The Spectator

22 September 2018

A wake-up call

More of us are addicted to our smartphones. But the fightback is beginning



Tech gurus don’t let their kids have smartphones. Here’s why

As suspicions about technology’s dark side increase, the ‘digital detox’ has grown in social status

Caption: Nike’s new campaign starring American football quarterback Colin Kaepernick strains to be poetic. Photo: Getty


When did advertising become so banal?

The more starry-eyed the corporate motto, the bleaker the reality it conceals


How Orbán duped the Brexiteers

Why are members of the old regime so attracted to the police institutions of the new illiberal states?

Jeremy Corbyn’s economic policies might sound daft – but he radiates rebellion. Photo: Getty


Corbyn dares to be different – why don’t other MPs?

Few of us listen when politicians talk because the record is stuck


Welcome to the hard centre – and the future of British politics

The Conservative party will have to return to a one-nation agenda if it wants to survive


Hilary Mantel’s Cromwell was just fiction. Here are the facts

My new biography reveals a man with a genius for political improvisation

Pete Conrad, one half of the second Apollo 12 team, on the moon in 1969

Notes on...

Second best: Why runners up are more interesting than those who come first

Who was the second prime minister? Everyone knows Robert Walpole was the first. Firsts get all the fame and glory.…

The Week

There is method in the apparent madness of Donald Trump’s trade wars. Photo: Getty

Leading article

Trade wars: The method behind Donald Trump’s madness

Donald Trump campaigned as an unrepentant protectionist and, on the face of it, he has lived up to his word.…

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the Week: Brexitry, Jaguar and the Lib-Dems’ non-leader

Home Britain was overwhelmed by Brexitry. Before flying off to an EU summit in Salzburg, Theresa May, the Prime Minister,…

‘The possibility that our next PM will be named Mogg has prompted me to enquire about one-way tickets to Switzerland.’ Photo: Getty


Max Hastings’s diary

The Hastingses have idyllic lives but, like most seventysomethings, we find ourselves in ever-closer proximity to mortality. We hold season…


How much does it cost to cryogenically freeze a person (or a pet)?

Trans mission Equalities Minister Penny Mordaunt ordered research into a huge rise in referrals of under-18 girls to transgender services.…

Ancient and modern

The EU’s divide and rule

‘Divide and rule’ (or ‘conquer’) diplomacy aims to disunite the opposition, the better to control it. The ancients were masters…


Letters: Why don’t the Tories stand up for capitalism?

Stand by your plan Sir: Matthew Parris (‘Must the will of the people always be respected?’, 15 September) asks when…



Forget hard and soft Brexit – we’re heading for a blind Brexit

Brexit won’t be over by 29 March 2019. Britain will legally leave the European Union on that date. But that…

Rod Liddle

Men and women are born equal but different. Deal with it

I was delighted to see Claire Foy win an Emmy award for her portrayal of the Queen in the fine…

James Delingpole

15 reasons to fall in love with Germany and Germans

Things I learned about the Germans after a fortnight living as a non–tourist in Frankfurt:   1. Germans, and Germany…

Any other business

Jaguar’s boss isn’t scaremongering. The UK car industry is in big trouble

‘I’m afraid I think he’s making it up,’ was the retort of Tory MP Sir Bernard Jenkin on Monday’s Today…


Mount Longdon, Falkland Islands, where members of the 3rd Parachute Regiment died in fighting on 11–12 June 1982

Lead book review

Helen Parr’s intimate portrait of the Parachute Regiment – Our Boys – captures the essence of modern Britain

An intimate portrait of the Parachute Regiment manages to capture the history of modern Britain – Rachel Seiffert loved it

The assassination attempt on Napoleon, in the Rue Saint-Nicaise, Christmas Eve 1800


The history of Britain’s secret war on Napoleon is astonishing, inspiring and disturbing

Laws and sausages, we know, are better not seen in the making; and neither are ‘black ops’. Waterloo may have…

Wampanoag chief Metacomet (c.1639 - 1676) who, after years of tolerating the colonists in Massachusetts, finally rebelled against their continued encroachment upon his lands, in what became known as King Philip's War (he was called King Philip by the settlers)


Good first novels without ends leave one wanting more

Novels today do not want to be done. Thank Anthony Burgess and John Fowles for this, most immediately, but alternate…

Lord Dyson, on right: there is a book to be written about the contribution that the offspring of Jewish refugees have made to English law


Two legal big hitters consider the appropriate distribution of governmental power in Britain

Sir Stephen Sedley read English at Cambridge and Lord Dyson Classics at Oxford. Both switched to law and achieved high…


Julie Burchill is bored by Robin Green’s account of her time at Rolling Stone – and says hippies still stink

The last time I saw a copy of the New Musical Express — the ferociously influential 1970s pop paper which…

Sons and haters: Henry II was much aggrieved by his acquisitive sons


Two new books explore the triumphs and tribulations of an underrated king – Henry II

Poor old Henry II: once fêted as one of England’s greatest kings, he has long been neglected. Accessible books on…

The majority of sexual encounters in giraffes involve two males necking


Humans are animals, and our extinction is inevitable – but we’re still pretty amazing

Ever since enlivenment of the primordial blob, before thoughts were first verbalised, all nature has always been motivated by a…

‘Achilles has a dispute with Agamemnon [following Briseis being taken away, and Achilles refusing to fight until she is returned]’, J.H. Tischbein, 1776, oil on canvas. (Bridgeman Images)


