The Spectator

31 July 2021 Aus

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Leading article Australia

Covid shame

Following her husband attending last weekend’s anti-lockdown protest, and then having been spotted and recognised on TV, a young Sydney…

Australian Columnists

Brown Study

Brown study

Sadly, it looks as if the allegation that Australian troops committed war crimes in Afghanistan is true. In fact, here…

Guest Notes

Cultural notes

Hobart’s historical heretics violated ‘Vitalist, unscrupulously optimistic cultures, cruel, bigoted and superstitious, all detest the grace-saving presence of the statue…

Guest Notes

Covid notes

A day at the anti-lockdown rally When your only observations of protest marches are from television news reports, it’s easy…

Australian Features

Features Australia

Any conviction politicians out there? Hello?

Conservatives have been betrayed by the hollow men and women

Features Australia

The right to cheat

How ‘progressives’ don’t hesitate to bend the rules

Features Australia

Chronicle of a Covid death foretold

The battle for early treatment being waged behind enemy lines

Features Australia

Brisbane wins Gold in the hyperbole stakes

More bread and circuses as the Olympics head to Queensland

Features Australia

Lockdown needs a smackdown

Current Covid-19 policy settings provide no exit

Features Australia

Jive talkin’

Now the Isle of Man is claiming the Bee Gees? How dare they!

Features Australia

Australia is turning into a prison colony (again)

At all levels we are seeing power without responsibility


Notes on...

Why are bidets the butt of so many jokes?

In December 2019, and in keeping with our tradition of perverse birthday gifts, some friends gave me a bidet device.…


The WHO’s bizarre war on e-cigarettes

The WHO’s fervent campaign against e-cigarettes


Why am I so angry?

Why have we become so quick to anger?


The real reasons for South Africa’s riots

Sixty-eight years ago, when I was four, my Scottish father and English mother took me from London to South Africa,…


The troubling truth about Britain’s nuclear deal with China

The troubling truth about Britain’s nuclear deal with China


The ‘alpha migrants’ are here – why don’t we let them work?

They’re bright, brave – and could help solve our labour crisis


Modern soap operas have lost the plot

Modern soap operas have lost the plot

The Week


Letters: In defence of organic food

A note about manure Sir: I am afraid Matt Ridley shows a lack of understanding about agriculture in general and…


My brush with a royal literary crisis

The past week has seen another media splash about the self-exiled Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Following the recent ruckus…

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Channel crossings, chain-gangs for criminals and Tesco Bank shuts up shop

Home The daily number of coronavirus cases detected by tests fell from 54,674 on 17 July to 23,511 by 27…

Ancient and modern

The Greeks had their reservations about the Olympics

Winners at the Olympics were thought to have come as close to a god as any man could. But that…

Leading article

Why a return to a free and open world is vital

There is something bizarre about a sporting event designed to bring people and nations together but from which spectators have…


Is rain getting heavier?

Reinventing the wheels Skateboarding made its debut at the Olympics. Who invented the skateboard? — There are many reports of…



The case for travelling abroad

I’m off. In the week when you may read this, my partner and I will be winging our way to…


Am I alone in not wanting to download the Covid app?

As I begin, I’m tortured by the doo-do-doo-do of The Twilight Zone’s theme music. I’ve hurtled back in time. Suddenly…

Any other business

Is the airline ‘booking surge’ a load of hot air?

Be glad you’re not in Dr Mike Lynch’s shoes. A London judge has ruled that the founder of the Cambridge-based…

The Spectator's Notes

The West’s moralising over climate change will cost India

On Tuesday, I chaired a session at Policy Exchange addressed by Tony Abbott, the eloquent former prime minister of Australia,…


Should Britain be vaccinating teenagers?

Last week there was acute concern in government about the country’s re-opening. Would restrictions need to be reimposed when schools…


The sorry state of the modern apology

I think I would like to apologise for this article in case someone who reads it takes offence. I will…


More from Books

Death and dishonour: The Promise, by Damon Galgut, reviewed

If death is not an event in life, as Wittgenstein observed, it’s a curious way to structure a novel. But…

More from Books

Why do anglers get so hooked?

The other day a friend asked me what a lascar was. Fair enough: it’s not a word you come across…

More from Books

What is the secret of Duran Duran’s durability?

In my second year at secondary school we were all deeply envious of a girl named Judi Taylor because, obviously,…

Lead book review

The disappearing man: who was the real John Stonehouse?

