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The Spectator

4 April 2015

In defence of Christianity

Churchgoers face a tidal wave of negativity in modern Britain

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In defence of Christianity

Despite a tidal wave of prejudice and negativity, faith remains the foundation of our civilisation


What happened to Julie Burchill on silent retreat

This isn’t one of those I-was-lost-and-now-I’m-found sob stories; I wasn’t looking to be ‘healed’


'The truth is hard': an interview with Roger Scruton

The philosopher and novelist was right about immigration and education, 30 years too soon


Letter from Cuba: The tourists are coming – but don’t expect Walmart just yet

Plus: An ambassador’s perspective; and Fidel Castro’s rule on a plate


The populist outsider who really could beat Hillary Clinton (clue: it’s not Elizabeth Warren)

War hero Jim Webb has the right record to take on Hillary – and to widen the Democratic coalition


'I will call the police!': My close encounter with 'revenue protection'

As I was chased from the ticket barrier on to the train, I began to wonder what the inspector could be thinking

The writing on the wall: some of the well-preserved hieroglyphs at Karnak

Notes on...

Tourists are trickling back to Egypt – to beat the crowds, go now

In the Valley of the Kings, pharaohs’ tombs that before 2011 required lengthy queuing are now easily accessible

The Week

Leading article

Why aren’t the Tories winning?

They should be miles ahead given the state of the economy, schools, the NHS

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

Home The nation greeted with well disguised enthusiasm the beginning of the general election campaign after the dissolution of parliament.…


Max Hastings’s diary: The joys of middle age, and Prince Charles’s strange letters

Plus: A golden age for TV interviewing, and the need for better spies


Could you afford to take a job with the royal family?

Plus: the most suicide-prone jobs, Stephen Hawking™ and which countries are keenest on the death penalty

From The Archives

Sober into battle

From ‘News of the Week’, The Spectator, 3 April 1915: The chief obstacle to prohibition, as we point out elsewhere, is…


Spectator letters: The modern equivalents of Unity Mitford

Plus: How to refer to Hitler's wife (if she's the daughter of a baron), vacancies for vicars, and a tipster's protest



The election result that everyone expects – and no one wants

The more voters reckon a hung parliament is coming, the more likely it becomes – even if they’d rather have a majority government

Matthew Parris

Peru's Indians are repressed with more efficiency than blacks ever were in South Africa

In The Spectator of 21 March a column by Toby Young caught my eye. Discussing the pros and cons of…

Any other business

Airport wars: why I'm betting on Gatwick

The answer’s far from ‘obvious’ – or ideal – but I’d put a tenner on Gatwick

Hugo Rifkind

Why are so many men on diets? I blame feminists

Pretty much every man I know under the age of 55 is on some kind of diet. And I think I know why


RAMC stretcher-bearers from the South Eastern Mounted Brigade enter the Field Ambulance dressing station at Y Ravine. Picture courtesy of Stephen Chambers

Lead book review

The other trenches: the Dardanelles, 100 years on

Reviews of Gallipoli by Richard van Emden and Stephen Chambers, and a new edition of Alan Moorehead’s landmark work of the same name

Rex Whistler’s portrait of Edith Olivier on a day bed at Daye House, Wilton, 1942


When Rex met Edith: a meeting of minds in interwar England

Anna Thomasson’s A Curious Friendship details the artist Rex Whistler’s shared fantasy land with the much older novelist Edith Olivier


Back to Bedlam: Patrick Skene Catling on the book that makes madness visible

It turns out that mental illness isn’t a new invention. Andrew Scull’s Madness in Civilization reviewed


The secret life of the short story

They’re modest in scale, but can conceal a tendency to megalomania. Reviews of D.J. Taylor’s Wrote For Luck and The Boy Who Could See Death by Salley Vickers


Melissa Kite comes out fighting. Again

Emily Rhodes reviews The Girl Who Couldn’t Stop Arguing, which our columnist assures us is not an autobiographical work

A John Craske painting from the Sylvia Townsend Warner Collection


The self-taught maritime artist who transcends ‘naïve’ cliché

Honor Clerk reviews Julia Blackburn’s delightful Threads: The Delicate Life of John Craske


Brian Sewell does some donkey work: how Britain’s best-known art critic put his ass on the line

Ysenda Maxtone Graham reviews The White Umbrella, a charming tale of a man who adopts a mistreated donkey

Giotto’s ‘The Kiss of Judas’ in the Scrovegni Chapel, Padua


Justin Cartwright on redheads, anti-Semitism and the betrayal of Christ

Reviews of Judas by Peter Stanford and The True Herod by Geza Vermes, which turn an unflinching light on the villains of the Bible


