The Spectator

22 October 2016

Putin’s next move

Is he mad enough to invade the Baltic states, or is it all a clever bluff?



(Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images)


I’ve seen the future of English education, and it makes me sad

In my old Kent home town, they stagger school leaving times to stop the Tech kids and the grammar kids fighting at the station



Putin's dangerous games in the Baltic

Is the Russian president really crazy enough to launch a new wave of invasions, or is it all a clever bluff?



Stop this stupid sabre-rattling against Russia

It’s not their side that worries me; it’s ours

Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney (Photo: Getty)


Mark Carney has to go. Here’s why

The Bank of England governor’s ‘forward guidance’ is reliably wrong. His other interventions are even worse

Jack-o '- lantern in a red Santa hat


Once the English didn’t do Halloween — now it takes up all of October

It’s time we stopped celebrating everything too soon and lived in the here and now



The world is getting greener. Why does no one want to know?

As carbon dioxide levels have risen, the planet’s green vegetation has increased by 14 per cent

Extra sparkle: the best stuff is saved for the Brits

Notes on...

The French say their best champagne goes to us Brits. It may even be true

It was aimed at the English middle classes in the first place, but now we’re beating it in taste tests

The Week

Silhouette of soldier
Squirrel with a Peanut


Why won’t the RSPB join my war on squirrels?

Also in Michael Heseltine’s diary: listening to run-down estates; the story of a garden; the meaning of the Marmite headlines



Great gorilla escapes of our time

Also in Barometer: 100 per cent food taxes, who gets what for a speech, and make your own Marmite


Ancient and modern

How Boris Johnson is like Socrates

By putting the case both for and against the EU, he was following good Greek practice



Putin is a war criminal, and it’s not ‘jaded rhetoric’ to say so

Also in Letters: antibiotics for dairy cows, and when should the clocks go forward?

(Photo: Getty)

From The Archives

George V’s greatest gift to his ministers: silence

The Spectator, in 1916, on an exemplary constitutional monarch


Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

Home Steven Woolfe, the MEP who spent three days in hospital after an altercation at a Ukip meeting, said he…


Spectators notes

The Spectator's Notes

Vote Leave won the referendum, but it’s losing the government

Also in the Spectator’s Notes: French seductions for bankers, Labour anti-Semitism, BBC fees and global warming fears


Mary Wakefield

Just how clever are ravens? I asked at the Tower of London

To their surprise, scientists have found that these birds are as brainy as apes


James Delingpole

Universities’ most freakish, isolated minority: non-lefties

Like Catholics in Elizabethan times, they must congregate discreetly


Any other business

What can Theresa May really promise Nissan?

Also in Any Other Business: Mark Carney’s fate; a straight arrow in Russia; and the Spanish view of the falling pound



Order, order! Theresa May must call time on ministerial bickering

She can ill afford to lose her Chancellor only three months after appointing him



Lead book review

Flaubert — the writer’s writer par excellence — is a real challenge to write about

The irritable perfectionist led an uneventful life. But as a man of his time he’s fascinating, according to Michel Winock

Astrid Lindgren during the second world war. By 1945 she was suffering from depression and insomnia


Astrid Lindgren’s second world war diaries make for crisp, painful reading

Pippi Longstocking’s creator, helplessly trapped between the ‘giant reptiles’ of Germany and Russia in 1941, finds the Nazis marginally preferable



Rabih Alameddine’s desperate protagonist is plagued by Death, the Devil and the ashes of former lovers

Jacob’s struggle with the fallout of the Aids crisis in San Francisco is heartbreakingly evoked in Alameddine’s latest novel, The Angel of History

Rugged coast under the night sky.


It’s time Christopher Priest’s devout congregation extended beyond sci-fi enthusiasts

Time is of the essence in his new novel — the way it escapes, encompasses and shapes us. The Gradual is an extraordinary achievement, and we should all find the time to read it

His contemporaries regarded Alexander Hamilton as an ‘uppity’ half-caste who wanted to be a dictator


American politics at its most uncivil — in 1804

A patriot and founding father, Alexander Hamilton — accused of being a ‘creole bastard’ and would-be dictator — was fatally wounded and left to die by the dastardly vice president Aaron Burr

Art historian Kenneth Clark (Photo: Getty)


Kenneth Clark: from the sublime to the ridiculous to the sublime

The revered art historian, whose series on Civilisation enthralled audiences in 1969, has since been pilloried as ‘the great arts panjandrum’. James Stourton sets the record straight

Harvesting apples, illustrated in the medieval handbook Tacuinum Sanitas — which stresses the fruit’s medicinal properties


