The Spectator

16 December 2017 Aus

Provocateur-in-Chief

Australia

Leading article Australia

Season of goodwill

Australians deserve a long, hot, glorious summer of beaches and barbies and to indulge themselves in a joyous Christmas break…

Diary Australia

Christmas diary

My earliest memory of a Christmas holiday is of driving up to Darwin with Dad in his first car, a…

Guest Notes

Seasonal notes

Abbott and Trump are right   It is one year since Tony Abbott, recalling the role of the Australian Light…

Guest Notes

Jolly notes

La la land   ‘Tis the season to be jolly,  Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la, Don we now our gay apparel … Oops,…

Guest Notes

Australian notes

Watching the feral soap-dodgers   Any other celebrity would be dozing in the VIP lounge, but I write from Sydney…

Australian Features

Features Australia

Skid marks in the desert

My time was up. Skid marks in the desert after three decades and six years. You don’t run out of…

Features Australia

Business/Robbery etc

Forcing the deferral of the government’s vital superannuation industry reforms by terrorising cross-bench Senators with electoral political threats only serves…

Features Australia

Losing our perspective

As Christmastime rolls around again we should take special care not to cause offence when sending group emails and Tweets…

Features Australia

A beacon for human rights?

The royal decree granting Saudi women the right to drive astonished the Western world and geared up approval for the…

Features Australia

Provocateur-in-Chief

The sin of provocation, Turkish President Erdogan helpfully explained in January 2015, was when mischief-makers fomented ‘hatred and enmity’ in…

Features Australia

They legislated a lie

An appeal to my fellow conservatives: please stop congratulating that chap who has his boot on your neck. Even Tony…

Features Australia

Christmas notes

Public shaming I know Christmas is a time for families and togetherness but frankly, I’m concerned that flicking the switch…

Australian Books

Books Australia

Books of 2017 – reviewed

When we look back at 2017 we will probably remember it as a year of minor issues that turned into…

Australian Columnists

Brown Study

Brown Christmas

This year has certainly seen some milestones. First, there was the fall of Robert Mugabe. Here, I must make a…

Culture Buff

“The Wider Earth”

It’s predecessor was the quaintly titled Waratah Festival which ran for a few days in October. In 1977 Stephen Hall,…

Features

Features

Brexit suggests we’re on the right side of history

How nice it would be, in this season of good cheer, to find something hopeful to say. Being a historian,…

Features

New world order

  Old establishment New establishment Order of the Garter BBC Sports Personality of the Year Parliament’s Woolsack The Supreme Court…

Notebook

How I’d sex down the weather forecast

I have, for utterly explicable reasons, not been asked to guest-edit Radio 4’s Today this Christmas. Had I, though, I would…

Ronnie Wood’s ‘Wild Horses’ (2005), acrylic on canvas

Features

For Ronnie Wood, every picture tells a story

I am in Paris for the Rolling Stones’ No Filter concert, in Ronnie Wood’s dressing room minutes before he is…

Features

Are driverless cars really the future?

 Philip Hammond’s last Budget focused on driverless cars as an example of the brave new technological world. But should we…

Features

Mission impossible? The C of E’s attempt to woo new members

If you work for the Church of England in any capacity, from Archbishop of Canterbury to parish flower-arranger, how do…

Features

How to date without getting sued: Dear Mary’s modern guide

For the young heterosexual Spectator male, the dating world is beset with perplexities. It was all so different in his…

Notebook

I’m teaching my kids about money – by searching for buried treasure

At the end of each year I pull out most of the New Year’s resolutions I’ve ever made — I…

Notebook

We all suffer ‘old age’ ailments – that doesn’t mean we all need a scan

Memory, neuroscientists tell us, is fallible. It is a dynamic process whereby each time we remember something, it will be…

Features

Ruth Davidson on politics, power and a possible move south

‘You wouldn’t make good spies, would you,’ chuckles Ruth Davidson as she finds us sitting with our backs to the…

Features

Sarah Vine, Prue Leith and Jilly Cooper on their most convincing ghost story

  Anthony Horowitz  Novelist   I have never really believed in ghosts, but I actually had a personal experience which…

Features

China’s new way to drown out the Christmas message? A sea of tat

If you think capitalism has blinged up Christmas, you should see what the Communists are doing to it. At this…

