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 October 20

Ancient and Modern
World Mental Health day raised again the issue of suicide, still regarded as happening only among those 'whose balance of mind is disturbed'. Not necessarily, Romans would have argued.For Romans the manner of one's death was as important as that of one's...
Brexit and the Irish Question
The answer might be the one thing no one wants: a hard borderThe story of Britain and Ireland's relationship has, all too often, been one of mutual incomprehension: 1066 and All That summed up the view on this side of St George's Channel with the line...
Can You Be an Ethical Pervert?
The rise of ethical decadenceIt hasn't always been easy being a progressive-minded man who prides himself on his sensitivity to issues of race, gender, feminism and sexual exploitation -- and still gets to walk on the wild side. Political principles...
'Capitalism in America: A History', by Adrian Wooldridge and Alan Greenspan - Review
America is often seen to represent the search for something - which Trump's populism is failing to provide. Tim Stanley tries to identify what that elusive thing might beDonald J. Trump has sparked some soul- searching among US historians: has this happened...
Charles Moore: The Spectator's Notes
Can you think of a serious crime which does not involve hate or, at the very least, contempt? You must hate people to murder them, rape them, rob them, beat them up, post excrement through their letterbox or even defraud them. This intense hostility...
Cinema: Dogman
Matteo Garrone's Dogman, which is Italy's entry for the foreign language Oscar next year, is bleak, unflinching, oppressive, masculine (very), violent (shockingly) and basically everything you'd expect me to hate. Except I didn't. It is out of the ordinary....
Dear Mary: Your Problems Solved
Q. My fiancé and I spend many great weekends with another couple. I am a vegetarian and quite particular about certain food textures and I cannot stand slimy foods like overcooked mushrooms or undercooked eggs. The husband of our good friends prides...
Diary: Matt Ridley
When I land on the east coast of America, people tell me they've never met a Trump voter. When I land in the middle, as I did last week in Kentucky, I meet lots. I chatted with my driver, who did not like Trump at first, but would vote twice for his...
Dominic West Talks to Melissa Kite
Dominic West talks to Melissa Kite about #MeToo and the perils of discussing politicsLounging confidently on the sofa of a Soho hotel suite, Dominic West has been beaming at me, but now his handsome smile dissolves into a hurt look.I have just asked...
Exhibitions: The Complete Bruegel
'About suffering', W.H. Auden memorably argued in his poem 'Musée des Beaux Arts', the old masters 'were never wrong'. Great and terrible events -- martyrdoms and nativities -- took place amid everyday life, while other people were eating, opening a...
Food: Tanya Gold
I couldn't find Gazelle. I walked up and down Albermarle Street, in which Oscar Wilde once plotted his own doom in the Albermarle Club, and I couldn't find it. I had to go to Caffè Nero opposite the Ritz Hotel and email my dining companion -- where are...
Happy 60th Birthday, Blue Peter!
Happy 60th birthday, Blue PeterEvery Monday and Thursday afternoon when I was growing up, a drum roll would sound throughout suburban Britain. 'Damian? Blue Peter!' my mother would call out, in a voice that made it clear that my presence was required...
High Life: Taki
New YorkThere is fear and loathing in this city, with men looking over their shoulders for the thought police and hard-eyed women roaming the television studios with lists of sexual predators. There is also dread over the latest exports from the city's...
How Bellingcat Got the Skripal Scoop
Are they independents or a front for intelligence agencies? The inside story of the Skripal scoopBellingcat is an independent group of exceptionally gifted Leicester-based internet researchers who use information gleaned from open sources to dig up facts...
It's a Shock to Be Sacked at 74
How do I feel? Bruised, but not surprisedIt was a shock but not really a surprise. I came back from holiday at the beginning of August to find an item in the UK Press Gazette saying that Decca Aitkenhead had just been appointed chief interviewer at the...
James Delingpole: Hell Hath No Fury like an Irate Teenage Girl
Something troubling is happening to our girls. I noticed it again most recently at this year's Battle of Ideas -- the annual festival of free speech staged at London's Barbican by Claire Fox. It's a wonderful event, where ex-revolutionary communists...
