Marcus Berkmann

A choice of this year’s gift books

2 December 2023 9:00 am

Sporting trivia, the language of cats and the comic genius of Barry Cryer feature among the best of the year’s stocking-fillers

The Queen Mother’s tipsy bons mots and other stocking fillers

12 November 2022 9:00 am

The standard complaint of anyone doing a Christmas gift books guide is that the books aren’t up to much. I…

Elephants walk on tiptoes — but can they dance? This year’s stocking-fillers explore such puzzles

20 November 2021 9:00 am

It’s almost a shock to admit it, but this year’s gift books aren’t bad at all. It’s even possible that,…

A load of oddballs: the eccentricities of past cricketing heroes

3 July 2021 9:00 am

For reasons I can’t seem to remember, I have read an awful lot of cricketing histories. The dullest, by a…

Has the vaccine cured my long Covid?

3 April 2021 9:00 am

Has the vaccine cured my long Covid?

The magnificence of the Covid ‘business lunch’ loophole

12 December 2020 9:00 am

The absurdity of Covid pub rules

Gift books for Christmas — reviewed by Marcus Berkmann

7 November 2020 9:00 am

We have a fine crop of Christmas gift books this year, so good that some of them actually qualify as…

We’ve been told not to go to pubs – so why are they full?

21 March 2020 9:00 am

Pubs are fascinating at the moment. On the day that the Prime Minister advised us not to attend them, I…

The unwritten rules of sending Christmas cards

7 December 2019 9:00 am

No one sends Christmas cards any more. Except that I do, and you might, and a few other people do…

Children’s questions about death are consistently good fun

16 November 2019 9:00 am

What strikes me most about the Christmas gift-book industry — for industry it surely is, as I can confirm, having…

The lessons I learned at my Oxford gaudy

12 October 2019 9:00 am

I went to a gaudy last weekend. Several British universities now host these splendid events; mine was at Worcester College,…

The elegance and humour of Neville Cardus

7 September 2019 9:00 am

As a fully paid-up, old-school cricket tragic, I astound myself that I have read almost no Neville Cardus. How can…

The secret to one of the nerdiest – and longest-running – quizzes around

27 January 2018 9:00 am

Last year was a bit of a year for Radio 4 anniversaries; maybe most notably, Desert Island Discs celebrated 70…

Christmas quiz books galore

9 December 2017 9:00 am

There can be few challenges more daunting for the assiduous reviewer than a pile of Christmas ‘gift’ books sitting on…

He’s in the bestselling show: David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust, New York, 1973

Bowie realised there was more to life than art

16 January 2016 9:00 am

The DJ and sage Mark Radcliffe once said that he didn’t think he could ever like anyone who didn’t love…

The top loo books of 2015

21 November 2015 9:00 am

There is not, sadly, a dedicated Trivia Books section in your local Waterstones, although at this time of year there…

Why I’m stepping down after 28 years as The Spectator pop critic

10 October 2015 9:00 am

Pop's place in culture has changed drastically. Marcus Berkmann explains why, after 27 years, it is time to step down as The Spectator's pop critic

In praise of cheap box sets

12 September 2015 9:00 am

This column does like a bargain. Indeed, it not only esteems and relishes a bargain, it has also worked long…

Jazz soloist Charlie Parker with his saxophone c. 1946

From ragtime to the X Factor: the epic story of popular music

22 August 2015 9:00 am

As pop music drifts away from many people’s lives, so its literature grows ever more serious and weighty, as though…

Hans-Joachim Roedelius (Photo: Gary Wolstenholme/Redferns)

Four of the best albums to write books by

8 August 2015 9:00 am

I have been writing a book this summer, in the usual mad tearing hurry. (Much as I admire those who…

Looking idiotic: Cathy Fechoz performs ski ballet at the Olympic Games, Albertville, 1992. The sport no longer exists

Anyone for eel-pulling?

18 July 2015 9:00 am

Scholarship for its own sake has rather gone out of fashion, although I’m sure Spectator readers would be the last…

Why do we always beat up on drummers?

11 July 2015 9:00 am

It’s rare that I see a piece about music that makes me want to cheer from the rafters and shake…

Three tiny cheers for Mumford & Sons’ new album

13 June 2015 9:00 am

Like a lot of essentially cautious people, I like my music to take some risks, play with fire and damn…

If One Direction lost one more member, would they be quorate?

9 May 2015 9:00 am

Where were you when you heard that Zayn Malik had left One Direction? No, me neither, but as my teenage…

The golden age of pop has been replaced by the golden age of pop obituaries

11 April 2015 9:00 am

The golden age of pop music may be long gone, but the golden age of pop musicians’ obituaries is definitely…