Spectator Money: A 21-page special section with Louise Cooper, Matthew Lynn & Jonathan Davis 30 september 2017 [ £4.25 www.spectator.co.uk [ est. 1828 Corbyn’s big chance James Forsyth on the Tories’ fatal paralysis AT LAST! AN EXIT FROM BREXIT MATTHEW PARRIS DEGAS, THE VOYEUR LAURA FREEMAN JAPAN’S ELECTION GAMBLE Ar Ia m no nnu and teb cc o oo i’s k BAHRAIN BD3.20. CANADA C$7.50. EURO ZONE €6.95 SOUTH AFRICA ZAR79.90 UAE AED34.00. USA US$7.20. GARY DEXTER P H Y S I C A L G O L D AT COMPETITIVE PRICES Sharps Pixley brings you a wide selection of bullion products, at affordable prices SHARPS PIXLEY 5 4 S T J A M E S ’ S S T R E E T, LO N D O N S W 1 A 1 J T sharpspixley.com I +44 (0)207 871 0532 Full members of the LBMA (London Bullion Market Association) LO N D O N I GERMANY I SWITZERLAND I SINGAPORE I S PA I N established 1828 It’s time to talk trade T hirty years ago, the Conservatives would have had no problem countering what Jeremy Corbyn had to offer in Brighton. But as they gather in Manchester for their own conference, they know they are going to have to find a new way of appealing to a generation born after the fall of Soviet communism, which has no memory of (or interest in) the 1970s, with its industrial strife and moribund state-run industries. Socialism, as we found out in June, is this year’s surprise hit. For younger voters struggling to find a way on to the property ladder, a bigger, all-embracing state may seem to be the answer. As for financial crises, the only one they have witnessed in their adult lives was one blamed on reckless banks. It is harder for them to appreciate the economic consequences of collectivisation, in spite of the admission by shadow chancellor John McDonnell that his policies might cause a run on the pound. He promises disruption, and there is a market for that. A great many young people have experienced stagnant wages and seen soaring house prices, and feel any other way must be a better way. The Conservatives find themselves struggling to find a language which connects with voters born after 1973, most of whom opted for Labour at the last election. Indeed, they are struggling to find an agenda more broadly. But there is no shortage of issues to discuss. Labour’s decision not to debate Brexit at its conference showed that the party is mute on the single most important issue of the day. There is an opportunity here, if the Tories have the wit to seize it. Most of those who voted for Remain now think the result of the referendum ought to be respected; slowly the divisions are starting to heal. The Conservatives ought to focus on this reconciliation, rather than pose as a group of crowing Brexiteers. The main concern among those who opposed Brexit is that Britain was turning in on itself, that nativism and populism were in the ascendant. This seemed to chime with the Prime Minister’s often harsh tone, notoriously referring to the ‘citizens of nowhere’ and, to her shame, refusing to offer immediate assurances to EU nationals, something even Ukip advocated. She has had depressingly few warm words for our European allies, perhaps thinking that a combative stance would serve her well in a general election. She sought to change the tone in her Florence speech, but far more needs to be Free trade is the most effective way to encourage poverty reduction, social cohesion and conﬂict prevention done. She needs to talk about the opportunities of Brexit, specifically on opening up Britain’s economies in ways that the EU has struggled to do. She should return to the theme of her Davos speech — that in a world where protectionism is on the rise, Britain stands ready to be the world champion of free trade. And she should make the moral case for this: free trade lowers prices at home and strengthens friendships abroad. It is the most effective way to encourage poverty reduction, social cohesion and conflict prevention. And it can soon be the cornerstone of British foreign policy. This is the message of the Institute for Free Trade, which launched recently at a Foreign Office reception hosted by Boris Johnson. Its emergence, and its close relationship with the Foreign Secretary, is an encouraging development. At times, it seems as if the Tories have forgotten how to the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk talk about trade — the subject has, after all, been off the political agenda since we joined the EU four decades ago. A change of conversation is needed. Brexit was not about walking away from Europe but about finding a better way of engaging with it, based on mutual respect and national sovereignty. This point is not filtering down into the Conservatives’ conversation with the electorate — in spite of its obvious appeal to a generation which takes for granted the freedom to travel the globe and to shop across borders. It is also a generation that cannot understand, for example, why we have an immigration system that openly discriminates against people from the United States and India simply because they are not in the European Union. So this ought to be the new Tory creed: an internationalism that strikes new alliances while respecting national borders — and recognises that there is no contradiction between the two. The appeal of free trade, backed by this magazine since its inception in 1828, has as much relevance now as then. There should be a very clear message from Downing Street: we want to do business with the EU, we want goods and services to flow across the Channel — and the Irish land border — just as they do now. But we also want free trade with the rest of the world. We can hope that the EU chooses co-operation, but if it erects barriers then we can speed up and redouble our efforts with nations beyond Europe. Like the EU, the Conservative party has sometimes had a schizoid attitude towards free trade — for example, tearing itself apart over the Corn Laws. But if the Conservatives want to present the younger section of the electorate with an inspiring vision, there is no doubt which of its instincts must now be allowed to prevail. 3 Honest Abe, p14 Railway cathedrals, p56 Dancing to the music of Powell, p54 THE WEEK 3 Leading article 7 Portrait of the Week 9 Diary Squabbling terns, crazy world Susan Hill 11 The Spectator’s Notes The grand EU folly; hunting and the National Trust; dietary requirements Charles Moore 17 Rod Liddle TV’s poison dwarves 21 Matthew Parris The subversion of Brexit is under way at last 22 Barometer Gender pay gaps; who drives for Uber; the first postcard 23 From the archive Enemy nerves 25 Mary Wakefield The mess we’re in 27 Letters Leave must fight again; Corbyn’s popularity; why we are fat 28 Any other business Uber cleared the way — others will follow Martin Vander Weyer Deborah Ross is away. BOOKS & ARTS 12 Corbyn’s clear run Tory divisions have brought the hard left dangerously close to power James Forsyth 13 His first 100 days What to expect if Labour wins Ross Clark BOOKS 54 Philip Hensher Anthony Powell, by Hilary Spurling 56 Andrew Taylor After the Fire, by Henning Mankell Christian Wolmar Britain’s 100 Best Railway Stations, by Simon Jenkins 14 Abe’s big gamble Japan’s PM calls a snap election Gary Dexter 57 Katrina Gulliver The Future of War: A History, by Lawrence Freedman 16 May will stay Damian Green talks up his boss James Forsyth and Fraser Nelson 58 A.N. Wilson Priest of Nature, by Rob Iliffe 18 Not children, not refugees Asylum system failures Harriet Sergeant 59 Victoria Schofield Travels in a Dervish Cloak, by Isambard Wilkinson 20 Movie notebook No, my Stalin film is not about Trump Armando Iannucci 60 Andy Miller The Cake and the Rain, by Jimmy Webb 22 Life in the e-lane How DIY everything slows us down Mary Dejevsky 61 Alex Peake-Tomkinson Sugar Money by Jane Harris 29 Spectator Money A 21-page section featuring Elliot Wilson, Laura Whitcombe, Ross Clark, Matthew Lynn, Freddy Gray and others 62 Paul Levy Coming to My Senses, by Alice Waters Cover by Morten Morland. Drawings by Michael Heath, Phil Disley, RGJ, Grizelda, Bernie, Nick Newman, Paul Wood, Geoff Thompson, Steve Way, Roger Latham. www.spectator.co.uk Editorial and advertising The Spectator, 22 Old Queen Street, London SW1H 9HP, Tel: 020 7961 0200, Fax: 020 7681 3773, Email: editor@spectator. co.uk (editorial); email@example.com (for publication); firstname.lastname@example.org (advertising); Advertising enquiries: 020 7961 0222 Subscription and delivery queries Spectator Subscriptions Dept., 17 Perrymount Rd, Haywards Heath RH16 3DH; Tel: 0330 3330 050; Email: email@example.com; Rates for a basic annual subscription in the UK: £111; Europe: £185; Australia: A$279; New Zealand: A$349; and £195 in all other countries. To order, go to www.spectator. co.uk/A151A or call 0330 3330 050 and quote A151A; Newsagent queries Spectator Circulation Dept, 22 Old Queen Street, London SW1H 9HP, Tel: 020 7961 0200, Fax: 020 7681 3773, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Distributor Marketforce, 161 Marsh Wall, London, E14 9AP. Tel. 0203 787 9001. www.marketforce.co.uk Vol 335; no 9866 © The Spectator (1828) Ltd. ISSN 0038-6952 The Spectator is published weekly by The Spectator (1828) Ltd at 22 Old Queen Street, London SW1H 9HP Editor: Fraser Nelson 4 the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk Switching to ﬁbre optics, Money, p42 Bohemian capital, p74 Snaps by Degas, p64 LIFE ARTS 62 James Delingpole The hilarity and horror of Curb Your Enthusiasm 64 Exhibitions Degas Laura Freeman LIFE 77 High life Taki Low life Jeremy Clarke 79 Real life Melissa Kite 80 The turf Robin Oakley Bridge Janet de Botton 65 Music This is Rattle; It’s All True Igor Toronyi-Lalic 66 Design Can Graphic Design Save Your Life? Stephen Bayley 68 Cinema Goodbye Christopher Robin Jasper Rees 70 Theatre Boudica; Ramona Tells Jim Lloyd Evans 81 Wine club Jonathan Ray AND FINALLY . . . 74 Notes on… Prague Guy Dammann 82 Chess Raymond Keene 83 Competition Crossword Doc 84 Status anxiety Toby Young Battle for Britain Michael Heath 71 Box sets Black Sabbath vs David Bowie Michael Hann 85 Sport Roger Alton 72 Radio Kate Chisholm 86 Food Tanya Gold Your problems solved There’s no way anyone could have predicted the election of America’s first balloon-animal-inflated-bypotato-gas as President Armando Iannucci, p20 To my unpaid responsibilities as border guard, hotel clerk, coffeemaker, fast-food assistant and checkout girl, it would now appear I must add meter reader Mary Dejevsky, p22 I once planned to publish my diary, but found passages in it that were dishonest, written in the heat of the moment, most likely under the influence, and the result was a bum-clenching embarrassment Taki, p77 Mary Killen Mind your language Dot Wordsworth CONTRIBUTORS Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black has run longer than any other West End play, with the exception of The Mousetrap. She is the author of 60 books — and this week’s diary on p9. Harriet Sergeant’s last book, Among the Hoods, was about her three-year friendship with a south London gang. She writes about ‘child’ refugees and the care system on p18. the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk Katrina Gulliver is a journalist and historian who is co-editing a new series of books on the Pacific islands. She looks at the future of war on p57. Christian Wolmar, who explores railway stations on p56, is the author of Blood, Iron and Gold: How the Railways Transformed the World, among other books. Victoria Schoﬁeld is the author of an acclaimed biography of Field Marshal Wavell and several books on Afghanistan and Kashmir. On p59, she writes about Pakistan. 5 BOO N I A BRIT G N I HELP S I ROW ST S T R P EX E X PA N E AT H G DIN H HUGHES CRAFT DISTILLERY, ONE OF THE MANY BUSINESSES ACROSS THE UK THAT SUPPORT HEATHROW EXPANSION Heathrow is Britain’s biggest port by value for global markets outside the EU and Switzerland, handling over 30% of the UK’s exports. Expansion will double our cargo capacity and create new domestic and international trading routes, helping more businesses across Britain reach out and trade with the world. Heathrow expansion is part of the plan to strengthen Britain’s future. That’s why we are getting on with delivering Britain’s new runway. If you are attending Conservative conference, please register for Heathrow Lounge access at Heathrow.com/partyconference Building for the future TRADE INFO IS BY VALUE FOR 2016, EXCLUDES EXPORTS TO EU AND SWITZERLAND AND SOURCED FROM uktradeinfo.com FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE VISIT: www.heathrow.com/exports Home J eremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, told the party conference that Labour was ‘on the threshold of power’. The party had been ‘war-game-type scenario-planning’ for things like ‘a run on the pound’, John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said at a fringe meeting. Mr McDonnell had delighted conference-goers by denouncing Private Finance Initiatives: ‘We will bring existing PFI contracts back in-house. We’re bringing them back! We’re bringing them back!’ But next day, Jon Ashworth, the shadow health spokesman, said: ‘It’s only a handful which are causing hospital trusts across the country a significant problem.’ Mr McDonnell also promised to renationalise rail, water, energy and the Royal Mail. At a fringe event, speakers called for the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel to be ‘kicked out’ of the party. Tony Booth, father of Cherie Blair and best known for playing the son-in-law of Alf Garnett, who called him a ‘blasphemious Scouse git’, in Till Death Us Do Part, died aged 85. Mrs May had proposed ‘an implementation period of around two years’ after March 2019, during which Britain would abide by EU rules, including the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, and continue to allow free movement. ‘The UK will honour commitments it has made,’ she said, being understood to mean a payment of about £18 billion. McVitie’s reduced the number of Jaffa Cakes in a box from 12 to 10. D ara Khosrowshahi, the chief executive of Uber, the private-hire system used by 40,000 cab drivers and 3.5 million customers in London, said it would appeal against a decision by Transport for London to deny it a new operating licence. Six men arrested over the Parsons Green Underground bomb were released and one was charged with attempted murder. The US Department of Commerce proposed a 220 per cent import tariff on jets made by Bombardier, one of Northern Ireland’s biggest employers. The Dowager Countess of Lucan, whose husband disappeared in 1974 after their nanny was murdered, died aged 80. Fifa lifted its ban on footballers wearing remembrance poppies. D onald Tusk, the president of the European Council, visited Theresa May, the Prime Minister, in Downing Street. He said that her speech in Florence four days earlier had shown that ‘the philosophy of having a cake and eating it is finally at an end. At least I hope so’. But he added that the European Union would discuss its relations with the United Kingdom ‘once there is so-called sufficient progress’, but ‘there is no sufficient progress yet’. In her 5,357-word speech, Abroad P resident Donald Trump of the United States tweeted: ‘Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at UN. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man [Kim Jong-un], they won’t be around much longer!’ Ri Yong-ho responded that ‘it was the US who first declared war on our country’. US bombers were flown close to North Korea’s east coast. Iran said it the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk had successfully tested a missile with a range of 1,242 miles (enough to reach Israel), a week after Mr Trump had said at the UN that the nuclear agreement in 2015 between Iran and six world powers was an ‘embarrassment’ to America. Jake LaMotta, the former world middleweight boxing champion, died aged 95. C hancellor Angela Merkel of Germany gained a fourth term in office but saw her CDU-CSU alliance get the lowest vote since 1949, 33 per cent. The far-right Alternative für Deutschland became the third-largest party with 94 seats and 12.6 per cent, with a leading position in Saxony, with 27 per cent. Any coalition will take months to agree. President Emmanuel Macron of France called for a joint EU defence force. A couple in Krasnodar, Russia, were reported to have admitted murdering up to 30 people; a photograph dated 1999 showed a human head on a serving plate with fruit. I n defiance of the Iraqi government, Kurds voted for independence in a referendum held in the territory they control, with a turnout of 72 per cent. Catalonia prepared for a referendum on 1 October that it called binding, asking: ‘Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?’ Spain made arrests, declaring it illegal. King Salman of Saudi Arabia issued a decree allowing women to drive from next June. A 1,111-carat diamond, the size of a tennis ball, found in Botswana in 2015, was sold to Laurence Graff, a London jeweller, for £39.5 million. CSH 7 A DV E RT I S I N G F E AT U R E THE END OF A THROWAWAY SOCIETY T here is a saying, never more appropriate than in Recycle Week, that none of us can ever really throw anything away. There is no ‘away’ where we can throw it. The first principle for Coca-Cola is that used packaging is not waste – with the right investment, it can become a resource, to be used again. As a topical example, a plastic Coca-Cola bottle now contains only half the amount of plastic it did in the 1990s, and around 25 per cent of it is made up of recycled plastic. Coca-Cola Great Britain recently made an ambitious commitment to raise this to 50 per cent by 2020, meaning the drive to support efficient collection for reprocessing and recycling has never been greater. In 2009, Coca-Cola also pioneered the use of plastic bottles made partly from material manufactured from plant sources rather than fossil fuels. When you pick up a Smartwater or Honest bottle, you’re drinking from one made of both renewable and recycled materials, with a lower carbon footprint than a regular virgin plastic bottle. Technological advancements in packaging mean that the soft drinks industry can and should go much further. With the vision of its packaging as a valuable resource, Coca-Cola has invested in research and development to ensure all its bottles and cans have been 100 per cent recyclable since 2012. Yet in practice only 57 per cent of all plastic bottles are collected and recycled. Recycling rates, which increased rapidly during the first decade of this century, have stalled in Great Britain, with many bottles not being disposed of properly, leading to waste and litter. Something must change. The company believes that now is the time to trial a welldesigned Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), where consumers are given a small financial incentive to return empty bottles. It is a modern reinvention of an idea which existed until the 1970s, where buyers of drinks were charged a small deposit on glass bottles, which was paid back to them when they returned the empty bottle to the shop. Internationally such schemes operate in 20 countries, and they have provided insights as to how a good DRS should be designed. It is time for the industry to try something new, to see what impact could be made on litter and recycling rates. As one of the country’s largest producers of soft drinks and users of packaging, Coca-Cola Great Britain takes its responsibilities seriously and is focused on reducing its environmental impact with an aim to collect all of its packaging so more is recycled and none of it ends up as litter. Food packaging only makes up 2.5 per cent of total waste produced in Britain, and drinks bottles and cans constitute just 1.5 per cent. The soft drinks industry can play an important role in reducing litter and cleaning up the environment and Coca-Cola Great Britain is committed to continuing to lead the way, to get more of its packaging back and to help ensure the throwaway society is itself finally discarded. To find out more visit: www.coca-cola.co.uk/packaging Susan Hill I don’t know why party conferences no longer take place in Scarborough. As a child, I saw many an important politician strolling to the Spa Hall, including Winston Churchill. I am a Conservative party member but I have never been to conference. What would I do? Standing ovate, I suppose. But this year? Hm. Theresa May messed up bigger time than she may ever realise. My local association saw the writing on the wall before the polls closed. A panic email came in. ‘It’s going to be very tight.’ Tight indeed. N ow, the government seems entirely focused on Brexit, and of course it is important, but there are many other matters to sort out and I don’t mean internecine squabbles. Poverty. Housing. Schools. Holes in the road. I understand why many young people are turning away from us. But not why some older ones who should have more sense are Corbynistas. I met some people in their sixties, higher-educated, cultured, thoughtful, intelligent and quite wellheeled, who actually said that not only Jeremy Corbyn but his far-left allies were a good thing. They have lived long enough to know how it actually pans out for ordinary citizens in Marxist countries, and the way their economies always tank, yet still promote a government of the far left here. One such refused to help me with a good cause, saying, ‘I won’t, because this is what the government should pay for and if I give they have an excuse not to.’ Meanwhile, the homeless continue to be homeless. I don’t know how I held back from smacking him. world to worry about, but the hirundines touch my heart and I miss them. M y 60th book will be published next week. How strange. When the first was accepted by Hutchinson, I was taken out to lunch by my first editor, Dorothy Tomlinson. Very few people will remember her, though I know that the distinguished travel writer and novelist Colin Thubron G olden days. Leaves drifting down, the sun dancing on the North Sea this morning. The autumn equinox. The house martins were more plentiful this year than they have ever been — nine nests, all full. Those beneath the bathroom window were still feeding their late second brood two days ago. One afternoon, I leaned out of the window and several small faces looked up at me from the nest. Next morning they had all gone. Which will survive the journey to Africa, which will return next April? There are bigger things in the the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk does, because he was working as her assistant when I was starting out, and before he went off to Ulan Bator on foot. We both benefited so much from her expert eye, wide-ranging taste and firm but kindly way with the black pen. Her father, H.M. Tomlinson, was also a travel writer and novelist of distinction in his day. He was of the school of Joseph Conrad, and his books bear reading, especially The Sea and the Jungle and London River, if you can track copies down. He died just before his daughter took on my book, and she talked about him with enormous pride and fondness at that first lunch. We went to Brown’s Hotel, and she ordered hors d’oeuvres, which came on a trolley whose trays went up and round, revealing the delights of devilled eggs, rollmops, olives and gherkins, none of which I had ever tasted. I was frozen with embarrassment, which Dorothy sensed, and so chose for me. She happened to mention that her father had been a friend of Thomas Hardy, whose The Return of the Native I had just done for A-level. He sometimes went to their house for tea. To think that my own publisher had handed scones to a contemporary of Charles Dickens, and one of the greatest English novelists. T he first geese are back, though I have yet to see long skeins forging across the sky overhead, making such a clatter that their wings might be made of wood. Yet it was warm enough on the first day of autumn to sit on the beach in the sun. A few people crunched along the shingle. A fishing boat came in. One brave soul swam. Dogs plunged crazily into the water, sending up sheets of spray. But there were miles of emptiness under a vast blue sky. Two terns dived for mackerel and caught one. They fought over it as they flew up, so angrily that they dropped the fish back into the sea. They didn’t notice, just went on fighting over nothing. It reminded me of Handel’s great chorus from the Messiah. ‘Why do the nations so furiously rage together?’ Something else for our government to worry about. Susan Hill’s new book is called The Travelling Bag (Profile Books). 9 Charles Moore Y ou can see why Theresa May said in Florence that the British wished the European Union well in its plans for greater integration, while choosing a different path ourselves. There is no point in causing antagonism over what we cannot prevent. But in fact greater European integration will do great harm to all Europeans, including us. The rise of AfD in the German elections was caused almost entirely by Mrs Merkel’s extraordinary decision to admit a million Middle Eastern migrants in a year. The spread of the Schengen area — proposed by Jean-Claude Juncker — combined with recrudescent migrant pressure can only confirm freedom of movement as the impossible issue of our time. The attempt to support the euro with banking union and pan-eurozone economic government will continue to penalise the poorer members, while ultimately enraging German voters who have to take on everyone else’s debts. Yes, we have an interest in EU stability. But no, it will not be achieved by the Merkel/Macron/Juncker visions. ‘C elebrities urge National Trust to ban fox hunting’, was the strange headline in Monday’s Times. Strange, because fox hunting is already banned by the law of the land. What the antihunting lobbies are trying to stop is trail-hunting on the Trust’s 600,000 acres, which is, of course, legal, and will remain so unless and until we are so mad that we forbid all ownership of hounds. There will be a vote on the matter at the National Trust’s AGM in Swindon on 21 October. All National Trust members wishing to attend, or vote postally, have to register by 15 October. There is quite a history of attempted coups of this sort at the Trust. In 1990, an extreme-left Labour MP, Jeremy Corbyn by name, sponsored a resolution to ban all hunting (which was then legal) on Trust land. It failed. In 1997, on the recommendation of Professor Patrick Bateson’s report, the Trust hastily banned stag-hunting without consulting the interested parties. Today, the Trust, naive in reaction to a social media storm, has again been thoughtless. It put forward new licensing plans without consulting the Countryside Alliance. These propose that future meets should be publicised in advance — a nice idea, but one which takes no account of the sad fact that trail hunts are often attacked by extremists. The Trust is also in danger of riding roughshod over its tenantry: unless its leases specifically reserve trailhunting rights, it has no power over legal activities on tenanted land. By the way, in the 12 years of the ban, there have been no convictions for illegal hunting on Trust land. L ady (Mary) Fairfax has died. She was, extremely briefly, the grande dame of The Spectator. Early in 1985, the Australian Fairfax group bought the paper. Michael Heath commemorated the event with a cartoon, which we published, of The Spectator in the pouch of a kangaroo. The Fairfax era did us power of good. In 1987, however, young Warwick Fairfax, son of Mary, bought out the group, with heavy ‘leverage’. His offer enriched but enraged his family, expelling his half-brother and cousins. Mary Fairfax was a famous, commanding and noisy figure in Australian life, completely unlike all the other quiet, respectable Fairfaxes. She was the third wife of the patriarch, Sir Warwick — who died shortly before all this. She once gave a party of which the chef d’oeuvre was a gigantic ice kangaroo, its pouch stuffed not with The Spectator, but with caviare. Lady Fairfax was widely considered to be the power behind young Warwick. When she came to see me in our office in Doughty Street, her first words were: ‘They say I married my late husband for his money. That’s not true. I am a very wealthy woman in my own right.’ Then she said, ‘You know, I’m so lucky. I have a very dear friend who has the only stretch Rolls-Royce in London and he lent it to me to get here today.’ For want of anything else to say, I ventured the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk that this must make it difficult to get round corners. ‘I don’t know,’ glared Lady Fairfax, ‘I’m not driving.’ Then she told me about her son, our new proprietor: ‘He’s a very Christian young man. He lives in a little community. Every Sunday he cooks the dinner, and every Wednesday he cleans the bath.’ I got the sense that Warwick’s grip on Fairfax might not be secure. Besides, the dire effects of the crash of October 1987 sent all his borrowings awry. I did what I could to steer The Spectator towards the Telegraph group, which had expressed interest. It bought the paper in the spring of 1988 and has owned it ever since. Warwick lost control of Fairfax in 1990. F or some time now, people inviting one to corporate or governmental meals have enquired whether one has any ‘dietary requirements’. I have always considered this polite, since it gives guests the chance to state any need without having to raise it. As someone, however, with no dietary requirements — except food and plenty of it — I sometimes fail to answer the diet question, assuming that silence indicates assent to whatever is offered. Recently, I notice, this is not considered good enough. Emails come back insisting one state one’s preferences. Why? I imagine that, like so many things in modern life, this is a semi-legal precaution. Suppose a guest does not say that he is allergic to, say, nuts, is then served something with nuts in it, and falls gravely ill. Might he sue his hosts? It is important, some lawyer will have advised them, to have a ‘paper trail’. Is there no principle of caveat edens? R eaders may remember this column’s campaign to restore the reputation of George Bell, courageous wartime Bishop of Chichester, posthumously condemned, on paltry evidence, of child abuse. This weekend, Lord Carlile QC will hand in to the church authorities his report on the processes they used to condemn Bell. It will be public in a few weeks. In the meantime, a service will commemorate Bell at 5 p.m. at St Martin within Ludgate, London, on Wednesday 4 October. All welcome. 11 A clear run for Corbyn Paralysed by Brexit divisions, the Tories risk handing Britain to the hard left JAMES FORSYTH eremy Corbyn, Prime Minister. This used to be one of the Tories’ favourite lines. They thought that just to say it out loud was to expose its absurdity. The strategic debate within the Tory party was over whether to attack Corbyn himself, or to use him to contaminate the whole Labour brand. But Corbyn has transformed that brand, not damaged it. He has successfully fused together a Social Democratic party with a radical left one. Labour conference this week was the gathering of a movement that thinks it is close to power; just look at the disciplined way delegates justified the decision not to debate Brexit, on the grounds that it would just have created divisions. Having polled 40 per cent in June and seen its share of the vote soar, Labour thinks it will win next time. Party activists draw strength from the fact that they can outgun the Conservatives on the ground almost everywhere. As one Tory MP lamented to me, they think they are doing well if they can cajole a few dozen souls out for a day’s campaigning. Labour can get hundreds of activists out without even breaking sweat. Corbyn is now the bookies’ favourite to be the next prime minister. He has Theresa May to thank for this change in his fortunes. It was her decision to call an early election that allowed him to turn things around. Up to this point, Corbyn — for all his grassroots adulation — had been a bit of a Westminster joke: 172 of his own MPs had previously declared that they had no confidence in him. But his internal critics, who wanted to ensure there was no stab-in-the-back narrative, stayed silent this time. Corbyn was free to fight a campaign where low expectations worked in his favour. Helped by Tory divisions, Corbyn has consolidated his position since the election. Voters have hardly recoiled on realising how close to power he is. Instead, Labour is still polling at 40 per cent or above. Yet some Conservatives confidently claim that we have already passed ‘Peak Corbyn’. One of those who ran the Tory campaign argues that next time, voters will take the prospect of him winning more seri12 ously. So they’ll be far more worried about what he would mean for their family finances, the risk of a run on the pound and all the other chaos that he could bring. They also argue that at the last election, people felt it was safe to vote Labour to back a local candidate, or to stick two fingers up at the Tories, as there was so little chance of Corbyn reaching No. 10. That too will be different next time. How many of the 39 per cent of Financial Times readers who voted Labour at the last election really want John McDonnell in charge of the economy? But the real danger is that the Tories might have vaccinated Corbyn. By botching their attacks, they may have given him immunity. When they point to all his hardleft positions, his dodgy economics and his sympathy for various terrorist groups, voters might just shrug and say: ‘We’ve heard it all before.’ At the same time, Corbyn sounds very different to how he did two years ago. Voters tuning into him for the first time will find his agenda presented in a far more seductive and less sectarian way. What make this all so alarming is that it would be hard to think of a worse moment in Britain’s history to have a far-left prime minister. It’s often forgotten that what matters far more than Britain’s Brexit deal is what we do afterwards. If we go down the Corbyn route, foreign investors will not stick around. This country’s strengths as an open, dynamic economy with a flexible labour market will vanish and a new generation of Tories will begin to understand why so many on the centre-right in the 1970s and 1980s were prepared to trade sovereignty as a hedge against Bennite economics. Liberated from the constraints of the single market, John McDonnell would have a freer hand than any Labour chancellor in decades. He could subsidise industries and renationalise companies in ways that would reverse the whole Thatcher/Blair settlement. Taking the railways back into state control, for instance, would inevitably be challenged under EU law if Britain were still in the single market. One of the reasons Tony Benn was so opposed to the European project and Corbyn has such a solidly Eurosceptic voting record is that they saw it all as a capitalist conspiracy that would stop socialism at home. It is not just Brexit that makes this such a bad time to have a far-left government. We are living in an era of technological disruption and a Corbyn government would certainly not be on the side of the consumer. Look at how even the moderate Labour Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has backed TfL’s ban on the taxi service Uber. Britain’s future as one of the technology capitals of the world would disappear. Given such high stakes, why can’t the Tories unite? With the country facing an existential crisis and Corbyn the most likely successor to May, you’d have thought the party could pull itself together. But there are structural reasons preventing this. Even after Theresa May’s speech in Florence, we don’t know what she wants the final relationship between Britain and the EU to be. So the cabinet battle continues. To the Brexiteers led by Boris Johnson, it is obvious that there is no point in leaving the EU only to cling to it as closely as possible. But to Philip Hammond and the Treasury, the imperative is to maintain current arrangements for as long as possible. It is hard to see how these two sides can the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk be reconciled. May must be prepared to disappoint one of them. And because Hammond’s side of the argument is backed by Whitehall’s two most powerful institutions, the Treasury and the Cabinet Office, the Brexiteers believe that they have to create outside pressure to win these battles. Thus arguments are likely to play out in public more often than No. 10 would like — and voters do not reward divided parties. Even on areas of domestic policy where the cabinet agree, there is little sense of urgency. The Tories risk repeating their manifesto mistake of acknowledging problems, then coming up with solutions that are clearly inadequate to their scale. It is past time for proper radicalism on housing. As Noel Skelton identified in these pages back in 1923, the concept of a ‘property-owning democracy’ is the best bulwark against socialism. This means that the Tories need to be reversing the fall in home ownership before the next election. The only sure way to do that is for the state to grant itself planning permission on land it already owns and get the houses built. But there is no sign yet of the Tories being prepared to embrace this kind of thinking. It would be hard to think of a worse moment in Britain’s history to have a far-left prime minister Then there is the leadership question. When Tory MPs returned from their summer break, consensus had broken out. Mrs May would continue until Brexit was done, and then go. But that truce is breaking down. As May’s senior cabinet ally, Damian Green, makes clear on page 16, the Mayites really do think she can fight and win the next election. If she won’t step down, Tory MPs will have to remove their leader — always a messy business and rarely popular with the public. The more profound problem is that there is no obvious choice to replace her. The cabinet split over Brexit makes it hard to see who among its ranks could reconcile the two sides. And it is hard to see how a party in government could present the public with a prime minister who had not even served as a secretary of state. It is also clear that while Tory members are prepared to contemplate a less experienced leader, MPs are not convinced that this would be a wise strategy. Yet something must change. For if the Tories stay as they are, Jeremy Corbyn will seize the moment and it will be the hard left that determines the future of Brexit Britain. His first 100 days What would happen with Corbyn at the helm ROSS CLARK Many assume that if an election were held soon, Jeremy Corbyn would win. But what if, say, the government fell in 2020 and Labour won a working majority? A t 71, Corbyn becomes Britain’s oldest prime minister since Churchill, and at first is one of its most popular. His appeal grows as he takes on some of the country’s favourite demons. Few listen to the protests of water and electricity shareholders as their stakes are seized — most are focused on their own bills, which surely will come down now. There are cheers at Victoria Station as the news flashes across screens that Southern Railway is to be nationalised. At hospitals, medical staff are filmed applauding as PFI contracts are terminated and taken on by the NHS. Stock markets show an upwards blip. They have, after all, already pricedin the expected Corbyn victory, while the clear result means that the endless political horse-trading of the past few years is over. Sterling bounds upwards — for a few days. A Corbyn victory seems to indicate that Britain will finally leave the EU, rather than the half-in, half-out arrangement which has persisted as Downing Street tried to placate warring Conservative factions. It means that Britain should gain distance from the troubled eurozone, still reeling from its most recent crisis. But then social media starts to light up with snaps of sheepish-looking celebrities — a number of whom have previously given warm support to Corbyn — boarding planes to the US, Canada or Australia. A week later the national mood remains positive, in spite of grumblings when a Commons bill forces coffee-shop chains with more than 500 UK outlets to buy their beans exclusively from fair-trade growers in Venezuela, which is to get £100 million in UK aid to help diversify its economy. Starbucks closes some shops and says it will put no more investment into the UK to avoid the inflated prices. But it isn’t until week three, when Chancellor John McDonnell delivers his emergency budget, that the honeymoon ends. People who earn more than £80,000 a year have braced themselves the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk for higher taxes; not so the middle managers with pension funds valued at more than £250,000, which will now be subject to a new ‘wealth tax’ of 1 per cent per year. There is fury that public sector pensions will be exempt. There is also a new social care levy of 2 per cent on the value of any home worth £500,000-plus. Critics start likening it to Theresa May’s ‘dementia tax’. In the melee, a rise in corporation tax to 50 per cent for company profits over £10 million goes almost unnoticed. The extra revenue is all needed, says McDonnell, to ‘invest’ in an extra £100 billion of public spending a year, including abolition of tuition fees and the government’s ambitious nationalisation programme. The Conservatives’ plan to move the budget back into surplus (currently pencilled in for the year 2026-27) is abandoned. There are still willing investors for the next auction of government debt a week later, but they have started to demand higher interest rates. The pound starts to slide. It is just a slight adjustment, maintains McDonnell — until he is back to deliver his second emergency budget six weeks later. Corporate tax receipts, it turns out, have nosedived due to company relocations. The wealth tax is doubled to 2 per cent and will now apply to all personal assets worth over £100,000. Interest rates continue to rise as investors begin to worry whether the UK will be able to honour its future debts. Could the nationalisation programme be halted? There is some hope when the European Court of Justice rules that parts of it could be illegal under competition law. With Britain’s exit from the EU finally scheduled for 12 August, marking the Corbyn government’s 100th day in office, Boris Johnson, frontrunner for the Tory leadership, makes a passionate speech demanding that withdrawal be delayed at least until the question of nationalisation can be resolved. Charges of hypocrisy abound — none, though, more ironic than those levelled by Russell Brand, the star of Corbyn’s election broadcasts, speaking from the side of his LA swimming pool. 13 Abe’s challenge Is his rival Yuriko Koike behind the Japanese PM’s decision to call a snap election? GARY DEXTER A s the only nation to have suffered mass casualties from a nuclear bomb, Japan has been understandably nervous about Kim Jong-un’s missile tests. Sales of domestic nuclear bunkers and gas masks have soared and nationally aired TV ads with a chilling ‘Protect and Survive’ flavour urge residents to hunker behind washing machines in basements and stay away from windows. This is one reason why Shinzo Abe, Japan’s long-standing Prime Minister, felt confident enough to surprise the world this week and call a snap election. In the light of Theresa May’s recent disaster, it seemed to many like a rash move. Here, on the face of it, is a Prime Minister in a very similar position to the one May held in June: seeking to consolidate support at a moment when the opposition is in disarray, predictions of a landslide… But Abe is bullish. If he doesn’t win an outright majority, he says, he will resign. And there are reasons to think he is a far safer bet than May ever was. There’s the fact that he’s about as seasoned a politician as it is possible to imagine. He has already had three terms as the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) prime minister (there is no limit on the number of terms a Japanese prime minister may hold), and as his people know, he really is the man to face down any threat from crazy Kim Jong-un. Abe is known as a tough operator over North Korea. He is admired in Japan for getting one over on Kim Jong-il in 2002, when 14 he helped negotiate a deal for Japanese abductees in North Korea to visit Japan — though once in Japan the abductees refused to go back. Abe says that ‘talk for talk’s sake’ between Japan, the US and North Korea has achieved nothing. He now wants to take a different tack and bolster Japan’s ability to take a more active war-fighting stance, cur- All this tough talk has led critics to claim he is exploiting public fears for political gain rently restricted under the post-war pacifist constitution. In April this year he even raised the spectre of sarin-tipped North Korean missiles, evoking one of Japan’s most painful memories, the Tokyo sarin gas attacks of 1995. All this tough talk has led critics to claim that he is exploiting public fears for political gain — and they have a point. But those fears could be well-founded. The same is true in the economic sphere. Abe promises a turbocharging of so-called ‘Abenomics’. Tax increases are planned for 2019 to pay off the national debt, but in a new twist Abe has promised that around 40 per cent of the amount raised (¥2 trillion out of a total of ¥5 trillion) will be ringfenced to pay for ‘the challenge of breaking the greatest wall — a declining birthrate and an ageing population’. If this sounds pedestrian, it isn’t. Again, it taps into Japanese fears that the nation’s demography is out of control, that women are not having enough children and soon there will be no one to push everyone else’s wheelchairs. Again, the people have a point. But there’s another reason that Abe might think it important to press home his advantage, and that reason is Abe’s Jeremy Corbyn, Yuriko Koike, the first-ever female governor of Tokyo. Koike is an almost equally seasoned politician. She’s been environment minister and Japan’s first female minister of defence under Abe, but left the LDP in May this year. Last week she founded the ‘Hope Party’ (Kibou no Tou), an attempt to appeal to Japanese voters who are tired of politicsas-usual and Japan’s old male-dominated society and want something unconventional. Koike is almost professionally unconventional. When she was a young girl, so her story goes, her father told her: ‘It’s shameful to do what everybody does.’ So she studied at the American University in Cairo, then used her Arabic to get into TV, where she made her mark as a news commentator taking on the male host. Because she takes on the old guard, Koike has a great following of young Japanese who attend her rallies waving broccoli in honour of her green credentials. One of her stranger pitches to the young when running for governor was to promise that the whole of Tokyo would be turned into an ‘anime-land’. ‘I am raising my flag for real,’ Ms Koike said at a press conference this week. ‘Japan is facing a difficult time considering the situation in North Korea. Economically, the world is making a big move while Japan’s presence is gradually declining. Can we continue letting the establishment handle politics?’ There’s no doubt that Koike’s appeal played a part in Abe’s decision. Even she might find it hard to work up enough antiestablishment feeling to snatch victory from Abe in just three weeks, though stranger things have happened. The election is perhaps also timed to allow Abe to ride out his own version of the Whitewater scandal, involving the allegedly corrupt sale of building land. Calling the election now will necessitate the immediate dissolution of the lower house in preparation for elections on 22 October, which in turn means that his opponents will be unable to ask any more inconvenient questions in the Diet. Abe may feel that he will never be more popular than he is now. But the danger in his situation is pointed out by Aiji Tanaka, Professor of Political Science at Waseda University: ‘The situation looks so in favour of the LDP that some of its casual supporters may skip the voting because they think the LDP will win anyway, regardless of whether they go to vote,’ he says. If Abe then does badly, ‘this could fuel calls within the party for his replacement’. To the British voter, this might sound spookily familiar. the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk THE MIDLANDS ENGINE VISION FOR GROWTH Our response to the Government’s Midlands Engine Strategy Our core purpose is to create a Midlands Engine that powers the UK economy and competes on the world stage. Our strategic location, strong sense of identity and reputation as the beating heart of the national economy will ensure the UK’s future as a global economic power. Download a copy here www.midlandsengine.org/visionforgrowth The lady’s not for quitting May’s right-hand man Damian Green on her survival plan JAMES FORSYTH E AND ven Damian Green seems to find it odd that he’s the second most important person in the government. When asked, the First Secretary of State plays down his influence — in fact, he plays down most things. When David Cameron wanted the Tories’ immigration policies out of the spotlight, he put Green in charge of them. And when Theresa May wanted someone she could trust to be her deputy after the disastrous general election, she chose one of the few people in the cabinet whom she can call a friend. The pair have known each other since Oxford, and now talk face-to-face every day. When we meet in his magisterial cabinet office headquarters, he talks about her with enthusiasm. ‘She’s warm, has a sense of humour, she’s good company and she is, as has been observed, fantastically hardworking and conscientious,’ he says. ‘The more people see that, the better she will do politically.’ And if she hasn’t been doing very well politically, he says, that’s because people haven’t seen the real Theresa May. He thinks they will now. Most of the cabinet regard the Prime Minister as a caretaker. They think she is staying on from a sense of duty, to get Brexit done and prevent a leadership contest from being dominated by this most divisive of Tory issues. But does she see it that way? On a recent trip to Japan, she was asked if she’d fight the next election in five years’ time and replied: ‘Yes.’ Mr Green says that she was quite serious — and if there is any doubt about that, he’d like it settled. ‘She is a fighter, and she’s got an agenda for the country that she’s passionate about. She wants to put that into practice,’ he says. ‘By 2022, she will have a big record of achievement to show. I’m optimistic that we’ll have a good Brexit deal, and we’re determined to pursue a domestic agenda that will show people who may not previously have benefited from Conservative successes that they can do so. Different types of people, in different parts of the country. I think people will see that as a success.’ Strong words, and ones that will shock 16 FRASER NELSON many Tory MPs and members of the cabinet. They thought there was a tacit understanding that May would see Brexit through, and would elegantly avoid questions about 2022. But she has a new agenda now: that she will fight on, fight to win. And fight for at least another five years. Those who want her gone will have to remove her. In a sign of how seriously the May inner circle is taking her survival plan, Green even sets out the electoral calculations that will underpin the campaign. ‘We will see more of Jeremy Corbyn’s and particularly John McDonnell’s economic policies. If people Green’s making sure that messages ﬂow back: mainly, that May is all set to stay and she has a plan actually think they are going to be put into practice, they will start searching for alternatives. Now, I’d obviously hope that they will come to us. But it seems at least possible that they’ll go to the Liberal Democrats, or the Greens.’ So is he saying that a resurgent Vince Cable might save the Tories? ‘Yes, that’s right.’ Watching Labour’s buzzing conference in Brighton, many on the centre-right are starting to fear that we have reached a 1979 moment in reverse — that is to say, that there has been a sea change and it is for Mr Corbyn. But Green is confident that this is not the case. Or as he puts it, ‘We’re not in 1979, we’re in 1974. And if the Labour ‘The talks are not going well.’ government had done different things, they might have changed things.’ Mrs May’s policies on housing, industrial strategy and social justice, he says, will prove to those who have ‘seized on Jeremy Corbyn as the solution’ that the Conservative party has the answers. ‘That’s precisely what Theresa identified when she first became Prime Minister.’ But if she is the right leader with the right policies, why did she lose the Tories their majority? ‘It boils down to having a manifesto that clearly didn’t work,’ he says — a dig at Nick Timothy, her now-departed chief of staff, who took personal charge of the document. He complains that it ‘didn’t mesh with a campaign that was essentially “safety first” at a time when a lot of people were saying “we need change here”’. This is another dig — at the Tory campaign guru Lynton Crosby. In truth, the next election is likely to be determined by Brexit. The Tories will have little chance of winning unless they deliver on it, and in an orderly fashion. Green, who was on the board of Stronger In, is still smarting at Corbyn’s failure to pull his weight in the referendum. ‘He didn’t lift a finger, actively refused to talk to Alan Johnson, who was heading the Labour In campaign. He pulled out of radio interviews on the morning and behaved very, very badly as a Remain campaigner.’ He’s also unhappy with Boris Johnson’s very public interventions on Brexit. He remarks archly that, ‘There are views to be expressed on all issues and I would prefer them to be expressed in private rather than in public.’ When we jokingly ask if there are too many former journalists in the cabinet, he says pointedly, ‘I’m not a journalist any more, I am now a government minister, and therefore I have needed to develop a different skill-set and a different attitude to the world.’ It’s odd to think of Green as a journalist: he worked for the BBC and the Times, but now seems to be in the business of making stories go away. Which, given the current climate, is useful for a Tory party beset by too many stories. One of his fellow cabinet members says the team works much better now that they have, in Green, a conduit to the Prime Minister, rather than her old special advisers. He says his job now means ‘making sure that not just cabinet members but backbenchers as well have someone else they can talk to, an elected politician who is at the centre and can make sure that ideas and complaints can flow through’. And he’s also making sure that messages flow back: mainly, that May is all set to stay and she has a plan. That, in spite of the past few months, there’s no one better to lead her party into the next decade. ‘At the election, the wrong impression took hold,’ he says. ‘But the more people get to know her, the more they will see the huge qualities she brings to the job.’ The next few months will show whether his party agrees. the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk ROD LIDDLE The dwarves of death who control your TV M y own fault, I suppose, for turning on the television. Not an action I undertake very regularly these days, because I am trying to be a nicer person. Some time ago, Charles Moore wrote in his Spectator diary about a hitherto ghastly, bitter old woman who had suddenly become much more pleasant to everybody. What had effected this change? ‘I have stopped reading the Daily Mail,’ she explained. So it is with me and the idiot box. I become so enraged at being clubbed over the head by the politically correct dwarves of death who inhabit that poxed machine in the corner that I stamp around and make everybody miserable with my ranting. Not just the news programmes, either, although they’re the worst. Every programme these days has those dwarves hammering away with cudgels at your head, frantic to get their fatuous agenda fastened deep inside your skull. There is never an alternative view. So all I watch (very occasionally) is a programme called How It’s Made, which explains, factually, how things like cotton buds and motorbikes and dog collars are manufactured. The dwarves haven’t caught up with this forgotten late-night half-hour yet. But they will, they will. Sooner or later I’ll turn on and the announcer will say: ‘This week on How It’s Made — the patriarchy, racism and slavery.’ Anyway, my wife wanted to watch a new series on ITV called Liar and, being nothing if not uxorious, I agreed to enjoy it with her. Big mistake. It’s a six-part series in which, at the outset, a woman accuses a man of rape after a night out. The man denies it. Hence the title — the drama resides in guessing who is telling the porky. Except it doesn’t, does it? Because as many TV reviewers noted, it has to be the man lying. Because women don’t lie, not even in fiction these days. They are not allowed to lie. One reviewer said that it would be ‘irresponsible’ for the series to conclude that the woman had lied. This is how efficient the dwarves of death have been with their cudgels. Bang, bang, bang they go on our heads, until we are unable to contemplate the possibility that a woman might tell a lie. It would be irresponsible, the reviewer (and several others) con- tended — because almost no rape cases come to court and women are never believed. Au contraire. More and more rape cases come to court — the number rises every year. And more than one in three men (42.1 per cent, fact fans) who are charged with rape are later proven to be innocent. There have been numerous high-profile cases recently. So in fact a decent drama could have been constructed out of this scenario if the dwarves hadn’t got to us. But the writers of the series actually agreed that it would be irresponsible to suggest that it was the woman who had lied, such was their determination to stay on-message. So where’s the drama, where’s the mystery? Man rapes woman, like they always do, Women don’t lie about rape in ﬁction. It would be ‘irresponsible’ for a TV series to say that a woman had lied and then lies about it, like they always do. Everybody knew the denouement before the opening credits of episode one were over. And, indeed, by the end of the third episode the man was proven to be the liar, the rapist. Where does it go from here? Up its own bottom, I suspect. An explanation of how the sexist criminal justice system always fails women and allows men to get away with everything, including probably murder. Or white men, at least. Not black men: they are victims too, kind of on a par with the white women. Because everything else in this vapid, stupid series was predictable. There are of course black and ethnic minority the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk ‘Well, Jeff gave his opinion the loudest, so let’s go with his idea.’ people in it, which there must be, by law, or ITV gets done for being racist. And all of them, the black and ethnic minority people, are Good — that’s the law, too. There are white men in it and all of them are Bad. And there are white women in it and they are all Good and transgressed by the white men. So in this detective crime drama, you know the answers as soon as someone appears on screen. If they’re black or Asian they’re OK, if they’re female they’re OK, if they’re white and male they’re evil. So there is no drama at all, no mystery. It’s just a kind of Orwellian hate week, a chance for the TV people to stick it to the fount of all human misery, the white male. The principal African-Caribbean character, by the way, is an egregiously transgressed, gentle, stay-athome dad. And so you ask the question. If the writers can stretch their imagination to include a doting, stay-at-home black dad, why can’t they stretch their imaginations to envisage the possibility that a woman might possibly lie? The answer, of course, is that one stretch of the imagination is patrolled, with great vigilance, by the dwarves of death with their cudgels. The other, meanwhile, is gently encouraged by the dwarves of death with their cudgels. If this were a one-off, it would not matter. Indeed, if it were a one-off it would work as a drama. It is the monoculture of television which is really to blame, I suppose: only one view of the world is permitted. And it is the stunting of the imagination by political diktat which so appals. The liberal middle classes who run the whole show are so absolutely certain in their opinions that anything which deviates from them is irresponsible, or unthinkable. I hope the writers of Liar come home tomorrow night to find their homes ablaze, their treasured possessions reduced to ash and embers, borne on the winds across north and west London. I would happily roast chestnuts on the conflagration. You see? That’s what happens. Turn on the TV and I become a bad person. Although no worse than the dwarves think I am already. SPECTATOR.CO.UK/RODLIDDLE The argument continues online. 17 Not refugees, not children It’s time to fix our broken asylum system HARRIET SERGEANT I was interviewing ten foster parents in west London for a report on children in care. Foster parents are in great demand, so I was startled to discover that only one of the sets of parents was looking after the sort of vulnerable children you imagine to be in the care system. The others were looking after unaccompanied asylum-seeker children. They made an alarming claim: three of these seemed to be adults passing themselves off as boys. ‘The first thing they ask for is a razor,’ said one foster parent, ‘They’ve got these big beards.’ A woman admitted she found it embarrassing having a grown man posing as a 17-year-old. But the authorities appeared uninterested. ‘Our concerns are just fobbed off,’ said another. A counter-extremism expert told me: ‘There is nothing in the system to stop a 26-year-old Isis fighter coming here, stating he is 17 and claiming asylum.’ Anyone forced to flee his or her country with a well-founded fear of persecution can claim asylum. An orphan under 18 has special rights. They receive the same benefits as a child taken into care. This includes help with funding for university education and a place up the top of the housing list. No one would begrudge a genuine child refugee these privileges. The problem is the system is open to abuse, and the latest terrorist attack in Parsons Green raises further questions. Ahmed Hassan is an 18-year-old unaccompanied asylum seeker who is alleged to have built the bomb in his foster parents’ kitchen. We do not know how he came here or what could have led him to do what he is accused of. But it is time, surely, to question our asylum system for refugee children. Yet raise concerns and you risk Gary Lineker labelling you ‘hideously racist and utterly heartless’. The problem is sorting myth from fact. The first myth, emphasised over and over again, is that these are vulnerable children. The word conjures up images of small boys and girls. Our hearts break for them. The reality is somewhat different. Only 8 per cent of unaccompanied minors who arrived in the UK in 2015 were, in fact, under 14. This is according to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Instead, over half were aged 16-17. Nor was there a balance of boys and girls. Some 91 per cent were male. Save the Children admits, ‘Many come across as being 18 self-reliant and not in need of support’, but it urges that they are often ‘extremely vulnerable and in need of reassurance and care’. Why are the majority of refugee children in fact teenage boys? Here we come up against another myth: that refugees somehow find their own way to the UK. The truth is, nobody arrives in this country without the help of a people trafficker. This means it is the people traffickers who control our immigration system — not the Home Office. It is they who dictate who comes here. Refugees who cannot afford to pay never make it. If we really want to help the vulnerable, we should be taking children directly from refugee camps. The truth is that nobody arrives in this country without the help of people trafﬁckers The central role of people traffickers means that every young person arriving here represents a considerable investment by their family or community back home. This explains why they are nearly all young men. They come from cultures in which men have greater earning power. As one immigration officer at a busy UK airport with 20 years’ experience of dealing with refugee children explained to me: ‘Ninety per cent of them are not orphans. Their coming here is very well worked out. Their families have paid the people traffickers to bring them here. The intention is for the families to follow shortly after. These are cashrich young people.’ For the most part, in his opinion, ‘They are not fleeing for their lives.’ In other words, they are economic migrants and therefore not entitled to asylum. His view is backed up by the actions of ‘I’m confused — are we against debt, or enthusiastically for it?’ the traffickers themselves. As Save the Children warns, the agent will instruct the young person to lie about their nationality and age and destroy all identity documents. Some gangs even provide a pack with information on claiming asylum, fake documents, a ready-made asylum story and a pair of scissors. The only reason for doing this is because they know their clients are economic migrants. The third myth is that every child refugee is speaking the truth. Actually we have no way of knowing. The lack of documentation means that the most basic facts about a young person cannot be checked: their age, for example, their nationality or even their real name. When I sat in on interviews of adult asylum seekers by determining officers, I was amazed at the vagueness. One man could not remember how long he had been in prison: ‘Maybe one month, maybe one year, maybe many more.’ The tactic is a deliberate ploy promoted by the gangs, whom asylum seekers fear more than the Immigration and Naturalisation Service. The immigration officer explained: ‘For years now we have had adult Pakistani males arriving in this country maintaining they are Afghan teenagers. They tell me they are 13 or 14, but they are clearly over 20, well developed and with good facial hair.’ In 2015 the second largest number of claimants came from Afghanistan. The co-operation between traffickers and extremists is a new and alarming threat to our national security, points out Rosalind Ereira of Solidarity with Refugees. Some migrants sign up to support Isis in exchange for their travel; the money paid by others to the smugglers ‘helps fund Islamic State activities’. A report from Quilliam, a leading counter-extremism think-tank, warns: ‘There is no question that militant groups target refugee youth for recruitment.’ The immigration officer is frustrated because he knows by sight many of the ‘facilitators’ or people traffickers. These are often young men on benefits who appear mysteriously able to travel ten times a year to Dubai and Africa. They charge a high price for a personalised service in which they accompany the young migrants on the plane before leaving them at the terminal. But the traffickers have British or EU passports. ‘I have no power to stop a British citi- the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk zen longer than five minutes otherwise my bosses upstairs will kick off. I can do nothing without the traffickers’ permission. Nothing — and they know that.’ Despite the security threat, few in authority appear willing to tackle the problem. When a Conservative MP suggested checking the age of young asylum seekers with dental or X-ray tests of the hand to measure bone density, he was accused of ‘vilifying’ refugees. Ruth Allen, chief executive of the British Association of Social Workers, said medical tests would be ‘very intrusive and could be re-traumatising’. When Norway insisted on a dental examination of arriving refugee children, they discovered nine out of ten were, in fact, over 18. As a social worker, Allen must know the dangers of introducing grown men into schools and foster families. Paul Chadwick of Croydon borough council warned a House of Lords Committee last year of sexual exploitation in schools ‘by adults claiming to be children and placed in a school’. A worker in a residential home in Kent for children in care said that half of the children there are unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. In her estimation, more than half the migrants are not children at all, but in their twenties. ‘They can be quite frightening at times,’ she said. ‘They are aggressive and have an ‘No, we haven’t misspelt “wi-ﬁ” — this is my wifey.’ attitude problem. Many have no respect for women because of their culture. No one is giving consideration to the risks they pose, not just to staff but to the other children in the home. Because they are older, they have a lot of influence on the youngsters, who are very vulnerable. They introduce the children to alcohol and get them into crime like street robberies. It is a serious problem, which those in authority are not tackling.’ There is another issue. Our most vulnerable children are in competition with these asylum-seeking young people for a limited number of foster parents, a limited number of places in care homes and, above all, a limited amount of money. Explaining who is losing out, a social worker says the system has ‘moved away’ from providing a service to the British kids in its care: ‘Instead we are dealing with problems particular to young asylum seekers — their legal status, visits to the Home Office and so on.’ She went on angrily: ‘This at the expense of our own 16- to 17-year-old care leavers who need a lot of support and are not getting it.’ The investment made by their families means the majority of the young migrants are, as the heads of various social services confirmed, ‘very motivated, see it as an opportunity and do very well. They are largely middle-class, male and expect to go to university,’ said one. What a contrast to the care leavers I interviewed. At the age of ten, Trevon came home to find his crack-addict mother hanging dead in the kitchen. The lives of these kids are desperate. But Lily Allen does not cry for them on camera and it is almost impossible to get them the help they need. It is time to overhaul a system that is corrupt, dangerous and fails to help the most deserving. But don’t hold your breath that anything will change, despite a vulnerable child trying to blow us up. The immigration officer summed up the general frustration: ‘You try and apply the rules only to be hauled up from on high and told “to deal with it”. I get bitter and twisted about it,’ he said. ‘We are heading into desperate times.’ UK credit rating downgraded due to Brexit uncertainty. Is now the time to invest in physical gold? 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Free fully insured delivery Over 250,000 orders delivered Secure storage at Brink’s Physical gold pensions Over 17,000 customer reviews Extensive range of bars and coins 0121 634 8060 www.BullionByPost.co.uk *Source: Experian Hitwise based on market share of UK internet visits March 2016 - March 2017 the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk 19 NOTEBOOK Armando Iannucci I ’m currently dwelling on past times. I have a film coming out based on the crazy events that took place in 1953 when Stalin died. (He lay having a stroke on his rug and in his urine for hours since everyone was too scared to knock and see if he was all right.) We shot the film last summer. Then Trump happened. Now, journalists grill me as if the movie was an intentional response to that bloated troll’s election victory. Films take years to finance and write, and another year to shoot and edit; in that time, there’s no way anyone could have predicted the election of America’s first balloon-animalinflated-by-potato-gas as President. S ocial media makes us take immediacy for granted. Anyone who writes a letter these days starts looking like they’re living in black and white. So it seems weird working in a medium that takes forever to get finished. I’d say the average film is four or five years from conception to release. Books are far worse, though. I’ve just published a book on classical music, Hear Me Out, that’s a response to a lifetime of listening to music and about a decade or so of writing on it. With unerring precision, the book and the movie seem to be coming out at the same time, even though both were started years ago, when film was in its infancy and Gutenberg was still staring at a wooden mangle and trying to think what else it could be used for. T his means that I’m on two breathless promotional tours simultaneously, hopping in between book and film festivals. The most abrupt jump happens next week, when I spend one day discussing The Death of Stalin at 20 justified it. It comes when someone starts an email ‘I know you’re busy, but…’ As if by merely acknowledging your busyness, they have somehow bought immunity from it. That’s no strategy. Try going up to a stranger and saying, ‘I know you hate being stabbed, but I just wondered if you’d be up for being stabbed now and me running off with your purse?’ I New York’s Comic Con, then head home next morning for the literary festival in Ilkley. I’m not sure how many planes fly direct from JFK Airport to Ilkley, but I’m sure my two publicists are conspiring to persuade an airline to charter one now. These publicists now hold my confused life entirely in their four hands, but I haven’t felt anxious for a second. The reason: in among the mayhem I remember their names, which are Faith and Grace. U K politics is in a swirl and by the time you read this, we may well be about to have our very own thatched balloon animal as PM in the shape of Boris Johnson. Theresa May recently downplayed the challenge with a casual ‘Boris is Boris’. It was a ploy reminiscent of her triumphant election message ‘Brexit means Brexit’ and her sage response to terrorism, ‘Enough is enough.’ When is the collective mass media going to confront her with this habit, and shout ‘Repetition is just repetition’? T heresa May is doing in hyperconcentrated form what a lot of us have been guilty of for years: assuming that just by stating something, we have ’ve just landed in Texas for another screening of the film. The devastating hurricane damage here and across the Caribbean should be alerting our leaders to the warnings from science on climate change. Alas, not only is denial big business in these parts, but a recent scientific paper gave the deniers encouragement. What it said was that we may have a tiny bit more time to get our carbon emissions down than first thought. Deniers have seized on this as one more example of climate scientists being nothing but confused liars. T he problem is we’ve always sold science as fixed and incontrovertible truth. It’s not. The Scientific Method is about coming up with a model that best explains the facts. When a piece of new information doesn’t fit, we refine or replace that model with a better one. Newton’s theory explained gravity just fine, until Einstein showed how it didn’t quite and replaced it with his own. That doesn’t mean all we previously believed about gravity is false. We know the sun comes up every day, but I can only 99.9999999 per cent predict it will come up tomorrow. Deniers would tell us that 0.0000001 per cent difference means the whole sun thing’s a fraud. If you subscribe to that logic, I’m almost certain you’re an idiot. the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk MATTHEW PARRIS At last! The subversion of Brexit has begun T he Brexit crowd are right to smell a rat. In any great national debate a columnist may feel tempted to go beyond openly rooting for one side. Rooting for one side is acceptable, of course. Though some Brexiteer readers do struggle with the idea it could be legitimate for a columnist to disagree with the verdict of a referendum, I will merrily insist that the word ‘Comment’ at the top of a page allows for the expression of an opinion. But what if the columnist detects a possible conspiracy to help his own side win? And, further, suspects that for the plan to work, it would be better not to write about it for the time being? Am I (if I am that journalist) on the side of the general reader who wants to know what’s happening, or the side of those I may agree with but whose interests lie in silence? I prefer the simple view that we should tell it as it is. So, with apologies to fellow Remainers who may accuse me of letting the cat out of the bag, I must tell you that this business of a ‘transitional’ or ‘implementation’ period after Britain has formally left the EU — the plan that Theresa May endorsed in Florence last week — strikes me as carrying a secret threat to Leavers’ hopes: a threat Remainers should not disclose yet. Were I a Machiavellian Remainer I would be telling fellow Remainers (quietly, lest we be overheard) something like this: ‘Guys, each of the steps on our journey must look like common sense when taken in isolation. Theresa has just taken the first: she has made a case it’s really very hard to resist, arguing that (1) more time is needed for the final terms of Brexit to be shaped (obviously true). Therefore (2) because British business and industry need to plan ahead, let’s leave the EU on schedule, but have a few years’ breathing space in which until further notice we carry on as we are. Two years (at the very minimum) can be used to shape the final terms of our departure. ‘This, guys, sounds pretty obvious common sense too. ‘But guys, it’s important to leave it at that, for the moment. Important to give this sensible-sounding proposal time to bed down. Important to lace our speeches with assurances that the “transition” is simply the bridge. “Time to adjust”, “buy a bit more time”, etc. Brexit is on course, but running a bit late: that’s the song we should all sing. ‘If we succeed (as we surely can) in making this argument so persuasive as to put the proposal beyond serious dispute, then we shall in due course be ready for the next step. But we’re not there yet. ‘The next step will be as follows. Imagine the March 2019 deadline for departure approaches. Imagine (though it can’t be assumed) that our 27 EU partners look ready to offer us these two years of transition. Remind yourselves of that offer. That we pay into the EU budget for another two years; accept the rules of the single market for another two years; accept continuing, ‘As it happens, there’s a name for this suggested improved idea. It’s called being in the European Union’ uncontrolled EU immigration for another two years; but with immediate effect are thrown out of the governing councils and committees of the Union, kicked out of the European Parliament and lose our right for British nominees to sit on the European Commission and for British judges to sit on the European Court of Justice. ‘In short, guys, we are regulated, adjudicated and taxed as before but — unlike before — without a voice, without representation, without influence. Is that optimal? Is that fair? Indeed, is that even necessary? How about demanding a continuing say in EU decision-making for so long as we’re the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk ‘We’re making a bomb!’ paying in, and playing by their regulatory rules? No taxation without representation. ‘And as it happens, guys, there’s a name for this suggested improved idea. It’s called being in the European Union. In what possible respect can taking their rules and meeting their tax demands, but without having any say, be a better situation than getting a say too? Guys, our argument, when we come to make it, is going to be hard to resist. ‘But (you may ask) are the other 27 going to offer us such an option? ‘Well why not? If our fellow members of the European club are content for us to carry on using the club’s facilities for two years even though we’ve formally relinquished our membership, why shouldn’t they agree to a simpler option: that we simply postpone leaving at all, until we’re ready? Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, governing a country’s departure from the EU, specifically permits such a stay of execution, so long as the remaining members all agree. ‘But guys, not a word about this yet. You know how touchy Brexit headbangers are. You know how insecure they feel, how fearful that somehow it’s all going to be snatched away from them before Britain signs on the dotted line. What they’ll fear is that until we’re right out of that door and no longer EU members, there will always be the danger that Brexit fever may abate, the electorate will move on, and other, bigger, more pressing events will intercede. ‘What (Brexiteers fret) if, four or five years on from the 2016 referendum but still a part of the EU, Britain should start to wonder if it’s really all that bad after all? So serious headbangers are desperate that momentum should not be lost. And remember: their supporters are much older than ours. They’re dying faster. Every year there are few hundred thousand fewer. And a Labour government could bring in votes for 16-year-olds. Logic may whisper that staying until we’ve agreed our leaving terms makes sense rationally; but some inner hunch, some nameless dread, whispers to them that it’s better to burn those bridges fast. ‘So guys, not a word about where this proposal for a transition period must logically lead. Not yet.’ 21 Life in the e-lane BAROMETER Lost in the post Why do I have to do everything myself? Postcard maker J. Salmon is to close after almost 140 years, because holidaymakers now send phone selfies rather than cards. — What is believed to be the very first postcard was a selfie of sorts. It was a caricature of postal workers that practical joker Theodore Hook sent to himself in Fulham using a penny black stamp in 1840, the year the penny post was introduced. — It was another 30 years before postcards were officially accepted by the Royal Mail, and the now standard design of a picture on the front, address and message on the back was established only in 1902. — Mr Hook’s card was sold at auction in 2002 for £31,750. MARY DEJEVSKY Pay walls Which countries have the largest pay gaps between men and women, in a survey of 33 countries? The figures below give female earnings as a percentage of male. (Only in three countries, Egypt, Nigeria and UAE, are women paid more than men overall.) overall same job & employer Mexico ...............-31 ................................-2.9 Brazil ..................-30 ............................... -1.6 UK .......................-29 ............................... -0.8 Netherlands ... -25 ............................... -1.0 Egypt .................+34 .............................. +0.1 Nigeria ............+7.3 .............................. +0.4 UAE ...................+0.7 .............................. +2.1 Romania ..........-9.3 ............................... -1.9 Source: Korn Ferry Hay Group Steering group Transport for London refused to renew Uber’s licence to operate cabs. In a survey of 20 American cities, Uber drivers were: Male...................... 86% White ......... 37% Aged 18-29........... 19% Black ......... 18% 30-39 ..................... 30% Hispanic .... 16% 40-49 ..................... 26% Asian ......... 15% 50+ ........................ 24% Married ..... 50% Have degrees ....... 48% Parents ...... 46% Source: Uber Wordless protest Some players in America’s National Football League are refusing to stand for their national anthem in a racism protest and in defiance of President Donald Trump. But would they even know the words? Percentage of citizens who know the first verse of their national anthems: Australia ............................................. 71% (ﬁgure for second verse, 2014 poll by Jack Daniel’s) UK ......................................................... 68% (YouGov 2014) Switzerland ....................................... 56% (DemoSCOPE 2011) USA ....................................................... 39% (ABC 2004) 22 T he plane landed a fraction early, at just after 9 p.m. Hope flickered that passport control would be as deserted as the echoing arrivals terminal. But no. By the time we reached sight of what is now labelled in enormous letters the ‘UK Border’, we had joined a mass of humanity in a single corridor to be decanted in batches into ‘the maze’. This is the point where, at most UK airports, the great segregation occurs, between UK/EU passports and the rest, and then between regular channels and ‘e-passports’. Often, they try to chivvy you into e-passports. Tonight, though, these lanes were taped off. After the long shuffle to the control desk, I had the nerve to ask why. I dare say that this was a question British Airways might have asked when it complained recently about interminable late-evening queues at Heathrow, because the answer offered part of an explanation. E-passport channels, apparently, are invariably closed after 10 p.m. because the shift changes and there are not enough staff. My watch showed the time to be 10.03. My first thought was to regret that my plane had not been that bit earlier. My second was more to the point. Hang on a moment: wasn’t the whole reason for e-passports that machines (and passengers) did the work? So why wasn’t Heathrow opening, rather than closing, its e-passport channels when the evening shift went home? Well, dear reader, dear fellow passenger, deep down you already know why. Because some large piece of machinery that was installed to improve efficiency has ended up costing time — staff time and, more particularly, yours and mine. Anyone still puzzled by the Great British productivity conundrum (we lag stubbornly way behind even France) has part of the answer right here. E-passports only work if there are real, human staff around to instruct the passengers how to use them, let them out when they become trapped in this miniature noman’s-land, and inspect their IDs manually when the machine fails. What is more, everyone knows this. They recently introduced e-passports at St Pancras Eurostar departures — but only for hoi polloi. ‘Fast-tracked’ passengers hand their passports to a human in a booth; of course they do, it’s quicker. E-passports are one of the more egregious examples of do-it-yourself Britain imposing costs on you and me — but only one. Let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that you extricated yourself from the airport by midnight and successfully negotiated the after-hours e-check-in at your hotel. Let us assume, too, that the machine spat out a cardboard room key which admitted you, after several abortive tries, to a vacant room (and not, as has happened to me, to a room where a naked man was surprised from his sleep). Your work is by no means done. Fast-tracked passengers hand their passports to a human in a booth; of course they do, it’s quicker The breakfast buffet has long been a test of every guest’s hunter-gathering expertise. But it is the multiple-choice coffee machine, now standard at hotels and conferences, that really frustrates me. How long does it take to make and then pour a half-decent mug of coffee from a glass jug on a hotplate? A few seconds. How long does it take to extract some splash of indeterminate liquid from a machine when you first have to put on your glasses to read the options, figure out where to place the cup, wait while the mechanical innards click and whirr — or don’t, because it has invisibly run out of some ingredient? For ever, as the queue ahead and behind you testifies. But the time and effort squandered is all yours, ‘Phwoar, that Theresa May’s a bit of all right.’ the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk so the largely absentee management would appear content with the economics. Come lunchtime, you turn your back on the buffet in favour of some fresh air and some fast, or faster, food. My own weakness is for a milkshake, about three times (yes, honestly) a year. But this occasional indulgence may be over. You will know, if you have patronised one particular fast-food outlet (McDonald’s) recently, that what used to be a brief but productive interaction with a human is now discouraged. Staff now urge you to order from an enormous touch-screen, pay by card, extract a receipt, then wait for your number to come up. It reminds me of nothing so much as the double-queueing system in what passed for shops in the defunct Soviet Union. Then as now, much could go wrong. You will find rapturous reviews of this so-called ‘kiosk’ system on social media — viewed, if you read carefully, almost exclusively from the company’s perspective and lauded as the shape of the future. On the other hand, if you actually observe (and time for observation will be ample, while they are boxing up ten Happy Meals before pressing the button on your one milkshake), you will see kitchen staff hanging around idle, would-be customers having to be ‘led through’ the self-ordering, and frazzled par- FROM THE ARCHIVE The nerves of the enemy From ‘The progress in Flanders’, 29 September 1917: The fighting has reached a degree of intensity never before known. There is no leisure or rest for any one. The instruments of destruction which fly through the air by day and night are more numerous and more various than before… The strain to which the enemy, even more than ourselves, is subjected is terrific beyond words. We imagine that for one shell that the Germans send over we throw across four, five, or perhaps six. There is also what may be called a kind of camouflage in artillery work, when the drum-fire which the Germans regard as the sure herald of a coming attack culminates in no attack. The nerves of the enemy are, in fact, kept at the breakingpoint the whole time. ents trying to make representations about mix-ups. The company, though, can joyfully wash its hands. Any mistake must, of course, be yours; after all, you entered the order. The time, money and effort it takes — why, they are all yours. And so, at the end of a long afternoon, to the supermarket to assemble the ingredients for an evening meal. It should be instructive that, while coffee and ticket and hotel check-in machines have started to make inroads abroad, putting in extra hours as your very own supermarket checkout assistant remains a largely British privilege. Elsewhere, it seems accepted that a professional will generally be better at the job than an amateur, but we actually have to queue to do it ourselves. Then again, as it’s our time and effort as we search for the barcodes, faff about with the bag, insert the banknote the wrong way and have to call someone over for the wine, who’s counting? If the food supply is to be automated, give me a Japanese slot machine any time. Two weeks ago the gas company called, demanding (not requesting) a meter reading. The cabinet is outside and locked. With great difficulty I finally managed to reach a real person to suggest that they might have to send someone to read the meter. Three weeks later, an envelope arrived from British Gas; it contained a key. To my unpaid responsibilities as border guard, hotel clerk, coffee-maker, fast-food assistant and checkout girl, it would now appear I must add meter reader. How much more of other people’s time and money, I wonder, will I be recruited to save by being volunteered, in effect, to donate my own? Remarkable people doing work that matters Leading in technology means investing in talent. We recruit remarkable people who create innovative solutions for our customers. www.baesystems.com the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk 23 TRADE MUST COME FIRST Ten steps to promote trade and increase exports: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Establish a UK Ports and Logistics Brexit Task Force comprising representatives from Government and industry to develop (or enhance) arrangements to help minimise the impact of potential intermittent or ongoing disruption at certain ports resulting from the UK's exit from the EU. Introduce or reinforce mechanisms to make sure future policies and decisions remain aligned with the aim of encouraging trade and increasing exports. Review the strategic and public beneﬁts of reducing the UK’s dependency on the Port of Dover for the movement of UK-EU trade in goods over the long term. Remove the EU Port Services Regulation from UK law at the earliest opportunity. Amend the Government’s approach to transport investment appraisal by: (a) including explicit recognition that encouraging trade and exports is a strategic priority; and (b) capturing the full economic beneﬁts of increased trade and deﬁcit reduction. (An approach which should also be adopted by Government-funded bodies such as Network Rail and Highways England). Work with the sector to make sure UK ports and logistics lead the world in maximising the efﬁcient use of transport infrastructure and optimising global supply chains. Establish an overarching ‘Trade First Review’ to align wider Government policy with the aim of encouraging trade and increasing exports. Develop a Free Port policy to strengthen the UK’s ability to attract investment in new manufacturing as part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy and combine Free Ports with Enterprise Zones to create Super Enterprise Zones at or near UK ports where appropriate. Use the ‘Trade First Review’ to provide a framework for determining which pieces of EU law it would be desirable to retain, amend or remove following the enactment of the European Union ( Withdrawal) Bill. Work proactively to market development sites at or near UK ports to potential inward investors overseas. abports.co.uk MARY WAKEFIELD Gentrification is far from our biggest problem T he late afternoon sun fell on the anomalous pine trees of Gillett Square, London N16, and on the wooden decking below, giving it a fleeting look of lunch in the Alps. To the east, just visible at the far end of Gillett Street, the Kingsland Road ran its usual choppy course: hipsters and the homeless, Jamaicans and Turks, Vietnamese up from the Shoreditch end and the odd Haredi Jew heading north to Stamford Hill. Gillett Square is Hackney’s great regeneration project. Once a disused car park full of drunks and dealers, after 25 years of funding drives and architects, bulldozing, building and PR, it’s now Dalston’s ‘town square’. In the beginning, it was the first of Ken Livingstone’s ‘100 new public spaces’ and a model for future development. Its proud parent, Hackney Co-operative Developments (HCD), calls it: ‘A place to walk through; a place to sit; a place to share; a place to meet; a place to see, hear, feel, smell, taste and discover wonderful and incredible things.’ HCD puts on events almost every day: on Monday you can play ‘giant chess’. On Thursdays through the summer it’s a ‘popup playground’. ‘Durable and intriguingly shaped equipment transforms the square into an adventure wonderland for children to discover, create and enjoy’, says HCD. The sun fell on the pine trees, on the platform, on the multicultural food stalls and, that Thursday, on what looked like a scene from a zombie movie. My small son and I approached from Mildmay to the east. As we arrived, a man lurched out of the doorway of the Vortex jazz club and into the path of the pushchair. He had a tin of Foster’s in one hand and a scarf wrapped right up from his neck to his hairline. To get the can to his mouth he had to push it up under the scarf, which he did. Behind him, an Irishman stood, shouting and swaying. He had a bottle of Corona in one hand and a pram in the other. On a bench beside him sat a box of 24 Corona Extra and two women, one with a baby, the other with a blue plastic bag of Stella. There was a pop-up playground, though it had not transformed the square into an adventure wonderland. Some grubby foam shapes had been scattered on the ground, but over the long summer the HCD events team have lost heart. A small boy ran in circles, crying and chasing two older girls who’d nicked his bike. The Irishman lunged at the girls as they passed: ‘Come here. I’ll spank ya!’ Cedd and I headed for the pines to regroup. On the wooden platform a black guy stood with a can of Stella beside a toddler in a pushchair. If only HCD had scheduled a bring-a-bottle-and-a-baby party, they could have counted it a success. Along the square’s undeveloped side, a long bench of West Indian men and women sat and smoked weed with great concentration and intensity. Drifts of sweet smoke floated over the prams, the kids, and a gang of seven- or eight-year-old boys who’d On a bench sat a box of 24 Corona Extra and two women, one with a baby, the other with a bag full of Stella turned up to play table football and, to be fair to Gillett Square, did look as if they were having fun. If you build it they will come, I suppose — especially if they’re already there. And that’s what wasn’t clear to me when I first walked into the square, and what HCD are so keen to ignore: for all the cash poured into it, this place belongs to the down-andouts. It always has. In 2012, six years after the square’s official opening, a musician and photographer called Roland Ramanan began to take photos of the regulars. It’s a beautiful, terrible, touching series of men the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk and women on the very edge: in the square, passed out on mattresses in collapsing council flats. In an interview for Vice, Ramanan said: ‘Many of the residents… have roots going back to that spot for a very long time. They were there long before the square, long before it was a car park, and they have fond memories of sitting there with their brazier in the winter to keep them warm, helping people with their shopping.’ The HCD team dreamt of a future for the square full of diverse thirtysomethings enjoying an evening with Kate Tempest under the pines; of inter-generational games of Carrom — and they’ve succeeded in part. Those things do go on, and will for as long as there’s the money and the will to keep putting out the pop-up playgrounds. But what they’ve made for the long term, when the Lottery money runs out, is a refuge for the very people they pushed out — those most bewildered by the pace of change. Since that day, I’ve been back to Gillett Square to sit and take stock. This is Corbyn country — or near as dammit. When we passed the scarf-headed man on the west side of the square, we crossed over from Corbyn’s constituency to the next. The cry of the Corbynistas is always against gentrification, but the irony is that gentrified Gillett Square has become a showcase for the UK’s real problems: alcoholism, addiction, poverty, babies born to drunks with their lives already shredded. Not long after Gillett Square’s grand opening, it had to be designated a Controlled Drinking Area — meaning the police can confiscate cans at will. A few years ago, the gang kids with their foot-long knives arrived and began to pick on the poor drunks. A new public consultation into how to solve the antisocial behaviour closed this week. It’s not just Gillett Square, or Dalston, or even London. We’re a mess. If, for instance, you list the world’s countries by how much mothers drink in pregnancy, Britain comes fourth. We’re worse than Russia, but better perhaps at not facing these things. When I crossed the square that Thursday, I avoided looking into the Irishman’s pram. I didn’t want to meet that baby’s eye. Easier, by far, to march against the opening of another Starbucks. 25 HEATHROW IS THE RIGHT CHOICE 5,000 new 180,000 apprenticeships new jobs £211bn economic boost That’s why the Government and local people say expanding Heathrow YES! is the right choice Back Heathrow is an organisation of local residents, businesses, unions, community and faith groups with over 100,000 supporters. Back Heathrow Barley Mow Centre, 10 Barley Mow Passage London W4 4PH T: 020 3071 0048 E: email@example.com www.backheathrow.org Recent opinion polls conducted in the parliamentary constituencies surrounding Heathrow Airport show more people support expansion than oppose it. LETTERS Fight and fight again Sir: In her Florence speech, Theresa May yet again declared that: ‘No deal is better than a bad deal.’ Yet in his piece ‘Brexit Wars’ (23 September), James Forsyth claims that minimal planning is being made for a ‘no deal’ under WTO rules. If true, this is insulting to the electorate as it means that the Prime Minister is being neither serious nor truthful. It is inexcusable for our civil service not to prepare for an event that is a clear possibility when it would be catastrophic if we had no plan. Couldn’t the 80 MPs in the Tory Research Group start preparing for a WTO deal? They could liaise with Eurosceptic groups plus friendly economists and other experts, to produce a viable exit plan. I am sure Leavers would donate money to employ the necessary specialists to produce reports. Now that May has delayed Brexit in all but name, I see the EU making ever more outrageous demands as the Remain camp gleefully applaud. The Leave campaign must be reinstated to fight again. Gill Chant Handsworth, Birmingham friends indeed do see capitalism as a way of ‘stealing’ from the poor and have difficulty in accepting the wealth creation aspect of it. They have a point. The so-called financial industry creates no primary wealth and often seeks to cream off as much as possible for a greedy minority. Thatcher’s rush to privatise the nationalised industries did not create anything better than, for example, the Central Electricity Generating Board. Today we must go cap in hand to the French or Chinese to get a decent nuclear power station — at an astronomical cost. I did an engineering apprenticeship with AEI, later taken over by GEC, run by Arnold Weinstock. He was a modest man and ran his company as a model of capitalism: solid management, good labour relations and true wealth creation. We cannot bring Weinstock back but, if we want capitalism to succeed, I wish we could. Nick O’Hear Schoonhoven, The Netherlands Kitchen think Sir: It simply won’t wash that the reason people choose to eat sugar and fat-laden Class war Sir: Toby Young’s article (‘The mystery of socialism’s enduring appeal’, 23 September) raises some interesting explanations for the phenomenon of socialism’s enduring appeal. But strangely, he has missed one of the most glaring: that the underlying reason lies within our education system. From the mid-1960s onwards, the majority of our children have been educated by an increasingly left-wing cohort of teachers who are more interested in the espousal of ‘equality’ than delivering well-rounded individuals into the world. Toby is right to suggest that the left are better educated than the right, but educated in what? The young are easy targets for educational propaganda, which has made an immense contribution to the malaise we are suffering. And the more or ‘better’ you have been educated, the more you will have felt the influence of this heavily left-wing education bias. Unless this problem is confronted and some balance re-introduced, the future of the capitalist state looks bleak. Bob Holder Folkestone, Kent Capital fellow Sir: Toby Young’s article gives rise to reflection. I am no apologist for Jeremy Corbyn — at best, I can accept that his intentions are good. But my socialist the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk foods is a lack of proper education, as Prue Leith and others have suggested (‘Fat Britannia’, 9 September). In the 1950s, when we were all apparently at peak leanness, the Famous Five were gorging on ginger beer and chocolate biscuits. Now we are hectored daily about how bad sugar is for us. The thing which has changed since the 1950s is that women, who then were expected to turn out a home-cooked meal at 7 p.m. every day, are now free to pursue other more interesting careers. I returned to work a couple of years ago after a break to have children. There is very little I would like to do less when I get home from a busy day than to pick up the potato peeler. Home-cooked food is a luxury that few have time for these days. I love my job, and would be offended if anybody should suggest that I give it up and get back in the kitchen. But if I’m not there, there’s nobody there. You can’t have it both ways. If we want strong, independent, educated women in the workplace, then somebody else is going to have to do the cooking. Hands up, gentlemen? I thought not. Time to dial for a pizza. Harriet Snow London N5 True Norse Sir: The age of King Cnut was certainly a high-water mark for Norse influence in these islands (‘Demonised by history’, 23 September), but Thomas W. Hodgkinson is quite wrong to call Cnut a ruler of Britain. His realm on this side of the North Sea comprised England alone. David Sanders London N16 Strip-off Sir: Rory Sutherland’s irritation with customs procedures (‘Make life easier and all else will follow’, 23 September) chimes with my own. I recently ordered a pair of wire strippers from the USA at a cost of £14.07. Two weeks later I received a demand for £3.90 duty and VAT, plus a Royal Mail ‘handling fee’ of £8. The latter struck me as an awful lot of handling for a small tool. Thank you, Royal Mail, but no. You may now enjoy handling the item all the way back to America, at your own cost. Mark Ribbands Tibenham, Norfolk WRITE TO US The Spectator, 22 Old Queen Street, London SW1H 9HP firstname.lastname@example.org 27 ANY OTHER BUSINESS|MARTIN VANDER WEYER Uber was the ugly snowplough that cleared the path but its dominance is bound to fade A n Uber insider tells me not to write off the ride-hailing giant too soon, because it’s a very smart company for all its faults — and because the numbers of drivers and users for whom it is part of daily life will make it difficult for Transport for London to uphold its licence withdrawal on appeal, so long as Uber makes gestures of humility. But the moral of the story, says my source, is that as a ‘tech disrupter’ invading a regulated sector, the company created by Travis Kalanick ‘relished the fight with governments and entrenched interests far more than was normal or reasonable’, rather than seeking to be part of the urban fabric through collaboration or partnership. Barriers to entry in ride-hailing are not high, because the software required is not so hard to replicate and there are always plenty of willing drivers. It took an ugly Uber to break through, like a snowplough on steroids, but over time its market share is bound to shrink. The next winners in the ride-hailing game will be those (more like its Californian rival Lyft, now reportedly talking to TfL) that promote themselves as better and kindlier citizens. Beyond that, however, science fiction beckons… Driverless future My man in the motor trade was enjoying the hospitality at the Frankfurt Motor Show when Uber’s news broke, and rang from a table-dancing club to give me his views. He says the buzz at the show is no longer about sleek models like the plug-in BMW i8 sports hybrid he came home with a couple of years ago, but about advancing technology in driverless navigation and battery power. He reckons that between five and ten years hence, the winners of the third stage of the ride-hailing race — whether Uber is among them, and whatever their marketing image — will be dehumanised operators of app-controlled fleets of driverless electric vehicles. Banks and investors will jump in as owners or lessors of the fleets, no doubt through impenetrable pyramids of offshore 28 companies. And one day it will all come to grief in a driverless financial crash. Rugged revival While we’re on this motoring theme, I wave my hat to billionaire industrialist Jim Ratcliffe, who has announced that he’s about to invest £600 million in the development of a British-built all-terrain vehicle to succeed the Land Rover Defender, which ceased production last year — and compete with the Toyota Land Cruiser, now the favoured transport of warlords and aid workers in inaccessible territories. Lancashire-born Ratcliffe built a privately owned petrochemical conglomerate, Ineos, by buying unwanted subsidiaries from BP and other industrial groups. Latterly he spends more time in Switzerland and on his yachts than in Britain, where his willingness to confront unions at Ineos’s Grangemouth refinery made him a bogeyman for the left while his Eurosceptic bluntness put him out of tune with the business establishment. Now — unless Indian-owned Jaguar Land Rover fights back to stop him — he sees his car venture as a route to creating 10,000 jobs, helping arrest the decline in UK manufacturing and creating a rugged new symbol of British self-sufficiency around the world. So far the project is called ‘Grenadier’, after the London pub where it was conceived, but the model itself lacks a name: ‘Brexiteer’ seems the obvious choice. Shapeshifter When shadow chancellor John McDonnell talks of capping credit card debt to stop card companies charging excessive interest, and of Labour’s ambition to wipe off student loans that are unlikely ever to be repaid, you might think he has common sense on his side. When he talks of renationalising utilities and rail companies by forcing investors to accept bonds worth less than the previous market value of their shares, you might think he is aiming to right some of the fat-cat wrongs of privatisation. But what he’s really doing is encouraging Labour’s tribe to believe that concepts such as debt and shareholder rights are not fixed pillars of a free society but nuisances that can be shapeshifted at will by politicians. ‘Generally fermenting the overthrow of capitalism’ is the recreation he has long declared in Who’s Who, and bizarrely it’s not beyond possibility that voters will one day give him the chance to try. Downgraded ‘Credit agencies don’t know any more about government budgets than the guy in the street,’ was a remark by David Wyss, a former chief economist of one such agency, Standard & Poor’s, with regard to their performance before the 2008 financial crisis, when they awarded the highest ‘AAA’ rating to many US mortgage-backed securities that turned out toxic. My own summation in 2011 was: ‘If there were ratings for ratings agencies, they’d all be junk by now.’ So I’m not particularly concerned — and neither were markets — by news that within hours of the prime minister’s Florence speech, Moody’s downgraded UK sovereign debt from ‘Aa1’ to ‘Aa2’ to reflect concerns about weakening public finances and the impact of Brexit. Gilt yields barely flickered, the pound traded down on Friday and back up on Monday; life went on. But let’s not be entirely complacent. The UK used to rank AAA with both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s and AA+ with the third name in this game, Fitch. Since 2013 all three have downgraded us — so that having long stood proud as a top-table safe haven for international investors, we’re now outranked by a dozen nations including Finland and Austria, and just one notch above Chile, Macau and Qatar. Is that really how we want the world to see us? Small consolation that Moody’s also moved us from its ‘negative outlook’ category to ‘stable’, indicating no further downgrade is imminent; but a longterm Brexit success test will be whether we ever climb back to AAA, even in the estimation of agencies we don’t much respect. the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk FEATURES 31 The Tigers awaken Southeast Asia is back in fashion for investors Elliot Wilson 35 Pensions and the gender gap Mothers pay the price when it comes to saving Laura Whitcombe 39 Golden groves of academe Are professors’ big fat pensions under threat? Jonathan Davis 42 The ultra-fast broadband race Four UK companies you need to watch Robin Andrews 44 Scrap this stamp duty spiral Bring back lower levies on house sales Matthew Lynn 46 Gold is still the safest haven Miners can offer better returns than bullion Robin Andrews 49 Whiskies galore! Sound investments for spirits connoisseurs Henry Jeffreys COLUMNISTS 33 Reality check US shares are ripe for a fall Louise Cooper 45 Property The next housing scandal Ross Clark 47 The Speculator Crypto-currency is worth a punt Freddy Gray At Octopus we love all types of questions Because when you question things, you can start to make them better ISTOCK The Tigers reawaken Southeast Asia is a region of young consumers, ambitious governments and opportunities for investors, says Elliot Wilson C ast your mind back 20 years, to a very different world. It’s 1997: Bill Clinton is in his second term, Tony Blair has the keys to No. 10 and Britain has just won the Eurovision Song Contest for the fifth (and very possibly last) time. The West in general is enjoying an era of genuine, golden growth. Life was also improving in more exotic places. Take Southeast Asia, which spent the 1990s transforming itself from a backpackers’ paradise to an investor’s dream. The region’s ‘Tiger’ economies, led by Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, had everything a risk-loving stockpicker needed: oodles of growth, soaring retail spending and (a special boon for investment bankers) companies and governments that were loading up on debt, much of it in US dollars. Then it all came crashing down. On 2 July 1997, Thailand floated its currency, the baht, triggering the Asian financial crisis. All those expensive borrowings had effectively bankrupted Thailand, and when the baht collapsed, contagion spread across the region. Stock prices spectator money | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk/money Recently Southeast Asia has crept back on to investors’ radars slumped and international investors fled, reassigning their capital to the next big thing: dotcom stocks back at home. When fund managers next turned their attention to Asia, several years later, it was to gaze at another marvel of growth creation: China. Recently though, Southeast Asia (also known as Asean, acronym of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) has begun to creep back on to investors’ radars for good reason; few parts of the world come close to competing with its growth rates. Indonesia’s economy expanded by 5 per cent in 2016, according to the World Bank; in Vietnam, growth was 6.2 per cent; in the Philippines, 6.9 per cent. And the demographics are startling, too. The average age of Vietnam’s 92 million population is 30, according to the ever-informative CIA World Factbook. In the Philippines (103 million), it’s just 23.4 years. Compare that with the UK (40.5), or creaky old Germany and Japan 31 BLOOMBERG/GETTY Construction of the Nam Tha 1 hydroelectric dam in Laos Previous page: Bangkok’s MahaNakhon skyscraper, Thailand’s tallest building (a shade under 47). This matters, because the region is not just young, but hungry for wealth. Vietnam, buzzing after decades of war and economic turbulence, is home to the world’s fastest-growing middle class, projected by the World Bank to make up 33 per cent of the population in 2020, from 20 per cent last year. It’s a great economy to sell into and to manufacture from, with wage rates half the level of China. ‘There’s nowhere like Vietnam: it’s the last great untapped emerging market,’ says Mike Lynch, head of international sales at Saigon Securities, the country’s largest retail brokerage. True, investing in Vietnam can be tricky. The market is opening up fast, but the two main bourses, in Ho Chi Minh City and the capital Hanoi, are thinly traded even by regional standards. Get it right, however, and there’s money to be made. The Vietnam Opportunity Fund, a London-listed fund run by VinaCapital, which invests in large-cap stocks such as Vinamilk and carrier VietJet Air, is up 10.8 per cent since the start of this year, and more than 35 per cent over the past 12 months. ‘India has great growth, and China is still robust, but the changes you’re going to see here… over the next five years, are going to be dramatic,’ 32 says Christopher Fitzwilliam-Lay, managing director at VinaCapital. A key moment should come next year, when the index provider MSCI is likely to include Vietnam for the first time on its Emerging Markets Index watch list, ahead of full inclusion by 2020. When that happens, notes one local banker, ‘investment capital will really start to flow in’. The Philippines is another interesting case study. Its populist president Rodrigo Duterte certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But his decision to leave the running of the economy to the experts (notably finance minister Carlos Dominguez) is bearing fruit. A tax-reform bill and infrastructure package aims to boost income across the board, lifting all boats. Growth is tipped by the IMF to come in at 6.8 per cent this year, rising to 7 per cent by 2022. Brook Tellwright manages the Waverton Southeast Asian Fund, a $300 million-plus stock-picking fund based in Bangkok that is up 10 per cent in 12 months and almost 55 per cent over the past five years. He says he likes listed companies that are directly plugged into the region’s highly specific growth story. He highlights three of the fund’s biggest holdings: Indonesia’s Bank Tabungan Pensiunan Nasional, which offers basic current and savings accounts to young savers, Singapore-listed Thai Beverage and Bangkok-listed Siam City Cement — the latter two catering to a young population thirsty for better infrastructure, affordable housing, and beer. ‘It’s all about what people want when they emerge into the middle class,’ Tellwright says. It’s not hard to find Aseanfocused funds that will help you profit from this growth story. JPMorgan’s US dollar Asean fund is up 13 per cent year-to-date, and 55 per cent over the past five years, according to Chicago-based investment research firm Morningstar, while Baring’s euro-denominated Asean Frontiers Fund has gained 11 per cent this year, and 48 per cent over five years. Sterling-denominated funds look even better over a long time horizon. Smith & Williamson’s Oriental Growth Fund is up 98.5 per cent over five years, the Cavendish Asia Pacific Fund 74 per cent and Aviva’s Investors Apac Equity Fund 72 per cent. On a shorter view, this year’s best performer is Old Mutual’s sterlingdenominated Asia Pacific Fund, up 32 per cent by early September. To be sure, the effects of the 1997 crisis still reverberate. Thailand’s currency never regained its former strength: the baht is weaker against Frontier nations like Vietnam, ﬁlled with young consumers, are pushing for full emergingmarket status spectator money | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk/money the US dollar than it was 20 years ago. Like generals always fighting the last war, regional governments have for too long focused on shoring up foreign exchange reserves (a major cause of the earlier emergency) while doing too little to boost incomes and consumption, or improve infrastructure. And for all of Asean’s manifest potential and positive attributes, this can still be a thoroughly frustrating region in which to work. The Philippines welcomes foreign investment capital with open arms. So, too, in the main does Vietnam. But elsewhere, the picture is mixed. Indonesia remains a tough place to do business, while Thailand’s political instability is perpetual. A 2014 coup there stymied growth, and the subsequent military-led regime’s inability to decide when or whether to call an election has probably held back the Thai stock market, whose performance has been comparable to the FTSE250’s rise so far this year, but not as hot as the Bursa Malaysia (up 15 per cent) or the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Index (up more than 20 per cent). That aside, there is genuine reason to like Southeast Asia. Frontier nations like Vietnam, filled with young and hungry consumers, are pushing for full emerging-market status. And from behind the haunches of the renascent Tigers peek the cub nations of Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. Of the three, the latter — larger and blessed with ample resources — probably has the most potential. But all stand to benefit from governments that are committed to deregulation and desperate to suck in as much private and public development capital as possible. A portfolio of big-ticket infrastructure projects, notably a high-speed rail line linking Singapore with southern China via Bangkok by 2030, add to the sense that this region of 636 million citizens is being stitched together. ‘I look across Asean, and I see a place that is starting to do the right things: making good decisions, generating its own demand,’ says Brook Tellwright of Waverton. ‘Back in 1997, much of the instability came from the fact that these were export-led economies and little else. They still export, that’s not going to change. But they are far more balanced now: there’s plenty of investing, and consumption, and governance is improving. These are sound reasons to invest here.’ REALITY CHECK LOUISE COOPER US shares are ripe for a fall S igns are growing that the US bull market is running out of steam. If you invested $100 at the low in 2009, when the S&P500 index was around 800, you would now be sitting on $300, with the index currently just above 2500. This has been the second-best US stock market rally ever. But is it coming to an end? Year-to-date, the S&P500 is up around 10 per cent: better than the indices for Europe, the UK, China and Japan. However, much of that performance has been driven by a handful of tech stocks. Just five companies — Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Alphabet (parent of Google) — added more than $600 billion to the valuation of the US stock market in the first half of the year, accounting for a third of the uplift in the S&P500. Looking at the much broader Russell 3000 index, a benchmark of the entire US stock market, the story is much the same. By the end of August, the Russell 3000 was up 9 per cent year-to-date but almost half of its constituent shares were actually trading lower than at the beginning of the year — the rise was concentrated in the other half. And this narrowness of the equity rally is causing investors’ concern. It could also be argued that US dollar weakness — down 14 per cent against the euro so far this year, 6 per cent against the yen, 5 per cent against sterling — is increasing US corporate profits as overseas earnings are boosted when converted back, so artificially boosting share prices. And there’s another reason to think that US stocks may be peaking: executives at many of the companies appear to think so, and have significantly reduced share buybacks — that is, using spare corporate cash to buy in their company’s spectator money | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk/money shares, which is generally done when executives feel the shares are undervalued. Bloomberg says share repurchases are 20 per cent lower this year than last, and back to 2012 levels. Those share buybacks have been an enormous prop to the US bull market: Citi estimates that US companies bought back nearly $3 trillion of their own shares between 2010 and 2016. That was a lot of buying, and it’s now in decline. And it’s not just the executives running the companies who worry the shares are fully valued. The world’s most successful investor, Warren Buffett, is Investors are backing shortselling trades that bet on the US market falling currently sitting on almost $100 billion of cash, waiting for investment opportunities at the right price. US corporate profit margins have never been higher, which would generally suggest they are likely to fall. And many commentators feel the market’s price-earnings ratios look stretched. US value fund manager GMO said in a recent research note: ‘This is the third most expensive market in history. The only times we have seen more expensive US equity markets were 1929 and 1999 [just before great stock market crashes, that is]. Strangely enough, we do not hear many exhortations to buy US equities because it is just like 1929 or 1999.’ Increasingly, investors are backing ‘short-selling’ trades that bet on the US market falling. As Bloomberg noted on 30 August: ‘Short interest is up in 2017. As a proportion of total shares available for trading, it has climbed by 0.4 per cent points to 4 per cent.’ And there are plenty of other risks in play. Investors’ faith in Donald Trump has been declining as his behaviour has become increasingly unpresidential. There has been no legislation to fertilise the boost to US economic growth that he promised on the campaign trail. There is little optimism that he’ll drive significant tax reform any time soon. And although Congress agreed a slight increase to the US debt ceiling to help victims of Hurricane Irma, this is just a temporary sticking plaster. In December, the new higher debt ceiling is expected to be breached, potentially resulting in a partial government shutdown. Republicans control Congress under a supposedly Republican President, but they face the same political gridlock as Obama. And that’s before we get to the geopolitical risks, with North Korea top of the list. Add on a central bank that is tightening monetary policy, albeit at a snail’s pace, and there’s plenty to worry about. Having said all of this, there are still plenty of bulls out there. Interest rates globally are barely above zero, forcing investors away from bonds and into equities. And it’s also all but impossible to pick the top of a bull market. Almost all research points out that it is better for investors to stay invested for the long term and not try to time the markets. Not even legendary US Fed chairman Alan Greenspan was smart enough to call the top: he rightly warned of ‘irrational exuberance’ and ‘escalating asset values’ — but in 1996, four years early for the dotcom crash of 19992000. Nevertheless, right now I have a bad feeling about US equities. 33 Give your children’s future a jump start. Aberdeen’s Investment Plan for Children You want to give your children a head start. So give them an investment plan that lets them aim a little higher. Aberdeen’s Investment Plan for Children offers a wide choice of investment trusts. And because this is Aberdeen, your children get access to investment opportunities not only in the UK but in Asia and worldwide too. The plan accepts monthly and lump sum investments – from parents, grandparents and anyone else who wants to contribute.A Hop over to our website to learn more. Please remember, the value of shares and the income from them can go down as well as up and you may get back less than the amount invested. A Subject to certain criteria being met. Request a brochure: 0808 500 4000 invtrusts.co.uk/children Issued by Aberdeen Asset Managers Limited, 10 Queen’s Terrace, Aberdeen AB10 1YG, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK. Telephone calls may be recorded. aberdeen-asset.co.uk Please quote CH S 12 GEORGE MARKS/GETTY Pensions: the gender gap Motherhood and family life can limit women’s ability to save – we need to start getting smart now, says Laura Whitcombe I t’s a fact of life that women save less for their old age than men do — and it’s the facts of life, biologically speaking, that are at the root of the problem. The average woman has £24,900 tucked away at retirement, but the average man has almost three times more at £73,600, according to the pension company Aegon. Data from Scottish Widows says women save £50 a month less than men, at £128 and £178 respectively, but almost a quarter do not save anything at all. And the result is that women very often have to live on lower incomes in their later years. The chief reason for this shortfall in retirement saving is, of course, that women are also mothers and — predominantly — caregivers. As such, they are more likely to have taken time out from formal employment to raise children and look after ill or elderly family members. Many sacrifice pay and career progression in spectator money | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk/money Women typically live longer than men – and save less the process, to the detriment of their long-term prosperity. Maike Currie, investment director for personal investing at Fidelity International, says: ‘Women typically live longer than men, so if a longer life with less money than your male counterparts doesn’t sound like the kind of retirement you dreamed of, it’s prudent to examine each of the three typical sources of retirement income — the state pension, a workplace pension, any other private savings — and address any glaring gaps.’ The state pension, currently £159.55 a week, may not provide enough for comfortable retirement, but it is still an important element of overall retirement planning. Many retirees rely on this guaranteed income to cover basic living expenses, so it’s important to understand how it works. Currie explains: ‘Your income from this pot will depend on the 35 number of National Insurance contributions (or credits) you clock up over your career. Under the new single-tier state pension system, you need a minimum of ten years of contributions to qualify for any state pension benefit and 35 years’ worth of NI credits to qualify for a full basic state pension; it used to be 30 under the old system.’ She says it’s critical to check your NI record, particularly if you have taken career breaks. You can do this by visiting www.gov.uk/checknational-insurance-record. Workplace pensions are effectively free money, since your employer also contributes to your retirement savings and in some cases matches any contributions you make. However, because many workplace pensions invest in standardised funds designed to cater for a wide spectrum of needs, it’s important to check how yours is invested and whether it’s appropriate for you. You might want to consider switching to a fund more likely to help you reach your retirement goals, but you’ll need expert financial advice to do so. As for private savings, ‘every woman should have her own savings pot, separate from her partner’s or family’s savings,’ says Currie. ‘It’s important for women to invest and save in their own right.’ Even if you stop working, you can still save into a pension. You can pay in up to £2,880 a year, which tax relief can boost to £3,600. There are also certain life events when it becomes particularly important for a woman to consider retirement planning — especially becoming a mother. Kate Smith, head of pensions at Aegon, says: ‘Whether you are a stay-at-home, single, working, part-time working, self-employed, married, divorced, widowed mum — there are many combinations — one thing is for sure: whatever your age, your pension savings are likely to stall as a consequence of motherhood. Gaps in pension savings history can leave you worse off in retirement — but for most women this is unavoidable. For example, taking a full year off work on maternity leave and stopping or reducing pension contributions to a workplace pension could leave you needing to work longer to make up the shortfall.’ Before you start maternity leave, Smith suggests finding out how much you have saved in your pension, what your state pension age will be, and whether your employer provides maternity pay higher than the statutory level. If you can, consider increasing your pension contributions before your maternity leave, particularly if your employer matches your contributions. Smith advises against leaving your workplace pension scheme while on maternity leave. You only need to make contributions based on your actual earnings, which will help make them more affordable. And when you return to work, you should consider paying additional contributions to compensate for the period when your contributions were lower. Overall, it’s wise to review your pension contributions when you return to work, and to do so again when your children reach school age if you no longer need to pay nursery fees. Michelle Cracknell, chief executive of the Pensions Advisory Service, adds that when your child turns three, you may be eligible for government help through free childcare hours. ‘If this gives you some extra money, it’s a good opportunity to put some of it into pension savings.’ And if you give up work to look after children, it’s important that you register for Child Benefit even if your partner’s earnings are such that you opt not to take the benefit. The January 2013 introduction of the ‘High Income Child Benefit Tax Charge’ Divorced and separated women tend to set aside far less than married women do means couples in which one partner earns more than £60,000 per year have the value of their Child Benefit wiped out by tax. As a result, growing numbers of mothers in higher-income households who started a family after January 2013 have declined to claim Child Benefit at all — meaning they miss out on NI credits towards their state pension. ‘Each year missed could cost 1/35 of the value of the state pension, around £231 per year,’ according to a Scottish Widows research report. It’s also worth remembering that grandparents caring for grandchildren under the age of 12 could qualify for National Insurance credits that can top up their state pension. Divorce also often has an impact of women’s retirement savings. Divorced and separated women tend to set aside far less than married women do. ‘Pensions, just like other assets, such as houses and ISAs, can be taken into account for financial settlements,’ explains Kate Smith. ‘It’s common for women with school-age children to keep the family home, and in return their ex keeps his pension intact. If that happens you will lose the right to any spouse’s pension. Although this may work well in the shorter term, it could limit your plans for retirement, if you don’t take pension saving into your own hands as soon as possible. The value of a pension should not be underestimated when going through a divorce.’ In summary, to boost your retirement income, the experts recommend a simple course of action for all women. Set your retirement goals and work out what level of income you require. Maximise your pension contributions and fill in any NI gaps to get the most out of the state pension. Eliminate any debt. And regularly review how your pension pot is invested. WHY MAKING WOMEN WAIT LONGER FOR THEIR STATE PENSION IS UNFAIR T he retirement prospects of more than two million women have been damaged by a faster-than-expected rise in the official state pension age. The age at which the weekly pension could first be collected was set in 1948 at 60 for women and 65 for men; legislation passed in 1995 aimed to bring the two into line at 65, through phased changes during the current decade. But the coalition government decided in 2011 to speed up the transition, so that women’s state pension age would be 63 by April 2016 and 65 by November 2018. And the pension age for both sexes would rise to 66 from 2020 — all 36 blamed on increasing life expectancy and the rising cost of pensions to the public purse. The campaign group Women Against State Pension Inequality, or WASPI, claims the changes could cost the women affected (those born in the 1950s) £40,000 in state pension foregone — and that many were given little or no notice of the deferral. WASPI is calling for a non-means-tested ‘bridging’ pension to provide extra income until the new state pension age is reached, and compensation for the losses suffered by women who have already reached what they had long expected to be their pension start-date. Former pensions minister Baroness Ros Altmann says: ‘Many of the women waiting longer for their state pension have been pushed into poverty. The Institute for Fiscal Studies suggests that one in five women aged 60 to 62 was in income poverty when the state pension age was increased to 63. It’s clear from this new research that as long as women can keep working, they can mitigate the impact of delayed state pension receipt, but those who cannot work either through illness, caring duties, unemployment or workplace age discrimination are left struggling.’ spectator money | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk/money Invesco Perpetual Investment Trusts Built on our legacy of long-term expertise 0ĞƛÊũŽûĞìáĩšŽøÊáƍŽƍšÊŕĩƍ©ĞÊ©ĩĞâºÊĞŽ in the patient, high conviction approach we ŽĉÊƜûŽøČČĩƍšáƍĞºũµûĞ©ČƍºûĞìûĞƛÊũŽėÊĞŽ trusts. 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Basic Card available with no annual fee, rewards or other features. Important information: Terms and exclusions apply. Subject to application and approval. • American Express® Services Europe Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. ISTOCK Golden groves of academe Never mind how much vice-chancellors are paid; it’s the pensions promised to 390,000 university staff that are seriously unaffordable, says Jonathan Davis S tudents, here is your starter for ten. What is the current funding deficit of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), the largest pension scheme in the country? Is it (a) £17.5 billion (terrible); (b) £12.6 billion (bad); (c) £5 billion (OK-ish); or (d) None of the above? You don’t know? Well join a very erudite and professionally qualified club. Whether the national university pension scheme is securely funded or not critically depends on which of these numbers you want to believe. For some 390,000 professors, lecturers and senior employees at UK universities and educational institutions, the answer to this question is anything but academic, as it speaks directly to the cost and security of their future pension entitlements. It also has implications for the financial health of the university system, whose budgets are already under pressure, amid growing controversy over student fees and vice-chancellors’ pay. The £17.5 billion figure is the one generated by an accounting standard spectator money | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk/money University budgets are already under pressure amid controversy over student fee levels called FRS 102, which all public companies are now required to use. On this measure, the pension scheme’s assets (£60 billion) fall more than 20 per cent short of its liabilities, those liabilities being the generous future pension commitments it has made to its members. The university scheme is now bigger than any public company’s pension fund. The second figure, of £12.6 billion, is the one that appears in the USS’s 2016-17 report and accounts, published in July. It is calculated by adjusting the value of the scheme’s future liabilities on a formula linked to the change in index-linked gilts yields since the last formal actuarial valuation in 2014, which gave a figure of £5 billion for the shortfall between assets and liabilities. So is that the right figure? Er, no — or not if you believe the managers and trustees who oversee the pension scheme. USS says that on the basis of its latest three-yearly actuarial review, just completed, the scheme’s funding deficit is still only £5 billion, unchanged from three years ago. The in-house experts and outside professional advisers have used a new set of assumptions which (conveniently, some may think) produce a less alarming result than the one included in the report and accounts just two months earlier. Historically, university academics (like civil servants) have enjoyed gold-plated index-linked pension benefits. Those benefits are now under threat. Two years ago, after the last round of negotiations, the universities reached an agreement with the unions to start whittling away some of the scheme’s benefits, including introducing a £55,000 salary cap above which contributions go to a less valuable ‘defined contribution’ scheme, switching those still working to a less favourable regime, and raising both employer and employee contribution rates to help fix the deficit. But a lot more needs to be done. Unlike public-sector pensions, the university scheme is not guaranteed by the government, but is the ‘joint and several’ responsibility of the 350 universities and institutions that make up its membership. Collectively these bodies — now heavily dependent on student fees for their income — pay £2 billion a year to fund the pension scheme. And that cost is going only one way: upwards. To meet all its current pension promises, the USS says, would require the combined employer and employee contribution rate to rise from 26 per cent of salary to 33 39 GETTY per cent. If that happened in one go, universities and academics between them would have to find £700 million more a year, equivalent to 8 per cent of the universities’ annual income. Given the already toxic issue of student fees, not to mention the furore over vice-chancellors’ salaries, the question of who might pay this bill is the hottest of political hot potatoes. Universities and unions are scheduled to open a new round of negotiations over pensions this autumn. Political sensitivity may explain why the management’s latest lowball assessment of the fund’s deficit raises as many questions as it answers. How can it be saying that the deficit is stable (on its own self-selected figures) but that it also needs a huge increase in contribution rates unless changes are made? Intriguingly, the USS is now run by Bill Galvin, who was previously the pensions industry regulator. In that job he oversaw a system that required all pension funds to publish standardised funding deficit figures. Yet his team have chosen not to use those figures. John Ralfe, an independent pensions consultant, says bluntly that USS has ‘a huge deficit and is in a mess. But the mess is made much, much worse because USS is creating a smokescreen to try to hide the deficit, rather than addressing it properly’. 40 He blames the scheme’s past investment policy — betting too much on higher-risk shares in the hope of investing its way back into balance. That may not be entirely fair. The scheme’s investment activities have not been unsuccessful recently: it has made a compound return of 12 per cent per annum over the past five years. The real problem is that the yield on index-linked government bonds (the standard instrument that pension funds use to match future inflation-proofed benefits) remains stubbornly negative. This has been a major headache for all pension schemes, not just the university one. The in-house investment team, which is incentivised to beat a passive liability-matching benchmark, has paid a price for deciding last year not to match its index-linked liabilities in full, and betting instead that interest rates would rise. As well as having half its assets in equities, it preferred to invest in other types of assets, including non-indexed bonds and infrastructure projects. In the past year that bet has not paid off, though it may still do so in future years. Forecasting long-term liabilities accurately is no easy task: small changes in assumptions produce very different results. The USS makes some good points in defence of its numbers. Yet to the disinterested A protest in Westminster against rising student debt Previous page: A senior Oxbridge academic can look forward to a gold-plated, indexlinked pension Contribution rates will have to rise and beneﬁts will have to be reduced observer it seems obvious that, just as almost every private-sector company faced with lower yields and greater life expectancy has had to close its defined benefit pensions scheme on grounds of cost, so contribution rates for university academics are going to have to rise and their indexlinked benefits will have to be further reduced. It is only a question of how much and by when. That is a political, not an actuarial, issue. Yet the truth is that, with real interest rates so low and unlikely to rise materially for many years, the scheme as currently constituted is unaffordable. How do we know that? Well, at current market rates, if the universities asked an insurance company to run the scheme as currently constituted, it would cost them well over £100 billion, a figure that makes even the gloomiest current deficit projection pale into insignificance. But identifying a problem and dealing with it are rarely the same thing. A man called Upton Sinclair once observed that, ‘It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.’ Resolving the universities’ pension challenges is going to test how vigorously the academic sector is capable of confronting the reality of today’s investment landscape. spectator money | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk/money Everyone needs help to protect themselves against a rainy day. At Charles Stanley, we think the beneﬁts of ﬁnancial security shouldn’t just be reserved for the privileged few. The rain falls on us all. That’s why we have been providing approachable tailored advice to individuals at every stage of their ﬁnancial journey for more than 200 years. So if you have over £200,000 to invest why not get in touch? Whether you’d like us to manage your investments today, or help you devise a more secure ﬁnancial future, we are here to help you. Please contact us for more information. 0203 642 8915 www.charles-stanley.co.uk Please be aware that the value of your investments may fall as well as rise and your capital is at risk. Charles Stanley & Co. Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and a member of the London Stock Exchange. Registered in England No. 1903304, registered ofﬁce: 55 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 3AS. Charles Stanley & Co. Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Charles Stanley Group PLC. GETTY The ultra-fast broadband race Robin Andrews picks potential winners in fibre optics as the UK tries to catch up with the rest of the world ‘T elecommunications’ is not the perfect name for the transmission of data at speeds that the late Mr Alexander Graham Bell of Edinburgh would simply disbelieve. Nowadays — though some of us may still hanker after older, slower ways of keeping in touch — this is a technology sphere that is about so much more than telephone calls. The ability to alter the wavelength of light — and the development of optical fibres that permit light’s transmission without distortion from magnetic fields and other factors — has changed everything. In addition, computer power has permitted sound and visual images to be digitised into electronic pulses that can be transmitted at speed and in volumes (or bandwidths) that have ushered in a world of potentially instantaneous communication. This is the new world of ultra-fast broadband. For the non-specialist, it is a world of perplexing abbreviations, such as FTTP, FTTC and FTTT, meaning fibre to the premises, the cabinet or 42 the terminal. In effect, we are in the midst of a data-transmission revolution, from copper-wire networks to optical fibre ones, that is already giving significant commercial advantages to those who have the latter. Cisco, the world’s biggest Internet Protocol Provider (IPP), estimates that internet traffic will be growing at an annual compound rate of more than 22 per cent between 2015 and 2020. Only optical fibre can cope with this growth, never mind the speed of its transmission. Last year the UK regulator for the sector, Ofcom, published its Digital Communications Review. In it we read that of the 30 countries analysed for ‘fibre coverage to premises’, Spain leads the world with 79 per cent, Canada, France and the US have achieved around 25 per cent penetration, but the UK figure is only 2 per cent, leaving us trailing shamefully at 29th in the table. Lack of optical fibre cable to premises simply means that businesses and retail customers cannot receive the volumes or speeds of data The UK is now well behind many competitors in terms of data speeds that most of our trading competitors now enjoy. Governments worldwide now realise that they are in a race to invest in the infrastructure that will permit their economies to stay competitive in a world where almost instantaneous data-sharing is vital. Put simply, physical networks need to be built that incorporate trenches, towers and vital connections from cabinets to individual premises. The UK, once a leader in mobile communications, is now well behind many competitors in terms of availability of data at speeds of anything much more than 15 megabits per second. Speeds of over 100 megabits are now commonplace from South Korea to Sweden. The Gigabit City (1,000 megabits per second), a concept much talked about in the US, is, technically at least, within reach. BT has been and is the UK’s monopoly provider of copper-wire telecommunications. The problem for the UK has largely been that it has not suited BT, or been financially possible, to scrap its largely copper-wire network and replace it with optical spectator money | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk/money carbon fibre ducts and all the associated kit. Now under pressure from government and with rivals snapping at its heels, there is a consultative process taking place that will set the rules for a massive roll-out of optical fibre. As well as Ofcom, others at the table will be Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, and the listed companies mentioned here (see box, right). Sharing of both optical fibre and copper-wire networks and a range of related technology issues are all on the agenda. In November 2016 the last government pledged £1.1 billion to help with the roll-out of fibre and 5G infrastructure, and £500 million has already been made available to invest alongside the private sector. This has had immediate success insofar as at least another £500 million has been invested by private companies and local authorities — particularly in the south and south-west, where two private companies, Gigaclear and TrueSpeed, have identified rural communities wealthy and willing enough to pay up for faster speeds. Now to the point: reducing such a technically complex and regulated business to a few investment ideas is fraught with difficulty, but made a bit easier by the fact that there are few public companies to choose from. Indeed Macquarie, the infrastructure investment bank, reckons that at the moment there are only two pure optical fibre players, BT and CityFibre. However, there are others whose business models will involve offering enhanced broadband speeds. These include Manx Telecom and KCOM, also featured here. As with any large infrastructure investment programme (possibly £30 billion or more to be spent in the next 15 years), there will be many opportunities for entrepreneurs to provide timely products to the larger players. But most of these are and will probably remain private or in private equity funds. In particular, many technical advances in switches, capacitors, amplifiers and electronic circuits already exist. These components of the ‘boxes’ or ‘cabinets’ take signals from the optical cables and change them to the visual or audible messages we understand. This ‘last yard’ at the ends of the networks is the area in which transformational changes lie further ahead, and perhaps great opportunities for investors. But for the time being, here are four companies poised to benefit from government-backed initiatives to help the UK catch up with the rest of the world. THE MAJOR UK-LISTED PLAYERS BT Share price £2.82; Market cap £28bn The share price of this monolithic business suggests to me it may be on the verge of recovery from well-publicised problems of recent years: in two years, it has declined from £5 to £2.82. It will always be difficult turning around such a huge company, but the urgency of delivering faster broadband to many more households is the stimulus that’s needed to make changes in management and structure, and negotiate a less stultifying regulatory environment. Already Openreach, BT’s broadband division, has a board independent of BT, which will allow it to initiate private talks with competitors and industry partners. Openreach is working with government and industry partners to find a middle way that can use existing copper networks but improve ‘last yard’ connections. Not every household will be willing to pay for ultra-fast services but a fibre optic infrastructure is the endgame and BT/ Openreach will be exploring ways of getting there, probably via joint ventures: there were recent reports of talks with Vodafone, whose broadband experience in Spain and Portugal could be valuable. What’s certain is that BT isn’t going out of business: it’s far too dominant in the UK telecoms industry for this to happen, and has technical expertise second to none as well as a vast customer base that might be wooed into paying more for better service. So this is the safe horse to ride and it carries a 5 per cent yield. KCOM 95p; £491m As befits the 2017 City of Culture, Hull and its hinterland are well ahead of the rest of the UK in penetration of fibre to premises. This is largely due to far-seeing Hull councillors, who, in 1902, received a licence to set up their own telephone network, which in 1987 became Kingston Communications. The company went public in 1999, when the city council spectator money | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk/money sold its controlling interest. Now called KCOM, it started installing fibre optic cable to premises as early as 2012. A series of disposals and acquisitions has created a company with a solid earnings base well placed to continue investing in fibre optic cable, and not just in East Yorkshire. KCOM has created an IT division, Enterprise, which offers services in such areas as Cloud technology, and advises on private communications systems for clients such as HMRC. In a recent excellent research report on the telecoms industry, broker Peel Hunt describes KCOM as a company of two halves with a 6 per cent yield. It gives a target price for the shares of £1.50 and I don’t disagree with their view. CITYFIBRE 45p; £286m Since its formation in 2011, CityFibre has grown both by acquisition and internally: a key acquisition in 2016 was 1,350 miles of optical fibre from KCOM for £90 million. Recently the company raised £210 million at 55p a share, essentially doubling its size. As the prospectus says: ‘CityFibre provides fibre connectivity services through designing, building and operating fibre optic network infrastructure. Today it owns and operates more than 2,000 miles of optical fibre and has a presence in 42 towns and cities in the UK, providing infrastructure that is an alternative to Openreach (BT).’ Its services and assets are available to other telecom companies such as Sky, TalkTalk, and Vodafone, as well as TV and film content providers The recent fundraising will allow more debt to be raised, quickening the pace of expansion. The new funds have also been used to buy a company called Entanet, which specialises in ‘connectivity’ services, i.e. the bit of the communication train that connects the end user to all signals that use mobile, cloud, optical fibre or indeed old-fashioned copper. This acquisition signals CityFibre expanding from its traditional role as wholesale provider of optical fibre networks towards new ventures and marketing initiatives. This is a sector that is growing exponentially so the game (as with the likes of Amazon and Facebook) is less about quick profitability than running fast to secure market share. How businesses such as CityFibre should be valued is a puzzle. For the time being, investors can be comforted that they are buying at a discount to the recent institutional placing. Macquarie, a broker to the recent issue, has a target price of 100p. This should be regarded as a long-term investment but prepare for excitements in the short term as market participants jostle, acquire and perhaps merge. MANX TELECOM £1.97; £222m There’s something comforting about investing in a monopoly — and that’s certainly what Manx Telecom has on the Isle of Man. On the other hand, as BT investors know, monopolies attract regulation that can stultify performance. It was once part of BT, but after several owner changes it floated free by an IPO in 2014. Manx benefits from providing telecoms and services to a loyal community on its low-tax island. It has invested in recent years in fibre-to-cabinet infrastructure but announced recently that it will be offering fibreto-premises for about 80 businesses and locations. The company should benefit from wealthy Isle of Man residents who can afford to pay for this enhanced service. It has also launched a small investment business, Vannin Ventures, that will look for opportunities as the broadband revolution gathers pace. There is no reason why Manx cannot expand quickly on its solid domestic earnings base, and the balance sheet seems stable with debt of £69 million and available cash of £10 million. Earnings before depreciation and tax are a comfortable £27 million so the dividend yielding 6 per cent is well covered. Peel Hunt has a target price of £2.50. (All prices as at 22 September). 43 Scrap this stamp duty spiral What we need is a return to the era of low, simple and stable levies on house sales, argues Matthew Lynn O n balance, history will be kind to George Osborne’s six years as Chancellor. He stabilised an economy that was in dire straits when he took over. He brought the deficit under control while avoiding a serious recession, a trick that is far easier in economics textbooks than it is in the real world. He pumped money and time into reviving the north, and he played a key campaign role in delivering the first majority Conservative government in three decades. If he made one massive mistake, however, it was this. He took a housing market that was already dysfunctional, and, by introducing a raft of changes to stamp duty, he achieved the almost unimaginable feat of making it even worse. His policies turned it into a huge money-spinner for the Treasury but slowed down the number of house sales, reduced labour mobility and laid waste to the once-booming buy-to-let sector. If you were searching for a laboratory experiment in why governments are almost invariably best advised to keep out of markets, you could hardly find a better one. Re-wind the clock a couple of decades, and stamp duty was a minor item on the tax menu. Stamp duties have in fact been around since the 1600s, but the current system of tax44 ing home sales dates from the 1950s. For a long time, tweaks were mercifully infrequent. All through Margaret Thatcher’s reign, for example, you paid nothing on a purchase price of up to £30,000 (in those days you could still buy a house for less than that, although admittedly not in Chelsea) and 1 per cent above it. In 1993, the threshold was doubled to £60,000 to reflect higher house prices. For many years, that was about it. Stamp duty was a simple and stable levy consonant with the established principle that the state should collect a modest and painless slice whenever significant assets change hands. The rot set in — surprise, surprise — with Gordon Brown. As Chancellor, he couldn’t look at a tax without wanting to find a fiddly way of increasing it, preferably by stealth. A single stamp-duty rate suddenly became four rates, from zero per cent up to £60,000 to 2 per cent over £500,000. There were more changes in 1998, 1999 and 2000 — Brown knew how to enjoy himself — until the top rate reached 4 per cent. He and his successor as Chancellor, Alistair Darling, carried on tinkering with the rates until Darling’s parting shot before Labour left office in 2010, which introduced five levels of duty with a top rate of 5 per cent on houses over £1 million. The duty rates encourage older people to stay in big homes they no longer need Simplicity and stability were a thing of the past. But if Brown started the rot, it was Osborne who really focused on stamp duty as an instrument of economic engineering, introducing punitive rates that hit the top end of the market hardest. In 2012, the Tory Chancellor brought in a new rate of 7 per cent for any transaction worth more than £2 million. Then in 2014, he overhauled the system again, introducing tiered rates, so you paid percentages of each chunk of the price. Over £925,000, the rate went up to 10 per cent and over £1.5 million it was now 12 per cent. These changes were even more dramatic for the growing army of buy-to-let landlords, or anyone buying a second home, unless they did so through a company. From £40,000 upwards they started paying extra stamp duty, rising to 13 per cent over £925,000 and 15 per cent over £1.5 million. The transformation of a tax that used to be a minor expense, on a par with the solicitor’s fees and the cost of the removal van, was now complete. People buying houses in London and the south-east now routinely pay a year’s salary or more in stamp duty. The impact has been huge. According to an analysis by Nationwide, the amount collected has soared. The Treasury now rakes in close on £13 billion a year from stamp duty, more than twice the amount from inheritance tax. But the number of transactions has tumbled to the lowest in a decade. In London, where these stratospheric rates of duty are biting hardest, the market has virtually frozen. Sales have all but ground to a halt. In Wandsworth, for example, there were just 105 sales in February this year compared with 270 in February 2016, according to Land Registry figures. Westminster saw only 55 sales. Overall, the figures are the lowest on record. Meanwhile, prices have fallen by more than 15 per cent in boroughs such as Kensington and Westminster, with a 6.6 per cent overall fall across the capital in the past year. The impact on the buy-to-let market has been even more dramatic. The number of buy-to-let mortgages available, a good indicator of the level of interest in the sector, has fallen to its lowest level since the immediate aftermath of the financial crash of 2009. The Council of Mortgage Lenders reports that around 6,000 new purchases a month are being made with buy-to-let mortgages, compared with a peak of up to 11,000 in 2015. spectator money | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk/money There are ways around the new taxes. Lots of landlords are setting up companies, but that is expensive, and only really worthwhile if you have three or four properties; plus you can’t transfer existing assets into a company without paying stamp duty and capital gains tax. Couples might find they can get around the secondhome rate by getting divorced. But that’s a pretty extreme way of sidestepping a tax, and probably not the best preparation for buying that idyllic cottage in Cornwall you’ve always talked about. In reality, stamp duty is a very hard tax to avoid, and the new system has been well designed to stop loopholes emerging. That does not mean it is a success, however. Brown saw it as an easy way of raising money, while Osborne saw it as a way of being seen to tax the rich while also curbing buy-tolet landlords, who, as he saw it, were driving up house prices. In fairness, it has raised a lot of money for the Treasury. But it is also distorting the housing market. There are three big problems. First, for many people it makes moving prohibitively expensive. Anyone swapping a £1 million home for another one in a different part of the country — because of a change of job, say — will have to pay £43,750 of duty. And yet mobility is obviously good for the economy. Next, the duty rates encourage older people to stay in big homes they no longer really need. It would often be better for all concerned if they down-sized and sold the family house, but buyers may now be few and far between. Finally, it has deliberately hammered landlords. But an economy with a flexible labour market plus lots of immigrants and lots of students, also needs lots of rental properties. As buy-to-let is discouraged, rents must go up — and that won’t help anyone. In reality, the housing market is already creaking under the weight of manipulation by the government. From planning restrictions to rules on borrowing to subsidies for first-time buyers and these hefty taxes on purchases, the state is meddling all over the place. The result? Far too few new homes are being built, too few people can afford to get on the ladder, and moving costs are soaring out of control. The stamp duty spiral has taken a mess and made a fiasco. The best thing we could do now would be to go back to a 1 per cent rate on every transaction, and leave that in place for a couple of decades. It couldn’t be any worse than what we have now – and might well be a lot better. PROPERTY ROSS CLARK Ground rents are the next housing scandal W henever I hear someone bemoan the fact that their home has become ‘worthless’, I know someone else is about to make a killing. Properties do sometimes become genuinely worthless — if they sit on a crumbling clifftop, for example. But more often than not a property that has become blighted is not valueless at all, but merely harder to sell. There’s still value in it for anyone prepared to look beyond the blight and realise it. So it is for leasehold houses with doubling ground rents. The scandal that has erupted in the past few months is likely to be followed by a second scandal, in which homeowners with hard-to-sell properties are persuaded to sell them at fire-sale prices to speculators who then sell them on at a big mark-up. It’s never easy to see where the next financial scandal is going to hit. A few years ago the big problem with leasehold properties was soaring service charges. Few leaseholders bothered about ground rent; many were barely aware of it. Ground rent arises because when you buy a leasehold property you are not really buying a physical asset at all: you are buying a rental contract of up to 999 years, with most of the rent levied up-front in the purchase price. But there’s usually an annual ground rent, too, and often it amounts to so little (a ‘peppercorn’) that the freeholder doesn’t bother to collect it. In other cases the ground rent is £100 to £300 a year, and some leases have provision for it to rise over time, in line with inflation. Trouble is, if you’re writing a lease for a millennium, it’s difficult to link ground rent to any official measure of inflation: slim chance that in the year 3016 there will still be an Office for National spectator money | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk/money Statistics publishing a monthly Retail Price Index. So leases resort instead to clauses stating that, every so often, the ground rent simply doubles. My wife owns a small flat with a doubling ground rent, but I did the sums when she bought it and decided it was not onerous. The £300 rent will double every 20 years for the first 100 years of the lease, and remain flat thereafter. In 100 years’ time, therefore, the rent will be £9,600, which sounds a lot but is highly likely to have been eaten by inflation. A 20-year doubling ground rent will retain its real value if inflation averages 3.5 per cent. At the Bank of England’s Unsurprisingly, owners with doubling rents ﬁnd their homes have been blighted target of 2 per cent inflation, our £300-a-year ground rent will hit a peak real value of £1,325 before declining. That would still be less than the service charge on most London flats. But some developers slipped a nasty trick into new leases. Instead of doubling every 20 years, they made them double every ten years. The difference is colossal. After 100 years, a £300-a-year ground rent reaches £307,200. At 2 per cent inflation, that would be the equivalent of £42,000 today. Developers also started building leasehold houses, either holding on to the freehold to enjoy a return from rising ground rent, or selling it to an income investor. Little wonder there’s such anger over these leases. In July, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid responded by announcing a ban on the sale of houses on leaseholds (except where the developer had itself bought the land on a lease, such as from the Crown Estate). New leasehold properties will have to have fixed peppercorn ground rents. But where does that leave people who have already bought leaseholds on tenyear doubling rents? Sensing the reputational damage, one developer, Taylor Wimpey, in April set aside £130 million to compensate buyers of leasehold houses. Countryside Properties, too, has said it will buy back some freeholds. But what of the rest? Unsurprisingly, owners with doubling rents find their homes have been blighted. Many mortgage-lenders refuse to lend against them, making them very difficult to sell. But does it really mean that the properties have become worthless? No. Anyone who has owned a leasehold for two years has the right to buy the freehold, or ‘enfranchise’. That might be beyond the means of leaseholders quoted prices of £30,000 or more. But they shouldn’t despair. First, there is a formula recognised in law to work out how much a leaseholder should pay for a freehold. Those who have been quoted exaggerated sums will find the price reduced once they employ a surveyor with knowledge in this field. And if you still can’t afford the freehold? The value of your home will not drop to zero. If it would be worth £250,000 as a freehold and the cost of buying the freehold is £20,000, its value should not drop below £230,000. Someone will already have worked out that there are profits to be made from buying leaseholds from overly pessimistic owners at distressed prices, holding them for a couple of years and then enfranchising. I don’t think we have heard the end of the scandal of leasehold houses yet. Rather, we are about to see one set of opportunists replaced with another. 45 Gold is still the safest haven The biggest producers are just too big for their shares to do much more that marginally outperform bullion itself. Of course, perception of South Africa’s ‘country risk’ might change for the better, which would make AngloGold Ashanti an obvious investment. The same would be true of Shanta in Tanzania. In the meantime, the likes of Canada’s Yamana and IAM Gold, and Australia’s Northern Star, will serve the riskaverse well over the long term. But be aware that their share prices have already improved this year, reflecting the rising bullion price. Risk and potential reward rises as we go down the list. The market is currently apprehensive about Russian production, hence lower valuations for Kinross, Polymetal and Petropavlosk. The latter produces much the same number of ounces as one of London’s favourites, Centamin, based in Egypt, which is valued more than seven times higher. But this has less to do with relative country risk than the fact that Petropavlosk is Gold mining shares can offer better returns than bullion itself, says Robin Andrews I n times as alarming as these — with Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump waving nuclear weapons at each other — gold has traditionally been a refuge for investors. Nowadays there’s an alternative haven in the crypto-currencies that Freddy Gray writes about on the opposite page; their volatile performance this year has made gold look comparatively prosaic, up a mere 12 per cent so far. But there are good reasons to stay with the traditional insurance of gold rather than run with the Bitcoin pack— and for those looking for a better return than bullion itself, gold- 46 mining shares are the way to go. What follows is a non-comprehensive list of major gold producers, as well as a few of the hundreds of smaller exploration and development ventures — and half a dozen ‘Buy’ recommendations. The table is ranked by scale of production but, as you can easily see, the valuations do not mirror this. A more complete comparison must take account of debt levels, reserves, ore processing costs and, of course, political risks. This really is a sector in which private investors need to do their own research and build up their general knowledge before diving in. NAME PRICE (as at 22 Sept) CAPITALISATION £million PRODUCTION million ounces P.A MAIN OPERATIONS Newmont $37.89 15,976 5.0 US, Africa, Australia, S.America Anglogold Ashanti $9.47 2,844 3.75 S.Africa, US, West Africa Goldcorp $12.87 8,008 3.0 Canada, US, S.America Kinross C$5.23 3,905 2.5 US, Russia, Africa Newcrest A$21.67 9,836 2.4 Australia, PNG, Indonesia Agnico Eagle C$57.67 8,012 1.6 Canada, Finland, Mexico Polymetal £8.26 3,620 1.4 Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia Rand Mines £74 7,030 1.25 Mali, Congo Yamana Gold C$3.37 1,913 0.94 Canada, S.America IAM Gold C$7.80 2,172 0.88 Canada, West Africa Centerra Gold C$8.50 1,586 0.80 Canada, Kyrgyzstan Northern Star A$4.92 1,782 0.55 Australia, Petropavlosk* £0.073 243 0.48 Russia Centamin £1.56 1,600 0.47 Egypt Royal Gold $94 3,035 0.35 S.America, Canada Eldorado Gold C$2.56 1,330 0.30 Europe, S.America Highland Gold £1.63 476 0.26 Russia Leagold* C$3.20 286 0.23 Mexico Hummingbird £0.35 115 0.13 Mali Shanta £0.035 28 0.085 Tanzania Rye Patch C$0.20 52 0.075 USA Orosur* £0.18 21 0.035 S.America Georgian Mining* £0.20 24 Exploring Georgia Kenadyr Mining* C$0.25 11 Exploring Kyrgystan spectator money | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk/money slowly paying off huge loans; when it has finished doing so, this poor swan could fly — and even approach the valuation of debt-free Centamin. As every seasoned investor knows, the fun and games in the mining sector are to be found in smaller exploration ventures — and the key is to make sure you join the fun when the company has plenty of money to carry out its exploration drilling. But if the company gets lucky, the investor will be confronted with a double-or-quits dilemma: more financing will be needed to reach the point at which reserves are defined, and more still when production is about to commence. Centamin was a good example: the investor who held his nerve over four years as production came closer was ultimately rewarded four times over. I’m hoping for a similar experience, or even better, with Kenadyr and Georgian, two of the more interesting smaller explorers. I hold the stocks marked with a * — not a conservative portfolio, you will note! BUY? BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY THE SPECULATOR FREDDY GRAY Crypto-currency: risky as hell but worth a punt ‘I ’m up 430 per cent,’ said my friend Mash, boasting about his investments in Bitcoin. I should have known then that crypto-currencies were about to crash. Sure enough, in the first week of September, the value of digital coins took a large dive. Bitcoin, always the crypto leader, fell by 17 per cent; Ethereum, the second most valuable cryptocurrency, dropped by 20 per cent. Analysts have long been predicting a correction in this market, which has rocketed in 2017. Warren Buffett called it all a ‘mirage’ a few years ago. On other hand, John McAfee, the software entrepreneur and political activist, promised to ‘eat his own dick on national television’ if one Bitcoin was not worth $500,000 within three years. You never know. What’s certain is that the amateur online investor is at a disadvantage. Most people who invest in Bitcoin have little or no understanding of what they are buying. We can blather all we like about chains of code, ledger systems and mining, and that’s fun, but nobody is quite willing to admit that digital stores of value remain a mystery to all but the geekiest. Thousands of currencies with all sorts of funny names have sprouted up since Bitcoin emerged, and many are highly dubious. The 41st most valuable crypto-currency, for instance, is Bitcoin Dark (shady name, shady coin), but if you go to Bitcoindark. com, you see a red warning sign on the home page saying ‘developers moved to Komodo Coin … Komodo is the future!’ Komodo is the 22nd most valuable currency, it turns out, with a market cap of $371,253,359. Another is called Useless Coin, started as a joke about the sheer vapidity of digital money, but it still has a market cap of about $64,000. spectator money | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk/money Then again, all money is mystery, au fond, and you can go mad thinking too hard about it. And despite the recent tumble, there is a very good argument to carry on investing in crypto-currencies. It starts with the fact that a £100 Bitcoin investment made seven years ago could have made you a multi-millionaire. The latest dip has provided a good excuse to get into the market late— indeed, prices are already creeping back up as I write. In 2011, when Bitcoin first achieved parity with the dollar, its bubble appeared to have burst: the price fell by 68 per cent. It A £100 Bitcoin investment made seven years ago could have made you a multi-millionaire fell again in 2012 and 2013 but just kept coming back stronger. There will be further dips as crypto-currencies increasingly bump into the reality of ‘fiat’ or state-backed money. The reason for the latest plummet is that China, the source of much optimism about digital currencies, just banned Initial Coin Offerings. I’m still not sure I entirely understand this, but ICOs are a bit like IPOs; businesses can use them to raise capital. Investors use Bitcoin or other digi-dosh to buy ‘crypto tokens’ – essentially shares, which can then be redeemed. It sounds scammy, yet ICOs have raised close to $2 billion worldwide just this year. Chinese companies reportedly raised $383 million through these vehicles, which led to much wild speculation about how blockchain currencies would eventually replace the dollar as the global reserve currency. Austrian-school economists have long speculated that the internet would come up with a way of usurping the central banks they despise: and Bitcoin’s surge this year seemed to be proving them right. But then China is a state-run economy, remember, and the top brass in Beijing don’t for now appear eager to upend the way the world works, hence the ban. In a statement, China’s central bank said that ICOs have ‘seriously disrupted the economic and financial order’. But analysts are not convinced China’s reluctance will keep ICOs in check for long, and there is more than enough money washing around the crypto-markets to make them a very risky but potentially still very lucrative investment. The more fundamental driver of the price of Bitcoin is the lack of trust in governmentbacked money since the financial crash; quantative easing by central banks may have just about propped up the world economy but it has dangerously undermined faith in leading currencies, and more and more investors are drawn — perhaps subconsciously — towards the new digital currency markets, even if they are risky as hell. It’s easy to be ripped off by crypto-currency. ICO investments vanish all the time in the blink of a screen, and many a speculator has tried to reap his rewards only to find that his or her investment has disappeared. You might not trust Mark Carney or the Federal Reserve, but you have legal recourse if your pounds and dollars vanish. The crypto sphere relies on the trust of its kooky community, and it’s a haven for cybercowboys. Widows and orphans should steer clear then, but there’s a lot of money to be made in this digital Wild West. 47 International Money Transfers Sending money overseas? Receive up to €4,000 more when transferring £100,000 compared with UK high-street banks.* • • • Free expert guidance Fast online access 24/7 Safeguarded customer funds Call our experts on 0333 122 7328 or visit telegraph.co.uk/go/imtp to get started Provided by moneycorp for Financial Services *Based on exchange rate comparison taken September 1, 2017 between Lloyds, Natwest, Barclays, RBS, HSBC and Santander and Moneycorp. Moneycorp is a company wholly independent of Telegraph Media Group Limited. Moneycorp is a trading name of TTT Moneycorp Limited. TTT Moneycorp Limited is registered in England and Wales under company number 738837 with its registered office at 2 Sloane Street, London, SW1X 9LA. TTT Moneycorp Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority for the provision of payment services. TIM GRAHAM/GETTYW Whiskies galore! Henry Jeffreys says a rare Scotch can be a better investment bet than first-growth claret T his summer I did some work for a family who have been in the whisky business for 200 years. They showed me a treasure from their collection, a bottle of 50-year-old Macallan with a receipt to show how much they paid for it in 1985: £40 including VAT (which they managed to claim back). Recently, an identical bottle sold at auction in New York for $25,000. The world has gone whisky mad. In its annual report, a brokerage firm called Rare Whisky 101 shows that if you’d invested in a vertical (a series of bottlings from successive years) of Macallan 18-year old vintage whiskies in 2015, they would have cost you £19,000. At the end of last year they were worth £46,000, up 142 per cent. That makes Macallan a far better bet than first-growth claret. Much of the demand comes, inevitably, from China. Previously the Chinese were buying Macallan as gifts to facilitate business (i.e. bribes) but when the government cracked down, demand slackened. Now, according to Kristiane Sherry, of the specialist spirits website Master of Malt, China is ‘really coming back’ as a whisky-buying market. Sukhinder Singh from The Whisky Exchange told me that ‘now sadly all stock goes to Asia. I get emotional about this’. Singh developed an interest in whisky while working at his parents’ west London off-licence and set up The Whisky Exchange in the 2000s as Britain’s first online whisky shop. Since then he’s seen prices, particularly for Macallan, go through the roof. Macallan is special because, according to Singh, ‘they were the first spectator money | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk/money The world has gone whisky mad – and much of the demand is from China distillery to do really old whiskies; they were way ahead of their time’. He frequently has customers offering to buy his entire collection. It’s not just Macallan though: Ian Buxton, author of a fascinating new book, Whiskies Galore, told me about visiting the Bowmore distillery on Islay in the 1990s and seeing bottles of Black Bowmore 30-yearold whisky gathering dust and priced at around £100 a bottle. One sold this year at auction for £11,450. Particularly collectable are whiskies from closed distilleries. Port Ellen in Islay was shut down in 1983. Diageo, the drink conglomerate that owned it, has released a little of the product every year for 17 years. The first releases were at £80; last year’s were at £2,600. Others are more affordable: Singh tips Rosebank, 49 a Lowland distillery, and Imperial on Speyside. A ten-year-old Rosebank bottled in the 1990s would have been about £50 seven years ago; now it’s £550. But the closed-distillery whisky that really gets collectors excited is not Scottish; it’s Japanese. Karuizawa closed in 2001, and this June the Whisky Exchange released a special pair of bottles, a 33-year-old and a 31-year-old, from this distillery, called the ‘Golden Geishas’, for £2,750. A pair go at auction for around £10,000. Until five to ten years ago, Japanese whisky was drunk only domestically, but now whisky lovers have woken up to its quality and there is a shortage of aged Japanese spirits. David Walters, a whisky expert who recently joined the wine brokers Fine & Rare, tips Yamasaki ‘age statement’ whiskies: ‘There’s just not enough to go round.’ It’s a similar story with Scotch. Ordinary ‘age statement’ whiskies that aren’t made any more are in demand. Sukhinder Singh recommends looking out for whiskies that aren’t necessarily expensive but are loved and actually drunk: ‘Much of the demand is driven by how good 50 the whisky is; it’s not about packaging or rarity.’ Some releases aimed squarely at collectors have not kept their value, whereas the Whisky Exchange has 1980s bottles of 12-year-old Talisker for £1,200. It’s not just single malts that are attracting attention, but also blends. Frans Op den Kamp, a collector of Johnnie Walker, told me that it’s fascinating how blends such as Black Label have changed over the years. Whiskies were made in different ways in the past: different strains of cereal, longer fermentation times, blends with higher proportions of grain to malt, or containing whisky from lost distilleries. He owns whiskies that not even Johnnie Walker have in their own archives. Ian Buxton finds the thought of people buying whisky not to be drunk depressing: ‘They’re made for pleasure.’ Singh is more relaxed — ‘People are free to do as they like’ — and insists that much expensive whisky really is consumed. Such is the demand at the moment that some releases are on strict allocation. Master of Malt received only six bottles of the Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2013 release, which whisky Above: Scotch whisky barrels Previous page: whiskies at the Cameron House Hotel on Loch Lomond If the market turns, it will be the people just in it for the money who get hurt writer Jim Murray declared the best whisky in the world in 2015. Just as with wine, there are problems with forgeries. This August a Chinese businessman ordered a glass of Macallan 1878 in a Swiss hotel bar for $10,000. When the story made the news some whisky experts declared the bottle a fake. The businessman is trying to get his money back. In 2004, Macallan itself was embarrassed when some of the whisky it had acquired for its collection turned out to be counterfeit. In a few cases Sukhinder Singh has tipped off the police (who weren’t very interested) about forgers trying to sell him dodgy bottles. He pointed me towards sites that are selling Macallan 1941, ‘a year they didn’t make any whisky!’ His advice is always to buy from a reputable merchant such as the Whisky Exchange, or an auction house: ‘Do some research and if it looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is.’ If you want to make sure what you are buying is kosher, you can buy ‘new-make’ whisky directly from a distillery, age it at the warehouse and then sell it on, or bottle it when mature. There are lots of new distilleries in Scotland and Ireland in need of cash flow. The key is to look at the pedigree of the distillery: see who is involved and where the money comes from. Some distilleries such as Arbikie, which Fine & Rare is involved with, offer a buyback clause. Others may charge for storage. The risk with all the new distilleries, particularly in Ireland, is that there’s going to be a lot of unknown whisky coming on to the market at the same time. Ian Buxton told me ‘people have had their fingers burnt in the past from investment casks’. He thinks worldwide demand is driven by fashion as much as anything else: ‘It’s all driven by low interest rates, cheap money and people chasing investment returns.’ As a whisky historian, Buxton takes the longer view: ‘We’ve been here before with whisky booms.’ But he admits he is something of a voice in the wilderness; for years he has predicted a bust that hasn’t happened. Singh, too, points out that the market could turn and when it does, it will be the people just in it for the money who get hurt: ‘Whisky is for drinking at the end of the day.’ Kristiane Sherry thinks you could make 7 per cent a year from a shrewd investment, but ‘if all goes wrong and you can’t sell it, worst case you’ve got some fabulous whisky to drink far cheaper than you otherwise could’. spectator money | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk/money IS THERE A VITAL ELEMENT MISSING FROM YOUR PORTFOLIO? The Old Mutual Gold & Silver Fund When the going gets tough, should investors be following the lead of the world’s leading central banks and invest in gold? Talk to your ﬁnancial adviser about the Old Mutual Gold & Silver Fund. Please remember that past performance is not a guide to future performance. Investment involves risk. The value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amount originally invested. Talk to your Financial Adviser. Visit omglobalinvestors.com For retail investors. This communication provides information relating to funds known as the Old Mutual Gold & Silver Fund (the “Fund”). This communication is issued by Old Mutual Global Investors (UK) Limited (trading name Old Mutual Global Investors), a member of the Old Mutual Group. Old Mutual Global Investors is registered in England and Wales under number 02949554 and its registered ofﬁce is 2 Lambeth Hill London EC4P 4WR. Old Mutual Global Investors is authorised and regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) with FCA register number 171847 and is owned by Old Mutual Plc, a public limited company limited by shares, incorporated in England and Wales under registered number 3591 559. OMGI 07/17/0194. Models constructed with Geomag. THE BURRELL COLLECTION, GLASGOW © CSG CIC GLASGOW MUSEUMS COLLECTION Philip Hensher wonders if Anthony Powell’s Dance is for all time A.N. Wilson applauds the disclosure of Isaac Newton’s ‘unholy’ Trinity Andy Miller says Jimmy Webb’s Beatles anecdote has lain down for 50 years like a bottle of vintage Port James Delingpole explains why Curb Your Enthusiasm makes him want to hide behind the sofa Stephen Bayley thinks medicine needs a redesign Kate Chisholm is terrified by Joan Crawford’s turn in an archival drama from the golden age of American radio ‘Woman looking through Field Glasses’, c.1869, by Degas Laura Freeman — p64 the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk 53 BOOKS & ARTS BOOKS Of his time Hilary Spurling impressively captures the essence and the spirit of Anthony Powell, his writing and his era, says Philip Hensher Anthony Powell: Dancing to the Music of Time by Hilary Spurling Hamish Hamilton, £25, pp. 576 Great novelists come in all shapes and sizes, but one thing they all share is a status of half-belonging. If they had no foot in the world at all, they could hardly understand it; if they completely belonged, they could hardly understand what was distinctive. One of the pleasures of this excellent biography is fully appreciating the peculiar, liminal, not-quite-successful position Powell wrote from, and described with great exactness. In half a dozen social and professional milieux, he was a tolerated, perhaps useful minor presence, like a spare man at dinner. From the standpoint of a rather failed editor, screenwriter, soldier, socialite, he stood by and watched the world. In each case, one suspects, the subjects hardly realised they were being observed. This is the fourth major biography by Hilary Spurling, after her full-scale lives of Ivy Compton-Burnett, Paul Scott and Henri Matisse. It is the first, perhaps, with no major surprise to spring on the reader. (What the great Compton-Burnett biography had to reveal came as news to people who had known the novelist for many decades.) Powell told his own story twice, in his novel sequence A Dance to the Music of Time, published from 1951 to 1975, and four volumes of richly enjoyable memoirs, published between 1976 and 1982. There is a gentlemanly reticence about private matters in both novel and memoir — the sentence in which Nick Jenkins, the narrator of the novel, informs the reader that he has married Isobel Tolland is, to fashionable sensibilities, indecently clipped. Nevertheless, what we have in both is a detailed and largely truthful account of events. Powell made sure there would not be much for a biographer to discover. Powell came from a line of soldier gen54 try. The unusual fact of his childhood is that his mother was very much older than his father, and they moved around various London addresses when he was a small child. (When, much later, he moved to a house in the country, he found the sight of fields and woods from his study window disturbing.) At Eton he made friends with Henry Yorke, later the novelist Henry Green, but otherwise did not shine at sport or intellectual pursuits. After Oxford, he took a job at a dim publisher called Duckworths and went to smart parties; he was not much of a success. ‘Ah, you’re buying experience, young man,’ a hostess remarked with evident relief at having placed him. The women of The appearance of things is so searchingly pulled apart in Powell that it takes on a real profundity his generation made it disarmingly frank that a boy with a very moderate salary and without real prospects was of no interest to them. He made his way slowly — evidently agreeable company, he befriended the Sitwells, had an affair with Nina Hamnett, and maintained friendships with Evelyn Waugh and Constant Lambert. The five novels he wrote in the 1930s fell under the shadow of Waugh and even of Henry Green; they are extraordinarily dry, and met with only very moderate success, though their brilliance has never been in doubt. The last of them, indeed, was published days before the war broke out and was a minor casualty of the conflict. Powell had a mixed war, though relations between him and the army never broke down as spectacularly as they did in the case of Evelyn Waugh — in person, he was always much more emollient, though perhaps not very competent. He was personally selected by a former flatmate of his friend Alick Dru, Lt-Col Denis Capel-Dunn, secretary to the Joint Intelligence Committee, to act as his sole assistant. Powell lasted nine weeks working for this ‘squat figure in a sodden British Warm… famed for his forcefulness with subordinates… manipulation of equals and ingratiation of superiors, particularly those of ministerial rank’. By the time Capel-Dunn sacked Powell, refusing a request to stay on long enough to be promoted to major (‘My nerves wouldn’t stand it,’ Capel-Dunn said), Powell had taken the opportunity to observe a singular type at close quarters. When the long novelistic silence between What’s Become of Waring (1939) ended with the first volume of Dance, A Question of Upbringing (1951), Powell’s thoughts had cohered into one of the great fascinating monsters of fiction. Kenneth Widmerpool had a number of originals, but the main one was Capel-Dunn. Powell’s long and happy marriage to Lady Violet Pakenham connected him to generations of powerful and compelling people within one family, including the painter Henry Lamb, Lord Longford, Lady Antonia Fraser, Harold Pinter, Ferdinand Mount and Harriet Harman. In Dance, the authority and sympathy within any number of social settings is never likely to be equalled — Proust doesn’t come anywhere near Powell’s social range. Even in worlds he knew nothing about, such as music (Hugh Moreland’s symphony comes and goes with the minimum of comment), the authenticity of Powell’s portrayal of the manners of Mrs McLintick and the music critics is deeply impressive. The sequence has a peculiar and compelling technique; the narrator analyses rather than mulls, always looking outwards, and the appearance of things is so searchingly pulled apart that it takes on real profundity. In the great scenes in Powell, the characters often know much more than the narrator admits, or will share with the reader. ‘So often one thinks,’ Powell writes, ‘that individuals and situations cannot be so extraordinary as they seem from out- the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY Anthony Powell, by Henry Lamb (1934) side: only to find that the truth is a thousand times odder.’ When Jenkins and Jean play at not knowing each other at the memorial service in The Military Philosophers (‘[Madame Flores] spoke English as well as her husband, the accent even less perceptible’) there is a sense of struggling to make sense of surfaces. Many of the great scenes are like this: Pamela Widmerpool confronting Polly Duport at the end of Temporary Kings, or Barbara Goring pouring sugar over Widmerpool’s head. As in life, we see only the final, physical result of an internal process, and try to understand. We are not given the slack novelist’s privilege of reading many minds, and the texture is extraordinarily like life. The quality of characters dropping in and out has always been admired as resembling the process of living; less remarked upon is the constant texture of trying to read events and people from their actions and appearance, which after all is the way we all live. Will it last? Magnificent and accomplished as it is, Dance is certainly a challenge to many readers now. Powell’s dedication to the exact period detail is unmatched — the titles of the books his characters write, for instance, inspire awe in their precise plausibility, from St John Clarke’s Fields of Amaranth to J.G. Quiggin’s Unburnt Boats to X. Trapnel’s Dogs Have No Uncles to Ada Leintwardine’s gritty I Stopped at a Chemist (‘a tolerable film as Sally Goes Shopping’). The dedication goes as far as making sure the characters’ anecdotes have the right degree of dullness. ‘The King is supposed to have said “Well, Vowchurch, I hear you are the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk marrying your eldest daughter to one of my generals,” and Bertha’s father is said to have replied, “By Gad, I am, sir, and I trust he’ll teach the girl to lead out trumps, for they’ll have little enough to live on.” Edward VII was rather an erratic bridge-player, you know.’ Notoriously, Powell’s dry wit hardly travelled. Even now, I’m sometimes not quite sure if he is joking — when, for instance, his narrator remarks: ‘I was then at the time of life when one has written a couple of novels…’ Will readers in the future be able to catch his complex tone at all? This is a fine biography by a writer who knew Powell well, and who understands how writers think, and how novelists stand in relation to their material. Much of Dance is roman-à-clef if anything ever was, but Spurling takes the trouble to give Julian Maclaren-Ross and Constant Lambert lives quite separate from X. Trapnel and Hugh Moreland. Three quarters of the book is taken up by Powell’s life before Dance started to be published, and his last 20 years, after it came to an end, are wrapped up in a mere 14 pages, largely of Spurling’s own memories of Powell. This I think regrettable: the four volumes of memoirs are barely mentioned. Since such important events as the famous 1982 dinner for Mrs Thatcher, hosted by Hugh Thomas with Philip Larkin, V.S. Pritchett, Tom Stoppard and Mario Vargas Llosa as Powell’s fellow guests don’t feature, I think there must be much more to say about Powell’s last years than this suggests. Nevertheless, in this biography Powell gets what he deserves — a biographer of wide sympathy and human understanding, in tune with a style of manners and a way of thinking that is slowly vanishing, and very unlikely to be resurrected. Beneath that conventional exterior, the Regency house in the country and the portraits of what was coming to be called the Establishment, Powell was a writer as self-doubting and as shockingly original as Beckett. It’s good to have a commentator who understands that. 55 BOOKS & ARTS Apostle of gloom Andrew Taylor After the Fire by Henning Mankell, translated by Marlaine Delargy Harvill Secker, £17.99, pp. 416 Few people turn to Henning Mankell’s work in search of a good laugh. He’s best known as the author of the grim and darkly fascinating Wallander series of Swedish crime novels, though he also produced a formidable body of other novels, as well as plays, screenplays and children’s books, before his death in 2015. After the Fire is his last book, now published in an admirably smooth English translation. It reprises the main setting and many of the characters of an earlier book, Italian Shoes, including the narrator. Fredrik is a former surgeon whose medical career was destroyed after he botched an operation. Now nudging 70, he lives alone on a bleak island in the Stockholm archipelago. The novel opens one autumn night when he wakes to find his house on fire. He escapes the blaze with only a pair of wellingtons — and even these turn out to be two left-footed boots. The police suspect arson, and Fredrik himself is the only suspect. Most readers will guess the real culprit long before the police do. This isn’t a crime story, however — the arson is merely a device to plunge Fredrik more deeply into depression. He moves into a caravan on his island, occasionally varying the monotony by sleeping in a tent on his skerry, a rocky islet that forms part of his property. As the temperature plummets, he continues to take bracing morning dips in the sea. ‘As I get older,’ Fredrik confides in a typical aside, ‘I find my body increasingly repulsive.’ The odd thing is, the apostle of gloom is not a wholly unsympathetic character. There is something endearing about his raw honesty, his obsession with his own existential plight, and his acceptance of the fact that we can never really know anyone else. To pass the time, he strays among his memories and meditates on ageing, illness and mortality. In the present, he forms an attachment to a female journalist 30 years his junior, who accepts his friendship but rejects his carnal overtures. The archipelago is home to a scattered community of loners. Two of them drop dead of natural causes. Fredrik consoles one widow in his special way: ‘We never make sense of death. It doesn’t obey any laws or follow any rules. Death is an intractable anarchist.’ Fredrik has a recently discovered daughter, Louise, who arrives with the news that 56 she is pregnant. He believes, for no obvious reason, that she is supporting herself as a pickpocket. But he quite likes the idea of being a grandpa. He turns out to be right about Louise’s career choice when she is arrested in Paris and charged with theft. He goes to see her, sorts out her problem and meets her partner, an Algerian security guard, and the latter’s disabled brother. Paris prompts memories, especially of visits when he was a student. He invites the journalist to join him. She accepts, but continues to reject his advances. Back on his island, Fredrik arranges for his house to be rebuilt. Louise’s baby is born prematurely, gets meningitis but survives. Another house is burned down while he’s having a New Year’s Eve party. He works out the entirely obvious culprit. The book ends on an uncharacteristic note of qualified optimism as he moves into his new home. All in all, the novel commands respect rather than provides enjoyment. As I read it, I found myself wondering what P.G. Wodehouse would have made of it. I know Eeyore would have loved it, but I’m afraid I didn’t. Going places Christian Wolmar Britain’s 100 Best Railway Stations by Simon Jenkins Viking, £20, pp. 336 Stations, according to Simon Jenkins, are the forgotten part of the railway experience. People love the trains, the journey, the passing countryside, the leisurely pace and the locomotives, especially steam ones. The stations, however, have been rather ignored. Sure, the ubiquity of Prêt, Upper Crust and all those coffee chains on station concourses has made the experience somewhat tawdry Stations are enjoying a renaissance: being turned into pleasant, humanfriendly spaces at times, but even the worst is better than an airport. Brief Encounter would not have worked in a departure lounge. As Jenkins discovers, there is still plenty to celebrate and enjoy, and the modern disdain of stations is partly borne of our reluctance to linger in the face of modern life’s myriad competing demands. Linger, though, we must, to enjoy the variety of stations that have been left, largely by our Victorian forebears. Of course Beeching cut a swath through the station network, closing more than 2,300, but many were small or of little architectural interest. The most infamous loss was the old Euston, with its won- derful sweeping staircases in the Great Hall and overrated Doric arch. For a while after British Rail had stopped closing lines, stations were still in its crosshairs, including, notably, St Pancras, not least because there was the potential of a quick buck from property sales for the cash-strapped organisation. Jenkins claims a role here in stopping the destruction. He was appointed to the British Railways Board in 1980 and was shocked by the disdain for heritage shown by a continued programme of station demolition. He tried to stop the destruction of the Derby Tri-Junct, a station, as its name suggests, linking three lines, but was told by the chairman, Sir Peter Parker, that it was too late. Victorian buildings were out of fashion and Jenkins, appointed head of BR’s environment panel, trooped around the country ‘visiting distressed railway heritage, if only to draw attention to its plight’. However, Jenkins says that he managed to persuade Parker to fund a Railway Heritage Trust with £1 million per year and as a result no major stations were subsequently lost, apart from Newmarket. The book, therefore, is a celebration of what’s left, rather than a lament for what is gone. There is the occasional expression of anger, such as when Jenkins relates how British Rail, in what he calls ‘the 1970s Devastation’, ripped out the free-standing wooden ticket office at Edinburgh Waverley designed by James Bell in the 1890s and replaced it successively with ‘a travel centre, a shopping kiosk and then a Costa Coffee stand’, which was in turn removed, leaving a few rows of metal seats. Nevertheless, with more than 2,500 surviving stations, there is no shortage for Jenkins from which to select his best 100. The cover of the book is a good place to start. I confess that I had no idea of the location of the remarkable glass roof, sprouting out of a circular ticket office like the underside of a mushroom. It is in fact Wemyss Bay, on the Firth of Clyde, a station mainly used by passengers transferring from train to ferry or vice versa, and consequently needing to offer both shelter and speed, which explains the huge concourse that seems out of scale for such a small place. Divided geographically, Jenkins admits that London is over-represented in the book, but that is understandable given the grandeur of several of its termini, built as demonstrations of power by the private companies whose main offices they housed. Nevertheless, this is a genuinely national selection, and while the larger stations undoubtedly predominate, Jenkins has unearthed a lot of gems in small places such Betws-y-Coed and Gobowen. The photography is stunning, but since Jenkins’s focus is on the architecture — he is after all the author of England’s Thousand Best Churches — there are few people the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk Wemyss Bay train and ferry station on the Firth of Clyde in the pictures, which rather belies the very purpose for which the stations exist. There are even fewer trains or locomotives. Jenkins wants us to look at these spaces that are ignored as we rush through, and to look behind the modern ‘improvements’ that have so often been added with little regard for their impact on the historic design. In recent years, though, much more attention has been paid to heritage (sometimes excessively so, but that is another story) and there have been welcome improvements. One great cause for celebration has been the recent removal of the nasty 1960s leanto that completely wrecked the wonderful clean lines of the yellow-brick frontage of King’s Cross, creating a pleasant piazza from which to admire what is my favourite London station (Jenkins prefers the Gothic extravaganza next door, ‘which gives me the greatest thrill’). Of course I have to quibble with some of Jenkins’s choices and, particularly, his ratings. He seems to slap four or five stars on much Victorian architecture while giving only grudging praise to such 1930s Underground masterpieces as Charles Holden’s Southgate (one star) or Gants Hill (two stars), with its subterranean art deco concourse that would not be out of place in Moscow’s remarkable metro system. Inevitably, as he admits, there will be countless complaints about his omissions which, he says, will hopefully be remedied in a future volume listing the next best 100. Stations, as Jenkins notes, are enjoying a renaissance. Look at how shabby, car-dominated entrances, as at Newcastle, Nottingham and St Pancras, have been turned into pleasant human-friendly spaces, and at how several major cities — and in particular London — are being blessed with a remarkable series of new or rebuilt stations which, in the capital, include many rebuilt Underground stations. And we are being encouraged to linger more, with many stations managing to escape the Costa Coffee fate and providing independent pubs and cafés instead. Ratings war Katrina Gulliver The Future of War: A History by Lawrence Freedman Allen Lane, £25, pp. 400 Planning for the ‘war of the future’ is something generals and politicians have been doing for the past 150 years. The first and second world wars were the most anticipated conflicts in history. Military strategists and popular novelists all published the wars they envisioned in the decades before. Whether in the spycraft of Erskine Childers or the science-fiction of H.G. Wells, the reading public was warned of the carnage to come in many imaginative forms. But all that anticipation did little to avert the bloodbaths. the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk In this book, Lawrence Freedman offers a detailed analysis of how we have planned (or failed to plan) for conflict. Into the 20th century, military planning suffered from still focusing on the model of the Napoleonic wars, with the notion of the decisive battle. But warfare itself has moved on. From serried ranks of uniformed soldiers engaging on an open field, under rules of battle understood by all, we now have asymmetric warfare of nonstate actors and irregular skirmishes, or unending occupations. And that’s only in the conflicts we acknowledge as wars. Of all the people who die violently each year, only a minority are killed in part of a recognised war. Freedman points out that even defining ‘war’ is difficult. For instance, the traditional concept of war as interstate hostility means that the Falklands conflict (death toll 900), involving two sovereign state belligerents, is classed as a ‘war’, while the Rwandan genocide (death toll 500,000+) is not. The next war is also not always one of our choosing, but often someone else’s conflict we end up stepping into. Of the various civil wars and insurgencies taking place at any time on the planet, we can now watch what is happening in real time. Instead of reading news reports of something that happened weeks ago, we now have human rights abuses livestreamed on Of all the people who die violently every year, only a small minority are killed in a recognised war Facebook. The immediacy of humanitarian crises makes us demand that our leaders ‘do something’. What the ‘something’ ought to be remains open to debate. To not intervene is to be callous, disregarding the suffering of the helpless civilians of Whereveristan. But to intervene is imperalist, colonialist, and all the bad -ists. The awkward truth is that ‘peacekeeping’ troops can never be truly neutral (their presence affects the outcome of a conflict, even by preventing anyone from ‘winning’), and NGO involvement can serve to prolong a conflict, distort the local economy, and keep a country in a state of dependence on external control. Most of the conflicts of the last 50 years were civil wars or rebellions, rather than interstate wars. Knowing they are playing to an international audience also motivates warlords to use civilians as sympathetic victims — using them as human shields, or allowing massacres to take place, to cement their side’s image as the ‘injured party’ in the conflict. For the first time, there is advantage to be gained in playing the victim rather than the victor. The future of war is war for an audience. We can also now focus on the individual victim. For soldiers, our wars have become less lethal. Not only do our troops get bet57 ter medical care for battlefield injuries, they are unlikely to die of yellow fever or cholera during foreign conflicts. Historically, more soldiers died in war from sickness than bullets. It is only in the last few decades that soldiers’ deaths from battlefield injuries exceeded those from disease. Some of our soldiers don’t even need to go near a battlefield — they can operate Predator drones from a computer thousands of miles away. Whether the targeted assassination model of drone warfare is ethical is still open to debate. At the very least, it’s hardly sporting to shoot someone who doesn’t even know you are there. It is in this sense against all the traditional rules of war. But at the same time, when faced with an enemy who doesn’t play by those rules, is it fair enough? Whether drone warfare alone will turn out to be decisive in any conflict is another matter. It is unclear yet whether picking off Isis leaders via drone-strike has been more effective than driving them from their strongholds by traditional means. And as Freedman explains, drones themselves could turn out to be vulnerable if their BRIDGEMAN ART LIBRARY BOOKS & ARTS Sir Isaac Newton, by Godfrey Kneller (1646–1723): Newton was a secret, though fierce critic of the ‘Holy’ Trinity The possibility of hostile forces taking over major utilities, or disabling our banking system, is very real systems were hacked by the enemy. Cyberwarfare is an increasing threat, in which foreign states, terror groups, or other mischief makers could knock out key infrastructure. We’ve already seen the danger with various large-scale hacks — usually done for money, such as the Wannacry ransomware attack. But the possibility of hostile forces taking over major utilities, or disabling our banking system, is very real. We could be at war with an enemy we didn’t even know existed. In terms of more traditional conflicts, as more of the world becomes urban, so will more of its wars. Armies have long avoided cities, but the military nightmare of trying to capture and control a city of millions of inhabitants will become more often the reality. Already some of the world’s cities are in what could be defined as a state of conflict, although not classified as wars. In Rio, over 6,000 people were killed in 2016, by gangs or the police. The casualty rate among the security forces is higher than that of combatants in recent wars. But while terrorist groups are typically recognised in analyses of war, the activities of criminal groups are not. This means the 120,000 people killed as a result of drug cartels in Mexico over the last decade also don’t count as war casualties. Freedman’s lucid style packs in plenty of detail of where things went wrong, and the classic mistake of always planning for the last war. It is not comforting reading. As with Donald Rumsfeld’s ‘known unknowns’, the war of the future may be the one we least expect. 58 Trials and Trinitarians A.N. Wilson Priest of Nature: The Religious Worlds of Isaac Newton by Rob Iliffe Oxford University Press, £22.99, pp. 522 John Calvin believed that human nature was a ‘permanent factory of idols’; the mind conceived them, and the hand gave them birth. Isaac Newton acquired a copy of Calvin’s Institutes when he went up to Trinity College, Cambridge in 1661 as a teenager. By the time he was a mature man, however, Newton’s determined effort to strip the mind of superstitious superfluities had far outstripped the austere predestinarian of Geneva. As a Fellow of Trinity, and Lucasian Professor of Mathematics from 1669 onwards, Newton was obliged to subscribe to the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England. It was noted that, most unusually for a Cambridge academic at this period, he refused to take Holy Orders. In addition to his public work as a mathematician and physicist, Newton undertook work which was, perforce, utterly secret. This was his reexamination of Christian doctrine from its historical foundations. Had this work been made public, he would have been forced to resign all his public and academic positions. For he had come to the conclusion, by the time he reached maturity, that the central doctrines of Christianity, as outlined in the Creeds and the Articles, were monstrous idolatries, inventions, Satanic perversions of true religion. Above all, he excoriated Athanasius for persuading the Council of Nicaea to adopt the plainly, as Newton would see it, idolatrous view that Jesus had been the divine Second Person of the Trinity. Rob Iliffe, professor of history at Oxford, begins his study of Newton’s religious thought by saying, ‘Newton’s extensive writings on the Trinitarian corruption of Christianity are among the most daring works of any writer in the early modern period, and they would merit careful study even if they had not been composed by the author of the Principia.’ Presumably, Iliffe means that the writings are ‘daring’ in their conclusions, as Newton was not so ‘daring’ as to publish them — which would have spelt personal ruin. All his work on gravity, cosmology, mathematics, the colour spectrum, and so on would have been conducted, not in the spacious setting of Trinity, but in a garret, and it is unlikely that the world would have heeded them so readily had they not come from the Lucasian professor. So obsessed was Newton by his religious views and writings, however, that he longed to get out of Cambridge, and settle in London, if only a convenient post could be found. But when Locke wangled him the Mastership of the Charterhouse, at £200 p.a. with a coach, this was not a sufficient lure. We are all hugely in Rob Iliffe’s debt. Few of us would have the skill, in mathematics or philosophy or divinity, nor the the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk patience, to do what he has done, which is read through the huge extent of Newton’s obsessive theological writings. He, together with a team of industrious scholars, has helped to put online the writings which had hitherto been visible only in academic libraries, such as New College, Oxford, King’s College, Cambridge, and the Fitzwilliam Museum. Most of this stuff had either been totally forgotten, or never even read, until the last 15 years; so that, as well as being a punctilious, painstaking historical work of the utmost density, this book also constitutes one of the most sensational ‘scoops’ of recent times. What emerges is something which will fascinate any student of Newton and the 17th century, but which will also give any honest Orthodox Christian pause. On the one hand, Newton emerges from these pages as a crackpot, who believed himself to be one This book constitutes one of the most sensational ‘scoops’ of recent times of the remnant of true believers, mentioned in the book of the Apocalypse, who would be resurrected to rule over mortals in the Millennium. On the other, his was one of the most acute, most searching, of all human intelligences. He had researched every aspect of the history of Catholic doctrine, and his account of how the Creeds evolved, though laced with the violent anti-Catholic prejudice of their times and coloured by apocalyptic fervour, would be broadly in step with the mainstream of scholarship since the 19th century: namely that full-blown doctrinal Trinitarianism can only be found in the New Testament if the reader, consciously or unconsciously, puts it there. Iliffe demands from his reader a very full concentration on the knotty issues which possessed the minds of Desert Fathers, Arians, and the Fathers of the Church, the Cambridge Platonists, the materialists who followed Hobbes, as well as the saner and more congenial thought-processes of Locke and Hooke. At times, the reader is reminded of the fact that for much of his long life, ‘Skid Row has been gentrified.’ Newton was the contemporary of Swift; and it is all that one can do to remind oneself that one is reading an academic work, rather than having strayed into the pages of Gulliver’s Travels. It is not altogether surprising, in the final chapter, when Locke, Pepys and others begin to notice that Newton’s outbursts of paranoia went beyond the eccentric. The Dutch natural philosopher Christian Huygens noted that Newton, during a conversation with the Archbishop of Canterbury, had betrayed signs of madness, and that his friends had led him away and kept him under house arrest for a considerable period in 1694. Sadly, we are not told how the conversation went. He recovered his wits, and lived to his mid-eighties. This is a book which will take you several weeks to read, but the journey is worth it. Portraits of Pakistan Victoria Schofield Travels in a Dervish Cloak by Isambard Wilkinson Eland, £19.95, pp. 238 By his own admission, Isambard Wilkinson’s memoir of his experiences in Pakistan a decade ago as a foreign correspondent has taken ‘criminally’ long to write. A litany of thanks to assorted individuals in his acknowledgements is testimony to the book’s painful gestation. Perhaps the most surprising is to his brother, Chev, ‘who is missing a vital organ on my account’. Reading Wilkinson’s narrative, which is both humorous and poignant, the reason is clear. From an early age he suffered kidney failure requiring a kidney transplant; but dire predictions of the disease, which might leave him bound for life to a dialysis machine, did not prevent him from being ‘internationally curious’. That his destination became Pakistan had its origins in his youth. In the wake of Partition and Independence in the subcontinent in 1947, his grandmother, whose family had lived in India since the 19th century, had returned to her home in Ireland. But, as with many families who have spent a lifetime in South Asia, the relationship continued; not only did her house contain ornaments and memorabilia of her previous life, but her friend, an affluent Begum of Lahore, came regularly to stay in Ireland while his grandmother returned as regularly to Pakistan. As a young boy Wilkinson became enthralled with the exotic images these reunions evoked, finding himself ‘experiencing nostalgia for a place I’d never known’. A turning-point came in the 1990s when, aged 18, his grandmother asked him to accompany her to the wedding of the Begum’s youngest son in Lahore. A decade later, now working as a correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, Wilkinson the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk returned to Pakistan, putting his ambition to be a frontline journalist into operative gear despite his less than robust health. As he rightly realised, in the 2000s ‘Pakistan was News’. Arriving in Islamabad in 2006, among other events he witnessed were the siege of the Red Mosque, when, under President Musharraf’s authority, special forces stormed the mosque where suspected militants had been operating in the heart of the country’s capital; the lawyers’ movement, when the country’s lawyers assembled en masse to protest against Musharraf’s dismissal of the chief justice of the Supreme Court; the return of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto followed by her assassination; and Musharraf’s replacement as president by Bhutto’s widower Asif Ali Zardari. In addition to reporting on political developments, and being briefly expelled for having written an article describing Musharraf as ‘our [i.e. the West’s] son of a bitch’, Wilkinson’s particular quest was looking for the ‘real’ Pakistan, characterised by the country’s mystic Sufist traditions, which led to exhaustive travels far beyond the normal ambit of a foreigner. By writing a memoir of his experiences, Wilkinson is following in the footsteps of previous journalists who have gone to Pakistan and found themselves caught up in a country with which they develop a special affinity, their experiences later related in a travel-cum-political-chronicle. Notable forerunners in the 1980s are Emma Duncan’s Breaking the Curfew, and Christina Lamb’s Waiting for Allah; more academic in tone, Owen Bennett Jones’s Pakistan: Eye of the Storm and Anatol Lieven’s Pakistan: A Hard Country likewise give snapshot accounts of Pakistan’s mostly troubled history through personal experience and observation. What makes Wilkinson’s book instantly readable is its lack of sophistication, illustrated by his honesty about his own failings and of those around him. Although the names of the main players on the political scene are mentioned, he is careful to preserve the anonymity of others who might take offence or whose lives might perhaps be endangered by his revelations. The portrait he paints of Pakistani society is vibrant and engaging, revealing contradictions which will be instantly recognisable to those who know Pakistan well. The wrangles between his cook, Basil, and his driver/housekeeper, Allah Ditta, whose intense patriotism is contrasted by his ignorance of where the capital is (‘I asked him to point on the map where we were. He tugged his beard, tilted his head and placed a finger some 400 miles from our current geographical position’); the search for alcohol; the logistics of getting out of the sterile capital to capture the ‘mad, bewitching, beloved parts of the country before they disappeared’ are all amusingly described. Even the arrival of the mango season, leav59 BOOKS & ARTS ing his servants in ‘a sticky stupor’ as they gorged themselves on this incomparable fruit, gets a mention. So while there is nothing revelatory about the descriptive history, the pleasure in reading this memoir is its authenticity. Added to this is the sympathy generated by Wilkinson’s personal struggle, culminating in his brother Chev’s donation of a kidney for a second transplant. Travels in a Dervish Cloak is a must read for anyone wanting to understand Pakistan at a level beyond drawing-room gossip or politico-religious rhetoric. Having your cake Andy Miller The Cake and the Rain by Jimmy Webb Omnibus Press, £20, pp. 320 For those in the know, Jimmy Webb is one of the great pop songwriters of the 1960s and 70s, up there with Lennon and McCartney, Brian Wilson, Goffin and King, Holland, Dozier and Holland, and Bacharach and David. The hits he wrote for Glen Campbell alone earned him his place in the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame: ‘By the Time I Get to Phoenix’, ‘Galveston’ and of course ‘Wichita Lineman’, the dying fall of which — ‘And I need you more than want you/ And I want you for all time’ — is so perfect that I am fighting back tears even as I type it. The song was written in an afternoon at the request of Campbell who, after the success of ‘Phoenix’ was looking for ‘something about a town’. I told him I appreciated his interest but I had just about exhausted the Rand McNally phase of my career. ‘Well, could you make it something geographical?’ he almost pleaded. I told him I would spend the rest of the day on it and get back to him. By about four o’clock I had come up with a song. Webb was barely 21. His jazzy number about a hot air balloon ride, ‘Up, Up and Away’, recorded by vocal group The 5th Dimension, had just won record of the year and song of the year at the Grammys. In the space of a few months, this son of an Oklahoma Baptist minister had gone from hustling for a break in the hyper-competitive environment of 1960s LA to being deluged with awards, sports cars and recreational drugs. Lyrically and literally, Webb was riding high. Now the songwriter’s songwriter has written a memoir of this magical period and the carnage that followed. The Cake and the Rain takes its title from another record from Webb’s purple patch, ‘MacArthur Park’; you may know it. The song was a huge and notorious hit for the actor Richard Harris (for whom Webb went on to craft two similarly grandiloquent albums) and 60 again ten years later for Donna Summer, whose Georgio Moroder-produced disco version topped the US charts in 1978. Its central metaphor of a cake left out in the rain, melting, recipe irretrievable, like an apocalyptic episode of Bake-Off, is both famous and infamous; ‘Fucking tremendous! I’ll have that!’ shouted Harris the first time he heard it. (‘It was long enough, tall enough, and wide enough [for him],’ notes Webb wryly. ‘Also, in the zeitgeist of the era, it was obscure enough to confound even the most inquiring intelligence.’) This book deals with Webb’s early life and his initial phenomenal success through to the mid-1970s, by which point his career is looking like, well, like a cake left out in the rain. Seven years after his rapid ascent with ‘Up, Up and Away’, Webb is plummeting back to earth: having launched himself as a long-haired, bearded singer-songwriter, his (wonderful) LPs aren’t selling; he is developing a serious cocaine habit; he is embroiled in several unhappy love affairs; he nearly kills himself and photographer Henry Diltz when the glider he is piloting crashes into a mountain. Webb’s problem, as he acknowledges ruefully, was that he was too ‘Vegas’ for the emerging Seventies rock scene while also too ‘hip’ for the showbiz pros who had hits with his songs. He was also very young. These, however, are not problems for the reader of The Cake and the Rain. Webb knows his way around an anecdote and the book draws on his fund of stories about, on the one hand, Campbell, Harris, Frank Webb knows his way around an anecdote, and is often very funny – bring on volume two Sinatra et al, and on the other, Joni Mitchell, Janis Joplin, Harry Nilsson and many more. Of particular note is a bizarre and humiliating encounter with the Beatles during the recording of the White Album, Webb’s account of which has clearly been laid down for 50 years like a bottle of vintage Port; ‘henceforth, Paul and I were never what you could call friends,’ he understates masterfully. Similarly his eyewitness account of John Lennon’s appalling behaviour during the latter’s mid-70s ‘lost weekend’ chills the blood. Webb is an honest and self-deprecating narrator of his own outrageous fortunes and misfortunes; occasional bursts of pretentiousness are both characteristic and endearing. He can also be very funny. And when he feels sorry for himself, as he frequently does in this book, he sits down and writes a magnificent song about it. The Cake and the Rain is not just a series of tall tales well told but a warts-and-all portrait of what happens to prodigiously talented people when fame gets the better of them — and those around them. Things would get much worse for Webb before they got better — roll on volume two. Brotherly love Alex Peake-Tomkinson Sugar Money by Jane Harris Faber, £14.99, pp. 391 Jane Harris’s novels often focus on the disenfranchised: a maid in The Observations, a woman reduced by spinsterhood in the Victorian era in Gillespie and I, and now, a young slave in this third novel. Disenfranchised they may be, but her protagonists don’t lack agency. The narrator of Sugar Money is Lucien, a slave who is barely in his teens and whose voice is startlingly optimistic. In Martinique in 1765, Lucien and his older brother, Emile, are tasked by their French master with returning to Grenada — where they once lived — and smuggling back 42 slaves who are living under the rule of English invaders at a hospital plantation in Fort Royal. Emile is realistic about the scale of the challenge, but Lucien views it as a great adventure. The brothers, of course, have no choice but to undertake the trip. The power dynamic between them and their master is plain: he views them ‘like he might survey the twitching of two sand-fleas on the shore’. But this is not the slave narrative you might expect: readers bracing themselves for scenes of torture and ill-treatment will initially be surprised. Harris’s great triumph is Lucien’s voice, and a reader needs to embrace the young slave’s confidence and hope in order to enjoy this book. Sugar Money is based on a true story. On holiday on the island, Harris read Beverley Steele’s Grenada: A History of its People and first came across the story of an enslaved man charged by his masters to steal fellow slaves from their enemy. The historical original embarked on his mission without an accomplice but, having worked on two previous novels with ‘solitary protagonists’, Harris has said she wanted to place close relationships at the centre of this book. One of the most moving aspects of the novel is the relationship between the siblings. Lucien confesses: ‘I found myself too much in simple-hearted awe and adoration of my brother.’ For his part, Emile is consumed by love for Celeste, the woman he had to leave behind in Grenada. His yearning for her in the seven years between him leaving Grenada and returning on this unenviable mission has reached such a pitch that he can no longer bear to hear her name. In Grenada, the slaves who are to be taken to Martinique express excitement over the trip, anticipating a rosier future. the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk GETTY IMAGES Emile bluntly refutes this. Lucien feels the ‘scars on my back begin to tingle’ as discussion turns to their own late father, the cruellest of masters. It is in Grenada that Harris makes the brutal reality of slavery utterly plain. The risk of her earlier restraint has paid off and the brief, harrowing scenes towards the novel’s climax have an extra power because of it. Alice Waters shows the Prince of Wales around her ‘Edible Schoolyard’ garden in California Alice’s restaurant Paul Levy Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook by Alice Waters, with Cristina Mueller and Bob Carrau Hardie Grant Books, £16.99, pp. 308 Though Alice Waters is not a household name here, that is precisely what she is in America — the best-known celebrity cook, the person who inspired the planting of Michelle Obama’s White House vegetable garden, the recipient of the National Humanities Medal, the Légion d’Honneur, vice-president of Slow Food International, the founding figure of California cuisine. She is the mentor of Sally Clarke and, claims Wikipedia, of René Redzepi and Yotam Ottolenghi. It all began in 1971 with a simple French restaurant in Berkeley, California, which she called Chez Panisse in homage to the films of Marcel Pagnol. It served a no-choice menu, costing $3.95, consisting of the traditional dishes she’d tasted during her year abroad in France. She quickly learned that it was difficult to find the top-quality ingredients she’d enjoyed in France, and this led her to develop a network of organic farm suppliers. Disclosure: I know Alice. Indeed, until I read her memoir I thought I’d met her when I was 20 — but I now realise that when I visited Berkeley on a mission of countercultural imperialism (on behalf of a New Left magazine called New University Thought), Alice had not yet come to study at University of California Berkeley and been swept up in (our target) the Free Speech Movement. This formed her outlook and attitudes — she dedicates this volume to the memory of the charismatic Mario Savio (1942–96), who said in a fiery Sproul Hall speech of 1964: ‘There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious… you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop.’ This autobiography does something remarkable. About half the text is in roman typeface, and is a chronological account of Waters’s life: one of four daughters, born in suburban New Jersey, to a middle-class family where the father’s job caused them to move often, eventually to California. The other half of the text is in italic, and either comments on the text or looks forward to her life at Chez Panisse and after. To my taste there is a little too much about Alice’s all-American, uneventful childhood; but it is written in a spirit of sheer guilelessness that makes tolerable the total visual recall of dresses, toys and pets. Things begin to heat up when she gets to Berkeley, goes to France, returns to work for Bob Scheer, who stood for Congress as an anti-Vietnam war candidate, and begins cooking for her friends. The narrative accelerates as she goes to London to train at the Montessori school, travels to Turkey, and returns to France and meets the great cook and wine-authority, Richard Olney, who introduces her to the Peyraud family, owners of Domaine Tempier in Provence. She goes back to Berkeley, only to be sacked from her first job at the Montessori school, not for biting a violent child (which she did), but for wearing a see-through blouse. Alice’s memoir is well-titled, for it is not only her palate that is sensitive; she is frank about her liking for men. Sometimes, though, this is a tell-but-no kiss story, as when she desires filmmaker Jean-Pierre Gorin, whom she marries to allow him to stay in the US, but finds he is not interested. Alice counts Elizabeth David a major influence, and genuflects frequently to the American food icon, James Beard, though the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk she surely knows he was an old fraud, who rarely credited his several ghost writers, as she has the grace to do with her own collaborators. There are good stories about them, and about M.F.K. Fisher, Jeremiah Tower and Bill Clinton. The best gossip, though, is cinematic: because she had a relationship with Tom Luddy, the American film producer and co-founder of the Telluride Film Festival, she can tell of being ignored by Jean-Luc Godard, of staying with Agnès Varda and Jacques Demy, and of entertaining both Gloria Swanson and the 94-year-old Abel Gance. As the reader progresses through Coming to My Senses, the tone changes from onpurpose lack of sophistication to candour, and the narrative becomes gripping as Chez Panisse gets closer to opening — when Alice was 27. It’s startling to learn that she decided not to cook, and served as a waitress that first night, though she was in the kitchen herself from 1976 to 1983 (which includes the several times I was lucky enough to eat there). ‘I was deeply disillusioned about politics,’ she writes, ‘and by opening the restaurant, I really thought that I was dropping out… But it became political. Because as it turned out, food is the most political thing in all our lives.’ Brexit is, sadly, about to show just how right she is about this. You start this book feeling that Alice is faux-innocent; you finish it thinking she’s heroic. 61 BOOKS & ARTS ARTS No pain, no gain James Delingpole celebrates the unrivalled hilarity – and horror – of Curb Your Enthusiasm T he best episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm are the ones that make you want to hide behind the sofa, cover your ears and drown out the horror by screaming: ‘No, Larry, no!’ I’m thinking, for example, of the one where our hero attends a victim support group for survivors of incest and, in order to fit in, decides to concoct a cock and bull story about how he was sexually abused by his uncle. This, of course, comes back horribly to haunt him when out one day with his blameless real uncle… But no, I shan’t try to elaborate, for the plots in Curb Your Enthusiasm are as convoluted as any farce. And besides, you should see it for yourself. So long as you don’t mind writhing in embarrassment, and wishing the ground could swallow you up, there really are few things more excruciatingly funny than Curb. Some people, I know, revere it because it is so groovily (and influentially) postmodern. It purports to show the further, truelife adventures of Jewish comic and writer Larry David — played and written by himself — following the massive success of his surprise hit ‘comedy about nothing’, Seinfeld. As a viewer, you feel as though you’re in on a sophisticated joke — something that the show’s distinctive and rather odd tone (part naturalistic, part archly knowing) encourages. Underneath all that fancy, self-referential stuff, though, what you have is a very traditional comedy of character in extremis. Sure, Larry isn’t exactly Everyman, with his fame and his multimillion-dollar lifestyle and his complete lack of filter. Nonetheless, more often than not you find yourself thinking: ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’ Take the infamous scene where he bumps into some white American friends with their adopted oriental toddler in a pushchair. Short of something to say, he asks them whether the child is any good 62 with chopsticks. The friends — this is PC Los Angeles — are mildly appalled by this racial stereotyping. But Larry digs himself deeper by insisting that this is a valid question. As indeed, I’d argue, it is. The comedy, as so often in Curb, lies in the gulf between what people really think and what they’re allowed to say. As David once told Ricky Gervais: ‘We all have good thoughts and bad thoughts, but nobody ever expresses the bad thoughts. We just think them and don’t say them… But the bad thoughts are funny.’ ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ has two meanings. Partly, it’s a fairly typical piece of downbeat David life philosophy — ‘Always keep The comedy lies in the gulf between what people really think and what they’re allowed to say to it. To not is unattractive. It’s unseemly,’ he once said. Partly, it was a warning to fans to keep their expectations in check: ‘Don’t expect another Seinfeld.’ It wasn’t. It was possibly something even better — though its groundbreaking originality isn’t so obvious now that it has spawned so many imitations. Ricky Gervais’s Extras, for example, was an obvious homage — especially in the scenes where Gervais’s character has excruciating encounters with real-life superstars (e.g. David Bowie) playing pastiche versions of themselves. There’s a danger that after a while it can start to look a bit smug, a bit ‘see how famous my friends are and how willing they are to appear in my show’. This has felt increasingly the case in later seasons, such as the last one’s finale where David conducts an escalating dispute with the man who lives above his New York apartment — Michael J. Fox. Yes, it was daringly tasteless and black to build an episode around Fox’s early onset Parkinson’s disease. (One running joke asks: ‘When he shakes, is that the Parkinson’s or is he angry?’; another is about the degree to which disabled people use victimhood to their advantage.) At the same time, though, you might wonder how daring that joke really is when everyone is so in on it, from Fox (playing an obnoxious version of himself) to the then New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who ends the episode by banishing David from the city. That’s a mild quibble, though, rather than a major objection. For me the thing that makes Curb Your Enthusiasm so enduringly watchable isn’t so much the meta stuff — does real life Larry really wear those funny little tops with the zip? Can he afford a better interior decorator? Did George ever get any work after Seinfeld? — as the more basic comedy of character and manners. Like Alf Garnett and Victor Meldrew, Larry is a man who knows he’s in the right but who is perpetually tormented and frustrated by having to live in an unjust world that conspires continually to make him look like a curmudgeonly buffoon. He is at once the tragic hero with whom you identify; and the comical idiot whom you love to see humiliated. Well, he is for some of us anyway. How I writhed with agonised recognition during the scene where Larry has just bought a new house only to realise on his first night that he has made a huge mistake: there’s a noise — a ‘house noise’ — that it only makes at night when you’re in bed trying to get to sleep, and now there can never be a moment’s rest till he has traced its source. David has a knack, like all the best observational comedians, of mining humour from the quotidian, from the stuff that we’ve all worried about but probably never recognised as shared experience till we saw it on Curb. Stuff to do with social etiquette like: when exactly is the ‘cut-off’ point, at night, the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk © 2017 HOME BOX OFFICE NETWORKS, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Divine comedy: even if Larry David is as big a prize twonk in real life as he is on Curb we can hardly begrudge him for it beyond which it is unacceptable to phone friends; should you call someone out when they spot someone they know in a queue and use it as an excuse to sneak in front of you; how long after a bereavement — ‘the sorry window’ — is it no longer necessary to offer condolences? Seventeen years ago it probably seemed to many of those involved with Curb quixotic to the point of suicide, or at best, cultish obscurity, to fashion a sitcom about the plight of a man so successful and rich that he never need work or worry about money again. But actually this is where the comedy also lies. Just as in academia disputes are so vicious More often than not you ﬁnd yourself thinking: ‘There but for the grace of God go I’ because ‘the stakes are so low’, so we can watch in awed fascination and schadenfreude as major-league actors, directors and agents, with nothing better to do with their pampered the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk lives, bicker over trivia. Yes, the rich are different: they’re even more tortured and insecure and unhappy than us paupers. So even if — as he surely must be — Larry David is as big a prize twonk in real life as he is on Curb we can hardly begrudge him for it. He has built a deservedly successful career turning his pain into our gain. Long may he go on suffering! The new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm starts on 2 October on Sky Atlantic. 63 BOOKS & ARTS THE BURRELL COLLECTION, GLASGOW (35.236) © CSG CIC GLASGOW MUSEUMS COLLECTION ‘Woman in a Tub’, c.1896–1901, by Degas Exhibitions I spy Laura Freeman Drawn in Colour: Degas from the Burrell National Gallery, until 7 May 2018 Where was Degas standing as he sketched his ‘Laundresses’ (c.1882–4)? Did he watch the two women from behind sheets hanging to dry? Or was he hidden by steam from the basins? The laundry women are unselfconscious, unguarded. One reads aloud from a list, calling out shirts, collars, cuffs to be washed and ironed. Another leans over her workbench, staring into the placket of a folded shirt like Narcissus into his pool. Neither is the least bit bothered by the artist making a rapid chalk sketch to be worked up later in pastel. Nor the two men in ‘At the Café de Châteaudun’ (c.1869–71), reading a newspaper with monocle and magnifying glass. Degas might be peering at them over the top of his menu. A coffee, a croissant, a sneaking sketch. 64 In ‘Women in a Theatre Box’ (c.1885–90), Degas has misread his ticket and barged in on the wrong seats. The two women, mid-gossip, haven’t noticed the snoop at the back of the box. You imagine Degas sketching rapidly, eavesdropping furiously, before retreating, still not spotted by his unwitting sitters. There is something of the paparazzo about Edgar Degas (1834–1917). ‘Click!’ goes the shutter of his eye. A fleeting There is something of the paparazzo about Edgar Degas. ‘Click!’ goes the shutter of his eye moment, a snapshot, a candid close-up. He catches his subjects unaware, off-duty, yawning, fidgeting, in ungainly, in-between poses, tying a slipper lace, adjusting a pinching shoulder strap. He is master of the zoom lens, prying, spying, fascinated. ‘It is as if you looked through a keyhole,’ he said. There is a tension in his sketches. On the one hand, the rapt intensity of his gaze. On the other, a need for rapid expression: swift chalk strokes, firework dashes of pastel, brisk scribbles of colour as in the grass background of his ‘Russian Dancers’ (1899). Quick, quick, before the ballet master calls a new pose, before the bather turns and sees him, before the foot stamps the ground and the frame is lost. The opening image of the National Gallery’s excellent exhibition Drawn in Colour: Degas From the Burrell is a daring one. In ‘Woman Looking Through Field Glasses’ (c.1869), the hunter becomes the hunted (see p.53). Degas, that fierce looker, that nosiest of parkers, sketches in pencil and essence (paint drained of its oil and diluted with turpentine) a woman at the races. She directs her binoculars not at the jumps or the jockeys, but at the artist — and at us. She cups her elbow with her free hand and holds the glasses to her face. With her hat pulled low and the binoculars covering her eyes, we see almost nothing of her expression. She has a rare advantage. ‘You lookin’ at me?’ she seems to say, bold and unabashed. To mark the hundredth anniversary of Degas’s death, the National Gallery has borrowed from the Burrell Collection in Glasgow to mount this inspiring display of paintings and pastels. Industrialist Sir William Burrell (1861–1958), who made his money in shipping, collected 23 works by the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk Degas and regretted never having met the man whose oils and pastels he so admired. The ‘Woman Looking Through Field Glasses’ was the first Degas he bought. Drawn in Colour, curated with wit and insight by Julien Domercq, tackles three themes in three rooms: ‘Modern Life’, ‘Dancers’ and ‘Privacy Observed’. It is a Goldilocks show: just the right size, not so big you are flagging, nor so small that you leave unsatisfied. The Fitzwilliam Museum’s Degas: A Passion for Perfection (3 October–14 January 2018), curated by Jane Munro — opening just too late for my deadline — is the more sweeping survey, giving us landscape, sculpture and a glass of green absinthe. There is great pleasure to be had in this autumn glut of bathers, drinkers and dancers. Could you ever be bored of Degas’s dancers, ever have seen too many tutus? No! The Fitzwilliam catalogue trumps the National Gallery’s, so save your book shopping for Cambridge. See both exhibitions if you possibly can: a glorious Degas pas de deux. At the National Gallery, we open with the spirit of Charles Baudelaire, whose essay ‘The Painter of Modern Life’ (1863) called on artists to paint boulevards and bistros, café dandies and come-hither courtesans. Degas takes us into that steaming laundry room with its brassy washgirls. We stand in driving rain to place our bets in ‘Jockeys in the Rain’ (c.1883–6), and jostle elbow-toelbow with two women buying a brooch in ‘At The Jeweller’s’ (c.1887). The pastel is loose and hazy. A fine mist of colour like gold dust settles on arms, woodwork, the countertop. Degas was a master of such shimmering pastels — sfumato by the Seine. The gallery boards explaining materials and technique are particularly good. In the second room, we leave the streets for ballet practice rooms, the barre, banquettes where the dancers from the Opéra sit and nurse their ankles. ‘The Green Ballet Skirt’ (c.1896) has you wincing as a pipsqueak-thin dancer massages the sole of one foot with her thumb. Stretch, bend, plié, ache, en pointe, ouch. How long did the ballet girls in tulle hold those arabesques in ‘The Rehearsal’ (c.1874)? Degas stands in a corner of the room, below a spiral staircase, a fly-on-the-wall observer of first positions and ballet buns. He adored the ballet, attending 54 performances in just one year in 1885, and his backstage and in-the-wings sketches convey to us some of his awe and delight in the dancers. The third room is more unsettling. Here is Degas at his most through-the-keyhole, watching women — models? prostitutes? modern Susannahs watched by the Elders? — bathe, soap and comb their hair. As with the ‘Theatre Box’, we are intruders, we know we shouldn’t be there, we have blundered in uninvited. Degas dares you to look — and won’t let you tear your gaze away. Music Beauty and the beast Igor Toronyi-Lalic This is Rattle Barbican It’s All True Cafe OTO I was going to start with a little moan. About the shouty marketing, the digital diarrhoea, the sycophantic drivel, which, like a bad smell, hovered over Simon Rattle’s ten-day coronation. But then came the most amazing Rite of Spring I’ve ever heard and to moan suddenly seemed criminal. No masterpiece is harder to pull off than the Rite. So often it deflates midway and never regains its shape. Rattle made his name with the piece when he was at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, taming the brute, slowing it down, prising open its interior, allowing us to inspect its fangs, look straight down its snappy gob. Here, the beast was unleashed. Rabid brass, uncontrollable winds, strings scything through the rabble behind. Key to the pungency was the bite of the percussion, allowed to go to such extremes my eyes began to water. The LSO can come across as a bit slick. Last Sunday they were monstrous. Before letting loose their inner animal, they delivered an invigorating Firebird and a Petrushka that sounded (in the best possible way) like they’d passed the vodka round early. Still, I could have done without the big screens, the speeches, the Lord Mayor explaining how historic everything was. Left to our own devices, I dare say we could have figured this out ourselves. The Barbican website was a mess: This is Simon Rattle…This is it…This is Helen Grime and Thomas Adès, Oliver Knussen and Elgar. This is Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Sir Simon Rattle…This is the LSO. This is Christian Tetzlaff. This is Sir Simon Rattle. U ok hon? ‘This is Rattle’ also ingeniously offered a series of concerts without Rattle. Stuffed with work by Thomas Adès, Harrison Birtwistle, Oliver Knussen, Helen Grimes and others, these became a chance to do an MOT on the state of new British music, some of which seems destined for the knacker’s yard. I kept thinking about the two cocky caryatids that prop up one of the architectural wonders of London that you can see straight across from the house in which Adès grew up. Lubetkin’s Highpoint, a stack of calm geometry, is a cool classic and a lesson in the importance of impurity. At the entrance stand the classical the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk lovelies, unashamed, bizarre, brilliant. The same spirit is there in Adès’s early orchestral tone poem Asyla. That embrace of vulgarity, excess, wrongness. It’s an instinct foreign to his tastefully correct compatriots, who write like they think it impolite to surprise. It meant the attempt to canonise three new British works in the opening concert just served to show everyone up. The only piece that deserved its place was Asyla, whose ideas remain as vivid as ever. Pounding nightclubs; rainy idylls; echoey temples. The writing is fastidious. The score has instructions for a ‘bag full of metal knives and forks (struck flat)’. Birtwistle is usually a match for Adès, but he’s not very Birtwistley in his Violin Concerto, which scurries around in life-sapping middle-register. Birtwistle is at his best in the shadows. Shine a torch on his murky world and it becomes a bit too clear how dry a lot of the writing is. Knussen’s Third Symphony was classic Knussen: colourful, zippy, with three glinting treasures — guitar, harp and celeste — and a serious ADHD problem that was exhausting. The short straw went to Grime who was charged with writing the fanfare. Enter five minutes of fake energy and false smiles. Elsewhere, at Milton Court, there were more attempts (to half-empty halls) to generate excitement for new British music. The night with the excellent Britten Sinfonia, stitching together a whole set of works that feed off baroque techniques, was beautifully played and cleverly curated by Grime — but only Adès’s suite from The Tempest dazzled. Adès himself curated a night. Two gems emerged: Judith Weir’s The Alps, a typically wry song, and Gyorgy Kurtag’s magically microtonal Eletut. All very pleasant, nothing very life-changing. If you restrict yourself to the safe, samey composers of the Faber publishing house and its allies, your life will not be changed. A shock will come when audiences finally realise what the younger generation of composers are up to, very few of whom were at these gigs, or take their lead from Faber. Many were instead at Cafe OTO, absorbing the UK première of a blistering new opera, It’s All True, from the New York experimentalists Object Collection. Formally the piece resembles a kebab in its welding together of offcuts — the sloppy beginnings and intense endings of the rowdy stage shows of the hardcore punk band Fugazi. However red-faced and Trumpian the resultant barrage of sweary rants and noisy swordplay between electric guitars might sound, it’s surprisingly subtle in its direction of travel and touching in its nostalgia and even rather beautiful. The OTO performance wasn’t as clear or suffocating as its world première at Borealis Festival. But London won’t forget it in a hurry. Not pleasant, pretty life-changing. 65 BOOKS & ARTS WELLCOME LIBRARY, LONDON Design Vital signs Stephen Bayley Can Graphic Design Save Your Life? Wellcome Collection, until 14 January 2018 Exhibit A. It is 1958 and you are barrelling down a dual carriageway; the 70 mph limit is still eight years away. The road signs are nearly illegible. You miss your turning, overcorrect, hit a tree and die. The following year, graphic designer Margaret Calvert is driving her Porsche 356c along the newly built M1. The motorway signs are hers. It is information design of a high order, possibly even life-saving. The clarity and intelligence of Calvert’s British road signs remain unmatched nearly 60 years later. And the font she created became the NHS, and later rail and airport, standard. Exhibit B. The French are worried about nuclear waste. Given the half-life of radioactive detritus, warning signs must be legible in 100,000 years when written language may be redundant. After all, the alphabet is simply a primitive sort of code. Nuclear sites Pantone 448C was chosen after market research determined that it was exceptionally repellent Man machine: Fritz Kahn’s ‘Der Mensch als Industrieplast’, 1926, which shows the body not so much as a sacred temple as as a churning and industrious factory 66 require signs as chillingly effective as the medieval Plague Cross, a red mark daubed on the door of infected properties. How signs and symbols warn us about danger and contagion is the subject of Can Graphic Design Save Your Life? In 2012 Australia demanded standardised packaging for cigarettes. Out went brands aiming to seduce with jolly jack tars, camels and cowboys; in came a brief that required the product to look disgusting. A drab colour known as Pantone 448C was chosen after market research determined that it was exceptionally repellent. And the law demanded that 60 per cent of the pack’s surface be covered with grisly photographs of tumours and lesions. (Rather as if, in the interests of road safety, Calvert’s Porsche were required to be covered with pictures of harrowing traffic accidents.) But constraints can be stimulating: a wittier response to cigarette deterrence came from a British design group called Build, who reimagined Marlboro packs in machinereadable OCR-B font with a QR code linking to an anti-smoking site. You are warned that each cigarette knocks 11 minutes off your life since you are filling your lungs with cyanhydric acid, also found in Nazi gas chambers. Then there is sex, stigmatised long before smoking. But the old venereal diseases now seem quaint compared with the more recent horrors of Aids. A 1943 poster gently warns the romantically inclined, but careless, that VD will be ‘A shadow on happiness’, but the the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk Banksy NYC Banksy NYC Auction date: Tuesday 12th December, 1pm 26 E 64th Street , New York Still welcoming consignments for this dedicated auction Contact: email@example.com Further details: forumauctions.co.uk Banksy (b.1974) Balloon Girl, screenprint in colours, 2004, numbered from the edition of 600 in pencil, published by Pictures on Walls, London, the full sheet, 700 x 500mm. Estimate: £30,000-50,000 Accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Pest Control. BOOKS & ARTS 68 Child’s play to literary invention: Will Tilston as Christopher Robin Milne in Goodbye Christopher Robin PHOTO BY DAVID APPLEBY/FOX SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES government’s Aids public-health campaign of 1987, a world first, was much bleaker. The TBWA agency hired Nic Roeg to direct the ad and wrote a stark copyline: ‘Don’t Die of Ignorance.’ Crucially, a black tombstone was an unforgettably scary motif. For Benetton’s influential Colors magazine, Oliviero Toscani and Tibor Kalman did similarly radical spreads about Aids: frank but visually witty too, these were the best magazine graphics of the 1980s and 1990s. Graphics and medicine have a shared history. The first pop-up anatomy book appeared in the 16th century, as significant an event in the history of illustration as in the history of medicine. Fibrox probes now examine our guts, but the windings of the alimentary canal were once the province of art: Gray’s Anatomy of 1858 depended not on photographs but on illustrations by Henry Vandyke Carter. At the Wellcome, one of the most striking images is a 1926 poster by Fritz Kahn, ‘Der Mensch als Industrieplast’. In synch with the Corbusian techno-romanticism of the day, Kahn shows the body as a machine for living in, not so much a sacred temple as a churning and industrious factory. This is an engrossing and original exhibition. Curators Rebecca Wright and Lucienne Roberts make a vital case for graphics, but paradoxically, the display betrays the weaknesses of the exhibition medium as a communication tool. While individual items have immense power, the exhibition design itself lacks synoptic force and coherence. It was a neat idea to use hospital screens as dividers, but they create a sense of improvisation. Still, I was beguiled and left full of fine thoughts and contemplations. Is it because the human mind makes an easy association between visual precision and health that so much medical typography is sans serif? Exhibit C. One of the greatest-ever exercises in Big Pharma corporate identity, a process actually begun by Sir Henry Wellcome, was conducted by Geigy in the 1950s. The Akzidenz-Grotesk font was paired with clever picture research to make astonishingly beautiful and comfortingly modern packaging, generously displayed at the Wellcome. The Swiss Style was defined by medicine, not chocolate. As you leave the Wellcome and walk past the new University College Hospital, Margaret Calvert’s 2008 reworking of her original font, known as Rail Alphabet, is unavoidable in the blizzard of signage. It’s a visual language of clarity, but not of warmth. What about redesigning hospitals to make them more amusing, or rebranding diseases and disorders to make them less frightening? Might it be better if the intimidating A&E sign looked like the trashy retro-kitsch of ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’? Or your statins were packaged like Château d’Yquem? Sure, graphics can save your life. They can also make you think. Cinema Unhappy days Jasper Rees Goodbye Christopher Robin PG, Nationwide Scriptwriters love to feast on the lives of children’s authors. The themes tend not to vary: they may have brought happiness to millions of children but their stories — sob — were fertilised by unhappiness. Saving Mr Banks: Mary Poppins author was a bossy shrew because her alcoholic father died young. Miss Potter: Peter Rabbit creator never found love. Finding Neverland: Peter Pan playwright cheered up grieving family. Enid (made for BBC Four): Miss Blyton was a monster traumatised by her upbringing. And so it will presumably go on. We can probably not expect a family film about Charles Dodgson taking cute snaps of little Alice Liddell, but one day, years from now, skint single mother Jo Rowling, played by an as yet unborn actress, will chew once again on a Biro in an Edinburgh café and conjure magic. For now, there’s Goodbye Christopher Robin. It’s the same sort of story. In this iteration, A.A. Milne was a cold father defrosted by his young son’s imagination, but whose tales and poems would eventually make the boy’s life a misery. Dark shadows presage naught but ill from the start. In 1941 a longfaced postwoman delivers a brown envelope to the Milnes’ leafy cottage in Sussex, which can mean only one thing. We duly flash back to the Somme, the bad show which convinces shellshocked playwright Alan Milne that no good can come of conflict. ‘Blue’ by nickname, blue by nature, Milne flinches when corks or balloons go pop. Then his wife Daphne (whose actual name was Dorothy) gives birth to little Christopher Robin, whom they call Billy Moon because he can’t pronounce his surname. They’re not the best of parents, but back then who was? Milne carries the infant as if he’s a tea tray, and Daphne styles the boy in girly smocks and a Louise Brooks bob before handing him over to Nanny (aka Noo) for years and years. There’s a sweet sequence that captures the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk BOOKS & ARTS STEVE TANNER the transition from child’s play to literary invention. Huffy Daph dashes up to town to become a flapper and punish Blue for his writer’s block. Then Noo disappears to attend her mother’s death. And so the father is left in charge of a cross-dressing son with a menagerie of stuffed animals and a fondness for the woods. E.H. Shepard motors down with his sketchbook. Soon Winnie-the-Pooh is flying off the shelves and the bear’s innocent young owner is a celebrity whose image is exploited to shift ever more units. His father rings from America to bid him goodnight and the call is broadcast live on the radio. He does a Q&A for a phalanx of stalker fans. He’s trolled by the Times, and required to pose right next to London zoo’s large Canadian bear. Isn’t it funny how a bear makes money? It’s an affecting story, competently visualised by director Simon Curtis, who made the pleasant period bauble My Week with Marilyn. And yet there’s a gnawing cred- Children may emerge with PTSD from a story of neglect bordering on abuse ibility gap; the facts feel mangled implausibly out of shape to serve the narrative’s needs. The exploitation of Billy takes place in a vacuum, with no one seeming to sanction it. Daphne sends a poem by Milne to Vanity Fair, which publishes it without telling him. Nanny is ruthlessly sacked for having a beau. Christopher’s brush with death in wartime feels like a manipulative fantasy. Meanwhile inconvenient facts have been deselected. The blurb before the end credits advises that Milne’s pacifist tract Peace with Honour was published in 1934. It omits to mention that its counterblast, War with Honour, followed in 1940. And that the older Christopher Robin, who eventually makes his peace with his fictional alter ego, drifted apart from his parents and spoke to his mother once in the last 15 years of her life. There’s also an issue with accent continuity. On vowel-contorting duty as the spiffingly English Milnes are an Irishman (Domhnall Gleeson, ever adept at playing glassy-eyed oddballs) and an Australian (Margot Robbie). Neither ages a scrap in 20 years. Will Tilston as the scrumptiously dimpled Christopher Robin looks jolly 1920s but sounds massively 2010s. Kelly Macdonald makes a fine Noo. It’s not clear who Goodbye Christopher Robin is for. Children may emerge with PTSD from a story of neglect bordering on abuse. Perhaps its natural market is across the pond, where Pooh’s image rights are owned by Disney and the original stuffed toys are in the New York Public Library. Might Americans see this tale of crippling emotional continence as an adorable specimen of heritage Britishness? Do bears shit in the woods? 70 Killer queen: Gina McKee as Boudica Theatre Bloody minded Lloyd Evans Boudica Globe Theatre, until 1 October Ramona Tells Jim Bush Theatre, until 21 October Tristan Bernays loves Hollywood blockbusters. His new play, Boudica, is an attempt to put the blood-and-guts vibe of the action flick on the Globe’s stage. The pacy plotting works well. Boudica revolts against the Romans who have stolen her kingdom. The queen is imprisoned and flogged while her two maiden daughters are savagely violated. Vowing revenge, she allies herself with the reluctant Belgics and they attack and destroy Camulodunum (Colchester). The first half is a rip-roaring crowd-pleaser. After the interval, an anticlimax. London is sacked but the Romans cling to power and when Boudica dies, her bickering daughters fight rather tediously over the succession. What counts here are the externals: the costumes, the accents, the fights, the stunts. The legionaries sport sturdy tin helmets crested with stiff blond bristles. The Roman leaders, all misogynistic twerps, wear fussy golden dressing-gowns and all of them prattle away in sibilant Noël Coward voices. The native Brits wear linen and fur outfits suggesting a tatty, sexy Celtic elegance. Bernays fills his dialogue with Shakespeare’s rhythms. ‘Give me briefly the cause of this your suit?’ asks an envoy. A duel on the battlefield ends with, ‘Silence wretch. And die you like a man.’ Boudica, whipped and bleeding, displays her wounds to her ravished daughters. ‘Do not these ruby mouths across my back cry likewise what I’ve suffered?’ She taunts her enemies to fight. ‘Where are you Rome, you slouching slug-a-beds?’ Pedants like me will object to Bernays’s grammar. ‘We heard with woe the death of he your king.’ Spot the problem? A pronoun takes an oblique case following a preposition, and the sentence quoted should end the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk ‘of him your king’. That said, the deliberate creakiness of the verbal idiom suits the play’s flashy antiquarianism. Gina McKee is near-perfect as Boudica. She has the right sort of defiant regality but her willowy figure isn’t convincing. A warrior queen leading an army of barbarians needs more muscle density, more sheer skeletal thickness than this catwalk damsel can offer. Swords and pikes seem unfamiliar in her Fairy Liquid hands. She thrusts a spear through a centurion as if performing an aerobics exercise. However, her charisma is undeniable and as soon as her character dies the play’s dramatic interest expires. The curtain should fall with the exit of her corpse. This is hardly a classic, but it succeeds on its own terms by replicating the kind of gory thriller beloved of the groundlings in Shakespeare’s day. The Bush’s studio stage hosts a new play by comedienne Sophie Wu. The title, Ramona Tells Jim, is uninspiring but everything else works very well in this offbeat rom-com. At its heart there’s a beautifully rendered seduction scene between two nervous kids on a remote Scottish island. Strapping Jim, 17, wants to become an oceanographer. He meets 16-year-old Ramona, a swottish English schoolgirl on a geography field trip. Ramona tries to pose as a sophisticated woman of the world but her impulsive child- ishness keeps breaking through. ‘I’m a single Pringle ready to mingle,’ she says, indicating her availability through the medium of gangsta rap. Jim invites her to watch a meteor shower on a beach. Once there, he suggests sex. Romana admits she’s a virgin, but ‘ready to pull the plug’. Does he have protection? He produces a sheath. She’s dismayed rather than relieved or delighted. The condom, packed in advance, suggest a lack of gallantry. Never mind. She lies on the pebbles. ‘Still got my wellies on, is that a problem?’ She hitches up her skirts. ‘Is the beast robed?’ The deed itself is awkward, short-lived and pleasure-free but punctuated by supportive observations. ‘Is this fast enough?’ ‘A perfect tempo, like iambic pentameter.’ Afterwards they declare their undying love. Then they part immediately. We move forward 15 years and Jim’s career has faltered. He’s stuck in a relationship with a gobby, grasping minx who claims to be carrying his child. The minx lives with her mother (‘absolute slut’) and her ‘pigthick mong brother’. She secretly keeps a stolen pet rabbit, which her mother has threatened to microwave. She feeds the animal with strips of pork sausage. These small details tell us everything we need to know about this wretched girl: she’s selfish, stupid and immoral and yet full of affection that she can’t channel properly so she lavishes it on a herbivorous pet, accidently turning it into a meat-eater. It’s a brilliant portrait of disturbed, rootless adolescence. Mel Hillyard’s production is sublimely funny but also moving and at times uncomfortable to watch. Ruby Bentall is brilliant playing the geekishly endearing Ramona. Amy Lennox, as the minx, delivers an uncompromising portrait of twisted young lust. With its small cast and simple stage effects, this show would be an ideal candidate for a tour. Even greater things must surely come from Sophie Wu. I can’t wait. Box sets Sound and vision Michael Hann To get a reminder of how strange the 1970s were, there’s no need to plough through lengthy social and political histories. Go instead to YouTube, and watch the publicinformation films made for schoolchildren. Take Lonely Water (1973), in which Donald Pleasence provides the voice of death, stalking careless children and dragging them to a watery grave. There’s Apaches (1977), in which kids playing on a farm suffer various recondite forms of agricultural death OLIVIA KEMP Where the Land Lies 6 October – 3 November 2017 Planted at the Brink (Norway), 2016, ink on paper, 60 x 112 cm Mon - Fri 10am - 5.30pm, Sat 11am - 2pm the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk 71 BOOKS & ARTS (falling under the wheels of a moving tractor, drowning in slurry). Or try my personal nightmare, The Finishing Line (1977); a school sports day, played out on a railway line, which ends with the traditional sprint through a tunnel pursued by a train and the bodies of dozens of dead children laid out on the track. It wasn’t all Spangles and Space hoppers, whatever stand-up comedians might have you believe. This autumn, two enormous new rock box sets — so heavy you could devise a workout routine around them — take on Black Sabbath’s view of the 1970s resonates more strongly forty years on than Bowie’s the 1970s, and offer differing views of that decade but linked perhaps by those public-information films. Black Sabbath’s The Ten Year War compiles all the albums the group made with Ozzy Osbourne as their singer during their first iteration, and is the sound of the adult narrators of those clips: You are all going to die, horribly! Bowie, in retrospect, on A New Career in a New Town 1977–1982, sounds more like the kids: positively fancy-free, having come through his own paranoid phase immediately prior to this period. Before decamping to Europe in 1976, he had been holed up in Los Ange- INTRODUCTORY OFFER: Subscribe for only £1 an issue 9 Weekly delivery of the magazine les, subsisting on milk, peppers and cocaine, and keeping his urine in a fridge for fear a witch would use it to cast a spell on him (why he didn’t realise that flushing it down the loo might be a better way to protect it from supernatural interference is another question). At the time, though, you wouldn’t have bet money on Sabbath being as worthy of memorialising as Bowie. This, after all, is the group of whom NME said in 1975: ‘Black Sabbath are simply low-consciousness music.’ And you wouldn’t have bet that their view of the world would resonate strongly enough, 40 or more years on, that in every country where rock music is played, young musicians still pick up guitars to play loud, gloomy, slow songs about how awful everything is, with occasional references to Satan (in the codified way of these things, this particular style is now known as ‘doom metal’). What Sabbath knew is that for someone, somewhere, the world is always terrible, and the more terrible things are, the more resonant their music would sound. Hence its enormous popularity in America’s rust belt, and the resurgence of metal’s popularity in the late 1970s and early 1980s, with unemployment rising in the music’s traditional bastions in industrial areas. The Ten Year War, with its warnings of apocalypse at the hands of ‘War Pigs’, its fretting about mental illness on ‘Paranoid’ (‘All day long I think of things/ But nothing seems to satisfy,’ could have been written this year about kids driven to distraction by social media), sounds astonishingly timely in 2017. Bowie, of course, is Bowie. His legacy is sacrosanct, and with good reason. Yet it’s his box set that is more of a time capsule. The three albums that make up the meat of A New Career in a New Town — Low, Heroes and Lodger, known inaccurately as ‘the Berlin trilogy’ — are, for all the quasiclassical noodling of the instrumental piec- 9 App access to the new issue from Thursday 9 Full website access Iran is our natural ally The National Trust in trouble Boris in Libya Can you forgive her? Isabel Hardman and Matthew Parris on Theresa May’s fate The H less ou on ston of MY DATES WITH DIANA TAKI www.spectator.co.uk/A152A 0330 333 0050 quoting A152A UK Direct Debit only. Special overseas rates also available. $2 a week in Australia call 089 362 4134 or go to www.spectator.com.au/T021A 72 ‘Young lady, you are not going out like that. It’s Friday night and when I was your age I was bare-legged, with no tights and a skimpy top.’ es on the first two, works of pan-European optimism. What could be more emblematic of European unity than proclaiming that we could be not just heroes, but also Helden and héros, on the German and French versions of the song? As Bowie reinvents himself, you hear not just the sound of his own vaulting ambition, but the sounds of worlds closed to most people — not just Berlin bohemia, but also the thriving underground club scene of the nascent new romantics on Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) and the high-art world of his soundtrack for Bertolt Brecht’s Baal. Bowie’s was an elitist vision of pop, one framed by an art-school education, one where he explained the world to his acolytes. Sabbath’s was populist, the sound of Brummie lads far from London’s metropolitan trendsetters, born of grunt work and disillusionment, reflecting a white, blue-collar audience’s own alienation back at them. You don’t have to be a social historian or theorist to look at Britain and know which worldview is holding sway right now. Black Sabbath’s The Ten Year War and David Bowie’s A New Career in a New Town (1977–1982) are available now. Radio Woman of a thousand voices Kate Chisholm ‘On air, I could be the most glamorous, gorgeous, tall, black-haired female… Whatever I wanted to be, I could be… That was the thrilling part to me,’ said Lurene Tuttle, talking about her career as a star of American radio in its heyday from the 1930s to the 1950s. She was known as ‘the Woman of a Thousand Voices’ because of her talent for voicing any part, from child to OAP, glamour puss to gangster moll, hard-nosed executive to soft-hearted minion. On Saturday we heard her in full flow on Radio 4 Extra in an episode of Suspense, brought out of the archive from June 1949 for the threehour special celebrating The Golden Age of American Radio. It was terrifying. Tuttle starred opposite Joan Crawford, who was so nervous about being on radio she insisted the episode was prerecorded (the episodes usually went out live, with a full orchestra in the studio providing a dramatic musical backdrop). On this occasion Crawford was the good sister Clara, against Tuttle’s jealous, crazed Adele. As the two screeched at each other, the lamps flickered, I swear, and my pulse rate soared. The best thing I’ve heard for a while — in spite of its completely over-the-top plot, with Clara’s husband killed with a knitting needle and the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk her son murdered in a beach hut. Tuttle and Crawford were so convincing, so in character, not just reading or voicing the script, I felt as if I was watching it unfold on the big screen, in black-and-white, a tussle between two Hollywood goddesses. They had money for radio in those days, the big brands sponsoring long-running shows, such as the Lux Radio Theater, when Hollywood stars reprised their film roles in adaptations that were broadcast live, with an interval, just like in the cinema. We heard Marilyn Monroe being interviewed in an intermission, stumbling over her words, giggling nervously, and dropping in a plug for the sponsor (Lux soap flakes). ‘Lux helps a lot,’ says her interviewer, clumsily introducing the subject of doing the washing. ‘That’s right, Mr Kennedy,’ says Monroe. ‘It’s my standby.’ ‘Thousands of girls have been telling us for years how lovely the lingerie stays with Lux care?’ ‘Any girl would prefer pretty undies than faded ones,’ Monroe simpers through what sounds suspiciously like gritted teeth. Lucy Catherine’s two-part play for Radio 4 this week was in the style of these overthe-top fictions but was actually based on a fantastical but real-life story set in Korea, both South and North. In 1978 the South Korean film director Shin Sang-Ok disappeared while in Hong Kong and a few years later turned up in Pyongyang, along with his actress wife Choi Eun-Hee, making films again, but now for the future leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-Il, who wanted to create a film industry that would rival Hollywood and put his country on the world stage Joan Crawford was so nervous about being on radio she insisted the episode was prerecorded (using very different tactics from his son, the present leader, to create a global stir). In Lights, Camera, Kidnap! (atmospherically directed by Sasha Yevtushenko), Paul Courtney Hyu played Shin and Liz Sutherland his wife in such a way as to make us question what happened. Were they both kidnapped? Why did it take them so long to escape (on a trip to Vienna in 1986 when they fled their room in the InterContinental Hotel to the American Embassy)? In Pyongyang, Shin was given a huge budget to make whatever he wanted, and a cast of 10,000 extras, if needed. Try doing that in the West, says Kim Jong-Il. ‘The American negro is the key figure in this country,’ said James Baldwin, the American writer, who began publishing in the 1950s and died in 1987. ‘And if you don’t face him you will never face anything.’ He was unflinching in his portrayal of the country he experienced as a black homosexual, growing up in Harlem with a preacher stepfather and eight siblings. In Nobody Knows My Name: Notes on James Baldwin (produced by Shanida Scotland and Eleanor McDowall for Radio 3 on Sunday) we heard archive recordings of him talking not so much about what it was like to be born black in a country where all the standards, all the images, all the references revolve around what it is to be white and Protestant and puritan. What Baldwin wanted to do was to confront the truth, not flinch from what he was, or allow others to pretend who they were. He refused, absolutely, to remain bitter, after experiencing, as a teenager, a moment of blinding, murderous rage when he had tried to eat in a restaurant reserved only for white people. ‘I realised I could die, or I could take it all and change it.’ Writing novels, essays, plays helped him to release some of what he felt but, as these recordings showed, what he said when interviewed was equally powerful and expressed with such fluency, cogency and courage. ‘In order to learn your name,’ he insisted, ‘you are going to have to learn mine.’ Hearing him now, 30 years after his death, was salutary. How far have we still to go? How far have we gone back? OVER AND OUT: AN EVENING WITH HENRY BLOFELD THURSDAY 19TH OCTOBER | 6.30 P.M. EMMANUEL CENTRE, WESTMINSTER, LONDON For more than 40 years, his voice on Test Match Special has been the sound of summer for thousands of cricket lovers in Britain and the world over. Join us for an unmissable evening with Henry Blofeld in conversation with Roger Alton, The Spectator’s sports columnist, to discuss the cricket broadcasting legend’s eagerly anticipated book, Over & Out, and to mark his retirement after a superb innings in the commentary box. TICKETS BOOK NOW Standard rate with book: £40 Subscriber rate with book: £35 www.spectator.co.uk/blofeld Standard rate without book: £35 Subscriber rate without book: £30 020 7961 0044 the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk 73 NOTES ON … Prague By Guy Dammann P rague. Prague. It helps to say the name at least twice as a countermeasure to the ridiculous ease of modern travel — especially when visiting cities of one syllable. Another countermeasure is to arrive by train, where the sweep of the landscape gives a better sense of Prague as the grand Bohemian capital than as a retreat for Hapsburg aristocrats and easyJet stag parties. There are direct trains from Munich and Budapest, and of course Vienna and Bratislava, to Prague’s Hlavní nádraží station, originally christened Wilsonovo nádraží after the US president who championed Czechoslovak independence. A new Wilson monument stands outside the station, replacing the original statue, which the Nazis melted down for its bronze. The art-nouveau station building is quite a sight, and a short walk from other ‘sights’ — the Old Town and Wenceslas Square are just a few blocks away. Avoid the taxi ranks unless you need a reminder of how easy it can be to get ripped off in Prague. That’s entirely unnecessary in a city which remains navigable on foot and is full of music and beer, both of which are excellent and affordable. The music came first, for me. Smetana and DvoĜák’s scores, so central to the emerging sensibility of the country’s nationalist revival, also provided my teenage years with much The Old Town seen from the Charles Bridge of their soundtrack. The beer came a little later, from the cramped bar of West Hampstead’s Czech club, where enormous glasses of frothy Gambrinus pilsner and smaller ones of slivovitz were all you could order, or want. There were two old posters, one of the young Václav Havel holding protest, another of a woman on a bike having her bottom spanked, both of which made me keen to travel to the country. There was also a sign reading ‘No Albanians’ on the front door, which made me less keen. I stopped going when they switched from Gambrinus to the ubiquitous Urquell, stupid because Czech pilsner — nowadays mostly brewed in Slovakia where the water’s better — tastes pretty alike. ‘Není pivo jako pivo’: there’s no beer like beer. The saying captures an important truth about Czech people, which is that they are mindful of quality but not taken in by bullshit. Most things — apart from the worst tourist traps crowded round the Charles Bridge — have a genuine feel which derives from the deep roots of Czech culture; an innate sense of how things should be done. It’s something you can still hear in the magnificently co-ordinated string section of the Czech Philharmonic, and seems to have been among the reasons for Mozart’s strong attraction to the place, when he arrived to conduct Figaro early in 1787 (after its premature withdrawal from fashion-obsessed Vienna), and in returning for Don Giovanni and La Clemenza di Tito, both commissioned by Prague’s National Theatre. Today’s musical scene remains lively. The Opera’s new season is just under way, with a production of MartinĤ’s ravishing Juliette, while the annual Prague Spring festival, founded by Rafael Kubelik in 1946 to celebrate the Philharmonic’s 50th anniversary, brings the musical great and good to the Rudolfinum hall. But much of the best of the city’s musical culture is to be found in the small concert series and one-off chamber recitals which take place in small venues and even people’s homes, advertised wordof-mouth or through postcards pinned to coffee-shop walls. Travel u-];ĶѲb|_o]u-r_-[;u"-l;Ѳuo|ĸ Musical heights, history in depth. u-ѴѴŊbm1Ѵvb;=;vঞ-Ѵv_-ulombv;lvb1ķrѴ-1;v-m7r;u=oul;uv|o ° mbt;;@;1|ĺNew for 2018 you can hear Dvorák’s songs in a Prague r-Ѵ-1;ou-ub;m1-m|-|-bmom;o=m]Ѵ-m7Ľvlov|0;-ঞ=Ѵr-ubv_ 1_u1_;vĺuঞv|v-u;l-|1_;7|olvb1b|_;t-Ѵ1-u;-m7|_;u;-u; _bv|oub1-Ѵbvb|v-v;ѴѴ-vlvb1Ѵ;1|u;vĺ ĺ&m0;Ѳb;-0Ѳ;ŉom7;u=Ѳ-uࢼv|vbmvblrѲr;u=;1|;m;vĸĻ Performances by: The Tallis Scholars, Gabrieli Consort, "ঞѴ;mঞ1oķ$;m;0u-;ķѴ-vvb1-Ѵr;u-ķ-";u;mbvvbl-ķ u;b0u]-uot;u1_;v|u-ķ-m7;Ѵubm] -u|;|ķbu]b7 "|;bm0;u];uķh-m-u7;m0;u];u-m7l-mlou;ĺ )-|1_|_;=;vࢼ-Ѳb7;ov-|ĸl-uࢼmu-m7-ѲѲĸ1ol 74 Contact us: +44 (0)20 8742 3355 l-uঞmu-m7-ѴѴĺ1ol ATOL 3622 | ABTA Y6050 | AITO 5085 the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk CLASSIFIEDS Travel & General AROMATHERAPY MASSAGE LUXURIATE. FULLY QUALIFIED and experienced English therapist offers a range of treatments in Paddington. For further details please call Nina on: 07597 485185 HOLISTIC MASSAGE. 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ROHINGYA REFUGEE CRISIS HUNGRY, WEAK AND SICK. WHO WILL HELP THEM? Or post urgently to: UNHCR, York house, Wetherby Road, Long Marston, York. YO26 7NH Please accept my gift of: £80 £150 £250 Other £ I enclose a cheque or postal order made payable to UNHCR Thousands of Rohingya refugees are ﬂeeing for their lives in search of safety. Most are women and children. Some have died trying to seek safety. Those who have made it to Bangladesh are in extremely poor conditions. Most have walked for days from their villages with what they could salvage from their homes. They are hungry, weak and sick. First name Last name Address Postcode © UNHCR/Vivian Tan Please help us provide them with shelter, food, water and core relief items. Email Phone £80 COULD PROVIDE FAMILIES WITH SYNTHETIC MATS TO PREVENT THEM FROM SLEEPING ON THE COLD GROUND. Give online at www.unhcr.org/rohingya or call us on 020 3761 9525 76 See how your donation makes a difference to the lives of refugees. Please tell us if you are happy to hear more about UNHCR’s work: By post By email By phone Your donation will support UNHCR’s emergency work in Bangladesh and where refugees and internally displaced people are in need. SPEPRABD17 the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk ‘In a million years the only evidence of our civilisation will be nappies and Nespresso capsules’ — Tanya Gold, p86 High life Taki I think this week marks my 40th anniversary as a Spectator columnist, but I’m not 100 per cent certain. All I know is that I was 39 or 40 years old when the column began, and that I’ve just had my 81st birthday. Keeping a record is not my strong point, and it’s also a double-edged sword. I once planned to publish my diary, but then I stopped keeping one. I’d found passages in it that were dishonest, written in the heat of the moment, most likely under the influence, and the result was a bum-clenching embarrassment. Now I don’t use any social media, certainly not Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, being a firm believer that Zuckerberg and Bezos should be locked up for life (Zuckerberg for not doing enough to tackle terrorist content). The pair’s crime is being much too ugly, and we all know that the ancient Greeks thought that looks were a mirror to one’s soul. What is more, we’ve all read the stories about how Zuckerberg stole the idea for Facebook from two dumb Wasps, and how Bezos’s business is in the business of shutting down other businesses. Forty years in the pokey for each of them would make this a better world. And, incidentally, the world would be much more super-duper/ if we had more of Jacob ReesMogg/ and far less of Yvette Cooper. The fact that this Cooper woman attacked Jacob for sticking to his religious beliefs is typical of politics today. What balls. She belongs on a dreary pavement outside a shoddy nightclub selling imitation Rolex watches, not in Parliament. Otherwise London was fun. Catching up with so many old friends I hadn’t seen in quite a while was a mirror in itself, wrinkles and all that. The downside of being a professional peripatetic is that one loses contact with good friends, and is reminded of father time when one notices the ravages of age on them. Never mind. In London I picked up Claire Tomalin’s memoir, along with other goodies. I shop in bookstores, never online. The reason I wanted to read that particular opus was that her ex- hubbie Nick and I happened to be near one another on the day he was killed in Quneitra, Golan Heights, during the Yom Kippur war, 1973. I was in a car with Peter Townsend — of Princess Margaret fame —and JeanClaude Sauer, both with Paris Match, and Joe Fried of the New York Daily News. I was filing twice daily for Acropolis, back then the number-one Athenian daily. We drove to the Golan Heights twice a day from Tel Aviv in order to send stories, and on that afternoon, Zuckerberg and Bezos should be locked up for life as Quneitra lay in total ruins, heat-seeking missiles were flying around as if it were the Glorious Twelfth. That’s when Townsend saved our lives. He told us to turn off the car engine and get out. We had never heard of heat-seeking missiles, but the veteran fighter pilot smelled something we had not. Nor had Nick Tomalin. He did not turn off his engine and… you know the rest. He was written up as a hero following his death — the media know how to glorify their own. But the four of us knew better, though we said nothing, of course. What caught my attention in Claire Tomalin’s book, however, had something to do with opera. Nick starts to beat her after she responds in kind following his unfaithfulness. He swings at her with closed fists, she ducks and he breaks a wooden bar instead. ‘I thought at once, goodness, The Marriage of Figaro gets it exactly right: it’s fine for the Count to have affairs and tell lies, but he will not allow the Countess any equivalent freedom.’ Well, not exactly. First of all, ladies do not respond in kind — at least not where I come from. Second, one does not hit a woman — even with a rose, as they say in French. Third, the Count suspects the Countess — who is only flirting with Cherubino — and, in a great aria I used to know by heart, decides to send the youngster away to the army: ‘Cherubino alla riscossa per la Gloria militar…’ The Count does not hit the Countess — not by a long shot. My, my, why are lefties more prone to hitting women? Is it that they are too enamoured of themselves to succumb to romantic martyrdom? Perhaps. Just as lefties today are heaping abuse on Leavers and threatening violence instead of experiencing rare vertebrate moments and accepting Brexit like the men they’re not. Again, never mind. This has been a glorious autumn. Here in the mountains the sky has never been bluer and the air never crisper. I’ve been exercis- the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk ing like mad and staying home a lot. The Gulf horrors have left, the village is empty, the cows have come down from the mountains, where they’ve grazed all summer, and the locals are busy building bigger and plusher chalets for the new rich. When will it all end? Not in the near future, that’s for sure. Africa is getting rather crowded, and the locals breed too much. There is not enough food to go around, so they come over to us. A wormy little bureaucrat from Luxembourg has abolished European borders. A few brave men like the PMs of Hungary and Poland are resisting. The media, needless to say, are on the side of the worm. Europe stinks of necrosis. The Brits should thank their lucky stars, and Nigel Farage. And now I’m off to the Big Bagel for some fun and games before I’m joined over there by the MoMC. Low life Jeremy Clarke As is traditional in this village, the Chapel congregation had walked the 100 yards up the hill to unite with the Anglicans for the Harvest Sunday morning service. The Chapel people are on the whole younger and more visibly filled with the Holy Spirit than the Anglicans. Retired postmistress Daphne was standing in the aisle, bubbling over as usual with love and joy, and bestowing hugs and kisses on anyone attempting to squeeze pass. The Clarke contingent — mother, aunt, grandson — took a pew brazenly near the front. The service this year was led by the rural dean, who is an absolute babe. This was a rare visit, and we all of us, young and old, male and female, feasted our eyes greedily on her as she emerged theatrically from the vestry shooting her glamorous cuffs. ‘Is she going to do a pole dance?’ I said in a confidential aside to grandson Oscar, a oncea-year churchgoer since the age of five. At seven-and-three-quarters Oscar knows what a pole dancer is, I noted, because he tittered politely at his mad dog grandfather’s ludicrously anachronistic witticism. My mother and her sister were too 77 NOVEMBER 2 - 4, 2017 S A A T C H I G A L L E R Y, L O N D O N O pening night ticke ts s till ava ilable B O O K N OW s a lo nq p.c o m /sp e ct a tor decrepit to rise for the first hymn, ‘God, Whose Farm is All Creation’. They had used up all of their strength extricating themselves from my 1.3 Fiesta at the church gate and tottering inside on their disability apparatus. The hymn, I read with surprise, was written by the ‘voice of cricket’, radio commentator John Arlott, and we sung it to a folk tune arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams. ‘How English can you get?’ I said to Oscar, indicating the attribution at the bottom of the page with my thumbnail. Although Oscar can read, he had heard of neither. The bible reading was taken from the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 12. This wealthy chap had such a whopping great harvest he decided to knock down his barn and build a bigger one. Secure in his good fortune, he planned to ‘eat, drink and be merry’. God was furious. ‘You fool,’ he told the guy. ‘Your life will be required of you this very night.’ The moral of the story was that we should not store up wealth for ourselves but should be rich only towards God. Which seemed to me directly to contradict Max Weber’s theory about Protestantism being the turbocharger of capitalism. But instead of sharing this thought with my grandson, I kept it to myself, not least because I am an autodidact and it was probably erroneous on every level. The rural dean mounted the stairs to the pulpit to give a sermon, and we sat back in our pews to enjoy the sight of her. ‘I don’t know about you,’ she said. ‘But the Brussels sprouts in my garden have fallen victim to a plague of green caterpillars.’ There followed a sort of near-silent uproar. Pretty much everyone present was moved to whisper an angry word or give an imperceptible nod of the head to indicate that the little bastards had indeed been doing the same to theirs. Her opening statement had touched a raw nerve in the congregation, galvanising it. If we thought they were greedy, she continued, we should listen to this. Green caterpillars must increase their body mass by a factor of one thousand to survive to the next stage. Eating is all they do. Their anatomy is designed for eating; their instinct devoted to it entirely. I’m sorry but I’ve forgotten now whether our rural dean’s final advice to us was to emulate the caterpillar in our devotion to God’s Kingdom, that we might one day metamorphose and take wing. Or whether we should regard the caterpillar’s appetite as a metaphor for the selfish greed of the materialist who stores up treasures for himself. Whatever it was, her colourful sermon about these hungry caterpillars was rich food for thought for young and old, and nobody collapsed during it or had to be carried out. The offertory hymn, obviously, was ‘We Plough the Fields, and Scatter’. Knowing the words off by heart, I sang out with gusto, abandon even, while ostentatiously forsaking my hymnal: ‘No gifts have I to offer, for all Thy love imparts, but that which Thou desirest: my humble, thankful heart.’ But when the velvet bag came around, I shoved in 78p anyhow. After the service, we stayed for coffee and cake. An elderly farmer with hands like dinner plates talked football with Oscar and amazingly offered him cup final tickets via a connection at the Football Association. Around here, the farmers comprise an ancient hereditary Puritan aristocracy who have no interest in, or even conception of, bourgeois culture. I shook hands formally with the rural dean and was about to ask her for her phone number when this farmer intervened and monopolised her, I’m sorry to say, in a distinctly droit du seigneur manner. Real life Melissa Kite Assuming someone had moved house before, and put a new boiler in their new house, while remaining a customer of British Gas, I set about doing that. It never occurred to me that I might be the first person on the planet to attempt such a thing. Not for a second did I imagine I was a swashbuckling pioneer to come up with the idea of ripping out an old boiler at the same time as continuing to buy gas, electricity and home servicing from an energy supply company. But it turns out I really was, or at least that is the impression I was given. Having decided to continue with the same company, rather than shop around for a new supplier who would charge me slightly less at first then much more in a year’s time, I rang to ask about my service contract. The new house had a cranky old boiler that would be coming out at some point, I told them, so should I not cancel and restart the contract when I had the new boiler up and running? The upshot of the discussion that ensued was that I really would be tempting Armageddon to cancel my Homecare policy. A sane person would surely keep it going, and when the new boiler was in book an engineer to come out and see it just to make sure British Gas was happy with it. Sounded alright, as a plan. My eye was then taken off the ball when an electricity smart meter was foisted on me a few weeks later. The builders let the guy in. I came home to find an evil little machine on my hallway table blinking about how much power I was using every second of the day. the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk ‘Total Today £0.14,’ it said, at 16:36. Then at 18:33: ‘Total Today £0.18.’ Why not issue me with a machine measuring how many breaths I’ve taken, counting down the gasps I’ve got left until I’m dead? I unplugged it and threw it in a drawer. Did they know I had done this? I waited for a phone call or letter from British Gas ordering me to reconnect my doom-ometer. But the only letter that came was to remind me that my annual boiler service was overdue. I rang the number. The wait was half an hour. ‘I’ll ignore it,’ I thought. But the letters kept coming, and they got quite strict in tone, until they were threatening to stop insuring my boiler that hadn’t been installed yet. Eventually, Terry the plumber took me to the heating centre and I splashed out on a magnificent Worcester Bosch. I got quite a thrill as the man behind the counter talked me through its features, none of which I understood in the slightest, but which sounded goddam sexy as boilers go. Terry took the shine off it as well as he could by telling me cheerfully that when he finished the bathroom I should keep the temporary electric shower in the basement because ‘if yer boiler breaks daaaa’an you’ve always got somewhere to wash!’ ‘Terry,’ I admonished him, ‘I’ve just spent thousands on a Worcester Bosch. It is never going to break down.’ ‘Yeah, I know!’ said Terry. ‘I’m just saying, if it does, you’ve got the electric shaaaa’ar!’ Electric shower, my foot. With the boiler purring away, I forgot about anything to do with it, because that was the whole point of buying it. It wasn’t until the other day, months later, I turned my attention to the growing heap of letters. The wait time was half an hour whenever I called so I did an online chat with someone called Andy to book an appointment. ‘Is this it? Is this what life is now? No one speaking to anyone. It’s tragic,’ I told him, which, I assume, he could have done without. The engineer turned up a week later, and stopped dead in front of the gleaming combi. ‘That’s a brand new Worcester Bosch,’ he said. ‘Correct,’ I said, preening myself. ‘That don’t need servicing for a year and even then…’ ‘…it’s never going to break down?’ I finished his sentence for him. ‘Well, yeah.’ ‘The thing is, they said you had to test it, to continue the service contract.’ ‘I can’t test it, cos you ain’t got all your radiators hooked up yet.’ ‘But they’re threatening to stop my contract if I don’t have it serviced today, and I’m not getting the rest of my radiators hooked up for ages. I’m gutting the house.’ He shook his head. The impasse was insoluble. ‘Or I could just cancel the contract?’ I suggested. ‘Yeah, you could do that,’ he perked up. ‘And restart it when you’re ready!’ And, of course, if I’d done that four months ago, I would have saved £120. 79 LIFE The turf Robin Oakley Racing is an expensive sport to stage. Courses and grandstands have to be maintained, health and safety regulations have to be observed. Human and horse ambulances have to be provided, turnstiles have to be manned and, to maintain the ‘integrity’ of a much gambled-on sport, stables have to be guarded, and photo-finish and race-patrol cameras have to be provided. Recognising this, as they sought to clean up gambling laws in the 1960s, our politicians introduced a rare example of ring-fenced taxation: they sanctioned a levy system on bookmakers to make them responsible for producing a significant contribution to racing’s costs. By 1978 the Gambling Commission was complaining that racing had become ‘addicted to subsidy’. Both sides disliked the system, but nobody could find anything better. Bookmakers complained that they were being forced to prop up a sport with an ineffective business model. Racing’s administrators moaned that the sums emerging from the annual round of haggling were neither sufficient nor predictable, particularly when the bookies starting taking their online gambling business offshore to evade the levy. With the levy now morphing into a ‘racing right’ to funds derived from that offshore business, there should be greater predictability, but racing is not just run to provide our sport. Thanks to its dependence on gambling income, it is also run to boost betting. One of several drawbacks in that is the potential loss of quality: the bookmakers want as many race meetings as possible to keep the business churning through their betting shops, and as many races as possible with the eight-runner minimum fields that encourage each-way betting for a 1-2-3 place as well as a win. The sport’s aficionados will happily watch a quality race between four, five or six exclusively bred and expensively purchased Classic-race aspirants; the bookies would rather have a dozen low-grade handicappers kicking sand in each others’ faces round an all-weather track. Even as an enthusiast I find it impossible to keep up with the sheer volume of racing, and much of it is sheer dross. There are other penalties associated with the sport’s dependence on gambling. The media currently resembles the Hollywood leading lady of whom it was once writ80 ten: ‘She was beside herself… her favourite position.’ Compared with the current portrayal of betting shops and their fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), William Hogarth’s snarling Gin Lane caricatures are a model of benignity. The moral crusaders have gambling in their sights and FOBTs, which currently allow maximum stakes of up to £100, have become the sharpest focus of their outrage. No rational racing fan would fail to acknowledge that gambling addictions sometimes afflict those least able to afford a loss, but racing’s problem is that FOBTs, also used appropriately by thousands of small-stakes punters for an occasional flutter, have become a mainstay of high-street betting shops. If a government desperate for diversions decides to heed the baying social-media mob, and wrecks the FOBT business with new restrictions, then highstreet betting shops will close, jobs will be lost and racing’s income stream will shrink. Racing’s administrators know well the sound of the bookmaking industry crying wolf, but senior and sober folk are taking this threat seriously. Thank God, then, for racing days like Newbury last Saturday. By this time of year I am yearning to get back to the National Hunt horses, jumpers we have come to know over the years, fighting it out tenaciously over obstacles. But there is an exhilaration, too, in sheer speed, and in the Dubai International Airport World Trophy Stakes Take Cover burst from the stalls like one of Kim Jong-Un’s better-class rockets, shot across to grab the running rail and then lowered his head in determination as Cotai Glory and Muthmir tried to get past him. We often moan about top-class Flat horses retiring at three or four, and sprinting should be a youngster’s game: the remarkable thing about Take Cover’s success in this Group Three race, after two Listed wins this season, was that at the advanced age of ten he is better than ever, a tribute to his young trainer David Griffiths, who noted: ‘He doesn’t lie down when they come at him. He would go through a brick wall for you.’ There was a reminder, too, of the bright young faces coming through in the training ranks when George Scott’s James Garfield won the Group Two Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes by just three quarters of a length from James Tate’s Invincible Army. Married just a week before to owner Bill Gredley’s daughter Polly, Scott was winning his first Group race, a feat achieved earlier this season by James Tate when Invincible Army, who was somewhat knocked about in the Newbury race, won Sandown’s Sirenia Stakes. James Garfield and Invincible Army look like two horses to have on your side next season and the same goes for the two advancing young Newmarket trainers. Bridge Janet de Botton The youngest player on the great Allfrey team, Mike Bell, is forming a very strong partnership with David Gold. They have already represented England and had a hoard of good results. When playing at such a high level, not only do you have to be technically pitchperfect, you also need to have the guts and imagination to go with your instincts — and not be afraid of looking a fool in front of your team mates. This cannot be demonstrated better than with this hand from the first weekend of the Premier League: Dealer West E/W vulnerable z Void y J 8 2 XK 9 7 w Q 10 8 z J 10 5 y6 XQ 8 4 wAK 9 7 652 3 N W 2 4 E S z AQ y A Q 10 9 XJ 6 3 w Void zK9 8 yK X A 10 5 w J3 7 642 7 543 West North East South Pass 4z 5z X 3w 5y Pass All Pass 3z Pass Pass 4y Pass 6y A frisky auction saw Mike end up in the doubled slam. Unlike a couple of other declarers, he was not treated to the favourable Spade lead which allows two Diamonds to be discarded from dummy. West led a trump. He won, ruffed the zQueen and played a small Club from dummy. East didn’t seem interested in this trick, so Mike placed the wAce on his left. He ruffed and tabled the XJack; West correctly played low — in case declarer has J,10 of Diamonds and a guess — and Mike let it run to East’s Ace! Dummy’s other Diamond went away on the zAce and the slam was made. Not only did young Mr Bell risk having to explain to his team mates why he went off in a cold slam when the XAce was onside — he also played for West (a top-class player) to have misread the situation when he didn’t cover. That takes guts and enormous self-confidence. The future of English bridge is looking rosy. the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk SPECTATOR WINE JONATHAN RAY I love Picpoul de Pinet; I mean we all do, right? It’s the quintessence of easy, affable drinking and I’ve not met a Picpoul more easy or affable than the 2016 Racine Picpoul de Pinet (1), produced by Bruno Lafon and François Chamboissier, the Burgundian/Bordelais pair behind Diva Sud, a collection of great-value wines from the Rhône, Languedoc and Provence. Their Picpoul is spot on: fresh, lively and lightbodied with excellent acidity, fine concentration of fruit and — hooray! — an easy-access screwcap. Don’t overanalyse it, just bask in its tasty simplicity. £9.75 down from £11.50. The 2015 Domaine Mourchon ‘La Source’ Côtes du Rhône Blanc (2) is an old favourite of mine. I love white Rhônes; they’re really rather rare and are ideal for members of the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) gang. This scrumptious example is a blend of Bourboulenc, Clairette, Roussanne and Viognier — not that you would know it thanks to the characteristically French lack of info on the back label. What am I talking about? It doesn’t even have a back label. Typical. Anyway, gripes apart, it’s a cracking wine with delicate hints of baked apple, peaches, apricots and a long creamy finish and, with £2.50 knocked off the RRP, it’s a cracking price. £12.75 down from £15.25. The 2015 Montagny 1er Cru Chaniots, Les Vignerons de Buxy (3) is a gratifyingly grown-up white burgundy made by the Vignerons de Buxy, a tip-top co-operative that makes wines of legendary quality. I reckon you’d be hard pressed to find a better Montagny for the price (especially since our hosts for this offer, Mr. Wheeler, have snipped a full £3.25 off the RRP). It’s soft, smooth, supple and creamily textured, with peaches and pears and a touch of vanilla on the palate. I loved it. £14.25 down from £17.50. The 2015 Mas Collet (4) is a fascinating red blend of Garnacha (aka Grenache), Samsó (Carignan), Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo from Celler de Capçanes, a first-rate co-operative based high in the Priorat hills (also the Denominación de Origen of Montsant) 20 miles inland from Tarragona in north-east Spain. The wine is uncomplicatedly fresh, ripe and juicy with the heady scent of herbs and violets on the nose and plenty of sweet blueberries, plums and damsons. It’s perfect warming autumn fare. £10.75 down from £14. The 2015 Quinta Nova ‘Pomares’ Tinto (5) is from a blessed spot slap-dab on the White Rhônes are really rather rare and are ideal for members of the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) gang precipitous hills above the Douro River in Portugal. I’ve been lucky enough to visit Quinta Nova de Nossa Senhora do Carmo (to give it its full name) and fell in love with it and its wines. There’s a restaurant with rooms here as well as a winery, and the views across the Douro Valley are astounding. The wines are darn good too and this entry-level red is an absolute peach. It blends the typical port varieties of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz. If they’d lobbed some brandy in to stop its fermentation it would be port; as it is, it’s a ridiculously rich and tasty red wine with buckets of ripe, dark fruit. £11.75 down from £14. Finally, from close to Montpelier in the heart of the Languedoc, the glorious 2014 Domaine de la Jasse ‘Black Label’ Tête de Cuvée (6). Its previous vintages have been among our very bestselling wines. Made by Bruno le Breton and Patrick Léon (formerly of Château Mouton-Rothschild) from 100 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon aged for a year in barrique, it’s incredibly concentrated and intense with all manner of cassis, liquorice, spice, herbs and vanilla entwining on the palate. It will age for years yet and I reckon is worth almost double the £12.75 (down from £15) that Mr. Wheeler is asking. The mixed case has two bottles of each wine and delivery, as ever, is free. ORDER FORM Spectator Wine Offer www.spectator.co.uk/wine-club Mr. Wheeler, Estate Ofﬁce, Park Lane BC, Langham, Colchester, Essex CO4 5WR Tel: 01206 713560; Email: email@example.com Club price Prices in form are per case of 12 White 1 2 3 Red 4 5 6 Mixed 7 Racine Picpoul de Pinet, 12.5% Domaine Mourchon Côtes du Rhône Blanc, 13% Montagny 1er Cru Chaniots, 13.5% Mas Collet, Celler de Capçanes, 14% Quinta Nova ‘Pomares’, 13.5% Domaine de la Jasse ‘Tête de Cuvée’, 14% Sample case, two each of the above Issue no. Expiry date Signature Please send wine to Name Address Postcode No. £138.00 £183.00 £210.00 £168.00 £168.00 £180.00 £174.50 Total Mastercard/Visa no. Start date £117.00 £153.00 £171.00 £129.00 £141.00 £153.00 £144.00 List price Sec. code Prices include VAT and delivery on the British mainland. Payment should be made either by cheque with the order, payable to Mr. Wheeler, or by debit or credit card, details of which may be telephoned or faxed. This offer, which is subject to availability, closes on 11 November 2017. Telephone Email* *Only provide your email address if you would like to receive offers or communications by email from The Spectator (1828) Limited, part of the Press Holdings Group. See Classified pages for Data Protection Act Notice. The Spectator (1828) Limited, part of the Press Holdings Group would like to pass your details on to other carefully selected organisations in order that they can offer you information, goods and services that may be of interest to you. If you would prefer that your details are not passed to such organisations, please tick this boxR. the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk 81 LIFE Chess Gamesters of Triskelion Raymond Keene The triskelion, or three-legged emblem, has been on the coat of arms of the Isle of Man since the late 13th century. The Isle of Man has now attracted one of the strongest ever lineups for an open competition in the history of formal chess tournaments. The lists include world champion Magnus Carlsen, former champions Vladimir Kramnik and Viswanathan Anand, and Hikaru Nakamura as well as the former world title challengers Boris Gelfand and Nigel Short. The British contingent is joined by Michael Adams, the newly minted British champion Gawain Jones, and David Howell. Doubtless the munificent prize fund of £133,000 is a lure. The first round saw the following impressive strategic performance by Nigel Short, who first gains control of the dark squares in his opponent’s camp, then converts this into material gain, finally infiltrating his opponent’s lines of defence and strangling him to death. Short-Osmanodja: chess.com Masters Isle of Man 2017; Catalan Defence 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 d5 3 c4 e6 4 g3 In former times Short was a strict adherent of 1 e4. In recent years, however, he has graduated to becoming a fine exponent of the subtle flank openings such as the Catalan, which he employs in this game. By adding a deeper and richer vein to his openings arsenal, Short has revealed an innate talent for openings that lead to closed positions. 4 ... Bb4+ 5 Bd2 Be7 6 Bg2 0-0 7 0-0 c6 8 Qb3 b5 9 cxb5 cxb5 10 Rc1 Avoiding 10 Qxb5 met by 10 ... Ba6 followed by full activation of Black’s forces. By placing his rook on the open c-file White sets the strategic tone for the remainder of the game. 10 ... Ba6 10 ... Qb6 11 Bb4 Bxb4 12 Qxb4 Bd7 13 Ne5 was seen in Nikolaidis-Ricardi, Elista 1998. 11 Bb4 Strategically the key move. White trades off Black’s principal guardian of the dark squares, primarily the invasion point c5. 11 ... Bxb4 12 Qxb4 Qb6 13 Ne5 (see diagram 1) If Black could play ... Nc6 unmolested then he would be free of all his troubles. Hence White hastens to prevent this move. 13 ... Nfd7 14 Nxd7 Nxd7 15 e3 Rac8 16 Nd2 Nb8 Black is still seeking to regroup his forces , so that he can play ... Nc6. Short now demonstrates that the time lost in this PUZZLE NO. 476 White to play. This position is from Paul-Jonsson, Isle of Man 2017. How did White make a decisive material gain? Answers to me at The Spectator by Tuesday 3 October or via email to victoria@ spectator.co.uk. There is a prize of £20 for the first correct answer out of a hat. Please include a postal address and allow six weeks for prize delivery. Last week’s solution 1 Qxd4 Last week’s winner Keith Douglas, Leominster, Herefordshire 82 Competition On the house Lucy Vickery In Competition No. 3017 you were invited to submit a sonnet containing household tips. You were on sparkling form this week and there were plenty of stylish, inventive entries to choose from. I was riveted by your recommendations and hope to put them to the test, though I might just take John Whitworth’s word for it: (‘Prick sausages and they will never burst./ A pint of piss will slake a raging thirst.’) Commendations go to David Silverman, Joseph Conlon, Jennifer Moore, Fiona Pitt-Kethley and A.H. Harker. The winners earn £20 each. Basil Ransome-Davies trousers £25. Diagram 1 rhWDW4kD 0WDWDp0p b1WDphWD DpDpHWDW W!W)WDWD DWDWDW)W P)WDP)B) $N$WDWIW A healthy dose of vinegar will clean Your windows and wipe porn smears off your screen. A saucer makes a handy weapon if You need to finish a domestic tiff. You overdo the vodka or the gin? Dump all the empties in your neighbour’s bin. Old copies of the Daily Mail will do For visitors who badly need the loo, And anti-orthopaedic chairs for guests Whom you regard as knuckle-dragging pests. Save money by not buying cutlery, Just nick it from the local KFC, And if you want to be your granny’s heir Much sooner than expected, soap the stair. Basil Ransome-Davies Diagram 2 WhWDWDkD 0W1WDp0W bDWDpDW0 DpHpDWDW WDW)WDW) !WDW)W)W P)WDW)WD DWDWDBIW manoeuvre permits White to extend his control of critical terrain. In fact, Black would do better to pass with, for example, 16 ... h6. 17 Bf1 Nc6 18 Qc5 Qb7 19 Qa3 Making way for the invasion by White’s knight. 19 ... Qb6 20 Nb3 Rc7 21 Rc5 Rfc8 22 Rac1 h6 23 h4 Nb8 24 Rxc7 Rxc7 25 Rxc7 Qxc7 26 Nc5 (see diagram 2) In spite of reduced forces White’s advantage has persisted and now the b5-pawn becomes a serious target. 26 ... Qb6 27 Qd3 Qa5 28 a3 Nc6 29 a4 Bc8 30 axb5 Ne7 31 Qa3 Qb6 32 Na4 Qc7 33 Qc5 Qd7 34 b6 axb6 35 Nxb6 Qb7 36 Bb5 Kf8 37 Qd6 g6 38 Qd8+ The decisive penetration. 38 ... Kg7 39 Bd7 Bxd7 40 Nxd7 Nc6 41 Qf8+ Black resigns WDrDq4kD 0WDWDpgp W0WDWDWD DWDNDRDW WDQDnDWD DWGW)WDW P)WDWDP) DWDRDWIW Your eyes, my love, are chilly as the ice With which you shift unwanted chewing-gum; Brisk as your toothbrush when you clear the crumb From toasters are your words, which are not nice. The vinegar with which you clean the glass Is not more acid; and the potent meths Which gives to ballpoint stains deserved deaths Does not in virulence your glare outclass. You would be rid of me, my household queen. (Much as with cedar you deter the moth.) Yet I too have a microfibre cloth; So might not we together live and clean? Would you but spill the red wine of your love, I could, like salt, absorb it from above. George Simmers To whiten grimy grouting, an old toothbrush and lemon juice will clean where dark mould thrives. The same juice freshens worktops, mugs and loo flush (the lowly lemon leads so many lives). Combined with salt it’s good for scouring rust off or scrubbing marble, with a cotton rag. You’ll get the vacuum cleaner’s smell of dust off by slipping a few drops inside the bag. Dried rinds, when buried, will protect the garden from furry diggers — squirrel, say, or cat. Remember that old paintbrush left to harden? A soak in boiling juice will soon cure that. And all homes need it — sliced, and not too thin — with ice and tonic and an inch of gin. D.A. Prince the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk LIFE How to be thrifty? Let me count the ways: Use what you need when making cups of tea. Don’t fill the kettle like the Arctic Sea But just enough. Eventually it pays. Observe how much you buy on shopping days And what you throw away, then learn to be Less profligate. Buy one instead of three; Then what you’re saving weekly will amaze. Why light a room when nobody is there? Why leave the TV on when no one’s viewing? You’re spending cash on nothing, so take care; The road to thriftiness is worth pursuing. And even though you be a billionaire It’s wise to ponder what your pence are doing. Max Ross Crossword 2329: Places to eat by Doc Shall I compare thee to a household tip? Thou art more worth to me than being told That rough winds get in through the tiniest chip, And chewing-gum in holes can thwart the cold. Sometime too hot, the water in the sink May harm your skin, as hot detergent scalds. Your hands are perfect as they are, I think, So put some talcum in your marigolds. But thy eternal beauty drives out grime As water does in a stained coffee cup If you are going to wait a little time Before you come to do the washing-up. So long as men shall breathe or kiss with lips, So long I’ll love thee more than household tips. Brian Murdoch Across 5 Cross as a sign (6) 10 I left millionaire mixing petroleum distillate (10, two words) 16 What may be caught with a rod — a rod (5) 17 Strips, rubs gently and beats (7) 18 Pipe second carol outside Kings (7) 20 Those assailing verbally about to take on loathsome heartless rebels (8) 25 Just a bit of cement added (3) 26 Run faster than dismissal speed? (7) 28 Works with new director on mathematical quantity (7) 29 Island’s small businesses (3) 34 Wrecked automobile union’s leader left miles away in Central Greece (7) 36 Bad South American evading courts in Californian city (7) 40 Get comfy again as a colonist? (8) 41 US actress starts killing after interval (6) 42 Some cost in changing financial experts (10) 43 Pound dispatched by agreement (6) 44 Bernstein’s story of bridge player by bank (8, two words) Don’t go forgetful into your goodnight; Check, check that you have left no switches on. It isn’t hard to make an oversight And let disaster rage when you have gone. Before retiring to your bedroom keep A mindful eye on windows, doors and keys Lest mischief-makers enter while you sleep And flee away with anything they please. Then if you feel each part is well inspected And all is like a fort when you retire Sleep soundly in the knowledge you’re protected From foreign guests, from flooding and from fire. If circumstance has placed you on your own It’s wise to sleep beside your mobile phone. Frank McDonald A lemon cut in half, beside the sink will stop your hands from having fishy fingers. Sprinkled with salt, the lemon’s other half will banish from your fridge a smell that lingers. And if you iron sitting on a chair the task is not unpleasant. You are free to listen to the radio, watch TV each hankie pressed into a perfect square. White vinegar cleans all things, more or less And soda water’s good on red wine stains, but should blood mark a T-shirt or a dress hot water will ensure the mark remains 1 2 9 3 4 Down 1 French worker’s garment from old car firm on river (6) forever brownish. Everybody oughter know that blood yields only to cold, cold water. Adèle Geras NO. 3020 : MARRIAGE GUIDANCE You are invited to submit the formula for a successful marriage courtesy of a well-known husband or wife in literature (please specify). Please email entries of up to 150 words (providing a word count) to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on 11 October. the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk 6 7 8 11 10 12 13 14 15 16 17 The unclued lights, when paired, are of a kind, the first word in each pair being thematic. Two of the unclued lights, one of which is plural, do double duty. One pair has a literary reference, too. 5 18 20 21 24 25 19 22 23 26 28 27 29 30 31 34 32 35 37 38 33 36 39 40 41 42 43 44 2 Transfer and allow deliveries (8, two words) 3 Male hawk close to chancel after 9 am prayers (6) 4 Experts in diving sickness (5) 6 Ferry from Romania, twice (4, hyphened) 7 Boycott promotional leaflet promoting extortionist (11) 9 Plants Brideshead family endlessly criticises (8) 15 Lady’s fingers look ravishing to some extent (4) 16 Exits before poor rep with losses runs out (11) 19 Con artist regularly provides pastoral songs (4) 21 Old tales of undoubted daring (4) 23 Penitential garment carried by saint, to wit (8) 24 Northern Italian in banking street (7) 27 Warms up prior to eliminating rounds (8) 31 Former BBC DG upset tribunal. Not half! (4) 32 Rallying cry evoking terrible noises (6) 35 Let everyone scream (5) A first prize of £30 for the first correct solution opened on 16 October. There are two runnersup prizes of £20. (UK solvers can choose to receive the latest edition of the Chambers dictionary instead of cash — ring the word ‘dictionary’.) Entries to: Crossword 2329, The Spectator, 22 Old Queen Street, London SW1H 9HP. Please allow six weeks for prize delivery. Name Address Email SOLUTION TO 2326 : ‘SUITS YOU, SIR!’ The unclued lights are part of a SUIT of armour. First prize Clive Rose, Henley on Thames, Oxon Runners-up Virginia Porter, Gwaelod-y-Garth, Cardiff; Hugh Aplin, London SW19 83 LIFE Status Anxiety Don’t let these figures depress you, girls Toby Young A re British teenagers suffering from an epidemic of mental illness? Yes, according to a ‘government-funded study’ which found that 24 per cent of 14-year-old girls are suffering from depression. This has been seized upon by critics of Conservative education policies; they see it as ‘proof’ that the increased focus on teaching children knowledge, as well as more frequent testing and the GCSE reforms, have literally driven children mad. ‘One in four girls is clinically depressed by the time they turn 14,’ reported the Guardian. I’m sceptical about this and I took a look at the research carried out by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies, which is based at UCL Institute for Education. It involved asking 14-year-olds in the Millennium Cohort Study to fill out a questionnaire called Short Moods and Feelings. This is an American document that uses the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders’ criteria for depression. It lists 13 symptoms in the form of first-person statements like ‘I thought I could never be as good as other kids’ and asks respondents to indicate ‘Not true’, ‘Sometimes’ or ‘True’, depending on how often they’ve experienced these feeling in the past two weeks. A total of 11,394 children complet- Treat this survey and the inﬂated claims made on the back of it with a large dose of salt ed the survey, which is a respectable sample size. The first thing I noticed is that the report doesn’t actually claim that a significant percentage of these children are suffering from depression, much less ‘clinical depression’, since no clinicians were involved. Rather, it says that 24 per cent of girls are ‘suffering from high symptoms of depression’, without providing a definition of ‘high’. If they were using the questionnaire as it is supposed to be used, they should have assigned a score to each answer, with different values awarded to ‘Not true’ (0), ‘Sometimes’ (1) and ‘True’ (2), and only claimed that children who scored 12 or above might be suffering from depression. Did they follow this methodology? We don’t know, but ‘high symptoms of depression’ sounds like a sleight of hand designed to conceal the fact that the number scoring 12 or above was much lower than 24 per cent. A more fundamental problem is that the questionnaire is not designed as a diagnostic tool. Indeed, if you look it up you’ll see the following explicit warning: ‘This instrument should be used as an indicator of depressive symptoms and not as a diagnostic tool and therefore does not indicate whether a child or adolescent has a particular disorder.’ It may be that the researchers used the phrase ‘high symptoms of depression’ to avoid falling into this error, and not because they were trying to exaggerate the scale of the problem, but no such circumspection was shown by newspapers reporting it. The Guardian was far from alone in this respect. Here’s a sam- ple of the headlines: ‘A quarter of all 14-year-old girls are depressed’ (The Independent), ‘One in four teenage girls are depressed’ (Daily Telegraph), ‘One in four 14-year-old girls is depressed’ (The TES). In fact, the research tells us nothing of the kind. Another difficulty in using this study to try and ‘prove’ that Michael Gove’s education reforms are responsible for higher levels of mental illness is that it is the first time 14-year-olds have been surveyed in this way, so we don’t know if the level has climbed or fallen since 2010. Natasha Devon, a self-described mental health champion, wrote in the TES saying that it was ‘helpful to have some solid statistical analysis to support the notion that poor mental health in young people is increasing at a dramatic rate’ and claims the research shows that the prevalence of depression among 14-year-olds has ‘doubled’ in ten years. She evidently doesn’t know what ‘Millennium’ signifies in ‘Millennium Cohort Study’. It means that it’s a longitudinal study of a group of children born in 2000 so, by definition, the same researchers could not have surveyed a different group of 14-year-olds ten years ago and compared their recent findings with those. Ten years ago, the oldest children in the cohort were seven. So treat this survey and the inflated claims being made on the back of it with a large dose of salt. It doesn’t tell us much about how prevalent depression is among teenagers, and it doesn’t tell us anything about whether it’s rising or falling. Toby Young is associate editor of The Spectator. MICHAEL HEATH 84 the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk Spectator Sport All power to the NFL knee protest Roger Alton T he history of sport and political protest in this country would be a slim old volume. It would feature quite a bit of Robbie Fowler, the Liverpool striker, who once lifted his shirt after scoring to reveal a Calvin Klein T-shirt which said ‘Support the Dockers’ using the ‘C’ and ‘K’ of the fashion logo. He might have been misguided — those dockers had been on strike, as they always seemed to be, and they did a fair bit to bring down (temporarily) the great city of Liverpool — but Fowler was a terrific player and an all-round good guy. He once persuaded a ref to revoke a penalty and later made an elaborate show of snorting the touchline. He also bought up more or less every bit of property in Liverpool: hence the terrace anthem, to the tune of ‘Yellow Submarine’: ‘We all live in a Robbie Fowler house…’ In general our sportsmen are discouraged from being political. They devote their energies to being brand ambassadors for watches or whiskies or motor cars. There was a brief skirmish recently over football teams, I would take the knee myself if I thought I could get up again especially England, wearing the Remembrance Day poppy. After trying to ban this as ‘political’, Fifa eventually backed down. It is precisely because sport can have such power that we should all applaud the ‘taking the knee’ protest during the singing of the national anthem that has swept the National Football League in America. Indeed I would take the knee myself if I thought I could get up again. The protest started a year ago when Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers, knelt during the anthem to raise awareness of police brutality against young AfricanAmericans. It was not a protest about Trump; it was a protest about race. But nobody gave a damn and since then Kaepernick can barely get work. But the protest took off a few days ago when, quite out of the blue and presumably as a diversionary tactic from god knows what, President Trump called on football club owners to suspend any players who protested during the national anthem, and added a little spice by calling the players ‘sons of bitches’. The vast majority of American football players are black. Nearly all the owners are white, but they don’t like being told what to do, even by another billionaire. So far no protesting player has been fired for kneeling, or linking arms as they did as last Sunday’s matches, including — spec- tacularly — in London. This is all about race, and we must hope that Trump doesn’t get his way. H ow much more can one love Ben Stokes? Not only is he the best cricketer in the world, but it looks like he wasn’t prepared to take any nonsense from anyone in Bristol who may have given him a bit of gyp after that fabulous one-day victory at the weekend. We can’t be certain what happened that led to his arrest on suspicion of assault at 2.30 a.m., but anyone picking a fight with Ben Stokes wants their head examined. W e are sadly familiar with the sometimes heartbreaking tales of how top-line sports folk cope with filling the hours once they step away from the limelight. Sitting at home watching Homes Under the Hammer perhaps; or checking the cricket scores to see whether Somerset have finessed that elusive bowling bonus point. No such problems for Usain Bolt: he has taken to a boat in the crystalline waters of the Caribbean along with his girlfriend Kasi. She, it turns out, is a most comely and well-upholstered gal with a keen liking for taking her own picture. She looks capable of bringing out a sub-ten-second performance in most of us. Though probably not the great man himself, who looks set for a marathon. DEAR MARY YOUR PROBLEMS SOLVED totally addicted to viewing their indiscreet images of their lunches and holidays and children. I don’t want to post any of my own. For privacy reasons, I never signed up for Twitter or Facebook and the same goes for Instagram. — Name and address withheld Q. How can I avoid becoming seen as an ‘Instagram creeper’? My well-meaning niece tells me that I’m in danger of qualifying for this insult. Apparently it means a sort of Peeping Tom who views other people’s postings but never contributes any herself. I joined Instagram a year ago to promote a fundraising event, and it’s true that, though I posted six related images then, I have posted nothing since. But certain friends and acquaintances began following me at that time and so I followed them and now am A. Your niece is correct. To avoid the charge of creeper you must post more images. They need not compromise your security e.g. by showing yourself on holiday or standing in front of priceless paintings in your drawing room. Plenty of toffs post only images of plants, animals or posters for worthy forthcoming events. In this way they justify their foothold in the Peepers’ Gallery. Q. How can I discourage a friend from licking her forefinger when she turns the pages of a the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk newspaper? I think it’s unhygienic and ‘common’: the Queen wouldn’t do it. My friend would be mortified by any suggestion that she doesn’t know how to behave. — G.P., Westminster A. There are practical reasons why finger-licking is considered ‘common’. The finger quickly becomes a portal for bacteria to enter the mouth, and dried saliva actually smells. You could convey her breach of etiquette by subtle means. Purchase a pack of rubber finger cones from a stationery shop. Next time you are together, don one ostentatiously then begin to read the newspaper yourself. Confide that you’ve only just learned that finger-licking is considered naff, so you’re trying to retrain yourself not to do it. You will discard the thimble once the new habit is ingrained. Q. Your advice to spray leftover food with Pledge to discourage grazing is impossible, as no civilised household would contain the product, due to its ruinous effect on antique mahogany. The correct product to spray on unwanted food is horse liniment, borrowed from the stables. — M.R., Tibenham, Norfolk A. Good point. You could equally use spray starch which is found in many civilised households. Q. May I pass on a tip? There is no need to spend hours shaking cushions in order to plump them. You need only drop them once. This simple action redistributes the contents perfectly. — S.B., London SW11 A. Thank you for this time-saving tip. 85 LIFE Food Venice all tarted up Tanya Gold V eneta is a Venetian restaurant inside the St James’s Market development south of Piccadilly Circus. I do not like this development because it has no identity and great cities should have identities. It is not like St James’s, and it is nothing like a market either. It is a cold and glassy spot with a stupid name, and it is, with other developments from here to Hyde Park Corner, the reason that people now hate London or do not recognise it as London, because it is beginning to resemble a giant Nespresso capsule. Someone once told me that in a million years the only evidence of our civilisation will be nappies and Nespresso capsules and I think this may be true, and future alien visitors will think we invented caffeine and babies and then blew ourselves up by mistake. St James’s Market is, therefore, an excellent place for an expensive restaurant selling the cuisine of a dead city to a dying one, because it has no identity. The building is stone and high, with a vast curve of window; it looks Veneta is like a branch of Habitat. It is Venice tidied up and made tasteful, and who needs that? slightly like the mask of Iron Man, the most irritating of the Avengers because he describes himself as ‘a billionaire philanthropist’, and what gentleman would say that about himself? Or it looks like a building that is wearing sunglasses, while nodding at the other vast restaurant in St James’s Market, which is the Aquavit. Inside, Veneta is rather beautiful. It is high and bright, with wood floors and things — I think decorators call them ‘accents’ — which are supposed to invoke the sea. The sea does get lost in Venice, even if it is the point of it. There is aquamarinecoloured glass and leather, a curling metal staircase and a gold-coloured bar. If this is Venice, it is no Venice that I have seen. It is too glib and subtle. Venice is rotting grandeur and insane camp. It is shockingly tasteless: every piece of glass made in Murano since the glassblowers were moved there to stop them setting fire to the city, for instance, and the late Tintorettos in the Doge’s Palace, most of the wallpaper, ‘I’m afraid there’s surge pricing of 4.5 times the normal fee.’ all of the floors and everything painted by Tiepolo. This does not mean I do not love it all. Veneta, meanwhile, is more like a branch of Habitat. It is Venice tidied and made tasteful, and who needs that? The food, though, is better than at most of the restaurants in Venice, although Veneta does have the advantage of not being a tourist destination that is also in the middle of the sea. The meal I last ate in Venice was at the Gritti Palace during a flood, but that is normal. The waiter served excellent lamb and let us stand on the boat deck during an electric thunderstorm while pretending he had not noticed that we were wearing bin bags on our legs. He thought we were mad: Gli inglesi! Veneta cannot provide such drama. It is too calm and Venice, the serene one, is not calm at all because that was just an early piece of spin. (There is nothing calm about bankrolling the Crusades and governing an empire from the middle of the sea.) But it does serve an excellent pork chop, sticky with herb and fire; then a golden light broth with pasta and mushrooms that does everything mushrooms conceivably can do, which is not a lot; and a fine piece of pork, again sticky with skill; and as good a piece of focaccia bread as can be baked, heavy with salt and rosemary and as golden as the Madonna of Torcello. But the St James’s Market development still looks like a Nespresso capsule with a Venetian restaurant inside. As a kitchen then, it succeeds. As a pastiche, it fails. Veneta, 3 Norris St, St James’s Market, London SW1Y 4RJ, tel: 020 38749100. MIND YOUR LANGUAGE Boo In 1872, the 27-stone figure of the Tichborne Claimant was insisting he was Sir Roger Tichborne Bt, an heir thought lost at sea as a slim young man. To raise funds he undertook a series of public meetings, and at one in the East End, the cry ‘Three groans for the Attorney-General’ was repeated every five minutes. Dickens describes the classic 19th-century groan in The Pickwick Papers (1836) at the Eatanswill election hustings. When Horatio Fitzkin is proposed, ‘the Fizkinites applauded, and the Slumkeyites groaned, so long, and so loudly, that both he and the seconder 86 might have sung comic songs in lieu of speaking, without anybody’s being a bit the wiser’. Crowds do still groan, at bad puns, but as ‘an expression of strong disapprobation’ in the words of the Oxford English Dictionary, the convention is to boo. The Victorians paired groans and hisses as boos and hisses are today. A depreciatory claque in football crowds is now called the boo-boys. The OED picked up an example from the Sun in 1990: ‘Leeds boss Howard Wilkinson last night backed goalstarved striker Lee Chapman to beat the boo-boys.’ Boo has also taken over territory once occupied by bo. People have said boo to a goose since the days of Charles I, but had already started saying bo to it the previous century. Sometimes it was bo to a battledore, meaning not only the bat for hitting shuttlecocks, but also a hornbook with a handle for children to learn their ABC. What do you call the game with infants of looking out from behind a cushion? I’d say peepbo — as used in the game. Some called it bo-peep. In 1528 William Tyndale wrote in a tract against a man who ‘playeth bo-peep with the scripture’. Why Little Bo-Peep was so called, no one, I believe, knows. The bogey-man Bloody Bones, terrifyingly coupled since the 16th-century with Raw-Head, was invoked in 1672 in another religious controversy by the satirical poet Robert Wild: ‘The Pope’s Raw-head-and-bloodybones cry Boh Behind the door!’ Today the word shouted to give a fright is more often boo than bo. I can recommend a book by Ronald C. Simons on the startle reflex with the simple title Boo! — Dot Wordsworth the spectator | 30 september 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk Subscribe to The Spectator Try 12 issues for just £12 HOW I WRITE: Irvine Welsh d Susan Hill d Geoff Dyer d Kamila Shamsie d Nicola Barker Adam Nicolson d Michael Moorcock d Gary Shteyngart d Francis Spufford 12 august 2017 [ £4.25 www.spectator.co.uk [ est. 1828 Fire and fury Jacob Heilbrunn on a lethal war of words Andrew J. 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Any subscription cancellations will take effect at the end of the current term. Refunds will not be given for any undelivered issues. Courage and commitment - that’s the FP CRUX European Special Situations Fund Return on £1,000 invested 1 year 2 years 3 years 4 years 5 years Since launch* - 31.08.17 CRUX European Special Situations Fund £1,219 £1,549 £1,666 £1,744 £2,314 £2,856 Sector average : IA Europe ex UK £1,235 £1,421 £1,486 £1,593 £2,048 £2,065 Index : FTSE World Europe ex UK £1,260 £1,454 £1,473 £1,627 £2,055 £2,041 Cash : Bank of England Base Rate £1,003 £1,007 £1,012 £1,017 £1,023 £1,037 Source: FE © 2017, bid-bid, £1,000 invested, cumulative performance to 31.08.17. *Launch date 01.10.09. Active managers who invest in their own funds Active investment management requires conﬁdence, courage and commitment in every investment decision, something the managers of CRUX’s European Special Situations Fund have plenty of. 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