The Spectator


11 January 2014

The fantasy Francis

Trendy commentators have fallen in love with a pope of their own invention

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Sorry — but Pope Francis is no liberal

11 January 2014

Trendy commentators have fallen in love with a pope of their own invention

Stephen Ward and friends, 1963. Christine Keeler is on the right

William Astor: My father, his swimming pool and the Profumo scandal

11 January 2014

I was a boy of ten when the Profumo affair began at Cliveden, my family’s home. Andrew Lloyd Webber has captured some of the story – but not all

The view from the trapped ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy

Global warming's glorious ship of fools

11 January 2014

Has there ever been a better story? It's like a version of Titanic where first class cheers for the iceberg


Don't tax sugar - it doesn't make you fat. Gluttony does

11 January 2014

Obesity is about self-control – and most of us no longer have any


'I laughed until I cried, then retched': Boris Johnson on the wit of Simon Hoggart

11 January 2014

The former Spectator editor remembers his brilliant wine correspondent

The Everly Brothers (Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty)

A girl, a train and a miniature pistol: how I met the Everly Brothers

11 January 2014

Five decades of delight began at midnight on the platform for the Flying Scotsman


The Navigators

11 January 2014

The 2014 winner of The Spectator’s Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize for unconventional travel writing, illustrated by Carolyn Gowdy

A visit to Orlando: Hatfield House

Gardens for all seasons

11 January 2014

Winter garden visiting is a solitary pastime, lending itself to the misanthrope, and is highly recommended. When it’s so cold not even your dog wants to come with you, seize… Read more

The Week


Leading article

Welfare wars

11 January 2014

The Chancellor's fight with Ed Balls over welfare is a great thing for the Tories. His fight with Iain Duncan Smith may not be


Portrait of the week

11 January 2014

Home George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, made it clear in a speech that he intended to cut £25 billion after the next election, with about half of the savings… Read more

Rory Stewart: a fine example of an Old Etonian (Photo: David Levenson/Getty)


Peter McKay

11 January 2014

Plus: Learning to fly, and rejecting the devil



11 January 2014

Plus: Who goes to A&E, and how much pollution is really stopped by driving at 60mph


Ancient and modern

Ancient and modern: Ovid on selfies

11 January 2014

A ‘meme’ is ‘an idea, behaviour, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture, often by mimicry’. If selfies, blogs, Facebook, Instagram, tweets and all the other… Read more



11 January 2014

Plus: Daniel Hannan's own pirate party, and the charm of Peregrine Worsthorne



Ed Miliband's immigration nightmare

11 January 2014

The Labour leader has to argue against his own intellectual position – and do it convincingly

Spectators notes

Mugabe envy in Scotland

11 January 2014

Plus: A bishop deprived of his palace, and a former Tory MP buried in a Palestinian flag

Rod Liddle

Why should Nigel Farage have to fight the ghost of Enoch Powell?

11 January 2014

The Murnaghan Show's ambush of the Ukip leader continues a dishonourable tradition

Matthew Parris

Hedonistic? No, today's gay men are civic-minded - and conservative

11 January 2014

The claim that gays think only of themselves and the present is, in my experience, the opposite of the truth

Hugo Rifkind

The only way to end the war on drugs is to stop fighting it

11 January 2014

Legalising cannabis isn’t as exciting as you’d expect. But it may be much more important than you think


Martin Vander Weyer: Why I’d rather run M&S than Tesco

11 January 2014

Plus: The boss to watch for 2014, and the acronym that Jim ‘Bric’ O’Neill should have chosen


The young Clarice Lispector was strikingly beautiful, with catlike green eyes and ‘very, very sexy’, remembered a friend

'She's the most important Jewish writer since Kafka!'

11 January 2014

Clarice Lispector is revered in Brazil. Benjamin Moser's fascinating biography deserves to make her much better known here


This year, discover Michel Déon

11 January 2014

The Foundling Boy is only the second book by 90-year-old, award-winning Michel Déon to make it into English. It won't be the last...

Coloured photograph of Princess Louise dating from the early 1880s by the society photographer Alexander Bassano

What was the secret of Queen Victoria's rebel daughter?

11 January 2014

Lucinda Hawskley thinks she knows. But her The Mystery of Princess Louise presents no hard evidence

The National Theatre

The National Theatre Story by Daniel Rosenthal - review

11 January 2014

In 1976, as the National Theatre moved into its new home on London’s South Bank, its literary manager Kenneth Tynan observed: ‘It’s taken 123 years to get here: 60 of… Read more

A Soviet soldier buys a ticket for the  performance of the Seventh Symphony in Leningrad in August 1942

Shostakovich, Leningrad, and the greatest story ever played

11 January 2014

Brian Moynahan's Leningrad: Siege and Symphony brings together the story of Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony and that of the siege of Leningrad to inspiring, heartbreaking effect

Arshile Gorky (Photo: Gjon Mili//Time Life/Getty)

Critics can be creative - look at Malcolm Cowley

11 January 2014

The Long Voyage: Selected Letters of Malcolm Cowley reveals a great reviewer who preferred to rehabilitate and encourage, rather than rebuke or revile

Portrait of John McEwen by John Bellany

John Bellany: potent, prolific, patchy

11 January 2014

John McEwen's handsome and substantial biography shows why John Bellany was the most influential Scottish painter of the 20th century - and just how much he overproduced


Unmissable: ‘The Horse, the Rider and the Clown’, 1943–4, by Matisse will go on show at Tate Modern in April

Art shows you simply mustn't miss in 2014

11 January 2014

Matisse, Rembrandt, Italians, Germans, Vikings and the court of Ming are all in store at Britain's great museums this year

Elektra at the Royal Opera House (Photo: Clive Barda/Arena Pal

Overrated Strauss vs underrated Gluck

11 January 2014

Why are there so many productions of Richard Strauss's gargantuan operas, and so few of Gluck's works of genius?

