More from Books

A tale of treachery

When The Spectator recently said goodbye to 56 Doughty Street, we said goodbye to more than three decades of memories. Whatever else we were any good at under Alexander Chancellor’s editorship, we knew how to throw a party, from the great sesquicentennial ball in 1978 to the summer garden parties to the Thursday lunches. Among

Hospital Music

In the square at St Bartholomew’s hospital,Crates of flowers are stacked for bedding outRound the plane trees. Patients with paper cups sit aboutIn wheelchairs or under the shelters. Above, in the hall,An orchestra is rehearsing: a Mozart piano concerto,The Bach double, some Handel — clearly audible outsideThrough the fountain’s splash, as if filling a tideOr

The greatest honour of all

The Order of Merit is the only honour which almost everyone would like to possess. The Garter is picturesque but would be felt by some to be anachronistic and somewhat pompous. Gs, Ks, Cs, Os and Ms are handed out with the rations and can anyway probably be bought. Companions of Hon- our are respectable

The lunatic space race

The 1960s brought in the Beatles, drugs, long hair, hippy communes, eastern gurus and the alternative culture, so called. Against all this was the ‘straight’ world whose denizens were short-haired Frank Sinatra fans in suits. The two types seemed quite different from each other, but one thing they had in common was their obsession with

The longest day

As Hitchcock knew, the best thrillers use the very simplest materials to achieve their sinister purpose of enthralling and terrifying their audience. Nicci French’s previous novels have shown an impressive ability to dramatise the darkest concerns of her readers. Her latest book taps into the universal fear of parents: what do you do when your

Bells to St Wystan

This week sees the centenary of the birth in York of W. H. Auden. All over the world this season, Audenites should at 1755 hours precisely prepare a very cold, very dry Martini and at 1800 hours, six o’clock, again precisely, down it in praise and memory of a giant of English letters. Vital to