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Paddington Bear talks to Spectator Life about manners, marmalade and Portobello Road

24 November 2014 17:26

This is an extract from Spectator Life, available with next week’s issue of the Spectator: You adapted very well to life in London — were you concerned about how you… Continue reading

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Spectator books of the year: Charlotte Moore enjoyed Barry’s novel on Irish drunkenness

23 November 2014 21:00

Common People by Alison Light (Fig Tree, £20) is a shot in the arm for family historians like me. Her wise, wide-ranging interpretations of her family’s past elevate our dusty grubbings… Continue reading

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Spectator books of the year: Philip Hensher urges you to read We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves before someone tells you the twist

23 November 2014 18:00

The books I liked best this year were all richly detailed. Why read a book unless it’s going to go into all the nooks and crannies? Everyone is going to… Continue reading

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Image: Getty.

Spectator books of the year: Christopher Howse was sickened by Charles Saatchi’s collection of thoughts

23 November 2014 15:00

Wonderful year for Pevsner, or rather for us who use the guides as we potter about. Four new vols: Bedfordshire, Somerset, Cornwall, Cambridgeshire, too big for the pocket, but a… Continue reading

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Charlotte Brontë. Image: Getty.

Spectator books of the year: Melanie McDonagh embraces The Essence of the Brontës

23 November 2014 12:00

Muriel Spark wasn’t only one of the great British novelists but a cracking literary critic and a lovely essayist. Her book on Mary Shelley is extraordinarily perceptive; ditto, but more… Continue reading

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Author Ian McEwan

Spectator books of the year: Lewis Jones on Ian McEwan and narrow boats

23 November 2014 9:00

Music Night at the Apollo: A Memoir of Drifting (Bloomsbury, £14.99) describes the year Lilian Pizzichini spent with her cats on the Adam Bonny, a narrowboat moored on the Grand… Continue reading

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Spectator books of the year: Molly Guinness on the ‘oddly adorable’ New York dentist

22 November 2014 21:00

What You Want, or the Pursuit of Happiness by Constantine Phipps (Quercus, £20). This is a deeply eccentric book — a novel entirely in verse set in a theme park… Continue reading

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Spectator books of the year: Sam Leith explains why The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters nearly lost him money

22 November 2014 18:00

I liked Adam Nicolson’s The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters (William Collins, £25) so much that — if I had had the first idea how to operate in a betting… Continue reading

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Clive James in 1976. Image: Getty

Spectator books of the year: Marcus Berkmann reveals the only book this year he didn’t want to finish

22 November 2014 15:00

As someone who spent several years writing TV reviews mainly for laughs, I kneel before the twin idols of Clive James and Nancy Banks-Smith, without whom I wouldn’t have had… Continue reading

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The slaying of the Jabberwock (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Spectator competition: ‘Jabberwocky’ for the digital age (plus: Christmas round robins from fictional characters)

22 November 2014 9:30

The call for scenes describing a well-known character from children’s literature past grappling with a 21st-century problem drew an entry full of wit and variety. Pamela Dow reimagined Louisa May… Continue reading

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Spectator books of the year: Jane Ridley on her favourite books about The Great War

22 November 2014 9:00

2014 has been the year of 1914. In the same way that Christmas puddings appear in supermarkets in October, many of the contestants in the publishing race for 2014 defied… Continue reading

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Mike Nichols collecting an AFI Life Achievement  Award

The Spectator’s original review of The Graduate, directed by Mike Nichols

20 November 2014 13:57

This review first appeared in The Spectator on 15 August 1968. In the United States The Graduate is already as much a phenomenon as a film. Critics have been treating… Continue reading

5 Comments
Alina Cojocaru in ENB's Swan Lake. Photography: ASH

English National Ballet’s star ballerina infuriates fans

19 November 2014 17:06

Which would you rather dance in: Milton Keynes or Moscow’s Bolshoi? It’s that age-old dilemma for a star ballerina like Alina Cojocaru, who last week decided not to fulfil a… Continue reading

