The Spectator


1 November 2014

The cult of mindfulness

Separating meditation from faith might not be as harmless as it seems

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Previous Issues



The cult of 'mindfulness'

1 November 2014

Separating meditation from faith is a dubious business, morally and sometimes in its effects


Why I’ve joined Lebanon’s exodus

1 November 2014

Escaping the shadow of the Islamic State to a changed country


Rand Paul is like Nigel Farage – except he might win

1 November 2014

This rising Republican star Rand Paul combines a dull, reassuring manner with a Ukip-like insurgent appeal. It could take him to his party’s presidential candidacy

Pope Benedict XVI (L), meets Britain's C

Jonathan Sacks on religion, politics and the civil war that Islam needs

1 November 2014

The former chief rabbi’s arguments for religion start from questions of community and identity, rather than theology


The fightback against wackiness starts here

1 November 2014

I’m sick of corporations and charities behaving like a 1990s student rag week. Who’s with me?

Interpol Issue 'Red Notice' For Arrest Of Samantha Lewthwaite

The myth of the White Widow

1 November 2014

Why Samantha Lewthwaite almost certainly isn’t as monstrous – or as important – as the papers are telling you

Rock of ages: three centuries of British occupation

Why Gibraltar needs its hunt back

1 November 2014

One institution used to bind together the Spanish and the English. Only a museum remains

The Week

UKIP Campaign In Rochester Before Upcoming By-election

Leading article

The Tories have the right ideas to take on Ukip. So why do they keep messing it up?

1 November 2014

Cameron's every move seems to play into Farage's hands


Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

Home The last British combat troops turned over Camp Bastion in Helmand to Afghan forces and withdrew from Afghanistan after 13 years and 453 deaths. Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary,… Read more

Napoleon In Exile


Andrew Roberts’s diary: Just who’s the despot here – Napoleon or Paxman?

1 November 2014

And why was the Baron de Kepen such a turn-on?



Rochester’s special qualities, and the price of Ebola.com

Plus: The evolution of high-speed trains, and the British death toll of recent conflicts

(Photo: Getty)

Ancient and modern

Forget Ukip – what we need is some ostracisms

1 November 2014

Ancient Athens really knew how to deliver a protest vote

Bedside Reading

From The Archives

From the archives

1 November 2014

From ‘A Probationer’s Diary’, by a Red Cross volunteer, from The Spectator, 31 October 1914: Friday. The wounded are coming to-morrow. Twenty of them. They are to be drafts from a… Read more



Letters: In defence of Italy, and the rise and fall of the military moustache

Italy’s to-do list Sir: You would expect a long letter of rebuttal by a piqued senior diplomat in response to the many barbs that Nicholas Farrell packed into his piece… Read more



Scotland needs Jim Murphy (even if he doesn’t want to go back there)

1 November 2014

Scottish Labour must have a strong, centrist leader to avoid giving in to the SNP’s intolerant lefist agenda

Rod Liddle

Rod Liddle: The top 10 most fatuous phrases in the English language

1 November 2014

I’m battling my demons, and at my most vulnerable, but I’ve still managed to bring you a column

Matthew Parris

Help me become an addict

1 November 2014

Heroin is against the law, so it’ll have to be e-cigarettes

Hugo Rifkind

I’ll take Jeremy Clarkson over a howling mob any day

1 November 2014

Lord knows he’s embarrassing. But at this point Argentina should be embarrassed too


How Italy failed the stress test (and Emilio Botín didn’t)

1 November 2014

Plus: Signs of a bubble in Battersea, and a rash promise from Ed Davey


‘There was great danger of being kidnapped by licensed thugs and turned into a not-so-jolly Jack Tar’ George Morland’s ‘The Press Gang’ (1790s)

Terror plots, threats to liberties, banks in crisis: welcome to Britain during the Napoleonic Wars

1 November 2014

A review of In These Times: Living in Britain Through Napoleon’s Wars, 1793 – 1815, by Jenny Uglow. Britain shuddered in Bonaparte’s shadow, living in constant expectation of invasion and occupation


Michael Frayn’s new book is the most highbrow TV sketch show ever

1 November 2014

A review of Matchbox Theatre: Thirty Short Entertainments, by Michael Frayn. Other loo books may sell more come Christmas but none will bring more joy than this collection of ingenious playlets

Catherine Parr, whose dangerously reformist ‘Lamentation’ Shardlake must recover, comes over as a sympathetic and attractive figure

The Tudor sleuth who's cracked the secret of suspense

1 November 2014

A review of Lamentation, by C.J. Sansom. This latest instalment of the Matthew Shardlake series maintains momentum over 600 pages

A Little Bill of Fare.
As he journeyed through Europe in the 1870s writing his travelogue A Tramp Abroad, Mark Twain grew increasingly tired of the cuisine — which he described as ‘a monotonous variety of unstriking dishes’. Towards the end of his trip he compiled a list of the foods he longed for most, which were to be prepared and eaten immediately on his return

Things to do: read this book

1 November 2014

A review of Lists of Note, compiled by Shaun Usher. This engrossing compendium includes entries by everyone from Leonardo da Vinci to Sid Vicious

John Cleese Book Signing

Was John Cleese ever funny?

