It’s about time a man won the Booker again

15 October 2014 11:55
Richard Flanagan, winner of the 2014 Man Booker.  Photo: BEN STANSALL/ AFP/ Getty Images

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


I vow to thee, my Scotland, a small number of earthly things

14 October 2014 19:42
Europe's Oldest Surviving Iron Chain Suspension Bridge Connecting Scotland And England To Be Closed

Politics is a funny old game. I could have sworn the Yes campaign lost the Battle for Scotland in pretty decisive fashion last month. Scotland voted to remain a part… Continue reading


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

14 October 2014 18:40
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)

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


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


This Catholic ‘earthquake’ on homosexuality is splitting the Church

14 October 2014 14:38
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This tweet about the Vatican Synod on the Family has appeared in my timeline and it speaks volumes about the chaos the debates are generating: Cardinal Wilfred Napier, Archbishop of Durban,… Continue reading


Why hasn’t Labour sacked Ed Miliband?

14 October 2014 14:01
Image: Getty

If a bus driver were heading towards the edge of a cliff, the passengers would try to seize control of the wheel in all cases except one. Members of the… Continue reading


Cameron shoots himself in the foot on the rural vote

14 October 2014 13:33
Image: Getty

Police this week were granted the authority to carry out random, unannounced checks at the home of anyone who has a gun licence. Why? They claim that shooters may be… Continue reading


What’s the opposite of a champagne socialist? Phillip Blond

14 October 2014 11:44
(Photo from BBC News)

Phillip Blond, sporting tinted specs for this morning’s devolution debate, is famed in the wonkier side of Westminster for his unique style. The self-styled ‘Red Tory’, who split with the Cameroons… Continue reading


Mrs Neil Hamilton for Ukip MP?

14 October 2014 10:32
Neil and Christine Hamilton  (Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty)

Like a bad smell, Neil Hamilton continues to linger around Westminster. The disgraced MP, who came to embody Tory sleaze by the time he lost his seat in 1997, has… Continue reading


Fatuous phrase of the week

14 October 2014 9:20

Every day, without fail, some celebrity or public figure will be quoted spouting a meaningless or disingenuous off-the-cuff cliché, to either big himself up or excuse some misdemeanour. Or simply… Continue reading


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

13 October 2014 19:31
England's cricketer Kevin Pietersen play

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


Recognising a Palestinian ‘state’ in Parliament is not only pointless, it’s dangerous

13 October 2014 17:36
Ramallah, August 2014 (Photo: Abbas Momani, AFP)

Today in Parliament, MPs are voting on a backbench motion (supported by a one-line whip from the Labour party) proposing that Britain recognises Palestine as a state. The motion attempts push a… Continue reading


‘Earthquake’ in Rome as Vatican synod talks about homosexuality and divorce

13 October 2014 16:49
Vatican Family

The Synod on the Family in Rome today caused an ‘earthquake’ – the word is being used on Catholic blogs everywhere – when it appeared to tweak the Church’s line on homosexuality and… Continue reading


Beagle or bull terrier, don’t blame the breed – blame the owners

13 October 2014 15:59
'Pete', a staffie, jumps through a hoop, 1927 (Photo: General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)

In this week’s magazine, Justin Marozzi writes about a vicious dog attack on a beach in Norfolk, which left his mongrel Maisie close to death and his own fingers ‘redesigned’… Continue reading


Have scientists found proof of life after death?

13 October 2014 13:23
Dr. Niraj Desai (L) sews in a kidney to

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


Why are sports biographies treated differently to other works?

13 October 2014 13:18
Kevin Pietersen book signing. Photo: Getty Images

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


Boris Johnson asks voters to decide if he’s a fool or just a cynic. What a choice!

13 October 2014 11:44
Conservative Party Conference Held In Birmingham - Day 3

Boris is at it again this morning. Revealing, that is, why he cannot be trusted with office. To be charitable, I wouldn’t trust many newspaper columnists with the keys to… Continue reading


Of course marijuana isn’t ‘safe’ – but should it be illegal?

13 October 2014 9:26

Sometimes I read things that really get on my wick, and last week was one of those times. A new, ‘definitive’ 20-year study has ‘demolished the argument that the drug… Continue reading


To Nigel Farage in the wake of Heywood and Middleton: an apology

13 October 2014 8:58
Nigel Farage (Photo: Oli Scarff, Getty)

Nigel Farage – an apology. My suspicion had been that Ukip would not frighten the horses terribly in Heywood and Middleton. It is not great territory for them, after all.… Continue reading


Brooks Newmark was in mental agony: I saw it with my own eyes

12 October 2014 21:36

Tory MP Brooks Newmark quits politics after sexting photograph comes to light; talks of depression, needing help, checks into clinic. To which the response of many people will be: Yeah, right. He’s playing… Continue reading


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

11 October 2014 9:43
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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


Nigel Farage takes inspiration from Al Gore

10 October 2014 15:38
(Photo: Justin Tallis/Getty)

Al Gore is an unlikely source of inspiration for Ukip – in fact the party once pledged to ban the former Vice President’s controversial climate change documentary from schools, calling… Continue reading


Uterine transplantation is the final gynaecological frontier

10 October 2014 14:02
(Photo: Hulton Archive)

The successful transplantation of a uterus represents the last major surgical goal in the field of reproductive gynaecology. This feat has recently been achieved by a team at the University… Continue reading


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

10 October 2014 13:32
Patrick who? The winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature 2014

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


There is more to lung-cancer diagnosis than a chest X-ray

10 October 2014 11:42
University College Hospital, London, December 1936 (Photo: Fox Photos/Getty)

Chest x-rays have been around for 100 years and are still widely used in health care. According to the government’s ongoing National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative (NAEDI) a chest… Continue reading