The Spectator

17 November 2012





Merkel’s sovereign remedy

Britain and Germany agree about the EU’s economics – but they’re still headed for an irreconcilable clash

Prime Minister David Cameron Meets German Chancellor Angela Merkel


The coming showdown

Angela Merkel is running out of nice things to say about David Cameron and the Tory rebels who are dictating…

US General David Petraeus, outgoing US c


The fall of Petraeus

The general and CIA director was idolised by Americans. His national army of fans feel horribly betrayed.



Bringing obituaries to life

How a dusty corner of the newspaper became a glamour posting

China's Growth At Stake As Communist Party Congress Begins


End of the Party?

Chinese communism may not survive to mark its centenary

Bryan Ferry performing at the Royal Albert Hall, 1972


In praise of Bryan Ferry

Not all youthful obsessions age well. This one has

The old ways: family skiing in Switzerland, 1961


Downhill for generations

Mark Palmer finds a family legacy on the slopes



Seven things to do if you’re not skiing

These days, a winter holiday isn’t just about skiing. The majority of larger resorts offer a range of activities from…

The Week

Leading article

A new world power

For decades, America has dreamed about becoming self-sufficient in terms of energy, and ending its dependence on unsavoury Arab regimes.…

‘No, I don’t want a coffee — I was wondering if you could do my tax return.’

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

Home Abu Qatada, detained in Britain for seven years although not charged here, but wanted on terrorist charges in Jordan,…




I have just returned from sunny Los Angeles, visiting Simon Cowell, the subject of my most recent biography. He told me about…




Brave new words ‘Omnishambles’ was declared the Oxford English Dictionary’s ‘word of the year’, but will not for the moment…


Ancient and modern

Aristotle on Entwistle

George Entwistle accounted himself ‘honourable’ as he resigned his position as head of the BBC, and Lord Patten joined in…




What the result says Sir: John O’Sullivan (‘Obama’s hollow victory,’ 10 November) says that after President Obama’s re-election, ‘America looks…


James Forsyth


To win the next election, the Tories must crush the Liberal Democrats

On the wall in Conservative Campaign Headquarters is a clock counting down the days, hours and minutes to the next…

Rod Liddle

Rod Liddle

Welby’s impossible task is to lead the opposition to gay marriage

The new Archbishop of Canterbury has the cleanest-shaven chin I think I have ever seen on an adult male human.…

James Delingpole

James Delingpole

Here’s a BBC scandal that should really make you disgusted

How many of you reading this were abused by Jimmy Savile? Few if any, I would hazard. And while I…

Spectators notes

The Spectator's Notes

The Spectator’s Notes

David Dimbleby is right that the BBC is bedevilled by managerialism. He makes an apt comparison with the National Health…

Matthew Parris

Matthew Parris

Listening out for the silent minorities

A day or so after writing a column, when the horse has certainly bolted, you read it in print. Now…


Any other business

Creative destruction: lessons from New Orleans seven years after Katrina

Never say this column doesn’t offer global perspectives. OK, sometimes it comes in folksy Yorkshire parables — but a fortnight…


Books of the year

Books feature

Books of the year

A selection of the best books of 2012, chosen by some of our regular contributors



Making the bomb

Of the making of many books about J. Robert Oppenheimer there is apparently no end. There have been 23 previous…

Scottish interior


Scotland’s top ten

It is no mean feat to produce a publication of the type that used to be described as ‘a coffee-table…

The Shrine of the Book, in Jerusalem, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls


A global hegemony of clean lines

Phaidon Press invented the art book. It was in 1930s Vienna that Bela Horovitz and Ludwig Goldscheider established the format…


The French connection

When novelists write essays, they often boom through megaphones, aggrandise the importance of their views and inflate their stature.  Julian…

Clay- Michael Cardew


Clay pride

What a superb potter Michael Cardew was. What a fascinating, complex man. And what a lovely book this is. Next…


All in the telling

I like Jewish jokes. I begin every conversation with the literary editor of The Spectator with one or two, do…


Living on the brink

To write this book Aman Sethi, a journalist for the Hindu, spent five years hanging out with the casual labourers…

Daughter of Empire - cover


Fun and games — except with mother

The Duke of Edinburgh, a New Zealand typist claimed in 1954, was ‘the best investment that the royal family has…

