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The Spectator

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8 December 2012

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Previous Issues

The Week

Leading article

The great creep forward

8 December 2012

It took Tony Blair about five years to work out what he wanted to do with his government and George Osborne appears to be on a similar, depressingly slow learning… Read more

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

8 December 2012

Home In his Autumn Statement, held nearer the winter solstice, George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, confronted the need to extend austerity measures for reducing the deficit to 2018.… Read more

Diary

Diary

Susan Hill

8 December 2012

Finding an outfit for a wedding is a doddle compared with finding one for an investiture and I wonder how sensible it was to buy my hat first. I love… Read more

A&M

Ancient and modern

Classical press regulation

8 December 2012

Forget Leveson. If the press, always keen to be above the law, must remain free of state control (and it must), it cannot expect state protection. It must be prepared… Read more

Any-Other-Business

Barometer

8 December 2012

Distilling a philosophy The manager of Fitzpatrick’s in Rawtenstall, the last surviving temperance bar in Lancashire, has pleaded guilty to drink-driving. His embarrassing predicament would have been understood by the… Read more

Letters

Letters

8 December 2012

The North in need Sir: Neil O’Brien’s article on the North-South divide is welcome (‘The great divide’, 1 December). As a Geordie who spent much of his working life in… Read more

Features

Export-only justice

Export-only justice

8 December 2012

When Britain’s top lawyers are focused on the world’s most lucrative disputes, can our courts still serve the public interest at home?

BRITAIN AUCTION

Don’t watch The Hobbit

8 December 2012

The book is perfectly formed – the film can only spoil it

Africa

The sick man of Africa

8 December 2012

Why Congo isn’t sharing in its region’s renaissance

new_vegas

Vegas Notebook

8 December 2012

There are many weird things about Las Vegas, from the truck that drives around offering ‘Hot Babes Direct To You’ to the entrepreneurial hard-up young man on the Boulevard who… Read more

Pickles

The Pickles plan

8 December 2012

The Secretary of State for Local Government on how he’s taking on councils

Columnists

James_Forsyth-80x98

Osborne is the St Augustine Chancellor – he wants to balance the books, but not yet.

8 December 2012

After months of squabbling and not-so-civil war, the coalition now appears to be functioning again. This is one immediate consequence of George Osborne’s Autumn Statement. The Chancellor was allowed to… Read more

Spectators notes

The Spectator’s Notes

8 December 2012

You will have read in every news outlet that the baby whom the Duchess of Cambridge is bearing will be third in line to the throne if she is a… Read more

Rod Liddle

Is it grim up north? It’s too expensive to go and find out

8 December 2012

My flight to Italy a couple of weeks back was held on the runway for a while because of some altercation back at the departure gate. After a while the… Read more

Hugo Rifkind

Even my mimsy leftist friends don’t care that prisoners can’t vote

8 December 2012

I mean, honestly. What kind of mimsy, soggy-spined, weak-kneed, faffing, lentil-eating, self-loathing, lefty north London ninny gives a damn that prisoners don’t have the vote? Pretty much my entire social… Read more

Tony Hall’s successor, organic government and the great Lib Dem shale plot

8 December 2012

Rending of raiment and gnashing of teeth at the Guardian. I’m told that the paper’s veteran editor, Alan Rusbridger, is tipped to take over at the Royal Opera House once… Read more

Vander-Weyer-NEW

America’s hounding of BP no longer has much to do with Louisiana’s sad pelicans

8 December 2012

BP continues to pay a full price for the Deepwater Horizon disaster — deservedly so, you might say, given that 11 rig workers died in the April 2010 explosion that… Read more

Books

At the Opera’ by Thomas-Francis Dicksee;

Boxed and stalled

8 December 2012

That the operatic tradition survives at all is a marvel, says Philip Hensher; but it would be even better if the repertory could move with the times

Keith Vaughan - ‘Fishermen in Finisterre’, 1951

Tormented talent

8 December 2012

We know a great deal about Keith Vaughan both as a painter and as a man, from the journals he kept between 1939 until his death in 1977. They have… Read more

The plot thickens

8 December 2012

At last! At the age of 80, I have read my first digital book. According to Penguin, these brief ‘Specials’ are written to be read over a long commute or… Read more

A choice of stocking-fillers

8 December 2012

There can be few phrases in the language more debased than ‘Christmas gift book’. (Well, ‘friendly fire’, maybe, or ‘light entertainment’.) Needless to say, every writer worth his overdraft wants… Read more

‘The Terrors of St Anthony’ by Michelangelo.

