Andrew Watts

All boys should own a Swiss Army knife

Last week, Carl Elsener of Victorinox, makers of the Swiss Army knife (all other manufacturers must refer to their products as ‘Swiss-style knives’), announced that the company is working to develop a knife without any blades in anticipation of modern legislation and safety-conscious consumers. A cutting-edge Swiss Army knife will no longer have a cutting

Kippers could save your life

I miss kippers. My wife won’t let me eat them at home, and they have become a rarity in restaurants. I stayed in a luxury hotel last month, and the manager was telling me that if I wanted anything – valet parking, room service, breakfast after 10.30 a.m. – I had only to ask. When

A river-side chat with Paul Whitehouse

The words ‘immersive experience’ have always suggested, to me, a rather strained hour or two smiling patiently at unemployed actors pretending to be ghosts or personages from the olden days or, if I’m really lucky, chocolatiers who are not called Willy Wonka for legal reasons. In fact, all the publicity for the ‘Fish and Feast

How serious is Cornish nationalism?

The Office for National Statistics has been publishing interesting insights from the last census – perhaps to counter the bad press that censuses get at this time of year, forcing pregnant Jewish women to travel to municipalities in the West Bank – and its latest release shows that 18.1 per cent of people in Cornwall

Identity crisis

28 min listen

On the podcast: In his cover piece for the mag this week, political scientist, Yascha Mounk has written about why identity politics has polarised our understanding of race. And why the left has come to divide groups into oversimplified categories of ‘the oppressors’ and ‘the oppressed’.  Also this week:  Can we trust photographs to paint

The comfort of hating Britain

I occasionally get sent articles from the ‘London Correspondent of the Papua New Guinea Courier’ – less often, now that most people have realised that it is a satirical blog, not an actual newspaper. The articles are a droll extension of the gag – and it’s a good gag – of describing British politics using

A beginner’s guide to witchcraft

Next year, Exeter University will offer an MA in Magic and Occult Science: the first of its kind in a British university. The new course has led to newspaper headlines about a ‘real-life Hogwarts’ and questions as to whether magic is as worth studying as say, economics. The course director, Professor Emily Selove, refused my

What could be more Shakespearean than a ghost?

In the final series of the Netflix programme The Crown, Princess Diana will appear as a ghost. We are told that her apparitions will be ‘thoughtful and sensitive’ – which is rather disappointing for anyone hoping for her to have a recurring role, like Marty Hopkirk in Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), perhaps wearing that white

I never thought I’d be a wild camper

Wild camping is ‘a modish phrase meaning camping overnight in a place which is not a dedicated campsite’, according to Lord Justice Underhill in a Court of Appeal judgment in July – and isn’t it wonderful that there are still judges carrying on the fine judicial tradition of handling the colloquial as if were radioactive

Trump’s second act: why he can still win, in spite of everything

47 min listen

This week: Having been found guilty of sexual assault, is Donald Trump still in the running for the White House? In his cover piece, Niall Ferguson says he could still defy gravity. He joins the podcast alongside Jacob Heilbrunn, editor of The National Interest. (01:00)  Also this week: Journalist Andrew Watts interviews the Reverend Canon

The Anglican priests charged with exorcising evil spirits

Last month, a trailer for the new Exorcist film – the scariest trailer ever, apparently – was released. The Exorcist: Believer isn’t out until Friday 13 October – just in time for Halloween – but Hollywood movies about demons are legion. This one follows The Pope’s Exorcist (released on Good Friday), in which Russell Crowe

There’s nothing romantic about mistletoe

The line of trees beside the road into Tenbury Wells are bare of leaves at the beginning of December. But on their spindly branches are huge clumps of mistletoe, weighing them down like muffs on the skinny arms of dowagers. Most of the country’s mistletoe grows in a small area of England – Worcestershire, Herefordshire,

I took my son to Drag Queen Story Hour

The nice young man in the library had told us he was worried about protests when I booked tickets for Drag Queen Story Hour. We only began to hear the chants halfway through the show; they drifted up from the courtyard in front of St John’s Hall, the council building that houses Penzance library, through

We do love to be beside the seaside

In the garden of my house in Cornwall there is a smooth granite stone about the size and shape of a goodly pumpkin. In the middle, where the stalk would be, there is a hole filled with rusting iron. The day I moved in, a neighbour told me that the hole was drilled and filled

Theatre of war

34 min listen

In this week’s episode: What is the next act in Putin’s theatre of war? For this week’s cover story, James Forsyth writes about Putin’s dangerous dramatics on the Russian-Ukrainian border and where they might lead. James joins the podcast along with Paul Wood, who writes in this week’s magazine that Putin’s bluff may be backfiring.

Sick jokes: why medics need gallows humour

Most jobs have their own joke books. If you’re outside the job, you don’t get the joke — and if you do get the joke, you’re on the inside; which is what the jokes are for. (It’s the same with all comedy: some, if not most, of the appeal of Stewart Lee is in being

My year-long battle with the parking profiteers

I had been cross enough about having to go to Sennen Cove. Aside from the fact that I don’t care for the place — what is the point of a Cornish beach if the sand is too coarse-grained for sandcastles? — I resented the fact that I would not even be able to park near

Wolfgang Munchau, Andrew Watts, Hannah Tomes

19 min listen

On this week’s episode, we’ll hear from Wolfgang Munchau on the political situation in Germany. (00:49) Next, Andrew Watts on his year long battle against a parking ticket. (11:01) And finally, Hannah Tomes on her love of Baileys. (15:33) Produced and presented by Sam Holmes Subscribe to The Spectator today and get a £20 Amazon

What will become of Jamaica’s Maroons?

Jamaican police entered farms in the village of Accompong in August to destroy ganja crops. The village chief, carrying a rifle, drove them away. ‘This is a gross disrespect and violation of Maroon territorial jurisdiction,’ said the chief, on his Instagram. Richard Currie talks a lot about sovereignty: he was elected colonel, or chief, on

Our fascination with treehouses has deep roots

You can’t (and probably shouldn’t) design a treehouse. Treehouses should grow organically, in every sense: they must be made of wood, obviously — one definition of a treehouse is that it is a tree holding its dead friend — and the footings for the platform must be the knots or branches that are footholds when