Pat Barker travels to Troy, but finds herself diverted somewhere outside Ypres

Sing muse, begins The Iliad, of the wrath of Achilles. We are dropped straight into the tenth year of the…

Author Kate Atkinson attending the Costa Book Awards for her novel Life After Life


Kate Atkinson’s new novel Transcription asks us how carefully we are paying attention

Transcription, Kate Atkinson’s 11th novel, sees her returning to the detective fiction she honed in her series about Jackson Brodie,…

A game of cricket on Tilford Green, Surrey, outside The Barley Mow


My grandmother’s perfect pub – a memoir by Laura Thompson

As an emigrant from Scotland, I was taken aback by the weird foreignness of the south of England. Some of…

From Don Quixote to Alan Partridge, delusion lies at the heart of many lasting comic creations


Paul Ewen’s Francis Plug is the saviour of comic fiction

Such was the perceived low standard of the 62 books recently submitted for the 2018 Wodehouse Prize for comic fiction,…


Fantastic beasts and where to find them: ‘Wild Woman with Unicorn’, 1500–10

Arts feature

A brief history of unicorns

From ancient Greece to the twinkling Bambis of instagram

What a scorcher: bearing the brunt of Harold Pinter’s temper was one of life’s central experiences
Sir Simon Rattle conducts the LSO at the Barbican


Rattle’s recapitulation: LSO/Simon Rattle at Barbican reviewed

Plus: Aurora Orchestra’s Beethoven Fifth, played entirely from memory, was a nerve-shredding experience

Arinzé Kene is a performer of great charm and charisma led astray by bad advice and public money


Blacktivist rhetoric and impenetrable symbols: Misty reviewed

Plus: Underground Railroad Game is a racist Amsterdam floor show

A bloody miracle: ‘Apollo and Marsyas’, 1637, by Jusepe de Ribera


The Spanish artist who is more gruesome even than Caravaggio

He was always too Catholic for British tastes, but Jusepe de Ribera’s time may have finally come

Letter signed by Wagner from an exhibition at the Saxon State and University Library in Dresden in 2013


As a writer, Richard Wagner was both sublime – and unreadable

The composer was a consummate dramatist, but his prose works were terrible

‘Camo 15-Inch Howitzer’, 1916, by F.J. Mears


Authenticity over artistry: Brushes with War reviewed

This battalion of works by artistic nobodies is a history exhibition as much as an art show

JR and Agnès Varda in Faces Places, a mesmerising meditation on lives lived


The invisible woman of French cinema: Faces Places reviewed

Agnès Varda ranks with Godard, Truffaut and Rohmer, but as usual the fellas have hogged all the limelight

Easy rider: Jodie Comer as Villanelle in Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Killing Eve


High life

An audience with the Pope

Perception and reality, truth and falsehood, black and white; nowadays the salivating chattering classes don’t know their arse from a…

Low life

A foretaste of Frexit

Moving day. The contents of a hillside shack to be moved four miles to a cave house perched high on…

Real life

Why my lodger has to be a girl

I want to be able to run around in skimpy knickers without fear of embarrassment



Around this time each September, I get to say, ‘I’m off to Tangier for a few days to play high-stakes…



The only official interregnum in the reigns of the world chess champions was that between the death of Alekhine in…

Chess puzzle

no. 524

Black to play. This position is from Gurgenidze-Tal, Moscow 1957. What is the most direct way to break into the…

Spectator Wine

Wine Club 22 September

Everyone loves the wines of Louis Latour and I’m delighted to offer such a tasty selection of them here, particularly…


This sporting life

In Competition No. 3066 you were invited to submit an ode to a piece of sporting equipment. There is a…


2377: In order

The dozen unclued lights can be arranged in a specific sequence when preceded by or followed by their sequence indicators…

Crossword solution

to 2374: Watch your step

The unclued lights are DANCES. First prize K.J. Williams, Kings Worthy, Winchester. Runners-up Bridget Workman, Purley;C.S.G Elengorn, Enfield.

No sacred cows

It’s as I suspected – my defects can’t be cured

I’ve just finished making a one-hour documentary about character for Radio 4 that’s due to be broadcast on Saturday at…

Spectator sport

Is there a limit to what the human body can do?

Has the world gone mad? There’s Beauden Barrett, the world’s best stand-off, and rugby player of the year seemingly by…

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: Our insufferable children are rounding on our eightysomething neighbour

Q. A neighbour, a wonderful old friend in his late eighties, is a marvellous raconteur. As a family we have…


It is essentially a crap Le Gavroche, and that is not an insult: Roux at Parliament Square reviewed

Politicians are having a terrible time of late, along with the rest of us — it’s not much fun watching…

Mind your language

Why ‘whiter than white’shouldn’t get you suspended

A detective superintendent has been placed on ‘restricted duties’ while the Independent Office for Police Conduct investigates a complaint that…

The Best of Coffee House

Donald Trump is a free trade hero

President Trump has stated on numerous occasions that he wants to increase trade. Under his wise rule, he assures us,…

The Best of Coffee House

What happens when Steve Bannon is given a platform?

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the interesting question of whether or not the former chief strategist to…

The Best of Coffee House

How John McDonnell wooed Mumsnet

As so often these days, if you want real political insight, go to Mumsnet. In a web chat there today,…