Harry Mount, Lara Prendergast, Catriona Olding, Owen Matthews and Jeremy Hildreth

29 min listen

On this week’s Spectator Out Loud, Harry Mount reads his diary, in which he recounts a legendary face-off between Barry Humphries and John Lennon (00:45); Lara Prendergast gives her tips for male beauty (06:15); Owen Matthews reports from Kyiv about the Ukrainians’ unbroken spirit (12:40); Catriona Olding writes on the importance of choosing how to spend one’s final days (18:40); and Jeremy Hildreth reads his Notes On Napoleon’s coffee. Produced by Cindy Yu, Margaret Mitchell, Max Jeffery and Natasha Feroze.

What Zelensky has taken from his former TV career

Volodymyr Zelensky is one of the few leaders of modern times whose charisma, determination and sheer cojones can be said, without exaggeration, to have changed the course of history. In the first hours of the Russian invasion the US famously offered to evacuate him from Kyiv to a safer location, to which his response was (in spirit, if not in actual words): ‘I need ammo, not a ride.’ His determination to remain in the heart of his besieged capital seriously confounded Putin’s invasion plans, which were predicated on quickly toppling or murdering him. And Zelensky’s idea to film himself and his top advisers on his iPhone strolling down Kyiv’s Bankova

Russian cruelty has been laid bare

It was 2 a.m. when Russian gunmen broke in and took away 21-year-old Milana Ozdoyeva. When Sara, her three-year-old daughter, tried to grab her mother’s hand they shoved her aside. Milana’s son, who was 11 months old, just stared uncomprehendingly. ‘They were wearing masks and camouflage,’ Milana’s mother told me. ‘They forced us all to the floor at gunpoint. Milana was too terrified to speak. She just looked at me and mouthed the words “mama”. It was the last time any of us saw her.’ The kidnapping and subsequent killing of Milana took place in Chechnya on 19 January 2004. Her sin was to have been married to a man

Why I’ve stayed in Kyiv

I write this from my Kyiv air raid shelter. It has become my second home, an improvised bedroom, study and kitchen. For food, we eat bread and borscht. It is a spartan existence, but conducive to reflection. I still can’t get used to the siren that sounds five times a day, although I have got used to sleeping on the floor, in hallways, subways or the metro. I keep a bag packed with essentials by the door that I can grab and run with when the alarm sounds. On the first night of the war, I spent the first hours in the subway, along with thousands of Kyivites. Nobody slept.

The reality of being ‘under siege’ in Kyiv

Kyiv, Ukraine I’ve never commuted into a warzone by train before, but I can now recommend it. The express train to Kyiv from Lviv near Ukraine’s Polish border has several advantages over coming in by car. Firstly, it avoids a 14-hour motorway drive, where fuel is short and traffic jams are long. Plus, the online booking app still works far better than any in Britain. Despite the risk of Russians-on-the-line, the train has been kept running to help Ukrainians flee Kyiv for the Polish border. But it returns to Kyiv largely empty, save for a few Ukrainians on mercy dashes to pick up relatives. We trundle through the night, the