The Spectator

28 June 2014

The real God wars

The West’s politicians generally aren’t interested in religion. Increasingly, that means they don’t understand the world



Religion is the new politics — but Britain's secular politicians just don't get it

Increasingly, not to understand faith is not to understand the world


If Nigel Farage is worried about anti-Semitism, he shouldn't be teaming up with Beppe Grillo

Italy's stand-up populist has some alarming statements in his record – and some even more alarming supporters


Should I report my boyfriend to the police?

He made a joke about punching. Unlike Michael Fabricant’s, it was funny


Welcome to the age of self-love

It's the perfect cause for our narcissistic times


How the internet can – and should – destroy estate agents

If ever there was a business model ripe for disruption, it’s theirs


Why Thailand's elite fell out of love with democracy

The rise of China is giving the developing world a new, authoritarian model

An artist’s impression: Radøy as Claudia saw it


Rose Prince’s summer wine match menu

Potted crab, oysters with pastis, salt marsh lamb with samphire, apple and rhubarb sherbert


Discovering bourbon on Brick Lane

It took an east London bowling alley to make me understand the taste of home

Grape preparation: the preferred method in north London


Politically correct wines worth drinking

These bottles satisfy my need for middle-class virtue – and my tastebuds

So, how’s your branding?


My own private craft beer World Cup

The big brands are harder to beat than you might think


Red wine... with a hint of Diet Coke

Improvise in my wine tasting? Is this what you meant?


The delicious return of Gin Lane

Two centuries after Britain banned small distillers, they’re back – and brilliant

How it used to be done: practice for the 1955 Soho Waiters’ Race, from Soho Square to Greek Street


What it takes to be Best Sommelier of the World

I saw the competitors face off in Tokyo. It’s absurdly rigorous

The Week

Leading article

Phone hacking - the silence of the censors

It's time this chapter of hysteria was drawn to a close

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

Home David Cameron, the Prime Minister, fought a last-ditch battle against the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the…


John O'Sullivan's diary: A grand reunion for the revolutionary class of '89

Here are Thatcher's children – some of them demanding 'more Europe'

Ancient and modern

Of course fish are smart. Even the Romans knew that

A new call to include sea life in our 'moral circle' finds an echo in Plutarch


Greenpeace's jetsetter isn't the only environmentalist who loves to fly

Plus: The relatives who leave most legacies, and the best places to park illegally in London


Spectator letters: VAT and sugar, Boris Johnson and cricket, whisky and bagpipes

Sugar added tax Sir: Julia Pickles (Letters, 14 June) suggests a sugar tax to combat the obesity epidemic and discourage…



George Osborne's been playing politics since he was 12. Now, finally, he's winning

The man at No 11 feels on top of his brief – and ready to tackle other people's

The Spectator's Notes

Radek Sikorski: a Spectator foreign correspondent made good

Plus: The secret of Prince Philip's tie revealed, and some marketing advice for Coutts

Rod Liddle

Rebekah Brooks takes her place in a perfect picture of modern Britain

An asphixiated badger? An obese burger eater? No, this is my Britain…

Matthew Parris

Ed Miliband’s problem isn’t his image. It’s us

Boris Johnson could eat a bacon sandwich tomorrow – and turn it to his advantage

Hugo Rifkind

I may not know much about khat, but I know banning it is crazy

Prohibition is a failed policy. We’re tackling that by doing more of it

Any other business

George Osborne’s cynical grab for northern votes (and why I’m for it)

Plus: The UK drug company that’s not scared of a takeover bid, and remembering Felix Dennis


Portrait of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, with his pet monkey, attributed to Jacob Huysmans

Lead book review

Thug, rapist, poetic visionary: the contradictory Earl of Rochester

A review of Blazing Star: The Life and Times of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, by Alexander Larman. You wouldn't have wanted to meet him, but he deserves a biographer who can write

Slaves planting cane cuttings in Antigua, 1823, by William Clark


Only tourists think of the Caribbean as a ‘paradise’

A review of Empire’s Crossroads: A History of the Caribbean from Columbus to the Present Day, by Carrie Gibson. A vivid and thought-provoking synthesis of the disparate histories of the islands of the West Indies


The cold, remote plateau of Vichy France where good was done

A review of Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France, by Caroline Moorehead. Parallel to the squalid map of Vichy was a map of decency


Maigret's new clothes – this month's best new crime novel, published 1931

Plus: The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair? It's not a Great American Novel. But it is a decent thriller

