Justin webb

Is Putin the reason my house is so cold?

Justin Webb is normally one of the least self-righteous BBC presenters, but he was out-Maitlising rivals on the Today programme on Tuesday. In that special, shocked tone broadcasters usually reserve for stories about racism or paedophilia, Webb contrasted ‘the final goodbyes not said’ by those who followed the rules with the Prime Minister’s birthday party/gathering in the Cabinet Room. He quoted Adam Wagner, ‘the human rights lawyer and Covid rules expert’, that it had been ‘obviously a birthday party’. It was ‘not denied’, Webb gravely intoned, ‘there was birthday cake’. How does he prevent himself bursting out laughing? The longer this story runs, now with added police, the more preposterous

The best children’s books: a Spectator Christmas survey

J.K. Rowling Poignant, funny and genuinely scary, The Hundred and One Dalmatians was one of my favourite books as a child and the story has lingered in my imagination ever since. Blue iced cakes always put me in mind of Cruella de Vil’s experimental food colourings, and whenever our dogs whine to get out at dusk I imagine them joining the canine news network, the twilight barking. There’s simply no resisting a book containing the lines ‘There are some people who always find beauty makes them feel sadder, which is a very mysterious thing’, and ‘Mr Dearly was a highly skilled dog-puncher’. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall There are countless children’s

The highlights of history: a Spectator Christmas survey

Emily Maitlis Six years ago I took my son, Milo, to Bucharest for his birthday. In the baking July sun, seeking shade, we crouched on the kerb in front of the presidential palace. And I played him the footage of the crowds on that bitter December morning of 1989 as Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena emerged on to the balcony. The speech Ceausescu gave, or tried to give, on 21 December was his last. And it was extraordinary. Ceausescu used his balcony address to reassure, cajole, bribe the crowd. But it turned against him as he stood there. This footage — state TV rolling live at the time —