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The Spectator - December 02, 2017

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84-page glossy magazine with Hugo Gye, Sarah Vine, Brendan O?Neill, Mary Killen, Michael Heath and featuring?
British ballet?s new stars
2 december 2017 [ �25
by
Emma
Byrne
The new Newspeak
by
Andy
Shaw
www.spectator.co.uk [ est. 1828
For richer, not poorer
Marriage is becoming an elite institution, says Ed West
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THE EU?S
RANSOM
Lionel Shriver
BOO
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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.
Building for the future
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A price worth paying
T
here will be howls of outrage in some
quarters if it is confirmed that the
government has offered the EU a
?divorce? bill of up to � billion (over several
years). Some on the leave side of the debate
insist that the bill should be zero. They ask:
does the EU not owe us some money for our
share of all the bridges we have helped build
in Spain and railway lines in Poland? But it
was never realistic to think we could leave
the EU and maintain good relations with
the bloc without paying a penny ? even if
a House of Lords report did seem to suggest that this would be legally possible. We
are in the process of creating a new relationship with the EU, not ending it altogether.
Having agreed an EU budget which
stretched until 2020, it was right to fund
these programmes until the end of that period ? which, after all, is only a year after our
departure. Thereafter there will be ongoing
pension obligations, but a fraction of what
we would otherwise be on the hook for.
The government?s offer is a mark of serious intent, proof that we want constructive
and co-operative relations as we start to
discuss the terms of a free-trade deal. The
money, payable over many years, is still a
saving when compared to the ever-rising
sums which we would be required to pay
had we decided to remain in the bloc.
Brexit was never just about cash:
indeed, most people who voted to leave
were prepared for a costly, painful process. They also thought it would be worthwhile. By the time we leave we will have
regained our freedom to make our own
trade deals with outside countries. Provided that we use this freedom, and build new
export industries without compromising
our existing EU trade, we should be able
to grow the economy in such a way as to
make the leaving bill seem like good value.
There are still hurdles to overcome. As
has been made clear on both sides, nothing
is agreed until everything is agreed. The EU
has yet to accept the government?s offer, and
assuming trade talks do start in January, we
can still expect months of bluster. The EU is
likely to want to try to exclude financial services from a trade deal and we must ensure
that they are included. But at least talks
should now be able to start in a constructive manner. Now we have put money on
the table, the EU?s negotiating team knows
what it would lose if it were to collapse the
talks through sheer obstinacy. From now on,
every member state knows that a failure to
Brexit was never just about cash:
most people who voted to leave were
prepared for a costly, painful process
keep Britain at the negotiating table will
mean cancelled projects ? and higher contributions from their own coffers.
There is also the issue of the Irish border to resolve. As David Trimble explains on
page 16, this has flared up thanks as much
to the internal politics of the Irish Republic as to the practical workings of the EU. It
should not be impossible to come up with
an arrangement which keeps traffic flowing freely across the border while police
and customs officials continue to work ? as
they already do ? to enforce the different
fiscal and regulatory regimes which exist in
Ireland and the UK.
So long as the government is able to give
a firm rebuttal to the inevitable charges
of a sell-out, it should now emerge from a
troubled few weeks in better shape. Some
believed that Philip Hammond?s Budget would provide the coup de gr鈉e to this
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
struggling government. Yet there has been
no unravelling. The Chancellor lacked inspiration, but offered critics little to seize on.
Theresa May could yet end the year having successfully delivered a Budget and
cleared the biggest hurdle on the Brexit
talks, confounding those who thought the
negotiations would end in stalemate. If so,
she?ll find herself in the best position she?s
been in since before the general election.
This week, we have seen the fuss over
the publication of the Brexit impact assessments, of which edited versions have been
handed to the select committee on exiting
the EU. But how much use are these assessments anyway? We know how laughably
bad economic forecasts have proved to be
in the past, none more so than the gruesome
assessment published by George Osborne a
month before the 2016 referendum. Instead
of 500,000 fewer jobs, as that report envisaged, we now have 350,000 more jobs.
Brexit always was going to be a step into
the unknown, and no one can predict the
consequences with any accuracy. Moreover,
Brexit itself will not make the country richer
or stronger ? it is merely the removal of
a constraint. What happens after Brexit will
depend on the quality of decision-making in
10 Downing Street. When it no longer has
to process EU diktats (which take almost a
third of its time, by some of estimates) there
will be room for more decisions. They?d
better be the right ones.
For months, the future has seemed to
be a matter of either/or ? either we trade
freely with the EU or we make our own
way building new alliances elsewhere in the
world. If the result of the government?s offer
is that trade talks can begin and we can now
contemplate both of these things, it will be a
price worth paying.
3
Planet of the apes, p40
Mad Modigliani, p47
Tying the Windsor knot, p14
THE WEEK
3
Leading article
7
Portrait of the Week
9
Diary Meghan is a princess fit
for the Commonwealth
Robert Hardman
10 Politics The Tories? fate is in their hands
James Forsyth
11 The Spectator?s Notes
Meghan Markle, Young Marx and
Churchill the horseman
Charles Moore
17 Rod Liddle The new ?ism?
18 Barometer Prince Harry and
Meghan; the miners? strike pub crawl
19 From the archive Comradeship
20 Ancient and modern
Plutarch on animal rights
21 James Delingpole
Remainers will never ?get? Trump
23 Lionel Shriver Our Brexit ransom
24 Letters MP lawyers, timber-framed
homes and making marriage work
BOOKS & ARTS
BOOKS
26 Philip Hensher
Beneath Another Sky, by
Norman Davies
12 For richer, not poorer
Marriage is now an elite institution
Ed West
13 Nicola Healey
?Red Kite Shadow?: a poem
28 Nicholas Shakespeare
Darling Pol, edited by
Patrick Marnham
14 The trouble with Miss Markle
Prince Harry?s celebrity bride
Melanie McDonagh
29 Melanie McDonagh
on children?s books
16 Crossing the line
Ireland?s dangerous Brexit stance
David Trimble
30 Lee Langley
Malacqua, by Nicola Pugliese
18 The happy traitor
An encounter with George Blake
Simon Kuper
31 Harry Mount
The Fate of Rome, by Kyle Harper
Robert B. Ray
?Memphis, 1954?: a poem
20 Missed connection
I still mourn our country railways
Peter Hitchens
33 Claire Kohda Hazelton
The White Book, by Han Kang
22 Let Katie speak
Miss Hopkins should not be gagged
Elisa Segrave
Gary Dexter
Writers? Letters
34 Katrina Gulliver
1947: When Now Begins, by
Elizabeth 舠brink
Suzi Feay
Mother Land, by Paul Theroux
25 Any other business
Are prospects really looking up?
Martin Vander Weyer
36 Owen Matthews
The Palace Lady?s Summerhouse, by
Patricia Daunt
Deborah Ross is away.
37 Richard Davenport-Hines
Charley?s Woods, by Charles Duff
Cover by Morten Morland. Drawings by Michael Heath, Castro, K.J. Lamb, Russell, Kipper Williams, Wilbur, Robert Thompson, Grizelda, Nick Newman, Adam Singleton,
Geoff Thompson, NAF, Bernie www.spectator.co.uk Editorial and advertising The Spectator, 22 Old Queen Street, London SW1H 9HP, Tel: 020 7961 0200, Fax: 020 7681
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Vol 335; no 9875� 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 | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
Robot lovers, p44
MI6?s turncoat, p18
A child?s guide to the world, p29
LIFE
LIFE
38 Andrew Lambirth
on Geoffrey Clarke
39 Wynn Wheldon
He Played for his Wife and Other
Stories, edited by Anthony Holden
Louis Amis
Like a Fading Shadow, by Antonio
Mu駉z Molin
ARTS
40 Interview
Brett Morgen on the chimp lady
Mary Wakefield
42 The listener Bj鰎k: Utopia
Rod Liddle
Radio Reinventing radio
Kate Chisholm
44 Television
Sex robots and Naples, 1944
James Walton
Theatre
Everybody?s Talking About Jamie;
Bad Roads
Lloyd Evans
Ms Markle?s combination of
Hollywood, mixed ethnicity,
divorced parents, being divorced
herself and being older than her
fianc� ticks every modern box
Charles Moore, p11
55 High life Taki
Low life Jeremy Clarke
56 Real life Melissa Kite
57 Wine club Jonathan Ray
Bridge Susanna Gross
AND FINALLY . . .
50 Notes on?
Birdwatching in Sri Lanka
Robin Oakley
58 Chess Raymond Keene
Competition Lucy Vickery
59 Crossword Doc
60 Status anxiety Toby Young
Battle for Britain Michael Heath
61 The Wiki Man Rory Sutherland
Your problems solved
Mary Killen
62 Drink Bruce Anderson
Mind your language
Norman Davies is one of those
English visitors who can?t
distinguish between an untidy
part of an Indian city and real
deprivation. He manages to offend
a rickshaw driver by describing
Old Delhi as a slum
Philip Hensher, p26
Modigliani?s nudes belong to
an area of winsome early
modernism that brings Playboy
centrefolds to mind
Martin Gayford, p47
Dot Wordsworth
46 Cinema Happy End
Jasper Rees
47 Exhibitions Modigliani
Martin Gayford
48 New music Huddersfield
Contemporary Music Festival
Guy Dammann
CONTRIBUTORS
Elisa Segrave, the author of
The Girl from Station X: My
Mother?s Unknown Life, writes
about free speech and a furious
mob on p22.
Nicholas Shakespeare,
who reviews Mary Wesley?s
letters on p28, is the author
of Six Minutes in May: How
Churchill Unexpectedly
Became Prime Minister,
among other works.
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
Harry Mount is editor of the
Oldie and author of several
books, including Odyssey:
Ancient Greece in the Footsteps
of Odysseus. On page 31, he
reviews The Fate of Rome by
Kyle Harper.
Claire Kohda Hazelton is
a writer, critic and violinist. On
p33 she reviews Han Kang?s
new novel, The White Book.
Suzi Feay is a former literary
editor of The Independent
on Sunday. She sees off Paul
Theroux on p34.
5
Home
T
he engagement was announced of
Prince Henry of Wales, aged 33, and
the Los Angeles-born Meghan Markle,
an actress aged 36. They are to marry at
St George?s Chapel, Windsor, in May.
Ms Markle scotched rumours that she
might be a Catholic, declaring herself
a Protestant preparing to be baptised
into the Church of England and receive
Confirmation before the wedding. Though
Ms Markle is divorced, she has been
allowed to marry in a church service. The
couple told the broadcaster Mishal Husain
in a televised interview that they were
attempting to cook a chicken one day last
month when the prince went down on one
knee to propose. During the interview,
Prince Harry said: ?The corgis took to you
straight away.?
B
ritain agreed to a formula to decide
the sum that it must pay to leave the
European Union; the result would be up to
� billion. On 4 December Theresa May,
the Prime Minister, was to have lunch with
Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of
the European Commission. It was hoped
that the EU might this month allow talks
to progress to questions of trade. In the
meantime the Irish border remained a
baffling obstacle, although Liam Fox,
the International Trade Secretary, said
that there could be no final decisions
on the issue until Britain and the EU
reached a trade agreement. The Bank of
England reported that the British financial
system was strong enough to withstand a
?disorderly Brexit?. The UK Medicines and
Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency
allowed Viagra to be sold over the counter
in chemists? shops.
D
ame Professor Glynis Breakwell
resigned as vice-chancellor of the
University of Bath, where she had been
paid �8,000 a year, attracting some
criticism; but first she would take a year?s
sabbatical on full pay. Six British former
soldiers, who had been guarding a ship
against piracy in the Indian Ocean, were
released from an Indian prison four years
after being held on weapons charges. The
government published a White paper on
industrial strategy. Palmer and Harvey,
the wholesalers that supplied 90,000
shops, went into administration, with the
immediate loss of 2,500 jobs. Two big
pharmaceutical companies, Qiagen and
MSD, undertook to establish research
centres in London and Manchester. Sadiq
Khan, the Mayor of London, declared a
plan to make new public lavatories genderneutral: ?We need a range of toilets that
reflect the incredible diversity of this city.?
Abroad
N
orth Korea fired another
intercontinental ballistic missile,
which flew for about 1,000 kilometres and
fell into the Sea of Japan. On the island
of Bali, Mount Agung erupted; 100,000
people were told to move, a seven-mile
exclusion zone was set up and hundreds
of flights cancelled. The Pope made a fourday visit to Burma. President Emmerson
Mnangagwa, the new head of state in
Zimbabwe, offered an amnesty until the
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
end of February for the surrender of
public funds illegally stashed abroad.
Frances Fitzgerald resigned as the deputy
prime minister ?or t醤aiste ? of Ireland,
to avoid a snap general election. The EU
approved the use of glyphosate weedkiller
for another five years after Germany
changed its position from abstention to
approval.
A
n attack by supporters of Isis on a Sufi
mosque in northern Sinai in Egypt
killed more than 300 people. Ahmed Abu
Khattala, accused of being behind the
attack in 2012 on the American consulate
in Benghazi, Libya, in which the US
ambassador and three US guards died,
was found guilty of terrorist charges but
not guilty of murder. A coalition of Islamic
countries would ?pursue terrorism until it
is eradicated completely?, Crown Prince
Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia
told a meeting of its 40 members, which
exclude Iran, Syria and Iraq. A Saudiled coalition waging war on Shia rebels
in Yemen eased a blockade to allow the
docking of a UN ship which was loaded
with thousands of tons of wheat, enough to
feed 1.8 million people for a month.
B
itcoin, the cryptocurrency, teetered
on the brink of a value of $10,000 to
the bitcoin, against about $1,000 at the
beginning of the year. A tribunal in Perth,
Australia heard that an employee had
frequently gone off to play golf, concealing
his whereabouts by masking GPS signals
from his personal digital device by putting
it in an empty foil bag of Twisties, a cheesebased snack, acting as a Faraday cage. CSH
7
Robert Hardman
M
eghan Markle certainly knows
how to impress the in-laws. She
has announced that she and Prince
Harry are going to devote much of their
married life to the Commonwealth.
And we all know how much the
Commonwealth means to the Head
of the Commonwealth. In this week?s
interview to mark their engagement,
the future princess mentioned it twice
as she spoke of her ?passion? for all
the ?young people running around the
Commonwealth?. The Prince himself is
already plugged in to umpteen charities
on this patch, not least the excellent
Queen?s Young Leaders programme. It
is all music to the ears of a monarch who,
as a young princess herself, famously
pledged ?my whole life, whether it be
long or short? to this ?family of nations?.
T
Against: she backed Hillary. In fact, Mr
Trump is unlikely to be invited because
he is not a friend and this is not a state
occasion. Prince Harry is only fifth in line
to the throne and falls further with each
new royal arrival at the Lindo Wing.
But don?t rule out a presidential
presence. Prince Harry?s greatest
achievement is his Invictus Games. Two
great supporters have been the previous
occupants of the White House. It may
displease the Donald, but look out for the
Obamas at St George?s Chapel.
Corbyn?s response to the
Jeremy
engagement was warm and gracious.
T
he Commonwealth badly needs
a boost. It should have been all
over the news throughout the fall of
Robert Mugabe; it is perfectly placed
to help rebuild that troubled nation.
Yet, aside from a throwaway line from
Boris Johnson, we have barely heard
any mention at all. Sometimes it seems
that the FCO has dropped the C. Harry
and Meghan can now do wonders for its
profile. No wonder the Queen and her
corgis have taken a shine to the new girl.
Imagine if she turned to be good with a
horse, too.
?I hope they have great fun together,? he
told a Labour gathering, ?and having met
Harry, they are going to have a great deal
of fun.? But many Corbyn supporters
booed the media for even raising the
issue. Of course, it wouldn?t be a royal
wedding without a republican strop. On
the day Charles married Lady Diana, a
band of Labour firebrands organised a
cross-Channel away-day to escape the
?royalist orgy?. The ringleaders were
Harriet Harman and Peter Mandelson.
I
was sad to read of the death of Bill
Pitt, victor of the first by-election I
watched on television. His 1981 win for
the Liberal/SDP Alliance in Croydon
North West might have been historic, but
it is the celebrations which stick in the
mind. As a supporter sprayed him with
champagne, Grand Prix-style, Pitt was
incensed, shouting: ?My new suit!? By
chance, I met him on the 2015 election
trail at a meeting in Kent where he was
campaigning for Labour. I had to ask
him about his champagne moment.
?Everyone remembers it,? he laughed.
?And, do you know, I?ve still got the suit!?
T
wo golden rules of royal weddings.
First, it?s always wonderful on the
day. Second, there is always an almighty
official spat beforehand which no one
saw coming. When Prince Charles
married Lady Diana Spencer, there was a
Spanish boycott because the honeymoon
included Gibraltar. In 2011, Prince
William?s marriage plans had a crisis
moment when it turned out the guest list
had included the Syrian ambassador but
not ex-PMs Blair and Brown.
W
e can already spot one sensitive
issue. Should Donald Trump be
invited? For: the bride is American.
hat an engagement between a royal
prince and an American divorcee is
so uncontentious these days is, in part,
down to way society has changed since
the micro-reign of Edward VIII. But
it is also down to a piece of coalition
legislation of which David Cameron
and Nick Clegg are still very proud. This
will be the first royal marriage since the
Succession to the Crown Act of 2013
which ended male primogeniture and
the bar on marrying Catholics. It has also
served to ?normalise? royal marriage ?
in as much as there is anything ?normal?
about a wedding with commemorative
mugs, tea towels and a global TV
audience. So will there be invitations for
the Camerons and Cleggs?
Tagliatelle: Diamond, gold and silver rings
Cassandra Goad, 147 Sloane Street, London SW1X 9BZ
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
Telephone: 020 7730 2202 cassandragoad.com
Robert Hardman is the author of Our
Queen and a journalist at the Daily Mail.
9
POLITICS|JAMES FORSYTH
The Tories? fate is in their hands
H
ow will the Tory party remember
2017? Will it be the year it lost its
majority, alienated key sections
of the electorate and paved the way for a
Jeremy Corbyn premiership? Or the year
when uncertainty about Britain?s future
relationship with the European Union
peaked, when debt finally began to fall and
the Tory party resisted the temptation of a
Corn Laws-style split? We won?t know for
several years. What we can say with confidence is that Brexit will prove key to determining which view of 2017 wins out.
On Monday, Theresa May heads to Brussels for a meeting with the European Commission. Over lunch, she will set out what
Britain is prepared to offer on the financial
settlement, EU citizens? rights and the Irish
border. In the days that follow, Juncker will
tell the EU member states what has been
proposed and a verdict will be reached on
whether there has been ?sufficient progress?
to move on to trade and transition.
If the EU won?t agree to go to the next
stage, the British government will walk away
from the talks. Or, at least, it wants the EU to
think it will. I have been struck in recent days
by how those who are normally very careful
about the language they use, even in private,
have been talking about how insufficient
progress this month will mean ?curtains for
the process?. Even those in the cabinet most
keen for a deal are quick to point out that
it would be very hard to keep negotiating if
the EU swallows every British concession,
then demands more.
In Whitehall a sense that there will be
?sufficient progress? prevails. Government
sources say they are close enough on citizens? rights and the divorce settlement that
the Irish border will not derail them. One
figure close to the negotiations tells me that
they are confident they can come up with a
?higher form of words? on the border to give
the pugnacious Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
?a ladder to climb down?. They also believe
that the larger member states will lean on
Dublin to let the talks move forward.
There is another possibility. The EU
could say that the UK has made enough
progress to move on to sorting out the transition, but that more is needed on the Irish
border before trade talks can begin.
It is easy to make the case for Tory pessimism about the party?s prospects. There
are still dozens of ways in which Brexit can
go wrong. The cabinet has not discussed, let
10
alone agreed, precisely what kind of relationship with the EU the UK should be
seeking. When cabinet ministers press May
on this, she likes to tell them that ?We can?t
get into crossing every T and dotting every
I.? But beyond the basics of leaving the single market and the customs union, the UK
hasn?t even started sketching out the details
of the kind of trade deal it wants.
There remains a distinct possibility that
the Brexit talks could break down. But since
the referendum result, the UK has made pitifully little progress towards being prepared
for a ?no deal? scenario. Even if an agreement is reached, there is bound to be some
short-term economic uncertainty around
Brexit. All of this will make it harder for the
With Brexit done, passions should
cool, allowing the Conservatives
to woo back those Remain voters
Tories to attack Jeremy Corbyn as a threat to
economic stability at the next election. The
Tories will struggle to pose as the safety-first
party, given that they are seeing through the
most radical change in the governance of
Britain in 40-odd years. So the most obvious
attack line on Corbyn ? that he is simply
too much of a risk ? won?t have nearly as
much potency as it would in normal times.
Another problem for the Tories is that
by the time of the next election, they?ll have
been in power for 12 years. After more than
a decade in office, voters think everything
that is wrong is your fault. The Tories have
taken to talking about Labour?s great recession when they try to explain why spending
cuts have been necessary. But the truth is that
by 2022, few voters will be thinking about
Gordon Brown when they go to the polls.
The electoral arithmetic also favours
Labour. There are 68 seats they can win with
a swing of under 4 per cent, enough not only
to put Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street but
also to give him an overall majority.
But there are, for the first time since
the general election, reasons for the Tories
to think that their glass is half-full. For
what it is worth, Labour has not pulled
ahead decisively in the polls. This suggests
a large section of the public remains resistant to the idea of Corbyn as prime minister.
The Tories can also take cheer from the
fact that Britain will be out of the EU by the
time of the next election. With Brexit done,
legally if not practically, passions should
cool, allowing them to woo back those
Remain voters who abandoned the party
in 2017. It?s hard to believe that the 39 per
cent of Financial Times readers who voted
Labour in June all wanted John McDonnell as chancellor. The Tories will be helped
in this process by having a new leader, who
won?t be associated with some of the more
divisive rhetoric of the May era. They?ll
be better placed to patch things up with
the citizens of nowhere and to move the
country on from the tensions over Brexit.
This new Tory leader?s aim should be
to emulate Harold Macmillan. He became
prime minister after Suez, an event that split
the country just as bitterly as Brexit has.
When he came to office, he was the third
Tory prime minister in a row, as May?s successor will be, and the party looked tired
after being in government for five-and-a-half
years. But he reinvigorated the Tories, bound
up the domestic and diplomatic wounds that
Suez had caused, and set about showing that
?life?s better under the Conservatives?. At the
general election two years later, the party
substantially increased its majority.
If the Tories are to show that life is better under them, then they will have to take
another leaf out of Macmillan?s book and
build more houses. Intellectually, the government knows that. But until it embraces
proper planning reform, it won?t be able to
reverse the decline in home ownership.
What the Tories mustn?t forget is that
their fate remains largely in their own hands.
They still have four years to show voters
that life is better under them than it would
be under Jeremy Corbyn.
SPECTATOR.CO.UK/COFFEEHOUSE
?North Korea?s a worry.?
Hourly updates from Parliament
and beyond.
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
Charles Moore
W
e are congratulating ourselves and
the royal family on overcoming
prejudice by welcoming Meghan
Markle?s engagement to Prince Harry.
But in fact this welcome is cost-free:
Ms Markle?s combination of Hollywood,
mixed ethnicity, divorced parents, being
divorced herself and being older than her
fianc� ticks almost every modern box. It
was harder, surely, for Kate Middleton.
She was simply middle-class, Home
Counties, white, and with no marital
past ? all media negatives. Her mother
was a former flight assistant. People
made snobby jokes about ?cabin doors
to manual?. There was nothing ?edgy?
about Kate that could be romanticised.
Luckily, she is also beautiful, sensible
and cheerful, and politely concealed her
successful struggle to gain the respect
due to the bourgeoisie. This must have
required quiet courage. For similar
reasons, Malia Obama?s reported love for
Rory Farquharson, despite his crippling
disadvantage of having been head boy of
Rugby, is a bolder assault on the barriers
of prejudice than is our acceptance of the
future Princess Meghan.
?I
ndustrial strategy? must be added to
this column?s collection of phrases
which automatically lower the spirits.
Others include ?replacement bus service?,
?all the toys? and ?smart casual?. There
is literally no need for any government
to have one ? what industrial strategy
built Silicon Valley? ? and it is literally
impossible to remember, when one
has been announced, what it is. (If you
doubt me, try reading Greg Clark?s ?Our
vision to make Britain fit for the future?
in Tuesday?s Daily Telegraph.) Its sole
raison d?阾re is presentational: it is (sadly)
considered better to claim you have a
plan than to explain why you don?t. So
the highest true praise for any industrial
strategy is that it will make no difference.
On that basis, this latest one is quite good.
L
ike most people, we loved the
new Bridge Theatre set up by
Nick Hytner, but were a bit puzzled
by its opening play Young Marx. It is
uncertain in tone. Some is good satire
? the theorising of emigr� intellectuals
contrasted with their ropey practices.
Some is slapstick ? an extraneous scene
when everyone, including Charles Darwin,
starts punching one another in the Reading
Room of the British Museum. Some is
tragic ? the death of Marx?s son Fawkesy.
Only the satire works. Marx?s revolutionary
thinking and drinking were supported by
the profits of Engels?s father?s cotton mill
in Manchester, so the facts are comic in
themselves. Marx once said that the people
would hang the last capitalist with the rope
he had sold them; but Engels, the reluctant
capitalist, worked for 20 years in the family
business to give Marx the rope gratis. In
the play, Engels (Oliver Chris) is slightly
two-dimensional, but manly and generous.
He also looks perfectly Victorian, like a
?swell? depicted by John Leech. This is
appropriate, because Engels?s main expense
apart from working for the dictatorship of
the proletariat, was foxhunting. As Tristram
Hunt recounts in his biography, Engels
was a bold leaper in the front field of the
Cheshire Hunt under the Mastership of the
future Duke of Westminster. In the House
of Lords debate in 2004, Ian Gilmour,
former editor of this paper, cited Engels?s
love of venery as a socialist argument
against a hunting ban: ?old communism was
much more sensible than New Labour?.
A
nother man who hunted with a Duke
of Westminster (jackal hunting with
the Cape Hunt in 1900, boar hounds in
France in the 1920s) was Winston Churchill.
I strongly recommend Brough Scott?s new
book Churchill at the Gallop. Churchill
rode for about 70 years, from his first
outing, aged four, on a donkey in Emo Park,
Co. Laois, to his last hunt, on Geronimo,
with the Old Surrey and Burstow, when he
was leader of the opposition and protesting
against a potential hunting ban in 1948. His
adventures on horseback included taking
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
part in the cavalry charge at Omdurman
in 1898, being part of the team that won
the inter-regimental polo championship
in Meerut in 1899, and riding forward to
relieve Ladysmith. In 1901, he managed
13 days? hunting with shire packs in
November and December, despite being
a Member of Parliament. His cavalry
training saved his life after Spion Kop,
when the Boers ambushed his party. His
saddle slipped and he fell, but he called
out to a scout ?Give me a stirrup? and
leapt up behind him ? a real-life, grownup version of ?Two Little Boys? by the
now disgraced Rolf Harris.
T
here are two fascinations in the
story. The first is how horses tested
and shaped Churchill?s character.
Sometimes he was so bumptious that
one sympathises with Lord North, who
saw him fall into a brook while hunting
with the Warwickshire and wrote in his
diary, ?If he had been drowned, it would
have saved England from the disgrace of
having such a SKUNK for a minister.? But
on the whole, the zest and courage excuse
the rest. Scott quotes a contemporary
description of WSC playing polo aged
50: ?Abruptly he sees his chance, and he
gathers his pony and charges in, neither
deft nor graceful but full of tearing
physical energy ? and skilful with it
too.? The second, which Scott conveys
so well, is the central importance of the
horse in what we now call ?networking?
in the years before the first world war.
Churchill?s ambition needed horses to
help him vault high. Scott says Churchill
?rode more extensively than any British
Prime Minister before or since?. This is
contestable ? what about Wellington? ?
but none used the horse more effectively
as part of what revolutionaries call ?the
propaganda of the deed?.
B
y the way, Churchill at least once
paid a highly controversial visit to a
foreign leader while on holiday. When
he was chancellor of the exchequer in
1927, he met Mussolini in Rome, and
congratulated him on his ?triumphant
struggle against the bestial appetites and
passions of Leninism?. The Liberal and
Labour press was furious, but WSC did
not suffer the fate of Priti Patel.
11
The marriage gap
Weddings are out of fashion but only at the bottom of the social scale
ED WEST
W
hatever their views about the
monarchy, most people will warm
to the news of Prince Harry and
Meghan Markle?s engagement. Sentimental
as it sounds, I was surprised by how much
I enjoyed the last royal wedding and how
happy I felt for Prince William and Kate
Middleton, as she was then. It was one of
those rare events when you felt lucky to
live in a good country with a bright future.
A marriage is, after all, the ultimate statement of confidence in the future ? and God
knows, we could all do with that right now.
Marriage is not easy and
never has been, as Harry will
know from his own childhood. Nevertheless, people have always accepted
that marital unions and stable families make society
healthier, happier and more
prosperous. That?s why we
celebrate them so publicly,
and always have done.
For example, every July
at Great Dunmow in Essex,
a ?flitch? (side) of bacon is
awarded to a happy couple
who can convince a panel
that they have not regretted getting married for ?a
year and a day?. The Dunmow Flitch Trials, which date
to the 12th century, represent an early instance of the
authorities offering incentives to people to marry and
stay together.
Now it?s said that marriage is under threat in British society. It
was recently revealed that almost half of
children are born to unmarried parents; this
figure, however, hides a bit of divergence.
For the well-off, marriage rates are high, and
have stayed high. It?s for those lower down
the income scale that family life is changing.
There was no marriage gap between rich
and poor a couple of generations ago, but
one has been opening up. The Office for
National Statistics divides Britain into seven
social classes. According to a study prepared
for The Spectator, someone in the top class
(i.e., company directors, university lecturers, etc) is 48 per cent more likely to be mar12
ried than someone in the bottom social class
(builders, office cleaners). At the turn of the
century, the gap was 22 per cent. To those
who think marriage is a quaint irrelevance,
such figures don?t matter. But if you think
that marriage is the most powerful sponsor of health, wealth and education, then it
ought to be alarming. A new inequality is
being bred in our society. Why?
Figures for the proportion of children
born outside marriage seldom rose above
five per cent from the Victorian era right up
to the 1960s. Then things started to change.
By the time of Prince Charles and Lady
Diana?s wedding, in 1981, it was 13 per cent.
Since then, it has almost quadrupled. And
the decline of marriage has been far more
pronounced in working-class areas than
in genteel middle England. The Marriage
Foundation recently discovered that 87 per
cent of mothers from higher income groups
are married today, compared with just 24
per cent of those at the other end of the
social scale.
Marriage is in very healthy shape for the
upper middle class. Indeed, for all their progressive politics, the haute bourgeoisie are
highly conservative in their behaviour. Even
in the very liberal part of London where I
live (82 per cent Remain), few people live
what Channel 4 used to call ?alternative lifestyles?. Sure, most of the mothers go back
to work after their children enter full-time
education, but then the local schools also
depend on volunteer parents, mostly mothers, to be the social glue holding everything
together, just as their grannies did. As one
of the other local dads said to me, observing the contradiction between how right-on
people are in their politics and how traditional in their lives: ?I like it around here, it?s
sort of like the 1950s, isn?t it??
This is what the sociologist Charles Murray means
when he asks that America?s
ruling class ?preach what they
practise?; that is, self-control,
restraint, monogamy and, if
necessary, abstinence. These
ideas are unfashionable precisely because the wealthier
and better-educated find them
easier to live by.
But what explains the social
marriage gap? Conservatives
tend to blame cultural factors (declining ?family values?),
whereas liberals cite economics. There is truth in both.
Earlier this year, economists at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology found
that marriage was a casualty of
deindustrialisation. In regions
where well paid working-class
male jobs had declined, due
to technology or globalisation,
marriage rates had fallen sharply. In stark
economic terms, non-college-educated
men struggle to support a family nowadays
in much of the West. Indeed, two-thirds of
unwed Americans cite finances as a reason
for not marrying.
These changing patterns are partly
shaped by a welfare state that allows for
lower-income women to scrape by with children without the need for a suitable mate, of
whom there are now increasingly few available. And scrape by they do. In Britain, 47
per cent of children in lone- parent families
live in relative poverty, almost twice the proportion of those whose parents live together.
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
Red Kite Shadow
Whether those parents are married or just
cohabiting makes a huge difference to life
chances, since unmarried couples are six
times more likely to break up before their
first child?s fifth birthday.
The controversy here is about which way
the causal arrow points: are committed and
self-controlled people more likely to get
married in the first place, or does the act
of marriage help keep people together? Is
it causation or correlation? The Centre for
Social Justice, while admitting it is a chicken and egg question, is confident that ?even
after controlling for socio-economic status
and education, research shows cohabiting
couples are between 2 and 2.5 times more
likely to break up than equivalent married
couples?.
For ages, there has been talk about ending the ?marriage penalty?, whereby the welfare system makes couples poorer together
than they are apart. But progress is slow.
When Universal Credit was set up by Iain
Duncan Smith, the Liberal Democrats were
able to say that the single parents who married would be �000 worse off.