1 November 2014

A review of So, Anyway…, by John Cleese. This biography is a dull, dreary compendium of pompous self-congratulation and tetchy sarcasm

Perhaps the most formative years in our history were when ‘every second person suddenly died in agony — and no one knew why.’ Above, plague victims are blessed by a priest in the 14th-century ‘Omne Bonum’ by James le Palmer

Why the most important years in history were from 1347 to 1352

1 November 2014

A review of Centuries of Change, by Ian Mortimer. It’s a book that is at its best offering counter-intuitive thoughts on the medieval period

Shami Chakrabarti Photo: David Levenson/Getty

What Shami regards as right isn’t necessarily what is right

1 November 2014

When you compare Shami Chakrabarti's On Liberty with John Stuart Mill's, Mill leaves Chakrabarti standing

Director, and author David Cronenberg Photo: Getty

Cronenberg attempts a teleportation from cinema to fiction. Cover your eyes…

1 November 2014

A review of Consumed, by David Cronenberg. The Canadian director-turned-author has arrived in his new medium with a number of unfortunate mutations

Getty Images

The deep Britishness of fish and chips

1 November 2014

Fish and Chips: A History, by Panikos Panayi, is frustratingly academic and lacking in vinegar, but still full of fascinating facts

Bob Marley Photo: Redferns /Getty

A Jamaican civil war, with cameos from Bob Marley

1 November 2014

A review of A Brief History of Seven Killings, by Marlon James. This novel breaks new ground in its language, which oscillates between various stations on the ‘creole continuum'


Care for the dying needs more imagination – and less hospitalisation

1 November 2014

A review of Being Mortal: Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End. This is that rare thing: a truly important book



‘Hat Stand’, 1969, one of a group of three sculptures that caused controversy early on in the artist’s career

The pop artist whose transgressions went too far – for the PC art world

1 November 2014

His works provoked riots in the 1970s. Now Allen Jones is back at the Royal Academy after 35 years in the wilderness

The many faces of Essex: it was the architects’ intention to create ‘Something Fierce’ — a designed environment that was actively stimulating. ALL PHOTOGRAPHS FROM ESSEX UNIVERSITY'S 50TH ANNIVERSARY BROCHURE

The only way is Essex University

1 November 2014

Stephen Bayley celebrates the 50th anniversary of this ambitious, and for its day visionary, campus

Alan Beeton, ‘Reposing’, 1929

Art's shameful secret and the birth of the mannequin

1 November 2014

A pioneering show at the Fitzwilliam Museum unearths the ubiquity of mannequins in helping artists work out composition - and helping them avoid 'filthy urchins'


Mr Turner: the gruntiest, snortiest, huffiest film of the year - and the most beautiful too

1 November 2014

Deborah Ross proclaims Timothy Spall's grunty performance as J.M.W. Turner sublime

Finding his feet: ‘Untitled (man and two women in a pastoral setting)’, 1940

How Rothko become the mythic superman of mystical abstraction

1 November 2014

An extraordinary new exhibition at The Hague's Gemeentemuseum follows the arc of the abstract expressionist's career from beginning through to its end

Grayson Perry almost makes you like Chris Huhne: some feat

James Delingpole falls in love with Grayson Perry - and almost comes round to Chris Huhne

1 November 2014

Did Perry carve a penis on Huhne's pot because that's what Perry basically thinks Huhne is?

Alexander Rodchenko’s costume design for Meyerhold masterwork, ‘The 
Bedbug’, 1929

Russians made the theatre space the most liberating imaginative device ever invented

1 November 2014

Ismene Brown falls for Aelita, Queen of the Martians, and her three-cupped metallic bra at the V&A

Anna Netrebko as Lady in Verdi’s ‘Macbeth’, Metropolitan Opera

Met Opera Live's Macbeth: Netrebko's singing stirred almost as much as her décolletage

1 November 2014

Plus: Michael Tanner catches two wretched Figaros - one that makes you not care and another that distracts


Peter Phillips is mugged by a gang of Praetorius-loving six-year-old girls in China

1 November 2014

It's a huge change from his visit in 2000, when music with sacred words was still banned

