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Blairite food. Getty Images

Are bowls of pasta Blairite?

29 October 2014 18:54

If Thatcher was Britain’s Bonaparte, then Blair was most certainly our Louis-Philippe. It was during the reign of the latter that the bourgeoisie came to dominate the status quo in… Continue reading

5 Comments
'Isis' the labrador on Downton Abbey, on far left (Photo: Giles Keyte/ITV)

Save Isis (the dog on Downton Abbey… not the terrorists in Iraq and Syria)

28 October 2014 14:53

Downton Abbey fans are on high alert that something drastic might be about to happen to the loyal labrador of the house, ‘Isis’. On this week’s episode she was pointed… Continue reading

15 Comments
Alan Opie, left, and Jesse Kovarsky in The Death of Klinghoffer at the Met, New York. Photograph: Ken Howard

This opera is simplistic and dangerous. So is banning it

27 October 2014 12:39

My father’s house was razed In 1948 When the Israelis passed over our street I’ve never forgotten the opening lines to John Adam’s 1991 opera, The Death of Klinghoffer. Crisp, elegiac, this  ‘Chorus… Continue reading

22 Comments
Image: Getty

Spectator competition: Autumn villanelles (plus: poems in praise or dispraise of well-known buildings)

26 October 2014 9:30

Stephen Fry is a fan of the villanelle — it was what inspired him to write his how-to book for poets, The Ode Less Travelled. And so are you, if… Continue reading

4 Comments
The new Dad's Army cast (left to right): Blake Harrison as Pike, Danny Mays as Walker, Tom Courtenay as Corporal Jones, Toby Jones as Captain Mainwaring, Bill Paterson as Fraser, Bill Nighy as Wilson, Michael Gambon as Godfrey

First look at the new Dad’s Army

25 October 2014 11:05

Back in the last century, when people still watched television rather than computers, I fulfilled the lifetime ambition of every comedy nerd when I finally got to meet David Croft… Continue reading

15 Comments
Dylan Thomas in 1946. Photograph: Francis Reiss/Getty Images

Dylan Thomas: speeches for Hitler, balderdash for Walton and the true meaning of Under Milk Wood

24 October 2014 11:11

My father came across Dylan Thomas in a Swansea pub in 1947. ‘Chap over there,’ said one of the regulars ‘is a poet.’ ‘What’s his name?’ asked my father. ‘No… Continue reading

5 Comments
First editions of Conan Doyle's novel A Study in Scarlet, which are on show at the Museum of London. Photograph: Museum of London/EPA

This new Sherlock Holmes exhibition will have Cumberbitches salivating

23 October 2014 17:57

Have you ever experienced the joys of Jawohl, meine Herr’n? If not I strongly advise an appointment with YouTube. The song features in the 1954 film Der Mann, der Sherlock… Continue reading

3 Comments
Frieze London, Regent's Park, October 2013

Frieze Week Diary: Will my marbles be the first to go, or my liver?

22 October 2014 18:47

This diary first appeared on Apollo Magazine’s website. Monday, 13 October There was something weird in the London air, and it wasn’t the rain. E-mails from PRs were hitting my inbox like the… Continue reading

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Republic of Chechnya, 2013. A group of pro-Kadyrov activists in the main square of the city to celebrate the 10th anniversary of 'Constitution Day'. All images: Davide Monteleone

The nation that Putin crushed – and the world forgot

22 October 2014 17:48

Putin, at least 12-foot-high, glowers from the wall of a gym where men are training to wrestle. He is at the centre of an unnerving triptych. On his left is… Continue reading

36 Comments
Cerith Wyn Evans's Frieze installation

The best of Frieze Art Fair was free

22 October 2014 17:10

Frieze and its ever-multiplying layers – some fantastically rich, others disappointingly dry – has expanded into a millefeuille so dense that you wonder whether organisers Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp have ever… Continue reading

0 Comments
donetsk

Postcard from Ukraine – meet the artists in exile from the People’s Republic of Donetsk

22 October 2014 10:25

It was Orthodox Trinity Sunday when Luba Michailova received word that separatists would soon occupy the premises of the Donetsk art centre she founded. She was in Kiev at the… Continue reading

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"William Archibald Spooner Vanity Fair 1898-04-21" by Leslie Ward - Published in Vanity Fair, 21 April 1898, as "Men of the Day" Number 711.Downloaded from http://www.antiquemapsandprints.com/scansj/j-20476.jpg. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Spectator competition: tips of the slung — or poems as the Revd W.A. Spooner might have written them (plus: an author’s acknowledgments page with a twist)

