The Spectator

8 December 2012


Export-only justice


Export-only justice

When Britain’s top lawyers are focused on the world’s most lucrative disputes, can our courts still serve the public interest at home?


Don’t watch The Hobbit

The book is perfectly formed – the film can only spoil it


The sick man of Africa

Why Congo isn’t sharing in its region’s renaissance


Vegas Notebook

There are many weird things about Las Vegas, from the truck that drives around offering ‘Hot Babes Direct To You’…


The Pickles plan

The Secretary of State for Local Government on how he’s taking on councils

The Week

Leading article

The great creep forward

It took Tony Blair about five years to work out what he wanted to do with his government and George…

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

Home In his Autumn Statement, held nearer the winter solstice, George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, confronted the need…



Finding an outfit for a wedding is a doddle compared with finding one for an investiture and I wonder how…

Ancient and modern

Classical press regulation

Forget Leveson. If the press, always keen to be above the law, must remain free of state control (and it…



Distilling a philosophy The manager of Fitzpatrick’s in Rawtenstall, the last surviving temperance bar in Lancashire, has pleaded guilty to…



The North in need Sir: Neil O’Brien’s article on the North-South divide is welcome (‘The great divide’, 1 December). As…



Osborne is the St Augustine Chancellor – he wants to balance the books, but not yet.

After months of squabbling and not-so-civil war, the coalition now appears to be functioning again. This is one immediate consequence…

The Spectator's Notes

The Spectator’s Notes

You will have read in every news outlet that the baby whom the Duchess of Cambridge is bearing will be…

Rod Liddle

Is it grim up north? It’s too expensive to go and find out

My flight to Italy a couple of weeks back was held on the runway for a while because of some…

Hugo Rifkind

Even my mimsy leftist friends don’t care that prisoners can’t vote

I mean, honestly. What kind of mimsy, soggy-spined, weak-kneed, faffing, lentil-eating, self-loathing, lefty north London ninny gives a damn that…


Tony Hall’s successor, organic government and the great Lib Dem shale plot

Rending of raiment and gnashing of teeth at the Guardian. I’m told that the paper’s veteran editor, Alan Rusbridger, is…

Any other business

America’s hounding of BP no longer has much to do with Louisiana’s sad pelicans

BP continues to pay a full price for the Deepwater Horizon disaster — deservedly so, you might say, given that…


At the Opera’ by Thomas-Francis Dicksee;

Lead book review

Boxed and stalled

That the operatic tradition survives at all is a marvel, says Philip Hensher; but it would be even better if the repertory could move with the times

Keith Vaughan - ‘Fishermen in Finisterre’, 1951


Tormented talent

We know a great deal about Keith Vaughan both as a painter and as a man, from the journals he…


The plot thickens

At last! At the age of 80, I have read my first digital book. According to Penguin, these brief ‘Specials’…


A choice of stocking-fillers

There can be few phrases in the language more debased than ‘Christmas gift book’. (Well, ‘friendly fire’, maybe, or ‘light…

‘The Terrors of St Anthony’ by Michelangelo.


Agonies and ecstasies

William James considered an hallucination to be ‘as good and true a sensation as if there were a real object…


Safety in danger

In his book The Black Swan, Nassim Taleb told us that the world is a much weirder place than we…


Recent crime novels

Odd couples fascinate Frances Fyfield. Her latest novel, Gold Digger (Sphere, £12.99), centres on the relationship between an elderly man,…


The land of lost content

Published at the author’s expense in 1896, A.E. Housman’s A Shropshire Lad did not at first attract many readers. It…

The vieux port of Marseille


Sublime port

Ports can challenge national stereotypes: think of the difference between St Petersburg and Russia, or Naples and Italy. Since England…


Years of living dangerously

The son of a fish-paste factory manager in London’s East End, Alan Root fell in love with ornithology as a…