It?s easy to sneer at the idea of people
marrying for money but financial interests have always played a part in people?s
I saw a kite-shaped shadow
fly out of mine
and knew I wasn?t alone.
A forked wave of darkness,
light and low.
A flicker of fear.
The thrill of the split
blink between knowing
and looking for
its real floating presence
(a seized heart, a wing-beat).
I swung my head
and was blinded,
so could not see to look
through dotted black suns.
To see your shadow take wing
and no bird
is a strange thing.
In regions where well paid workingclass male jobs had declined, marriage
rates had fallen sharply
decision to marry. Until the industrial
revol ution, as many as 20 per cent of
Western Europeans did not marry at all,
largely because of financial inability,
rising to a quarter in troubled regions like
Ireland.
It may just be that the last century will
be remembered as an anomaly, a time when
we had a manufacturing-based economy in
which working-class men were as likely as
their bosses to have families. In Britain, the
cost of living, especially housing, puts family
formation beyond the reach of many people whose social equivalents a generation
ago would have found it manageable. We
see, today, something of a return to single
living: three times as many millennials are
remaining chaste as Generation Xers were
at the same age; they are having less sex and
fewer relationships, and spending more time
on the internet than they do interacting with
the opposite sex.
The marriage gap is widening all the
time because pregnancy, marriage, and
divorce are contagious. If close friends or
peers break up, the chances of your marriage ending increase by 75 per cent,
according to a 2010 study; people with
divorced friends in their social circle are
more than twice as likely to get divorced
themselves. Likewise, middle-class unmarried men still face social pressure to do the
honourable thing and pop the question,
not by any overt pressure but by the sim-
An angle of sun-swallowed flight
shifted and swerved
like a page being turned.
? Nicola Healey
ple example of their friendship group. For
poorer families, that sense of expectation
? obligation, even ? has diminished, while
the wealthier accrue the financial benefits
of pooling their resources.
The problems pile up, especially for boys,
when they not only lack a father-figure but
when everyone else in their social circle
does too. Even when middle-class families
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
?I?m already bored with the royal
wedding ? what?s the latest on Brexit??
do break up, the children are more insulated from the blast, more likely to have positive role models to replace a father, and
much less likely to be threatened by a violent unrelated male. This makes the game of
life, always skewed against poorer children,
a complete fix.
How much does the government care?
The answer is not very much. About a decade ago, David Cameron said he?d be the
most pro-marriage leader the Tories have
had in his lifetime, but his enthusiasm
cooled quickly. Jeremy Corbyn is unlikely
to be talking about family values, which is
a shame because a true social justice warrior would be obsessed with this issue. Marriage is becoming a luxury item, a trend that
is likely to cause ever-increasing inequality
down the generations. Any government that
is genuinely concerned about helping those
at the bottom should think about what it
could do to make marriage for the many,
not the few. Maybe free bacon is not such a
terrible idea.
13
The trouble with Miss Markle
Is Prince Harry?s fianc閑 really such good news?
MELANIE MCDONAGH
?T
he thing is,? said my friend, after
the broadcast of the engagement
interview with Meghan Markle and
Prince Harry, ?you can?t imagine actually
bowing or curtseying to her, can you?? That
is pretty well the crux of the engagement
issue: can you see yourself doing either in
the case of the newest prospective member
of the Windsor family? Personally, I would
curtsey to the Queen and I have done to
Prince Philip; I would draw the
line at Camilla, and I wouldn?t
dream of curtseying to Meghan.
My friend was in fact A.N.
Wilson, biographer of, inter alia,
Queen Victoria. It was a blessed
relief to talk to someone who
wasn?t swimming with the tide
of inutterable drivel that?s been
spoken and written about the
engagement since it happened.
?It was like being in a bloody
Hollywood movie,? I said. ?Yes,?
Mr Wilson said. ?A very bad
one.? His view, one that I heartily subscribe to, is that in happier
days, the royals would find their
marriage partners from a pool of
about 150 people, most of them
relations of Queen Victoria.
Chosen by their parents.
The more I think about it, the
more I reckon we are, in fact, in
the middle of a really bad
version of Love Actually, only
with Meghan a bit more of a
Julia Roberts figure: same dewy
look, same lips, same borderline
goofiness cut with inner steel and
an adorably wonky nose.
The improbable union of an
American actress with British royalty has,
in fact, a horrible congruity to it. Ever since
Princess Diana, royalty has elided with
celebrity; with Meghan Markle, we?re now in
Princess-theme territory. It?s like that grisly
Disney film Enchanted, where fairytale princess meets contemporary America: you?ve
got all the trappings of monarchy only with
white teeth, a glossy manicure and a Hollywood accent. Oh, plus the corgis. Meghan
got on well with them, apparently.
Anyway. The tide of drivel that has greet14
ed her arrival among the royal family does
need unpicking, and you can select pretty well any pundit from the commentariat
as a case in point; their views are identical,
though some columns are prefaced with
the face-saving formula: ?as an instinctive
Republican??
First off, Meghan Markle?s ethnicity
hardly seems relevant. Her mother is African-American. So? It ought not to be an
issue. If anything it?s a positive, but it isn?t
a big deal.
The more interesting notion is that she?s
a feminist. She has spoken about women?s
rights. She campaigns about tampons and
menstruation and writes about ?how periods affect potential? in poor countries. This
is an important issue, but the notion that
feminism is a brave and forward-looking
mindset rather than a reflexive and conventional one is nonsense. There are indeed
royals who try to advance the condition of
women: Mary Donaldson, the Danish crown
princess from Australia, has spoken well
on female genital mutilation ? but others
know more about it.
Is it really doing young women any
favours to suggest they aspire to the
condition of a Netflix actress in Suits? A
role in which looks are everything; where
the ability to look good in size-eight clothes
is the sine qua non? I?d have more patience
with the line that she is an independent career woman if the
career in question were plumbing or accountancy. But for little girls to be sold the notion
that the route to success is to be
groomed and glossy isn?t doing
much for ordinary girls. It?s to
underpin the cult of celebrity,
here by eliding two sorts of it:
royalty and Netflix.
Then there?s Prince Harry,
who has been ill-served by the
contemporary cult of emotional openness. He seems a pleasant person, if not particularly
bright; the old, Prince Andrew,
model of royal duty would have
served him better.
The point remains that
Meghan Markle is unsuitable because she?s divorced,
and Anglican canon law suggests that the remarriage of
people with living former
spouses should not happen
if the marriage would bring
the Anglican ideal of lifelong marriage into disrepute.
As this does, and as Prince
Charles?s second marriage
does. Funnily enough, Mishal Husain did
not raise the question of Meghan?s first
husband, the film producer Trevor Engelson, in her TV interview with the couple, but Engelson has successfully pitched
a proposal for a series about an American who loses his wife to a British royal.
We?ll have to see how that plays out.
I?m all for marriage. I?m just not sure this
one is entirely good news for the monarchy.
Or for that more important institution:
matrimony.
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
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Crossing the line
The Irish government is dragging Brexit into dangerous territory
DAVID TRIMBLE
W
hen I negotiated the Good Friday Agreement nearly 20 years
ago, no one foresaw a day when
the United Kingdom would be leaving the
European Union. It was impossible to imagine how the issue of the border between
Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic,
from which the barriers were removed as
part of the agreement, would again become
an issue of such political importance.
We have the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar,
threatening to veto the Brexit negotiations
unless Theresa May gives a formal written
guarantee that there will be no hard border,
and we keep hearing the argument that a
departure of the UK from the single market
and the customs union would put at risk the
peace process and Good Friday Agreement.
In other words, if the border gates go back up
again we will be back into the Troubles.
This cannot go unchallenged. The reason
the issue of the border has been brought
up in the way it has is not because of any
practical reasons but because of the internal politics of the Irish Republic. The Taoiseach has been in desperate negotiations
with other party leaders in order to prevent a general election being triggered. He
is snarling at London, trying to make a big
issue about the border, because he is worried Sinn Fein might benefit if he does not.
It is not true that Brexit in any way
threatens the peace process. There is nothing
in the Good Friday Agreement which even
touches on the normal conduct of business
between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Leaving the EU does not affect the
agreement because the EU had nothing to
do with it ? except that Michel Barnier
turned up at the last moment for a photo
opportunity. The EU does have a peace and
reconciliation programme for Northern Ireland but there is no provision for it in the
EU budget. It is financed from loose change
in the drawer of the European Commission.
What would threaten the peace process,
on the other hand, is Dublin?s suggestion
that the border question could be solved by
the UK having an internal border running
down the Irish Sea, with mainland Britain
leaving the single market and the customs
16
union and Northern Ireland remaining
within them.
The Belfast Agreement recognises
British sovereignty in Northern Ireland, and
recognises Northern Ireland as part of the
UK. To have provisions treating us as if we
are not part of the UK is clearly contrary to
that agreement and is something no unionist
is going to support.
Once it begins to dawn on the unionist electorate that the Irish government
is trying to break up the UK then we are
into very dangerous territory indeed. The
government needs to quash this idea very
quickly, and make it clear that we will not
To treat Northern Ireland as if we
are not part of the United Kingdom is
something no unionist will support
have any damage done to our constitution.
I do not want to go back to the days
of fences and barriers any more than does
anyone else. But then neither does Theresa
May. The government has repeatedly made
it clear that it has no intention of putting up
border posts on its side of the border. But
it can?t give assurances that the EU won?t
insist on border checks on the southern side.
That will be an external EU border, and it
will be the EU?s decision.
There is no reason from our point of
view why the border cannot remain open.
We already have to deal with the issue
?No, I?m afraid we don?t do divorce kits.?
of smuggling because, in spite of the single market, there remain differences
in regulations and duties. When I was first
minister there was a big problem with smuggling diesel. I brought this up with Tony
Blair, but I suspect it was allowed to go on
partly because former leading members of
the IRA were deeply involved in it.
Then there is the issue of migration. A
couple of years ago the Irish police stopped a
vehicle that had come over the border from
Northern Ireland into the Republic carrying
half a dozen people who were travelling to
work, but had no right to work there. They
sent them straight back again. The border
has never gone away entirely. There is no
reason it can?t continue to be policed without hard barriers, even after Brexit.
It is illogical for the EU to demand an
agreement on the border before it will even
discuss a trade agreement. We don?t know
what the terms of the trade agreement will
be, so how could anyone know what kind
of a border would be needed? We might
end up with an agreement where we don?t
have tariffs ? in which case the whole issue
would ease considerably.
The real reason why the border has
become such an issue is that Sinn Fein is
trying to exploit Brexit to break up the UK.
And the whole reason Sinn Fein collapsed
in Northern Ireland?s assembly is because its
leaders realised that if they were serving in
British institutions ? and the Northern Ireland Assembly is a British institution ? it
would be much harder for them to do this.
What Leo Varadkar is doing is trying
to appeal to Sinn Fein voters. He hasn?t
learned the lesson that some Irish nationals
have painfully learned in Northern Ireland:
that you can?t out-Sinn Fein Sinn Fein. All
he is doing is validating its position. For its
own reasons, the EU is egging him on.
It just shows you how desperate the
EU and Irish nationalists are that they?re
clutching at these straws.
David Trimble was First Minister of
Northern Ireland from 1998 to 2002 and
shared the Nobel Peace Prize for his work
on the Good Friday Agreement.
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
ROD LIDDLE
Raising ?awareness? always ends in lunacy
T
he deaf are beginning to annoy me.
They seem, paradoxically, more
voluble than the blind. Perhaps this
is because, understandably, deaf people
suspect that their voices are not being heard.
Which of course they are not, literally, by
other deaf people ? and in some cases this
must lead to a state of suffocating paranoia.
Anyway, the severely deaf American
singer Mandy Harvey has received death
threats from some of her country?s deaf
community because she, er, sings ? i.e.,
she is promoting a ?hearing? activity and is
thus guilty of perpetuating something called
?oralism?. It is always a pleasure to bring
you a new ?ism? coined by a new tranche of
enraged victims. Oralism is the favouring of
lip-reading techniques over sign language
in the education of deaf people, and a hefty
bunch of militant deaf people believe it to
be a form of cultural imperialism because,
they would assert, signing is every bit as rich
as the spoken language.
So they have their victim bunker and
they are hunkering down behind it, rather
like the militant deaf people who object to
people getting cochlear implants because
it somehow betrays the cause and removes
someone from their pristinely deaf community. Any connivance with the hearing world
is a betrayal, be it singing, or indeed being
afforded the ability to hear. Anything which
helps the deaf better integrate with the
rest of us.
This is a militancy which defies rationality,
I would suggest. A controversial argument, I
know, but I would advance the proposition
that it is better to be able to hear than not
to be able to hear and that any technique
applied to that cause is to be commended,
rather than construed (with fury, death
threats and bile) as a kind of Uncle Tom-ism,
a sop to the oppressive hearing scum who
rule the planet. And yet this view of mine
is routinely condemned by even averagely
militant deaf people, many of whom would
deny that being deaf is a disability at all.
Incidentally, I have heard Mandy Harvey
sing and her pitch is perfect, exquisite. Even
with clever electronic guidance, I don?t
know how she manages that: her ability is
astonishing. It is horrible to think that even
while she is on stage some jihadi of deafness
sitting in a dank basement flat and swathed
by righteousness is furiously plotting her
end, ready to ?sign? the equivalent of ?Allahu
Akbar? as he makes his move.
And yet, in fairness, the militant deaf are
only following the template laid down by
countless other bastions of real or acquired
victimhood. What begins as an admirable
and necessary attempt to raise our awareness of iniquity in society almost always
ends, somewhere down the line, in a form
of lunacy. This is true of feminism, anti-racism, transgenderism, gay rights and especially, perhaps, the disability lobby. It always
begins with advocacy groups insisting,
almost certainly rightly, that their particular
tranche of victims are wrongly discriminat-
It is always a pleasure to bring
you a new ?ism? coined by a new
tranche of enraged victims
ed against. But it is in the nature of advocacy groups ? and human beings in general
? that they cannot simply clap their hands,
cheer and close down their organisations
when legislative battles establishing equal
rights have been nobly won. They carry on
and on and on. Whereas once they insisted
that iniquities occurred because the victim
groups they supported were a small minority, they now expand their remit and argue
almost the opposite, almost always to the
disservice of the people they were representing in the first place.
So it is, for example, with the disability
lobby, who will tell you that one in three
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
?For God?s sake, don?t let the public
see his human side!?
British people is ?disabled? in some way
or another. No they?re not. Not remotely.
We may have a touch of sciatica or eyesight which diminishes year on year, but
we are not quadriplegic or blind or deaf.
Of course, if you are an advocacy group
it is more profitable to be advocating on
behalf of 20 million people than two million, and you will catch the ear of the government rather more easily. Gay lobby
groups regularly inform us that one in three,
or one in five, or (at the lower end) one in
ten of us is homosexual. An attempt to show
that homosexuality is not a deviation from
the norm, but actually part of the norm.
Nope: the official figures suggest that 2 per
cent, at most, of the population is gay: all
TV weathermen, 40 per cent of actors and
some rugby union players. That?s about it.
And then comes the next stage of
the advocacy paradigm. It is no longer enough to insist that your previously
beleaguered client group is equal to the
rest of the population ? now it is imperative to assert they are superior, and that
the majority population should recognise
this fact. So it is with those who argue that
it is better not to hear, that sign language
is superior to that awful thing, oralism.
In pursuing an anti-racist agenda, campaigners end up arguing (as they have
done with Black Lives Matter) that white
people should give up their houses so
that black people can move into them.
That being white confers what they refer
to as ?privilege? ? but what they mean is
a definitively lower state of being, a kind
of parasite, someone to be discriminated
against. And too often our rulers are so
terrified of causing offence ? through the
micro-aggression of not clamping down
harder on the oppressor ? that they give in.
So perhaps it is a little harsh to single out
those militants within the deaf community
for special opprobrium: they are only
following the trail left by every other advocacy group. And an apology ? I suggested
earlier that it was better to be able to hear
than not be able to hear. I still think this is
true in almost all cases. But not when Tina
Brown?s incalculably boring, self-regarding
diaries are being serialised by BBC Radio 4.
Then, I grant you, it?s better to be deaf.
17
The spy who stayed
out in the cold
BAROMETER
Pit stopped
After complaints from the Durham Miners?
Association, a rugby club at Durham
University cancelled a pub crawl in which
members were to dress as coal miners or
ministers from Mrs Thatcher?s government.
? Attitudes towards the 1984-85
miners? strike were not always so
censorious. In 2001, the conceptual artist
Jeremy Deller staged a re-enactment of
the Battle of Orgreave, involving 800
re-enactment enthusiasts as well as 200
miners who had been there on the day.
Staged at Orgreave itself, it was filmed and
shown on Channel 4 with few complaints.
Ups and downs
Which industries saw the biggest rises and
falls in real-terms productivity (i.e., greater
than inflation) since 2007? CPI inflation
over the period was 25.9 per cent.
rising real-terms productivity
Textiles ............................................... +90%
Administration services ................... +72%
Chemicals .......................................... +62%
Food and drink .................................. +37%
Hotels and catering .......................... +36%
Transport and services...................... +30%
Wholesale and retail ......................... +27%
Recreation and culture .................... +26%
falling real-terms productivity
Energy ................................................ +23%
Agriculture ........................................ +15%
Construction...................................... +14%
IT ........................................................ +13%
Finance and insurance...................... +11%
Public services ................................... +10%
Mining and quarrying........................ -13%
Source: ONS
Second tries
Prince Harry, a bachelor, is to marry
Meghan Markle, a divorcee. How common
are such marriages? In 2011, the 249,133
recorded UK unions broke down as follows:
Neither party married before ...... 165,467
Single man, divorced woman.......... 21,265
Divorced man, single woman ......... 24,302
Both divorced................................... 30,282
No data................................................ 7,817
An encounter with double agent George Blake
SIMON KUPER
I
suspect George Blake, the MI6 officer
turned KGB double agent, would enjoy
toddling over to the Hampstead Theatre
to see himself in the new production of
Simon Gray?s play Cell Mates. The problem
is that the instant he landed at Heathrow,
he?d be arrested and made to serve the
remaining 37 years of his 42-year jail sentence, which was rudely interrupted by his
escape from Wormwood Scrubs in 1966.
When I met him at his dacha near Moscow in May 2012, I found a shrunken old
man. He was then 89, with a straggly beard,
false teeth, slippers and a cane. Only his
deceiver?s charm remained intact. He stood
waiting for me in the lane outside, then led
me through a door into his vast garden.
?This house, you would not believe it, was
built before the Revolution,? he marvelled.
Here is where he entertained Kim Philby
on weekends in the 1970s, until the two
traitors fell out.
Blake (who is still alive today) sat and
talked amiably for hours. At times I struggled to remind myself that in the 1950s this
half-blind geriatric had given the KGB
the names of several hundred British
agents, most of them living behind the Iron
Curtain. About 40 are reckoned to have
been killed. Many others spent years in jail.
Dick White, who was ?C? at MI6 when Blake
was exposed in 1961, assessed the damage
he did as ?much worse than Philby?.
Still lives
The Department of Health announced it
would investigate every stillbirth. How does
Britain compare internationally? Figures
are for stillbirths in every 1,000 births.
lowest
highest
Finland ............. 2.0 Pakistan .......... 46.7
Singapore ......... 2.0 Nigeria ............ 41.1
Denmark.......... 2.2 Bangladesh..... 36.4
Norway............. 2.2 Djibouti .......... 33.9
Iceland.............. 2.4 Senegal ........... 33.8
Germany .......... 2.4 Somalia ........... 30.1
UK (35th) ........ 3.5 Source: WHO
?They are wise aren?t they??
18
If Blake could catch the play, about his
early Moscow days, he might reflect that
the subsequent half-century has worked
out rather well for him. Cell Mates premiered in London in 1995 but was suspended after three shows when Stephen
Fry (playing Blake) escaped to Belgium,
plagued by bipolar disorder. The production soon closed. But Gray?s play deserves
its revival. In Hampstead it stars Geoffrey
Streatfeild as Blake and Emmet Byrne as
his Irish rescuer, Sean Bourke.
The play ? which draws on Bourke?s
and Blake?s memoirs ? doesn?t stray far
from reality. The two men met as fellow
prisoners in the Scrubs. Soon after Bourke
was released, he sprang Britain?s greatest
traitor alone, without KGB help, by the
simple means of throwing a rope ladder
I sensed that whenever any
murdered agents surfaced before
his mind?s eye, he repressed them
over the prison wall, and then scraping him
up after he crashed painfully to earth. As a
minor character in Cell Mates remarks: ?It?s
like something out of a ? a comic book!?
The play?s director, Edward Hall, says
his actors struggled to believe the story
of the escape.
The two fugitives hid for weeks in a
Hampstead flat, a short walk from the
theatre. Eventually they legged it separately to Moscow, where they shared a flat
under KGB surveillance. Much of the play?s
action is Gray?s reimagining of the awkward
cohabitation of Irish fantasist and deadly
double agent. ?It?s about two men who
become co-dependent without willing it,?
says Hall. The play ends with Blake alone,
abandoned by Bourke, trying to justify his
treachery, above all to himself.
The two men?s paths diverged after
Bourke returned to Ireland in 1968. The
Irish refused to extradite him to Britain. He
published his engaging book, The Springing
of George Blake. Alfred Hitchcock bought
the rights, and spent a decade planning a
film about the escape. Bourke, suddenly
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
rich, dispensed endless largesse and drinks
to hangers-on. But Hitchcock died in 1980
without making the film. Bourke drank
himself to death two years later, aged 47,
in a borrowed caravan in a small town on
Ireland?s west coast.
In Moscow, Blake replaced Bourke
with the perfect housemate ? his beloved
Dutch mother ? and prospered. Philby and
Guy Burgess never came to feel at home in
Russia: Burgess described his first Soviet
experience as ?like Glasgow on a Saturday
night in the 19th century?.
But for the cosmopolitan Blake, there
was no such thing as exile. He had grown
up in Rotterdam, son of an Egyptian-Jewish
father who had served in the British army
in the first world war. Blake spent the late
1930s in an uncle?s mansion in Cairo, then
joined the Dutch Resistance, and in 1942
fled across occupied Europe to London to
become a British agent.
He remains an Anglophile, who loves
English literature (especially John le
Carr�). The dacha contains the excellent
library that he inherited from his soulmate
and fellow traitor, Donald Maclean. However, Blake never felt British, so when he
fell for communism in a North Korean
prison camp in 1951 he didn?t feel he was
betraying his country. It took him about a
week in the USSR in 1967 to learn that real
FROM THE ARCHIVE
Never alone
From ?Comrades of the great war?,
The Spectator, 1 December 1917:
Eventually all will be over, even the
shouting; and some five million heroes
will become to the general eye merely
plain men with their living to earn?
The real force, we are convinced, that
will carry the ex-sailor and ex-soldier
with ease and content back to civil life
is possessed by the men themselves,
in that bond of comradeship which,
even more than discipline and esprit
de corps, has brought them through
ordeals endured only, endurable only,
because no man was in that pit alone;
which has prompted glorious deeds by
land and sea, because each dared not
for himself only but for all.
existing communism didn?t work. Yet his
love for the Russian language and Orthodox religious traditions endured.
His charming Russian wife Ida (who
served us sandwiches) introduced him to a
new life. In the 1980s Blake?s three British
sons got in touch, visited him in Moscow,
and reconciled with him. Blake seems to
regard this as the most significant event
of his life. He came to consider himself ?a
foreign-made car that has adapted very well
to Russian roads?.
He admitted to me that he often dreamed
?about police and things?, but when I asked
whether he had traumas, he laughed. He
was a satisfied man, he said.
I sensed that whenever any murdered
agents surfaced before his mind?s eye, he
repressed them. Anyway, his core belief
(taken from his Calvinist upbringing) is
determinism: all our actions are predestined, so can?t be helped.
He no longer believes in anything much.
He and Maclean had dreamed of communism with a human face, but Maclean died
in 1983 and Blake ditched the fantasy after
Gorbachev failed. In old age he just seems
to enjoy family, neighbourhood and the
little things in life. I left the dacha feeling
that he was a happy traitor.
He would probably like Cell Mates, with
its English wit, and its focus on the human
rather than the political. But I suspect he?s
contented enough in his dacha, patiently
awaiting the day when his ashes will be
strewn in the surrounding woods.
Simon Kuper is a columnist for the
Financial Times.
Gifts for a merrier Christmas at
the Spectator shop
?It?s a dog eat dog world, fortunately.?
Go to www.spectator.co.uk/shop
Discount is automatically applied at checkout. Diaries not included.
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
19
Missed connection
ANCIENT AND MODERN
Inside the animal mind
We are poorer for the loss of our small rail lines
PETER HITCHENS
Whatever
the government decides about
post-EU regulations on animal
sentience, the Greek biographer and
essayist Plutarch (died c. ad 120)
was fascinated by the comparisons
between man and beast and, almost
uniquely, argued for the ethical
treatment of animals.
Some earlier thinkers contended
there was a ?kinship? between men
and animals because animals had
flesh, passions and (being alive)
souls. Therefore man should neither
eat nor sacrifice them. But then
Aristotle (d. 322 bc), who invented
the discipline of biology, stepped in.
He agreed that animals had desires
which caused them to behave in
certain ways that looked human, but
denied that this was evidence of the
ability to reason. Man?s possession of
that faculty, together with language,
moral concerns, sense of justice (and
so on) placed humanity in a quite
different league, right at the top of
the biological tree. This led later
Stoic thinkers to go a step further
and argue that, since animals were
driven solely by self-interest, with no
notion of such concepts as mutual
rights, there could be no moral bond
between them and man.
Enter Plutarch. Since animals
transparently demonstrated a sense of
language, purpose, memory, altruism,
feelings, care for offspring (and so
on), they clearly shared with humans
something, however little, of the same
conscious world. The fact that they
were not identical with humans did
not disqualify animals from that basic
kinship. In particular, Plutarch was
especially keen to nail the claim that
animals were not rational. He did this
by arguing that ?nature? in animals
(he hinted here at ?instinct?) worked
together with ?reason?, e.g. in their
ability to use tools. He quoted the
case of the hunting dog that, finding
no evidence of scent along two
branches of a crossroads, instantly
chose the third.
Producing myriad examples in
three dialogues dealing exclusively
with this issue, Plutarch concluded
that animals deserved just treatment
on the same terms as humans. He was
the Attenborough of the ancients.
? Peter Jones
20
T
o me, the strange words ?Marsh Gibbon? once meant I was nearly home.
My heart lifted as we creaked and
shuddered into the little station at Marsh
Gibbon and Poundon, on the slow and pottering line between Cambridge and Oxford.
Usually it was dusk by the time we got there,
and I can remember seeing the gas lamps lit
and flaring, a pleasing moment for anyone
who likes a little melancholy.
But equally remarkable was the lowness
of the platform. Had it actually sunk into the
marsh after which the desolate little halt was
named? I recall a withered, gloomy porter
in a peaked cap carefully setting steps by
the door, for the few passengers wanting to
alight at this mysterious destination. Without him, they would have had to jump. I like
to think he may have been the original of
Puddleglum, the magnificently pessimistic
and steadfast swamp-dwelling Marsh Wiggle in C.S. Lewis?s The Silver Chair. Lewis
often used to travel by the line (he called it
the Cantab Crawler). And it is easy to see
how he might have got from ?Marsh Gibbon?
to ?Marsh Wiggle?.
The porter, as pessimists usually are,
was right to be gloomy. By then I?d seen
enough railways shut to know that this one
was probably doomed as well. And so it was.
Harold Wilson closed it in 1967, just after my
boarding school days ended, even though
Richard Beeching, the hated slayer of railways, had left it off his death list. For a child
who loved trains the era was a parade of
sadness. The grim notices of closure went up,
like printed curses. There were hopeless protests. There was a last run. And then the slick
men moved in, swiftly demolishing bridges
and selling stretches of track to make sure it
never opened again.
In this case the destruction was even stupider than usual. What nobody then called
the ?Varsity Line? was one of the very few
railways in England that went from side to
side of the country, rather than up and down
it. It connected almost every mainline out
of London and would have been extraordinarily useful had they kept it. True, it was
not rapid. It had many small stations, of the
sort where milk churns sat in rows and the
guard liked to chat with the stationmaster,
who often maintained a cat. It was served
by a weary dark-green diesel unit, not
much more picturesque than a bus, which
stopped so often that it never heaved itself
above 40 miles an hour. You could make the
journey between the two university cities
more quickly by going into the capital and
out again. But nobody aboard the Crawler was in a hurry. And on the journey back
from school, especially at Christmas time,
the retired, secret country through which it
passed still had a glowing romance for me.
Nowadays they call it the ?Oxford-Cambridge corridor?, and seem to want to turn
it into a sort of Home Counties California.
I fear they will succeed.
But for a short while yet this largely unexplored piece of untouched England remains
an agreeable land of mystery. John Bunyan tramped these handsome but not pretty fields, market towns, bogs and hills as he
conceived his Pilgrim?s Progress. The Delectable Mountains are somewhere round
here, as is the Hill Difficulty (I?ve bicycled
up and down it). Even now you often feel
as if you?ve fallen off the edge of the modern world. The station names ? Claydon,
Winslow, Fenny Stratford, Woburn Sands,
Potton and Gamlingay, among many others
? evoked a quiet, withdrawn, wholly English world of mouldering rectories covered
in Virginia creeper, and slow, silent morose
pubs where outsiders are tolerated but not
welcome. Some of this is still true.
Since it closed, I have often walked or
pedalled along its course, finding much of it
needlessly neglected and overgrown, something which grew much worse after privatisation. If you did not know there had been
a station at Marsh Gibbon and Poundon,
you would never guess it now. I listen sourly
and sceptically to vague, unfunded political
promises ? such as the one made last week
? to reopen it. What I hear instead are plans
to make the same mistake we made in the
1960s yet again ? more roads, instead of the
railway lines that are so perfectly fitted to
our intimate landscape, and so cleverly and
gently connect the ancient and the unspoiled
to the modern and the busy.
A so-called ?Expressway? is planned, to
fill the quiet nights and pastoral days of Bunyan?s England with the unending scour and
snarl of motor traffic, and build box homes
on top of the Slough of Despond. Will there
never be anybody with any power who
understands that the picturesque beauty of
country railway lines is itself a national asset?
Peter Hitchens is a Mail on Sunday columnist.
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
JAMES DELINGPOLE
If you voted Remain, you?ll never ?get? Trump
H
ow do you defend Donald Trump
without coming across like a rabid
lunatic? This was my challenge as
the only ?out? Trumpophile on a panel at
the Dublin Festival of Politics last weekend.
What made me especially trepidatious is
that Ireland is even more painfully right-on
than we are these days. It has ditched most
of that Roman Catholicism and C鷆hulainn
and Yeats malarkey and become just
another compliant satrapy of the ahistorical,
cultureless, communitarian Brussels empire.
Happily there are still one or two Irish
who feel just as strongly as I do about what
has been done to their wonderful country.
There were about a dozen of them in the
audience. Some sported red Make America
Great Again baseball caps ? an act which
would probably have got them lynched in
more sophisticated parts of town, such as
that trendy hotel, the Clarence, that is partowned by U2.
They were a rag-tag bunch: a genteel couple in their sixties, a young fox-hunting architect, a Northern Irish Catholic with mental
health issues, a bearded anarcho-capitalist
with the unmistakable ?Black Irish? features
of a descendant of a shipwrecked Spanish
Armada crewman, a brilliant accountant
who resembled a farmer and had driven for
90 minutes because ?you never get to hear
views like yours in Ireland?. What they all
had in common was this: they were misfits,
rebels who felt like strangers in their own
country, in a world that has changed almost
beyond recognition. Had they been British
I dare say they would have voted Leave, for
the Trump and Brexit phenomena are, at
bottom, the same: the revolt of the masses
against the entrenched elite. If you voted
Remain, you?ll never ?get? Trump. And it?s
instructive, I think, that both losing factions
have settled on the same ludicrous excuse
for losing: that somehow it was the fault of
those pesky Russians.
Blaming the Russians is the current geopolitical equivalent of ?the dog ate my homework?. But the people using it can?t see how
silly, implausible and hysterical it is because
they are victims of Trump Derangement
Syndrome. Trump, like Brexit, has unhinged
lots of otherwise perfectly sensible people.
One reason, as US commentator Roger
Kimball has identified, is their powerful sense of disbelief that something that
was never meant to happen, and couldn?t
possibly happen, nonetheless did happen.
Another (again, per Kimball, one of the few
conservative intellectuals who hasn?t made a
fool of himself on this issue) is their ?embarrassment? at ?the utter failure of their fantasies about Donald Trump to materialise?.
This is so true. Never do I cease to be
astounded by the jaw-dropping gulf between
Trump the monster described by all those
expert commentators and Trump the actual
president sitting in the Oval Office (a gulf
Unlike any president since
at least the days of Reagan,
Trump is a man on a mission
not dissimilar, actually, to the one between
Obama, the paragon celebrated in the western media for eight years, and the one who
spent his period in the White House gravely,
eloquently and handsomely trashing pretty
much everything that made American great).
A few weeks ago, for example, one of our
most distinguished military historians and
former newspaper editors described Trump
as a ?man whose deceits, ignorance and
invective are increasingly beyond satire?.