Apples of discord in today’s supermarkets

The retail giants’ devotion to glossy New Zealand cultivars has effectively destroyed our wonderful native russets and pippins, carefully husbanded for a millennium, according to Pete Brown

Steven Runciman with his parakeet, photographed by Cecil Beaton c.1923. Runciman was Beaton’s first photographic subject


Steven Runciman — historian, tease and professional enigma

The secretive Byzantine specialist liked to play games with people all his life — including Guy Burgess and most of the crowned heads of Europe, according to Minoo Dinshaw


Silhouette of a hand, c.32,000 BC, El Castillo cave, Puente Viesgo, Spain

Arts feature

David Hockney and Martin Gayford on how pictures literally emerged from the shadows

In this edited extract from their new book, the celebrated painter and art critic discuss the evolution of pictures from the cave to the computer screen

I, Daniel Blake


Loach at his most Loach – and most powerful: I, Daniel Blake reviewed

Fearsomely moving, fearsomely tender, and deliciously comic

Carry on camping: English Touring Opera’s ‘La Calisto’


Three ways not to do tragicomedy: English Touring Opera reviewed

While ETO's new La Calisto refuses to drop its panto-grin and their Xerxes tips into bufoonery, their Ulysses erases all anarchic vulgarity

One Night in Miami


A ziggurat of bilge: Oil at the Almeida reviewed

Plus: One Night In Miami... at the Donmar is more like a choirboys’ convention than a party to celebrate one of the greatest nights in sporting history

Max Irons as Carter in Tutankhamun


Distinctly corny: ITV's Tutankhamun reviewed

Plus: Andrew Marr comes badly unstuck in his new crime-fiction documentary and good news for fans of QI

Rescue workers at the scene of the wrecked Pantglas Junior School at Aberfan, where a coal tip collapsed killing over 190 children and their teachers. (Photo: Getty)


How singing helped the people of Aberfan overcome a tragedy

Plus: learning to be blind, in search of the music of the Romanies and a masterclass on how to make a radio programme from Book at Bedtime

‘Portrait of Lee Miller as l’Arlésienne’, 1937, by Pablo Picasso


Was Picasso making fun of the subjects of his portraits?

The new show at the National Portrait Gallery suggests the great artist was exploiting his sitters – but in doing so he created fascinating and hugely entertaining paintings



High life

Hillary Clinton has it all wrong on crime

But say that and risk being branded racist and morally deformed by the establishment


Low life

A man with dementia is a man in tune with the times

Liberty of thought, conscience and expression is no longer required


Real life

I’m far too right-wing for quinoa

Potatoes and sauces were fine, but when our airbnb guest tried to bequeath me a packet I had to say no


Long life

Eyes, teeth, hair, ears: it’s all downhill from the age of 30

But it took a bleeding brain to force me into the embrace of Age UK


Wild life

Corrupt politicians won’t drive me off our farm

I have spent 14 long years building it up. Others may leave but we will stay




The polls are in for next month’s big event in the USA and Magnus Carlsen has emerged the clear favourite…


Chess puzzle

Puzzle no. 431

White to play. This position is a variation from Carlsen-Karjakin, Monaco 2011. Although White is a rook up he only…



Ig Nobel

In Competition No. 2970 you were invited to supply an extract from an Ig Nobel Prize-winner’s speech that describes the…



2283: Be damned

The unclued lights (one of two words, one of three and-another of four components) are of a kind. Chambers gives…


Crossword solution

to 2280: Acorns

The unclued lights are famous British OAK trees.  First prize Gerry Fairweather, Layer Marney, EssexRunners-up Mrs L. Ashley, Shoreham-by-Sea, West…



The sacred mission to stop real whisky becoming too popular

I can see that Jack Daniel’s has its uses: it helps keep down the price of Scottish single malts




I felt like an absolute hypocrite the other week. Sally Brock’s team had just beaten Alexander Allfrey’s in the semi-finals…

Mind Your Language

Mind your language

The origins of Marmite and Bovril

One word goes back to Shakespeare’s day; the other is science-fictional


The Wiki Man

Sadist? The tech world has plenty of jobs for you

From train booking systems to customer support, the opportunities are endless

Dear Mary

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: What’s the polite way to dodge sharing a sleeper carriage?

Plus: how to find your room at a house party; and are thank you letters a thing of the past?

Toby Young

Status anxiety

How driverless cars will make your life worse

They’ll be slow and expensive, and increase both congestion and inequality


Spectator Wine

Wine Club 22 October

We have six real treats this week: three from Italy and three from Spain. I would have been happy with…