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Spectator competition: poets’ selfies (plus: liven up something mundane with a dose of magic realism)

21 September 2014 15:09

The latest challenge, to compose a poet’s elegy for him or herself, took you down a path trod by poor Chidiock Tichborne. He wrote his own elegy, the poignant ‘Tichborne’s… Continue reading

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Anna Nicole is a masterpiece

20 September 2014 19:18

It isn’t often that you can say you’ve seen an opera not only of but about our times. But Anna Nicole – which I saw Thursday night at the Royal Opera… Continue reading

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The John Cantlie video shows Islamic State have taken a leaf out of Vice’s book

18 September 2014 16:58

Islamic State (IS) have just released a new video that features the journalist John Cantlie. Until now, his whereabouts in Syria were unknown, but it now looks as if he has… Continue reading

11 Comments
Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

In praise of Den-zel

18 September 2014 13:21

His Christian name is only two syllables, with the stress (following the African-American pronunciation) on the second. Two syllables that are a byword for urbane cool. A mellifluous shibboleth – the… Continue reading

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Alasdair Gray: 'You can only learn to govern yourself by doing it'

A No vote will create a schism between the voters of Scotland and its artists and writers

18 September 2014 10:37

With the Scottish independence referendum drawing closer, two Newsweek Europe magazine correspondents and friends – Finlay Young (Scotsman), and Simon Akam (Englishman) – travelled the length of the United Kingdom… Continue reading

24 Comments
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Let me introduce you to ‘sick chick lit’

17 September 2014 18:27

Chick lit has its place. On long-haul flights, for example, when you’re a bit pissed and bored with the films on offer, and all you wanted is some literary fast food.… Continue reading

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Photo: Clementine Keith-Roach

Tom Cruise deserves our support and pity

16 September 2014 18:26

These are your lives. Yard Theatre, until 4 October Tom Cruise. That’s the big offer from a newish venue, the Yard Theatre, lurking on the fringes of Hackney Wick. The… Continue reading

10 Comments
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Ever wondered what goes on in those green sheds you see around London?

16 September 2014 18:10

You know, those mysterious huts that allow entry only to cab drivers? I used to fancy they were cover for a network of underground bunkers where cackling taxi drivers plotted… Continue reading

6 Comments
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Is Anna Nicole’s absurd life worth our while? Not as much as Otello’s

15 September 2014 17:43

Otello ENO, in rep until 17 October Anna Nicole Royal Opera, in rep until 24 September So how did London’s two big opera companies launch their new seasons last week?… Continue reading

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Isis and Islamophobes: what a lousy time to be a British Muslim

14 September 2014 18:34

Just over a week ago I wrote a piece in the Spectator asking if we were on the verge of an anti-Muslim backlash that could spread beyond the strongholds of the… Continue reading

349 Comments
Regulars Enjoy A Traditional Black Country Pub

Spectator competition: why death is good for you (plus: add a final stanza to a well-known poem)

13 September 2014 10:30

The recent invitation to submit an imaginary feature from a newspaper’s health pages extolling the benefits to wellbeing of something traditionally thought to be bad for you drew a smallish… Continue reading

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Four-wheel-drives are to ISIS what longbows were to the English at Agincourt

12 September 2014 14:37

What exactly, I found myself wondering, would jihadists do without modern four-wheel-drives? Car ads are customarily shot on the French Riviera’s Grande Corniche or on a very particular road in… Continue reading

23 Comments
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The Man Booker hoicks itself back on to the plinth of respectability with this shortlist

9 September 2014 18:18

Remember when the Man Booker prize was as reputable as the Queen? When it served as the nation’s literary oracle? When nobody thought about doubting its authority because its juries… Continue reading

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Is it really imaginable that the British people could rise up against the Jews?

9 September 2014 12:16

Howard Jacobsen’s J has been shortlisted for the 2014 Booker Prize today: At first sight, J represents a significant departure for Howard Jacobson. It’s set in a future Britain where some sort of apocalypse… Continue reading

137 Comments
George Orwell, Will Self. Photo: AP/Lefteris Pitarakis

Will Self is in no position to criticise George Orwell

8 September 2014 13:33

In The Mating Season, P.G. Wodehouse – perhaps George Orwell’s only rival as the century’s greatest English writer – puts this piece of advice into Bertie Wooster’s gormless gob: ‘In… Continue reading

51 Comments
Tess and Claudia. Picture: Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images

Strictly Come Dancing review: seriously, who are the 11 million people who enjoy this stuff?

8 September 2014 12:43

There’s a Radio 4 programme, presented by the smug moraliser Marcus Brigstocke, called I’ve Never Seen Star Wars, which gets famous people to do things they’ve never done before, like… Continue reading

10 Comments
Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images

Spectator competition: write a poetic short story (plus: Philip Larkin’s version of Humpty-Dumpty)

6 September 2014 9:30

The invitation to recast a nursery rhyme in the style of a well-known author attracted a large and lively entry that was evenly split between prose and poetry. In general,… Continue reading

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(Photo: Getty)

Joan Rivers’ diary: ‘Count your blessings, my darlings, count your blessings’

5 September 2014 10:13

Back in December 2008, Joan Rivers contributed a diary to the Spectator’s Christmas issue. Joan died yesterday at the age of 81. Here’s her piece: A lot of you weaklings out there… Continue reading

5 Comments
Photo: Getty Images

Joan Rivers (1933 – 2014) was the best

5 September 2014 0:03

Joan Rivers has died from complications resulting from throat surgery. She was 81. For many, she was the best. The funniest, sharpest, most mischievous comic we will ever know. And though she’d hate us for saying it, she… Continue reading

43 Comments
Photo: Getty Images

Paul McCartney telling me to vote No makes me want to vote Yes

4 September 2014 17:14

‘Scotland, stay with us!’ David Bowie declared back in February. And what Bowie says (or doesn’t, quite – attentive readers will remember that he got Kate Moss to say it… Continue reading

65 Comments
Photo: Getty Images

Here’s why we should save the Wedgwood Museum

3 September 2014 10:48

A public appeal has been launched to save the Wedgwood Museum pottery collection, which is being sold to pay off the ceramics firm’s pension bill. The museum entered administration in… Continue reading

6 Comments
Jennifer Lawrence (Photo: Getty)

Jennifer Lawrence’s leaked photos highlight feminism’s next frontier: cyberspace

2 September 2014 17:53

Nobody wants naked photos of themselves leaked across the internet so a global network of creeps can beat off to them. But celebs and plebs alike are increasingly confronted by… Continue reading

114 Comments
Orala Johnson from 21 Up. Photo: BBC/ITV Studios

21 Up is intelligent and sensitive – and makes me crave for sex, vomit and immaturity

2 September 2014 12:58

At 9 o’clock last night, I sat down with my take-away curry, flippedback the lid of my MacBook and went to the iPlayer website to catchthe first episode of 21 Up: New… Continue reading

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Mansfield Park ( 1999 version

Why boys love Jane Austen

2 September 2014 12:36

When I first read Jane Austen I had an ulterior motive. I wanted to impress a girl who read her. I didn’t get the girl, but I got the novelist:… Continue reading

17 Comments
Photograph: UK Stock Images Ltd/Alamy

My ‘fare-dodging’ hell

2 September 2014 12:01

At least every other time a ticket inspector boards a train or bus I’m on, I pretend I can’t find my ticket or Oyster card. I then miraculously find it… Continue reading

40 Comments