He concluded: ?As for the rest of us ? if we
can survive Trump without being blown up
or driven into a global economic disaster, we
shall have cause enough to give thanks.?
Well I?m sorry, but even allowing for the
?You may as well get the Christmas
decorations while you?re up there Dorian.?
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
exigencies of a quick turnaround article for
a punchy red-top newspaper, this is silly, irresponsible stuff. Trump has already done lots
to confound his critics, especially those on
the right: booming markets; historically low
unemployment; growth at 3 per cent for two
quarters; lower taxes; a revitalised military;
an energy boom; a canny withdrawal from
the iniquitous and pointless Paris climate
accord; a bonfire of red tape; the rescue of
the US judiciary from capture by left-wing
activists; a reset of relations with Saudi Arabia and Israel; a firm stance on North Korea.
You can criticise individual decisions:
I?m personally not a fan, for example, of his
ongoing meddling in Afghanistan, which
suggests to me that he is too much in thrall
to the cabal of generals in the White House.
But what you can?t fault is his direction of
travel. Or even if you hate that direction of
travel, what you cannot deny is that unlike
any president since at least the days of
Reagan, Trump is a man on a mission.
That mission, domestically, is to Make
America Great Again. But his ambitions, I
believe, are even greater than that. As he
outlined in his brilliant Warsaw speech, he
sees himself as the defender of not just the
free world, but of western civilisation itself.
?We write symphonies. We pursue innovation. We celebrate our ancient heroes,
embrace our timeless traditions and customs, and always seek to explore and discover brand-new frontiers. We reward
brilliance. We strive for excellence, and
cherish inspiring works of art that honour
God. We treasure the rule of law and protect the right to free speech and free expression. We empower women as pillars of our
society and of our success. We put faith and
family, not government and bureaucracy,
at the centre of our lives. And we debate
everything. We challenge everything.?
This stuff ought to be so obvious to all
of us. But it?s just not, is it? In our relativistic, globalist culture, so many of these values
are up for grabs. If you don?t believe they
should be (and I certainly don?t) you should
get off the fence and back the one world
leader unapologetically speaking up for
them: Donald Trump.
21
Let Katie speak
Miss Hopkins should not have been gagged
ELISA SEGRAVE
I
had an all-day ticket for the Lewes
Speakers Festival at the All Saints Centre
on Saturday. I was keen to hear the writer
Damien Lewis on the wartime Special Interrogation Group who?d disguised themselves
as German soldiers and stormed Tobruk,
Andrew Monaghan on his book Power in
Modern Russia, and Theodore Dalrymple,
ex-Spectator columnist and a former prison psychiatrist. The last speaker, scheduled
for 6.45 p.m., was to be Katie Hopkins. I was
curious: is she autistic, does she have a narcissistic personality disorder, or is she just a
horrible person and a show-off?
I had hardly read her stuff, but after the
food writer Jack Monroe won a libel case
against her in March 2017 (Hopkins thought
Monroe had desecrated a war memorial),
my daughter showed me an interview. Hopkins did seem a bit crazy. I knew that she had
termed migrants ?cockroaches? in the Sun and
in May 2015 had tweeted derogatorily about
a nine-year-old mildly autistic girl.
The following summer, though, she wrote
a moving article for Mail Online about her
own daughter, who has aspects of autism and
other inherited health problems. (This week
Mail Online said Hopkins?s contract had not
been renewed ?by mutual consent?.)
Nick Davies, prize-winning investigative
journalist, attending the Russia and Dalrymple talks, said Hopkins?s invitation should
have been withdrawn as ?potentially it gave
her two things to which she is not entitled:
respect, which she has forfeited with her
cruel aggression, and credibility, which she
does not deserve since, unlike other writers
there, she is no expert on anything?. However, a motion to cancel the event had been
defeated and the right to hold it upheld by
the town council. Meanwhile, we had noticed
three burly men, obviously security guards.
The bar had closed early and those of us
who had booked for Hopkins were told to
stay inside the church. Very soon, banging and
shouting began. The shutters of a high window near me were cracking under blows and
the main church doors were now barred. A
message came that police had said to remain
and wait for instructions. We still didn?t know
22
if Hopkins would speak. I started bonding
with the other folk stuck there. There was
Dalrymple and his French wife, also a doctor. One jolly woman asked him how, with all
his prison experiences, he had managed to
maintain faith in human nature. Dalrymple
said he had never had much in the first place,
adding, more seriously, that his writing had
kept him going.
Apparently Hopkins had been in the
church with us earlier but had gone. (She
had tweeted at 7 p.m.: ?Protestors in Lewes.
Please be clear. I have left the building.
Please disperse peacefully. My thanks to
@ sussex_police?.) An aloof man said the
protestors had no respect for free speech,
then sat apart with a blonde partner. An
unhinged-looking male raised in Lewes was
sick of ?townees? coming and telling everyone what to do and buying up properties so
locals couldn?t live there.
The jolly woman?s dad had been brought
up in ?the East End slums? but made a good
life for himself nevertheless. She applauded Dalrymple for having criticised the way
modern criminals were encouraged to be
self-pitying. A pretty woman from East
Grinstead hoped to go on to a party. She,
like me, didn?t know much about Hopkins
but was curious.
The banging had got worse and the side
door of the church was being battered. I
was facing a high window and this received
many smashed eggs. Two mischievous boys?
faces kept popping up. A placard was displayed: ?No Fascistry?; then another: ?I think
that Kate is a thing, a feeling, that can only
exist where there is no understanding.
Tennessee Williams.?
Finally, we were ushered secretly by a
policeman through the broken side door
into the dark graveyard. A white-haired
man from Eastbourne offered me his arm.
I heard him beg the festival organiser to
emphasise free speech in any future interview. I could not help thinking that during
our 45-minute incarceration not one person
had said anything hateful or aggressive. My
friend John Warburton, however, reporting
for More Radio outside, had egg on his coat.
Earlier he had been at the church doors
when 20 or 30 protestors had tried to push
those doors in and had stood in the way of
those with tickets. Four or five had had black
scarves hiding their faces.
You wonder what Thomas Paine, Lewes?s celebrated former inhabitant, advocate
of free debate, would have thought.
And Jack Monroe, who after winning a
two- year libel case against Hopkins, had
wanted to invite her to dinner and ?happily
sit down and talk as adults. I just think the
world is a bit better when you are willing to
give people chances?.
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
LIONEL SHRIVER
This EU ?divorce bill? is more like a ransom
A
?bill? is not commonly subject to
negotiation. It arrives after a customer has contracted for the purchase of goods or services, whose price ?
with the unique exception of American
health care bills, which are more like muggings by gangs on mopeds ? has been established in advance. For the average upstanding Briton, a bill is not a starting point, subject to haggling. It is something you pay.
The Lisbon Treaty?s Article 50 makes
no mention of paying financial liabilities
in order to leave the EU. Once the postreferendum conversation turned immediately to the ?divorce bill?, the May government?s
big mistake from the off was bickering about
its size. A better opening strategy would run
not ?How much?? but ?What divorce bill??
First of all, we?re not talking about a marriage, but a membership. The mistaken conflation of a highly emotive institution with a
prosaic subscription is germane. The dissolution of a marriage can be fraught, and entails
a division of assets often unfair, taking little or no consideration of what income each
party has contributed to the relationship. In
the UK, many a rightly outraged spouse has
seen an under-accomplished ex walk off with
half the spoils of his or her successful career
? which sets an ominous precedent here.
The cancellation of a membership is
more straightforward. You no longer enjoy
the benefits of the association; you no longer
have to obey the rules of the organisation or
pay its dues.
Fiscally, that is straightforward: the UK
obviously continues to pay its EU contributions while still a member. Should a further
transition period involve UK participation
in the single market and customs union
beyond the spring of 2018, the UK should
clearly pay its dues for such a de facto membership. It is also sensible and just for the
UK to assume the pension obligations of its
own former EU employees ? and only 4
per cent of EU staff are UK nationals.
Beyond that, the ?divorce bill? is baloney.
The very fact that the amounts under discussion have been bouncing around from
?20 billion to ?100 billion exposes the arbitrary, snatched-from-the-air character of this
apocryphal ?bill?. It?s baldly apparent to the
British public that these figures are made up,
and that EU leaders are chancing their arms.
Unfortunately, Barnier and co have been
working with the British for long enough to
understand their quarry.
The UK should feel under no obligation to finance a chunk of EU pension obligations beyond those of its own nationals.
Further, this notion that the UK has made
?commitments? to a host of projects it is now
compelled to finance to their completion
? until at least 2023 ? is rubbish. Commitments can be rescinded. Individuals, companies and governments alike withdraw
support for projects all the time. (Perhaps
the most egregious example of pro forma
It?s clear to the British public that
these ?gures are made up, and that
EU leaders are chancing their arms
reneging on promises is the way ?pledges?
for disaster relief go routinely unmet once
governments have reaped credit for their
lofty intentions.) Circumstances change.
Like: we made that commitment when we
were part of the club. If you quit membership of a tennis club that?s voted to build a
new court, you don?t keep getting bills for a
court you?ll never play on.
But then, the UK doesn?t aim to cover
a ?bill?. In seeming open to an ever-larger
exit payment, team Britannia hopes to buy
a trade deal ? thereby paying more like a
bribe or a ransom. Which is why there is all
the squabbling over timing. Where kidnappings traditionally go awry is in the delivery of the payoff. Once the baddies have the
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
?Grr! Look at him, always looking
on the bright side of life.?
funds, more often than not you find the hostage by the side of the road with a slit throat.
Theresa May has already made a concession too far by guaranteeing that none of
the other 27 countries in the EU will be so
much as 10p out of pocket by the end of the
financial period ending in 2020. If anything,
such generosity only whets the EU appetite
for more. Anyone who?s bought a scarf in a
Middle Eastern souk knows that you begin
with a lowball bid. And EU negotiators are
fearsomely motivated to squeeze the UK,
which currently supplies 15 per cent of the
EU budget, for every sou they can get.
Since the referendum, the incessant EU
focus on how much money the bloc can bully
out of Britain has made for an ugly spectacle
of greed and desperation. European leaders are making up the rules on the hoof, to
the UK?s dramatic disadvantage. In so doing,
they make a mockery of the morass of niggling treaties, laws and regulations in which
the membership is strangling. They display
no gratitude for the UK?s ever-escalating net
contribution to EU coffers for all but a single
year (1975, negative by a hair). They are taking advantage not only of the UK?s resources ? if Romania left the EU, the country
wouldn?t get an invoice, but a gold watch ?
but also of the British nature, which places a
premium on fairness and rectitude. They?re
aware that the standard British impulse on
being presented with any ?bill? is to pay it.
A Norway option might be on the table;
at least that way the EU could get its mitts
on British money. But if the UK truly leaveleaves, I?m doubtful the EU has the slightest
intention of delivering a trade deal any more
generous than it has with the US or China.
While the government may be emptying the
piggy banks on to the bedspread in order to
amass a ransom or a bribe, in the end the
demand will in all likelihood revert to a ?bill?.
As May is apt to get little in return,
she should watch the numbers she throws
around. For the other national trait that
marks the British as suckers is probity.
Should the PM already have conceded that
the UK ?owes? the EU X billion euros ?
regardless of what uncompromisingly hostile terms of departure we?re offered ? she?ll
still send the cheque.
23
LETTERS
Proven lawyers
Bishop Bell delay
What delay?
Sir: Andrew Watts says that for ?lawyers in
politics, the elimination of risk becomes
the highest aim of government. It is not,
and should not be? (Legal challenge, 25
November). Well, up to a point. The last two
British prime ministers who were lawyers
were Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair,
both barristers. Mrs Thatcher?s despatch
of the task force to the south Atlantic in
1982 was fraught with risk, as were other
defining steps of her time in office. Blair?s
premiership will largely be remembered for
the invasion of Iraq, a move that could not
be described as one from which all risk had
been eliminated.
Mr Watts also says that lawyers know
only ?one big thing? (namely ?the law?)
and suggests that they should be replaced
as legislators by journalists. But, as he
acknowledges, lawyers know much more
than simply ?law?: divorce lawyers see
countless divorces; personal injury lawyers
know a lot about how accidents happen;
and commercial lawyers spend their lives
learning about one business after another.
Lawyers see a great deal of the world
and engage with their clients? affairs at a
far more serious and responsible level than
that of a journalist churning out copy. This,
and their experience of the courts, makes
them better suited than most people to be
framers of legislation.
Alexander Pelling
Ampthill, Bedfordshire
Sir: Charles Moore is right to suggest
that the Church of England is ?circling
the wagons? in response to the Carlile
review into the case of Bishop Bell (The
Spectator?s Notes, 25 November). As a
member of a General Synod, I have been
trying to penetrate the culture of omert�
at Lambeth Palace on such issues. I have
asked how many pages are in the review
and how many people need to see it
because they have a right to respond to
criticism. I also sought an assurance that
nobody criticised in the review will have a
directing hand in any revision process.
No answers have been offered, on the
basis that the National Safeguarding Team
is ?too busy?. ?Too busy? even to have sent
the report to Chichester diocese a month
after it was delivered. Given that folk there
might be anxious about what might be said
about them, that seems particularly unkind.
Unfortunately, many victims of the
Church tell me that prioritising the
institution?s needs over those of individuals
is just normal practice.
Martin Sewell
Gravesend, Kent
Sir: In his piece about the timing of the
publication of the Bishop George Bell
review, Charles Moore writes that ?the
Archbishop of Canterbury courageously
decided to review the decision to which
he had been party?. The review was in fact
to see what lessons can be learnt for the
handling of future serious safeguarding
situations, and was commissioned by the
Church of England?s National Safeguarding
Team on the recommendation of the
Bishop of Chichester. We received
Lord Carlile?s draft in October and are
now responding with feedback, as in all
independent reports. No one is delaying it.
Peter Hancock
Bishop of Bath and Wells
Timber land
Sir: Martin Vander Weyer talks about the
scarcity of bricks, but the real problem
is British ?brick-built vs timber-frame?
snobbery (Any Other Business, 25
November). Bricks are expensive and
require skilled artisans, whereas timberframed houses need skills little higher
that those required for an Ikea flat pack.
There is a Dutch company that claims it
can build a three-bed house for $50,000,
and when Chile was recently stricken by
an earthquake, a Quebecois charity sent
skilled timber-framers to help build energyefficient houses out of wood.
So here is the solution: allow timberframe builds on green- and brown-belt
land, employing Canadian builders to
train British tradesmen to put up Dutch
designed houses made from Swedish pine
(recognising that, in the fullness of time as
the population wanes, they can be easily
torn down and the land returned to its
pristine state). If we are going to do Brexit,
what better example of an open economy?
John Gray
Oxford
24
Dishonest divorce
Sir: Rod Liddle?s piece ?Divorce is a
disaster, November 25) is half-right. He
rightly emphasises the appalling and
lifelong effects of family breakdown on
children, largely based on research by us
at Marriage Foundation. Where he goes
wrong is in believing that the current fauxfault-based divorce acts in any way as a
deterrent or that the proposed reforms
would make it easier to secure one.
The present law is a dishonest charade.
Parties who want a quick divorce can get
one in two to three months, as research by
the Nuffield Foundation has shown.
Those of us who support the reforms
proposed in a letter to the Times (including
so-called no-fault divorce) want a system
which above all else promotes a resurgence
in the attractiveness of marriage as the
norm for parents, especially in sectors of
society which have largely turned their
back on it. Only a system that requires
couples to make a serious commitment
before entering a potentially lifelong
parental partnership and to slow down and
take stock before they separate will begin
to confront these problems.
Sir Paul Coleridge
Marriage Foundation, Cambridge
Notting to fear
Sir: As a fashion-conscious resident of
Notting Hill I read Tanya Gold?s review
of Farmacy with horror (Food, November
25). A ?pit near the Westway with ? people
who are angry that they cannot afford
to live in Mayfair?. Moi? Then I saw the
postcode: W2 5SH. It?s not Westbourne
Park Road; it?s Westbourne Grove. Which
is Bayswater. So that?s all right then.
Linda Peskin
London W11
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
ANY OTHER BUSINESS|MARTIN VANDER WEYER
A sound industrial strategy and stronger
banks. What could go wrong?
O
ne week you?re fighting to survive
the dance-off amid vicious backstage rivalries, the next you?re scoring a perfect ten from Bruno Tonioli for
your shimmering tango. As it was on Strictly
for Debbie McGee, so it was ? well, almost
? for Philip Hammond at the despatch box.
Unlike many of the Budgets of his predecessors Osborne and Brown, this one did
not unravel immediately or prove full of
black holes and political tricks. Clear in its
analysis, frank in its forecasts, limited in its
objectives, it took modest steps to ease the
housing crisis and encourage entrepreneurs
? and not much else.
But it was enough to be hailed as a turning point in Tory fortunes and it was followed by Business Secretary Greg Clark?s
?industrial strategy?, which again met more
praise than scorn, though it clearly represents no more than ?a decent first step?, as
the CBI put it, towards addressing endemic
problems of low productivity and skills.
Clark?s pledges to pump an extra �3 billion into research and development, but not
until 2021-22, and to bring the UK up to the
OECD average R&D spend, but not until
2027, come nowhere near justifying his own
claim of ?an unashamedly ambitious vision?.
But he got away with it in a week when the
public mood was receptive and Labour?s
responses made no impact at all.
Plus, there was reassuring news from the
Bank of England, which declared that the
major UK banks are sufficiently well capitalised to withstand an imaginary crisis in
which house prices would fall by a third,
unemployment would double, GDP would
plunge and the banks would collectively lose
� billion ? enough to have wiped them
out a decade ago. That?s a worse scenario
than even the gloomiest Brexit expectation,
so according to Governor Carney, the longterm reinforcement of the banking sector?s
foundations can be judged a success.
Putting these items together ? Budget,
industrial strategy, bank stress tests ? we
seem, for the time being, to be standing
squarely on two feet with a sensible view
ahead, tempered by the limits of how far the
state can or should intervene in markets, and
how much taxpayers? money it can spend.
What can possibly go wrong next?
What?s the brother up to?
The devil is in the detail, you might reply,
and one example is what?s currently going
on in the university sector, which holds so
many of the keys to our future economic
success. Vice-chancellors are currently
grappling with a 600-page consultation
which promises ?a bold, student-focused,
risk-based? new approach to regulation and
funding. One wise owl of that world told me
it?s ?the worst consultation I?ve ever seen?,
hostile in tone to much that the best of our
academic institutions hold dear. The minister responsible is Jo Johnson, who may
be quietly doing even more damage to the
nation?s prospects than his brother Boris.
Expensive medicine
It?s all gone quiet on the subject of the European Medicines Agency?s unexpired lease.
Based in London since it was established
in 1995, the drug-licensing quango is due to
relocate its 900 staff to Amsterdam before
Brexit day ? while the European Banking
Authority moves its more modest workforce
to Paris. The Dutch city (chosen by Brussels
from among 19 bidders) offers ?excellent
connectivity and a building that can be
shaped according to our needs?, which is
presumably just what the EMA thought
about the nine floors in Canary Wharf on
which it took a 25-year lease in 2011, before
Brexit loomed.
That deal included three years? rent-free
up-front but ? contrary to standard form
for long-lease London office space and the
advice that might have been offered by any
property professional ? no break clause.
Evidently, the eurocrats responsible wanted
to avoid the extra cost of get-out wording,
even though MEPs queried the terms at the
time. The outstanding ?350 million of rent
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
for the entire lease period is therefore still
due, even though the EMA is departing, and
total relocation costs have been put at more
than half a billion, which Michel Barnier
says is for the UK?s account since it?s all our
fault. Our side argues that Brussels should
pick up the tab if it insists on moving the
EMA, which would be welcome to stay in
London ? where the ?connectivity? includes
delegating a chunk of its assessment work
to our own Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.
When the relocation was announced
last week, nothing was said about future cooperation between the EMA and interested
UK parties, including pharma companies
as well as regulators ? leaving yet another
sectoral loose end we must hope will be
addressed during the ?transition period?
after March 2019. As for the lease money, we
really ought to know who?s going to cough
up and who was responsible for the cockup in the first place. I hope we?re not being
asked to pay for their pensions as well.
And so to lunch
In the end, of course, nothing in the Budget
or the industrial strategy really counted for
much beside the three great economic issues
of the day: whether Brexit can be negotiated
without catastrophic drops in investment,
confidence and external trade; whether
debt and equity markets are limbering up to
deliver another global shock; and whether
Corbyn and McDonnell can be kept out
of power. The Bank of England?s stresstest report gave some comfort in relation
to the first two of those threats and Philip
Hammond, against expectations, did a little
to make the third less imminent. But as he
rose to deliver his speech last Wednesday,
I confess I was sitting down to lunch ? at
the stylish Ivy Tower Bridge, since you ask
? with a companion whose opening gambit
put all these matters in perspective: ?Thank
goodness my father was born abroad. When
it all goes pear-shaped here, at least I qualify
for a new nationality.?
25
BOOKS & ARTS
BOOKS
A whistle-stop tour of the East
Following Norman Davies?s explorations is like travelling, mildly
jet-lagged, from one air-conditioned lounge to another, says Philip Hensher
Beneath Another Sky:
A Global Journey into History
by Norman Davies
Allen Lane, �, pp. 720
For many of us, life has become global.
Areas which were previously tranquil backwaters are now hives of international activity. Leisure travel has given us the possibility
of first-hand exposure to once very remote
places. You don?t have to be particularly
privileged or adventurous to go on holiday
in January to south-east Asia: two weeks in
a western chain hotel plus flights to Thailand may only cost �000. The increase in
migration to western countries since the
1940s means that many lives are bound up
with previously distant cultures ? we have
spouses, in-laws, lovers, friends and connections of all sorts whose origins lie in different
countries and continents.
And, of course, there is the internet, making foreign media and cultural productions
available to us in the West, unedited and
uncurated. It is quite touching, in this book
about different global locations, that Norman Davies takes the trouble to sit down in
the High Commissioner?s residence in Delhi
with the Times of India and tell us all about
the newspaper. But it?s not necessary any
more. This morning, at home in Switzerland,
I called up its website and spent a pleasant
half hour reading about horrid domestic
crimes:
?Some youths, who are yet to be identified,
beat Ahmad, 30, Israr, 25, and Bakr, 22, after
a tiff,? said Baghpat superintendent of police
Jaiprakash Singh.
26
The subject of migration, trade, the
journey of ideas and the breaking down
of the national barriers which seek to prevent these things is a very rich one. Davies
is an excellent historian, who has worked
in the past both on a local scale, in firstrate books about Poland, and on a larger
scale, in a substantial history of the whole
of Europe. Beneath Another Sky goes on
a whistle-stop tour of half the world: no
Africa or South America, and Europe can
Anyone enquiring after the history of
Mauritius ?could do worse? than look
at Wikipedia, we are told
be taken as read, but otherwise Davies?s
curiosity takes him to Azerbaijan, the
Emirates, India, Malaysia and Singapore,
Mauritius, Tasmania, New Zealand, Tahiti, Texas, and Manhattan. In each of these
he writes about his own, quite low-level,
encounters and a few aspects of the place?s
history or culture that take his fancy.
Some of the investigations are fresh
and interesting. The transformation of the
Emirates with the coming of oil money is
vividly described by witnesses: an Arab
recalls his childhood treat being camels?
milk, bread and honey, while an RAF sergeant remembers delivering petrol, oil and
14 untethered goats (?peeing and crapping everywhere?) into the dunes in 1961.
Six years later, Michael Frayn, in his novel
Towards the End of the Morning, could
treat a press trip to celebrate the opening of ?Sharjah, the Pearl of the Trucial
Riviera? as a huge joke. But it wasn?t long
before the UAE became a highly popular
holiday destination whose resident population was only 20 per cent Emirati.
There are other interesting explorations. Many people are drawn to Baku in
Azerbaijan by its riches ? more oil ?
and, curiously enough, by its staging of the
Eurovision song contest in 2012. Its history
is worth unearthing, and Davies?s account
of the way it fell to the Bolsheviks after
the Revolution is unfamiliar territory, well
covered. Similar, though better known
material, is the fall of Singapore in 1942
and the atrocities committed by the Japanese. Strangely, perhaps the least familiar
story is the book?s opening account of Cornish history ? evidence of how very international our mindset has become.
Davies supplies some engaging larger thoughts ? about maps and explorers,
and ways of thinking about the world. No
one now, he rightly says, considers themselves as living in the Far East or the
Middle East, and some terms for neighbours to the immediate east ? such as
Nippon, Anatolia, le Levant ? just refer to
?the rising sun?.
There is plenty more that has caught
Davies?s fancy, including transatlantic
crossings, imperialism, disappearing aircraft and Frankfurt airport. Some of these
form an ongoing playful and very personal
narrative. His uncle Norman?s stamp collection crops up repeatedly, giving us an
unexpected insight into several destinations, including Mauritius, the source of
philatelist fantasy since it issued, in 1847,
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
GETTY IMAGES
Sadly, too many reflections on places show local inexperience. There are
harmless comments on food (?a barbecued stingray served on a banana leaf is
very popular?). The sort of jokes saved for
distinguished foreign visitors are retold
guilelessly (?People here have a very flexible view of punctuality. They call it ?rubber time??). Much of the chapter on India
is a complete waste of time ? the usual
stuff about the caste system; the explanation that Davies didn?t go to the Taj Mahal
?but decided to stay in Delhi to see another magnificent Mughal mausoleum? (Humayun?s tomb, not much of a discovery).
Embarrassingly, Davies turns out to be
one of those English visitors, usually firsttimers, who can?t distinguish between an
untidy, crowded part of an Indian city and
real deprivation. He manages to offend a
rickshaw driver by describing Old Delhi as
a slum.
On the plus side, he does eventually hit
on a good piece of information by following Uncle Norman?s stamp collection to the
princely state of Chamba ? virtually; I don?t
think he goes there ? and telling us about
Davies manages to offend a
rickshaw driver by describing
Old Delhi as a slum
Reinventing Baku: one of the three Flame Towers, comprising apartments, of?ces
and a hotel, which dominate the old town. The project, costing an estimated US$350 million,
was completed in 2012
the first stamps in the empire outside Britain. (Out of 500, 27 survive: the Prince of
Wales paid �450 for one in 1904.)
But it must be said that more incisive
connections are frequently missed. Davies
goes from Baku to the UAE without talking about the international transport of
oil, on which so much depends and which
has transformed so many backward places.
And it?s odd to discuss immigrant labour in
the UAE and then travel to India without
exploring that particular journey. It would
have been better to go from the UAE to
Dhaka, a major source of UAE labour.
The piquancy of the UAE and Bangladesh
gaining their independence within days of
each other, in December 1971, might have
inspired some thoughts about the different
fates of nations.
Similarities, too, are sometimes drawn
where it?s more important to explain distinctions. In later chapters, the Australian
aborigines ? indigenous for tens of thousands of years before their annihilation in
Tasmania by the British ? are implausibly connected with the New Zealand Maoris ?Pacific settlers a few hundred years
before western arrivals, with elaborate
courts, rulers and a culture that could be
understood by Europeans.
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
the gun salutes to which rulers and officialdom were entitled under British rule. (The
Raja of Chamba was allowed an 11-gun
salute: below him were the rulers of 443
states who weren?t entitled to anything.)
This is a very long book, and I think
Davies?s eminence has shielded him from
some fairly brutal editorial input. It might
have included such comments as ?we know
all this? and ?not very interesting? and
?needs more work?. The moment has surely
passed when one?s prepared to buy a hardback in order to be told that it?s amusing
when New Zealanders ?order ?Fush and
Chups? and then ask for the ?Bull??. We
might even ask for our money back when
the author innocently advises that ?anyone
enquiring after the history of Mauritius
could do worse? than look at Wikipedia,
recommending both French and English
websites.
There?s quite a lot of interesting material here, but it?s bolstered by much stuff that
can?t be news to anyone and barely connected at all. If the ultimate effect is to recreate
the experience of sitting, mildly jet-lagged,
in an air-conditioned coach from an airconditioned airport to an air-conditioned
hotel, drowsily listening to a rambling version of whatever comes into the guide?s
mind, we can only say in Davies?s defence
that that mind is a sprightly and well-filled
one ? and from time to time something
with real pizzazz and narrative zing emerges
from the porridge.
27
BOOKS & ARTS
Love at first sight
Nicholas Shakespeare
Darling Pol: The Letters of
Mary Wesley and
Eric Siepmann, 1944?1967
edited by Patrick Marnham
Harvill Secker, �, pp. 308
The novelist Mary Wesley never forgot the
night of 26 October 1944. She was then 32,
locked in a loveless marriage to ?a perfectly
nice but remarkably boring? barrister, Lord
Swinfen, and was dining at the Ritz with a
friend from MI6 ? she had worked there
in April 1940, decoding the positions of
German regiments ? when she looked up
and saw, seated at another table, the Royal
Marines captain whom she had met only
a few hours earlier at Les Ambassadeurs.
?He kept sending me notes through dinner
saying, ?You can?t stay with that old bore.
Come dancing.?? Which she did.
After he had escorted her back through
the bomb-blasted streets to the Rembrandt
Hotel, she woke early ? ?because I knew
it was something big and I?d just sworn to
give up men?. The man rose earlier still, at
5am. ?He?d spent the whole night ringing
round London to ask who I was. I found
myself in the lobby checking out, desperate to get away ? when there he was,
beside me.?
She told me: ?He stayed there for the
rest of his life.?
Eric Siepmann, 41, was a tall, impetuous Old Wykehamist who at school had
beaten Richard Crossman for not cleaning his white shoes. At Oxford, to which he
had won a scholarship as well, he provoked
Evelyn Waugh to splutter: ?Do I like Eric
Siepmann? That?s an occupation as fatuous as balancing a pole on your chin.? The
novelist Antonia White, with whom he?d
had an affair, called him ?the wickedest man
I ever met?.
The bi-polar third son of a brilliant
German 閙igr� teacher, Siepmann was
a talented if volatile journalist who had
a destructive habit of walking out of jobs
because he refused to compromise. His personal life was no less self-sabotaging. He
had been married twice: once to an actress
who had bolted, and, at the time of meeting
Mary, to a woman he hardly knew called
Phyllis. Her chief interest in Siepmann had
been the widow?s pension that she stood to
receive if he was shot dead, as was likely, in
Crete. In the event, he was sent to Cairo,
and survived. Following a blazing row in
Egypt with Phyllis ? ?she lived with him
three weeks and that was that? ? they had
not seen each other for two years. Phyllis
was to return to the frame.
As Siepmann warned Mary after they
spent the day together in bed and then the
next afternoon ?in a large bath, talking?:
28
?Life is not my best form of self-expression.? He was at that moment en route
to France, to command a Psychological
Warfare Unit.
Their correspondence, superbly edited
by Wesley?s biographer Patrick Marnham,
begins four days after their first meeting
and continues until shortly before Siepmann?s death in 1970. Passionate, erotic,
honest, funny and also supremely sad, it
tells the story of how Siepmann, a scholar and already a published author (of a
novel, and a play performed in New York)
failed abjectly in his devouring ambition to
become a successful writer (?What I really
Antonia White, with whom Eric
Siepmann had an affair, called him
?the wickedest man I ever met?
would like is Money, Success and Popularity?); and how his raven-haired pupil Mary,
self-educated, without an exam qualification to her name, shunned by her family,
with two small boys by different fathers to
bring up (and soon a third with Siepmann),
unswervingly supported and encouraged
him ? and in this nerve-wrenching process
ultimately learned to achieve what he could
not. She became, through the contagion of
love, what he originally meant to be.
Give something
clever this
Christmas ? and
get a little present
of your own.
Turn to page 63
For both parties, it was the most important relationship of their life. ?My past has
been a succession of first drafts,? Siepmann confided. ?I want you to be an epic.?
To Mary, he gave the startling and enjoyable feeling, ?rather like meeting God at a
party?, that she had found ?one person in
whom I have faith?. She wrote to him from
Boskenna, the Cornish haven to which
shortly she returned: ?With you I can be the
person I really am? I want you badly and
I believe in you.? She was never unfaithful again, despite no shortage of temptations. ?To be unfaithful would spite my face.
And faith.?
The next few months set the pattern
for their relationship, sizeable chunks of
which would be spent apart. While Mary
waited for him on her Cornish clifftop ?in
a state of violent impatience?, Siepmann in
France slipped back into his former habits:
a repeated narrative of easy entr閑s into
goodish jobs, thanks to his Winchester and
Oxford connections, followed by sharpish exits, due to what his eldest brother
described as ?your reputation for bringing
calamity with you?.
Siepmann?s behaviour mirrored the
mood that he found in post-war Toulouse ? ?self-conscious, touchy, aggressive?. Quite soon he was reporting to Mary
about an ?atmosphere trouble? around
him. ?I am accused of antagonising Frenchmen, breach of confidence, drinking too
much and even bad debts.? Not long afterwards, the Royal Marines dispensed with
his services.
The same thing happened at Portals,
a company making banknotes, where he
worked as the foreign sales representative
? until one night in Damascus in 1954,
after drinking too much, he ventilated his
opinions on the Middle East; and then
again, three years later, at the Times, where
he briefly subbed on the foreign desk
(under my much younger father, another
Old Wykehamist, who, interestingly, does
not recall him). ?I cannot pipe down,? he
admitted to Mary after a ?brisk exchange?
in the Times canteen. ?I tease these idiots.?
