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The Spectator

25 October 2014

The dying man of Europe

Italy is in terminal decline

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How Cameron could make the EU a winning issue (and why he won’t)

No, I don’t really think he’ll campaign for withdrawal. But that doesn’t make Eurosceptics’ options any less clear


It’s time to shave that beard: the decade of the hipster is over

Fashion cults are nothing new, but this one was exceptionally silly and unoriginal


Escape from Omnishambleshire: the case for the old county boundaries

I don’t care how local councils are arranged. I just want people in England to know where they live

All Worsthorne’s men: Hoover, surprisingly nice; Truman, smiling until Perry spoke; Eisenhower, who mocked his name; Kennedy, a hero; LBJ, a boor; Nixon, a friend; Reagan; and the first Bush


Bourbon from Bush, envy from Nixon... and running into Herbert Hoover: encounters with eight presidents

Peregrine Worsthorne’s dealings with leaders of the free world, as a journalist, as a friend, and as a little boy running in the hallway


Discover the blissful peace of Laos

I’ve never been a friendlier, more relaxing place than Luang Prabang

Beauty in ruins: the Temple of Isis on Delos


Visiting the Greek islands in a reverse Tardis

I was a cruise sceptic – and I felt guilty in Venice lagoon – but I wasn’t expecting what I found on board

Jumbo-sized: the first of the Big Five makes an appearance
Sea change: the old fishing town of Warnemünde has been transformed into an affluent resort


A voyage along my grandfather’s coastline

The subtle joys of the eastern Baltic

Riverside artwork: Jean-Luc Courcoult’s ‘La Maison dans la Loire’


Eight of the best river cruises

From concerts on the Rhine to temples on the Chindwin


Saratoga Springs: the opposite of a one-horse town

Spa charm and racing thrills a train ride from New York City

‘A home for fallen buildings’: Portmeirion

Notes on...

Why I'll never want to escape Portmeirion

I'm tired of London, but I'll never tire of this strange little place

The Week

Leading article

Deal with the debt, George Osborne? You’ve hardly started

The Chancellor has given himself eight years to cut spending by less than Denis Healey

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

Home A hundred firemen could not prevent wooden cooling towers at Didcot B gas-fuelled power station in Oxfordshire from burning…


Griff Rhys Jones’s diary: I am now less of a celebrity than my daughter’s dog

Plus: Starting the day the Dylan Thomas way — a pint with a raw egg in it for breakfast — and lunch with the other Charles Spencer

Ancient and modern

Why the Ancient Greeks thought adultery was worse than rape

Consent didn’t matter. Family – and property – did

From The Archives

From the archives

From ‘Topics of the day’, The Spectator, 24 October 1914: That spies are a great danger at the present time,…


Spectator letters: In defence of the GMC and Ukip members, and how Rachmaninov spelled Rachmaninov

Health check Sir: I have to take issue on (at least) three counts with Dr Vernon Coleman and his absurd…



It’s not just Ukip that’s changing Cameron’s mind about immigration

The return of the eurozone crisis has prompted some serious rethinking in No. 10

Rod Liddle

Wear a veil if you like – but don’t treat women like that

Whether it’s French opera patrons or police in the UAE, somehow it’s the female sex that’s liable to be picked on

Mary Wakefield

What are 16-year-olds supposed to learn by making posters?

Most schools seem to think that poster design can teach you everything: English, history, religious studies, geography...

James Delingpole

My new affair is thrilling, expensive — and might just break my neck

It’s at times like this that you regret some of the choices you made earlier in your life

Any other business

The one economic indicator that never stops rising: meet the Negroni Index

Plus: The perverse effects of capping bankers’ bonuses, and the BBC’s dangerous disdain for capitalism


Outside Downing Street in June 1943. Ten years earlier, no one would have thought it remotely likely that Winston Churchill would be regarded as his country’s saviour

Lead book review

Does Boris Johnson really expect us to think he's Churchill?

And if not, what exactly is the point of The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History, by Boris Johnson? Apart from a couple of good jokes, that is...

The charge of the Scots Greys at Waterloo by the British-American artist Richard Caton Woodville. From A History of War in 100 Battles by Richard Overy (William Collins, £25)


Four ways to win Waterloo

If you want Sharpe-like drama, go for Bernard Cornwell. For Eurocentric revisionism, go for Tim Clayton. If you’re short of time, there’s Brendan Simms’s 80 pager. But in a class of its own is former soldier Robert Kershaw making ‘order out of disorder’


While Holmes is away

Anthony Horowitz's Moriarity makes an entertaining job of Sherlockian London without Sherlock or Watson – but it would be so much better to have them back

Sweeping away evidence: where in those calm, tile-floored 17th-century rooms can we even glimpse a spittoon? ‘Dutch Interior’ by Pieter Janssens Elinga