'Josef Albers: Life and Work', by Charles Darwent - Review
The German-born artist, Josef Albers, was a contrary so-and-so. Late in life, he was asked why -- in the early 1960s -- he had suddenly increased the size of works in his long-standing abstract series, 'Homage to the Square', from 16×16 inches to 48×48....
'Killing Commendatore', by Haruki Murakami, Translated by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen - Review
Haruki Murakami's Killing Commendatore was published in Japan in February last year. Early press releases for this English version hailed the book as 'a tour de force of love and loneliness, war and art -- as well as a loving homage to The Great Gatsby'....
Leading Article: Modern Family
Whether it was intended so or not, the decision by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to choose Australia as the place to announce that they are expecting their first child was a public relations triumph. For years the royal family was criticised for having...
Letter from Durban: South Africa's Uncertain Future
No one likes uncertainty and in Britain we've got more than our fair share. But spare a thought for South Africa, where the uncertainty is in danger of morphing into national paralysis. 'What are your plans for the future?' I ask a friend who lives near...
Letters
Ireland's day of reckoningSir: John Waters is more right than he knows when he talks about the Irish attitude to Brexit ('Paddy powerless', 13 October). We Irish and our media have developed a consensus gene across many issues -- without exception, all...
'Lost Empress: A Protest', by Sergio De la Pava - Review
American mass-incarceration is the most overt object of the 'protest' of this novel's subtitle. The author, Sergio De La Pava, works as a public defender in New York City, and calls on an intimate secondhand knowledge of the many different sorrows to...
Low Life: Jeremy Clarke
East of London the Thames broadens dramatically to a surreal waste of mud and sewage-coloured water lined with shipping-container dumps. Here, a row of expensive apartment blocks commands the view as if it were the Loire valley. At 11.30 on the morning...
Martin Vander Weyer: Why I'm Boycotting 'Davos in the Desert'
The current stock-market correction has been steaming down the track since August and I claim no wisdom for having predicted it: the FTSE100 dipped below 7,000 at the start of the week, having shed all of the 10 per cent it had gained since it began...
'Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters', by Anne Boyd Rioux - Review
The great thing about Louisa May Alcott's classic Little Women is that it has something for everyone: stay-at-home types have the oldest of the March sisters, Meg, who struggles to reconcile her love of ease with both her responsibilities and the family's...
Mind Your Language: Dot Wordsworth
When I say that it has given comfort to my husband, you can judge how foolish the Wellcome Institute was in using the word womxn and then apologising for it. It had wanted to be more inclusive with a workshop on 'how womxn can challenge existing archives'....
Music: Furtwängler
The morning after the first night of Ronald Harwood's Taking Sides in May 1995, I received a call from Otto Klemperer's daughter.'Tell me,' said Lotte, 'is it true that, in Mr Harwood's play, the denazification attorney addressed Dr Furtwängler as "Wilhelm",...
No Sacred Cows: Toby Young
On 11 October 2017 an anonymous Google spreadsheet began doing the rounds of American newspapers and magazines -- a document that would have far-reaching consequences for Stephen Elliott, a Los Angeles-based writer and editor. Called 'Shitty Media Men',...
Notes On. Davenports Magic
It's a very fitting place for a magic shop. Hidden away in the maze of pedestrian tunnels that lead from Covent Garden to Charing Cross station, Davenports certainly takes some finding. But that's to the good -- a complete absence of passing trade means...
Opera: Porgy and Bess; the Merry Widow
Gershwin's Porgy and Bess springs to life fully formed, and pulls you in before a word has been sung. A whirlwind flourish; the hectic bustle of violins and xylophone, and then a quick fade into an image of a woman cradling a child and 'Summertime',...
Portrait of the Week
HomeBrexit was in crisis as the European Council (of heads of state or government) met. Theresa May, the Prime Minister, told the House of Commons that it was time for 'cool, calm heads to prevail'. These proved in short supply. Dominic Raab, Jeremy...