Craig Brown describes his various encounters with the MP who notoriously faked his own death in 1974

More from Books

Prehistoric footprints in Norfolk set us wondering

During the first lockdown last year, taking my lockdown puppy for our Boris-sanctioned daily walks, I discovered a love of…

More from Books

The book as narrator: The Pages, by Hugo Hamilton, reviewed

It is a truism that a book needs readers in order to have a meaningful existence. Hugo Hamilton’s The Pages…

More from Books

On the run from the Nazis: a Polish family’s protracted ordeal

Writers of memoirs are often praised for their honesty — but how do we know? I found I did believe…

More from Books

Foucault was shielded from scandal by French reverence for intellectuals

Consider the hare and the hyena. The hare, Clement of Alexandria told readers of his 2nd-century sexual self-help manual Paedagogus,…

More from Books

A death foretold: the last days of Gabriel García Márquez

In March 2014 Gabriel García Márquez went down with a cold. The man who wrote beautifully about ageing was approaching…

More from Books

How two literary magazines boosted morale during the Blitz

William Loxley’s lively account of ‘Bloomsbury, the Blitz and Horizon magazine’ begins with W.H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood emigrating to…

More from Books

They weren’t all that pious in the good old days

You need to be wary of being too flattering about English churches. As John Betjeman said: ‘Be careful before you…

More from Books

A volte face over what caused the pandemic needs explaining

Sir Jeremy Farrar, the head of the Wellcome Trust, writes that ‘the last year has been an eye-opener for me.…


Australian Arts

John Mortimer & Leo McKern

What earthly guarantee do we have that live performance is going to be a viable option for Sydney or Melbourne…


One for hardcore Tennessee Williams fans only: The Two Character Play reviewed

It can be difficult to remember that Tennessee Williams, the great songster of the Deep South during the 1950s, was…

Arts feature

What really went on at Britain's Bikini Atoll?

Stuart Jeffries takes the ferry to Orford Ness, a strange shingle spit on the Suffolk coast, where art mingles with death


I laughed quite a lot when I shouldn’t have: Old reviewed

The biggest challenge in reviewing M. Night Shyamalan’s Old lies in describing its central idea without making the film sound…


Swaggerific display of pumping chests and crotch-grabbing struts: NYDC's Speak Volumes reviewed

Last week I attended a dance performance in person for the first time since March last year. If you’d asked…


Springtime for Putin: Grange Park's The Life and Death of Alexander Litvinenko reviewed

Alexander Litvinenko lies in a London hospital, dying of polonium poisoning. That photograph from 2006 haunts the memory: the medical…


Floods you with fascinating facts: Trees A Crowd reviewed

Listening to Trees A Crowd, a podcast exploring the ‘56(ish) native trees of the British Isles’, solved one of childhood’s…


When did Sunday night TV become so grim? Baptiste reviewed

There was, you may remember, a time when Sunday night television was rather a jolly affair: gently plotted and full…


Rich and strange: Eileen Agar at Whitechapel Gallery reviewed

Heads turn, strangers gawp, matrons tut or look in envy. A man doffs his bowler hat knowing when he is…


Aussie Life

Aussie Life

For obvious reasons, lockdowns have been much easier to deal with for Australians who live alone. Not for them the…

Aussie Life

Aussie Language

Edward de Bono—the inventor of ‘lateral thinking’—died recently. I interviewed him a number of times on my radio show (he…


2517: Final line-up

The unclued lights appeared at the start under the shaded squares reading row by row from top to bottom (two…


The king of no castling

In the body of chess rules, castling is a clumsy protuberance. Once per game, you get to move king and…

Chess puzzle

No. 664

White to play. Greco–NN, 1620. The centre is a dangerous place for the king. Which move does White play to…


Spectator competition winners: Shakespeare’s Seven Ages of a Tory MP

In Competition No. 3209, you were invited to provide Shakespeare’s Seven Ages of a Tory MP. Inspiration for this challenge…

Crossword solution

2514: Welcome Back - Solution

Unclued lights were stories in The Return of Sherlock Holmes. (The Adventures of the: EMPTY (41) HOUSE (2), DANCING MEN…

No sacred cows

The true cost of my week in Wales

Rather miraculously, my daughter managed to leave the country last week to go on holiday with a group of friends.…

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: What is the etiquette of greeting a friend who is engaged in a ceremonial display?

Q. Passing Buckingham Palace in a taxi the other day, I saw the ceremonial wing of the Household Division prancing…

Low life

A date with destiny – and chemotherapy

I was shown to a room divided into three cubicles, each with a reclining chair and bed table. In the…

Real life

To be jabbed – or not to be jabbed?

The doctor’s receptionist was adamant. ‘If you had not had the vaccine you would have been even more ill with…

Wild life

Is today the day I become a Kenyan citizen?

  Nairobi Since my father first caught sight of Mombasa from his ship in late 1929, at least some of my…

Mind your language

Double dutch: the many meanings of ‘Holland’

The title of the keenly awaited volume of memoirs by John Martin Robinson sounds like a crossword clue: Holland Blind…


The beauty of wine from the Rhine

In an apparently benign — almost prelapsarian — setting, the Rhine is an epitome of the human condition. Scenery is…

The Wiki Man

What do oven chips have to do with virtue signalling?

Why does virtue-signalling matter? It’s a fair question. After all, if people display virtuous behaviour, need we care about their…


Bridge | 31 July 2021

When I started learning bridge (about 20 years ago) I was taught the basic guidelines of play and defence and…

High life

The joys of uninhabitable islands

  Isle of Patmos Two hundred years ago last March, the Greeks rose up against the hated Turks who had occupied…