If he lost several plum jobs through his
own enterprise, he was let go from two
more ? at the Sunday Times and Observer ? because of Phyllis, who refused to
divorce him. Driven to ?malice and hatred?
when Mary changed her name by deed
poll to Mrs Siepmann, Phyllis conducted
an extraordinarily determined seven-year
campaign of persecution and stalking. She
turned up at his respective offices to advise
Siepmann?s employers that he was ?a violent, adulterous, alcoholic, wife-beating
child molester? and claiming that ?no little boy in Cairo had been safe there during
the war?. She tracked him to the Chagford
hotel where he was trying to write a novel,
biting the hotel owner in the leg, and once
hitting Mary over the head with an umbrel-
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
Jauntily naive: illustration from Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins)
la. Another time, Mary told me, Phyllis
broke into their rented home.
?What do you want to give him?? Mary
asked her.
?Absolute hell.?
By the time Siepmann gained his
divorce, in July 1952, he was ground down
by insomnia, colitis, poverty and despair.
He married Mary nine months later.
A friend of hers for almost 20 years,
I was intensely curious to learn more about
a man she always spoke of with such tender
fondness. Hag-ridden by what he acknowledged, finally, to be an illness and not a
symptom of his genius ? ?I am, of course,
mentally diseased? ? Siepmann comes
across as an irresponsible hummingbird,
abandoning manuscripts at the same peremptory and unsettling rate as his lack of
income forced the Siepmanns to leave one
nest-home after another. Instead, Mary
is the revelation. Vivacious, quick and
independent minded, with the courage
and allure of a natural radical, her letters
are shot through with life, humour and
generosity.
When Eric died, ?I was cleaved in half
like a carcass at the butcher,? she told me.
?We were part of each other.? To fill in what
he had left behind, she returned to the craft
they had picked at in their 26 years together ? her earliest words in print were those
she penned under his name for the TLS.
I now understand her laugh when she said
how swiftly she found out that ?writing is
much easier to control than a husband?.
Children?s books
Cat among the pigeons
Melanie McDonagh
Back in 1990, Roald Dahl wrote a book
called The Minpins, which was illustrated
by Patrick Benson, a very good artist. By
now we regard Dahl (when writing for children) to be inescapably linked with Quentin Blake, to the point where any other
combination seems fundamentally unsatisfactory, like trying to decouple Goscinny
and Uderzo in the Asterix books, or Kenneth Grahame and Ernest Shepard for The
We?re used to children going
on night-time adventures, but now
it?s the turn of a 93-year-old lady
Wind in the Willows. The whole is somehow
bigger than both halves. So it?s a matter of
pure delight that Blake has now illustrated the book (Puffin, �.99). At a stroke,
the atmosphere of the story has changed
from menacing to spirited and intrepid.
The Midas touch of QB has worked again.
As he says, it ?felt almost like a new Roald
Dahl book that I had never read before?.
And what could be better than that?
Sometimes, you just want to go back
to your own childhood, for which purpose I warmly recommend a lovely collector?s edition of Tove Jansson?s four early
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
Moomin books (Sort of Books, �.99
each). They are things of joy. There is
also The Invisible Child and The Fir Tree
(Sort of Books, �99) ? two stories from
Tales from Moominvalley, sold in aid of
Oxfam. And to round off the Moomin orgy,
there?s a whopping, beautifully illustrated guide to The World of Moominvalley
(Macmillan, �) by one of its fans, Philip Ardagh, with an additional eulogy by
Frank Cottrell Boyce.
Judith Kerr is another inimitable illustrator, whose kindly view of the world
emerges from every drawing she does,
from The Tiger who Came to Tea to her latest book, Katinka?s Tail (Harper Collins,
�.99) ? about her cat and its tail, which
does quite remarkable things at night.
We are used to children going on nighttime adventures, but now it?s the turn of a
93-year-old lady. The line of Kerr?s drawings has softened with age but is no less
assured. These are wonderful pictures.
Make her a dame, for goodness sake.
Oliver Jeffers?s style as an illustrator
is jauntily naive. Here We Are (Harper
Collins, �.99) is a guidebook for his new
child to the world and its creatures, ourselves included, starting with the galaxy
and working inwards. It concludes with the
impeccable sentiment: ?Well, that is Planet
Earth. Make sure you look after it, as it?s
all we?ve got.?
Unicorn Press has come up with two
interesting curiosities by the versatile artist Enid Marx, originally published in the
29
BOOKS & ARTS
has continued its welcome new editions of
her finest, the latest being The Phoenix and
the Carpet ? the same cast as Five Children
and It ? and The Enchanted Castle, one of
her second-rank stories but still enormously enjoyable (�99 each). The covers have
been modernised ? but any chance of the
original illustrations inside? pretty please?
Dorling Kindersley?s nature and science
books are always good, and the Explanatorium of Nature (�) is an ambitious blockbuster that describes the workings of nature,
from carnivorous plants to evolution. Hefty,
and handsome.
For dinosaur fans (and frankly, who
isn?t?) Big Picture Press?s Dinosaurium
(�), a visit to a book museum of dinosaurs, is a lavishly illustrated succession
of the beasts, described by Lily Murray
with wonderful pictures by Chris Wormell.
Quite fabulous.
1940s. The Little White Bear (�) ? about
a polar bear cub befriended by sailors whose
boat was blown up by a mine after delivering tanks to the Russians ? is a combination
of war propaganda and animal story, though
obviously it skates over the reality that any
normal polar bear would eat the sailors. But
the bear pales by comparison with the patriotic birds in The Pigeon Ace, which can?t
wait to see action. Marx?s contemporary at
art school was Eric Ravilous. You can tell.
Another bird book, by Jenny McCartney, who is familiar to Spectator readers, is
The Stone Bird (Anderson, �.99), about
a little girl who finds a stone on the beach
shaped like an egg. And, just as she expects,
it does what eggs do. Grave and reflective, it
is engagingly illustrated by Patrick Benson.
Katherine Rundell is a cracking children?s author. The Explorer, about a group
of children stranded in the Amazon who
meet an explorer, is a kind of cross between
Indiana Jones and the film Up and is one of
the most captivating books of the year. Rundell?s book for younger children, One Christmas Wish (Bloomsbury, �.99), charmingly
illustrated by Emily Sutton, about a lonely little boy who wishes on a falling star, is
engaging and poignant: the Christmas spirit
in 64 pages.
It?s all too rare that you come across
a novel in which the heroine is an anthropoid ape who can not only understand
human speech but is a handy engineer and
who can, moreover, type, but The Murderer?s Ape by Jakob Wegelius (Pushkin,
�.99), fills that very gap. It?s about a sea
captain who is unjustly accused of murder
but whose faithful ape travels to the ends of
the earth to rescue him ? well, to India at
least. It is evocatively illustrated by the
author and translated from the Swedish by
Peter Graves.
What most people don?t realise about
E.Nesbit is that she wrote many more
books than The Railway Children. Vintage
From The Little White Bear (top) and The Pigeon Ace,
both written and illustrated by Enid Marx (Unicorn Press)
30
Naples floods...
Lee Langley
Malacqua
by Nicola Pugliese, translated from
the Italian by Shaun Whiteside
And Other Stories, �, pp. 198
There are nods to dark masters in Malacqua
? undercurrents of Kafka, a drumbeat of
Beckett ? but Nicola Pugliese?s novel has
its own compelling voice, filled with the
sound of water rushing, gushing, flowing,
hammering on rooftops, falling in threads
from the sky.
Naples is drowning, disintegrating,
battered by relentless rain. Buildings collapse; huge sinkholes swallow cars and
people. Ghostly and unsettling events
are reported all over the city: mysterious
visions, hidden dolls howling in anguish,
coins that emit music audible only to small
children. Signs and portents. Naples is an
urban nightmare, the saturated ground
itself a treacherous element. With a sense
of mounting dread the inhabitants are witnessing the liquefaction of their city.
Pugliese, a Neapolitan journalist, published Malacqua in 1977 with the support
of Italo Calvino. It was an instant bestseller in Italy, but the author inexplicably
refused to permit a reprint, and only now
after his death has it been reissued, evocatively translated by Shaun Whiteside.
Glimpsed through the deluge over four
days in October of an unnamed year, we
get vignettes of the local people: the caf�
owner and his blue-eyed English wife; the
local poet poised to give a public reading;
the fruit and veg shopkeeper; a marshal
of the carabinieri with a nervy wife; and
(a startling foretaste of this year?s sleazefest) the sexually exploited secretary to
a successful lawyer. There are others, and
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
their voices blend in a stream of soliloquies
?heartaches; sex, both passionate and
dutiful; secrets; everyday pleasures; marital bitterness and failed chances.
The central figure (and occasional narrator) is a despairing, world-weary journalist gripped by the existential question: what
if? What if the rain never stops? And in the
final pages, granted an epiphany in his shaving mirror worthy of Proust, finding a flicker
of hope in a hopeless world.
Many years ago, arriving at Naples central
railway station, I needed a local street map.
The man at the tourist desk handed me one,
adding confidingly: ?Be aware that Naples is
not like other places: it is a theoretical city,
una citt� teorica. Naples is a state of mind.?
The true protagonist of Malacqua is Naples,
every street and piazza memorialised.
Beneath its dazzling postmodernist surface lies anger at what has been
done to this city, not by the violence of
nature but by bureaucratic inertia, neglect,
buck-passing and corruption. Pugliese
has captured with force and beauty the
state of mind of a city that is both ?theoretical? and real.
Memphis, 1954
Look, school?s only been out a week but now
It?s so hot that the mimosa tree in back
Has bloomed and started to wilt,
But I?ve got a lot on my mind,
Such as riding my own bike three full miles
To Wiles Drug Store, where they?re saving the new
Uncle Scrooge for me. But what I would really like to do
Is ride all the way downtown to Poplar Tunes
To buy ?Honey Hush? by Big Joe Turner
And ?Honey Love? (Clyde McPhatter and the
Drifters). I also want The Midnighters?
?Work with Me Annie,? but it?s a dirty
Record, and if my parents ask me if
I bought it, I?ll say: I wouldn?t do that.
I would, of course, but I?ll have to keep it
Under my bed and play it only when
They go out. On the way to Wiles, I say
The song titles to myself, starting on
A small history of mid-century taste.
I don?t finish it, getting distracted
By the titles of Hardy Boys books
I haven?t read, especially The Shore
Road Mystery, whose events I try to
Imagine ? a car with its headlights off
Rushing along a cliff by the water.
A full moon and stars. The edge of the world.
Wiles Drug Store, three miles from Carr Avenue
And McLean, two blocks off of Peabody.
The edge of the world.
My parents wonder if I ride to Wiles,
And I tell them, no, I wouldn?t do that.
... while Rome freezes
Harry Mount
The Fate of Rome: Climate,
Disease and the End of Empire
by Kyle Harper
Princeton, �.95, pp. 440
Why did the Roman Empire collapse? It?s
a question that?s been puzzling writers ever
since Edward Gibbon wrote The History of
the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in
the late 18th century. One classicist ? a German, inevitably ? bothered to count up all
the various hypotheses for the fall, and came
up with 210.
The conventional explanation is that, in
410 AD, King Alaric and his Visigoths sacked
Rome. Across the Empire, from Hadrian?s
Wall to Africa, legionaries folded their tents
and deserted their posts.
Several centuries of self-indulgent, overreaching and in-fighting emperors had done
for the whole shooting match, leaving the
Eastern Roman Empire to stumble on until
the fall of Constantinople in 1453. And so
Roman history came to a full stop.
But wait a minute! Here comes Kyle
Harper, professor of classics at Oklahoma
university, with a delicious new theory. It
wasn?t just lusty emperors and barbarian
vandals who brought down the Empire, he
says. It was climate change, solar cycles, volcanoes and rampaging plague that conspired
to destroy the biggest imperial project the
world has ever seen. Harper argues his case
brilliantly, with deep scientific research into
weather, geology and disease. This engaging
? Robert B. Ray
book is at the egghead end of the market, not
one for the kids or fans of Bromans.
Harper doesn?t refute Gibbon?s reasons for the fall, and he agrees with Gibbon?s famous verdict on the Empire?s most
prosperous period, between 96 and 180
AD. That, he says, was when the Romans
achieved a kind of favourable imperial equilibrium ? not too big and not too
small. By 650, those heady days were long
gone: the population of the Mediterranean basin, which had been 75 million,
collapsed to half that; Rome, once home
to 1,000,000 at its ancient height, was now
inhabited by only 20,000.
It was a stratospheric fall. But Gibbon?s
overreach explanation could only be part
of it, says Harper; climate change was crucial too. The period from 200 BC to 150 AD
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
? when the Roman project was at its most
healthy ? also coincided with what he calls
Roman Climate Optimum, when the weather warmed up. Pliny the Elder, writing in
the first century AD, described how beech
trees, which used to grow only in the lowlands, started climbing up mountains as the
temperature rose. Olives and vines were
grown further and further north. The Empire
became a giant greenhouse.
The weather deteriorated in 150?400 AD
? the ?Roman Transitional Period? ? and
hit temperature lows in the ?Late Antique
Little Ice Age?, from 450?700 AD, when the
Empire fell apart.
The worst aspects of climate change,
Harper maintains, hit the Empire just as it
was blighted by its most serious bouts of disease. In 165 AD, the Antonine plague, prob31
By the author of In Praise of Older Women and An Innocent Millionaire
?I liked the short chapters and read it at one gulp, as it
were... conveys in moving ways the ups and downs of a
long marriage, especially a childless one... But the high point
for me comes in Part 2 of the book. It is that rare thing: a
fairy tale for adults. It transforms the novel into something
transcendent and timeless.?
JAIDEEP PRABHU
?Golden remarks and passages are scattered liberally through
the text. A highly realistic story to the point where an escape
from sordid reality makes an impact.?
GEORGE WALDEN
?One of the great contemporary writers who makes the crucial
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WN �K\QWV_Q\PP]UW]ZIVLXI[[QWV�
SERGIO VILA-SANJUAN, LA VANGUARDIA
?I discovered Vizinczey in a bookstore in Strasbourg and was
so fascinated that I wanted to become his Italian publisher.
Vizinczey has a rare gift: he is able to blend disparate threads
of the plot, never uses a word too many; he is incisive and
profound; he describes men and, even more impressively,
women with a few memorable brush strokes. His new, moving
tale is, again, rich both in irony and emotion.?
CESARE DE MICHELIS
�IbWZ[PIZXIVL�MZKMTaN]VVaI[KZMLQJTaNIV\I[\QKITI[;_QN\WZ5IZS<_IQV�
MICHAEL RATCLIFFE
www.stephenvizinczey.com | thehappyfew@btinternet.com
Also available in Hatchards, Waterstones, Daunt Books, selected bookshops as well as on Amazon. Paperback �.99.
ably caused by smallpox, struck. In 249 AD,
an unknown type of pathogen followed.
Then, in 541 AD, the first great pandemic of Yersinia pestis, which causes bubonic
plague, arrived and lingered for more than
two centuries.
Even the least of these catastrophes, the
Antonine plague, killed 7,000,000, according
to Harper?s methodical calculations. Compare this to the bloodiest day in Roman
military history, the Battle of Adrianople in
378 AD, between the Eastern Romans and
Goths, when 20,000 died. In other words, disease killed more people than weapons ?
which remained the case in all conflicts until
the American Civil War.
The natural disasters came thick and fast.
Drought and pestilence in the mid 3rd century, along with political instability, led to a
mini-collapse ? sometimes called the ?first
fall? ? of the Empire. In Egypt in 244 AD,
the Nile, a crucial agricultural source, failed
to rise and irrigate neighbouring fields, and
was weak in the following two years.
That double blow of bubonic plague
and the mini ice age in the sixth century AD
did the rest. The year 536 AD, when clouds
blotted out the sun thanks to a huge volcanic eruption in the northern hemisphere,
was dubbed ?the year without summer?.
And so, by 626 AD, the Persians were at the
walls of Constantinople.
It is an enticing theory, and Harper is
a serious historian. But it?s hard not to
think that this is an environmental history,
written at a time when the environment is
at the forefront of western minds. He overeggs his theory, and cherry-picks his impeccably researched statistics, arranging them
in neat order behind it.
Great natural disasters must have
contributed to the fall of the Roman
Empire; but they must also have affected its rise. In the end, man is eternally
fallible ? and no empire lasts for ever,
whatever the weather.
The colour of fate
Claire Kohda Hazelton
The White Book
by Han Kang, translated from
the Korean by Deborah Smith
Portobello, �, pp. 128
Before the narrator of The White Book is
born, her mother has another child; two
months premature, the baby dies ?less than
two hours into life?. The narrator is born
in the dead baby?s place. ?This life,? she
writes, in a passage directly addressed to
her sister, ?needed only one of us to live
it. If you had lived beyond those first few
hours, I would not be living now.? In small,
breath-like fragments, The White Book,
written while Han Kang was on a writers?
residency in Warsaw, feels its way through
and tries to find meaning in both lives, the
narrator?s and her sister?s ? or, rather, the
single life they have each inhabited, at and
for different times.
Translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith, The White Book follows Kang?s
Human Acts, a novel about the 1980
Gwangju massacre, and The Vegetarian,
in which a woman rejects meat, for which
Kang and Smith won the 2016 Man Booker International Prize. The White Book ?
slim, fragmented, interspersed with black
and white photographs of a performance
in which Kang hunches and crouches over
pieces of white-grey material and foods ?
is quieter and subtler; it is meditative and
slow and deeply personal.
This is both an autobiographical book
and a work of fiction. In a foreign city,
haunted by ghosts from its own tragic past,
Kang imagines her sister, a spirit, ?hovering
at [her] forehead?, walking through Warsaw in her place, seeing and experiencing
the things Kang comes into contact with.
(In Warsaw ? a city that was destroyed
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
in 1944 and reconstructed ? Kang also
sees reflected her sister?s life, its destruction and its reconstruction into a life
for herself.)
Kang shows her sister objects significant to their shared life. Beginning with the
swaddling bands that wrapped her sister?s
still-breathing body, and then became her
shroud, Kang moves through a list of white
things to find structure in her sister?s story.
There are short meditations on salt, rice,
breast milk, white hair, sugar cubes and ?
most movingly ? the white clothes that
the narrator, her brother and her sisterin-law make as an offering to the spirit of
her mother. (?As soon as I held my brother?s lighter to the sleeve, a thread of bluetinged smoke spiralled up. After white
clothes dissolve into the air this way, a spirit will wear them?).
Through such meditations, veins of
story emerge. These describe what might
have been, had the narrator?s sister survived ? ?I think of her living to drink that
milk? I think of her being weaned and
then raised on rice porridge, growing up,
becoming a woman, making it through
every crisis? ? and, concurrently, outlines
of the narrator?s life lived so far. A strange
feeling of conflict arises from reading this
book. While we mourn the potential of
one life passed, we are made continuously
aware of the fact that, had the sister lived,
the narrator would not have been born.
There are two words for white in Korean, hwin and hayan. Kang chooses hwin
for the title of this book. ?Hayan indicates white as an ordinary colour,? she
explains in an interview with her publisher, ?but in hwin there might be a certain
sadness, the colour of fate.? While there
is certainly sadness in this book, there
is also a sense of gratitude, of acceptance and of peace. In instances of death,
we find life, too ? Kang?s own and, part
way through, the birth also of her son, the
33
BOOKS & ARTS
twinge of his existence felt over a bowl of
boiled rice.
This is a breathtakingly beautiful,
compassionate, open, moving book. It is
immensely special. In its pages are evidence
of a true genius.
On with the new
Katrina Gulliver
1947: When Now Begins
by Elizabeth 舠brink, translated
from the Swedish by Fiona Graham
Scribe, �.99, pp. 288
I grew up knowing 1947 as the year of my
father?s birth, in a black-and-white faraway
time. I was told about rationing and petrol
coupons, as yet another chapter in the long
book of ?how good you have it now? ? along
with chilblains, measles, castor oil and walking ten miles to school neck deep in snow,
uphill both ways.
The Swedish author Elizabeth 舠brink
presents the year as the fulcrum of modern
history, when ?everything seemed possible, as
it had already happened?. Month by month,
she shows us the year through the eyes of a
disparate cast of characters. Some of them
are well known (George Orwell, Simone
de Beauvoir, Chuck Yeager, Primo Levi),
some are passers-by who happened to be in
history?s path.
舠brink has dug into archives to
find individuals whose experiences are
synecdochic, such as the Palestinian girl
whose house is attacked during the Nakba,
or a young Romanian Jewish refugee trying
to leave Europe.
The leitmotif of the book is the establishment of Israel, primarily told not through the
actions of many kibbutzim or Zionists, but
from the perspective of the handwringing
UN committee and flailing British administration. We see the concentration camp survivors adrift in a Europe unsure of what to
do with them, and desperate to find a new
home. Some are desperate enough to climb
aboard an overloaded, repurposed American ferry, with barbed wire on the railings,
to try to reach Palestine ? but we only hear
about, not from, them.
Another of her themes is the city of
Malm� as a staging post for Nazis fleeing to
South America. Per Engdahl engineered a
network of fascists to help Nazis escape, and
also to build links with fascist groups around
the world. (Some of 舠brink?s earlier journalism exposed the links between prominent
Swedes and fascism.) She returns to events
in Malm� through the year, as Engdahl?s
work grows, particularly through the fascist
newspaper Der Weg.
Her snapshots are atmospheric and
impressionistic. This is in its way a reminder
that even at the time, nobody saw the whole,
34
or understood all. Each person was focused
only on their own situation. Her selection
of participants is idiosyncratic ? another
author could take the same approach and
focus on a completely different cast.
The partition of India we see from the
perspective of Mountbatten, not Punjabi
civilians. We learn of their suffering at one
remove. But many other parts of the world
are ignored altogether. We see nothing of
Japan adopting its post-war constitution ?
with its famous non-aggression clause (surely a significant event in shaping the modern
world). The reader will search in vain for any
reference to the Chinese civil war ? or the
anticolonial struggles in Indochina and Indonesia. Of course a book like this cannot cover
everything, but it is very Europe-focused.
The ?now? of the title is the now of Europe.
We see Christian Dior launch his New
Look, which offended many as an emblem
of conspicuous consumption when fabric was
still in short supply (one small error: a Diorama skirt was 16 metres in circumference,
The luxurious Diorama skirt
was launched even as Nazis
were still being tried
not diameter). It is a stark reminder that this
luxurious fancy, for those wanting to put that
whole nasty war behind them, was taking
place even as Nazis were still being tried, and
Raphael Lemkin was still struggling to have
genocide accepted by the UN as a crime.
This is for the author a personal story, the
story of her father, a Hungarian Jewish boy.
Aged ten in 1947, he had survived the Nazis,
only to end up trapped behind the Iron Curtain. We see the Cold War ramping up, stage
by stage, not always clearly ? just in people?s
peripheral vision, a cancelled election here, a
border check there.
舠brink?s image of a scarred Europe says
nothing of the bustling maternity wards, and
?Pah! These English with their
Old School Tie Brigade!?
the baby boom that would create our new
future. Surely this is part of what makes 1947
the start of now, with the birth of so many
who would shape the coming decades. The
lack of an index is a weakness, as the experiences of individuals are returned to throughout the book. The idea of 1947 as pivotal in
shaping the modern world is also tenuous
? a historian could as easily make a case
for 1919, 1933, 1941, 1968, or even 1989. But
舠brink?s elegant prose (translated by Fiona
Graham) offers a lyrical history of a year that
seems both recent and ancient.
Just a few tweaks...
Suzi Feay
Mother Land
by Paul Theroux
Hamish Hamilton, �, pp. 509
As I ploughed through this semi-autobiographical behemoth about an author and
travel writer obsessed with his siblings and
mother, I tried to imagine what a hapless
editor might have had to say about the
manuscript. ?I like the way you, I mean
Jay the narrator, makes the point that
your, sorry his, mother is just like a scheming medieval queen, but I think you can
assume readers willing to tackle 500-page
literary novels will remember, so you don?t
need to keep saying it, especially since the
idea?s implied in the title,? such a person
might begin.
?Likewise, the idea that the siblings interact like members of cannibal tribes that
Jay encounters on his travels. So funny and
apt, but just the one mention will do. Going
forward, there?s a lot of telling rather than
showing. Perhaps you could actually dramatise some of this? And regarding the length,
I love the Mr Bones flashback bit, where
Jay?s timid father briefly comes alive while
acting in a minstrel show, but apart from that,
do we even need the first 200 pages? After
all, the story only really gets going with the
discovery of adult Charlie, the firstborn Jay
sent out for adoption. And he gets forgotten
about as the story goes on ? maybe fix that?
?I think you could get away with just the
one incidence of the elderly white narrator trying to hook up with an impoverished
woman of colour half his age. But when he
also hits on the worker in his mother?s care
home, it starts to look creepy ? the unequal power thing, you know? And the references to women who are still fanciable
despite not being beautiful or young are a
teensy bit condescending.
?Novels about novelists are one thing, but
your lead character?s occasional grumbles
about literary critics, and particularly his rage
about the eight-page unfavourable book
review he once got, just isn?t a good look.
Halfway through I thought, given that this
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
BOOKS & ARTS
isn?t a thriller, there?s only one way this book
can end. I peeked, and I was right. Could you
make the arc, if we can call it that, a little less
predictable?
?Still, there?s so much to love, Paul; so
many psychological insights and wonderful turns of phrase. Still got the magic! I?m
wondering about the potential readership
though. People whose families are made
up of saints and angels might find the portrayal of the Justus family (Just us ? brilliant!) fascinating. Everyone else is likely
to say they?ve got a bunch of selfish misfits
of their own to worry about. Best wishes,
your editor.?
Turkish delights
Owen Matthews
The Palace Lady?s Summerhouse
and Other Inside Stories from a
Vanishing Turkey
by Patricia Daunt
Cornucopia Books, �, pp. 304
Patricia Daunt?s collection of essays is a fascinating exploration of some of Turkey?s
most beautiful and evocative places, from
the crumbling grandeur of Count Ignatiev?s
Russian embassy summer villa on the upper
shores of the Bosphorus to the remote and
fog-bound manor houses of the Black Sea.
But the Palace Lady?s Summerhouse is much
more than a beautifully illustrated book: it?s
about the people who lived ? and live ? in
these buildings, and a portrait of the vanishing worlds they represent.
We meet the gentlemanly descendants
of a dynasty of grand viziers who quizzically watch the maritime traffic of the modern
world passing by their ancestral waterside
palace. There are cheerful black peasants
whose great-grandparents came to Turkey as slaves and settled on the shores of
Lake K鰕cegiz, a rarely visited gem in
western Anatolia; and gentlemen teafarmers who spend winter evenings sitting
in the vast inglenooks of ancient farmhouses. It?s a whimsical and finely drawn
account, a love letter to a country and to
a world that has been almost completely swallowed up by tourism, new money
and development.
Daunt, the wife of a former British
ambassador to Turkey, has been able to visit
and document houses, palaces and grand
Bosphorus villas ? known as yalis ? rarely
seen outside a tiny circle of diplomats and
Istanbul grandees. The section on ?palaces
of diplomacy? takes us inside some of the
grandest mansions in Istanbul. Almost all of
them were purpose-built by the great powers to show off their wealth and power to the
Ottoman court. Hence Pera House, the current British consulate-general, is a vast pile
designed by Charles Barry who also built
36
The Russian summer embassy at B鼀黭dere on the Upper Bosphorus,
built in 1840 for General Nikolai Ignatiev. The Tsar?s envoy is said to haunt it still
the Palace of Westminster. The Netherlands
have a perfect early 18th-century Dutch
manor house; the Italians a Venetian palazzo;
the French a baroque hotel particulier, furnished in Louis XVI style.
But it is Daunt?s journeys into the back
corners of Turkey?s own heritage that are
the most fascinating. In a country that (until
recently at least) was swamped with tourists,
Daunt manages to seek out places almost
untouched by the currents of the modern
world. The exquisite mosque complex at
Divrii in central Anatolia, for instance; or the
traditional wooden farmhouses that cling to
the hillsides of the tea-growing valleys above
Trabzon; the basket-weave fishermen?s huts
of Mugla; and the ruins of Aphrodisias ?
every bit as impressive as Ephesus but much
less visited. She visits artists? villas, peasant
farmsteads and cotton plantation houses,
interviewing the residents and exploring
the spirit of these places through their stillliving history.
What brings these various essays together
is a sense of bittersweet nostalgia for a lost
Ottoman world that is common to both palace and hovel. One of the grandest yalis of
the Bosphorus cowers in the shadow of a
soaring road bridge; over the hills from the
dancing waterside light of Lake K鰕cegiz
are rows of high-rise, all-inclusive beachside hotels that have disfigured the coast of
Marmaris. Opposite the yali terrace, where
the aristocratic owners once hosted elegant
swimming parties in the 1950s and entertained the boisterous King Faisal II of Iraq,
an open-air nightclub thuds music across the
water into the small hours.
Daunt?s writing has itself been something
of a well-kept secret over the past quarter
century, as these essays have all appeared in
The descendants of grand viziers
quizzically watch the modern world
pass by their waterside palace
print only in Cornucopia, the greatest magazine you?ve never heard of. Begun nearly 30 years ago by John Scott, a resident of
Istanbul, Cornucopia has chronicled the art
and history of Turkey with intelligence and
taste ? but quaintly still resists the internet age by only putting small excerpts of its
content online.
Until now, Cornucopia has been a kind
of in-house secret for the sort of literary connoisseurs who frequent Chelsea?s John San-
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
doe bookshop. With the publication of this
book, Daunt?s chronicles ? illustrated with
haunting and lovely photos by Fritz von der
Schulenburg, among others ?are finally
available to a wider audience. An unexpected treasure.
Found and lost
Richard Davenport-Hines
Charley?s Woods: Sex, Sorrow and
a Spiritual Quest in Snowdonia
by Charles Duff
Zuleika, �, pp. 254
Charles Duff?s memoir tells a sad tale of cruelty and betrayal with spry wit rather than
bitter resentment. Notwithstanding the subtitle?s threat of earnest Welsh soul-searching, Charley?s Woods is tart, arch and crisp.
It recalls a strange, lonely childhood with
brisk frivolity and a ruthless perception of
other people?s oddities, vices and humours.
Duff was born in Battersea in 1949. His
mother, Irene Gray, was a Dublin social
worker who pioneered role-play therapy in Ireland, and became pregnant by an
Irish don of French-Jewish descent. After
her son?s surreptitious birth, she hastened
back to Dublin. In a hugger-mugger fashion, without legal formalities, two collateral
royalties, the Marchioness of Carisbrooke
and her sister-in-law the Countess of
Athlone, arranged for the infant to be
adopted, at the age of ten weeks, by
Sir Michael and Lady Caroline Duff.
The Duffs had a mariage blanc. He
preferred men, and her taste was predominantly for women. She had, however, become pregnant, and Duff, a country neighbour who wanted a male heir but
was unlikely to father one, married her for
mutual advantage. Some attributed the
paternity of Caroline?s child to her uncle-bymarriage Duff Cooper; but Anthony Eden,
who had been her occasional lover since
the 1930s, believed he was the father. In
any event, the baby was stillborn. Jonathan Gray was substituted as a consolation
for Caroline, and transmuted into Charles
Duff. His new forename was in memory of
his adoptive mother?s recently dead father,
the Marquess of Anglesey.
Michael Duff was the last male of a family of Welsh slate millionaires originally
called Duff-Assheton-Smith. They lived in
a large, plain, white-faced house, Vaynol, in
Gwynedd, with a 1,000-acre park enclosed
by a seven-mile wall. The park had a manmade lake with three islands, red deer, white
cattle, a rhinoceros and a giraffe. Mount
Snowdon was part of the property.
As a character sketch of a disturbed baronet and of father-son animosity, Charley?s
Woods vies with Osbert Sitwell?s account
of his impossible father. Sir Michael stut-
tered, seemed witless, had an elephant fetish, hated horses and adulated royalty. ?He
looked so odd: tall, thin, shapeless, with
a gormless smile on his handsome face,
and, sometimes, foam around his mouth,?
Charles recalls. His callous spite towards
a child whose adoption he regretted shows
an astounding lack of self-awareness.
Caroline Duff lost her virginity to
Tallulah Bankhead, who is quoted as saying: ?Pity the poor lesbian, who cannot
whistle at her work.? She lived for decades with a tipsy actress whom Charles
remembers as ?wild, rebellious, insecure
and wonderful fun?. Dressing in slacks
and men?s sweaters, Caroline was ?opaque,
mysterious and intriguing?, Charles says.
?There was an incomparable stillness
about her. She always listened beautifully ? although I?m not sure she often
heard much. Her movements were lithe
and sexy.? She was a splendid mother to a
small boy ? ?affectionate, tactile, encouraging; often tickling, laughing and rolling
about on furniture and floors?. But she
rejected her foundling after he reached
adolescence. Her wayward self-indulgence
is ultimately chilling.
Charley?s Woods is rueful rather than
boastful. It abounds in lordly and theatrical anecdotes, waspishness and mordant
intelligence. After reading the works of
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Teilhard de Chardin, the teenage boy was buggered in his
changing cubicle on a Tangiers beach by
Joe Orton (?It was the first time I had had
sex with anyone other than a schoolfriend?).
