The Spectator


19 April 2014

Atheism’s empty tomb

Dawkins and Grayling et al seem to have inspired a Christian fightback

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The Week

Vladimir Putin and Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu. Photo: Getty Images.

Leading article

Vladimir Putin knows what he stands for. Do we?

19 April 2014

Possibly because his oratory is no match for his much-displayed pectoral muscles, the speeches of Vladimir Putin are seldom reported at length in the West. But as a means of… Read more


Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

Home Nigel Evans, who had resigned as deputy speaker before being cleared of a bundle of rape and sexual assault charges against men, questioned the right of the Crown Prosecution… Read more

Crete appears to be a matriarchy


Andrew Marr's diary: Ruins on Crete and a spat with Alex Salmond

19 April 2014

A week away in Crete: I’ve come for the archaeology and culture — little patches of Minos, ancient Greece, Byzantium and the Venetian Republic are scattered around this most southern sentinel… Read more


Ancient and modern

MPs should be grateful not to be in ancient Athens

19 April 2014

If the continuing rows over the expenses and lifestyles of certain MPs cast all of them in a bad light, it is a mystery why decent members do not take… Read more



Spectator letters: On wind turbines, Churchill's only exam success, and the red-trousered mayor of Bristol

When the wind blows Sir: Clare Oxford’s piece (‘Gone with the wind turbines’, 12 April) is both timely and sad. Those who applaud the use of these infernal machines are… Read more



Runaway runners and other other sporting refugees

Done a runner Mami Konneh Lahun, a 24-year-old athlete from Sierra Leone, went missing after finishing as the 20th-placed woman in the London Marathon. She is not the first athlete… Read more



The return of God: atheism's crisis of faith

19 April 2014

Like any movement or religion, atheism has ambitions. Over the years it has grown and developed until it has become about far more than just not believing in God: today… Read more


Would human life be sacred in an atheist world?

19 April 2014

What was your reaction recently when it emerged that thousands of unborn foetuses had been burnt by NHS trusts? And that some had been put into ‘waste-to-energy’ incinerators and so… Read more


Don't call him an oligarch - meeting Dmitry Firtash

19 April 2014

Who is Dmitry Firtash? Can he solve Ukraine’s troubles? And why is he currently under effective house arrest in Vienna, awaiting extradition on corruption charges to the US, with his… Read more

(Photo: Alexa Stankovic/AFP/Getty)

As a doctor, I’d rather have HIV than diabetes

19 April 2014

‘There is now a deadly virus, which anyone can catch from sex with an infected person. If we’re not careful, the people who’ve died so far, will be just the… Read more

Della Francesca’s ‘Resurrection’

The mathematical revolution behind ‘the greatest picture in the world’

19 April 2014

It seems odd to enter a room dominated by what Aldous Huxley famously called ‘the greatest picture in the world’ to find not another soul there. Looking down from an… Read more

View to the Acropolis

Where it's all kicking off in Athens nightlife

Where in the developed world can you ride a moped, minus helmet, at 2 a.m. under the noses of weary riot cops, when your night out has only just begun?… Read more



How David Cameron does God (even when his Chancellor wishes he wouldn't)

19 April 2014

If Ed Miliband wins the next election, he’ll be Britain’s first atheist Prime Minister. It is a sign of how social attitudes have changed that Miliband feels comfortable wearing his… Read more

Spectators notes

The Pope's brilliant PR

19 April 2014

‘Show, don’t tell’ is the mantra of PR advisers when telling public figures how to communicate. Pope Francis’s technique does both at once. By confessing his sins to what the… Read more

Rod Liddle

The Nigel Evans case proves that juries are smarter than our liberal elite

19 April 2014

You may remember this little gem of a story from a month or so back. Justifiably worried at the ramping up of rhetoric by western politicians over the crisis in… Read more

Matthew Parris

I’m fascinated by our censorious fascination with other people’s sex lives. And I sense something shifting

19 April 2014

I liked the generic title ‘Another Voice’ that The Spectator used to give this column, because it seemed to loosen the shackles imposed by more rigorous classification. The sort of… Read more

Hugo Rifkind

If Ed Miliband can’t be our first Jewish prime minister, he can still be our first atheist Jewish prime minister from Primrose Hill

19 April 2014

Last weekend, in a small New Jersey suburb, I found myself in a liquor store. Never been anywhere like it. The walls were lined with single malts of rare and… Read more


Should the Co-op be preparing for its own funeral?

