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Web exclusive: Bestival the spectacular

Festivals, like Marmite, you either love them or hate them. My last festival, in July, was Latitude in Norfolk, which has been described as the “Waitrose of Festivals”. When I was tracking down tickets for the Isle of Wight’s Bestival, a friend, Laura, who lives on the island and is an experienced festival go-er, described

Journey’s end | 19 September 2009

Away We Go 15, Nationwide Away We Go is a comic drama directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition, Revolutionary Road) and it’s sweet, I suppose, but it’s also oddly inconsequential, fake and annoying. It’s a sort of road movie, following the journey of an expectant couple who travel the US in search

Burnished bigotries

Punk Rock Lyric Hammersmith Judgment Day Almeida In rolls another bandwagon. And who’s that on board? It’s Simon Stephens, the playwright and panic profiteer, who likes to cadge a ride from any passing controversy. His latest play is about a teenage psycho who enacts a gory shoot-out at his local school. What a strange choice.

Hole in the heart

Linda di Chamounix Royal Opera Così fan tutte Opera North Four years ago the Royal Opera opened its season with concert performances of Donizetti’s Dom Sébastien, which came as a near-revelation to many of us, and subsequently appeared on Opera Rara. This year it opened with the scarcely better-known Linda di Chamounix, which was no

Writing matters

All my adult life I have wondered how people write about music, and how their efforts are received by the public. It has always struck me as being an uncertain business, more miss than hit, and more miss than writing about other artistic endeavours. It seems to be more difficult for a writer to find

Celebrating Dr Johnson

If Dr Johnson, who was born 300 years ago on Friday (at least according to the post-1752 Gregorian calendar, which overnight lost 11 days from British life), had been around today he would most probably have been a radio star, and been paid a fortune for it, unlike the pittance he earned as a writer.

Quarter-century of words

This month sees the 25th anniversary of my first ‘Gardens’ column for The Spectator. This month sees the 25th anniversary of my first ‘Gardens’ column for The Spectator. This is an event more interesting to me than to you, dear reader; indeed, if asked, you might well have said 40, 20, or five years. It

Whipping up a storm

Mary Wakefield talks to Angus Jackson about directing David Hare’s latest play If I’m never quite content with a glass of water in an interview again, it’s Angus Jackson’s fault. There we were in a soundproofed meeting room on Friday evening, the National Theatre a whirl around us: jazz in the foyer, gossip in the

Joint account

Utmost Fidelity: The Painting Lives of Marianne and Adrian Stokes Penlee House, Penzance, 19 September– 28 November, and the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, 19 September–21 November The first thing that needs pointing out is that the artists reviewed here were a husband-and-wife team painting around the turn of the 20th century, with no connection to