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Spectator competition: ‘Come friendly bombs, and fall on those/ Who clip their nails or pick their nose…’ (plus: pets dish the dirt on their owners)

25 July 2015 9:30

Transport for London’s efforts to use verse to encourage Tube users to mind their manners produced poems whose rhyme and scansion would have made William McGonagall blush. So it was… Continue reading

3 Comments
Slash in full flow. Photo: Jure Makovec/AFP/Getty Images

Slash at 50: why is this rock god so underappreciated?

23 July 2015 15:27

Saul Hudson, more commonly known by his childhood nickname ‘Slash’, turns 50 today. It is safe to say that the next 50 years of his life are unlikely to be quite as hectic… Continue reading

23 Comments
August 1966:  A member of the International Society of Girl Watchers uses the ploy of wiping his shoulder in order to leer unnoticed at a passing woman. (Photo by Keystone Features/Getty Images)

Spectator competition: a lecherous poet gets his come-uppance (plus: Gove’s rules)

18 July 2015 9:47

Given the kerfuffle caused by the recent publication of Craig Raine’s ‘Gatwick’ in the London Review of Books, I thought it might be interesting to invite competitors to compose their… Continue reading

4 Comments
(Photo: Getty)

National Busking Day is an insult to real buskers

16 July 2015 15:53

This Saturday is National Busking Day, a series of events across the country proving that Britain’s arts establishment just don’t get it. The whole point of busking is that it’s… Continue reading

6 Comments
(Photo: Getty)

Riddled with clichés, routinely inept: Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman should never have been published

14 July 2015 17:18

This is an interesting document, and a pretty bad novel. I don’t know why anyone thought it would be otherwise. In 1960, Harper Lee published To Kill a Mockingbird. It… Continue reading

37 Comments
eo

We need a Campaign to Protect Urban England

10 July 2015 16:02

If a political subject is inconvenient to both Left and Right then the chances are that it won’t get addressed, however serious the problem. And so it has been with… Continue reading

43 Comments
ri

Rihanna’s latest offering is the perfect anthem for contemporary feminism

9 July 2015 13:43

Popular culture is all about the shock factor, especially when it involves female popstars. The late Eighties set a precedent for women making statements in their music videos. In 1989… Continue reading

25 Comments
a14

Magic Mike XXL reviewed: stripping can be sexy – but lying on a pinned-down woman’s face is not

6 July 2015 18:17

It’s hard to overstate how much I wanted to like Magic Mike XXL, the sequel to the 2012 Steven Soderbergh hit about male strippers. I have long proclaimed loudly to… Continue reading

4 Comments
Brian Johnson and Angus Young of AC/DC at Wembley Stadium.
Photograph: Jim Dyson/Getty Images

‘A lot of bands know how to rock. Not many know how to roll’: AC/DC at Wembley reviewed

6 July 2015 18:10

The main thing that strikes you as you watch AC/DC whip 70,000 people into a frenzy at Wembley stadium is, of course, how very similar they are to David Hockney.… Continue reading

14 Comments
Lucas Debargue at the 2015 Tchaikovsky music competition

The self-taught French pianist who wowed the Tchaikovsky music competition

6 July 2015 17:36

Vladimir Putin was sitting a few rows in front of me last Thursday evening in Moscow listening patiently to three hours of classical music without interval. I could not imagine… Continue reading

20 Comments
Nothing is safe, not even a joyous, throwaway TV show

Isis aren’t the only ones guilty of censoring the past

4 July 2015 11:11

Aside from reports about terrorism, war and the Vatican cosying up to Naomi Klein, few news stories this year have upset me as much as the ones about TV Land cancelling… Continue reading

421 Comments
New balls please. Image: Getty

Spectator competition: Anyone for tennis? (plus: poems on the underground)

4 July 2015 9:30

To mark the beginning of Wimbledon, competitors were invited to take as their first line ‘There’s a breathless hush on the centre court’ and continue for up to 15 lines… Continue reading

9 Comments
Royal Opera's controversial new production of Rossini's William Tell. Photo: Clive Barda

Boo the knee-jerk reaction to William Tell not the rape scene

1 July 2015 13:05

‘I blame Princess Diana’, was my guest’s response to it all. Certainly, there is much we might lay at the feet of our long lamented People’s Princess, but I struggled… Continue reading