19 April 2014

‘Care, respect, clarity and reassurance’ are what the Co-operative funeral service says it offers the bereaved, and the parent Co-op Group may soon find itself in need of just such… Read more


Churchill reading in his library at Chartwell

Churchill was as mad as a badger. We should all be thankful

19 April 2014

Land sakes! Another book about Winston Churchill? Really? Give us a break, the average reader may think. Actually though, as title and subtitle suggest, this isn’t just another biographical study.… Read more

Edgar Degas - Dancer slipping on her shoe (1874)

Ladies' hats were his waterlillies - the obsessive brilliance of Edgar Degas

19 April 2014

Lucian Freud once said that ‘being able to draw well is the hardest thing — far harder than painting, as one can easily see from the fact that there are… Read more

(Photo: Punit Paranjpe/AFP/Getty)

A Mughal Disneyland and a ripping yarn

19 April 2014

Mysore, once the capital of a princely kingdom in South India, has lost its lustre. In Mahesh Rao’s darkly comic novel, grandiose futuristic visions are being floated: in a city… Read more

Coco Chanel (Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty)

From Göring to Hemingway, via Coco Chanel – the dark glamour of the Paris Ritz at war

19 April 2014

In Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen did a good job of showing how foolish it is to be obsessed by previous generations who’ve passed through Paris. Going back through the… Read more

English explorers on expedition in the Sudan, 1860-63

Sudan was always an invented country. Maybe we should invent it again

19 April 2014

Sudan — a country that ceased to exist in 2011 — is or was one of the last untouristed wildernesses on earth. And for good reason: while it still existed… Read more

Marcus Berkmann

Roger Mortimer writes again

19 April 2014

After Dear Lupin and Dear Lumpy, here’s a slightly more prosaically titled collection of letters from Roger Mortimer, longtime racing correspondent of the Sunday Times and frequent purchaser of stamps.… Read more

Charlotte Moore 2

Start with a torpedo, and see where you go from there

19 April 2014

Sebastian Barry’s new novel opens with a bang, as a German torpedo hits a supply ship bound for the Gold Coast. We experience everything through the senses of ‘temporary gentleman’… Read more

Andrew Taylor

A thriller that breaks down the publishing office door

19 April 2014

Like teenage children and their parents, authors and publishers have a symbiotic relationship characterised by well-justified irritation on both sides. Judith Flanders’s career bridges this divide. She is now best… Read more

Detail of St Christopher, 15th century, Church of St Botolph, Slapton, Northants

Wonders written on the wall

19 April 2014

‘Take away, utterly extinct and destroy all shrines … pictures, paintings and all other monuments of feigned miracles, pilgrimages, idolatry and superstition so that there remain no memory of the… Read more

Joan Fontaine at home

Tea with Greta Garbo's decorator

19 April 2014

Many people write, or at least used to write, fan letters to their film favourites. Usually all they received in acknowledgement was a 10 x 8 glossy with a mimeographed… Read more


‘Livia da Porto Thiene and her daughter Deidamia’, 1552, by Veronese

The National Gallery's Veronese is the exhibition of a lifetime

19 April 2014

Paolo Veronese (1528–1588) is one of the great painters of the Venetian School, often joined in an unholy trinity with Titian and Tintoretto. But he was not Venetian, and only… Read more

Ferdinand Kingsley

Ferdinand Kingsley interview: 'Yeah, but mum's dad was totally bald too!'

19 April 2014

The day before I’m due to meet Ferdinand Kingsley, actor son of Sir Ben, he sends me a message to introduce himself via Twitter. ‘I’ll try not to be a… Read more

A scene painting from Parsifal by Paul Joukovski - 1882 (Photo: Richard Wagner Museum Bayreuth/ Dagli Orti)

In the mood for Parsifal, my Passiontide fare

19 April 2014

This week, I have been mostly listening to Parsifal. Not the St Matthew Passion, which is my usual Passiontide fare. And, boy, it’s been quite an experience. You have to… Read more

Bryn Terfel as Méphistophélès and Simon Keenlyside as Valentin in ‘Faust

Bryn Terfel lords it over 'Faust' magnificently

19 April 2014

There’s a great deal to disapprove of in Gounod’s Faust. It breaks down a pillar of western literature and whisks up what remains into a flouncy French fancy. It turns… Read more

(Photo: Johan Persson)

Modern dance vs Shakespeare

19 April 2014

In a dance world that has chosen to dispense with stylistic and semantic subtleties, ‘narrative ballet’ and ‘story ballet’ are often used as synonymous. Yet there are differences — and… Read more

Rob Callender in Another Country (Photo: Johan Persson)

Another Country could almost be a YouTube advert for Eton

19 April 2014

Another Country was an instant response to Anthony Blunt’s exposure in 1979 as a Marxist spy. Julian Mitchell set out to explain how gay public-school toffs, reared in a system… Read more

Ready to swoosh: Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man, aka Peter Parker

