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 January 20

'A History of the Royal Navy: Women and the Royal Navy', by Jo Stanley - Review
This book is a thoroughly researched account of the parts played by women in the service of the Royal Navy from the Middle Ages to the present. What it lacks in anecdotes and personal accounts it makes up for in its comprehensive documentation of official...
'Anatomy of a Genocide: The Life and Death of a Town Called Buczacz', by Omer Bartov - Review
I thought I knew the history of the years 1914 to 1945: the first world war and the terrible casualties in the trenches; the second world war and the German conquest of Europe; day and night bombing; Stalingrad and the Holocaust. But I'm embarrassed...
Ancient and Modern
Advertisements encouraging men and women to join the army emphasise that their religious beliefs, sexual orientation and emotional needs will be no barrier to making a career. Very nice too, but what sort of come-on is that? Is there no positive reason...
Charles Moore: The Spectator's Notes
The BBC programme The Coronation, on Sunday evening, was extremely interesting, principally, of course, because of the Queen's appearance on it. But what was left out was notable. The programme gave a careful narrative, and some explanation, of the stages...
Cinema: The Post
Steven Spielberg's The Post, which dramatizes the Washington Post's publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971, doesn't exactly push at the frontiers of storytelling. It's told straight and in a familiar way. Here are the journalists furtively working...
Corbyn and the Far Left's Generation Gap
Communism, Corbyn and the far left's generation gapLast year, more than 15,000 communists gathered in the Russian seaside town of Sochi for a week-long commemoration of the centenary of Lenin's revolution. Nearly every nation was represented. Stalls...
Dear Mary: Your Problems Solved
Q. I will be 80 in March and all my friends will expect to be asked to the celebration. My problem is that our dining-room table only fits 16, and everyone is too old for a buffet as we will spill the stuff down ourselves. How can I avoid offending the...
Diary: Justin Webb
My friend John Humphrys has managed to get on to the front pages again. We first met in the 1980s when I was a very junior bod on Today and he had just arrived to present. He was the same then as he is now: argumentative, hostile to authority of any...
Drink: Bruce Anderson
We were pondering the relationship between military history and wine vintages. It is extraordinary to think that the French managed to make wine throughout both world wars. In the late 1980s, Alan Clark had David Owen and me to lunch at Saltwood, his...
Ferrari: Under the Skin
Has a more beautiful machine in all of mankind's fretful material endeavours ever been made than a '60 Ferrari 250 Granturismo? Go to the Design Museum and decide.I have driven many Ferraris and the experience is always unique. They are alive, demanding,...
'Finding Eden: A Journey into the Heart of Borneo', by Robin Hanbury-Tenison - Review
Eton turns out prime ministers of various stripes and patches, but it also forges fine explorers. It seems to prepare its alumni perfectly for flying snakes, scorpions so large you can put leads on them and leeches in waving battalions; titanic drinking...
'Go Went Gone', by Jenny Erpenbeck, Trans. (from German) Susan Bernofsky - Review
The title of Jenny Erpenbeck's Go Went Gone, and the autumnal tone of its beginning -- a classics professor retires, leaving him at home raking leaves, mulling over memories of his wife and wondering about the body in a nearby lake -- suggests that this...
High Life: Taki
I spent the better part of two sunny days indoors writing about authenticity for a Greek magazine, a strange subject in view of how inauthentic politics are in that Brussels-run south-eastern outpost dotted with islands. Mind you, what is taking place...
'In Search of Mary Shelley: The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein', by Fiona Sampson - Review
There are few more seductive figures for biographers than Mary Shelley. The daughter of the radical philosopher and novelist William Godwin and the great feminist thinker Mary Wollstonecraft (who died a few days after giving birth to her), she ran away...
James Delingpole: How the Rat Sniffed out £15,000 Down the Back of My Virtual Sofa
It must be about 25 years since the Rat first made an appearance in The Spectator. He started out as my girlfriend's six-year-old boy, then became my stepson and featured here quite often over the years because, being a scaly-tailed creature of evil,...
James Forsyth: You Can't Beat Corbyn with Miliband
Tuition fees have all but killed the Liberal Democrats. The breach of their manifesto pledge to abolish the charges, compounded by them voting for a fees increase, broke the party. Even the opportunities presented by Brexit have not revived them. In...
Leading Article: Corbyn's Latest Triumph
For Jeremy Corbyn and his allies, there has been no far-left takeover of the Labour party or its governing National Executive Committee. It's true that, this week, Corbyn supporters came to control the majority of the NEC, completing their command of...
Let's Abolish Parole
The system is unfair and unworkableThe furore over the parole granted to John Worboys, the rapist taxi driver, misses the point entirely -- that the system of parole is disgraceful in theory and irredeemably unwork-able in practice. The only thing that...
Letters
Investing in farmingSir: Martin Vander Weyer (Any other business, 13 January) says, unhelpfully and inaccurately, that subsidies 'absurdly' favour bigger farms. As we look towards life after Brexit, instead of debating the merits of small vs large, the...
