The Spectator

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Our sheltered lives have made us overly fearful: Aminatta Forna’s Happiness reviewed

This piercingly intelligent novel makes us think again about war, and what we take for peace and happiness<p>In her keynote lecture for a conference on ‘The Muse and the Market’ in 2015 Aminatta Forna mounted a powerful advocacy for the political novel, challenging the assumption that politics or …

The Theatre

Corbyn’s profoundly anti-western worldview is fully exposed at last

The Tories’ great worry after the last election was that they had effectively vaccinated the electorate against Jeremy Corbyn. They feared that the next time they tried to show that he was extreme, weak on national security and too friendly with the West’s enemies, voters would yawn and declare …

Middle East

Pathos and humanity in pictures of abject misery

Linda Nochlin sensitively analyses images of the extreme poverty that crippled the 19th century<p>In 1971 the late Linda Nochlin burst onto the public scene with her groundbreaking essay, ‘Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?’ Unlike other apologists, she made no claim that there were, in fact, …

Aesthetics

Cover

London

Tilting laws to advance the feminist agenda

The icy grip of feminism on our key institutions has been exposed in a series of alarming stories emerging over the last month. Last week the <i>Daily Telegraph</i> announced UTS in Sydney has introduced special committees to judge other students accused of sexual assault or harassment. These …

Domestic Violence

Not one of my Harvard students thinks Brexit is a good idea

My wife laughs that my love of gadgets is a remnant of my Communist upbringing, when western toys were objects of veneration. A couple of days ago, I found myself on a Lufthansa flight over the Atlantic indulging precisely that love: using an app, I could see live pictures of our house in rural …

Michael Jackson

Why it’s bad for potters to think of themselves as artists

This new Fitzwilliam show demonstrates that it’s much better if potters make items in which – at least theoretically – you might place flowers, soup or coffee<p>A friend of mine once owned a vase by the potter Hans Coper — until, that is, her teenage son had his friends around for a party. It wasn’t …

Art

Guess who’s coming to dinner with Angela Huth?

From Liberace to Iris Murdoch, and Keith Richards to the Queen Mother, the celebrities are endless in Huth’s entertaining Not the Whole Story<p>Anglea Huth, the broadcaster and author of some 18 books, has now written her memoirs, <i>Not the Whole Story</i>. And though it may not be the whole story, what a …

Books

Oddballs and lefties

Ah, populism: is it a fulsome democratic expression of giving people what they want or merely join-the-dots fear-mongering? Bit of both, judging from these two books.<p>Derryn Hinch has certainly chased enough ambulances in his day, through various forms of media. His face and name were, at least, …

Communist Party

Texas: the myriad contradictions of the Lone Star state

It legislature may consist of finger-wagging Bible Belters, but the red state with a blue majority is surprisingly tolerant and cultured<p>The subtitle of Lawrence Wright’s splendid <i>God Save Texas</i> (‘A Journey into the Future of America’) would be alarming if I found it entirely convincing. It’s hard to …

Dairy Queen

What the Windrush scandal reveals about Theresa May

Everyone speaks about the <i>Windrush</i>. The boat was actually called the <i>Empire Windrush</i>. The full name reveals what the story was about. The boat was one of a series called <i>Empire X</i>, X being the name of a British river, as if each were a tributary to a common stream. Mass coloured immigration to Britain …

United Kingdom

Jaw-dropping: My Year with the Tribe reviewed

What this BBC crew discovered in Western Papua was far stranger and more surprising than what they intended to find<p>For a while now, the Korowai people of Western Papua have been the go-to primitive tribe for documentary-makers. The Korowai were unknown to the outside world until the 1970s — but …

Stone Age

Brown study

It was inevitable that sooner or later the sexual harassment scandal would change tack and ensnare some of those who are usually pointing the finger. Like the Greens. After all, they love being progressive and progressive means taking up every fad and fashion of political correctness, calling out …

Sexual Harassment

Some fairly rich people rip off some very rich people. Who are we rooting for? Quiz reviewed

Plus: Congreve’s wit too often expresses mere nastiness in Way of the World<p><i>Quiz</i> by James Graham looks at the failed attempt in 2001 to swindle a million quid from an ITV game show. Jackpot winner Major Charles Ingram was thought to have been helped by strategic coughs emanating from Tecwen …

Coronation Street

University Challenge

One programme that still shines out as a beacon of intellectual rigour among the sea of dross on television is <i>University Challenge</i>. As always, teams of four students from Britain’s best universities battle it out for the series championship. Rather than assuming the viewer is an idiot, like most …

High School

Cover 21 April 2018 AU

London

What will the next war look like?

