The Spectator

19 January 2013

The Pacific President

In his second term, Obama is taking a decisive turn away from Europe — and Britain



The Pacific President

In his second term, Obama is taking a decisive turn away from Europe — and Britain


The mother myth

There is no such thing as a full-time mum, and never has been


Tom Courtenay vs fame

The acclaimed actor on Hull, Hollywood, regrets, and accepting a knighthood


Chávez’s useful idiots

The demagogue of Caracas has helped sustain a long tradition of left-wing fellow travelling


My Venezuelan jail hell

There are two conditions British foreign correspondents must meet before they can consider themselves old hands. The first is having…


Letter from the Foodbank

It’s our foodbank’s first winter. We started collecting food and giving it to people who haven’t got any in August.…

The Week

Leading article

Just the tickets

Kingsley Amis was never a fan of the Arts Council. Writing in this magazine almost 30 years ago, he described…

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

Home David Cameron, the Prime Minister, brought forward his speech on new relations with the European Union from 22 January…



Washington DC: My elegant and sociable mother-in-law received an email this week warning that, should she wander on to her balcony…

Ancient and modern

Socrates on career advice

Young girls are constantly being told that they will have failed unless they get a top job as prime minister,…



Equine dining Horsemeat was found in hamburgers sold by Tesco, among others. Why did eating horses become a taboo? —…



Aid waste Sir: In Andrew Mitchell’s response to my article ‘The Great Aid Mystery’ (5 January), he asks ‘what about…



Cameron’s European moment has come – a year late

David Cameron should have given his big Europe speech a year ago. Having just threatened to veto a new EU…

The Spectator's Notes

The Spectator’s Notes

David Cameron’s long-awaited speech on Europe this week falls 50 years to the day after the death of Hugh Gaitskell.…

Rod Liddle

How Moore, Burchill and Featherstone all had a lovely bitch fight

  ‘Women … are angry with ourselves for not being happier, not being loved properly and not having the ideal…

James Delingpole

Three decades of blood and horror – just the sort of history I like

In the church just a few fields from where I live stands the handsome, painted alabaster tomb to Sir Richard…

Hugo Rifkind

I don’t care whether torture works. It still isn’t worth it

Torture is wrong. You can tell it’s wrong easily, not by the way it makes you feel, or by the…

Any other business

Hardly a hammer blow if 800 jobs have shifted from Swindon to Solihull

My item last week about brighter prospects for car makers looked forlorn by Friday lunchtime, when news bulletins were leading…


A time of hectic gaiety and abandon: at the height of the Blitz, dancers relax backstage at the Windmill theatre. Its famous slogan, ‘We Never Closed’, was popularly rendered as ‘We Never Clothed’

Lead book review

Love among the ruins

For a small circle of distinguished writers, the Blitz seemed to act as a powerful aphrodisiac, says Sam Leith


Scaling the musical Matterhorn

This book is an account by the music-loving editor of the Guardian of how he set himself the task of…

Henry Fonda as Bob Larkin in Firecreek (1968)


Part of the pantheon

Henry Fonda once said that he had never had any ambition to be a film star. But then how could…

D’Annunzio as the soldier poet by Tancredi Scarpelli


Italy’s first Duce

There is something to be said for a bald-headed gnome with the power, according to his biographer, to seduce any…


Bach, the Beatles and back

Leaping from Paleolithic cave paintings to Egyptian tombs to Gregorian chant in barely half a chapter, as Howard Goodall does…

William Price (1800-1893) was a medical practioner, self-proclaimed Archdruid of Wales and pioneer cremationist


The greatest puzzle of all

A few months before he passed away, responding to a question about his doubts and beliefs, Jorge Luis Borges offered…


Understated elegance

A man raised by apes is discovered in Africa, recognised as an English lord, and escorted home. At a formal…

Virginia Ironside


Growing old disgracefully

Virginia Ironside’s novel, No! I Don’t Need Reading Glasses (Quercus £14.99) about a 65-year-old granny who belongs to a local…


Arts feature

Go with the flow

Councils should be encouraged to sell public art that has lost its relevance, says Niru Ratnam


Curiouser and curiouser

A tragicomic curiosity at the Finborough written by Hebridean exile Iain Finlay Macleod. The show opens with James, a young…


Acting up

There was a time when the major objection to operatic performances, by those who were wondering whether or not to…


Line man

One of the pleasures of the critic’s life is to review exhibitions of work by artists who have been forgotten…


Why Rubens should go

The Blow family has had its disasters. There has been madness, murder and suicides. But before those mishaps there was…


Blow up

Here is a Quentin Tarantino film that, like all Quentin Tarantino films, is a typical Quentin Tarantino film, in the…


Wodehouse to the rescue

I knew this would happen: I’ve been watching season five of Mad Men on DVD and it’s spoiled me for…


Picking out the plums

‘How much did you say the TV licence cost?’ asks my American friend. ‘£145.50,’ I reply. ‘One hundred and forty-five…

Culture notes

The making of a myth

When John Kelly was transported from Tipperary to Tasmania in 1841, for stealing pigs, he couldn’t have imagined that 170…


High life

High life

Gstaad The sub-primate level of conversation, as prevalent as the snow up here in the Alps, took a turn for…

Low life

Low life

I woke in an upstairs room, face down on bare floorboards, my body wedged into a coffin-shaped space between a…

Real life

Real life

André Léon Marie Nicolas Rieu is a Dutch violinist, conductor and composer best known for creating the Johann Strauss Orchestra.…

Long life

Long life

The advent of freezing weather in Northamptonshire is making me worry about my ducks. I have eight of them of…

The turf

Ten for effort

Punting at Kempton Park in winter I have one basic rule. Take a long hard look at anything Nicky Henderson…



I’m writing this on Monday morning and wow, what a weekend that was. The great and the good of the…


Gran Fiesta

Just before the London Classic, Magnus Carlsen and Judith Polgar contested a four-game match under speed and blindfold conditions as…

Chess puzzle

No. 249

Black to play. This is from Carlsen-Polgar, Mexico City 2012. Black’s minor pieces seem to be locked out of the…



In Competition No. 2780 you were invited to write, in the spirit of Aesop or La Fontaine, a rhymed fable…


2096: New World Symphony

The unclued lights (two of two words and the remainder when paired) are of a specific kind.  Across1 Kind, like…

Crossword solution

2093: Leading lights

The unclued LIGHTS are LEADERS, verifiable under the entry for RULERS in Brewer. First prize Sandra Speak, Dursley, GlosRunners-up  P.…

Status anxiety

Real British education lives on in Kenya

Driving round Kenya, I’m constantly struck by the sheer number of schools. Every 500 yards there’s a hand-painted sign advertising…

The Wiki Man

My very own 1970s sex pest

To understand the Jimmy Savile affair, you had to be there. By ‘there’ I mean the late 1970s. At the…

Dear Mary

Dear Mary

Q. I worked on the features desk of a newspaper for many years and had a desk in an office…


Off the wagon

Like half of London, I gave the new year a surly greeting. It was time to diet. There are two…

Mind your language

Breaded cats

I don’t know whether people know what belling the cat means now. In an allusive language like ours, some references…