Since the early 20th century, Western society has been in the grip of a culture of repudiation — rejecting one by one the institutions, offices, traditions and achievements of the past, while having often little but sentimental emptiness with which to replace them. The most telling instance of this is modern architecture. For three millennia Western builders looked back to their predecessors, respecting the temple architecture of the ancients, refining its language, and adapting it to the European landscape in ways that are subtly varied, entirely memorable and above all humane.
At last there’s the sound of an upstairs window opening, and a woman’s tousled head reveals itself. ‘Stand back, where I can see you!’ it shouts down to me. I pad around for a moment or two on the nicely trimmed front lawn. And then, remarkably, the door is opened. ‘You’re not the man who has been sending me abusive messages, are you? Because if you are, my boys, I’m telling you, will kick your f****** head in.
Allister Heath has gained access to the inner circle of France’s interior minister. Here, he offers a unique portrait of the presidential hopefulParis
It was the ideal vantage point, a large room overlooking the magnificent Place de la République, the starting point of the rally. I sat watching all afternoon as hundreds of thousands of self-righteous students began their long march across Paris, waving red flags and chanting the idiotic slogans that are de rigueur on such occasions.
Mary Wakefield looks back at our issue of 24 April 1926, and finds The Spectator reflecting on Mussolini, the brewing General Strike — and the off-side ruleIt was press day at The Spectator when Queen Elizabeth II was born. The printers had set the lines of type for the edition of 24 April 1926, and were waiting for the extra paragraph about the new royal baby. Did their hearts swell with pride when it arrived? The Spectator gave them the benefit of the doubt: ‘Universal pleasure has been caused by the birth of a daughter, on Wednesday, to the Duke and Duchess of York,’ it said.
Sarah Bradford, the Queen’s acclaimed biographer, hails her 80th birthday, reflects on an astonishing life — and looks forward to Her Majesty’s ninth decadeThe Queen will be 80 on 21 April, an appropriate time to reflect on the changes which have taken place during her 54-year reign. She was born in the difficult aftermath of the first world war, 12 days before the General Strike of 1926, when the more nervous spirits predicted revolution, and memories of the fall of the Romanovs less than ten years before were still fresh.