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 30

'After the Fire', by Henning Mankell, Translated by Marlaine Delargy - Review
Few people turn to Henning Mankell's work in search of a good laugh. He's best known as the author of the grim and darkly fascinating Wallander series of Swedish crime novels, though he also produced a formidable body of other novels, as well as plays,...
'Anthony Powell: Dancing to the Music of Time', by Hilary Spurling - Review
Hilary Spurling impressively captures the essence and the spirit of Anthony Powell, his writing and his era, says Philip HensherGreat novelists come in all shapes and sizes, but one thing they all share is a status of half-belonging. If they had no foot...
Box Sets: Black Sabbath and Bowie
To get a reminder of how strange the 1970s were, there's no need to plough through lengthy social and political histories. Go instead to YouTube, and watch the public-information films made for schoolchildren. Take Lonely Water (1973), in which Donald...
'Britain's 100 Best Railway Stations', by Simon Jenkins - Review
Stations, according to Simon Jenkins, are the forgotten part of the railway experience. People love the trains, the journey, the passing countryside, the leisurely pace and the locomotives, especially steam ones. The stations, however, have been rather...
Charles Moore: The Spectator's Notes
You can see why Theresa May said in Florence that the British wished the European Union well in its plans for greater integration, while choosing a different path ourselves. There is no point in causing antagonism over what we cannot prevent. But in...
'Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook', by Alice Waters, with Cristina Mueller and Bob Carrau - Review
Though Alice Waters is not a household name here, that is precisely what she is in America -- the best-known celebrity cook, the person who inspired the planting of Michelle Obama's White House vegetable garden, the recipient of the National Humanities...
Corbyn's First 100 Days
What would happen with Corbyn at the helmAt 71, Corbyn becomes Britain's oldest prime minister since Churchill, and at first is one of its most popular. His appeal grows as he takes on some of the country's favourite demons. Few listen to the protests...
Damian Green, the PM's Right-Hand Man
May's right-hand man Damian Green on her survival planEven Damian Green seems to find it odd that he's the second most important person in the government. When asked, the First Secretary of State plays down his influence -- in fact, he plays down most...
Dear Mary: Your Problems Solved
Q. How can I avoid becoming seen as an 'Instagram creeper'? My well-meaning niece tells me that I'm in danger of qualifying for this insult. Apparently it means a sort of Peeping Tom who views other people's postings but never contributes any herself....
Diary: Susan Hill
I don't know why party conferences no longer take place in Scarborough. As a child, I saw many an important politician strolling to the Spa Hall, including Winston Churchill. I am a Conservative party member but I have never been to conference. What...
Exhibitions: Degas from the Burrell
Where was Degas standing as he sketched his 'Laundresses' (c.1882-4)? Did he watch the two women from behind sheets hanging to dry? Or was he hidden by steam from the basins? The laundry women are unselfconscious, unguarded. One reads aloud from a list,...
Food: Tanya Gold
Veneta is a Venetian restaurant inside the St James's Market development south of Piccadilly Circus. I do not like this development because it has no identity and great cities should have identities. It is not like St James's, and it is nothing like...
High Life: Taki
I think this week marks my 40th anniversary as a Spectator columnist, but I'm not 100 per cent certain. All I know is that I was 39 or 40 years old when the column began, and that I've just had my 81st birthday. Keeping a record is not my strong point,...
Leading Article: It's Time to Talk Trade
Thirty years ago, the Conservatives would have had no problem countering what Jeremy Corbyn had to offer in Brighton. But as they gather in Manchester for their own conference, they know they are going to have to find a new way of appealing to a generation...
Letters
Fight and fight againSir: In her Florence speech, Theresa May yet again declared that: 'No deal is better than a bad deal.' Yet in his piece 'Brexit Wars' (23 September), James Forsyth claims that minimal planning is being made for a 'no deal' under...
Low Life: Jeremy Clarke
As is traditional in this village, the Chapel congregation had walked the 100 yards up the hill to unite with the Anglicans for the Harvest Sunday morning service. The Chapel people are on the whole younger and more visibly filled with the Holy Spirit...
Martin Vander Weyer: Uber Was the Ugly Snowplough That Cleared the Path but Its Dominance Is Bound to Fade
An Uber insider tells me not to write off the ride-hailing giant too soon, because it's a very smart company for all its faults -- and because the numbers of drivers and users for whom it is part of daily life will make it difficult for Transport for...
Mary Wakefield: Gentrification Is Far from Our Biggest Problem
The late afternoon sun fell on the anomalous pine trees of Gillett Square, London N16, and on the wooden decking below, giving it a fleeting look of lunch in the Alps. To the east, just visible at the far end of Gillett Street, the Kings-land Road ran...
Matthew Parris: At Last! the Subversion of Brexit Has Begun
The Brexit crowd are right to smell a rat. In any great national debate a columnist may feel tempted to go beyond openly rooting for one side. Rooting for one side is acceptable, of course. Though some Brexiteer readers do struggle with the idea it could...
Mind Your Language: Dot Wordsworth
In 1872, the 27-stone figure of the Tichborne Claimant was insisting he was Sir Roger Tichborne Bt, an heir thought lost at sea as a slim young man. To raise funds he undertook a series of public meetings, and at one in the East End, the cry 'Three groans...
Music: This Is Rattle; It's All True
I was going to start with a little moan. About the shouty marketing, the digital diarrhoea, the sycophantic drivel, which, like a bad smell, hovered over Simon Rattle's ten-day coronation. But then came the most amazing Rite of Spring I've ever heard...