Portrait of Dante by Domenico di Michelino


A divine guide to Dante

A review of Reading Dante: From Here to Eternity, by Prue Shaw. This companion to the life and work of the Italian genius will make you blink in wonder


Having a moral compass just gets in the way of being smart

A review of Think Like a Freak: How to Think Smarter About Almost Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. The authors of Freakonomics want to teach you to think less like the kind of people who read books

‘He thought he could have made it as a visual artist — if only more people had liked his work.’ Above: John Arlott reading (1977) and Kathy and Jessy (1963)

Narrative feature

The gentle intoxications of Laurie Lee

On the author's centenary, Jeremy Treglown wonders how his legacy stands up


J.K. Rowling is just too nice – and too lucky – to satirise publishing

As a result, Robert Galbraith's The Silkworm is a toothless and inept novel


Arts feature

John Bishop interview: ‘My dream was to be Steven Gerrard, but he got there first’

On the eve of his UK tour, the stand-up comedian tells Matthew Stadlen how depression triggered his career – and rescued his marriage


Mark Benton’s Hobson spares us nothing in his journey from rooftop to gutter

Plus: a new play by Jesse Briton at the Southwark Playhouse that needs editing

‘Tondo the Winged Hours of the Seabirds’ by Keith Grant


Oceans and forests in kaleidoscopic flow – discovering Keith Grant

Plus: the visionary landscapes of Glyn Morgan at the Chappel Galleries

Diceman no. 5 by Pat Mills and Hunt Emerson


A comic drawn by Bob Monkhouse in which a superhero battles giant penises? Yes, it’s all here

British comic strips were nothing if not subversive, as this new British Library exhibition shows


A swan to die for at Sadler’s Wells

Plus: interaction galore - between East and West, audience and performer

Barbie doll: Kristine Opolais as Manon


Manon Lescaut: Puccini’s Anna Nicole?

Plus: a post-apocalyptic take on Les Liaisons Dangereuses at the Linbury Studio Theatre

A hunk of the highest order: Giulio Berruti as Raf


Walking on Sunshine: the feel-ennui musical of the year

It’s as if the director and screenwriter looked at Mamma Mia! and thought: ‘Let’s do that again, but make it horrible and bad and ill-considered’


The gardener-soldiers of the First World War

Plus: a diary of 1914 – as Richard Strauss and the Ballets Russes hit London, Archduke Ferdinand prepares to visit Sarajevo

Culture notes

Has the rake progressed?

Hogarth’s famous ne’er-do-well is given a modern twist by David Hockney, Grayson Perry and Yinka Shonibare at the Foundling Museum


High life

After 100 years, the mess we made of the Middle East is coming full circle

Only François Georges-Picot's daughter could make me forgive the Sykes-Picot plan

Low life

My night in a room haunted by falling cannonballs

If you didn't notice the iPad lying around in Charlie's house, you might assume poaching was still a capital offence

Real life

I need a syringe full of ketamine to survive a visit to the vet

When an equine vet gets his equipment out, he likes to run it over everything like an out-of-control hose

Long life

Brave, noble, forgotten – the other side of Italy's second world war

Most of these escapees were ill-clad, hungry and in constant danger of betrayal



I’m not trying to pretend it will make up for the drubbing England took in the World Cup, but if…



Chess, unlike football, appears to confer little or no home advantage. In a recent article for Kensington & Chelsea Today,…

Chess puzzle

No. 320

White to play. This position is a variation from Mamedov-Carlsen, World Blitz 2014. Here White played 1 hxg5 and Carlsen…


Ground work

In Competition No. 2853 you were asked to incorporate the following words (they are real geological terms) into a piece…


2168: History exam

Each of twenty-two clues contains a superfluous word. Initial letters of these words spell three specimens of 5; these are…

Crossword solution

to 2165: Not far off

According to Fred HOYLE (24), SPACE is ‘only an hour’s drive away if your car could go straight upwards’ (10…

Status anxiety

Do people really hate free schools – or do they just hate me?

In the end, I'm convinced, even my negative charisma can't doom this good cause

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How can I evade nosy questions at parties?

Plus: Handling your stylish new non-wheeled suitcase


At the Chiltern Firehouse, smugness should be on the menu

David Cameron was seen here. But then he has no taste of his own and must be told where is fashionable

Mind your language

The bloody battle for the name Isis

It’s not just Islamists and Pagans who are disputing the title

Spectator Wine

June Wine Club II

It baffles me that German wines are still something of a hard sell in the UK. I imagine that they’re…