' Houses; From Eric Ravilious to Grayson PerryFry Art Gallery, Saffron Walden, until 25 October When I went to visit Edward Bawden he vigorously denied that there were any modern painters in Essex....
'Fighters in the Shadows: A New History of the French Resistance', by Robert Gildea - Review
Fighters in the Shadows: A New History of the French Resistance Robert GildeaFaber, pp.593, £20, ISBN: 9780571280346 In Marianne in Chains , his last book on Occupied France, Robert Gildea offered an original view of life in that country between...
High Life: Taki
According to Somerset Maugham, in material terms one must live on the razor edge between poverty and minimal subsistence in order to cultivate the life of the spirit. I've always respected Maugham's wisdom and understanding of human nature, and Larry...
'How Long Will South Africa Survive?: The Looming Crisis', by R.W. Johnson - Review
How Long Will South Africa Survive?: The Looming Crisis R.W. JohnsonHurst, pp.288, £25, ISBN: 9781849045599 I think this should begin with a truth-in-journalism disclosure: I know R.W. Johnson well enough to call him Bill. Since this opens me to...
Isabel Hardman: Cameron's New Army of Tory Loyalists
ListenTime was when the Conservatives believed that a small majority -- which puts a government at the mercy of backbench rebels -- would be worse than no majority at all. They dreaded the prospect. But now, well into their third month celebrating a...
James Delingpole: If on the Road's Great, What Else Have I Missed?
This week's column is dedicated to all those of you who have never read Catcher in the Rye and who, what's more, are unhealthily proud of the fact. It's OK: I understand. I was one of you myself till a couple of weeks ago when, at Boy's insistence,...
'Kid Gloves: A Voyage Round My Father', by Adam Mars-Jones - Review
Kid Gloves: A Voyage Round My Father Adam Mars-JonesParticular Books, pp.273, £16.99, ISBN: 9781846148750 This intensely written memoir by Adam Mars-Jones about his Welsh father, Sir William, opens with the death of Sheila, Adam's mother, of lung...
Leading Article: George Osborne's Big Gamble
George Osborne visited Sweden, Finland and Denmark on Monday and the stock markets of each country promptly fell by about 5 per cent. As soon as he left, they recovered. A coincidence, of course: Osborne's tour coincided with stock-market jitters,...
Letters
Trimming the ermineSir: I am a new boy in the House of Lords compared with Viscount Astor -- though I did hear Manny Shinwell speak -- but he is right that it is bursting at the seams, and something needs to be done about it ('Peer review', 22 August)....
Long Life: Alexander Chancellor
We learn from a new report that children in England are among the unhappiest in the world -- more unhappy, even, than the children of Ethiopia, Algeria or Israel. Why should this be so? Life is still quite good in England. It is generally peaceful...
Low Life: Jeremy Clarke
I sprinted through Milan station, speed-read the departures monitor without stopping, and arrived gasping on platform 8 with two minutes to spare. The driver of the FrecciaBianca bullet train was waiting only for the guard's signal to depart. The...
Martin Vander Weyer: Sorry, but I Can't Join in the China Panic
MS Queen Victoria, 38°N 19°EI'll do my best, but I've got to be honest: being surrounded by shining Ionian waters and convivial Spectator cruisers isn't helping me channel the panic that has gripped global markets. So forgive me if this dispatch doesn't...
Mind Your Language: Names
We reached peak Charlie in 2012, when 5,571 baby boys were given the name. There were only 4,642 last year. Perhaps the Paris massacre early this year will leave more infants than ever lisping 'Je suis Charlie' when they learn to talk. Names go in...
'Noonday', by Pat Barker - Review
Noonday Pat BarkerHamish Hamilton, pp.259, £18.99, ISBN: 9780241146064 If the early Martin Amis is instantly recognisable by way of its idiosyncratic slang ('rug-rethink', 'going tonto' etc) then the later Pat Barker can be similarly identified by...
Notes On. the Lessons of Exam Results Season
Every year without fail, as the trees start thinking about losing their leaves, the papers are full of the same photographs and the same stories. The pictures are of groups of teenagers grinning triumphantly -- hugging one another or throwing their...
Opera: Daphne Grimeborn
Daphne GrimebornArcola Theatre Richard Strauss's Daphne is one of the operas he wrote during the excruciatingly long Indian summer of his composing life, where he seems, in one work after another, to be looking for a subject worthy of his skills,...