Conventional weapons and armies are being replaced by hacking, drones and computer-game technology<p>Imagine Peace. These were the words that appeared on an otherwise blank page in the <i>New York Times</i> on New Year’s Day 2013. They were paid for by Yoko Ono and they are of course an echo of John Lennon’s …

Blockbusters

That Beano word ‘scoff’ was first coined in the mid-19th century

Scarcely a sober breath has been drawn in my house all week for celebrating the 90th anniversary of the completion of the <i>Oxford English Dictionary</i>. This stupendous achievement, in 15,490 pages by 1928, drew on more than five million quotations from old books sent in by volunteers. In 1879, when the …

Language

This V&A show, about fashion’s fascination with the natural world, will seduce and appal

Clothes have always come at a price, but it’s contemporary fashion that’s really damaging to the environment<p>One of the prettiest pieces in the V&A exhibition <i>Fashioned from Nature</i> is a man’s cream waistcoat, silk and linen, produced in France before the revolution, in the days when men could give …

Clothing

Australian notes

Sorry seems to be the easiest word<p>I am sorry to have to say this, but I think we all need a break from apologies.<p>When I was practising in media law at the Bar one of the most common forms of apology by publishers, confronted with an unwinnable defamation action, was in the following form:<p><i>Some</i> …

Vietnam War

Racism and the RSC: why I was a sitting duck for the arts mob

Our ducks are back. Two wild mallard have spent the last five springs on the brook which gurgles past us in Herefordshire. Each year they produce a paddling of chicks; each year most of the ducklings are killed by predators. Our friend Becky thinks she spotted an otter, more likely stoat or mink, …

Black Culture

Why do British charities want to shut down private schools in Africa?

They are putting ideology before education<p>Why would anyone who claims to care about the world’s poorest children try to shut down their schools? It’s strange and sad, but several British charities, in cahoots with some British unions, are making a concerted effort to close down hundreds of schools …

Africa

Let’s talk about sex

In Competition No. 3044 you were invited to provide a lesson in the facts of life courtesy of a well-known character in fiction. <br>There is space only for me to commend Jayne Osborn, who recruited Dr Seuss: ‘Doing sex is good fun, and it’s easy to do./ Let me demonstrate, using Thing One and Thing …

Acquainted

Brexit for eight-year-olds

A week ago I plucked my eight-year-old grandson Oscar from the bosom of his rumbustious young family and took him on an orange aeroplane to Nice, and from there up into the hills of the upper Var to spend 11 days in our breeze-block shack. His second visit. On his first, last August, the …

Dining Rooms

Adventures on Thought Crime Island

Policing free speech in Britain<p>Britain has broken out the banhammer and is coming after your favourite comedians. It’s also decided words matter more than deeds even if the deeds have fatal outcomes. Last week The Met boasted how it has 900 officers dedicated to chasing people down for writing rude …

Pugs

Manipulating Facebook

The Cambridge Analytica scandal is not what it seems<p>Judging by the way Mark Zuckerberg was cross-examined before Congress last week, you’d think Facebook was on the brink of world domination. The story goes that Facebook’s nefarious ‘data harvesting’ functions helped the shady tech firm Cambridge …

Social Media

Heather Mitchell

This probably is a bad idea; I mean writing a column about a transgender person. Even Germain Greer got herself into hot water with comments on the subject. Indeed she ‘dug herself further into a hole’ by repeating some of her views on <i>Q&A</i> in April 2016. So if she got into trouble, caution is needed.<p>…

High Level

The Battle for Britain

London

It is a sin to die in the Land of the Depraved

Nothing in American culture prepares its people for leaving life<p>(New York) - Remember when the internet, Twitter, Facebook and other such useless gimmicks were supposed to usher in an era of transparency and knowledgable bliss? This technology makes George Orwell’s <i>Nineteen Eighty-Four</i> redundant: no …

New Mexico

I love this Pep-mania, but don’t forget Klopp

Fittingly, it took a dire performance from a dismal and dreary United against the worst team in the Premier League to push Guardiola’s magnificent project over the line. And fittingly, too, Mourinho greeted it with one his most awful displays: lashing out at his players and painfully recalling his …

Soccer