Agonies and ecstasies

8 December 2012

William James considered an hallucination to be ‘as good and true a sensation as if there were a real object there’, except that the ‘object happens to be not there,… Read more

Safety in danger

8 December 2012

In his book The Black Swan, Nassim Taleb told us that the world is a much weirder place than we can bear to believe. It is full of occult forces… Read more

Recent crime novels

8 December 2012

Odd couples fascinate Frances Fyfield. Her latest novel, Gold Digger (Sphere, £12.99), centres on the relationship between an elderly man, a wealthy art collector named Thomas Porteous, and the youthful… Read more

The land of lost content

8 December 2012

Published at the author’s expense in 1896, A.E. Housman’s A Shropshire Lad did not at first attract many readers. It was only after it had been taken up by an… Read more

The vieux port of Marseille

Sublime port

8 December 2012

Ports can challenge national stereotypes: think of the difference between St Petersburg and Russia, or Naples and Italy. Since England is so small, and London so big, few English ports… Read more

Years of living dangerously

8 December 2012

The son of a fish-paste factory manager in London’s East End, Alan Root fell in love with ornithology as a Blitz evacuee when he first clapped eyes on the pea-sized… Read more

Ceiling fresco of the Last Judgment in Marienburg Abbey, South Tyrol, Italy

The beating of heavenly wings

8 December 2012

How did the cherubim, solemn figures of beaten gold in the Holy of Holies of the Hebrew Temple, become chubby toddlers (such as the pair in Raphael’s Sistine Madonna), popular… Read more

Erratic historian of alternative pop

8 December 2012

Julian Cope, the well-read jester of English pop, was the founder member of the 1980s art-rock combo The Teardrop Explodes. With his antic appearance (Rommel overcoat, wild tawny hair), he… Read more

Lord Halifax

A narrow escape

8 December 2012

C.J. Sansom is deservedly famous for his Shardlake crime novels, featuring a 16th-century lawyer on the fringes of the court. But he has also written two successful novels with 20th-century… Read more

Arts

‘Prevision’, 1948, by Barbara Hepworth

Heavenly hands

8 December 2012

Andrew Lambirth is impressed by the beauty of Barbara Hepworth’s Hospital drawings

Scandal at court

8 December 2012

The way the director James Conway sees it, Monteverdi’s last opera L’incoronazione di Poppea is about that most delicate of subjects, adult abuse by youngsters. That isn’t what he says… Read more

‘Kabakov’, 1996, by Dmitri Prigov

Imperialist ambitions

8 December 2012

In 1997, the Russian Academy of Sciences gave the names Hermitage 4758 and Piotrovsky 4869 to two small planets discovered 500 million kilometres from earth. The signal honour paid to… Read more

A pomaded, quilted brute and expert in grapes: Paul de Marseul (Niels Arestrup)

Grape expectations

8 December 2012

Five minutes into You Will Be My Son (or Tu seras mon fils in its original French), I expected a very different film from the one that eventually emerged. The… Read more

The quiz biz

8 December 2012

Come December, I often find myself writing a lot of quizzes. Not that I’m complaining: I love writing quizzes, and I really love being paid for writing quizzes. There’s a… Read more

Musical highlight: David Burt and Clive Rowe as two hoodlums

Battle of the sexes

8 December 2012

Tough play, The Taming of the Shrew. Uniquely among Shakespeare’s comedies, it moves audiences to pity and fear. It’s a video-nasty in the garb of a marital farce, an uncomfortable… Read more

Boris unmasked

8 December 2012

It’s extraordinary how many works have been upstaged by the operas based upon them. Of none is this truer than those of Pushkin, whom the Russians regard as highly as… Read more

Monica Galetti, Michel Roux Jr and Gregg Wallace

I love Michel Roux Jr

8 December 2012

For the past month I have been glued to the BBC’s Why Poverty? season — ‘part of an unprecedented collaboration between public service media in which 37 EBU members have… Read more