There is grateful remembrance of obscure
noblemen, glamorous cosmopolitans such
as Cecil Beaton and of the Vaynol chauffeur and his wife, George and Eluned Russell, who saved Charles?s sanity as a child
(?I loved them as much as I loved anybody?).
The Duffs had a mariage blanc.
He preferred men, and her taste
was predominantly for women
He is loyal in his admirations: he was at prep
school with Prince Charles, and now thinks
him ?the reincarnation of Solomon?.
There is a delicious section on a man
who doubled as salesroom correspondent
of the Observer and as a pimp for upperclass married gay men. Originally named
Harry Carnes, he wished to change his name
to ?Simon Sailor?, but being dissuaded, compromised by becoming ?Simon Fleet?. Duff
says that Fleet woke each morning thinking ?what has this day got to offer me, and
for me to offer others?? It might be the
epigraph for his tender-hearted, prickly,
resilient and life-enhancing memoir.
Tipu Sultan
?New Paradigm 5? Canvas Acrylics and Oil, 16ins x 12ins �0,000.00
Also A4 card acrylics and oil paintings �0,000.00
Tipu Sultan is a British artist and philosopher based in London.
He is the philosopher of ?A New Paradigm, New Paradigm,
New Paradigmism, New Paradigmist? For more information visit:
www.tipusultanart.co.uk
Visit Amazon or www.lulu.com
for the romantic/comedy/action/thriller
?The Best Dreamers? a book by Tipu Sultan.
37
BOOKS & ARTS
COURTESY OF THE ARTIST?S ESTATE/ PANGOLIN, LONDON
?Chalices? ? a lesser known enamel
work by Geoffrey Clarke, 1950
Sculpture of the
imagination
Andrew Lambirth
Geoffrey Clarke:
A Sculptor?s Materials
by Judith LeGrove
Sansom & Company, �, pp. 176
Geoffrey Clarke, Sculptor:
A Catalogue Raisonn�
by Judith LeGrove
Pangolin/Lund Humphries, �, pp. 248
At the height of his fame in the mid-1960s,
the sculptor Geoffrey Clarke (1924?2014)
was buying fast cars and flying to architects?
meetings by helicopter. Within a decade the
commissions for public sculptures had dwindled, and the rest of his career was something of an anticlimax. Yet he remained
largely undaunted and was exceptionally prolific, making some 900 sculptures
and more than 200 etchings, as well as 3,500
monotypes.
He first came to public attention in 1952,
38
as one of the artists representing Britain at
the Venice Biennale. He was a ?Geometry of
Fear? sculptor, along with Kenneth Armitage and Lynn Chadwick, and his work at this
point was like sophisticated ironmongery,
full of grilles and probes, spears and sickles, though Clarke?s formal control invested
the work with far deeper symbolic meaning. A man might be an upright cluster of
metal rods with a tiny sphere for a head ?
more like a dockyard crane than anything
human ? but the sculpture has a spiritual presence and energy that makes it
lastingly memorable.
Clarke is perhaps most closely associated
with the metal he subsequently adopted, aluminium, which he cast in slabs and troughs
and boxy extrusions. The succession of
troughs and flats in a typical sculpture may
be taken as a metaphor of the human condition, but in Clarke?s work there are plenty of
high points of exaltation as well. He worked
on a number of major commissions, including sculpture and glass for churches.
Until recently, there has been very little written on him, apart from exhibition
catalogues and a slim monograph by Peter
Black, published in 1994, which was really
the catalogue for a touring show. Then in
2012 Judith LeGrove produced her superb
book Geoffrey Clarke: A Sculptor?s Prints,
which listed all his etchings and lithographs
and discussed his approach to printmaking
in perceptive detail.
Now LeGrove has turned her attention to Clarke?s sculpture. With the simultaneous publication of a monograph and a
catalogue raisonn�, Clarke is at last served
extremely well, and we are encouraged to
assess his achievement in its entirety. The
only area of his work not yet covered is his
huge output of monotypes, which he often
used like a sketchbook to explore his ideas
for sculpture. Their publication would be a
Herculean labour not to be expected just
yet, though they would doubtless throw
much light on the artist?s working practice.
Landscape, architecture and the fabric of
the church were the constants of Clarke?s
childhood, LeGrove tells us, and they fruitfully inform his subject matter. He decided
not to follow his father into architecture,
but to pursue a more imaginative course in
the visual arts. Initially he studied stained
glass at the Royal College of Art, observing
sculpture from a distance.
Printmaking was an important early
outlet for his distinctive imagery: much
of it linear and based on the principle of
growth (note the influence of Paul Klee and
neolithic carvings and cave paintings), with
a particular interest in the independent spiritual visions of artists such as William Blake,
Stanley Spencer and Cecil Collins. Clarke
saw the spiritual everywhere and was determined to originate a formal vocabulary that
could communicate his perceptions.
In later years his work grew even more
diverse as he experimented with land art
(including sculptures of living moss and
polystyrene), and sculptures to do with
smell (anticipating Patrick Suskind?s 1985
novel Perfume by more than a decade).
LeGrove?s approach in A Sculptor?s Materials is thematic rather than strictly chronological, but her various chapters (Stone,
Glass, Bronze, Aluminium etc) allow her
to investigate Clarke?s thought alongside
the physical manifestations of it. Her text is
properly scholarly, but her substantial book
is also a pleasure to read, beautifully and
clearly written with an enviable command
not only of Clarke?s work but the historical
and artistic context in which it was made.
A Sculptor?s Materials is full of
unexpected things: a lovely gouache study
for a stained-glass window, another for
a mosaic, iron relief panels, jewellery and
medals. The Catalogue Raisonn� evolved
quite naturally from LeGrove?s research
on the monograph: she began to make a list
of Clarke?s main works to understand better the development of his ideas and forms.
Being thorough in her approach, the list
soon became exhaustive and her catalogue
of the sculpture contains more than 1,000
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
entries. At � it needs to be well-illustrated, and is, and it lists such little-known
works as Clarke?s enamels on copper,
needlepoint embroideries and ceramics,
along with the more familiar sculptures.
Through this intimate and intelligent
account of his work, LeGrove demonstrates
incontrovertibly that Geoffrey Clarke
deserves proper recognition. He has been
unfairly marginalised and ignored, and it is
clearly time for a big museum retrospective.
Who will take up the gauntlet?
High stakes and chips
Wynn Wheldon
He Played for His Wife
and Other Stories
edited by Anthony Holden
and Natalie Galustian
Simon & Schuster, �.99, pp. 288
According to the subtitle, this is a collection
of ?short stories of long nights at the poker
table?. Were that the case, this would be
a more enjoyable book, but there are too
many stories here that stray from the baize.
As a game, poker is relatively simple.
The deal gives you your ?hole? cards, the
ones you and no one else can see. They
determine whether you play the hand or
not. The betting follows as cards are further distributed. One by one players drop
out, hopes dashed. Finally someone wins,
not necessarily with the best hand. Beginning, middle, end.
Poker has a richer literature than any
other card game. Its attraction to writers
is in its inherent suspense and the tension
that creates. An old poker saw maintains
that you play the players, not the cards.
Everyone has a ?tell? that betrays their
excitement or disappointment: a licking of
the lips, a scratching of the nose, a stroking
of the beard. Poker players wear sunglasses,
baseball caps, hoodies, low-pulled Stetsons,
hoping to give nothing away and yet, for the
writer, each player is a ?character?.
The best stories here are about actual
games, full of poker?s rich argot. A character in Barny Boatman?s terrific opener is
told that ?Sit-down is ten lumps but most
start with a pony, and you need a couple
of pull-ups?. James McManus, whose truelife story is a highlight, writes: ?Three hands
later, after calling a min-raise with the A-Q
of hearts, I flop the nut flush draw, check,
call an almost pot-sized bet on the flop, hit
the third heart on the turn, and get it all
in??. McManus is a highly regarded poet,
among other writerly accomplishments,
and you can hear why.
His contribution is followed by that of
DBC Pierre, whose piece is characteristically exhilarating if hugely overweighted. A story by David Flusfeder suggests
an eternal ?heads-up? (two players), and
the lessons a dealer learns from watching.
Anthony Holden, one of the editors, and
the author of the poker classic Big Deal,
has a dream in which the table is attended by subjects of his own real biographical studies: Mozart, Charles and Diana,
Olivier, the mass poisoner Graham Young
and Shakespeare. It is a nice idea, but
somehow also a little lazy.
Diana turns up again in Carol Ann
Duffy?s poem, ?Mrs Beast?, sadly excluded
from a poker school that?s ?tough as fuck,/
All of us beautiful and rich ? the Woman
Who Married a Minotaur, Goldilocks,
the Bride / Of the Bearded Lesbian, Frau
Yellow Dwarf, et Moi.?
Michael Craig?s story, ?A Devil in New
Jersey?, like a very short novel, is probably
the best thing here, though only incidentally
about poker.
There are a number of dull and even
disagreeable contributions. One tends to
want to get back to the demimonde that
poker inhabits in the popular imagination,
to gangsters, cheats, bourbon, marked cards,
night and the clicking of chips. Whether it?s
Mill Hill or Atlantic City, that?s where the
real action is.
Only connect
Louis Amis
Like a Fading Shadow
by Antonio Mu駉z Molina, translated from
the Spanish by Camilo A. Ramirez
Tuskar Rock Press, �.99, pp. 320
This newly translated novel by the Spanish
writer Antonio Mu駉z Molina is really two
books, spliced together in alternating chapters. One is a deeply researched account of
the squalid peregrinations of James Earl
Ray, who spent two months on the run after
murdering Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968.
The other is a memoir charting the gradual
attainment of personal and professional happiness on the part of the author himself.
The reader feels confident that both protagonists will eventually arrive at their historically appointed destinies: handcuffs at
Heathrow airport for Ray; a career as a celebrated author for Mu駉z Molina. But con-
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
?I?ll call you back ? I?m about to
go through a tunnel.?
siderable suspense surrounds the question of
what on earth these two stories will have to
do with each other. The mystery only deepens as the crux of the book is revealed to be
the bland coincidence that both men, at different times, travelled to Lisbon.
Lisbon, then, is the main setting. Ray is
there blundering in and out of flophouses
and trying to find passage to Africa, where
he hopes to continue his career of shooting at black people as a mercenary in colonial wars. Mu駉z Molina first visits in 1987
to find the backdrop for what would be his
breakthrough novel. He is also committing
offences against his first marriage. The two
men drink in would-be similar bars. They
also read distantly related stuff. Mu駉z Molina likes the metaphysical detective stories of
Borges and the existentialist noir of Juan
Carlos Onetti; Ray pores over spy novels
?where the brand of everything the characters carry or use is detailed? (as well as autohypnosis manuals, and the adverts in Life
magazine). They are both living in fantasy
worlds, with ?that delirious belief? that real
life was elsewhere, that imagination is richer
and more powerful than reality.?
The parts about Ray are bleakly mesmerising. The parts about Mu駉z Molina
meander elegantly into ruminations on literature and the writing process. After Ray
is captured, he too begins to write ? reams
of counterfactual autobiography in which a
shadowy figure named Raoul was instead
responsible for his crime. With clever sleight
of hand, Mu駉z Molina is at this point able
to deploy paragraphs that could be referring
to either protagonist. But the juxtaposition
remains strangely arbitrary.
Meanwhile, a redheaded woman appears
in the picturesque way that both men had
perhaps dreamed of. She appears to Mu駉z
Molina, never to Ray: the novel is also
a love letter to the author?s second wife.
Later, this couple travel to the depressed
city of Memphis, to visit the scene of the
crime, the Lorraine Motel, where they find
the National Civil Rights Museum, erected
there in memorial. The broader history is
thus opened up for the first time, eliciting an
unexpected and magnificent finale.
The American civil rights struggle is a
story of our species at its most noble and its
most vile. With a shot fired from a bathroom
reeking of ?fermented urine?, a pusillanimous
moron strikes down one of the finest human
beings in history. The significance of this
event, which finds its constant echo in atrocities up to the present day, is universal.
Across an ocean, decades later, a grateful man of letters finds marital happiness
at the second attempt, and sees his children begin to navigate their adult lives.
The deep connection between the stories is suddenly clear: as Mu駉z Molina?s
book demonstrates with an awkward
power, it?s a connection that can, in fact, go
without saying.
39
BOOKS & ARTS
ARTS
Animal attraction
Mary Wakefield talks to the director Brett Morgen,
whose film about Jane Goodall tells a remarkable love story
T
here are times when our national
passion for cutting people down to
size is a little tiring. I left Brett Morgen?s new documentary about Jane Goodall,
the chimpanzee expert, in a rare flush of
excited enthusiasm. ?You?ve got to see it!? I
said to everyone. Most replied along these
lines: ?Goodall, didn?t she turn out to be a
fraud?? Or: ?Wasn?t it all Leakey?s work she
took credit for??
?Yeah, what?s with that?? says Brett Morgen hunched over his toast in a very hipster
Soho hotel. ?In the Times of London today,
in the review, it says Jane can?t hold a candle to David Attenborough. I?m like, he?s a
fucking TV presenter! Jane?s contribution
to humankind? I don?t even know how
to measure it! What woman of the past 100
years could she be measured against??
We both shake our heads in disbelief. But
Morgen?s right: Jane was and is remarkable.
In the summer of 1960, just 26, she went off
to live in the Gombe Stream National Park,
Tanzania. She took her mother and a boatload of supplies, and set about winning the
trust of the Kasakela chimps. Louis Leakey,
the great Kenyan paleoanthropologist, gave
her the opportunity but Jane made the
great discoveries. She became accepted by
the Gombe gang, saw chimps use tools for
the first time. Her work redefined both their
species and ours.
Jane (now 83) is exceptional and this
40
National Geographic film is exceptional, too
? worthy of her, and worthy of an Oscar
too, I?d say. It?s just utterly unlike any other
wildlife documentary or biopic.
The movie has its genesis in a discovery: boxes and boxes of previously unseen
footage of Goodall in the Gombe taken by
the young wildlife photographer Hugo van
Lawick. As Brett says: ?They shot the film in
1965 and they put the film back into storage
until somebody needed it, and nobody needed it. This archivist is walking through the
Jane Goodall?s work with the
Kasakela chimps rede?ned both their
species and ours
halls, sees these boxes and calls up someone
in production and says, by the way, do you
guys know that we have all this Jane Goodall
footage? So this person calls up the president of the network, who had just seen my
movie and said we should get Brett Morgen
to do this.?
That must have seemed a rum choice at
the time. Morgen is intense, very LA, very
rock?n?roll, very concerned if his orange juice
doesn?t come on time. He?s famous for his
film about the rock star Kurt Cobain and
The Kid Stays in the Picture, about the Hollywood producer Robert Evans. But as it turns
out, Brett Morgen was the perfect choice.
?It seemed crazy to me at first,? he says.
?I couldn?t understand why they were calling me, to be honest. Initially, I said no.? Then
Brett watched Van Lawick?s film and discovered in it a love story: the romance between
Hugo and Jane herself, caught quite plainly
on film.
?It was immediately clear what was going
on,? says Morgen. ?They were falling in love
with each other through the lens of the camera. It?s fascinating. Particularly because in
1965 this would have been an annoyance.
You?re not supposed to become personal.?
Morgen looks up from under his brows,
decidedly chimp-like. He says, ?It proves
a point, don?t you think, that film, like all
media, is organic, it?s alive. The meaning of
this footage has changed tenfold in the past
52 years. What was perceived in 1965 as junk
is now the essence of our story.?
What?s so terrific about Jane is that Morgen lets Van Lawick?s footage be. There?s a
score written for the film by Philip Glass and
an interview with contemporary Jane cut in,
but the original film takes centre stage. And
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
Monkey business: Jane Goodall
because you?re seeing through Hugo?s eyes,
you really don?t have a choice but to fall in
love with Jane, with him.
Was eighty-something Jane what he
expected from the twenty-something version? I ask him. ?No!? Morgen laughs. ?I?d
been seeing her through Hugo?s eyes and
I show up and she doesn?t know who I
am. She was assuming it was going to be
?What was perceived in 1965 as junk
is now the essence of our story?
another heavily narrated documentary, so
when we called for an interview, she really
couldn?t be bothered. I mean she was very
difficult. The first question I asked her was
do you mind telling your story, do you get
tired of telling your story? And she said,
well, it depends on who?s asking me the
question. No smile.?
So how did you crack her? What got
through? ?On day two, I needed to figure
out a different approach so I showed her
the sequence on my computer of her and
Hugo falling in love. She had never seen that
footage. She didn?t know it existed. She suddenly recognised I was making a very different type of film and kind of warmed up at
that point. Now our relationship is amazing.
You?d think we were on honeymoon together and that?s because Jane is very happy with
the way the film came out, she loves it.?
Jane is not in the end a traditional love
story ? and that?s to Morgen?s credit.
After their son was born, Goodall and Van
Lawick parted ways. Jane?s vocation was in
Gombe with her chimps; Hugo?s was in the
Serengeti.
?My epiphany,? says Morgen, ?was understanding that this was not a love story
between a man and a woman but between a
woman and her work and at the end of the
film, when she realises this is what my life?s
work is meant to be, we finish her story.?
Jane is in a way a collaboration between
three people, all equally devoted to their
life?s work ? perhaps that?s why it?s so
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
affecting. There?s Hugo van Lawick, from
beyond the grave. There?s Jane herself. And
there?s strange, intense Brett Morgen, who
also has the gift of putting his subject first.
When Jane first saw the final finished film,
she was sitting beside Morgen. ?It was without question one of the highest moments in
my career,? he says. ?Oh, without question.
We had very humble expectations for this
film, very humble, like maybe we?ll get into a
movie theatre for a day or two but it?s probably a television documentary, I don?t know.
When we took it to Toronto, the movie place,
the second it cut to black at the end of the
film, before the first credit came on, 800 people rose to their feet and stayed there for five
minutes. We never ran the credits. Jane was
sitting beside me and I was swept in this tide.
I can?t believe what?s happening, so I stand up
and start looking at her and applauding and
then she stands up and looks at me and we
both have tears in our eyes.?
Jane is in cinemas now.
41
BOOKS & ARTS
THE LISTENER
Bj鰎k: Utopia
Grade: A
A dimbo pop reviewer for one of
our national newspapers suggested
that on this album, her ninth, Bj鰎k
was ?continuing her exploration of
structurelessness?. It doesn?t sound
wildly enticing, does it? Do go on,
etc. It is true that on Utopia there is
nothing that has the glorious, simple,
pop sheen, and hook, of ?Venus As
A Boy? from all those years ago.
It is true, too, that she looks like
a mental on the album cover and
cavorts in her videos like a member
of the smafolk ? dwarfish and
ethereal winged creatures from
Scandinavian folklore. But then
she was never going to act like
Bachman-Turner Overdrive, or
Kasabian, was she? This is Bj鰎k, as
she always was.
There is structure here, a lot of
it ? just not of the kind usually
found within what we might call
popular music. Amicable time
signatures are dispensed with, even
on the lovely, indecipherable single
?Blissing Me?. Nor, you will be
surprised to discover, is the versechorus-verse-middle-eight formula
adhered to terribly strictly at any
point. Sometimes you are left simply
with Bj鰎k?s plangent and yearning
but very sparse vocals ? and some
electronics plus a superfluity of
harps or flutes ? as on the beautiful
?Tabula Rasa?. You are always made
to wait for the harmonic money shot
and indeed sometimes the money
shot never actually comes, so to
speak, as on ?The Gate?. But there
is always a clear focus: these pieces
work, if you are patient, if you have
enough time to wait.
Trouble is, who does these days?
Still, if you like Schoenberg, you may
well appreciate this cleverness. I do.
? Rod Liddle
42
Radio
Sound of the Gods
Kate Chisholm
At the launch of the Christmas radio schedules last week, James Purnell, director of
radio (and much more) at the BBC, stressed
repeatedly the need for radio to be ?reinvented? for this new digital age. But what
did he mean by reinvent? Was he hinting at
the need for a new, leaner radio, the soundonly stations running up cheaper bills for the
corporation? Or was he envisaging a translation of the existing radio networks into
something more than just audio, focusing
not so much on what goes on in the studio
but on the new digital future, visualised and
captured online.
?Enhanced? would have been a much less
troubling word to use, or maybe ?adapted?,
taking maximum advantage of what the
digital revolution can add to an ?old? technology, amplifying what it already does, taking it to a new audience and drawing them
in. For what is there that needs to be reinvented about the mystical bond between
What is there that needs to be
reinvented about the mystical bond
between loudspeaker and listener?
loudspeaker and listener, that unseen yet
profound connection, which is the essence
of radio, its unique selling point (to borrow
a phrase from marketing), the reason why
we stay tuned in.
On Sunday, Radio 3 demonstrated not
just its ability to create an invisible yet very
real connection between its community of
listeners (both at home and abroad) but
also how it?s possible to make the best use of
digital while retaining the values developed
under the analogue regime. Building on the
success of last year?s 12-hour sequence celebrating the station?s 70th birthday, Sacred
River created a continuous stream of music
throughout the day without any presentation or contextualisation. Listeners had to
allow themselves to be swept along by its
momentum, or as Edward Blakeman, head
of music programming at Radio 3, told me:
?You?ve got to get in the river and you?ve
got to float.? All responsibility was invested
in the listener and in their willingness to go
along with the flow.
Even 20 years ago such freedom and
apparent lack of control would have been
anathema to the corporation. Listeners, too,
would have been appalled by the absence of
direction, the neglect of their best interests.
No one telling us what was being played,
leaving us to make wild guesses as to what
it might be; the odd and unsettling juxtapositions of genre and tone; the absence of
any human interaction, no Rob or Sarah or
Sean talking us through the music and the
day. But of course with digital none of that
matters. All we had to do was go online and
follow the programme notes that appeared
on the Radio 3 website, unfolding throughout the day in line with the music; or brave
the tweeting community and join in the
virtual discussion about what was being
played (a needless distraction for some and
yet even I must acknowledge an effective
way of building community). And the programme, whole and entire, is up there for 30
days, ready to download via iPlayer at the
touch of a button.
This time there was a structured musical narrative, inspired by and complementing Radio 4?s Living with the Gods series,
which under Neil MacGregor?s expert
guidance has been looking at the ways
in which societies across the world have
developed rituals and beliefs that attempt
to explain and make sense of our place in
the universe. Sunday?s sequence reflected
on the ways in which faith has influenced
and moulded much of western music, and
how music in turn has been used to illuminate and interpret the nebulous nature of
belief. Six sections were each introduced
by a particular piece of music derived from
one of the major world faiths, opening the
door on creation, light, nature, love, liturgy
and contemplation, and finally life, death
and eternity. Nature, for instance, was heralded by a Syrian Orthodox hymn from
Antioch, setting the words, ?A young dove
is holding an ancient eagle??. Liturgy and
contemplation began with Buddhist chanting accompanied by the gentle flapping
sound of a Buddhist prayer wheel turning
in the wind.
The music, curated by the BBC?s religious
affairs and music departments in Salford,
ranged widely from Tchaikovsky?s Path閠ique Symphony to Roxanna Panufnik?s setting of the Catholic Mass, via Bach, Bruch,
Haydn, Holst, Tavener, Jeanne Demessieux
and Tarik O?Regan. The Tavener, though,
was not as you might expect inspired by
the Greek Orthodox liturgy but by Buddhism, while the chosen piece by Holst was
his choral settings of the Rig Veda. Not all
the works were choral and word-based.
The Bruch piece was inspired by the Jewish prayer recited during the evening service, Kol Nidrei, but a solo cello imitates the
sound of the cantor?s voice, leaving the listener free to contemplate the message contained in the music.
The success or failure of such a sound
adventure depends not just on the selection and juxtaposition. These pieces were
all played live, the producer and studio
team lining up each piece of music, one
after the other. They decided on the day,
in the moment, how long a pause to leave
between one piece ending and the next
beginning. And it?s in those pauses that the
magic happened. The impact of carefully
curated silence.
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
peter brown
East Coast and London
6 ? 23 December 2017
Crabbing at Blakeney, 2017
oil on canvas 51 x 41 cms 20 x 16 ins
Fully illustrated catalogue of 51 paintings ? � inc p&p.
MESSUM?S
2 8 C ork Street , London W1S 3 N G
Tel: + 4 4 ( 0 )2 0 74 37 5 5 4 5
w w w.messums.c om
BOOKS & ARTS
Television
Living dolls
James Walton
This week on Channel 4, we watched a
cheery 58-year-old American engineer called
James going on a first date. He was meeting
Harmony, an extravagantly shapely blonde
who was obliging enough to be wearing a
low-cut crop top and tiny shorts, and who
greeted him with a charming smile. After a
spot of small talk and a dumb-blonde joke,
she then alternated between assuring him
how great he was and inviting him to masturbate over her. ?You?re awesome,? a visibly
smitten James declared ? apparently not at
all bothered that Harmony was a robot.
This scene ? clearly regarded as a
heartwarming one by Harmony?s maker
Matt McMullen ? provided the big finish
to Thursday?s The Sex Robots Are Coming, which did its best to take a measured,
non-sniggering, non-aghast look at the
latest developments in the lucrative sexdoll market.
Until recently, the problem with such
dolls has been that, while they may look
increasingly realistic (albeit from the more
pornographic end of the reality spectrum),
their social skills are distinctly limited. But
now Matt?s company is one of several competing to produce dolls that can recognise
their owners and have proper conversations.
If all goes well, customers will even be able
to select their new doll?s personality, with
options including shy, talkative and ? for
added realism, some unreconstructed males
might think ? moody.
Not that James doesn?t have a soft spot
for the old type too. When we first met
him, he proudly introduced us to ?the lovely April? ? his favourite of the three nonrobot dolls with whom he shares his life.
(?It?s not to demean women,? he explained
as he flipped the naked April over on his bed
and slapped her bottom. ?It?s more an appreciation of their physical beauty.?) More surprisingly, perhaps, he also introduced us to
Tine, his wife of 36 years, who insisted that
James is ?a great husband?.
Tine was still present when James told us
that April is ?the perfect girl? ? although not
when he went into some detail about how
exciting his and April?s sex life is. Or when
he said that if he had to choose between her
and his wife, he really doesn?t know which
one he?d go for. And with that, he went back
to gently washing April?s face and tenderly
removing her head to repair her neck.
But, it seems, even the lovely April
mightn?t be able to hang on to her man now
that his eye?s been caught by a newer model.
So what about the ethics of sleeping with
robot sex dolls?
Matt duly took a rather pious line, arguing that any objections from oppressive
44
bigots will gradually go the same way as
homophobia and transphobia. Indeed, he
clinchingly predicted, within 50 years, sex
robots will be as widespread as porn. (So
that?s OK, then.) Less thrilled was Kathleen
Richardson, feminist academic and founder of the sci-fi-sounding Campaign Against
Sex Robots. On Thursday, Richardson was
allowed approximately a minute to make
her case that these objects objectify women
? but, given that the English language was
on her side, she made it persuasively nonetheless. Even so, James?s own verdict was
possibly the most telling of all for the future
of male-robot relations. ?It might be selfish,?
he said. ?But I?m all right with that.?
For all its eye-popping content, The Sex
Robots Are Coming was at heart a conventional documentary. Not so Naples ?44
(BBC4, Sunday), based on the wartime dia-
Matt clinchingly predicted that within
50 years sex robots will be as
widespread as porn
ries of Norman Lewis, who before becoming a travel writer was an intelligence officer
during the Allied occupation.
The programme, in fact, was based very
heavily on the diaries ? because most of it
consisted of Benedict Cumberbatch reading
them in voiceover to the visual accompaniment of contemporary footage and clips
from later, vaguely related films, including
some of Catch-22?s Roman scenes.
At first, this mosaic technique was a little distracting. But soon it started to create a hallucinatory quality that felt entirely
appropriate for a city where humanity was
reduced to something approaching the elemental. In one section, Lewis wrote of working-class housewives lined up facing a wall
with piles of tinned food beside them ? the
idea being that any soldier could have sex
with them as long as he added another tin.
Elsewhere, he saw a British officer beating
an Italian civilian with a chair, then asking
a private to shoot the man. ?I don?t mind if
I do, sir,? the private replied. Several times,
Lewis noted that two things flourishing amid
the chaos and hunger were theft and religion,
with a third of Allied supplies ending up on
the black market and the churches packed.
There was also an almost King Lear sense
of an already horrifying situation constantly getting worse, as delayed-action German
bombs began to explode, and epidemics of
typhus and smallpox broke out. And that
was before Vesuvius erupted?
Theatre
Dancing queen
Lloyd Evans
Everybody?s Talking About Jamie
Apollo Theatre, until 21 April 2018
Bad Roads
Royal Court Theatre, until 23 December
Everybody?s Talking About Jamie opened
at the Sheffield Crucible in February for a
standard three-week run. The show is based
on a BBC documentary, Jamie: Drag Queen
at 16, about a working-class lad who attended his school prom in a scarlet frock. Director Jonathan Butterell saw the potential to
create a replica Billy Elliot and he brought
in two co-writers to turn the material into a
comic musical. Word of mouth was excellent
and the show received immediate offers for
a West End transfer.
The action starts in a Sheffield comp
where a class of 16-year-olds are being given
career advice by a computer. Blond misfit
Jamie is encouraged to train as a forklifttruck driver. But he has other ideas. With his
mum?s help he sets off in search of his inner
self as a gender-fluid diva. The story falls
into two parts. First, Jamie must perform in
drag at a local cabaret club. Second, he must
gatecrash his end-of-term party dressed as
a woman. Technically, these missions are
identical. And the second is far less demanding than the first. Which is the wrong way
around. Script doctors attest that the hero?s
obstacles must increase, not decrease in difficulty. And the script spends too much time
with Jamie as he learns the tricks of the trade
from a threesome of older trannies, Sandra
Bollock, Laika Virgin and Tray Sophisticay.
But this interlude allows the material
to transcend Jamie?s story and to become
a wider portrait of Sheffield and its justabout-managing classes. Jamie?s mum
(Josie Walker) is the show?s emotional core.
She struggles to hold her crumbling family together and to protect Jamie from his
homophobic dad who has suffered a fit of
moral disgust and is ready to start afresh
with a woman who will give him a ?real son?.
Margaret?s best friend Ray (played by the
sardonically sexy Mina Anwar) joins the
campaign against the teachers who want
to stop Jamie from appearing in drag at the
school bash. Jamie finds an unlikely Muslim
ally in the classroom. Pritti Pasha is a bullied
nerd in a hijab who offers him moral support
and at the same time discovers her pride in
her own identity. She starts off as a mousy
swot, then grows into Jamie?s Islamic fag-
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
C H R I S B E E T L E S G A L L E RY
The Illustrators Today
9 December 2017 ? 6 January 2018
To complement our longstanding annual exhibition,
?The Illustrators?, the Chris Beetles Gallery offers this
celebration of the best in contemporary illustration and
cartooning. ?The Illustrators Today?, represent leading
and much loved practitioners of picture book, literary
and magazine illustration, and also of political and pocket
cartoons and caricature.
Nick Butterworth (born 1946)
A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the
exhibition, priced � + free p&p to Spectator readers.
Monday ? Saturday
Artists featuring in
The Illustrators Today
10am ? 5.30pm
John Burningham ? Nick Butterworth
All images are available to
purchase and can be viewed on
our website
Michael Foreman ? Helen Oxenbury
Paul Cox ? Peter Cross
Jonathan Cusick ? Simon Drew
and Fulvio Testa
Michael Foreman (born 1938)
John Burningham (born 1936)
CHRIS BEETLES GALLERY
www.chrisbeetles.com
Helen Oxenbury (born 1938)
8 & 10 Ryder Street St James?s London SW1Y 6QB ? 020 7839 7551 ? gallery@chrisbeetles.com ? www.chrisbeetles.com
BOOKS & ARTS
hag, and she ends up as the nemesis of the
classroom tyrant, Dean, who may be secretly gay. Pritti?s story is one of those fabulous
acts of transformation that stamps a show
indelibly on one?s mind. She?s played by the
quietly dazzling Lucie Shorthouse.
The outstanding performance belongs
to John McCrea in the title role. His slender physique and his gaunt, sheet-white face
recall the young Bowie, but with an added
hint of gangly camp innocence. McCrea
has it all as a musical performer. He can
dance, he can sing, he can find the laughs,
he can deliver the role?s emotional truth,
and he can steer the attention of the crowd
wherever it needs to go. McCrea?s show
? and it is his show ? will attract everything it deserves. Huge audiences. Gongs
galore. Stardom for the younger leads. And
deserved acclaim for the older cast members, especially Josie Walker whose secondact performance of ?He?s My Boy? drew
tears from the crowd at press night. The box
office is taking bookings until the spring.
Better move fast. This production won?t
hang around. Broadway next.
Bad Roads by Natal?ya Vorozhbit reveals the horrors of the conflict in
Ukraine. Actors recite witness statements
and perform various war-zone scenarios. There are several storylines moving in
parallel and it?s very hard to follow what?s
Huge audiences. Gongs galore.
This production won?t hang around.