14 Comments
The House of Lords, 'whose ornaments and chandeliers seem to drip off the gilded ceiling  like stalactites'. Photo: Tim Graham/Getty Images

There’s only one way to save the crumbling Houses of Parliament. Turn them into a theme park

1 July 2015 11:35

The Houses of Parliament are falling down. According to the Independent Options Appraisal of the Palace of Westminster Restoration and Renewal Programme - a group of engineers and project managers commissioned to… Continue reading

26 Comments
Soviet Colonel who prevented 1983 nuclear response

Meet Stanislav Petrov – the cantankerous man who saved the world

1 July 2015 9:36

I’ve just watched a rather good DVD. This happens so rarely that I thought I’d share the fact with you. It was a film called The Man Who Saved The… Continue reading

24 Comments
John Osborn as Arnold in the Royal Opera's controversial new William Tell. Photo: ROH/ Clive Barda

The gang rape was the least offensive thing about Royal Opera’s new William Tell

30 June 2015 16:14

Guillaume Tell Royal Opera House, in rep until 17 July There’s no such thing as a tasteful rape scene — or there certainly shouldn’t be. It’s an act of grossest violation,… Continue reading

15 Comments
Charlemagne, king of the Franks (Photo: Getty)

Greeks v Franks – why culture still matters

30 June 2015 15:13

During the period of the crusades Greeks would refer to western Europeans by the generic term ‘Frank’, derived from the name of the leading barbarian tribe of the west. The… Continue reading

134 Comments
Image: Getty

Spectator competition: Is that ‘Well Spanked’ or ‘Disappointing Sandwich’?

29 June 2015 17:45

A spoof Farrow & Ball paint-colour chart doing the rounds on social media was the inspiration for the latest challenge. Competitors were invited to see if they could outdo the… Continue reading

6 Comments
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In the footsteps of Marco Polo: the journey that changed William Dalrymple’s life

24 June 2015 17:23

This is the introduction to the 25th anniversary edition of William Dalrymple’s first book, In Xanadu: A Quest At the end of the windy, rainy April of 1986, towards the end of my… Continue reading

6 Comments
Shake it out and rake it in (Photo: Getty)

The world belongs to Taylor Swift now. There will be no free-trial period

23 June 2015 17:46

All hail Taylor Swift. How she must give baby boomers the fear. Not just baby boomers. Also those who came next, the Generation Xers, who seemed to define themselves culturally… Continue reading

108 Comments
The new chief conductor of the Berlin Phil, Kirill Petrenko. Photo: Getty

The new head of the Berlin Philharmonic was no-one’s first choice

23 June 2015 12:56

Let’s face facts. Kirill Petrenko was no-one’s first choice as music director of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. His name came into the reckoning only after 124 orchestra members split fatally… Continue reading

12 Comments
The point of an arts degree is the time it gives you to pursue other hobbies (Photo: Getty)

Students worrying about ‘value for money’ miss the point of an arts degree

23 June 2015 12:05

University towns are already awash with fur-trimmed gowns and proud parents, but behind the smiles there’s a glimmer of resentment: four in 10 of those graduating this year think they’ve… Continue reading

44 Comments
Len Hutton and  Cyril Washbrook coming out to bat for England at a Test Match, at Trent Bridge, Nottingham. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

Spectator competition winner: The poetry of cricket (plus: can you see a rainbow?)

20 June 2015 11:40

In Competition No. 2903 you were invited to supply a poem incorporating a dozen cricketing terms. English poets love cricket: Housman, Betjeman, Chesterton and Sassoon all wrote about the game.… Continue reading

9 Comments
entourage-cast

Entourage review: its obsession with boobs, babes and oiled up bodies continues

17 June 2015 14:54

Look, could everyone please stop denigrating the Entourage movie for spurious reasons like ‘it feels like an extended episode of the TV series’? Since the US release a few weeks… Continue reading

4 Comments
Queen Cersei Lannister - pre-punishment

Why feminists like me are addicted to Game of Thrones

16 June 2015 15:32

This post contains spoilers and discussion of the Season 5 Finale. My name is Kate Maltby, I’m a feminist, and I’m addicted to Game of Thrones. I’ve known I’ve had a problem for… Continue reading

47 Comments