Features

Even if we could create genius ‘designer’ babies, there’s no demand for them

Christmas Day marks the birthday of one of the most gifted human beings ever born. His brilliance was of a…

Features

Rolling tanks, plastic flowers and madness on parade: A visit to North Korea

As Kim Jong-un might blow up the world next year, if not this, and people are forever trying to work…

Features

Field Marshal Lord Bramall on why we should use force for peace

It is always a delight to drive the country roads of Hampshire to see the man known throughout the army…

Features

Order, order! In the Commons, you are where you sit

Diet nannies will spend Christmas telling us ‘you are what you eat’ but in the House of Commons ‘you are…

Notebook

Prue Leith: Everyone’s waiting for me to make another Bake Off gaffe

Edinburgh is a peach of a city, is it not? Last week, I walked up to the castle on a…

Forman smokes wild salmon, too — for a price

Notes on...

Why smoked salmon doesn’t taste anything like it should

I’m just about old enough to remember when smoked salmon was a rare treat. Then, around 1986 or 1987, suddenly…

Illustrated by Carolyn Gowdy

Christmas Short Story

A Christmas ghost story: Here We Come A-Wassailing by Andrew Michael Hurley

 Andrew Michael Hurley’s debut novel, The Loney, is an unsettling gothic horror story set on a bleak stretch of the…

The Week

Leading article

A simple way for Spectator readers to make a real difference

Perhaps the most insightful piece of political analysis since the turn of the century came from the Queen in a…

Portrait of the week

A portrait of 2017: Brexit stumbled forward, Big Ben was silenced and sexual allegations swept the world

January ‘No deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain,’ Theresa May, the Prime Minister, declared in…

Diary

Why I’m bombarded with ads for funeral insurance and knitted animals

This year began badly with the death of Alexander Chancellor, former editor of this magazine. He was the most fun…

Barometer

What Christmas really costs us — and how much of it we waste

Christmas splurge How much extra do households spend at Christmas?— £500, according to the Bank of England. Over the course…

Ancient and modern

Regina, a Syrian in South Shields

D(is) M(anibus) Regina liberta(m) et coniuge(m) Barates Palmyrenus natione Catuallauna an(norum) XXX ‘To the spirits of the dead, and to…

Letters

Letters: Returning jihadis, the Labour abyss and why Stokes can’t play

Returning jihadis Sir: Coping with those who pose a terrorist threat to the UK but cannot be prosecuted for a…

Columnists

The Spectator's Notes

Are we morally better people than our ancestors?

The doctrine of progress implies that things get better. This is clearly true in terms of scientific knowledge, though not…

Politics

The age of volatility

Every year in British politics seems to be more surprising than the last. Few predicted in 2015 that the Conservatives…

Rod Liddle

And now for Graham Norton’s next guest… Adolf Hitler!

Having thoroughly enjoyed Graham Norton’s recent forensic cross-examination of Hillary Clinton on BBC1, I’m thrilled that the corporation intends to…

Mary Wakefield

How can any intelligent person have faith?

Ten years ago, I had a strange debate about faith with a famous Jesuit and an agnostic psychoanalyst in a…

Matthew Parris

Leave Brexit alone and get on with governing

I return often to Cambridge and was there recently. Julian Glover, my partner, was talking to the History Society at…

Lionel Shriver

A purity test for artists is the end of art

However we keep ourselves amused over the holidays this year, two sources of entertainment are off the docket. Amid the…

Lara Prendergast

Poking fun at the royals is good for the monarchy

Isn’t Meghan fabulous? Hasn’t she totally brought the monarchy into the 21st century? Doesn’t she make Kate look like such…

Any other business

Instead of schmoozing at City parties, this year I’m Sarah the Cook in panto

Last Christmas I offered you a cruel satire about a boardroom big-shot whose career went so awry that he ended…

Books

Portrait of Ulysses Grant by Ole Peter Hansen Balling

Lead book review

It’s time to rehabilitate Ulysses S. Grant — scorned hero of the Civil War

Last year, more than 6,000,000 people visited the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. By contrast, barely 80,000 went to General…

Early 20th-century wall painting in the ‘open-air museum’ town of Mandawa, Rajasthan

Books

The best way to see India — by train

‘I went to a restaurant the other day called Taste of the Raj. The waiter hit me with a stick…

Books

Spot the classical music

To view the answers, please click here

‘Political Ravishment — or the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street in danger!’ by James Gillray (1797)

Books

The history of the Bank of England would make a marvellous musical

Hamilton, created by the remarkable Lin-Manuel Miranda, has brought the financial musical to the London stage: a serious biography of…

‘The Church of St Helena, Bethlehem’, by David Roberts

Books

The hopes and fears of Bethlehem

Before a certain baby was born there, Bethlehem was famous for its sweet water. Shepherd boys like the young David,…

What makes this Bhutanese schoolgirl happy?