All was beauteous with the Royal Ballet’s ‘Symphonic Variations’ on the first night

Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Royal Ballet battle for the heart of English dance

1 November 2014

Ismene Brown assesses their attempts to revive two unfashionable but vital choreographers Frederick Ashton and Robert Helpmann

Oppressed by the set in ‘Neville’s Island’

Neville's Island: a play from the era of Men Behaving Badly - when women were seen as exotic excrescences

1 November 2014

Plus: a preachy new play from Soho theatre, Spine, that ultimately snares your sympathies

Alana Valentine praises the BBC's World Service Photo: Getty

Kate Chisholm on what makes the BBC World Service so special

1 November 2014

Plus: Female judges from Pakistan and South Africa exchange notes


High life

High life

The beauty of fire escapes and the vanishing of Edward Hopper's New York

1 November 2014

Autumn in New York: they even wrote a song about it that was a great hit 60 years ago. Last weekend the sky was awash in blue, Manhattan at its… Read more

Low life

Low life

'My boy was my all': letters from a bereaved mother to a Somme widow

1 November 2014

My maternal grandmother (née Clarke) had six brothers, all keen poker players. All six volunteered to fight in the Great War, and only one, Sergeant Herbert Clarke, of B Company,… Read more

Real life

Real life

Why won't the law go after the terror of my park?

1 November 2014

What is the point of the Dangerous Dogs Act when there is a man marauding with an illegal pit bull in south London and the police are not arresting him?… Read more

Long life

Long life

The only good thing about Halloween is that it makes people hate bats

1 November 2014

I always dread Hallowe’en. It may have originated in Europe as a Christian celebration for remembering the virtuous dead and wishing them on their way to heaven, but its origins… Read more


The turf

Maybe Mrs Oakley is right: all my tips will come in second

1 November 2014

The novelist Anita Brookner once declared that in real life hares always beat tortoises: ‘Every time. Look around you. And in any case it is my contention that Aesop was… Read more




Every obituary written about Tony Priday, who died recently aged 92, said what a class act he was. I would like to add my tuppence to that observation. When I… Read more


Spectator Wine

November Wine Club I

1 November 2014

There is nothing that Esme Johnstone and David Campbell of FromVineyardsDirect.com don’t know about Bordeaux. Their contacts there are legendary and they put them to good use in quietly snapping… Read more



Winning hand

1 November 2014

Tension has always existed between games of skill, such as chess or draughts, and games seemingly based on chance, like backgammon and poker. The Russian grandmaster and chess historian Yuri Averbakh… Read more


Chess puzzle

No. 338

1 November 2014

White to play. This is from Hebden-Mannion, Isle of Man 2014. White’s next move completely destroyed the black position. What was it? Answers to me at The Spectator by Tuesday… Read more



Two hander

1 November 2014

In Competition No. 2871 you were invited to submit a dialogue in verse between man and God. The tone of the discourse was far from cordial, ranging from boredom and… Read more



2186: From the off

1 November 2014

Unclued lights (two of two words and one doing double duty), singly or paired, reveal some that are to be gone over, and two that famously did so. Ignore one… Read more


Crossword solution

To 2183: Group theory

1 November 2014

Extra letters in clues plus 1A give ‘the separation of philosophers into sages and cranks’, an extract from a quotation by QUINE (35). 24, 25, 29 are sages; 17, 39,… Read more

Toby Young

Status anxiety

I swam up to a beautiful girl on the beach, and my life changed

1 November 2014

I’m writing this from Portugal, where I’m staying with my old friend Sean Langan. His family has owned a farm in the Algarve for several generations and I first came… Read more


Battle for Britain

Battle for Britain

1 November 2014
Spectator sport

Spectator sport

Test cricket and the Archers are both in deep trouble

1 November 2014

Lions and weasels The Archers and Test cricket: words you rarely find in the same sentence and more’s the pity as there’s not much else that can give greater innocent… Read more

Dear Mary

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: Is there a tactful way to shorten the guest list for my 21st?

Q. I am organising my 21st birthday party at our family house in Italy. It is a fantastic location, but it means that I can only invite about 20 guests.… Read more



Beast is an agonising psychological experiment masquerading as a restaurant

1 November 2014

Beast is next to Debenhams on Oxford Street and it is not conventionally beast-like; rather it is monetised and bespoke beastliness, which is not really beastliness at all. It is… Read more

Mind Your Language

Mind your language

Why you might not want corridors in your historical novel

1 November 2014

I read C.J. Sansom’s novel Dissolution on the train recently with pleasure. For an historical novel narrated in the 1530s, what was the author to do about language? He eschewed… Read more