The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Too much bang-bang, not enough kiss-kiss

19 April 2014

Have you seen that pizza with a cheeseburger crust? If not, just imagine a normal pizza, except where the pizza ought to end — and civilised society begin — there’s… Read more

Martha Kearney: on course to make her first proper wildflower honey

Without a strong woman in charge, bees are doomed — just like us

19 April 2014

God bless the BBC. And I’m not being entirely sarcastic here. There are some things the BBC does very well and one of them, sadly, was The Review Show, its… Read more

Crucifixion by Michele da Verona - 1501 (Photo: Art Archive/ DeA Picture)

BBC radio gets Easter right

19 April 2014

Given the decline of Christian belief in the UK, it’s surprising to discover there’s quite so much about the Easter story on the airwaves this week. You might have assumed… Read more


Brains on a lithographic slab

19 April 2014

The Blyth Gallery is situated in the Sherfield Building, deep in the South Kensington campus of Imperial College London. The Sherfield Building is a labyrinth of concrete, linoleum and glass.… Read more



High life

When Taki met Al Sharpton

19 April 2014

 New York This is a tale of two escape artists in one city. Let’s start with my old friend the Rev. Al Sharpton. I call him an old buddy because… Read more


Low life

Battle of the grandsons

19 April 2014

In the blue corner, wearing 4oz gloves, is the Ninja. Real name Klynton. The younger of my two grandsons. Also known as Ninge. Aged three. Weighed in at 35lbs. Blue… Read more


Real life

Give a working cocker a few months off and it turns into one half of Thelma and Louise

19 April 2014

‘Can I go and play with Twiggy?’ If dogs could talk, this is what my spaniel Cydney would be saying to me every five minutes. She has made friends with… Read more


Long life

Our first kills of spring

19 April 2014

The arrival of spring is not an unmitigated joy. The warmth is nice, of course, as are the fresh leaves on the trees and the general sense of rebirth and… Read more

(Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty)

The turf

Sympathy for the bookies

19 April 2014

We all have to adjust to reality, like the lady who entered a Barbados bar having already enjoyed several gin and Dubonnets. On her shoulder was perched a rare parrot… Read more




I have always been drawn to a bit of a rogue and I must admit I found the coughing German Doctors, banned by the WBF for cheating, highly amusing. At… Read more



Express train

19 April 2014

The erratic Ukrainian grandmaster Vassily Ivanchuk has scored an overwhelming victory in a rapidplay tournament sponsored by the Latvian railway. Leading scores were as follows: Ivanchuk 13 (out of 14);… Read more


Chess puzzle

No. 310

19 April 2014

Black to play. This is from Kantans-Malakhov, Latvian Railway Open, Riga 2014. Black has achieved a tremendous build-up on the kingside with pressure on the g-file and along the h1-a8… Read more



Poet’s choice

19 April 2014

In Competition No. 2843 you were given a list of poets’ surnames — motion, bridges, wilde, gray, cope, hood, burns and browning — and asked to incorporate them into a… Read more



2158: Late bloomers

19 April 2014

The unclued lights (33 with I) are of a kind, all verifiable in Chambers under the appropriate headword.   Across   1    Chief director takes one look at the… Read more


Crossword solution

2155: Poor Billy’s left out

19 April 2014

The unclued lights are SIBYLS (the title was an anagram of BILLY’S with L omitted). First prize Judith Bevis, Newport, South WalesRunners-up Dr Stephen Clarkson, Ipswich, Suffolk; Geoffrey… Read more


Status anxiety

The day I discovered what worry was

19 April 2014

Before I had children I don’t think I appreciated what anxiety was. I’d been anxious at various points in my life up until that point — when taking exams, for instance… Read more


Battle for Britain

Battle for Britain

19 April 2014

Spectator sport

A sporting chance from the brotherhood of cricket

19 April 2014

The brotherhood of cricket, as we know, transcends race, creed, class and nationality. It can also be a big help when it comes to dealing with the law, as this… Read more

Dear Mary

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How can we pin down our neighbours' rogue apostrophes?

Q. We have just moved into a charming little hamlet in Warwickshire and were delighted to find a bottle of wine and a friendly card to welcome us from the… Read more



Marcus Wareing drops a name

19 April 2014

In the ‘Chefs’ Last Supper’ in the National Portrait Gallery, Marcus Wareing is throwing a brie at Gordon Ramsay, who plays Jesus. They both have restaurants in the celebrity-chef triangle… Read more


Mind your language

What's in a universe?

19 April 2014

‘So there are lots of universes besides ours,’ the ancient atomists concluded, in the brief account by Peter Jones (Ancient and modern, 29 March). ‘Dot Wordsworth,’ he added cheerfully, ‘will… Read more