Broadway next
going on because the production is starved
of resources. Fifteen parts are played by
just seven actors, and there?s no indication when a change of costume marks the
arrival of a new character. You just have to
guess. It doesn?t help that the writer has an
unbeatable talent for creating characters
you?d run a mile to avoid. Everyone here
is brittle, selfish, humourless and dim-witted. And they?re all hopping mad with each
other, all the time, so the show unfolds as a
yelling festival. We watch screaming matches at checkpoints, vicious tirades between
nasty teenagers, sexual assaults by bored
soldiers, long bickering sessions between
old crones and snarly youngsters. There?s a
horrific torture scene involving a captured
journalist and her homophobic, anti-Semitic rapist but it feels so gratuitous as to be
pornographic.
The show ends with three twits arguing
over a chicken that got squashed by a car.
Director Vicky Featherstone has replicated
the forested hinterland of Ukraine on stage
in the form of a copse. Higgledy-piggledy
tree trunks arranged around the playing
area render the actors semi-visible during much of the action. Rather annoying, I
expect, for the performers to be hidden from
their audience by the director. For viewers it
was something of a relief.
46
Unhappy families: Fantine Harduin, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Isabelle Huppert,
Laura Verlinden and Toby Jones in Happy End
Cinema
When things fall apart
Jasper Rees
Happy End
15, Nationwide
The films of Michael Haneke wear a long
face. Psychological terror, domestic horror,
sick sex, genital self-harm ? these are the
joyless tags of his considerable oeuvre. Such
an auteur is not the obvious sort for sequels:
The Piano Teacher 2 or Hidden ? Again!
aren?t destined for your nearest multiplex.
And yet his new film is an intriguing knight?s
move away from his last. Amour (2012) was
a hot-button portrait of dementia in which
an elderly husband watched his wife?s mind
drift away as if on an ice floe. Eventually, he
smothered her with a pillow. In Happy End,
the widower is back, and this time he?s out
to kill himself (although the strapline on the
poster is not so jaunty).
Haneke has widened the canvas to
include the whole family. Amour was set in
a claustrophobic Parisian apartment. Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) has upped sticks
for Calais, where he is marooned in the capacious household of his daughter (Isabelle
Huppert). The daughter briefly encountered in Amour was known as Eva while her
mother was called Anne. Here she becomes
Anne, and runs a construction business with
her son Pierre (Franz Rogowski), an angry
young alcoholic. She also houses her young-
er brother Thomas (Mathieu Kassovitz) with
his second wife and their baby.
The latest addition to this dysfunctional
m閚age is Eve (Fantine Harduin), Thomas?s
12-year-old daughter by his first marriage.
Eve is the story?s eyes and ears. The opening
sequence is shot on her smartphone as, from
an appraising distance, she live-streams her
mother?s baptismal rites in the bathroom,
adding mordant captions: ?rinser ? gargariser? pisser?. The mother ? we never see her
face ? is a pill addict who soon overdoses.
Eve, who has already lost a brother, is cast
out of her home in sunny southerly Arles and
exiled to a chilly family in the north.
Her father Thomas has his own addiction to desperate sexting with a hot cellist.
(The subtitles primly skimp on their X-rated messaging: ?mon coeur, mon cul et mon
鈓e? becomes ?my heart and soul?). ?I so wish
I could help,? Thomas says spinelessly to his
daughter when she leaks affecting tears. But
then every member of the family is an island.
?Bienvenue au club,? says Georges to his
granddaughter fatalistically, before stealing
away to crash a van; he succeeds in merely
crippling himself.
Anne?s cure for her own isolation is to
reach across the water: she is engaged to a
Brit (Toby Jones, aptly looking every inch
the odd one out.) Their subtly clutched
hands provide the film?s only sliver of emotional optimism, but even this is tainted by
money: Anne?s fianc� is something in the
City who oversees the massive loan that
keeps her company afloat.
Happy End is about things falling apart,
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
from families to civilisations. Early on, a
thumping great metaphor advises as much:
a JCB beavers away in the vast cavity of a
construction site when suddenly, on the edge
of the screen, half the wall comes crumbling
down. The scene is typical of Haneke?s parsimonious storytelling style. He keeps sex and
death off screen. Instead he points his drily
detached camera at, say, a hospital bed, or a
nightclub stage, and makes the viewer hang
around. In one extended take, Pierre parks
on a double yellow, walks off to a grim apartment block, rings a bell, waits until a man
comes down, gets punched in the face, kicked
on the ground, then gets up and retreats to
the car. In another dumbshow scene, Georges propels his wheelchair along a cycle path
while traffic roars past in the foreground;
eventually, he accosts a group of sub-Saharan Africans. Later we find out why.
This being Calais, immigration cannot
be kept in the wings. It is brought into focus
in two grimly awkward family celebrations
but, instead of simply finger-wagging from
a pulpit, Haneke muddies the picture by
using the addled waster Pierre as his instrument to 閜ater la bourgeoisie.
The title is less a spoiler than a wish. Huppert and Trintignant, as ever, perform commandingly. Fantine Harduin is exceptional as
the young Eve. None can quite stir the heart
in this morose critique of a fractured society.
Exhibitions
Oops! he did it again
Martin Gayford
Modigliani
Tate Modern, until 2 April 2018
?It?s odd,? Picasso once mused, ?but you never
see Modigliani drunk anywhere but at the
corners of the boulevard Montmartre and
the boulevard Raspail.? He obviously suspected his friend of being a stage bohemian.
There is, indeed, a touch of Puccini about
Modigliani?s life ? the poverty, his film-star
good looks, the drink and drugs and poignant early death, all set against a picturesque
Parisian backdrop of Montmartre and Montparnasse. It?s La boh鑝e but with the painter
himself, surely a tenor role, taking the place
of the tragic, tubercular Mim�.
Whether or not he lived out a clich�,
Amedeo Modigliani (1884?1920) certainly
painted to a set recipe ? even if it was one
largely of his own devising. The new exhibition at Tate Modern, nicely hung and ingeniously arranged though this is, can?t quite
disguise the fact that as an artist Modi was
highly repetitive.
Mind you, his formula is good ? at least
in small servings. One or two prime Mod-
iglianis are a fine sight: the linear design is
rhythmic, the application of paint succulent,
the colours zing (apparently, the quality
diminished when he painted under the influence of hashish). But when a row of similar
works are lined up, side by side, you notice
that his sitters have been Modigliani-ed.
The elongated neck, almond eyes ? often
blank and pupil-less ? and swan neck are
combined with just enough individuation to
make each approximate to a likeness.
When you get to the nudes, everything
The nudes belong to an area of early
modernism that brings Playboy
centrefolds to mind
really goes pear-shaped (sometimes literally). These aren?t quite erotica ? the artfully schematic faces save them from that.
But they belong to an area of winsome early
modernism that brings Playboy centrefolds
to mind. After you?ve seen a few ? and the
Tate has corralled a sizable group ? you
start to think, ?Oh no, not another!?
It?s off-putting when looking at these to
recall that Modigliani was a brutal, angry
drinker whose behaviour to his lovers was
so bad that these days he?d be drummed
out of public life. He once threw the writer
Beatrice Hastings, with whom he had a long
affair, out of a window. The poet Andr�
joypz{thzGlopip{pvu
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VW)ORRU*DOOHU\
6 ? 22 December 2017
.LQJ?V0HDGRZ, oil on board, 4 ? ? x 3 ? ? inches.
Monday - Friday 10.00-5.30
Saturday 11.00-2.00
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
47
BOOKS & ARTS
PRIVATE COLLECTION
This image was a blend of sundry ?primitive?
sources ? Gauguin?s South Pacific, a touch of
Angkor Wat, a hint of India. But it works. The
Tate?s own ?Head? (c.1911?12), for example, is
strong ? near the class of Modigliani?s sculptor friend Brancusi.
These 3D pieces succeed better than the
paintings generally do. The reason is perhaps
that they don?t pretend to be anything but
stylised inventions; there?s no awkward reconciliation of the formula with a real person.
If he?d lived to be 90 Modigliani
would still have been painting people
with goose necks and boiled sweet eyes
However, Modigliani concentrated on sculpture for only a short period. There was no
development, any more than there is in the
paintings. Having found his trademark head,
he stuck with it. He was one of those artists
who turn out a product ? one, to judge from
the crowds at Tate, that is still highly popular.
Modigliani?s was, admittedly, a short career
? not much more than a decade ? but it?s
hard to imagine that he would have changed
very much if he?d lived to be 90. He?d still have
been painting people with goose necks and
boiled sweets for eyes. His sad but glamorous
existence disguises the fact that, in quantity,
he?s a bit of a bore.
New music
Coming up for air
Guy Dammann
Huddersfield Contemporary
Music Festival
?Beatrice Hastings?, 1915, by Amedeo Modigliani
Salmon wrote a celebrated description of his
treatment of the last woman in his life, Jeanne
H閎uterne, 14 years his junior and pregnant
with their second child.
Salmon saw the painter dragging her along
by an arm, ?gripping her frail wrist, tugging at
one or another of her long braids of hair, and
only letting go of her for a moment to send
her crashing against the railings of the Luxembourg?. Salmon felt he was ?like a madman,
crazy with savage hatred?. Perhaps Modigliani
really was mad by that stage; he died shortly
afterwards of tubercular meningitis.
Poor Jeanne killed herself two days later,
jumping out of a fifth-floor window. Modigliani?s pictures of her form an unsettling group.
In a few, such as ?Portrait of a Young Woman?
(1918), you seem for once to encounter an
48
individual personality ? a nervous nearschoolgirl. In others, she?s been homogenised
into an elegant near-abstraction of gazellelike curves.
On this evidence, Modigliani?s sculpture was the best of his work. The Tate has
amassed a whole room of it and in this case,
unlike that of the nudes, the sum of the whole
is greater than the individual pieces. Jacob
Epstein reported visiting Modigliani?s studio at night and seeing these stone carvings
arranged, each with a candle on its top, as in ?a
primitive temple?. This is less atmospheric, but
has a similar effect.
Again, these are variations on one ? or at
most two ? themes. The best are like updated and feminised Easter Island heads ? thinas-a-blade, noses like downpipes, acorn eyes.
The musicians of Ensemble Grizzana are
arranged in the usual way for their concert
at St Paul?s Hall in Huddersfield. Another player, the percussionist Dmitra Lazaridou Chatzigoga, sits among them. The table
beside her holds a small and rather beatenup zither and a tray of the kind of objects
you might find at the back of a spare kitchen drawer: two filter baskets from stove-top
espresso machines, a tea-strainer, letter opener, a cog, a nut and bolt.
Visitors to Huddersfield?s annual contemporary music festival, now in its 40th edition, are used to eccentricity. The presence of
such a tray on the Wigmore Hall stage would
raise eyebrows well beyond their usual
range, but here it?s pretty much business as
usual. The effect is unusual, however, in one
respect: the wonderful contribution these
everyday objects make to the music. Indeed,
I would defy anyone with a functioning pair
of ears and a reasonably open mind (the two
often amount to the same) to listen to the
resulting piece of music ? How Vain Are
All Our Frail Delights (2017) by the Swedish
composer Magnus Granberg ? and not
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
be won over by the sheer beauty of it.
We are used to thinking of beauty as something that somehow perfectly fits our taste,
and which as a result answers to our individuality. But there?s another and arguably more
profound kind of beauty that attaches itself to
the simple experience of attending to things
and letting them be. It?s as true when we find
ourselves enchanted by a baby or child as
when we are caught up in the act of looking
at a painting by Memling or C閦anne, and
comes just as well, if with a little more effort,
from stopping to take in the look of a randomly settled pebble, or to listen to the long
grass soughing in the breeze, or being arrested
by the sight of a hovering kestrel. The beauty
comes from simply being caught up in the raw
presence of something else.
In Granberg?s piece, after an extended
introductory silence, the musicians make
quiet, singular gestures. The tray of objects,
which are ?sounded? by being placed on the
amplified zither and made to resonate with
an electronic ?bow?, produce flatter sounds
than the traditional instruments, which has
the effect of giving the whole musical texture
the feel of discrete splashes of sound, like
the isolated drops of rain that precede the
moment when it actually rains. The splashes accumulate ? a slowly bowed cello note
here, a note from the clarinet there, so quiet
it barely cuts through the breath ? gradual-
ly creating ripples that push into each other
so that, with supreme gentleness, an aspect
of something beneath the surface begins to
dawn. Suddenly, there it is, perceptible in
slights of rhythm, harmony and disposition,
the wonderful song that William Byrd set to
Philip Sidney?s brief lyric.
Like its partner piece in the concert ?
Late Silence (2017), by the Swiss clarinettist and composer J黵g Frey, which does
with Ockeghem?s motet D閜loration sur la
mort de Binchois what Granberg?s does with
the Byrd ? the music does not set or adapt
its ancient source so much as allow it to be
glimpsed. In that sense, the older pieces simply provide an image that coheres the whole,
though without eclipsing its parts. The music
is not something whose argument you follow
or whose external and internal references
you pursue. It?s less than that, but also more:
a world in miniature, a magical place to be.
Huddersfield is a whirlwind. I attended
ten concerts in just over 48 hours, ranging
from a momentous performance of the late,
great Pauline Oliveros?s Primordial/Lift
(1998) ? a piece which, with the help of an
electronic oscillator and various circulating
instruments, supposedly tracks the increase
in the earth?s resonant frequency from 7.8Hz
in 1960 to 13Hz in 2010 (at 75 minutes, you
can feel yourself ageing) ? to the dehumanising, sense-dismantling hedonism of Alex-
ander Schubert?s rave-inspired finale.
Some of the greatest moments this year
were the gentlest, such as the organist Kit
Downes?s encore, Luciano Berio?s 1964 setting of the American folk song ?Black Is The
Colour (of My True Love?s Hair)?. Downes,
together with the saxophonist Tom Challenger, has been recording improvised pieces on
the dilapidated instruments of several Suffolk churches. Performed here, they gave a
sense of unassumingly mining the building?s
natural acoustic for memories of past musical glories. They also gave a luminous glow
to the encore.
There were excitements, too, from the
music but also from realising the substance
to the hype around some younger composers (such as Laura Bowler, whose blazing
new piece FFF, half political rant, half primeval convulsion, was performed in emoji
hotpants) ? and moments of boredom. At
times, a keen gratitude that one performance
will be all one hears of something is enough.
With its strange practices and even stranger habitu閟 ? most of whom combine
unfeasible levels of craftsmanship and talent,
and are for the most part entirely unmoved
by the prospect of wider success and recognition ? contemporary art music is very much
a niche culture. But it also provides a breath
of fresh, clear air, and all of us could do with
a dose of that from time to time.
Deities & Demons
Winter Exhibition
Gallery Eight, 8 Duke Street, St James?s, London, s w1 y 6 b n
Catalogue 29 available on request
Private View Monday 4th December ? 12 noon ? 9 pm
Tuesday 5th to Wednesday 6th 10 am ? 9 pm, Thursday 7th to Friday 8th 10 am ? 6 pm, Saturday 9th 10 am ? 3 pm
All other times by appointment
t: 020 7689 7500 m: 07768 236921 or 07836 684133 e: enquiries@?nch-and-co.co.uk w: www.?nchandco.art
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
49
NOTES ON ?
Birdwatching in Sri Lanka
By Robin Oakley
ISTOCK
S
tanding in sweaty silence for an hour
on a precipitous sliver of muddy footpath above a waterfall may not be everybody?s idea of fun, but for a small cluster
of birders anxious to see the Sri Lanka whistling thrush it was a small price to pay. Eventually, as the cicadas shrilled and the dark
closed in, the little blue-black bird appeared
? and flitted away almost as quickly.
Another evening, we scrambled 100 heartpumping yards up a rainforest jungle slope
for a view of the Serendib Scops owl, a reddish bird so rare it has been known to science only since 2004 and is one of 34 species
endemic to the Beautiful Island.
Birders do it before dawn and after dark
as well as happily ? well, more or less happily ? trekking ten kilometres or so a day,
swinging across narrow suspension bridges,
fording streams and slushing through bogs
or bouncing up and down bone-shuddering
ravines in Jeeps. It is the birds you had to
work for that you remember most vividly,
but fortunately most of the 462 species to be
seen in Sri Lanka are both more colourful
and easier to spot. We had scarcely left the
airport before a greater coucal and a Shikra
hawk showed themselves in full daylight.
Among the endemic species we spotted were the engaging little hanging parrot,
the improbable grey hornbill, the strutting
Improbable: a Sri Lanka grey hornbill
junglefowl and other colourful customers
like the red-faced malkoha, the scimitar babbler, Legge?s flowerpecker and a woodpecker
called the crimson-backed flameback.
With around 10,000 species to be seen
across the world, birders accumulate more
air miles than most. Some are fanatical
?listers?, ready to quit a trip the moment the
merest glimpse of a tailfeather has enabled
them to tick off a missing species. The kind
whose company I enjoy most tend to be
those who enjoy watching birds do what they
do: leaf-tossers tossing leaves, woodpeckers
pecking tree stumps for slugs, or spoonbills
stirring up mud for food. Sri Lanka, particularly for those who have not birded in India,
provides every opportunity ? even a ser-
pent eagle we watched catching and eating
a snake. The group saw 180 varieties in eight
days, and more than 120 were birds I was
seeing for the first time.
Travelling with birders should not be
confused with tourism. When our minibus stopped at a spectacular waterfall,
one companion sniffed disdainfully and
focused his binoculars on trees the other
side of the road. At a spectacular temple,
two focused instead on a couple of yellow
wagtails ? although the party did deign to
take an interest when we encountered giant
squirrels or mouse deer.
We saw no ?sights?; only the roadside
ribbon developments offering clear evidence that building supplies is the Sri Lankan business to be in. Driving habits are
intriguing, too: it seems to be the rule rather than the exception to overtake before
blind bends. Tuk-tuks, lorries and buses eyeball each other alongside until finally the
slowest concedes. Horns blare constantly,
but curiously there is no road rage, since
everybody drives the same way. And there
was one encouragement for Brits: endless roadside advertisements for language
schools offering lessons in English. I fear,
though, that this may be not because it is
the language of William Shakespeare, but
because it is the language of Bill Gates.
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?I hope fake news will last as long as
real snow and real tans?
? Dot Wordsworth, p62
High life
Taki
New York
There?s fear and loathing in this town and
in El Lay it?s even worse. Torquemada and
Savonarola are in charge, and if this is not
a new version of the Spanish inquisition I
don?t know what is. The enemy is ?toxic masculinity?, as exhibited by the latest to lose his
job for ever, Charlie Rose. He?s not a bad
guy but a bleeding-heart liberal who acted
like Benito in front of fair maidens. Or so
they claim. In the meantime, he?s toast.
I have only one question: what ever happened to due process?
What also bothers me is that the latest
purge is the only subject of conversation
nowadays. At Thanksgiving dinner with
Oliver Stone and his charming family chez
Michael Mailer, I literally had to bully Madame Stone to run away with me to Mykonos
in order to change the subject. (I didn?t dare
do it to his lovely daughter Tara because at
22 she might be called underage in view of
me being overage.) In the meantime, the
director just looked at me open-mouthed
as I repeated the Mykonos offer after every
gulp (and I took many).
Let?s face it, this is not the first time I?ve
brought this up. I?ve been writing 50 columns a year for the past 40 years, which
means I?ve mentioned La La Land around
2,000 times. So some of you old-timers can
give this one a miss. Here we are in the grip
of a sexual counter-revolution, with stories
of abuse and harassment being believed,
and alleged abusers and harassers being
thrown to the wolves without a trial. Yet at
the same time Hollywood chooses to go all
out for Call Me By Your Name, a movie that
tells the story of a 24-year-old man seducing
a 17-year-old boy, and the love affair that
follows. I haven?t seen it, and don?t plan to,
but I couldn?t avoid reading about it and
hearing the usual suspects going ape over it.
In other words, doing it with a youngster of the same sex is OK, but undressing
and making suggestions in front of a mature
woman is not, especially if she?s an aspiring
thespian. It?s OK if it?s a gay relationship, is
the obvious message. Having said that, what
about a great actor like Kevin Spacey? (I
know, Rod Liddle covered it two weeks ago,
but still. Without Spacey House of Cards
is House of Crap, even if the divine Robin
Wright, whom I once tried to steal a kiss
from, is in it.)
Hollywood?s false and wrong values
continue to reverberate throughout our
culture. These values have corrupted our
sensibilities and blighted our souls. They
have made the bad guys look good and the
good ones appear very, very bad. Looking
through recent American contributions to
culture, I find only nihilism and bogus rhetoric about liberation and other very tired
subjects. Apart from Norman Mailer, Philip
Roth and Larry McMurtry, the last two still
very much with us, I cannot read American
novels. Or phonies such as Susan Sontag, a
purveyor of non-stop nonsense and radical
chic attitudes. Give me Jerry Lee Lewis any
day, the great pianist-singer who married
a 13-year-old. When Lewis visited London
he had no qualms about bringing her along
to the press conference. That?s what I love
about America ? not our highly praised cultural heroes of the 1960s but the blue-collar
workers in the south of the country; in other
words, the deplorables.
Be that as it may, I know I?m a bit of
a dinosaur nowadays. Trump?s economy is
not only chugging along, it?s going like the
blazes, and no one can tell for how long. What
makes the left in general so loathsome is the
hypocrisy involved. Every bicoastal cultural wannabe thinks that anybody who voted
for the Donald is a yahoo who sleeps with
his sister and wants to reintroduce slavery.
The fact that slavery exists in Africa today
doesn?t seem to bother the wannabes. And
does it bother those African-Americans, who
refuse to stand for the national anthem, or
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
?You?re in my seat.?
take Muslim names? What do they make of
the fact that Africans were enslaved, shipped
and sold by Arabs? As the drunk said to the
sheriff when he woke up in a cell, something?s very wrong here.
Otherwise everything is hunky-dory.
Felonious assault should lead to complete ruination, as someone told me when
I was about to get into a fight. But so
does a pinch on the bottom, I answered.
Everyone laughed and that was it. If
more people were to laugh when some
fool or other takes off his pants and desecrates a plant, maybe fewer people
would do it. What I?d like to know is why
a woman who is raped by Harvey, as Paz de
la Huerta claims she was, then puts herself
in a position where she is allegedly raped
again. And why does an Italian lady who is
allegedly raped by him then go on to have a
consensual relationship for five years?
Finally, a Supreme Court judge who
shall remain anonymous told me that most
of these cases will never reach a court of
law. There?s trial by the media and then
there?s the real thing. Enjoy it while you
can, sweetie-pies.
Low life
Jeremy Clarke
My pal Charlie inherited a car and a ride-on
mower from an old pal. He kept the mower
and the next time he saw me in the pub he
offered me the car. He?d driven down in it, he
said, and it was out in the pub car park. ?This
car is bombproof,? said Charlie handing over
the key. ?Even you couldn?t wreck this one.?
I asked how much. He wanted paying
not in cash but in art, he said. He?d seen
this painting for sale on a French restaurant
wall and now that he was back in England
he wished he?d bought it. I was returning to
France in a fortnight. I knew the restaurant.
There were about a dozen works hung on the
wall, all of them efflorescences of the same
confident genius. Charlie showed me a photo
of the object of his desire on his phone. It was
a painting of an outdoor flower stall under
55
LIFE
a parasol with a faceless woman browsing.
The parasol was a sort of police-strobe electric blue. ?But it?s crap, Charlie,? I pointed out.
?I don?t care,? he said. ?It reminds me of the
atmosphere of Provence.?
I?ve heard that Charlie made an offer
to the restaurant patron of ?700 for the lot.
The patron said he?d inform the artist. On
his return from the telephone, the patron
said that the artist had gone stroboscopic at
what he thought was a derisory offer. But
if I could get the single painting for ?200,
say, that would be the price of the car. And
any car that starts and drives is surely worth
that. ?What is the car, anyway, Charlie?? I
said, accepting the key. If the worst came to
the worst, and the Blue Parasol cost much
more than 200 quid, my absolute maximum,
I planned to take up the brushes and knock
him off a market scene myself.
The car is a Mitsubishi Carisma 2002 1.9
common rail diesel hatchback. Before he
took it over, it had been standing in a forest
for a year, Charlie told me. And the owner
had been blind or deaf or something and the
car had sustained a few knocks, including a
smashed rear-light unit and off-side mirror,
which is in no way a problem. I?ve been driving it about for a week and here is my review.
This Mitsubishi Carisma has a manual
gearbox and the stiff clutch has inflamed my
chronic left-knee problem after three years
completely pain-free with normal use. The
steering wheel wobbles excitedly when the
car is in motion and there is a slight delay
between turning it and the car changing
direction. And slow punctures in the front
and rear driver?s side tyres make the Carisma veer to the right. The ride is lumpy but
this might be due to a shot suspension. A
thick layer of dust over the interior surfaces
gives a musty smell.
But it starts, my goodness it starts. Starting is the car?s forte. In ten years? time, when
the car is a compacted block in a scrapyard,
if the ignition is accessible, and someone
inserts the key and gives it a twist, the car
will probably start. My starting anxiety syndrome is over. Amazingly, the cigar lighter
works. It is the first working cigar lighter
I?ve had for years. And the stereo works,
as do the four speakers. Ken Bruce?s voice
comes through in all its Scottish richness.
A car that starts, a half-decent working stereo, and a functioning cigar lighter is the
height of my automotive ambition.
The idling engine sounds like a cabless
Massey Ferguson from the 1950s, but it is in
fact the same engine as in the Volvo V40 and
the Renault Laguna, with more than enough
power to accelerate uphill ? another pleasant surprise. But above all, I now have the
advantage of owning and driving the most
boring, most anonymous car on the road. In
a driver survey of 300 makes and models,
the Mitsubishi Carisma came 293rd for charisma and 3rd for reliability. Charlie is the
ultimate petrolhead. He has sold cars for
56
a living. He loves and knows cars and he can
afford to drive anything he likes. But for reasons best not gone into, he prizes anonymity
in a car above everything. In this respect, he
is like a billionaire hillbilly, happier bumping along in a battered old Toyota Hilux with
torn seats than in anything else. And this has
been a great lesson to me, and a liberation,
after a lifetime of naively imagining that
the kind of car I drive is a personal statement about my bank balance, or about my
self-image. Better late than never, I suppose.
When I go into that French restaurant next
week to negotiate a price for the Blue Parasol, I might even go up to ?300.
Real life
Melissa Kite
After a week of cold hosing, I decided I
would have to get the vet to the small swelling on Gracie?s leg.
?Dear Lord, be merciful,? I prayed. But I
knew that the quantity of mercy I would be
shown would very much depend on the vet
who came.
My usual vet is the last good vet in the
world ? the only vet in the western hemisphere who will make a realistic appraisal
of a horse?s condition and give a quote for
what can be realistically mended at a morally defensible price, by which I mean a price
that will fix the horse without breaking the
human owner. Consequently, he is very busy.
I rang the practice and was assigned a
member of the team who was at a call-out
down the road. When she arrived, my heart
sank as I saw how young she was. She looked
horribly sweet and idealistic, a bit like she
might just have got out of veterinary college
with the lectures of the visiting animal-rights
activists still burning her ears.
I undid the field gate and beckoned her
in. ?It?s like Bute central down here,? I said,
referring to the phenylbutazone anti-inflammatories I had been giving to both Grace
and Tara, Grace for her bad leg and Tara
because she?s 32 or nearly 90 in human years,
with all the aches and pains that entails. With
a bit of Bute, she gallivants around kicking
and biting as happily as she ever did.
But the young vet smiled weakly. She
didn?t look like she did jokes. I explained
as entertainingly as I could how Gracie had
raced around the field to evade capture for
an hour, charging and twisting away from
me, and finally going over on her ankle.
As we approached the pony, I warned the
vet to stand clear if she turned and charged.
So naturally, Grace let me put a headcollar
on without protest, very much to embarrass
me. ?Sure, go ahead,? she said. ?I never make a
fuss. I was just minding my own business like
this the other day when she pushed me over.?
The vet said ?aw? and ?ah? and complimented the pony on being lovely (yes, well,
she wasn?t too lovely when she was chasing me round the field like a dog). Then
she looked at the small swelling and made
a face: ?That is right on the suspensory.?
Great balls of fire! ?What?? I screeched. ?I
thought it was on the tendon. Don?t be saying suspensory. I?ll take a torn tendon rather
than a torn suspensory ligament any day.?
?Well, it?s hard to say. Carry on giving her
Bute and keep her shut up in the field shelter, but if it?s no better in two weeks, we?ll
have to nerve block.?
Great balls of fire again! ?Nerve block??
I gasped, feeling my own nerves actively
twang themselves into multiple spasms making pound signs explode in front of my eyes.
She left me doing my breathing exercises. A
week later, when the small swelling was still
there, I rang in and said I would take the next
available appointment with my usual vet.
As luck would have it, he could come in
a few days? time. When he turned up, I was
never so pleased to see his sardonic grin.
?It?s like Sunset Senior Living for equines
down here,? I said, nodding towards Tara and
Gracie grazing happily. ?Just the two out-ofwork horses lounging about high on Bute at
my expense.?
He laughed heartily. We?re in business, I
thought.
?Your new vet?? I said, as tactfully as I
could as we walked to the field, ??very nice
girl, but she told me she wanted to do nerve
blocking.?
?Well, I?m sure she thought that was the
right thing to do,? he said, in a tone that said
?don?t go there?.
?Listen,? I said, ?I?m the one who?s going
to need my nerves blocking if you start
doing investigations on a pulled tendon.?
But in the event, he simply took one look
at the leg and said: ?Tendon sheath. Small
tear. How old? 14. Yeah. Sounds about right.
We call it teenage cob syndrome.?
Gracie looked up from tearing off a
mouthful of grass as if to say, ?Who you calling a cob??
?She?s not really a cob,? I said, to make
her feel better.
?Well, you know what I mean. She goes
a bit funny, doesn?t she?? And he imitated
her choppy action.
?That is pretty much how she rolls.
Stomps along like a pony in a trap.?
?Exactly. No point scanning, just a waste
of your money. You won?t see anything useful. A month off, then start walking her out.
They usually come right.?
?Don?t ever retire,? I told him, as he
climbed back into his car.
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
Bridge
Susanna Gross
SPECTATOR WINE CLUB JONATHAN RAY
C
hristmas is the time for fine claret,
whether the grub you plan to gorge
on is a juicy rib of beef, a succulent
saddle of lamb or the dread festive turkey.
And, if you?re canny, there?s no need to
break the bank. We?ve put together three
keenly priced clarets with our partners
Mr Wheeler. Each has unimpeachable
credentials, from truly great estates. Drink
long and drink deep.
The 2014 Vieux Ch鈚eau Saint Andr� (1)
from Montagne Saint-Emilion is a complete
and utter claret-lover?s delight. Produced
from fruit grown on his own six-hectare
estate by Jean-Claude Berrouet (who, being
the former winemaker at Ch. P閠rus, certainly
knows his onions), the wine is almost indecently flirtatious and approachable. A blend
of succulent, brambly Merlot with just a
splash of structure-giving Cabernet Franc,
the wine spends a perfectly judged spell in
oak and is full of soft, ripe, dark fruit, vanilla,
spice and even a whisper of black coffee.
�.80 down from �.50.
The 2012 Ch鈚eau Fourcas-Borie (2) is
similarly toothsome and is about as spot-on
for washing down the Christmas fare as it?s
possible for a wine to be. The estate in Listrac
is owned by Bruno Borie, the admired owner
of Chx. Ducru-Beaucaillou, Grand-Puy-
Lacoste and Haut-Batailley, and there?s
certainly a sprinkling of Cru Class� stardust evident here. The wine is impeccably
structured, blended from 60 per cent Merlot and 40 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon and
it?s richly flavoured and forward, with spicy
black cherry, blackberry and plum fruit and a
long, deeply satisfying, almost savoury finish.
It?s a right Christmas cracker. �.20 down
from �.00.
Finally, those readers who bought the
2012 Clarendelle a month or so back will be
delighted to see the 2010 Clarendelle (3) in
this offer. Praised to the skies by Uncle Bob
Parker a few years ago (he gave the wine a
healthy 90 point score), it?s an 黚er-smooth
Merlot-rich blend produced by Domaine
Clarence Dillon from the family-owned
vineyards of Chx. Haut-Brion, La Mission
Haut-Brion and Quintus. Fully mature on
release, it?s certainly not going to get any
better and should be earmarked for immediate quaffing this Christmas rather than next.
�.60 down from �.
The above wines are offered in unmixed
dozens and there is also a mixed dozen (4)
with four bottles of each wine.
If you buy any three cases you get a free
magnum of 2010 Clarendelle (worth �.95).
Delivery, as ever, is also free.
ORDER FORM Spectator Wine Offer
1
2
3
4
2014 Vieux Ch鈚eau Saint Andr�, 13%
2012 Ch鈚eau Fourcas-Borie, 13.5%
2010 Clarendelle, 14%
Mixed case with four each of the above
Start date
Issue no.
List price
Club price
�4.00
�4.00
�6.00
�8.00
�1.60
�0.40
�7.20
�6.40
Expiry date
Sec. code
Signature
Please send wine to
Name
Address
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Email
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
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is subject to availability, closes on
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the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
Both vulnerable
z K10 8 6 2
y 10 9 3
X K 10 9 5 4
w?
z J 9
y86
X AQ
wJ
7 5 4
4
J 7
N
W
E
S
z AQ 3
y AK Q
X3 2
w 75
7w
No.