The history of the home – with the spittoons put back in

A review of The Making of the Home, by Judith Flanders, and Common People, by Alison Light. Both books are absorbing but it’s Light’s history of subsistence living that I’ll want to read twice


The man who was mistaken for a deer

A review of The Burning Room, by Michael Connelly. The 19th book for Connelly's obssessive detective Hieronymous Bosch is as strange and relentless as ever

Antiquity 2’, 2009–11


Jeff Koons's latest achievement: a new standard in prolix, complacent, solipsistic, muddled drivel

A review of Jeff Koons: Conversations with Norman Rosenthal. Koons’s sub-adult work is not worth getting cross about – although it has nonetheless proved poisonous to younger artists


Lolita's secret revenge mission, and other daft theories of literary spite

Literary Rivals: Feuds and Antagonisms in the World of Books, by Richard Bradford, is a compendium that never sees the roses for the thorns


Left: The Apostle Simon, 1661. Right: Portrait of a Lady with an Ostrich-Feather Fan, 1658–60

Arts feature

Rembrandt at the National Gallery: the greatest show on earth

Veronese can show you a beautiful Madonna; but Rembrandt lets you read Bathsheba's thoughts

Plisetskaya in ‘Romeo and Juliet’, 1964. She was one of the supreme trophies in the Soviet display case, the most garlanded, the most suspected

Arts feature

Maya Plisetskaya and Rodion Shchedrin: ‘The KGB put a microphone in our marriage bed'

On the eve of the UK premiere of Shchedrin’s new opera at the Barbican, Ismene Brown talks to the Russian super-couple about how they survived the Soviet Union

Jane Horrocks as the slovenly matriarch still fond of her bullying husband George (‘East is East’ playwright Ayub Khan Din, left)


Is London's West End Jewish enough for David Baddiel’s musical The Infidel?

Plus: East is East is one of the gems of the theatrical repertoire, especially in this near-flawless Theatre Royal Stratford East production

Arts feature

Frieze Art Fair: where great refinement meets harrowing vulgarity

But there’s no point cringing about prices: art has always been about money

Brad Pitt with the crew of the Sherman tank, Fury


Fury: the men blow stuff up, then Brad Pitt takes his top off

Deborah Ross found only one scene of any complexity


Glyndebourne’s Turn of the Screw: horrors of the most innocent and creepy kind

In I due Foscari at the Royal Opera House, however, nightmares were more artistic than psychological


What it's like being a scarily talented teenager

Plus: the original girl-power pop group – Ivy Benson and Her All Girl Band


Hooray for Homeland - Carrie’s back blasting America’s enemies to pieces with drones

Plus: James Walton senses BBC2’s Gunpowder 5/11: The Greatest Terror Plot is trying to tell us something


High life

My fury at Fury, a film only a vampire could love

There's enough blood on the screen in Brad Pitt's new blockbuster to turn Dracula to masturbation

Low life

Hello trees, hello sky, hello armoured riot police

I found the perfect frame of mind for watching the TUC march

Real life

Oh no. Where is my iPhone taking me?

Liskeard. It doesn't matter where I'm trying to go. Almost certainly Liskeard

Long life

If you don't like this stupid survey, there'll be a contradictory one along in a minute

A big wedding will doom your marriage. Or possibly save it. It's just another day in the world of worthless newspaper-baiting research

Wild life

What happened when I tried to buy back my father's farm

Once, there were 3,500 cattle in our ranch on Kilimanjaro's slopes. But the Tanzanian government needs to eat



Forget the 5-2 diet. To lose weight the easy way, why not take up competitive bridge? I’ve just come back…


Baku beyond

The irrepressible Fabiano Caruana has added to his laurels by sharing first prize in the Baku Grand Prix, which finished…

Chess puzzle

No. 337

White to play. This position is from Gelfand-Andreikin, Baku 2014. What is White’s best move? Answers to me at The…


Autumn villanelle

In Competition No. 2870 you were invited to submit an autumn villanelle. Stephen Fry likes villanelles. The form inspired him…


2185: Over the sea — and bridge

Two unclued lights describe the location of the others, individually or as a pair. One of these unclued lights does…

Crossword solution

To 2182: Tops

The unclued lights are ROMAN CROWNS. First prize Philip Hawkins, Wirksworth, Matlock, Derbyshire Runners-up G.H.Willetts, London SW19; Chris Edwards, Pudsey,…

Status anxiety

Russell Brand and Nigel Farage remind me of myself five years ago

Politicians don’t just compromise because they’re cynics. They do it to get things done

The Wiki Man

The best navigation idea I’ve seen since the Tube map

Meet the British company that can take you around the world in three common words

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: Learning to love a man who whistles through his nose

Plus: How to force your friends to get concert tickets


The secret kinship of good wine and good cricket

...and a Bordeaux that may live to see another great West Indies side

Mind your language

How Ebola got its name

And why it isn’t Yambuku fever