This charming man: Lang Lang rehearsing with Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic

Lang Lang: You can't compare Bach and Schoenberg, or Justin Timberlake and The Beatles

11 January 2014

The pianist tells the Spectator his dazzling career was inspired by the Tom and Jerry Show – and that sometimes he has to fend off bad spirits

Mariah Carey (Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty)

All I want next Christmas is new Christmas songs 

11 January 2014

The most recent ditty to join the Christmas canon was Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas is You, in 1994. We deserve more joy

Ben Miller as Robert Houston MP in ‘The Duck House’

The Duck House is the best show in the West End

11 January 2014

The Duck House, about the MP expenses scandal and politicians' peccadilloes, is the best show now playing in the West End

Great performance: Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup

Deborah Ross: 12 Years a Slave harrowed me to within an inch of my life

11 January 2014

Steve McQueen's third and best film spills with great performances - but it belongs to Chiwetel Ejiofor

Nick Robinson: fronting a critique of — or apologia for — immigration policy?

James Delingpole: 'The Truth About Immigration' is anything but

11 January 2014

The BBC can never talk honestly about the immigration problem because it's responsible for the cultural mindset that made it possible


Bye-bye Bric, hello Mint — are Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey really the new boom economies?  

11 January 2014

Plus: Why there's so little space on your local war memorial for the names of World War II heroes


Why is there no God in the British Library's latest exhibition?   

11 January 2014

All exhibitions commit sins of omission, but the omissions in Georgians Revealed are unforgivable


High life

High life

Taki: How the King of Greece taught me the origins of the F word... 

11 January 2014

Gstaad Although no longer a regular habit, extended benders now turn me into a sort of magnetic field that picks up pearls as though they were iron filings. They are… Read more

Low life

Low life

Jeremy Clarke: When public vice improves private virtue

11 January 2014

So I go to the all-night house party with my rolled-up yoga mat under my arm. Nice house, middle-class crowd, everybody drunk. Women’s screams coming from upstairs. Looking for the… Read more

Real life

Real life

Melissa Kite: Why is it easier to go mad than get a refund from a utility company? 

11 January 2014

‘Hello, I’d like my money back, please,’ I said to the nice lady on the other end of the line. And if the nice lady on the other end of… Read more

Long life

Long life

Alexander Chancellor: The Chinese must save the cigar from extinction

11 January 2014

In Dorchester during the Christmas holiday I bought a two-slice electric toaster at Currys. It was a nice little toaster that worked very well when I got it home. And… Read more


The turf

How jockeys play dirty

11 January 2014

At Christmas a friend from CNN sent me the story of a US officer on a European train. Searching for a seat, he found one occupied by a miniature poodle… Read more



11 January 2014

First up, HNY to one and all and especially my regular reader (no, not you mummy) John Hinde, who wrote me a charming email very politely pointing out the absurdity… Read more



Different paths

11 January 2014

Daniel Johnson, Dominic Lawson and Tim Congdon all had the potential to become chess masters. However, all three chose alternative routes, establishing their reputations in the fields of journalism, politics and… Read more


Chess puzzle

No. 296

11 January 2014

White to play. This position is a variation from Congdon–‘Heinsius’, online game 2014. White has a ferocious attack and now needs to land the killer blow. How can he achieve… Read more



Culture shock?

11 January 2014

In Competition 2829 you were invited to imagine what Philip Larkin might have made of the news that Hull has been anointed 2017’s City of Culture. Despite its unpromising image,… Read more



2144: Leonids

11 January 2014

1D is the title of a work minus a word that is suggested by three further unclued lights. Other unclued lights include the person to whom the word refers, who… Read more


Crossword solution

to 2142: Wintry

11 January 2014

Extra letters in clues give ‘wrapped in wild snow’, a quotation from a poem by ALEXANDER BLOK (10). Partially indicated answers are treated accordingly, the resulting entries at 1D, 14,… Read more

Toby Young

Status anxiety

Toby Young: Why I'm giving up drinking. And chocolate. And ice cream...

11 January 2014

I’ve gone completely overboard with New Year’s Resolutions this year. I’ve sworn off three illicit substances — alcohol, chocolate and ice cream — and vowed to eat an apple every… Read more

Spectator sport

Spectator sport

Roger Alton: The day Viv Richards came to watch me play cricket

11 January 2014

Sir Vivian Richards came to watch me play cricket the other day. That’s the sort of sentence you wait a lifetime to write. What’s more it’s true. Sort of. I… Read more

Dear Mary

Dear Mary

11 January 2014

Q. We had our son’s fiancée and her family to stay recently. After dinner, expecting conversation, we were shocked to see them all slumped in our drawing room staring at… Read more



Tanya Gold: Child-friendly, sex-free, nut-heavy – just the hotel for my 40th birthday

11 January 2014

Woolley Grange is a child-friendly country house hotel that seems, at first, entirely monstrous — a grey Tudor house in Wiltshire, with gables like teeth and a pond outside, possibly… Read more

Mind Your Language

Mind your language

Dot Wordsworth: How online shopping is changing English

11 January 2014

How do you play the lottery? The National Lottery website has a handy guide. Step No. 1 is: ‘Go into a store.’ But in my experience, lottery tickets are sold… Read more