Portrait of Henry Jermyn by Sir Peter Lely


A cavalier attitude to monarchy

Historians have long been more interested in the Roundheads than in the Cavaliers. It was the parliamentarians who achieved England’s…


Give me stress

Christmas is one of the few remaining occasions when the English feel obliged to cook a proper meal at home.…



Apologia pro vita sua

Any fair-minded person who has looked into the matter knows that Conrad Black was wrongly convicted. Indeed under English law…


He knows it teases

Simon Hoggart has spent 20 years going to Westminster to annoy people. He entertains no high-minded delusions about politics and…



Narrative drive

Michael Holroyd describes this tiny, charmingly pointless publication (On Wheels, Chatto, £9.99) not as a book but as an example…


Kiss Me Kate

Arts feature

Everything goes

As Kiss Me, Kate opens in London, Trevor Nunn explains why he sees no barrier between plays and musicals

Studio with Figure on Bed II 1966


Unexpected structures

There are only eight single paintings in the current show of early work by Gillian Ayres (born 1930) — eight…

Linda Bassett, Frances de la Tour and Selina Cadell in ‘People’


Issues of Trust

An orgy of navel-gazing on the South Bank where a national treasure is satirising the National Trust at the National…

The Merry Wives of Windsor


Vengeance, at a price

Where have you been all my life, Orphan of Zhao? Come to think of it, where has any Chinese theatre…

ENO The Pilgrim's Progress


Slow progress

As usual on the rare occasions when Vaughan Williams’s last and largest opera, The Pilgrim’s Progress, is performed, the new…

Emmannuelle Riva as Anne in 'Amour' (2012)


Everlasting love

Michael Haneke’s Amour is about love as we near the end of life and is so painful it isn’t a…

Lord Reith


Carry on broadcasting

By some strange, freakish coincidence, just as the biggest story to hit the BBC in recent years was about to…

The Hour


Time trials

It’s amazing what can be squeezed into an hour of The Hour (Wednesday, BBC2): smutty photos, gang violence, bent coppers,…


Culture notes

Weaving magic

Tapestry, papal and princely, never quite went away. Today it satisfies a need for conspicuous displays of skill of the…



High life

High life

Miami Beach To the Mecca of brutalism, a place that rivals Marbella for vulgarity, with sprawling marble-clad palaces, boxy condo…


Low life

Low life

Two policemen and a policewoman were the first of the emergency services to arrive on the platform. The policemen ran…


Real life

Real life

Ikea is a totalitarian state. When you drive under the overhanging barrier preventing reasonably sized vans from gaining access to…


Long life

Long life

The BBC and the Church of England are two rather similar institutions, both designed for the comfort and consolation of…


Wild life

Wild life

Northern Kenya If I go out in darkness I dread neither the leopard nor the lion but I recoil from…




Time and again in bridge, when tackling problematic contracts, I miss simple solutions which, it turns out, were staring me…




Last week, in the context of the discovery of the chessboard of Sir John Tenniel, the Times related a famous,…

Chess puzzle

No. 244

Black to play. This position is from Jacobsen-Nimzowitsch, Copenhagen 1922. How did Nimzo terminate the game? Answers to me at…



Culinary comparison

In Competition No. 2772 you were invited to liken a well-known figure, living or dead, to a foodstuff. This challenge…



2089: Backward and forward

The unclued lights, (one of four words), can be arranged to form a quotation, verifiable in  ODQ. One unclued light…


Crossword solution

2086: Tufty

The key word is LOPHOBRANCH (7), defining 1A and 29A, and divisible into words of which synonyms are 20 and…

Toby Young

Status anxiety

A perfect media storm

For those of us who write for the tabloids, there’s something almost poetic about the crisis currently engulfing our more…

Spectator sport

Spectator sport

The world in Union

Here’s a thing: some years ago Rhodri Davies left Cardiff and emigrated to New Zealand with his young half-Scottish, half-Irish…

Dear Mary

Dear Mary

Dear Mary

Q. Our son goes to a state primary school in west London which in most respects we are very happy…



Tea and lunacy

Food and fashion are enemies, so congratulations to the Berkeley Hotel for attempting detente with something insane. It has invented…

Mind Your Language

Mind your language


On an article in the Times about eating oak moss I saw the headline: ‘I’m lichen it!’ Since I pronounce…