Lionel Shriver: I Recycle - and Lie to Myself
'I just want to say one word to you, just one word. Are you listening? Plastics.' That iconic punch line from The Graduate, when a businessman gives Dustin Hoffman career advice at a cocktail party, has been circling my head ever since China announced...
Low Life: Jeremy Clarke
In France, or in Provence at least, polite rule number one is to say hello. You must offer a distinct 'good day' or 'good day, ladies and gentleman', for example, when joining the queue in the baker's or at the post office, or when getting on a bus or...
Mind Your Language: Dot Wordsworth
In Polite Conversation, Jonathan Swift presents dialogues made up of clichés, banalities and catchphrases. When Miss Notable makes a remark seen as witty, Mr Neverout exclaims: 'Why, Miss, you shine this Morning like a shitten Barn-Door.'Perhaps we might...
No Sacred Cows: Toby Young
Readers may recall that the Young family welcomed a new addition to the household about two years ago: a Hungarian Vizsla named Leo. He turned out to be incredibly high-maintenance. He demanded to be walked twice a day and invariably did something unspeakable,...
Notes On. Padel
When we arrived, we discovered that our villa had a padel court. Few of us had seen one before and no one knew the rules, so we invented them as logically as we could and got on with it. Within a couple of sets we were hooked. Some people started to...
Opera: The Return of Ulysses/ Curlew River
Spoiler alert: the final image of John Fulljames's production of Monteverdi's The Return of Ulysses at the Roundhouse is haunting. Ulysses (Roderick Williams) and Penelope (Christine Rice) stand facing each other at last, arms outstretched. But Penelope...
Portrait of the Week
HomeCarillion, the construction and service-provider with 20,000 employees and many contracts for the public sector, went into liquidation with debts of £1.5 billion, owing 30,000 businesses £1 billion. The government said it would pay employees and...
Radio: The Art of listening/Frankenstein/pandemics
On paper and on air, there's nothing to suggest that the Radio 4 series Across the Red Line will have sufficient listening power to draw you in so that once you've reached home and need to get out of the car you'll rush straight in to switch on the radio....
Rod Liddle: Women's Pay Could Bankrupt the BBC
I hope you are enjoying the BBC drama series Hard Sun. It is described as pre-apocalyptic science fiction, set in the present day UK. The head of MI5 is a Nigerian woman and everybody else in it lives in a mixed-race family -- so, if you are a racist,...
Steamy Encounters
There's nothing to beat a session at an all-male Turkish bathWith my friend Maurice, I have long frequented the Ironmonger Row baths behind Moorfields Eye Hospital. As married men, we appreciated the circumspect and respectful behaviour; for a few quid...
Television: Britannia
It's a terrible thing for a TV critic to admit but I just don't know what to make of Britannia, the new Sky Atlantic drama set during the Roman invasion of Britain, scripted by Jez Butterworth, starring a top-notch cast including David Morrissey, Zoë...
The Amazing Grace of Missionaries
In the darkest corners of the world, Christian missionaries are still saving livesLast week, Peregbakumo Oyawerikumo, aka 'The Master', was finally caught and shot by the Nigerian army. Oyawerikumo and his Egbesu Boys had styled themselves as local Robin...
Theatre: Belleville/ Things I Know to Be True
A pattern emerges. A hot American playwright, dripping with prestigious awards, is honoured in London with a transfer of their best-known work. And it turns out to be all right. Not bad. Nothing special. The latest wunderkind to wow London is Amy Herzog...
The CoE's Holy Lands
The Church of England has always been hard-nosed about propertyHoly smoke! The sleepy old Church of England is a greedy, money-grubbing property tycoon. This month, it emerged that since 2010 the church has laid claim to minerals under 585,000 acres...
The Sex Lives of Conductors
Norman Lebrecht on classical music's dirty secretI once knew a great conductor who claimed that he never boarded a plane to a new orchestra without a tube of lube in his pocket. Just in case he got lucky (which he often did).Conductors are migratory...
The Truth about Plastic
Packaging from petrochemicals is bad but what if the alternatives are worse?Has an albatross ever wielded so much influence? The bewildered chick who regurgitated a plastic bag in front of Sir David Attenborough's camera crew -- fed to him by his mother...
The Turf: Robin Oakley
I have never been one for system betting but one little piece of guidance returns to my mind at the start of every year: back Nicky Henderson's horses at Kempton in the run-up to the Cheltenham Festival. His runners always do well at the Thameside track,...
'Turning for Home', by Barney Norris - Review
'People live in the space between the realities of their lives and the hopes they have for them,' muses the octogenarian Robert at the start of Turning for Home, helpfully establishing the novel's major theme. Little ventriloquised cogitations like this...
'What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories', by Laura Shapiro - Review
The women whose 'food stories' Laura Shapiro chooses to tell are an odd bunch. Rose Prince wouldn't want all six round her own table'Tell me what you eat and I shall tell you what you are.' The best known adage in food literature, penned by the French...
Who Is Jordan Peterson?
Young Brits are flocking to hear a Canadian psychology professor speak about morality. Why?Last Sunday night a capacity crowd of mainly young people packed into the Emmanuel Centre in London. Those who couldn't find a seat stood at the back of the hall....
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