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The Spectator

20 October 2012

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Obama’s nightmare

Will he wake up in time to save his presidency?


Even if he wins, Obama will be diminished

If a US presidential election has the potential to wear down foreign observers, let alone the American public, imagine what…


Which way is right: the centre holds

How can the Conservatives win the next election?


Visiting rites

It’s extraordinary what people now think is appropriate to say in a museum’s comments book


Can you trust a Christian?

Secular prejudice is fine, but religious belief is increasingly suspect


Leaving Lebanon

For 20 years, the benefits of living in Beirut outweighed the dangers. No longer


I am not my cancer

Perhaps being clear-eyed about a life-threatening illness
is the best way to fight it

The Week

Leading article

Politics of retreat

The closure of Britain’s consulate in Basra marks the end of an inglorious episode in our military history. This ought…

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

Home Theresa May, the Home Secretary, blocked the extradition of Gary McKinnon to the United States, where he is suspected…



In the October sunshine I have been watching the academic year’s new debtors unloading their electronic possessions from the cars…

Ancient and modern

Provoking war

The Pacific countries have tended to look to the USA for protection in territorial disputes and general security, stimulating their…



Testing faith Sir: I can sympathise with Melissa Kite’s concern over her friend’s apparently unconsidered marital conversion (‘Till faith do…



Cameron will announce an EU referendum by Christmas

William Hague is now one of the most pro-European Conservative member of the Cabinet. The man once reviled by the…

The Spectator's Notes

The Spectator’s Notes

Probably it will all be all right. Probably the Scots, rightly offered an either/or rather than a third way, will…

Rod Liddle

Everyone agrees it’s time to get rid of the word ‘insulting’ from the Public Order Act

 ‘(1) A person is guilty of an offence if he: (a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or…

James Delingpole

Treating Islam with special reverence is cultural suicide and just plain wrong

My brilliant niece Freya was talking to my brother the other day about the religious education curriculum at her predominately…

Any other business

Memories of the Black Monday crash and how soon we forgot about it

Twenty-five years ago this week, I became managing director of BZW (predecessor of Barclays Capital) in Hong Kong. The office…


Catholic plates, Sir Stuart’s boob job and tight-lipped Lynton

Many are the mysteries of the Catholic Church. The latest concerns the takings at Westminster Cathedral, which have suddenly soared…


Lead book review

The sage of Aix

Paul Cézanne, though hailed by Pissarro as ‘the genius of the future’, was never recognised as one in his lifetime, says Richard Shone


A life of sad romance

‘What porridge had John Keats?’ Browning offers this as the crass sort of question that stupid people ask. But in…


The growing pains of spirited youth

It is initially unsettling to read a new novel by an acclaimed author that is not really new at all,…


A peacekeeping body at war with itself

It takes less than an hour to fly from Washington DC to New York City. But, if you are a…


Recent crime fiction

Like mists and mellow fruitfulness, Val McDermid novels often arrive in autumn. The Vanishing Point (Little, Brown, £16.99) is a…


One dank October dawn

Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Greta Garbo and Cecil Beaton, Mrs Keppel and her daughter, Natalie Barnard and Romaine…


Eager for the fight

Horatio Nelson is England’s most loved military hero. Marlborough is remote from our view, and the aristocratic Wellington was perhaps…


The good …

Edna O’Brien would obviously never write a typical Irish ‘misery memoir’, though she has experienced more misery than is quite…


… the bad, and the ugly

At Oxford in 1960, I had history tutorials from Alan Bennett. Just before he shot to stardom in the revue…


Off the beaten tracks

In 1941 Roy Plomley was 27, and living in Bushey, Herts. After stints as an estate agent, film extra and…


Our most exotic bird

The Black Grouse (Merlin Unwin, £20) is Patrick Lurie’s first book and the first ever on the the subject. Lurie…



A selection of the sayings of John Gielgud


Arts feature

Green fingers

Andrew Lambirth talks to David Nash, sculptor-in-residence at Kew Gardens


Fact and fantasy

Britain’s country houses were constantly in the news a generation ago. In 1974 The Destruction of the Country House, an…


Bizarre visions

If you want to see how myths arise from misunderstandings, the Tower of Babel provides a textbook example. In ancient…


The hate of the new

The title of the new show at the Palazzo Strozzi is a little confusing. Most of the artists in Italy…


A step away from buying toothpaste

Fifty years ago it was not possible to bid at auction via the telephone — that first historic telephone bid…


Westminster playground

Wow. This is a turn-up. Politicians and actors rarely see eye-to-eye. Thesps regard Westminster as sordid, petty, corrupt and corrupting.…


Twin peaks

According to an old ballet commonplace, no one can beat the Russians when it comes to Swan Lake. Biased and…


Dazzling Donizetti

The Met Live in HD series for 2012–13 got off to a brilliant start with a new production of Donizetti’s…


Shrub of life

You know how it is: you wake up in your knock-down corrugated shack, surrounded by chickens and dogs and pigs,…


Falling about and apart

One of the many pleasures of television is that it allows us to forget our manners: we can treat it…


Serious listening

‘Shhhh! Listen!’ Peter White demands of us, his listeners. ‘You’re about to enter into a blind man’s world.’ White, who…

Culture notes

Blurring boundaries

Each of the Buddhist monks’ faces tells a variation on the same story. One simmers with fury, another sags with…


High life

High life

New York It’s a black-and-white 1939 oldie starring Barbara Stanwyck and William Holden, in his first film. She is thin,…

Low life

Low life

The film started ten minutes ago, says the man as he hands us our prebooked tickets. Another young man shows…

Real life

Real life

The roads seem to be rigged to detect particularly low grade offences nowadays. And when you’ve done nothing wrong at…

Long life

Long life

I have just got back from a few days in Provence, staying with a friend in her delightful house in…

Wild life

Wild life

Mogadishu I return to Mogadishu to find it’s calm – only a few assassinations, hit-and-run attacks, IEDs or suicide bombs…



I’ve just come back from Tessa and Stuart Wheeler’s stunning house, Dar Sinclair, in Tangier. It’s a lovely time of…



Magnus Carlsen has won the elite tournament split between Sao Paulo, Brazil and Bilbao, Spain ahead of a squad of…

Chess puzzle

No. 240

White to play. This position is a variation from Vallejo Pons-Aronian, Sao Paulo/Bilbao 2012. White needs an accurate move to…



In Competition No. 2768 you were invited to  supply the profile for an online dating site of a Shakespearean character.…


2085: Buffer zones

The unclued lights, (one of two words), individually or as three pairs, are of a kind. Collins Dictionary confirms the…

Crossword solution

2082: 1 to 2082

The unclued lights are the eight principal compilers who have set puzzles for this series from puzzle 1 to 2082…

Status anxiety

Dr Alexander’s afterlife

There was quite an important news story buried beneath all the post-match analysis from the party conferences. Apparently there really…

Spectator sport

All hail the Heineken Cup

Ah, what joys, the first weekend of the mighty Heineken Cup. How many sporting events are so closely identified with…

Dear Mary

Dear Mary

Q. Is there a friendly way to cut short a telephone conversation? A certain woman always wants to talk at…


Evil empire

Opus has written its name in letters six foot high outside, which is such a screaming act of narcissistic self-doubt,…

Mind your language


The kick-start and the first world war arrived in the same year. Despite talk of a ‘big bazooka’, the former…