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The Spectator

26 July 2014

Back to the brink

Think we’ve done enough to avoid another financial crisis? Think again

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The warning signs of a new credit crunch

No one will thank you for talking about it, but in the world's QE-happy stock markets, indicators are flashing red


Sanctions won’t tame Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Talking might

A considered response to the tragedy of Flight MH17 could start to undo a quarter-century of failed policy


Vladimir Putin’s empire of lies

His answer to the destruction of Flight MH17 has been more propaganda.In Russia, at least, it seems to be working


What’s wrong with sunglasses

People who wear shades all the time seem to radiate disdain


Want a fun job? You just have to pick the right parents

The old paths to the top for working-class children – sport, music, acting, writing – are increasingly closed


‘It’s jihad, innit, bruv’: meet the British Muslims going to fight in Syria

There are two kinds of foreign recruit to Isis: the ‘gangsters’ and the true believers

Switzerland’s loveliest lake lies before you

Notes on...

The loveliness of Lucerne

A Swiss town where the only bad thing is the exchange rate

The Week

Portrait of the week

The MH17 disaster

Home David Cameron, the Prime Minister, told Parliament that President Vladimir Putin of Russia should end his country’s support for…


Simon Barnes’s diary: A sportswriter is never without a big subject (unless it’s golf)

I’ve seen Roger Federer, Fu Mingxia, Michael Johnson, Dancing Brave, Ayrton Senna, Katarina Witt and Malcolm Marshall


Which party has the most MPs’ children in Parliament?

Plus: air safety, and guessing Tony Blair’s wealth

Ancient and modern

Plutarch on smartphone addiction

The essayist was ahead of us on the seduction of distractions


Spectator letters: In defence of women ministers, Handel and lefty sex

Give the women a chance Sir: Melissa Kite’s article about the reshuffle seems downright unfair (‘A misogynistic reshuffle’, 19 July). Whatever…



Parliament's next crisis: a dangerous shortage of middle-aged men

When ex-ministers immediately quit the Commons, a vital resource is lost

The Spectator's Notes

Our spies have stopped chasing subversives. That's why we're in so much trouble

Plus: The reshuffle muddle gets deeper, the BBC's Israel problem, and Parliament's crisis of legitimacy

Matthew Parris

Why I’m against posthumous pardons, even for Alan Turing

Pardoning those convicted under laws we now disagree with is an irrational surrender to the emotional tide

By the book

L.P. Hartley’s guide to coping with a heatwave

Feeling sweaty? Take some tips from The Go-Between

Any other business

Forecasting is a mug’s game – but I was right about the economic revival

Plus: A golden generation of British car executives, sympathy for Tony O’Reilly, and good news amid Tesco’s woes


Who’s in, who’s out: George Bernard O’Neill’s ‘Public Opinion’ depicts a private view of the annual exhibition at the Royal Academy

Lead book review

The age of the starving artist

A review of A Strange Business: Making Art and Money in Nineteenth-Century Britain, by James Hamilton. A brilliant account of learning, or failing, to survive in a market of extraordinary brutality

A boy named Marion: John Wayne pictured on the set of Stagecoach (1939)


John Wayne, accidental cowboy

A review of John Wayne: The Life and Legend, by Scott Eyman. It borders on hagiography but for Wayne fans that’s no flaw


Tip-toeing through Sri Lanka

A review of Noontide Toll, by Romesh Gunesekera. One of the most delicate contemporary prose stylists tackles one of the most intractable conflicts


Daring? No. Well written? Yes

A review of The Last Victorians, by W. Sydney Robinson. Ignore the misleading blurb and revel in the research, writing and bizarre characters in this portrait of four 20th-century eccentrics

Left: ‘Blackbere’ from Helmingham Herbal and Bestiary, c. 1500. Right: Common Hoopoe, c. 1789, by William Lewis


The British countryside in prints and paper-cuts

A review of Of Green Leaf, Bird and Flower, by Elizabeth R. Fairman. The images are mostly astounding but the essays are a mixed bag


Lenin, Hitler, Sloane Square – a Polish noble's 20th-century Odyssey

A review of The Ape Has Stabbed Me: A Cocktail of Reminiscence, by Vincent Poklewski Koziell. A hilarious tale of hats, hous­es, drinks and direc­torships


Main villain: the aftermath of war

A review of The Reckoning, by Rennie Airth, a thriller that leaves your nerves unshredded but thoughts haunted


The many lives of Richard Nixon

A review of The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose from Defeat to Create the New Majority, by Patrick J. Buchanan. Tricky Dicky’s time in the wilderness was key to his success

‘A Sounding Line’ (2006–7). Detail of de Waal’s 66 porcelain vessels in white and celadon glazes, Chatsworth House, Derbyshire


How good an artist is Edmund de Waal?