Books

What makes a semi-police state happy?

This charming collection of individual photographic portraits of Bhutanese citizens intentionally highlights the two central features of the kingdom today:…

Books

Anthologies to bring comfort and joy

John Julius Norwich loves Christmas dearly. ‘I just wish it didn’t come round about every three months,’ he says. I…

Books

Did a vodka ban precipitate the Russian Revolution?

It’s one of the more mysterious features of human history that people of every era and in almost every place…

Sally Muir marvellously captures the particular hang of a hound’s head

Books

True, dogged likenesses

There are currently 151,000,000 photos on Instagram tagged #Dog which is 14,000,000 more than those tagged #Cat. The enormous number…

Books

Royalist recipes for surviving the civil war

Halfway through Lady Fanshawe’s Receipt Book Lucy Moore takes a moment to regret the vast tracts of the past that…

Books

Why is America so inhibited about sex toys?

It’s hard not to love a book that starts with its author fearing a police sting while flogging sex toys…

William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Newcastle, performing volte, with Bolsover Castle in the background. (Painting after Abraham Jansz. van Diepenbeeck). Bryant is particularly severe on the subject of racing and horse breeding

Books

Bryant’s tyrants: Chris Bryant bashes the British aristocracy

I rashly discarded this book’s dustjacket when I received it, and thus saw only the unlettered cover, a faded photograph…

Books

The vibrant tradition of English folk song

After hundreds of densely packed pages on folk song in England — a subject for which I share Steve Roud’s…

Books

A master of Norwegian wood

Ole Thorstensen has been a carpenter for 25 years. A master craftsman, in fact. He is busy working on a…

A blue-and-white loggia overlooks the entrance to the Residence in Tunis

Books

Mission statement: the importance of a fine British embassy

At first blush this looks like one of those run-of-the-mill coffee-table books published just for the Christmas market — expensively…

Books

From Adonis to Prometheus: the beautiful men of myth

Stephen Fry has had a go at the Greek myths, in a competitively priced hardback, just in time for Christmas.…

Books

What on earth was The Prisoner all about?

Now, if someone were to spray stun gas through the keyhole of my front door, and I were to collapse…

Answers

Christmas quiz – The answers

Weird world 1. Cannabis 2. Che Guevara 3. Tesco 4. Asda 5. Beauty and the Beast 6. Georgia 7. France…

Answers

Spot the Classical Music – The answers

1. The Planets (Holst) 2. The Nutcracker Suite (Tchaikovsky) 3. Fingal’s Cave (Mendelssohn) 4. Enigma Variations (Elgar) 5. Choral Symphony…

Arts

There’s something about Mary: ‘Madonna of the Rosary’, 1539, by Lorenzo Lotto

Arts feature

The time has come for one of the most fascinating and idiosyncratic Renaissance artists

Lorenzo Lotto’s portraits — nervous, intense and enigmatic — are among the most memorable to be painted in 16th-century Italy,…

Tiny Tim by Harold Copping

Arts

Time to update our notions of disability and quit with the pity – and Tiny Tim

Here we go again. Partridges in pear trees. Lovely big Christmas turkey. The Queen’s speech. And then, at some point…

Lifelong friends: P.T. Barnum and General Tom Thumb

Arts

Showman, con man, family man: P.T. Barnum’s many faces

‘There’s a sucker born every minute.’ That was the P.T. Barnum battle cry. It has come to have a ring…

Bang her up! Jessica Chastain as Molly Bloom in Aaron Sorkin’s Molly’s Game

Cinema

If this is Aaron Sorkin’s riposte to those who criticise his portrayal of women, God help us

Molly’s Game marks the directorial debut of Hollywood’s most celebrated screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin, and is based on his adaptation of…

Theatre

Parliament Square at the Bush is theatre that believes it knows politics better than professional politicians

A new play at the Bush with a catchy political title. Parliament Square introduces us to Kat, a young Scots…