Radio: The Changing Sound of Radio; Fifteen Inches per Second; Turbulence
Flies buzzing, strange rustling, crunching sounds, and then the most chilling screech you'll have heard all week. Vultures were feeding off the carcass of a zebra in Kenya, recorded by Chris Watson. He had been up before dawn, on the look-out for a suitable...
Real Life: Melissa Kite
After months of trying not to try the exciting new version of Gmail, the exciting new version of Gmail tried me.I hadn't realised it had happened until I opened my laptop and didn't recognise my own inbox. With the horror that creeps up in me like acid...
Rod Liddle: Good News - Now Everyone Can Be a Victim
We are terribly remiss in our coverage of women's sport in The Spectator, so I thought I would try to put this right a little by drawing your attention to last week's 2018 Maste rs Track Cycling World Championship -- in particular the sprint category...
Roger Kimball: Melania Stays True to Herself
I am not sure that Melania Trump had the introduction of Henry IV Part 2 in mind when she sat down for her free and frank discussion with the jackals of the -- er, with a respected ABC correspondent during her recent trip to Africa. But time and again...
Spectator Sport: Roger Alton
Eddie Jones's sorrows as England's rugby coach certainly keep coming in big battalions. Now the giant battered No 8 Billy Vunipola is out of the autumn internationals, and maybe longer. His brother Mako is hurt too, along with Sam Simmonds, Jamie George,...
Television: Booker Prize; There She Goes
At the beginning of Barneys, Books and Bust Ups: 50 Years of the Booker Prize (BBC4), Kirsty Wark's voiceover promised us 'a tale of fierce rivalries, bruised egos and, most importantly of all, countless brilliant books'. In the event, though -- as the...
The Art of the Pit Brow Lasses
'They did not look like women, or at least a stranger new to the district might easily have been misled by their appearance, as they stood together in a group, by the pit's mouth.' As opening sentences go this is a cracker, but few modern readers of...
Theatre: I'm Not Running; Measure for Measure
Sir David Hare's weird new play sets out to chronicle the history of the Labour movement from 1996 to the present day. But it makes no mention of Corbyn, Momentum, the anti-Semitism row or rumours of a breakaway party. The drama is located in the dead-safe...
The Listener: Cypress Hill, Elephants on Acid
Grade: A+Easily album title of the year, maybe album of the year. A true bravura offering from these supposedly tired old men. Cypress Hill are now in comfortable middle age, almost as old as me, ffs. But they were ever ludicrously inventive and idiosyncratic,...
The Posters of Toulouse-Lautrec
You don't need to be much of a psychologist to understand the trajectory of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Born to aristocratic first cousins, in a family never shy of consanguinity, he was blighted by congenital deformities and weaknesses. When his brittle...
The Revival of Strawberry Hill
Michael Snodin celebrates the splendours of Strawberry Hill revivedWe can't know what Horace Walpole would make of the continuing popularity of serendipity, a word he coined in 1754 to describe the accidental happy discovery of a Renaissance portrait...
'The Scottish Clearances: A History of the Dispossessed, 1600-1900', by T.M. Devine - Review
There is a degree of irony in the opening chapter of T.M. Devine's history, lambasting popular previous depictions of the Clearances and citing ludicrous comparisons to Nazi genocide and the misty-eyed melancholy of John Prebble. Though it does not mention...
'Tombland', by C.J. Sansom - Review
Tombland is not to be treated lightly. Its length hints at its ambitions. Here is a Tudor epic disguised as a historical crime novel.C.J. Sansom's 'Shardlake' series, of which this is the seventh episode, deals with the activities of a hunchbacked lawyer...
'Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy 1945-1975', by Max Hastings - Review
The 50th anniversary of the Vietnam war has produced an outpouring of books, along with Ken Burns's 18-hour television spectacular, which sparked in the United States yet another round of heated debate on the war. The journalist and military historian...
Why French Kids Don't Get Fat
Why are French kids thin and British ones fat?A decade ago a book called French Women Don't Get Fat took the Anglophone world by storm. It was a bestseller in Britain and America because, as the blurb explained, the French author 'unlocks the simple...
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