A review of Edmund de Waal, by A.S. Byatt, Colm Toibin, Peter Carey, Emma Crichton Miller and others. A book of discursive essays, short stories and photographs that explores the potter’s many paths and influences


Neville Marriner: still going strong at the age of 90

Arts feature

How conductors keep getting better at 90

Sir Neville Marriner, 90, Sir Roger Norrington, 80, and Sir Andrew Davis, 70, on the secrets of growing old very gracefully

Cinema, DVDs

The Lunchbox: a love story based on food and free postage

It’s one of three cracking new summer DVD releases

Natalia Osipova in the Royal Ballet’s ‘Connectome’, choreographed by Alastair Marriott


When Mr and Mrs Clever-Nasty-and-Rich met Mr and Mrs Thick-Sweet-and-Poor

Plus: the first professional production of Noel Coward’s banned This Was A Man is a real find


Malevich: Are Tate visitors ready for this master of modernism?

We will not see the like of this vast and impressive exhibition again during our lifetimes – but it's far from an easy, populist show


I can’t see the point of Glyndebourne’s La traviata

Plus: Opera Holland Park’s Norma is clunkiness personified

Obstacle on the footballing front: Natascha McElhone as Georgie’s mother


The problem with Believe is you simply won’t believe any of it - unless you’re a child

Anne Reid and Brian Cox can’t rescue this pile-up of clichés, easy sentiment and predictable plot twists


Does Radio 3 need a new controller?

If the BBC decides it does, there’s no better model than Radio 4’s current chief Gwyneth Williams

Culture notes

Alexander Pope, inventor of celebrity

Depictions of the poet were ubiquitous in the 18th century. The finest have now been brought together for a show at Waddesdon Manor


High life

My love for that heroic country Poland

On victimhood, endurance and stoicism

Low life

My grandson’s Great Leap Forward

A whole day of family time. How to spend it?

Real life

One day I was always going to have to eat quinoa. It might as well be now

Poor ants, trapped by a socially enterprising visionary blissed out on Lottery funding

Long life

Freedom for my chickens! All it took was a man with a gun

Like the prisoners released from their dungeons at the end of Fidelio, they came blinking into the sunlight

The turf

A day with the West Ilsley trainer Denis Coakley

'I always worked for trainers who had good horses, Group One horses'



Richard Selway was one of the first friends I made in the bridge world. Long-standing ‘host’ at TGR’s, he was…

Spectator Wine

Spectator Wine Vaults – offer now closed

Mark Pardoe MW, Buying Director of Berry Bros. & Rudd, was in charitable mood last week. Not only did he…


Witsch craft

The ever reliable Steve Giddins has just published a new book on that great strategist Aron Nimzowitsch. This is the…

Chess puzzle

no. 324

White to play. This is from Storey–Jarmany, -British Championship, Aberystwyth 2014. White’s position is overwhelming but what is the quickest…


Spinning Jenny

In Competition No. 2857 you were invited to take the first line of Leigh Hunt’s mini rondeau ‘Jenny Kissed me’,…


2172: Para

In June we lost a popular 40. Clockwise round the grid from 3 run the titles of two of his…

Crossword solution

to 2169: Land

The grid represents Germany, with six bordering countries round the edge, and four cities in the interior, positioned roughly appropriately…

Status anxiety

Do-gooders neglect their children. Just look at my dad – and me

Since I set up the West London Free School, I've been a much less hands-on parent

Spectator sport

Alastair Cook is world class. Steven Gerrard isn’t

This country does not produce footballers of the first rank


Does the Duke of Devonshire really want to be my friend – or is he just after my bank details?

Chatsworth's marketing is the most duplicitous and effective I have ever known

Mind your language

Does 'autonomy' mean anything any more?

Apparently, it means you should have the right to die – but not the right to climb a ladder without permission