Peter Robins rss

Peter Robins is The Spectator’s production editor.

The word that links these two men is 'happy': Ed Miliband and Al Smith

Where did Ed Miliband get ‘Happy Warrior’ from? (Clue: not Wordsworth)

7 April 2015 18:18

William Wordsworth, sad to say, may not after all have a significant role in the 2015 election campaign. His name was taken in vain repeatedly this weekend, after someone passed… Continue reading

(Photo: Peter Robins)

Calorie-counting six sweets at a time

27 October 2014 13:13

Anyone who is trying vaguely to control their weight and still eats tasty, nasty processed foods — me, for instance — gets used to playing the game of ‘guess how… Continue reading

The old technique is to look closely for creases on spines

How to tell who’s really reading Thomas Piketty

11 July 2014 18:33

No one owns a Kindle for very long without becoming obsessed by its social highlighting feature: unless you go into the preferences to turn it off, the glibbest and most… Continue reading

Clement Attlee ventures into the East End... Cartoon by Michael Heath. (1963)

Clement Attlee’s conversion

5 June 2014 15:28

In the early 1960s, The Spectator ran a series called ‘John Bull’s first job’ – reminiscences by various prominenti about how they started out. One of the most startling, published… Continue reading

Voters Take To The Polls In European and Local Elections

The pleasures of voting

22 May 2014 15:46

The rhetoric with which we are exhorted to vote is grand and sententious: do your civic duty; people died so that you could etc. etc. The rhetoric with which we’re… Continue reading

Philip Hensher at the time of his own Booker shortlisting, for The Northern Clemency

Man Booker prize shortlist 2013 - how was our tipping?

10 September 2013 12:28

One of Philip Hensher’s many qualities as a critic is that he doesn’t take prisoners. So his entertaining and judicious guide to the Man Booker longlist ended like this: ‘The… Continue reading

Kenneth Tynan: he said it, but he didn't say it first. Photograph: Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Foresworn: Jonathan Lethem, Kenneth Tynan, and the unpredictable progress of swearing

2 September 2013 16:31

For a few days last week, it seemed that Jonathan Lethem had achieved something unique: he had become the first person to use a particular four-letter word – the one… Continue reading

Elmore Leonard

On borrowing Elmore Leonard

20 August 2013 16:59

When you walk into a new branch library, or stumble across an unfamiliar secondhand bookshop, which writer do you look for? They can’t be too obscure; the idea is to… Continue reading

Charles Dickens as a very young man. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

A.D. Harvey in The Spectator – a little tribute to Eric Naiman’s ‘When Dickens met Dostoevsky’

19 April 2013 15:22

Beginning with what he finds to be a rather implausible account of a meeting between Dickens and Dostoevsky, Eric Naiman’s recent essay for the Times Literary Supplement spins out an… Continue reading

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Oxford Street, London, in 1890

Historical directories: Street View for time-travellers - Spectator Blogs

7 January 2013 12:40

Fancy a walk into London’s past? How about a stroll down Fleet Street in 1895? Or Oxford Street in 1899? It can be done. I can’t promise pictures, but I… Continue reading

A scene in Clacton, Essex, yesterday, courtesy of Getty Images and the London Stereoscopic Company

Also not found in Essex: the worst lion headline ever - Spectator blogs

28 August 2012 15:53

In honour of the Essex lion, which seems now to have passed into legend, here is another urban myth. This one is subeditorial. It concerns what was said to be… Continue reading

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Bernie gag cartoon - 'Unhappy, please help'

Does the New Statesman need more cartoons? Yes!

24 August 2012 12:56

The current issue of the New Statesman leads off with a characteristically elegant and thorough feature by its deputy editor, Helen Lewis, on the fate of the political cartoon. In… Continue reading

A 1947 Penguin of Graham Greene's The Lawless Roads, author's name misspelt

Graham Greene, Penguin and an old spelling mistake - Spectator blogs

24 August 2012 11:43

Mistakes will sometimes happen even in the best-run places. Pictured with this post, by way of proof, is a 1947 Penguin paperback of Graham Greene’s The Lawless Roads, with the… Continue reading


Max Hastings, John Keegan and Falklands - Spectator Blogs

10 August 2012 12:07

In a notebook from Iceland in this week’s magazine, Max Hastings pays tribute to the late Sir John Keegan with, among other things, a notable anecdote: ‘One day at the… Continue reading

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Butlins and the return of the apostrophe - Spectator Blogs

9 August 2012 13:45

When you begin in subediting – the odd little craft of preparing other people’s journalism for publication – certain things, or pairs of things, are drummed into you. St James’… Continue reading


An anti-Labour leaflet in a pro-Labour font

30 April 2012 13:51

The leaflet pictured above landed on my doorstep in Peckham last week. It’s the most interesting piece of election literature I’ve received this year — not because of its words,… Continue reading


How dangerous is cycling?

3 February 2012 15:49

Am I dicing with death every morning and evening? The Times would say so. I cycle to work, and, for the past two days, the Times has given over its… Continue reading


In and out of copyright

5 January 2012 9:22

New Year’s Eve, among its other distinctions, is the date when copyright terms tend to expire: with the beginning of each new year, at least in this country, the public… Continue reading


Local interest

21 October 2011 18:33

A pregnant 24-year-old from Carmarthen, north Wales, has pleaded guilty to attacking a parked police car with a rolling pin. She was reported to have explained her action as follows:… Continue reading


Local interest

14 October 2011 17:43

A tourist from Crystal Palace, south London, rescued an 11-month-old boy from the River Yare, in Norfolk, after his pushchair was swept into the water by a freak gust of… Continue reading


Local interest

7 October 2011 17:38

A former postman has stripped naked and superglued himself to a desk at the Job Centre in Bridlington, in protest at being refused disability benefit. (Yorkshire Post) Police stations in… Continue reading

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Your Nobel Prize for Literature link round-up

6 October 2011 14:47

1) The official announcement of Tomas Transtömer’s victory  2) The one person in Britain we can be absolutely certain has read Transtömer: his translator.  3) An excellent summary of the preceding… Continue reading

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Local interest

2 September 2011 18:42

Exeter Cathedral is to mark the tenth anniversary of 11 September 2001 by having John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ played on its bells. (Exeter Express and Echo) A man has appeared before… Continue reading

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Local interest

26 August 2011 17:44

A couple in Merthyr transformed their front room into a shop selling cannabis and diazepam in order to pay off a loan on a mobility scooter. The woman was jailed for… Continue reading


Local interest

19 August 2011 17:18

A woman has been banned from every bookshop in the country after stealing £56 worth of magazines and Plasticine from a branch of WH Smith in Hartlepool. (Hartlepool Mail) The… Continue reading