Sounds in silence

8 December 2012

Two really scary programmes this week, and not a vampire or psychopath to be heard. Both gave personal accounts of catastrophic hearing loss. Not something you’d expect to work on… Read more

Secret_gallery

Selling secrecy

8 December 2012

In the ‘psychotherapy ward’ of a secret venue somewhere in east London, watercolour portraits of troubled male faces line the wall. Nearby in the ‘court-room’ a sound installation broadcasts an… Read more

Life

High life

High life

High life

8 December 2012

Why do so many respectable newspapers and magazines go weak at the knees the moment an unreadable autobiography of some illiterate rock star is published? I guess no hack, however… Read more

Low life

Low life

Low life

8 December 2012

When I rang for an appointment, the receptionist said, ‘Can you be here within the hour?’ I arrived with ten minutes to spare and presented myself before her. ‘Have you… Read more

Real life

Real life

Real life

8 December 2012

The renovations were too much for me. I had to get the builder boyfriend back. But before you call me weak, manipulating, cheap, pathetic, or (if you’re into American self-help… Read more

Long life

Long life

Long life

8 December 2012

I was sad to read that Larry Hagman had died. As J.R. Ewing, the conniving Texas oilman in Dallas, he may have been ‘an overstuffed Iago in a Stetson hat’,… Read more

TheTurf

The turf

Twelve to follow

8 December 2012

Few experiences in racing are as guaranteed to cheer you up as a visit to Oliver Sherwood’s lovely yard in Upper Lambourn. Trying vainly to match strides with Oliver back… Read more

Bridge_1

Bridge

8 December 2012

A few years ago I used to play Rubber Bridge from time to time with an elderly gentleman called Leo Halpern. Leo was unfailingly polite, good-humoured and kind. He was… Read more

Chess ('London Pride')

Chess

London pride

8 December 2012

This week I continue my homage, during the London Classic which finishes this coming week, to great players who have achieved outstanding things in London. In 1866 Wilhelm Steinitz defeated… Read more

Chess

Chess puzzle

Puzzle

8 December 2012

White to play. This position is from La Bourdonnais-McDonnell, London 1834. White has various ways to finish off, but what is the cleanest kill? Owing to early printing deadlines, we… Read more

Investigation

Competition

Ashes to ashes

8 December 2012

In Competition No. 2775 you were invited to submit an elegy on the death of the ash. A bleak topic for a comp, perhaps, but happily there are those who… Read more

Crossword

Crossword

2092: Attend

8 December 2012

Clues in italics are definitions only. In each of their answers, it is necessary to 32 10 (a four-word phrase) to create the word to be entered in the grid.… Read more

Crossword_solution

Crossword solution

2089: backward and forward

8 December 2012

The unclued lights (16D/21? 16D/16A/23/38/24/11/14?) form a quotation by SHYLOCK in The Merchant of Venice. A number of references to the play and its opposition between Jews and Christians were… Read more

Toby Young

Status anxiety

The tyranny of the Twitterati

8 December 2012

In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville identified ‘the tyranny of the majority’ as the main shortcoming of democratic societies. His fear was that the principle of majority rule could… Read more

Dave_081212
Rory_Sutherland

The Wiki Man

Gifts and guilt

8 December 2012

In a now famous 1993 paper the economist Joel Waldfogel attempted to calculate the economic deadweight-loss caused by giving Christmas presents. His argument was that money spent by a gift-giver… Read more

Dear Mary

Dear Mary

8 December 2012

Q. I disagree with your advice to A.B. (8 September) about enlisting a restaurant management’s support to go on smoking his cigar despite the displeasure of the nearby patrons. We… Read more

Drink

Drink

Two glasses and 32 years

8 December 2012

The wines change, and we change with them. It is 1980, in Washington, and a girl gives me a bottle of 1974 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon reserve as a birthday… Read more

Mind Your Language

Mind your language

Principle

8 December 2012

‘Have you read it then?’ asked my husband on the afternoon Lord Justice Leveson’s report was published. Of course I had not, and he only asked to annoy. But, then,… Read more