The Spectator

2 February 2013

Off the leash

The once-cuddly animal charity seems to have become another species altogether



Does the RSPCA think it’s the FBI?

The once-cuddly animal charity seems to have become another species altogether


Hollande runs into the sand

Even the dashing intervention in Mali might not she the French President


Cold comfort

Boris Johnson claims his 'emergency shelter' keeps London's homeless off the freezing streets. I put it to the test


Why even Amsterdam doesn’t want legal brothels

The Dutch experiment in legalised prostitution has been a disaster


Two months as a monk

A Benedictine monastery on the Isle of Wight is now accepting interns

The Week

Leading article

Bad care

When the letters ‘NHS’ appeared to the world above the dancing nurses at the Olympic opening ceremony, many in Britain…

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

Home Britain decided to send 40 ‘military advisers’ to Mali, 70 more with an RAF Sentinel surveillance aircraft and 20…



It’s a rum go, working in sport professionally. Your business is everybody else’s fun; their frivolity is your seriousness. Still,…

Ancient and modern

Socrates vs Rod Liddle

Last week Rod Liddle suggested that on Question Time the Cambridge classicist Professor Mary Beard did not distinguish herself on…



A desert mystery Insurgents were reported to have burned tens of thousands of ancient manuscripts in Timbuktu as French troops…



Reforming criminal justice Sir: Crime continues to fall under this government and is now at its lowest level since the…



Cameron will have to fund his Mali adventure

‘This is the hour of Europe, not the hour of the Americans,’ Jacques Poos, foreign minister of Luxembourg, declared in…

Rod Liddle

The law doesn’t change just because you’re on horseback

I’ve just sent off a cheque to the RSPCA in the hope that they will put it towards the costs…

By the book

A tale of HS2 cities

The route was unveiled this week for phase two of HS2 — and those who got hot under the collar…

James Delingpole

At last: your chance to make me a kept man

Sometimes my wife accuses me of being sexist but I really don’t see how this can possibly be because a)…

Hugo Rifkind

Gerald Scarfe isn’t anti-Semitic – but David Ward is

I’m turning into a Holobore. I can feel it happening, and it’s sapping at my soul. What a week. It…

Any other business

I look forward to using my pensioner’s pass on HS2 – and I’ve spotted the people to run it

Investing £33 billion in HS2 — £46 billion if you accept the Taxpayers’ Alliance’s calculation — won’t boost us out…


Lead book review

Secrets and ties

Jane Ridley says that reports of the death of the family are greatly exaggerated – it has simply mutated


A woman of substance

Hermione Ranfurly wrote two books. One was called The Ugly One. The other, the first, was called To War with…

Doing business in Khartoum: China is now Africa’s biggest trading partner


China’s second coming

It’s a new version of the Yellow Peril. The Chinese are taking over the world, starting with the nasty bits,…


Going under

As someone slightly older than Al Alvarez, and also a regular swimmer — although not in the ice-edged Hampstead Heath…


Playing Possum

The contending versions of T.S. Eliot on display in the latest bumper instalment of his collected letters are practically legion.…

A Palestinian helps a smuggler out of a tunnel near Rafah on the Gaza-Egypt border


Gaza stripped bare

Imagine a piece of land: sandy, roughly rectangular, and about the size of the Isle of Wight. It is surrounded…



One of the reprinted reviews which make up the bulk of this book opens: ‘I vividly remember when I first…


Down to a T

There are normally three problems with reviews of books which, like This is the Way by Gavin Corbett (Fourth Estate,…


Arts feature

Thoroughly modern Manet

Andrew Lambirth says that the painter’s work has wide relevance today


Unacceptable faces

Robert Gore-Langton on the revival of a play that upset critics when they realised it was written by a woman


Women only

A triple thick dose of chicklit at Hampstead. Amelia Bullmore’s good-natured comedy has three girls sharing a student house in…


Mauvais goût

It was dinner at a prize-winning hotel in Burgundy. I looked, stupefied, at an awkward arrangement of trapezoidal plates, unaccommodating…


Addicted to myth

The revival of Harrison Birtwistle’s opera The Minotaur is the most significant artistic event at the Royal Opera since its…


Changing habits

The question of who is going to buy EMI Classics has arisen once again in the past few days with…


A Cirque to irk

Just as Les Mis was soaringly monotonous, Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away (3D) is soaringly pointless. No point to it…


Ordinary people

There was little reason to be curious about David or Jackie Siegel at the beginning of Queen of Versailles (Monday,…


‘My country first’

It’s not unusual for Kirsty Young’s castaways on Desert Island Discs to choose music that reminds them of people who…

Culture notes

Time Travel

Merrily We Roll Along (Menier Chocolate Factory, until 9 March) lets you escape the winter cold to a showbiz party…


High life

High life

Good for you, Clive, as in James, on your television criticism for the Telegraph. Not many people nowadays know how…

Low life

Low life

A superstitious Devon woman who lived and died in the residential home run by my parents, used to reckon that,…

Real life

Real life

When it is too painful to go forward any more, it is time to go back. And so it was…

Long life

Long life

I went to a funeral last Saturday, a depressingly frequent occurrence at my age. But it was an exceptional funeral,…

The turf

Sporting greats

I don’t just love jumping horses — I love the folk who train them and ride them and those who…



Once you’ve made a fool of yourself in public often enough, you pretty much stop minding. At least, that’s my…


Opposite bishops

No, not the Church of England and its troubles with the question of whether women should be allowed to be…

Chess puzzle

Puzzle no. 251

Black to play. This position is a variation from Caruana-Nakamura, Wijk aan Zee 2013. Black is two pawns down but…


Supersize me

In Competition No. 2782 you were invited to submit a poem in praise of fatness. Thanks to John Whitworth for…


2098: Song IX

Four unclued lights might justly sing ‘4D/18/13’ (five words in total). A relevant pair of clued lights must be shaded.…

Crossword solution

2095: Getting around

The unclued lights are alcoholic drinks, and thus might be included, if one was getting a round in. First prize…

Status anxiety

Kenyan highways

Before setting off for Kenya, where I’m spending six weeks helping The Spectator’s ‘Wild life’ columnist, Aidan Hartley, set up…

The Wiki Man

Doing more with less

If you ever need confirmation that necessity is the mother of invention, you can do worse than watch one of…

Dear Mary

Dear Mary

Q. Having recently relocated to my company’s Russian office, I now report to an uncouth Homo sovieticus. Knowing he’s the…


A reason to like Ted Heath

My reference to Taylor’s ’55 elicited a number of communications about the glories of old port — and one on…

Mind your language


The onesie has brought Britain one step nearer fainéant infantilism than the slanket. The slanket, a portmanteau of sleeved and…