Ceiling fresco of the Last Judgment in Marienburg Abbey, South Tyrol, Italy


The beating of heavenly wings

How did the cherubim, solemn figures of beaten gold in the Holy of Holies of the Hebrew Temple, become chubby…


Erratic historian of alternative pop

Julian Cope, the well-read jester of English pop, was the founder member of the 1980s art-rock combo The Teardrop Explodes.…

Lord Halifax


A narrow escape

C.J. Sansom is deservedly famous for his Shardlake crime novels, featuring a 16th-century lawyer on the fringes of the court.…


Arts feature

Heavenly hands

Andrew Lambirth is impressed by the beauty of Barbara Hepworth’s Hospital drawings


Scandal at court

The way the director James Conway sees it, Monteverdi’s last opera L’incoronazione di Poppea is about that most delicate of…


Imperialist ambitions

In 1997, the Russian Academy of Sciences gave the names Hermitage 4758 and Piotrovsky 4869 to two small planets discovered…


Grape expectations

Five minutes into You Will Be My Son (or Tu seras mon fils in its original French), I expected a…


The quiz biz

Come December, I often find myself writing a lot of quizzes. Not that I’m complaining: I love writing quizzes, and…


Battle of the sexes

Tough play, The Taming of the Shrew. Uniquely among Shakespeare’s comedies, it moves audiences to pity and fear. It’s a…


Boris unmasked

It’s extraordinary how many works have been upstaged by the operas based upon them. Of none is this truer than…


I love Michel Roux Jr

For the past month I have been glued to the BBC’s Why Poverty? season — ‘part of an unprecedented collaboration…


Sounds in silence

Two really scary programmes this week, and not a vampire or psychopath to be heard. Both gave personal accounts of…

Culture notes

Selling secrecy

In the ‘psychotherapy ward’ of a secret venue somewhere in east London, watercolour portraits of troubled male faces line the…


High life

High life

Why do so many respectable newspapers and magazines go weak at the knees the moment an unreadable autobiography of some…

Low life

Low life

When I rang for an appointment, the receptionist said, ‘Can you be here within the hour?’ I arrived with ten…

Real life

Real life

The renovations were too much for me. I had to get the builder boyfriend back. But before you call me…

Long life

Long life

I was sad to read that Larry Hagman had died. As J.R. Ewing, the conniving Texas oilman in Dallas, he…

The turf

Twelve to follow

Few experiences in racing are as guaranteed to cheer you up as a visit to Oliver Sherwood’s lovely yard in…



A few years ago I used to play Rubber Bridge from time to time with an elderly gentleman called Leo…

Chess ('London Pride')


London pride

This week I continue my homage, during the London Classic which finishes this coming week, to great players who have…


Chess puzzle


White to play. This position is from La Bourdonnais-McDonnell, London 1834. White has various ways to finish off, but what…


Ashes to ashes

In Competition No. 2775 you were invited to submit an elegy on the death of the ash. A bleak topic…



2092: Attend

Clues in italics are definitions only. In each of their answers, it is necessary to 32 10 (a four-word phrase)…

Crossword solution

2089: backward and forward

The unclued lights (16D/21? 16D/16A/23/38/24/11/14?) form a quotation by SHYLOCK in The Merchant of Venice. A number of references to…

Status anxiety

The tyranny of the Twitterati

In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville identified ‘the tyranny of the majority’ as the main shortcoming of democratic societies.…

The Wiki Man

Gifts and guilt

In a now famous 1993 paper the economist Joel Waldfogel attempted to calculate the economic deadweight-loss caused by giving Christmas…

Dear Mary

Dear Mary

Q. I disagree with your advice to A.B. (8 September) about enlisting a restaurant management’s support to go on smoking…


Two glasses and 32 years

The wines change, and we change with them. It is 1980, in Washington, and a girl gives me a bottle…

Mind your language


‘Have you read it then?’ asked my husband on the afternoon Lord Justice Leveson’s report was published. Of course I…