Notebook: My Film about Stalin Is Not about Trump
I'm currently dwelling on past times. I have a film coming out based on the crazy events that took place in 1953 when Stalin died. (He lay having a stroke on his rug and in his urine for hours since everyone was too scared to knock and see if he was...
Notes On. Prague
Prague. Prague. It helps to say the name at least twice as a countermeasure to the ridiculous ease of modern travel -- especially when visiting cities of one syllable. Another countermeasure is to arrive by train, where the sweep of the landscape gives...
Portrait of the Week
HomeJeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, told the party conference that Labour was 'on the threshold of power'. The party had been 'war-game-type scenario-planning' for things like 'a run on the pound', John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said at a fringe...
'Priest of Nature: The Religious Worlds of Isaac Newton', by Rob Iliffe - Review
John Calvin believed that human nature was a 'permanent factory of idols'; the mind conceived them, and the hand gave them birth. Isaac Newton acquired a copy of Calvin's Institutes when he went up to Trinity College, Cambridge in 1661 as a teenager....
Radio: The Golden Age of American Radio
'On air, I could be the most glamorous, gorgeous, tall, black-haired female... Whatever I wanted to be, I could be... That was the thrilling part to me,' said Lurene Tuttle, talking about her career as a star of American radio in its heyday from the...
Real Life: Melissa Kite
Assuming someone had moved house before, and put a new boiler in their new house, while remaining a customer of British Gas, I set about doing that.It never occurred to me that I might be the first person on the planet to attempt such a thing. Not for...
Rod Liddle: The Dwarves of Death Who Control Your TV
My own fault, I suppose, for turning on the television. Not an action I undertake very regularly these days, because I am trying to be a nicer person. Some time ago, Charles Moore wrote in his Spectator diary about a hitherto ghastly, bitter old woman...
Spectator Sport: Roger Alton
The history of sport and political protest in this country would be a slim old volume. It would feature quite a bit of Robbie Fowler, the Liverpool striker, who once lifted his shirt after scoring to reveal a Calvin Klein T-shirt which said 'Support...
Status Anxiety: Toby Young
Are British teenagers suffering from an epidemic of mental illness? Yes, according to a 'government-funded study' which found that 24 per cent of 14-year-old girls are suffering from depression. This has been seized upon by critics of Conservative education...
'Sugar Money', by Jane Harris - Review
Jane Harris's novels often focus on the disenfranchised: a maid in The Observations, a woman reduced by spinsterhood in the Victorian era in Gillespie and I, and now, a young slave in this third novel. Disenfranchised they may be, but her protagonists...
Theatre: Boudica; Ramona Tells Jim
Tristan Bernays loves Hollywood blockbusters. His new play, Boudica, is an attempt to put the blood-and-guts vibe of the action flick on the Globe's stage. The pacy plotting works well. Boudica revolts against the Romans who have stolen her kingdom....
'The Cake and the Rain', by Jimmy Webb - Review
For those in the know, Jimmy Webb is one of the great pop songwriters of the 1960s and 70s, up there with Lennon and McCartney, Brian Wilson, Goffin and King, Holland, Dozier and Holland, and Bacharach and David. The hits he wrote for Glen Campbell alone...
The 'Child Refugees' Who Are Nothing of the Sort
It's time to fix our broken asylum systemI was interviewing ten foster parents in west London for a report on children in care. Foster parents are in great demand, so I was startled to discover that only one of the sets of parents was looking after the...
'The Future of War: A History', by Lawrence Freedman - Review
Planning for the 'war of the future' is something generals and politicians have been doing for the past 150 years. The first and second world wars were the most anticipated conflicts in history. Military strategists and popular novelists all published...
The Hilarity and Horror of Curb Your Enthusiasm
James Delingpole celebrates the unrivalled hilarity - and horror - of Curb Your EnthusiasmThe best episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm are the ones that make you want to hide behind the sofa, cover your ears and drown out the horror by screaming: 'No, Larry,...
The Machines That Make Us Do the Work
Why do I have to do everything myself?The plane landed a fraction early, at just after 9 p.m. Hope flickered that passport control would be as deserted as the echoing arrivals terminal. But no. By the time we reached sight of what is now labelled in...
The Turf: Robin Oakley
Racing is an expensive sport to stage. Courses and grandstands have to be maintained, health and safety regulations have to be observed. Human and horse ambulances have to be provided, turnstiles have to be manned and, to maintain the 'integrity' of...
Tory Infighting Will Only Help Corbyn
Paralysed by Brexit divisions, the Tories risk handing Britain to the hard leftJeremy Corbyn, Prime Minister. This used to be one of the Tories' favourite lines. They thought that just to say it out loud was to expose its absurdity. The strategic debate...
'Travels in a Dervish Cloak', by Isambard Wilkinson - Review
By his own admission, Isambard Wilkinson's memoir of his experiences in Pakistan a decade ago as a foreign correspondent has taken 'criminally' long to write. A litany of thanks to assorted individuals in his acknowledgements is testimony to the book's...
Why Has Shinzo Abe Called an Election?
Is his rival Yuriko Koike behind the Japanese PM's decision to call a snap election?As the only nation to have suffered mass casualties from a nuclear bomb, Japan has been understandably nervous about Kim Jong-un's missile tests. Sales of domestic nuclear...
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