Total
Mastercard/Visa no.
Dealer East
West
mrwheelerwine.com/spectator Mr. Wheeler, Estate Of?ce, Park Lane BC, Langham,
Colchester, Essex CO4 5WR Tel: 01206 713560; Email: sales@mrwheelerwine.com
Prices 1, 2 and 3 are for unmixed case of 12
Being on lead against a grand slam is bad for
your blood pressure. So much is at stake (not
least, having to face the self-satisfaction of
your opponents). Luckily, there is a rule of
thumb which obviates the need to stress too
much: always lead a trump. This is sensible
advice: it?s normally the best or safest lead.
But not always; especially not when the bidding is screaming out against it. And yet, at
that giddy height, some players seem just too
fearful to break the rule.
England international Brian Callaghan
(?Binky?) showed me this hand from a
recent Tollemache match (the inter-county teams championships). Sit tight for the
bidding!
z _
y7
X 86
w A K Q 10 9 8 6
4 3 2
J 52
North
East
South
7y
6w
Dble
6y
all pass
East opened the bidding at the six-level. Binky, sitting South, countered with a
brave 6y. West lost no time in raising his
partner to 7w. And Brian?s partner, Heather Dhondy, rolled up her sleeves and bid
7y. Who knew what was going on? However, when East pulled out a double card,
West should have been on full alert. This
was surely a ?lightner? double, announcing
that he was void in a suit and could ruff.
Looking at West?s hand, that suit was most
likely spades ? but even leading the XA
and switching to a spade would have led
to two tricks. However, West led a trump!
Binky won, ruffed a club, crossed to the
zA, ruffed another club, crossed to the zQ
and ran his trumps. West was squeezed in
spades and diamonds ? contract made!
57
LIFE
Chess
London Classic
Raymond Keene
The London Classic gets underway this weekend
in Olympia. The line-up is formidable, including
the world champion Magnus Carlsen, his
predecessor Viswanathan Anand, and Sergei
Karjakin, who challenged Carlsen for the title last
year. The remaining contestants are as follows:
Lev Aronian, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Fabiano
Caruana, Wesley So, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Hikaru
Nakamura and Michael Adams.
Carlsen comes fresh from his triumph in
St Louis against the elite Chinese grandmaster
Ding Liren. In a mixture of fast-play formats
Carlsen triumphed by the overall score of 67-25,
winning the match with 13 rounds to spare.
Carlsen is of course the hot favourite to win in
London, joining those illustrious names who have
won major events in the capital including Adolf
Anderssen, Emanuel Lasker, Jos� Capablanca,
Alexander Alekhine and of course, Anatoly
Karpov, Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik.
(There is also the enticing possibility that next
year?s World Championship match will see
Carlsen defending his title in London.)
This week?s game is a win by Carlsen from
an earlier London Classic against the reigning
British champion.
Carlsen-Jones: London Chess Classic, London
2012; Sicilian Defence
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Qxd4 With
this unusual recapture White plans to aim for a
Maroczy-style position with an early c4. 4 ... a6
5 h3 Nc6 6 Qe3 g6 7 c4 Bg7 White has a
central space advantage but Black will aim to
create dark-squared counterplay on the
queenside. 8 Be2 Nf6 9 Nc3 0-0 10 0-0 Nd7
11 Rb1 White plans to expand with b4 on the
queenside. 11 ... a5 12 b3 Nc5 13 Bb2 f5
This advance is a standard way to create
counterplay for Black in this type of position.
However it does run the risk of weakening the
kingside. 14 exf5 Bxf5 15 Rbd1 White plans to
centralise his forces and eyes the black pawns on
the e- and d-files. 15 ... a4 16 Ba3 Qa5 (see
diagram 1) 17 Nb5 A reasonable alternative
here is 17 b4 and after the forced variation 17 ...
Nxb4 18 Bxb4 Qxb4 19 Nd5 Qa5 20 Nxe7+ Kh8
21 Nxf5 gxf5 White stands slightly better. 17 ...
axb3 18 axb3 Qxa3 This is an astonishing
PUZZLE NO. 485
White to play. This position is from a variation
from Carlsen-Aronian, London Classic 2012.
Black had already anticipated what was in store
here and had resigned. What had he foreseen?
Answers to me at The Spectator by Tuesday 5
December or via email to victoria@spectator.
co.uk. There is a prize of � 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 Qxe6+
Last week?s winner Mike Angress, Brighton
58
Competition
Double dactylic
Lucy Vickery
Diagram 1
rDWDW4kD
DpDW0Wgp
WDn0WDpD
1WhWDbDW
pDPDWDWD
GPHW!NDP
PDWDB)PD
DWDRDRIW
Diagram 2
WDWDW4Wi
DpDW0WDp
WDW0WgpD
DWhWDWDW
WDPhW)BD
4PDW$W!P
WDbHWDPD
DWDWDRDK
sacrifice. Instead 18 ... Na6 is a playable
alternative. 19 Nxa3 Rxa3 20 Nd2 White
now slowly reorganises his forces in order to
exchange some pieces. 20 ... Bd4 21 Qg3
Be5 22 f4 Bf6 23 Bg4 Nd4 24 Kh1 Bc2
25 Rde1 Kh8 26 Re3 (see diagram 2) The
In Competition No. 3026 you were invited to
submit topical double dactyls.
The double dactyl was dreamed up
in 1951 by the poet Anthony Hecht and
the classical scholar Paul Pascal. My wellthumbed copy of Jiggery-Pokery, a wonderful 1967 compendium of the form edited by
Hecht and the poet John Hollander, reveals
with pride that Auden (to whom the book
is dedicated) used the form ?thrice? for the
choruses in his Aesopian playlets Moralities.
Double dactyls always go down well, and
this comp elicited an entertaining parade
of double dactylic notables ? and pursuits
egomaniacal, unoligarchical, prosecutorial,
heterosexual, philoprogenitive?
The winners earn � each.
Foggily-froggily
Michel B. Barnier,
Consummate bureaucrat,
Raises the price,
Crushing the will of our
Flummoxed and browbeaten
Plenipotentiaries
Held in his vice.
Hugh King
Higgledy piggledy
Pastuso Paddington
gets himself banged up in
Pentonville gaol.
Even the lairiest
anarctophiliac
joins in the whip-round for
Paddington?s bail.
Nick MacKinnon
white position is becoming coordinated and
Black is running out of steam. 26 ... h5 27 b4
h4 28 Qf2 Nd3 29 Qg1 Nf5 Although
White?s queen has been driven into a passive
post his extra material begins to tell. 30 Bxf5
Mopily-ropily,
Manchester?s Morrissey
Goes back to crooning, his
Novel a fail.
gxf5 31 Nf3 Rc3 32 c5 Bb3 33 Ne1 Bd4
34 Nxd3 dxc5 34 ... Rxd3 is met by 35 Rxd3
Bxg1 36 Rxb3 Bd4 37 cxd6 winning easily. 35
Qf2 Rf7 36 Rc1 cxb4 37 Rxc3 bxc3 38
Qe1 Black resigns
Hoping his audience,
Hari-kiristically,
Still want to hear a man
Tunelessly wail.
Adrian Fry
WDWir$bD
DW0WDW)W
WDP0WDWD
DWDPDNDW
WDW)WIWD
0WDWDWDW
WDWDWDWD
DWDWDWDW
Biffety-boffety
Anthony Joshua
Heavyweight champion
Top of the pile;
Talks of his legacy
Hyperbolistically;
Nemesis listens and
Smiles a slow smile.
W.J. Webster
Doubly-Dactylly
Benedict Cumberbatch,
Won?t you indulge in a
Three-in-bed romp?
While you?re behaving so
Uncontroversially
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
LIFE
I have got nothing to
Mock in this comp.
George Simmers
Yummily, mummily,
Catherine Middleton?s
Pregnant again to the
Rapture of Wills.
I?d be as lavishly
Philoprogenitive
If I could stretch to the
Nursery bills.
Rob Stuart
Hoitety-Toitety
Emily Thornberry,
Feminist lawyer and
Labour MP,
Speaks with a manner quite
Aristocratical
Save when men style her as
Lady Nugee.
Joseph Conlon
Taxily, maxily,
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Gave the inheritance
Levy a hitch.
Trump says ?Repeal it! Our
Agroindustrial
Future depends on my
Kids staying rich!?
Rob Hirst
Limberly, Kimberly,
Khlo� Kardashian,
Kourtney, and Robbie seem
Destined for Fame?s
Roster, since they all have
(Double-dactylically
Speaking) stupendously
Talented names.
Frank Osen
Higgledy piggledy,
Ludwig van Beethoven,
if he could glimpse what our
world has become,
likely would find a new
applicability
for his immortal phrase:
dum dum dum DUM!
Robert Schechter
Nobody-joebody
George Papadopoulos,
?Fetcher of coffee? the
Trumpists have said,
Crossword
2338: Fone
by Doc
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
11
12
13
15
10
14
16
17
18
The unclued lights (one of two
words) are of a kind. Elsewhere, ignore three accents.
19
20
Down
2 Forgets it?s on order (5)
5 Costa Rican currency -could be a mark (5)
6 Expressing admiration for
water feeder (9)
Incontrovertibly
Met with the Russians, so
Maybe Trump sent him for
Vodka instead.
Max Gutmann
NO. 3029: BEST FOOT FORWARD
22
24
23
25
26
Across
1 Unethical point of an
Aesop fable (6)
11 Improve, making Oriel,
accommodated by a
fellow (10)
13 3 in Casablanca in the wet
season (5)
14 This psychotherapist
poor Leonard can?t take
on (5)
15 Oration about province (7)
18 Non-A roads are where to
meet (6)
19 It?s under the window, not
moving, timeless (4)
22 Old-fashioned people
buried here? (6)
24 Snouted Indian animal
chewed bowler hats, out
West (9, two words)
25 Round, soft growth (5)
26 Ice-cream?s not on froth (5)
28 300 steal luggage item (9)
30 Game for a sound hitter?
(6)
33 Burden the old carry all
right? (4)
36 A further transaction at
start of risky new lease (6)
41 Illegally take power after
America backs sport (5)
42 Mighty old sore (5)
43 Collar yeti dancing in an
arousing manner (10)
44 Singer mirroring
resounding soccer victory
(6)
45 Greek disheartened
beautiful French girl (6)
21
27
28
30
29
31
35
36
39
32
33
37
34
38
40
41
42
43
44
45
7 Government overthrown
by socialist was
inconsistent (6)
9 Capital husband invested
in food shop (5)
10 Old invader buried gold in
North Island (6)
12 Eirenic type, as leading
athlete accepting last in
race (10)
16 Pillion has mixed make-up
(10, two words)
20 Down-at-heel old solver
given hiding! (4)
21 Physically attacks poor
stationer (9, two words)
23 Newspaper article from
page in dictionary (4,
hyphened)
30 Get me confused with Saul
in the Bible (6)
31 As it?s sweltering, he?d be
forced to put rubbish out
(6, hyphened)
32 Slade inmate?s feather (6)
34 Prove beyond doubt that
Essex opener joins
England and Hampshire
batsman (6)
35 Pot from ancient city found
in pub (5)
37 The devil of an influential
Listener compiler (5)
38 Half of the chorus for the
orchestra (5)
A first prize of � for the first
correct solution opened on
2 January. There are two
runners-up prizes of �. (UK
solvers can choose to receive the
latest edition of the Chambers
dictionary instead of cash ?
ring the word ?dictionary?.)
Entries to: Crossword 2338,
The Spectator, 22 Old Queen
Street, London SW1H 9HP.
Please allow six weeks for prize
delivery.
Name
Address
Email
SOLUTION TO 2335: CHIPPY
The unclued lights are COMPUTING terms.
First prize D.A. Henderson, Almonte, Ontario, Canada
Runners-up Robin Muir, Compton, West Sussex;
Ian Shiels, Bramley, Leeds
You are invited to provide a new year?s resolution (or more than one, if you like) in
verse. Please email entries of up to 16 lines
to lucy@spectator.co.uk by midday on 27
December.
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
59
LIFE
Status Anxiety
My holiday hell with a gaggle
of raging Remainiacs
Toby Young
I
?m writing this on the easyJet flight
back from Marrakech, where I
have just spent a long weekend as
a house guest of Rachel Johnson. She
had managed to secure a marvellous
villa by the name of Ezzahra, about
a 20-minute drive from the airport,
complete with a pool, spa and paddle tennis court. There were 12 of us
in all, five couples and two men travelling solo ? Harry Mount, the editor of the Oldie, and Mark Palmer,
the travel editor of the Daily Mail.
Harry, Mark and I quickly discovered
we were the only Leavers in a nest of
die-hard Remainers.
Now, it will not come as news to
Spectator readers that the result of
last year?s referendum has left some
pro-Europeans feeling a teensyweensy bit annoyed. A case in point is
Rachel?s husband, Ivo Dawnay, who
asks every Leaver he bumps into if
they?ve ever woken up at 4 a.m. and
thought: ?Oh my God! What have I
done?? Ivo is probably the most zealous Remainer I know, but Rachel is
not far behind and they had a host of
reinforcements in the house party ?
formidable overachievers like Emma
Tucker, deputy editor of the Times.
I know from experience that no
good comes of discussing Brexit at
social gatherings of this kind, so suggested to Rachel beforehand that she
declare a moratorium on the topic.
I know from
experience
that no good
comes of
discussing
Brexit at social
gatherings of
this kind
She circulated an email to all the
houseguests last week, quoting me as
saying I was bored with talking about
it, then accidentally on purpose copied me in to one of the replies: ?Tell
him we?re not bored and are DYING
to hear his justification for the stupidest act of self-harm EVER!?
We managed to avoid the subject
for the first 24 hours, but the dam
broke on the way back from visiting
the Yves St Laurent museum on Saturday afternoon. I?m not sure why that
?triggered? the Remainers ? perhaps
it was the exposure to chic, French
cosmopolitanism. On the return
journey, Ivo started talking wistfully
about the newly elected French President and speculating about whether
George Osborne could have become
?the British Macron? if only he hadn?t
been so cruelly mistreated by Theresa May and forced out of politics.
On the other hand, he was a ?brilliant?
editor of the Evening Standard, perfectly capturing the mood of a capital
city boiling with rage over the referendum result. All this was met with
enthusiastic nodding from his fellow
Remainers in the minibus.
I could restrain myself no longer
and said Osborne?s use of the Standard to launch a series of unremitting
attacks on the Prime Minister made
him look small and embittered. Was
he not concerned that his paper?s
wholly one-sided coverage of the
Brexit negotiations, ridiculing the
government at every turn, would
damage the prospects of the Conservatives standing in the forthcoming London council elections? Where
was his loyalty to all those party members who had steadfastly defended his
record as chancellor, even after the
debacle of the omnishambles budget? It was as if his vanity had been so
badly wounded by the events of last
year that he was now determined that
his party ? and his country ? should
suffer for having the effrontery to
ignore his sagacious advice.
It all kicked off after that. Didn?t
I realise the Tories were ?finished?
as a serious political party, Ivo said?
Brexit had already turned Britain
into an ?international laughing stock?
and the economic consequences
were guaranteed to be ?disastrous?
? indeed, were already proving to
be so, as multinational companies
and American investment banks
?deserted London for Frankfurt?.
The Tories would lose ?every fucking
ward? in next year?s council elections
? deservedly so ?and that would
remain true even if ?Nigel bloody Farage? was the editor of the Standard.
I must say, there is something
impressive about the undiminished
fury of Remainiacs like Ivo. Every
time he looked at me, an expression
of irritated bemusement played about
his features. This was in spite of our
being in absolutely idyllic surroundings, courtesy of Brian Callaghan, the
owner of the Villa Ezzahra. (It?s available to rent, by the way: for details
see www.ezzahra-morocco.com.) Ivo
wanted to talk about nothing else for
the remainder of the weekend, even
during a delicious Sunday lunch at the
Kasbah Bab Ourika hotel in the Atlas
Mountains. In fairness, I would almost
certainly be as cross as him if my side
had lost last year ? and probably
ignored a plea to stay off the subject.
Toby Young is associate editor of
The Spectator.
MICHAEL HEATH
60
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
The Wiki Man
These inventions
will change your life
Rory Sutherland
A
t last. And just what you?ve
been waiting for. The official
Wiki Man guide to the best
gadgets and gizmos for giving this
Christmas.
The Philips AirFryer, from �-ish.
Spectator readers may remember a
craze for cooking things via a French
method called sous-vide. Using this
senseless technology, you could cook
soggy food for days at low temperatures by warming it gently in a colostomy bag; handy if you fancied a
couple of days off work with botulism,
but frankly bugger all use for anything else. The AirFryer is the opposite of sous-vide: it isn?t French and
is actually useful. It quickly makes
food hot and crispy as God intended,
not with fat but with superheated air.
Everyone who buys one becomes an
evangelist. Available from Amazon
and some tax-compliant retailers.
St John Welsh Rarebit Mixture.
250g, �99, Ocado. The single best
food innovation for lazy people since
the Pot Noodle. Spread it on toast,
pop under the grill (or in your new
AirFryer) for a few minutes, then add
They put a
man on the
moon before
they invented
the glasssided toaster.
Go ?gure
Worcester Sauce to taste (i.e. loads).
If you have had the original from the
eponymous restaurant, this is as close
as you?ll get outside EC1. Good for
use with the?
Russell Hobbs or Magimix glasssided toaster, �-�5, various retailers. They put a man on the moon
before they invented the glass-sided
toaster. Go figure.
Anything from Selfridges.com.
They pack your purchases in such perfect cardboard boxes, elegantly lined
in yellow, and are so cavalier with tissue paper that, as a bloke, you could
probably get away with not wrapping
the contents at all. Best of all, for �,
you get free next-day delivery on all
your orders for a year. This suits me
as I no longer need to travel into London to buy their goods. I imagine it
also suits them as they no longer have
a fat middle-aged Welshman wandering around their store and ruining
their high-fashion credentials.
Google Pixelbook, �9 and up,
from Google or John Lewis. Perhaps
your spouse or one of your children
has asked for a new laptop for Christmas. If so, I can recommend nothing
better than giving them your old laptop and buying one of these for yourself. This, along with many of the newer
(and much cheaper) Chromebooks,
runs Android applications as well as
the Chrome browser. Your children
will whine that a Chromebook is not
a proper computer, but that is because
they are conformist Europhile idiots
incapable of independent thought.
Hive or Nest. Most internetconnected devices are merely technology in search of a purpose. But
the ability to turn your home?s heating and hot water on and off remotely is genuinely useful. It means older
Spectator readers can turn up on winter evenings to a toastily warm sevenbedroom Cotswold rectory that they
bought as a second home for �,000
in the 1970s, while their grandchildren
can enjoy a hot shower once they
have cycled home to their rented bedsit in Leytonstone.
Sky Q. Yes I know your home?s in
a bloody conservation area and you
don?t like Rupert Murdoch, but there
comes a time to surrender to the inevitable and put up that dish. With Sky
Q, children can watch Love Island on
their tiny phones, leaving the big telly
free for you to binge-watch a fourpart BBC4 documentary on the history of the Class 55 Deltic locomotive.
A bitcoin. I still have a few of
these, bought for about �0. A few
years ago, when they seemed to have
stabilised in price, I spent a quarter
of a bitcoin to buy a book online.
At today?s valuation, it seems I paid
�830.09 for a hardback copy of Jonathan Meades?s An Encyclopedia of
Myself. Fortunately it was very good.
Rory Sutherland is vice-chairman
of Ogilvy Group UK.
DEAR MARY YOUR PROBLEMS SOLVED
Q. We have reached the age when
we are receiving invitations from
our friends for Golden Wedding
celebrations. All the invitations
clearly state no presents please.
It feels dreadful to arrive without
a gift, especially as others have
obviously ignored the hosts?
request and arrived with presents.
What to do?
? M & D., Somerset
A. It is annoying for such hosts
who quite emphatically ask for
no presents. They are not being
coy but, at their age, actually
feel panic at the thought of new
clutter coming into the house.
In anticipation of being wrongfooted by fellow guests, contact
the hosts before the party to say
that under normal circumstances
you would bring a present to add
to the air of celebration, but since
they have asked for none, could
you take them out to lunch at
some stage in the next few months
instead? In this way you can
outsmart the wrong-footers and
rise above their smugness when
you arrive empty-handed. Say ?Oh,
you are brave to bring a present.
We didn?t dare so we are taking
them out to Mark?s Club instead.?
Q. What do you do when a
slightly pushy acquaintance, who
is also a self-published author,
asks you to put up a review on
Amazon and Goodreads? Even
with the best will in the world
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
I would not have time to read
it. What?s more, there is usually
a good reason why it has been
vanity-published, and I would not
wish to put my own reputation on
the line by endorsing it.
? Name and address withheld
A. If it is just an acquaintance then
respond in a confessional tone,
stating that it?s not something you
tell a lot of people but you are
actually dyslexic and read mainly
detective novels. You would be
willing to attempt a review but
you are a very slow reader and it
may be months before you can
oblige. If you are known to be a
professional wordsmith yourself,
it would be better to say that since
you have just embarked on a
challenging reading marathon,
namely all volumes of � la
recherche, and have vowed you
won?t let yourself be distracted
by any more enjoyable reading
material until you have reached
the end, you cannot comply with
the request.
Q. I recently received the
following text: ?Are you free
26th? Propose 4 p.m. Schnapps or
non-alcoholic drink at Bench and
on to Wright Bros as my guests
for early supper 5ish?? May I
suggest that all invitations should
carry the explicit proviso ?as my
guests?? If you cannot afford to
take them out, you can?t afford to
invite them.
? B.T., London SW5
A. It is very good to include an
explicit proviso if the proposer
wants to pay, but I do not agree
with your final observation.
Social life would ground to a
halt if spongers themselves could
never initiate the encounters.
61
LIFE
Drink
Glad tidings from Burgundy
Bruce Anderson
A
dvent: I am sure that all readers deplore the vulgarly commercial aspects of the preChristmas season as much as I do. But
over the weekend, a quietly Christian
friend made a gentle accusation of
hypocrisy. I had been talking about a
couple of festivities, evoking the ghost
of bottles past, while looking forward
to other imminent events and relishing the spirit of the bottles to come.
Was this all that the glorious festival
meant to me? my friend enquired. On
the eve of the great event in Bethlehem, the great dramatisation of splendour and pathos, of hope and renewal,
of joy ? but also of foreknowledge
that the road from the manger would
lead to the Cross ? was the Christian
message nothing more than Nunc est
bibendum? If so, what, apart from
snobbery, differentiated me from the
plastic music of Oxford Street?
I had no ready answer. There was
one obvious retort: that anything that
leads to the castigation of fake music
deserves a less tainted name than
snobbery. I also tried to defend myself
by citing the first miracle, but had no
The result
is the fruit
and the acid
in perfect
balance: an
autumn carol
of a wine
easy reply when asked if it was the
only miracle that I acknowledged. I
accepted a fuller rebuttal needed more
thought ? and fewer bottles? Well,
certainly more thought. I promised to
raise my mind above the glass at regular intervals over the next few days.
It also occurred to me that consumerism has its charm, at least when
indulged in by small children. Christmas is about renewal and recurrence,
including the messages that parents
preach to their offspring. For littlies:
?Be careful: Santa Claus won?t come
to greedy children?s houses.? For
slightly bigger, post-Santa monkeys:
?If there?s any more of this nonsense,
the only presents you?ll get are Bibles
and prayer books.? Exactly how their
parents were admonishing them a few
decades ago. Thus the years pass, world
without end, and the globe revolves,
apart from that still point in the turning world, 2,000 years ago.
Reverting to nunc est bibendum, I
spent the other evening in the inspiring company of a man with a vocation.
Before he was ten years old, Michael
Ragg was a postulant. Time passed:
his determination to be a pilgrim was
unabated. So he set off for a seminary:
not quite the English College in Rome,
but an institution almost as venerable,
which has been sending its alumni out
among the heathen for several centuries: Berry Bros & Rudd. This is a man
who was born to make wine.
Ordained by Berry?s, Michael posted himself to a parish in Burgundy: he
lives in Aloxe-Corton. He started out
as a n間ociant, but acquired parcels of
vines, under the domaine name Mischief and Mayhem. We started with his
St-Aubin 2015. Only a village wine, it
is a delightful expression of Chardonnay. 2015 was a huge year, with dangerous amounts of sun, wonderful for
ripening fruit but with the risk of leading vignerons into temptation, so that
they ended up with oily, over-alcoholic
wines, too strong for their own good.
To prevent this, Michael harvested by late September. The result is 13
degrees of alcohol, the fruit and the
acid in perfect balance: an autumn
carol of a wine. Because it was so harmonious, I thought that it was a 2014,
which had been easier to manage.
Apart from the honey and butter one
would expect from a fine Chardonnay,
there were other notes. This is where
wine writers risk ridicule. It is never
easy to translate taste or smell into
words. On the nose, I thought that I
detected a hint of petrol, as in a Riesling. Someone suggested gunpowder.
Michael himself came up with smoked
flint. There was definitely something
to enhance subtlety and add piquancy.
We moved on to his Pinot Noirs,
an Aloxe-Corton and a Savigny-l鑣Beaune 1er Cru. I will return to them
while discussing some of Natalie Tollot?s bottles. There is no more entrancing wine-grower in Burgundy and her
wines are as alluring as she is. In such
company, solemnity is hard ? and
after all, ?tis the season to be merry.
MIND YOUR LANGUAGE
Words of the year
In Amsterdam the courts have
given leave to ban the bierfiets.
Fiets is the Dutch for ?bike?.
(The plural is fietsen.) A bierfiets
is a float on which a dozen people
sit on high seats facing each other
across a narrow bar running fore
and aft, enjoying their beer and
pedalling away to power the
vehicle. Someone sits at the front
to steer and brake.
Some suggest that bierfiets has
entered the English language as
the name of this newish thing.
I?m not sure it really has, any
more than many another name
in a foreign language for foreign
things (churros or curryw黵ste).
62
If the bierfiets itself survives it is
as likey to be called a beer-bike in
English.
A word with a bit of stayingpower in English is Boris-bike,
even though Boris Johnson is no
longer Mayor of London and the
bicycles there are now sponsored
by Santander in place of Barclays.
I have never heard anyone call
one a Santander-bike, and in
any case few people pronounce
Santander properly. (The
stress is on the last syllable.) It
derives not from St Andrew, but,
apparently, from St Emeterius.
This exemplifies a word for a new
thing lasting perhaps as long as
the thing. That may be true of
the fidget spinner too, although
that annoying toy is likely soon
to follow clackers and spacehoppers into the nostalgic half-lit
cupboard of past crazes.
What then of the Word of
the Year chosen by Collins
Dictionary: fake news? Is it, young
people may ask, ?even a thing??
Fake news is a slippery word,
lobbed at enemies in ideological
battle. So was last year?s, Brexit.
Yet Brexit, even though no
one could agree on what it should
be, is a useful portmanteau
term for Britain?s exit, quite
independently of the degree to
which such a thing is likely to be
achieved.
Collins likes to announce a
Word of the Year because it wants
to sell dictionaries. A runner-up
this year named a trend that will
surely need a name for some time
to come: the gig economy. I hope
fake news will last as long as real
snow and real tans (and, by their
nature, real smiles) and not their
fake counterparts.
? Dot Wordsworth
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
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th ? gradual-
ly creating ripples that push into each other
so that, with supreme gentleness, an aspect
of something beneath the surface begins to
dawn. Suddenly, there it is, perceptible in
slights of rhythm, harmony and disposition,
the wonderful song that William Byrd set to
Philip Sidney?s brief lyric.
Like its partner piece in the concert ?
Late Silence (2017), by the Swiss clarinettist and composer J黵g Frey, which does
with Ockeghem?s motet D閜loration sur la
mort de Binchois what Granberg?s does with
the Byrd ? the music does not set or adapt
its ancient source so much as allow it to be
glimpsed. In that sense, the older pieces simply provide an image that coheres the whole,
though without eclipsing its parts. The music
is not something whose argument you follow
or whose external and internal references
you pursue. It?s less than that, but also more:
a world in miniature, a magical place to be.
Huddersfield is a whirlwind. I attended
ten concerts in just over 48 hours, ranging
from a momentous performance of the late,
great Pauline Oliveros?s Primordial/Lift
(1998) ? a piece which, with the help of an
electronic oscillator and various circulating
instruments, supposedly tracks the increase
in the earth?s resonant frequency from 7.8Hz
in 1960 to 13Hz in 2010 (at 75 minutes, you
can feel yourself ageing) ? to the dehumanising, sense-dismantling hedonism of Alex-
ander Schubert?s rave-inspired finale.
Some of the greatest moments this year
were the gentlest, such as the organist Kit
Downes?s encore, Luciano Berio?s 1964 setting of the American folk song ?Black Is The
Colour (of My True Love?s Hair)?. Downes,
together with the saxophonist Tom Challenger, has been recording improvised pieces on
the dilapidated instruments of several Suffolk churches. Performed here, they gave a
sense of unassumingly mining the building?s
natural acoustic for memories of past musical glories. They also gave a luminous glow
to the encore.
There were excitements, too, from the
music but also from realising the substance
to the hype around some younger composers (such as Laura Bowler, whose blazing
new piece FFF, half political rant, half primeval convulsion, was performed in emoji
hotpants) ? and moments of boredom. At
times, a keen gratitude that one performance
will be all one hears of something is enough.
With its strange practices and even stranger habitu閟 ? most of whom combine
unfeasible levels of craftsmanship and talent,
and are for the most part entirely unmoved
by the prospect of wider success and recognition ? contemporary art music is very much
a niche culture. But it also provides a breath
of fresh, clear air, and all of us could do with
a dose of that from time to time.
Deities & Demons
Winter Exhibition
Gallery Eight, 8 Duke Street, St James?s, London, s w1 y 6 b n
Catalogue 29 available on request
Private View Monday 4th December ? 12 noon ? 9 pm
Tuesday 5th to Wednesday 6th 10 am ? 9 pm, Thursday 7th to Friday 8th 10 am ? 6 pm, Saturday 9th 10 am ? 3 pm
All other times by appointment
t: 020 7689 7500 m: 07768 236921 or 07836 684133 e: enquiries@?nch-and-co.co.uk w: www.?nchandco.art
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
49
NOTES ON ?
Birdwatching in Sri Lanka
By Robin Oakley
ISTOCK
S
tanding in sweaty silence for an hour
on a precipitous sliver of muddy footpath above a waterfall may not be everybody?s idea of fun, but for a small cluster
of birders anxious to see the Sri Lanka whistling thrush it was a small price to pay. Eventually, as the cicadas shrilled and the dark
closed in, the little blue-black bird appeared
? and flitted away almost as quickly.
Another evening, we scrambled 100 heartpumping yards up a rainforest jungle slope
for a view of the Serendib Scops owl, a reddish bird so rare it has been known to science only since 2004 and is one of 34 species
endemic to the Beautiful Island.
Birders do it before dawn and after dark
as well as happily ? well, more or less happily ? trekking ten kilometres or so a day,
swinging across narrow suspension bridges,
fording streams and slushing through bogs
or bouncing up and down bone-shuddering
ravines in Jeeps. It is the birds you had to
work for that you remember most vividly,
but fortunately most of the 462 species to be
seen in Sri Lanka are both more colourful
and easier to spot. We had scarcely left the
airport before a greater coucal and a Shikra
hawk showed themselves in full daylight.
Among the endemic species we spotted were the engaging little hanging parrot,
the improbable grey hornbill, the strutting
Improbable: a Sri Lanka grey hornbill
junglefowl and other colourful customers
like the red-faced malkoha, the scimitar babbler, Legge?s flowerpecker and a woodpecker
called the crimson-backed flameback.
With around 10,000 species to be seen
across the world, birders accumulate more
air miles than most. Some are fanatical
?listers?, ready to quit a trip the moment the
merest glimpse of a tailfeather has enabled
them to tick off a missing species. The kind
whose company I enjoy most tend to be
those who enjoy watching birds do what they
do: leaf-tossers tossing leaves, woodpeckers
pecking tree stumps for slugs, or spoonbills
stirring up mud for food. Sri Lanka, particularly for those who have not birded in India,
provides every opportunity ? even a ser-
pent eagle we watched catching and eating
a snake. The group saw 180 varieties in eight
days, and more than 120 were birds I was
seeing for the first time.
Travelling with birders should not be
confused with tourism. When our minibus stopped at a spectacular waterfall,
one companion sniffed disdainfully and
focused his binoculars on trees the other
side of the road. At a spectacular temple,
two focused instead on a couple of yellow
wagtails ? although the party did deign to
take an interest when we encountered giant
squirrels or mouse deer.
We saw no ?sights?; only the roadside
ribbon developments offering clear evidence that building supplies is the Sri Lankan business to be in. Driving habits are
intriguing, too: it seems to be the rule rather than the exception to overtake before
blind bends. Tuk-tuks, lorries and buses eyeball each other alongside until finally the
slowest concedes. Horns blare constantly,
but curiously there is no road rage, since
everybody drives the same way. And there
was one encouragement for Brits: endless roadside advertisements for language
schools offering lessons in English. I fear,
though, that this may be not because it is
the language of William Shakespeare, but
because it is the language of Bill Gates.