3 Comments
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Spectator books of the year: Alan Johnson on why H is for Hawk is A for Amazing

19 November 2014 15:16

H is For Hawk (Cape, £14.99) is the most ‘A for Amazing’ book I’ve read in a long while. Helen Macdonald weaves together three separate but related strands to produce a… Continue reading

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Owen Jones: was he right all along? Image: Getty

Spectator books of the year: Matthew Parris on his growing fear that Owen Jones might be right

19 November 2014 14:53

As the year unwinds I’m rebuked by hints all around me that a book I comprehensively panned in Literary Review is basically true. The Establishment and How They Get Away With It by Owen… Continue reading

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Why Paddington is anti-Ukip propaganda

19 November 2014 12:46

Well, I’ve just been to see the new Paddington film – the one Colin Firth bowed out of on account of not feeling up to being the voice of the… Continue reading

28 Comments
Band Aid 30

Like everyone else, I want to think Bob Geldof’s awful – but I can’t

19 November 2014 12:04

Band Aid 30 is officially the fastest selling single of 2014. Yet this attempt by successful musicians to heal Africa through song has not met with universal cheer. Instead, a… Continue reading

18 Comments
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Kajaki review: never have I seen a more gruesome depiction of war

19 November 2014 11:07

On September 6th, 2006, a mortar unit from 3rd Battalion, 3 Para, defending the Kajaki dam over the Helmand River in Afghanistan, spotted an illegal road block set up by… Continue reading

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(Photo: AFP/Andrew Cowie)

Yes, Bob Geldof, Africans know it’s Christmas. Do you know it’s time to pack Band Aid in?

19 November 2014 10:19

In this week’s Spectator, out tomorrow, our leading article looks at the Band Aid 30 single and why it’s time for Bob Geldof to pack Band Aid in. Pickup a copy tomorrow… Continue reading

182 Comments
A Soviet soldier buys a ticket for the performance of the Seventh Symphony in Leningrad in August 1942

Spectator books of the year: Stephen Walsh on Leningrad

18 November 2014 11:52

I’ve reviewed only a handful of books in 2014, but have struck lucky twice. Brian Moynahan’s Leningrad: Siege and Symphony (Quercus, £25) is one of the most moving books I’ve read for… Continue reading

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The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

Spectator books of the year: Ferdinand Mount on Colm Tóibín

18 November 2014 11:17

I have always loved Arnold Bennett’s The Old Wives’ Tale. I now have an equal fondness for Sathnam Sanghera’s Marriage Material (Heinemann, £14.99), which is a reworking of the Black Country classic translated to… Continue reading

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Spectator books of the year: Jeremy Clarke gives his apologies

18 November 2014 11:00

I haven’t read any books published this year —or last year, come to that. That disqualifies me — doesn’t it? Read the other Spectator books of the year

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Damon Albarn at the Royal Albert Hall: I’m sorry to say he killed it

18 November 2014 10:35

You can’t help but want to hate Damon Albarn. While he may not be the most irritating of the Britpop survivors, (as long as fellow Blur-ite Alex James is still… Continue reading

13 Comments
The Mike Leigh/Nick Serota puff piece for Newsnight

Newsnight’s arts coverage has descended into a string of fawning advertorials

17 November 2014 15:37

Newsnight‘s decision to interview misogynist comedian Daniel ‘Dapper Laughs’ O’Reilly has been slammed as a cynical ratings grab, a descent even from the depths plumbed by devoting 15 minutes to… Continue reading

17 Comments
The £12,000 first prize goes to... this: 'Konrad Lars Hastings Titlow' by David Titlow, 2014. Copyright: David Titlow

The Taylor Wessing Prize has no future if it continues to be so insipidly PC

17 November 2014 12:19

We know what to expect from the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize. Africans in tribal dress. Flame-haired girls posing with animals. Nudes, generally grotesque: obese hanging bellies, a limb missing here… Continue reading

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