Arts feature

How the Houthis wage war through poetry

Poetry is politics in the Yemen. When the last Imam of Yemen, who was also the hereditary ruler, was deposed in a coup in 1962, it was a local poet who announced the change of regime on the radio, in verse of course. And the current al-Houthi regime in the north of the country, like



The unique hell of being a wartime bomber pilot

Some years ago I did a short series of interviews for The Spectator with war veterans about their combat experiences. Most had found them exciting, fulfilling, even enjoyable: ‘I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!’ said infantryman Mike Peyton, who likened it to doing the black ski run at Tortin in Verbier. But the



It’ll haunt you forever: The Zone of Interest reviewed

I don’t know if it’s a Jewish thing, but I’m certainly always bracing myself for the latest Holocaust film. There have been some horribly dim ones, such as The Reader or The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, both of which invite you to sympathise with the perpetrators and you know what? I won’t if it’s


Ought we not have some shrine to the pips?

Next week marks the centenary of the pips. On Monday at 9 p.m. a documentary will be broadcast on Radio 4 debating whether the six little tones which ring in each hour ought to be axed as obsolete or preserved for tradition’s sake. Some contributors will speak of them as annoyances – ‘the cockroaches of



A stellar night at Celtic Connections

Sometimes I think, in the end, only the voice truly matters. Dress it however you wish, zhuzh it up with textural condiments: cool electronics, warm strings, harsh noise, romantic rhythm, ambient atmospherics. It’s all decoration. The human voice is what we respond to most fervently and instinctively in popular music. This – far from infallible


Top oratorio-mongering: Elijah, at the Barbican, reviewed

As a young music critic, Bernard Shaw poked fun at anyone who thought Mendelssohn was a genius. Shaw conceded that Mendelssohn was capable of touching tenderness and refinement and sometimes ‘nobility and pure fire’, but his music was marred by kid-glove gentility, conventional sentimentality and – worst of all – ‘despicable oratorio-mongering’. Shaw’s pet hate