Ysenda Maxtone Graham

My prep school scarred me for life

On one blissful, cloudless day during the summer holidays of 1972, Charles Spencer, who had just turned eight, surveyed the scene in his mother’s garden in Sussex. He’d spent the morning cycling and swimming, and a barbecue was being prepared. He remembers thinking: ‘This is too good to last.’ And he was right. A date

Death of a choir

Always make your redundancy announcement when the people at the receiving end of it are on a high. This seems to be the favoured method of today’s managing executives, who perhaps imagine that adrenalin will somehow anaesthetise the blow of getting the sack. For the Cambridge student choir St John’s Voices, the news of its

Lukas Degutis, Ysenda Maxtone Graham, Richard Bratby and Toby Young

27 min listen

On this week’s Spectator Out Loud: Lukas Degutis reports from Riga, exploring Latvia’s policy of expelling Russian speakers (01:16); Ysenda Maxtone Graham explains why she believes applause has no place at a funeral (10:03); paying homage to Christopher Gunning, Richard Bratby argues that composers of ads, film soundtracks and TV theme tunes should be taken more

Plan Bibi: stalemate suits Netanyahu

48 min listen

Welcome to a slightly new format for the Edition podcast! Each week we will be talking about the magazine – as per usual – but trying to give a little more insight into the process behind putting The Spectator to bed each week. On the podcast this week: plan Bibi In the early hours of Friday morning,

Please stop clapping at funerals

The Happy Clappies – evangelical Christians who clap along to worship songs during church services – have been around since the 1980s. The slightly derogatory term was coined in 1985, and the practice is still going strong: you can hear it as you walk past any evangelical church on a Sunday morning. But in the

The dying art of thank-you letters

‘Still no word of thanks. No letter, no email, no text. No acknowledgement that it even arrived. Did it arrive? Did I post it to the wrong postcode? Did I tap in the wrong account number? Of course it arrived. He just can’t be bothered to thank me. Such bad manners! I blame his mother

In the dark early 1960s, at least we had the Beatles

‘These things start on my birthday – like the Warsaw Uprising – and spoil my day,’ wrote the understandably self-pitying Barking housewife Pat Scott in her diary on the first day of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. ‘And then to spoil it more, Ted [her husband] took his driving test for the second

How to get rid of your saggy tattoo

Sagging angels, wilting lilies, drooping lines from love sonnets, withered swallows, flaccid snakes, limp dragons, shrivelled babies’ names: this will be the view inside the British bathroom, and at the British seaside, and in British hospital beds and morgues, in 2060, when today’s tattoo-wearers now in their prime will be in their seventies and eighties. 

Hell is a heat pump

‘So, as Rishi Sunak has announced that we’re now allowed to keep installing new gas boilers till 2035, and they last about 15 years, that means I’ll be able to keep a gas boiler till 2050, so I might even be allowed to die with a gas boiler still going in my house, and may

Why are cathedrals cutting ties with choral schools?

There’s worrying news for all who care about the incomparable cultural phenomenon that is the singing of choral evensong in British cathedrals every day of the week. Canterbury cathedral announced in March that it’s cutting ties with its local independent choir school, St Edmund’s, ending a happy relationship that has lasted for 50 years. St

A vision of what it means to be blind

To give us a sense of precisely how blind Selina Mills is she asks us to cover our right eye completely with our right hand and put a fist up in front of our left eye, so it blocks our central sight. ‘Now imagine the remaining sight is murky and blurry, as if covered in

The disappointing truth about Aperol spritz

I’m in Tuscany, where the piazzas glow orange at dusk, not only from the sunsets but also from the profusion of Aperol spritz. The bright orange drink has exploded in popularity in the past five years. Everyone’s drinking it: young women, middle-aged couples, groups of wrinkly tanned men, all sucking from straws sticking out of

A last-minute escape from the Holocaust

At the beginning of his profoundly moving memoir of his grandparents, parents, the Holocaust and the Gulag, Daniel Finkelstein writes: This the story of how my family took a journey which ended happily in Hendon, eating crusty bread rolls with butter in the café near the M1, but on the way took a detour through

The sadness of Britain’s seaside resorts

Now the exhilaration kicks in, the lightness of heart, a joyfulness surging along the warmed blood vessels and tingling extremities: every cell feels as if charged with new life. There has been a ritual, a sacrifice, an offering to the waves of flesh and pain, and in return, there is restoration, life given back. Thus

The lost shepherds

40 min listen

On the podcast this week: In his cover piece for the magazine, journalist Dan Hitchens examines whether Archbishop Justin Welby and Pope Francis can heal the divisions threatening to tear apart the Church of England and the Catholic Church. He is joined by Telegraph columnist Tim Stanley to ask whether these two men – once heralded as