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?I hope fake news will last as long as
real snow and real tans?
? Dot Wordsworth, p62
High life
Taki
New York
There?s fear and loathing in this town and
in El Lay it?s even worse. Torquemada and
Savonarola are in charge, and if this is not
a new version of the Spanish inquisition I
don?t know what is. The enemy is ?toxic masculinity?, as exhibited by the latest to lose his
job for ever, Charlie Rose. He?s not a bad
guy but a bleeding-heart liberal who acted
like Benito in front of fair maidens. Or so
they claim. In the meantime, he?s toast.
I have only one question: what ever happened to due process?
What also bothers me is that the latest
purge is the only subject of conversation
nowadays. At Thanksgiving dinner with
Oliver Stone and his charming family chez
Michael Mailer, I literally had to bully Madame Stone to run away with me to Mykonos
in order to change the subject. (I didn?t dare
do it to his lovely daughter Tara because at
22 she might be called underage in view of
me being overage.) In the meantime, the
director just looked at me open-mouthed
as I repeated the Mykonos offer after every
gulp (and I took many).
Let?s face it, this is not the first time I?ve
brought this up. I?ve been writing 50 columns a year for the past 40 years, which
means I?ve mentioned La La Land around
2,000 times. So some of you old-timers can
give this one a miss. Here we are in the grip
of a sexual counter-revolution, with stories
of abuse and harassment being believed,
and alleged abusers and harassers being
thrown to the wolves without a trial. Yet at
the same time Hollywood chooses to go all
out for Call Me By Your Name, a movie that
tells the story of a 24-year-old man seducing
a 17-year-old boy, and the love affair that
follows. I haven?t seen it, and don?t plan to,
but I couldn?t avoid reading about it and
hearing the usual suspects going ape over it.
In other words, doing it with a youngster of the same sex is OK, but undressing
and making suggestions in front of a mature
woman is not, especially if she?s an aspiring
thespian. It?s OK if it?s a gay relationship, is
the obvious message. Having said that, what
about a great actor like Kevin Spacey? (I
know, Rod Liddle covered it two weeks ago,
but still. Without Spacey House of Cards
is House of Crap, even if the divine Robin
Wright, whom I once tried to steal a kiss
from, is in it.)
Hollywood?s false and wrong values
continue to reverberate throughout our
culture. These values have corrupted our
sensibilities and blighted our souls. They
have made the bad guys look good and the
good ones appear very, very bad. Looking
through recent American contributions to
culture, I find only nihilism and bogus rhetoric about liberation and other very tired
subjects. Apart from Norman Mailer, Philip
Roth and Larry McMurtry, the last two still
very much with us, I cannot read American
novels. Or phonies such as Susan Sontag, a
purveyor of non-stop nonsense and radical
chic attitudes. Give me Jerry Lee Lewis any
day, the great pianist-singer who married
a 13-year-old. When Lewis visited London
he had no qualms about bringing her along
to the press conference. That?s what I love
about America ? not our highly praised cultural heroes of the 1960s but the blue-collar
workers in the south of the country; in other
words, the deplorables.
Be that as it may, I know I?m a bit of
a dinosaur nowadays. Trump?s economy is
not only chugging along, it?s going like the
blazes, and no one can tell for how long. What
makes the left in general so loathsome is the
hypocrisy involved. Every bicoastal cultural wannabe thinks that anybody who voted
for the Donald is a yahoo who sleeps with
his sister and wants to reintroduce slavery.
The fact that slavery exists in Africa today
doesn?t seem to bother the wannabes. And
does it bother those African-Americans, who
refuse to stand for the national anthem, or
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
?You?re in my seat.?
take Muslim names? What do they make of
the fact that Africans were enslaved, shipped
and sold by Arabs? As the drunk said to the
sheriff when he woke up in a cell, something?s very wrong here.
Otherwise everything is hunky-dory.
Felonious assault should lead to complete ruination, as someone told me when
I was about to get into a fight. But so
does a pinch on the bottom, I answered.
Everyone laughed and that was it. If
more people were to laugh when some
fool or other takes off his pants and desecrates a plant, maybe fewer people
would do it. What I?d like to know is why
a woman who is raped by Harvey, as Paz de
la Huerta claims she was, then puts herself
in a position where she is allegedly raped
again. And why does an Italian lady who is
allegedly raped by him then go on to have a
consensual relationship for five years?
Finally, a Supreme Court judge who
shall remain anonymous told me that most
of these cases will never reach a court of
law. There?s trial by the media and then
there?s the real thing. Enjoy it while you
can, sweetie-pies.
Low life
Jeremy Clarke
My pal Charlie inherited a car and a ride-on
mower from an old pal. He kept the mower
and the next time he saw me in the pub he
offered me the car. He?d driven down in it, he
said, and it was out in the pub car park. ?This
car is bombproof,? said Charlie handing over
the key. ?Even you couldn?t wreck this one.?
I asked how much. He wanted paying
not in cash but in art, he said. He?d seen
this painting for sale on a French restaurant
wall and now that he was back in England
he wished he?d bought it. I was returning to
France in a fortnight. I knew the restaurant.
There were about a dozen works hung on the
wall, all of them efflorescences of the same
confident genius. Charlie showed me a photo
of the object of his desire on his phone. It was
a painting of an outdoor flower stall under
55
LIFE
a parasol with a faceless woman browsing.
The parasol was a sort of police-strobe electric blue. ?But it?s crap, Charlie,? I pointed out.
?I don?t care,? he said. ?It reminds me of the
atmosphere of Provence.?
I?ve heard that Charlie made an offer
to the restaurant patron of ?700 for the lot.
The patron said he?d inform the artist. On
his return from the telephone, the patron
said that the artist had gone stroboscopic at
what he thought was a derisory offer. But
if I could get the single painting for ?200,
say, that would be the price of the car. And
any car that starts and drives is surely worth
that. ?What is the car, anyway, Charlie?? I
said, accepting the key. If the worst came to
the worst, and the Blue Parasol cost much
more than 200 quid, my absolute maximum,
I planned to take up the brushes and knock
him off a market scene myself.
The car is a Mitsubishi Carisma 2002 1.9
common rail diesel hatchback. Before he
took it over, it had been standing in a forest
for a year, Charlie told me. And the owner
had been blind or deaf or something and the
car had sustained a few knocks, including a
smashed rear-light unit and off-side mirror,
which is in no way a problem. I?ve been driving it about for a week and here is my review.
This Mitsubishi Carisma has a manual
gearbox and the stiff clutch has inflamed my
chronic left-knee problem after three years
completely pain-free with normal use. The
steering wheel wobbles excitedly when the
car is in motion and there is a slight delay
between turning it and the car changing
direction. And slow punctures in the front
and rear driver?s side tyres make the Carisma veer to the right. The ride is lumpy but
this might be due to a shot suspension. A
thick layer of dust over the interior surfaces
gives a musty smell.
But it starts, my goodness it starts. Starting is the car?s forte. In ten years? time, when
the car is a compacted block in a scrapyard,
if the ignition is accessible, and someone
inserts the key and gives it a twist, the car
will probably start. My starting anxiety syndrome is over. Amazingly, the cigar lighter
works. It is the first working cigar lighter
I?ve had for years. And the stereo works,
as do the four speakers. Ken Bruce?s voice
comes through in all its Scottish richness.
A car that starts, a half-decent working stereo, and a functioning cigar lighter is the
height of my automotive ambition.
The idling engine sounds like a cabless
Massey Ferguson from the 1950s, but it is in
fact the same engine as in the Volvo V40 and
the Renault Laguna, with more than enough
power to accelerate uphill ? another pleasant surprise. But above all, I now have the
advantage of owning and driving the most
boring, most anonymous car on the road. In
a driver survey of 300 makes and models,
the Mitsubishi Carisma came 293rd for charisma and 3rd for reliability. Charlie is the
ultimate petrolhead. He has sold cars for
56
a living. He loves and knows cars and he can
afford to drive anything he likes. But for reasons best not gone into, he prizes anonymity
in a car above everything. In this respect, he
is like a billionaire hillbilly, happier bumping along in a battered old Toyota Hilux with
torn seats than in anything else. And this has
been a great lesson to me, and a liberation,
after a lifetime of naively imagining that
the kind of car I drive is a personal statement about my bank balance, or about my
self-image. Better late than never, I suppose.
When I go into that French restaurant next
week to negotiate a price for the Blue Parasol, I might even go up to ?300.
Real life
Melissa Kite
After a week of cold hosing, I decided I
would have to get the vet to the small swelling on Gracie?s leg.
?Dear Lord, be merciful,? I prayed. But I
knew that the quantity of mercy I would be
shown would very much depend on the vet
who came.
My usual vet is the last good vet in the
world ? the only vet in the western hemisphere who will make a realistic appraisal
of a horse?s condition and give a quote for
what can be realistically mended at a morally defensible price, by which I mean a price
that will fix the horse without breaking the
human owner. Consequently, he is very busy.
I rang the practice and was assigned a
member of the team who was at a call-out
down the road. When she arrived, my heart
sank as I saw how young she was. She looked
horribly sweet and idealistic, a bit like she
might just have got out of veterinary college
with the lectures of the visiting animal-rights
activists still burning her ears.
I undid the field gate and beckoned her
in. ?It?s like Bute central down here,? I said,
referring to the phenylbutazone anti-inflammatories I had been giving to both Grace
and Tara, Grace for her bad leg and Tara
because she?s 32 or nearly 90 in human years,
with all the aches and pains that entails. With
a bit of Bute, she gallivants around kicking
and biting as happily as she ever did.
But the young vet smiled weakly. She
didn?t look like she did jokes. I explained
as entertainingly as I could how Gracie had
raced around the field to evade capture for
an hour, charging and twisting away from
me, and finally going over on her ankle.
As we approached the pony, I warned the
vet to stand clear if she turned and charged.
So naturally, Grace let me put a headcollar
on without protest, very much to embarrass
me. ?Sure, go ahead,? she said. ?I never make a
fuss. I was just minding my own business like
this the other day when she pushed me over.?
The vet said ?aw? and ?ah? and complimented the pony on being lovely (yes, well,
she wasn?t too lovely when she was chasing me round the field like a dog). Then
she looked at the small swelling and made
a face: ?That is right on the suspensory.?
Great balls of fire! ?What?? I screeched. ?I
thought it was on the tendon. Don?t be saying suspensory. I?ll take a torn tendon rather
than a torn suspensory ligament any day.?
?Well, it?s hard to say. Carry on giving her
Bute and keep her shut up in the field shelter, but if it?s no better in two weeks, we?ll
have to nerve block.?
Great balls of fire again! ?Nerve block??
I gasped, feeling my own nerves actively
twang themselves into multiple spasms making pound signs explode in front of my eyes.
She left me doing my breathing exercises. A
week later, when the small swelling was still
there, I rang in and said I would take the next
available appointment with my usual vet.
As luck would have it, he could come in
a few days? time. When he turned up, I was
never so pleased to see his sardonic grin.
?It?s like Sunset Senior Living for equines
down here,? I said, nodding towards Tara and
Gracie grazing happily. ?Just the two out-ofwork horses lounging about high on Bute at
my expense.?
He laughed heartily. We?re in business, I
thought.
?Your new vet?? I said, as tactfully as I
could as we walked to the field, ??very nice
girl, but she told me she wanted to do nerve
blocking.?
?Well, I?m sure she thought that was the
right thing to do,? he said, in a tone that said
?don?t go there?.
?Listen,? I said, ?I?m the one who?s going
to need my nerves blocking if you start
doing investigations on a pulled tendon.?
But in the event, he simply took one look
at the leg and said: ?Tendon sheath. Small
tear. How old? 14. Yeah. Sounds about right.
We call it teenage cob syndrome.?
Gracie looked up from tearing off a
mouthful of grass as if to say, ?Who you calling a cob??
?She?s not really a cob,? I said, to make
her feel better.
?Well, you know what I mean. She goes
a bit funny, doesn?t she?? And he imitated
her choppy action.
?That is pretty much how she rolls.
Stomps along like a pony in a trap.?
?Exactly. No point scanning, just a waste
of your money. You won?t see anything useful. A month off, then start walking her out.
They usually come right.?
?Don?t ever retire,? I told him, as he
climbed back into his car.
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
Bridge
Susanna Gross
SPECTATOR WINE CLUB JONATHAN RAY
C
hristmas is the time for fine claret,
whether the grub you plan to gorge
on is a juicy rib of beef, a succulent
saddle of lamb or the dread festive turkey.
And, if you?re canny, there?s no need to
break the bank. We?ve put together three
keenly priced clarets with our partners
Mr Wheeler. Each has unimpeachable
credentials, from truly great estates. Drink
long and drink deep.
The 2014 Vieux Ch鈚eau Saint Andr� (1)
from Montagne Saint-Emilion is a complete
and utter claret-lover?s delight. Produced
from fruit grown on his own six-hectare
estate by Jean-Claude Berrouet (who, being
the former winemaker at Ch. P閠rus, certainly
knows his onions), the wine is almost indecently flirtatious and approachable. A blend
of succulent, brambly Merlot with just a
splash of structure-giving Cabernet Franc,
the wine spends a perfectly judged spell in
oak and is full of soft, ripe, dark fruit, vanilla,
spice and even a whisper of black coffee.
�.80 down from �.50.
The 2012 Ch鈚eau Fourcas-Borie (2) is
similarly toothsome and is about as spot-on
for washing down the Christmas fare as it?s
possible for a wine to be. The estate in Listrac
is owned by Bruno Borie, the admired owner
of Chx. Ducru-Beaucaillou, Grand-Puy-
Lacoste and Haut-Batailley, and there?s
certainly a sprinkling of Cru Class� stardust evident here. The wine is impeccably
structured, blended from 60 per cent Merlot and 40 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon and
it?s richly flavoured and forward, with spicy
black cherry, blackberry and plum fruit and a
long, deeply satisfying, almost savoury finish.
It?s a right Christmas cracker. �.20 down
from �.00.
Finally, those readers who bought the
2012 Clarendelle a month or so back will be
delighted to see the 2010 Clarendelle (3) in
this offer. Praised to the skies by Uncle Bob
Parker a few years ago (he gave the wine a
healthy 90 point score), it?s an 黚er-smooth
Merlot-rich blend produced by Domaine
Clarence Dillon from the family-owned
vineyards of Chx. Haut-Brion, La Mission
Haut-Brion and Quintus. Fully mature on
release, it?s certainly not going to get any
better and should be earmarked for immediate quaffing this Christmas rather than next.
�.60 down from �.
The above wines are offered in unmixed
dozens and there is also a mixed dozen (4)
with four bottles of each wine.
If you buy any three cases you get a free
magnum of 2010 Clarendelle (worth �.95).
Delivery, as ever, is also free.
ORDER FORM Spectator Wine Offer
1
2
3
4
2014 Vieux Ch鈚eau Saint Andr�, 13%
2012 Ch鈚eau Fourcas-Borie, 13.5%
2010 Clarendelle, 14%
Mixed case with four each of the above
Start date
Issue no.
List price
Club price
�4.00
�4.00
�6.00
�8.00
�1.60
�0.40
�7.20
�6.40
Expiry date
Sec. code
Signature
Please send wine to
Name
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Prices include VAT and delivery on the
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made either by cheque with the order,
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the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
Both vulnerable
z K10 8 6 2
y 10 9 3
X K 10 9 5 4
w?
z J 9
y86
X AQ
wJ
7 5 4
4
J 7
N
W
E
S
z AQ 3
y AK Q
X3 2
w 75
7w
No.
Total
Mastercard/Visa no.
Dealer East
West
mrwheelerwine.com/spectator Mr. Wheeler, Estate Of?ce, Park Lane BC, Langham,
Colchester, Essex CO4 5WR Tel: 01206 713560; Email: sales@mrwheelerwine.com
Prices 1, 2 and 3 are for unmixed case of 12
Being on lead against a grand slam is bad for
your blood pressure. So much is at stake (not
least, having to face the self-satisfaction of
your opponents). Luckily, there is a rule of
thumb which obviates the need to stress too
much: always lead a trump. This is sensible
advice: it?s normally the best or safest lead.
But not always; especially not when the bidding is screaming out against it. And yet, at
that giddy height, some players seem just too
fearful to break the rule.
England international Brian Callaghan
(?Binky?) showed me this hand from a
recent Tollemache match (the inter-county teams championships). Sit tight for the
bidding!
z _
y7
X 86
w A K Q 10 9 8 6
4 3 2
J 52
North
East
South
7y
6w
Dble
6y
all pass
East opened the bidding at the six-level. Binky, sitting South, countered with a
brave 6y. West lost no time in raising his
partner to 7w. And Brian?s partner, Heather Dhondy, rolled up her sleeves and bid
7y. Who knew what was going on? However, when East pulled out a double card,
West should have been on full alert. This
was surely a ?lightner? double, announcing
that he was void in a suit and could ruff.
Looking at West?s hand, that suit was most
likely spades ? but even leading the XA
and switching to a spade would have led
to two tricks. However, West led a trump!
Binky won, ruffed a club, crossed to the
zA, ruffed another club, crossed to the zQ
and ran his trumps. West was squeezed in
spades and diamonds ? contract made!
57
LIFE
Chess
London Classic
Raymond Keene
The London Classic gets underway this weekend
in Olympia. The line-up is formidable, including
the world champion Magnus Carlsen, his
predecessor Viswanathan Anand, and Sergei
Karjakin, who challenged Carlsen for the title last
year. The remaining contestants are as follows:
Lev Aronian, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Fabiano
Caruana, Wesley So, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Hikaru
Nakamura and Michael Adams.
Carlsen comes fresh from his triumph in
St Louis against the elite Chinese grandmaster
Ding Liren. In a mixture of fast-play formats
Carlsen triumphed by the overall score of 67-25,
winning the match with 13 rounds to spare.
Carlsen is of course the hot favourite to win in
London, joining those illustrious names who have
won major events in the capital including Adolf
Anderssen, Emanuel Lasker, Jos� Capablanca,
Alexander Alekhine and of course, Anatoly
Karpov, Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik.
(There is also the enticing possibility that next
year?s World Championship match will see
Carlsen defending his title in London.)
This week?s game is a win by Carlsen from
an earlier London Classic against the reigning
British champion.
Carlsen-Jones: London Chess Classic, London
2012; Sicilian Defence
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Qxd4 With
this unusual recapture White plans to aim for a
Maroczy-style position with an early c4. 4 ... a6
5 h3 Nc6 6 Qe3 g6 7 c4 Bg7 White has a
central space advantage but Black will aim to
create dark-squared counterplay on the
queenside. 8 Be2 Nf6 9 Nc3 0-0 10 0-0 Nd7
11 Rb1 White plans to expand with b4 on the
queenside. 11 ... a5 12 b3 Nc5 13 Bb2 f5
This advance is a standard way to create
counterplay for Black in this type of position.
However it does run the risk of weakening the
kingside. 14 exf5 Bxf5 15 Rbd1 White plans to
centralise his forces and eyes the black pawns on
the e- and d-files. 15 ... a4 16 Ba3 Qa5 (see
diagram 1) 17 Nb5 A reasonable alternative
here is 17 b4 and after the forced variation 17 ...
Nxb4 18 Bxb4 Qxb4 19 Nd5 Qa5 20 Nxe7+ Kh8
21 Nxf5 gxf5 White stands slightly better. 17 ...
axb3 18 axb3 Qxa3 This is an astonishing
PUZZLE NO. 485
White to play. This position is from a variation
from Carlsen-Aronian, London Classic 2012.
Black had already anticipated what was in store
here and had resigned. What had he foreseen?
Answers to me at The Spectator by Tuesday 5
December or via email to victoria@spectator.
co.uk. There is a prize of � 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 Qxe6+
Last week?s winner Mike Angress, Brighton
58
Competition
Double dactylic
Lucy Vickery
Diagram 1
rDWDW4kD
DpDW0Wgp
WDn0WDpD
1WhWDbDW
pDPDWDWD
GPHW!NDP
PDWDB)PD
DWDRDRIW
Diagram 2
WDWDW4Wi
DpDW0WDp
WDW0WgpD
DWhWDWDW
WDPhW)BD
4PDW$W!P
WDbHWDPD
DWDWDRDK
sacrifice. Instead 18 ... Na6 is a playable
alternative. 19 Nxa3 Rxa3 20 Nd2 White
now slowly reorganises his forces in order to
exchange some pieces. 20 ... Bd4 21 Qg3
Be5 22 f4 Bf6 23 Bg4 Nd4 24 Kh1 Bc2
25 Rde1 Kh8 26 Re3 (see diagram 2) The
In Competition No. 3026 you were invited to
submit topical double dactyls.
The double dactyl was dreamed up
in 1951 by the poet Anthony Hecht and
the classical scholar Paul Pascal. My wellthumbed copy of Jiggery-Pokery, a wonderful 1967 compendium of the form edited by
Hecht and the poet John Hollander, reveals
with pride that Auden (to whom the book
is dedicated) used the form ?thrice? for the
choruses in his Aesopian playlets Moralities.
Double dactyls always go down well, and
this comp elicited an entertaining parade
of double dactylic notables ? and pursuits
egomaniacal, unoligarchical, prosecutorial,
heterosexual, philoprogenitive?
The winners earn � each.
Foggily-froggily
Michel B. Barnier,
Consummate bureaucrat,
Raises the price,
Crushing the will of our
Flummoxed and browbeaten
Plenipotentiaries
Held in his vice.
Hugh King
Higgledy piggledy
Pastuso Paddington
gets himself banged up in
Pentonville gaol.
Even the lairiest
anarctophiliac
joins in the whip-round for
Paddington?s bail.
Nick MacKinnon
white position is becoming coordinated and
Black is running out of steam. 26 ... h5 27 b4
h4 28 Qf2 Nd3 29 Qg1 Nf5 Although
White?s queen has been driven into a passive
post his extra material begins to tell. 30 Bxf5
Mopily-ropily,
Manchester?s Morrissey
Goes back to crooning, his
Novel a fail.
gxf5 31 Nf3 Rc3 32 c5 Bb3 33 Ne1 Bd4
34 Nxd3 dxc5 34 ... Rxd3 is met by 35 Rxd3
Bxg1 36 Rxb3 Bd4 37 cxd6 winning easily. 35
Qf2 Rf7 36 Rc1 cxb4 37 Rxc3 bxc3 38
Qe1 Black resigns
Hoping his audience,
Hari-kiristically,
Still want to hear a man
Tunelessly wail.
Adrian Fry
WDWir$bD
DW0WDW)W
WDP0WDWD
DWDPDNDW
WDW)WIWD
0WDWDWDW
WDWDWDWD
DWDWDWDW
Biffety-boffety
Anthony Joshua
Heavyweight champion
Top of the pile;
Talks of his legacy
Hyperbolistically;
Nemesis listens and
Smiles a slow smile.
W.J. Webster
Doubly-Dactylly
Benedict Cumberbatch,
Won?t you indulge in a
Three-in-bed romp?
While you?re behaving so
Uncontroversially
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
LIFE
I have got nothing to
Mock in this comp.
George Simmers
Yummily, mummily,
Catherine Middleton?s
Pregnant again to the
Rapture of Wills.
I?d be as lavishly
Philoprogenitive
If I could stretch to the
Nursery bills.
Rob Stuart
Hoitety-Toitety
Emily Thornberry,
Feminist lawyer and
Labour MP,
Speaks with a manner quite
Aristocratical
Save when men style her as
Lady Nugee.
Joseph Conlon
Taxily, maxily,
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Gave the inheritance
Levy a hitch.
Trump says ?Repeal it! Our
Agroindustrial
Future depends on my
Kids staying rich!?
Rob Hirst
Limberly, Kimberly,
Khlo� Kardashian,
Kourtney, and Robbie seem
Destined for Fame?s
Roster, since they all have
(Double-dactylically
Speaking) stupendously
Talented names.
Frank Osen
Higgledy piggledy,
Ludwig van Beethoven,
if he could glimpse what our
world has become,
likely would find a new
applicability
for his immortal phrase:
dum dum dum DUM!
Robert Schechter
Nobody-joebody
George Papadopoulos,
?Fetcher of coffee? the
Trumpists have said,
Crossword
2338: Fone
by Doc
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
11
12
13
15
10
14
16
17
18
The unclued lights (one of two
words) are of a kind. Elsewhere, ignore three accents.
19
20
Down
2 Forgets it?s on order (5)
5 Costa Rican currency -could be a mark (5)
6 Expressing admiration for
water feeder (9)
Incontrovertibly
Met with the Russians, so
Maybe Trump sent him for
Vodka instead.
Max Gutmann
NO. 3029: BEST FOOT FORWARD
22
24
23
25
26
Across
1 Unethical point of an
Aesop fable (6)
11 Improve, making Oriel,
accommodated by a
fellow (10)
13 3 in Casablanca in the wet
season (5)
14 This psychotherapist
poor Leonard can?t take
on (5)
15 Oration about province (7)
18 Non-A roads are where to
meet (6)
19 It?s under the window, not
moving, timeless (4)
22 Old-fashioned people
buried here? (6)
24 Snouted Indian animal
chewed bowler hats, out
West (9, two words)
25 Round, soft growth (5)
26 Ice-cream?s not on froth (5)
28 300 steal luggage item (9)
30 Game for a sound hitter?
(6)
33 Burden the old carry all
right? (4)
36 A further transaction at
start of risky new lease (6)
41 Illegally take power after
America backs sport (5)
42 Mighty old sore (5)
43 Collar yeti dancing in an
arousing manner (10)
44 Singer mirroring
resounding soccer victory
(6)
45 Greek disheartened
beautiful French girl (6)
21
27
28
30
29
31
35
36
39
32
33
37
34
38
40
41
42
43
44
45
7 Government overthrown
by socialist was
inconsistent (6)
9 Capital husband invested
in food shop (5)
10 Old invader buried gold in
North Island (6)
12 Eirenic type, as leading
athlete accepting last in
race (10)
16 Pillion has mixed make-up
(10, two words)
20 Down-at-heel old solver
given hiding! (4)
21 Physically attacks poor
stationer (9, two words)
23 Newspaper article from
page in dictionary (4,
hyphened)
30 Get me confused with Saul
in the Bible (6)
31 As it?s sweltering, he?d be
forced to put rubbish out
(6, hyphened)
32 Slade inmate?s feather (6)
34 Prove beyond doubt that
Essex opener joins
England and Hampshire
batsman (6)
35 Pot from ancient city found
in pub (5)
37 The devil of an influential
Listener compiler (5)
38 Half of the chorus for the
orchestra (5)
A first prize of � for the first
correct solution opened on
2 January. There are two
runners-up prizes of �. (UK
solvers can choose to receive the
latest edition of the Chambers
dictionary instead of cash ?
ring the word ?dictionary?.)
Entries to: Crossword 2338,
The Spectator, 22 Old Queen
Street, London SW1H 9HP.
Please allow six weeks for prize
delivery.
Name
Address
Email
SOLUTION TO 2335: CHIPPY
The unclued lights are COMPUTING terms.
First prize D.A. Henderson, Almonte, Ontario, Canada
Runners-up Robin Muir, Compton, West Sussex;
Ian Shiels, Bramley, Leeds
You are invited to provide a new year?s resolution (or more than one, if you like) in
verse. Please email entries of up to 16 lines
to lucy@spectator.co.uk by midday on 27
December.
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
59
LIFE
Status Anxiety
My holiday hell with a gaggle
of raging Remainiacs
Toby Young
I
?m writing this on the easyJet flight
back from Marrakech, where I
have just spent a long weekend as
a house guest of Rachel Johnson. She
had managed to secure a marvellous
villa by the name of Ezzahra, about
a 20-minute drive from the airport,
complete with a pool, spa and paddle tennis court. There were 12 of us
in all, five couples and two men travelling solo ? Harry Mount, the editor of the Oldie, and Mark Palmer,
the travel editor of the Daily Mail.
Harry, Mark and I quickly discovered
we were the only Leavers in a nest of
die-hard Remainers.
Now, it will not come as news to
Spectator readers that the result of
last year?s referendum has left some
pro-Europeans feeling a teensyweensy bit annoyed. A case in point is
Rachel?s husband, Ivo Dawnay, who
asks every Leaver he bumps into if
they?ve ever woken up at 4 a.m. and
thought: ?Oh my God! What have I
done?? Ivo is probably the most zealous Remainer I know, but Rachel is
not far behind and they had a host of
reinforcements in the house party ?
formidable overachievers like Emma
Tucker, deputy editor of the Times.
I know from experience that no
good comes of discussing Brexit at
social gatherings of this kind, so suggested to Rachel beforehand that she
declare a moratorium on the topic.
I know from
experience
that no good
comes of
discussing
Brexit at social
gatherings of
this kind
She circulated an email to all the
houseguests last week, quoting me as
saying I was bored with talking about
it, then accidentally on purpose copied me in to one of the replies: ?Tell
him we?re not bored and are DYING
to hear his justification for the stupidest act of self-harm EVER!?
We managed to avoid the subject
for the first 24 hours, but the dam
broke on the way back from visiting
the Yves St Laurent museum on Saturday afternoon. I?m not sure why that
?triggered? the Remainers ? perhaps
it was the exposure to chic, French
cosmopolitanism. On the return
journey, Ivo started talking wistfully
about the newly elected French President and speculating about whether
George Osborne could have become
?the British Macron? if only he hadn?t
been so cruelly mistreated by Theresa May and forced out of politics.
On the other hand, he was a ?brilliant?
editor of the Evening Standard, perfectly capturing the mood of a capital
city boiling with rage over the referendum result. All this was met with
enthusiastic nodding from his fellow
Remainers in the minibus.
I could restrain myself no longer
and said Osborne?s use of the Standard to launch a series of unremitting
attacks on the Prime Minister made
him look small and embittered. Was
he not concerned that his paper?s
wholly one-sided coverage of the
Brexit negotiations, ridiculing the
government at every turn, would
damage the prospects of the Conservatives standing in the forthcoming London council elections? Where
was his loyalty to all those party members who had steadfastly defended his
record as chancellor, even after the
debacle of the omnishambles budget? It was as if his vanity had been so
badly wounded by the events of last
year that he was now determined that
his party ? and his country ? should
suffer for having the effrontery to
ignore his sagacious advice.
It all kicked off after that. Didn?t
I realise the Tories were ?finished?
as a serious political party, Ivo said?
Brexit had already turned Britain
into an ?international laughing stock?
and the economic consequences
were guaranteed to be ?disastrous?
? indeed, were already proving to
be so, as multinational companies
and American investment banks
?deserted London for Frankfurt?.
The Tories would lose ?every fucking
ward? in next year?s council elections
? deservedly so ?and that would
remain true even if ?Nigel bloody Farage? was the editor of the Standard.
I must say, there is something
impressive about the undiminished
fury of Remainiacs like Ivo. Every
time he looked at me, an expression
of irritated bemusement played about
his features. This was in spite of our
being in absolutely idyllic surroundings, courtesy of Brian Callaghan, the
owner of the Villa Ezzahra. (It?s available to rent, by the way: for details
see www.ezzahra-morocco.com.) Ivo
wanted to talk about nothing else for
the remainder of the weekend, even
during a delicious Sunday lunch at the
Kasbah Bab Ourika hotel in the Atlas
Mountains. In fairness, I would almost
certainly be as cross as him if my side
had lost last year ? and probably
ignored a plea to stay off the subject.
Toby Young is associate editor of
The Spectator.
MICHAEL HEATH
60
the spectator | 2 december 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk
The Wiki Man
These inventions
will change your life
Rory Sutherland
A
t last. And just what you?ve
been waiting for. The official
Wiki Man guide to the best
gadgets and gizmos for giving this
Christmas.
The Philips AirFryer, from �-ish.
Spectator readers may remember a
craze for cooking things via a French
method called sous-vide. Using this
senseless technology, you could cook
soggy food for days at low temperatures by warming it gently in a colostomy bag; handy if you fancied a
couple of days off work with botulism,
but frankly bugger all use for anything else. The AirFryer is the opposite of sous-vide: it isn?t French and
is actually useful. It quickly makes
food hot and crispy as God intended,
not with fat but with superheated air.
Everyone who buys one becomes an
evangelist. Available from Amazon
and some tax-compliant retailers.
St John Welsh Rarebit Mixture.
250g, �99, Ocado. The single best
food innovation for lazy people since
the Pot Noodle. Spread it on toast,
pop under the grill (or in your new
AirFryer) for a few minutes, then add
They put a
man on the
moon before
they invented
the glasssided toaster.
Go ?gure
Worcester Sauce to taste (i.e. loads).
If you have had the original from the
eponymous restaurant, this is as close
as you?ll get outside EC1. Good for
use with the?
Russell Hobbs or Magimix glasssided toaster, �-�5, various retailers. They put a man on the moon
before they invented the glass-sided
toaster. Go figure.
Anything from Selfridges.com.
They pack your purchases in such perfect cardboard boxes, elegantly lined
in yellow, and are so cavalier with tissue paper that, as a bloke, you could
probably get away with not wrapping
the contents at all. Best of all, for �,
you get free next-day delivery on all
your orders for a year. This suits me
as 
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