18 October 2014 9:23

The diminutive, myopic Revd W.A. Spooner was the inspiration behind the recent call for Spooneristic poems. The long-time warden of New College, Oxford bequeathed us such comic gems as ‘The… Continue reading

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(Photo: Pierre Teyssot/AFP/Getty)

Tell you what Mrs Clooney. If Greece repays its $240 billion EU loan, we’ll return the Marbles

16 October 2014 12:04

Hollywood has a reputation for creating trite storylines in which either a lawyer is cast as the hero or England as the villain. Its latest epic has both, and this… Continue reading

1,210 Comments
Richard Flanagan, winner of the 2014 Man Booker.  Photo: BEN STANSALL/ AFP/ Getty Images

It’s about time a man won the Booker again

15 October 2014 11:55

I bet fifty quid on Howard Jacobson winning the Man Booker. My original bet was actually on a ‘Yes’ vote below 40 per cent in the Scottish referendum and Bet365 then gave… Continue reading

3 Comments
Amal Alamuddin, Geoffrey Robertson, head of Doughty Street Chambers and David Hill, head of the International Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles, arrive at the Greek ministry of culture and sports in Athens (Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/Getty)

George Clooney’s wife heads to Greece to prove he hasn’t lost his Marbles battle

14 October 2014 18:40

It was never clear why George Clooney became so attached to the Elgin Marbles. He didn’t even seem to know where they were from when he delivered his plea to… Continue reading

15 Comments
paddy-on-steps

Why you should never meet your heroes

14 October 2014 15:41

As we become steadily accustomed to life in the Age of Celebrity, it’s become a truth that, as Mark Mason put it in the Speccie last month, ‘meeting your heroes… Continue reading

5 Comments
England's cricketer Kevin Pietersen play

The sad but inevitable downfall of Kevin Pietersen. A tragedy in two innings.

13 October 2014 19:31

Kevin Pietersen’s autobiography is the saddest book of its type I’ve ever read. By its end you begin to think that KP and the ECB deserved each other and realise… Continue reading

13 Comments
Dr. Niraj Desai (L) sews in a kidney to

Have scientists found proof of life after death?

13 October 2014 13:23

When I finally reached the hospital, my grandma had already lost consciousness. As soon as I saw her, I could tell she wouldn’t wake up again. We all stood around… Continue reading

64 Comments
Kevin Pietersen book signing. Photo: Getty Images

Why are sports biographies treated differently to other works?

13 October 2014 13:18

Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap has been running in London theatres for 62 years straight – a period that spans more than 25,000 performances. As is traditional in the genre, it ends… Continue reading

6 Comments
Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 12.16.54

Spectator competition: a magical realist shipping forecast (plus: a dialogue in verse between God and man)

11 October 2014 9:43

Since the death of Gabriel Garcia Marquez earlier this year, I have been meaning to set a comp with a magical realist twist and I finally got around to it… Continue reading

4 Comments
Patrick who? The winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature 2014

Forget the Nobel – it’s the Samuel Johnson prize that really excites

10 October 2014 13:32

Spare a thought for the authors in the running for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction: the announcement of its shortlist yesterday was somewhat overshadowed by the award of the… Continue reading

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p01l9pd2

Grayson Perry has a pitiably phalloscopic perspective

9 October 2014 17:12

Calm down, dears: the strange coughing noise that was heard across Britain at around 8.30 yesterday morning was not the last gasp of an exhausted Mother Earth, nor was it… Continue reading

31 Comments
Disguised as a snow queen, Cecilia Bartoli launches her new album of forgotten Russian Baroque gems for Decca

Why, if Cecilia Bartoli invites you to a party, you drop everything and go

9 October 2014 16:47

Classical music has a few certainties: Götterdämmerung will always be that little bit longer than you remember, it will reliably rain if you pack a Glyndebourne picnic, and if Cecilia… Continue reading

2 Comments
Australia v England - Fourth Test: Day 2

The unbearable ingratitude of Kevin Pietersen

8 October 2014 13:32

Seven years ago Kevin Pietersen produced his first attempt at autobiography, Crossing the Boundary: The Early Years in My Cricketing Life. Atrociously written, it demonstrated no awareness of the world… Continue reading

74 Comments
Will Self publicising his latest novel Shark

Will Self is wrong (again): online reading isn’t negligent reading

8 October 2014 12:39

Dim the lights, half-muffle the bells, replace your Hatchard’s bookmark with a strip of black crepe: the novel is dead. Again. Will Self broke the news in last Saturday’s Guardian,… Continue reading

16 Comments