Arts feature

The audio anoraks bringing the great vintage recordings back to life

Pristine Classical's interventionist boldness may upset audiophiles, but their restorations are miraculous, says Damian Thompson


Blunt and bloody: ENO's Sweeney Todd reviewed

The casting is exemplary but the drama could do with fewer Grand Guignol gestures and more subtlety and darkness

Detail from the great and strange Altar of the Holy Blood by Tilman Riemenschneider at the Jakobskirche, Rothenburg ob der Tauber


Is this the greatest sculpted version of the Easter story? It's certainly the strangest

Martin Gayford urges you to make a pilgrimage to Rothenburg ob der Tauber to see Tilman Riemenschneider’s limewood masterpiece

Portrait of a director: Robert Altman


I always think I'm going to hate Baumbach's films and never do: While We're Young reviewed

Plus: a new documentary about Robert Altman that’s disappointingly unAltmanesque


Our hero worship of Bach is to blame for rubbish like ‘Written By Mrs Bach’

‘Professor’ Martin Jarvis’s thesis that the wife of J.S. Bach wrote the cello suites is obviously rubbish — but so is the idea that Bach was a flawless genius


Birmingham Royal Ballet review: A Father Ted Carmina Burana

Plus: Hofesh Shechter offers a more politely apocalyptic vision than usual in his Royal Ballet debut


Bad Jews at the Arts Theatre reviewed: strange, raw, obsessive and brilliant

Plus: a static new play, Breakfast of Eels at the Print Room, by a playwright that many are hailing as theatre’s brightest hope - even though he’s 62 and not very good


Why James Delingpole is addicted to Pointless

Plus: why BBC4’s Quizeum isn’t half as interesting or funny as the people presenting think it is

The Heckler

The Heckler: down with the actor-commentariat!

Why do actors now take centre-stage in all the serious debates of the day? And more importantly, why do we listen to them?


Did Radio 4 have to deal with the Germanwings disaster as it did?

Plus: a Radio 4 drama tackles the Trojan Horse scandal and the World Service talks to homeless asylum seekers


High life

Even a perfect opera such as Don Giovanni improves with a good red

The most divine music ever accompanied by two bottles of Haut-Brion reduced me to an enchanted wreck

Low life

One day the Condor and the Eagle will fly wing-tip to wing-tip

But for now, my first small step to an indigenous mindset was to piss in the nearest ornamental tub

Real life

Farewell, Cobham — oh flat, boring, lovely Cobham; hello, Dorking

Dorking is the real deal, sans dogging, sans new town, but you must be prepared to climb a hill or 17

Long life

The fox that killed my chickens depressed me more than 250,000 tsunami deaths

Perhaps I am uniquely unimaginative and lacking in empathy, but I fear not

The turf

Who will fund a prize for the true fighter pilots of the Turf?

If no one will step forward then the BHA and Great British Racing must fund it themselves



Wednesday night is league night. Sacrosanct. I’ve missed only one in seven years and that was when my daughter was…

Spectator Wine, Wine Club Offers

April Wine Club

Private Cellar is the Jack Russell of the wine trade, tiny but tenacious, nipping in and snuffling out first-rate everyday…



In Competition No. 2891 you were invited to think of the most boring lecture topic possible and submit an extract…


2205: In shape

The unclued lights (including one of three words, one of two words, and one hyphened) form two thematic groups in…

Crossword solution

To 2202: Problem XI

Seven unclued lights are ANAGRAMS (23) of numbers. 2 (7A) + 11 (17) + 10 (40) + 16 (5) +…

Status anxiety

Lefty myths about inequality

The Tories have nothing to be ashamed about when it comes to the last parliament’s record on poverty

Spectator sport

Rory McIlroy and the grandest prize in golf

To understand just what a career slam means, look at who didn’t manage one

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How I can I avoid being invited to any more country house weekends?

Plus: Dealing with men who want to tarmac your drive, and with friends who want to marry objectionable millionaires


From Russia with love

In the James Bond film From Russia with Love there is an evil mastermind named Kronsteen. The character is in…

Chess puzzle

No. 356

White to play. This position is a variation from Bronstein-Zilberstein, Tbilisi 1973. Bronstein has just given up a piece on…


A cemetery with cocktails: La Coupole and the spirit of the brasserie

Ernest Hemingway is to Parisian brasseries what Mickey is to Disney World; Edith Piaf — or Salvador Dalí — is Daffy Duck

Mind your language

The new Fowler still won’t grasp the nettle on ‘they’

A usage problem where the answer is inevitable – but no one seems quite ready to accept it