Pink Horns and Poison: Saving the Rhino
Can anything protect the rhino from rapacious human stupidity? The idea of dyeing a rhino's horn pink is not absurd. It's everything else about the 21st-century rhino-human interface that's ridiculous. The pink-horn notion is a serious proposal and...
Portrait of the Week
HomeHarriet Harman, the acting leader of the Labour party, said that 3,000 people had had any votes they cast in the Labour leadership contest set aside. Voters for the contest had been reduced from 610,000 to 553,954, mostly because people could not...
Pubs and the Soul of a City
The fight to save the Gladstone Arms is the fight to save London Lant Street would be easy to miss, if you weren't looking for it. Charles Dickens lodged on Lant Street as a child, during his father's stay in Marshalsea debtors' prison nearby. The...
'Purity', by Jonathan Franzen - Review
Purity Jonathan Franzen4th Estate, pp.563, £20, ISBN: 9780007532766 Jonathan Franzen's latest novel, Purity , comes with great expectations. Its author's awareness of this fact is signalled by a series of lampoons of writers expected to produce 'big...
Radio: Bob Shennan, the BBC's Music Man
To Radio 2 to meet Bob Shennan, controller of the BBC's most popular radio station (the station attracts one third of all listening hours) and now also head of the newish monolith that is BBC Music. Why corral all of the Corporation's music output...
Real Life: Melissa Kite
On the basis that I might need a new boiler soon, I thought I had better sell the London flat and move to the Cotswolds.Fine, so it wasn't just the gurgling noise coming from the Potterton Performa. I had been pondering my place in the world, which...
'Red: A Natural History of the Redhead', by Jacky Colliss Harvey - Review
Red: A Natural History of the Redhead Jacky Colliss HarveyAllen & Unwin, pp.223, £16.99, ISBN: 9781925266191 'Gentlemen prefer blondes,' Anita Loos pronounced, 'but gentlemen marry brunettes.' Quite what they do with redheads she never revealed...
Rod Liddle: I'm Utterly Sickened by This Story of a Man Trying to Talk to a Woman on a Train
What can we as a society do about the relentless harassment of women by terrifying men? Menacing men, threatening men, priapic men. Something must be done -- and quickly. I reached this conclusion after reading a deeply distressing article by the...
Status Anxiety: Toby Young
Boy, am I glad I'm not a Frenchman. Last week's dramatic incident on board a Paris-bound train, in which a terrorist atrocity was narrowly averted by a group of heroic passengers, is a stain on French manhood to rival the Battle of Agincourt.I'm...
Television: The Other Prince William
In 2011, the Daily Mail carried a long story about how the Queen's cousin Prince William of Gloucester, who died in a plane crash aged 30, had been Prince Charles's boyhood idol. (Our own Prince William, it claimed, was named after him.) In passing,...
Theatre: Showstopper! the Improvised Musical
Showstopper! The Improvised MusicalPleasance, until 30 AugustThe ChristiansTraverse, until 30 AugustJohn Lloyd: Emperor of the PrawnsAssembly Checkpoint, until 30 AugustShowstopper! The Improvised Musical offers a brand new song-and-dance spectacular...
The Contagious Madness of the New PC
Obsessive searching for hurt and offence will create it where once it never existed It's becoming pretty clear, as the year rolls on, that some of our brightest youngsters have gone round the bend. It's as if they've caught a virus, a mental one,...
'The Loney', by Andrew Michael Hurley - Review
The Loney Andrew Michael HurleyJohn Murray, pp.360, £14.99, ISBN: 9781905784691 This is a muddle of novel (originally published last year by Tartarus Press in a limited edition), though there are plenty of indications that the author will go on to...
The Lure of War
Why our politicians keep going back to military intervention, no matter how often it failsListenIs it going to happen again? Will the next 12 months really see western armies return to Iraq?Last year was meant to signal an end to wars of intervention...
The Wiki Man: Rory Sutherland
I had a water meter installed in my flat a few months ago. I looked at it just now and it said '13'. I didn't know what '13' meant, so I went online to check. Apparently, in a few months, four of us have used 13 cubic metres of water, or 13,000 litres.The...
Wild Life: Aidan Hartley
LaikipiaAn elephant can break through an electric fence by pulling out the posts, pushing younger, more stupid animals into the wire -- or by simply sitting on the fence. I do hope they will play such tricks on us, now that high-voltage wires enclose...
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