Big hitter: Pete Waterman

Arts

Pete Waterman on hits, HS2 and gay clubbing

One of the members of the government’s HS2 Growth Taskforce is remembering the first time he went to a gay…

Dance, Sadler's wells

The nymphs are hit and miss, but Osipova is a witty, multifaceted Sylvia: the Royal Ballet’s Sylvia reviewed

You can pay homage to a ballet classic or you can tear it up and reinvent it. Both approaches were…

J.S. Bach and Horatio Clare in Arnstadt

Arts

The 280-mile walk that made Bach who he was

It was in his organ loft at Arnstadt that I began my acquaintance with Johann Sebastian Bach — with JSB,…

Pop

St Vincent’s Massediction is my album of year (in that I don’t actually hate it yet)

This has not been an appalling year for pop music — it was better than 1984, for example, and 1961.…

Radio

Radio 3 offers a refreshing antidote to the current conversations about Europe

The season of Advent, for most children, means anticipation, gleeful waiting, the counting down of days. But after a certain…

Television

Lovely to look at but irritatingly pious: The Miniaturist reviewed

BBC1’s The Miniaturist (26/7 December) is a lavish two-part adaptation of Jessie Burton’s bestseller. It’s also further proof that almost…

Life

High life

Taki: The forgotten heroes of Christmas

It’s that time of year again. Yippee! And get your wallets out. Scrooges are no longer tolerated at Christmas, although…

Low life

Jeremy Clark: Was this a cruise ship — or Colditz?

We ascended the gangplank and were smartly directed to the ship’s library, where the seated purser swiped my debit card…

Real life

Melissa Kite: Hell is a porcelain kitchen tile

If only I knew whether I would have a kitchen, I could order a turkey. But despite having an almost…

Wild life

Aidan Hartley: A plague of ravenous zebras

Laikipia, Kenya   The zebra lacks a rumen and eats at least twice as much as a cow. On our…

The turf

Robin Oakley: Let’s hear it for the girls

It has been a good year for the girls. The filly Enable was the horse of the year, winning not…

Bridge

Bridge

Know thy opponents — experts make a point of it. When you’re at the bridge table, it’s just as important…

Chess

Grand prix

The London Classic is over and full reports in this column will follow in the new year. Meanwhile, we now know…

Chess puzzle

no. 486

White to play. This position is from Aronian-Giri, Palma de Mallorca 2017. Aronian now finished off a fine attack with…

Competition

Season’s greetings

In Competition No. 3028 you were invited to submit lines for a Christmas card courtesy of well-known poets. Poets moved…

Crossword solution

to 2337: millefeuille

Links with NAPOLEON were his battles WAGRAM (10) MARENGO (14) JENA (36); card games BACCARAT (1A) PATIENCE (26) BRAG (30A);…

Christmas Crossword

A beastly business

Three unclued lights form a nine-word quotation from a thematic work. Remaining unclued lights, including one hyphened, are five trios…

Christmas Quiz Questions

Christmas quiz

Weird world  In 2017:   1. Police discovered thousands of what kind of plant growing in a disused nuclear bunker…

Mind your language

After many centuries, the triumph of ‘hi’ is complete

A book that changed my way of looking at the world was The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren. It showed…

Status anxiety

It’s all shootin’, fishin’ and trufflin’ when lads and dads go out to play

Earlier this year I wrote a defence of driven shooting and ended by saying I hoped my children would have…

Spectator sport

Less women’s sport might sometimes be more

The credit sequence for the tennis flick Battle of the Sexes has this very British warning: ‘Contains occasional scenes of…

Food

It’s survived universal suffrage and two world wars: restaurant Rules reviewed

Rules looks as if it voted for Brexit, and now finds itself inside an eternal Christmas Eve, where it is…

The Wiki Man

Design everything for the disabled and you can’t go wrong

About 30 years ago, BT introduced a telephone handset with enormous keys. It was intended for people with serious visual…

Drink

Found in a friend’s cellar — the wines of a lifetime

In longevity, great wine can march with human life. Creating (better still, maintaining) a fine cellar really is a compact…

Dear Mary

Dear Mary solves problems for Vince Cable, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Lord Archer and Ruth Davidson

From Sir Vince Cable MP Q. I have an unfulfilled ambition to win a national title for ballroom dancing in…