14 october 2017 [ £4.25 www.spectator.co.uk [ est. 1828 Truth in fiction You don’t need friends The real Viktor Orbán Robert Harris Julie Burchill Tibor Fischer Tech vs Trump Niall Ferguson on the great power struggle of our time MAY MUST STAY BAHRAIN BD3.20. CANADA C$7.50. EURO ZONE €6.95 SOUTH AFRICA ZAR79.90 UAE AED34.00. USA US$7.20. Tr sp av ec el i al MATTHEW PARRIS ENGINEERING A BRIGHTER FUTURE With a presence dating back to the 1930s, Boeing continues to help grow economic prosperity in the United Kingdom by creating new jobs, strengthening partnerships, investing in research and inspiring future innovators. Since 2011, Boeing has tripled spending with UK suppliers and doubled the company’s UK workforce to meet the needs of local airline, military and security customers. That’s just the start. In the years to come, Boeing is committed to reaching new heights, together. SEE HOW WE’RE HELPING BUILD A STRONGER UK AT BOEING.CO.UK established 1828 The new tycoons T he giants of the internet have long said that they are not publishers but mere platforms — or couriers — of the new information age. Companies such as Google and Facebook insist that they’re the digital equivalent of the vans, newsagents and paperboys who distribute what other people publish. So they ought not to be held responsible for it. In the early years of the internet, their argument made sense. Most news and comment came from newspapers and magazines (like this one). But then social media arrived and restraint vanished. Military-grade email encryption has emerged as standard, giving security to those who don’t want their email hacked, but also cover to criminal networks. The tech giants, worried by the demons they were nurturing, started to behave as publishers. They began moderating and sometimes banning content. Facebook started to editorialise its news feeds, tweaking ‘emotional content’ to see if it would make users happy or sad. They stopped being mere platforms. Which is partly why, this week, the chairman of media regulator Ofcom has said that Facebook and Google ought to be seen as publishers — and, presumably, regulated as such. It’s sometimes said that Rupert Murdoch and his ilk are the last publishing tycoons. But a new and very different breed has emerged. Tech pioneers such as Mark Zuckerberg and Sergey Brin never sought the awesome power they now wield. They set out with dreams about connecting billions of people for the common good, to connect and spread ideas, even democracy. But the web was always going to be no more (or less) moral (or vicious) than the people who used it. Jihadis and drugs traffickers have thrived from the new network. Anyone who is seriously interested in the latest magazine from Isis can find it, via Google, in a couple of minutes. If you wish to find a pirate copy of a song, however, it’s a lot harder: music companies are far better at destroying content that threatens them than national security networks are at destroying content that threatens us. The tools to constrain what is available online certainly exist. Facebook’s recent decision to hire 3,000 editors to screen unsuitable posts is an acknowledgment that it can and does curate published material As Niall Ferguson explains on page 12, the digital revolution might have helped billions of people but has ended up creating a small number of behemoths. Facebook and Google now have 60 per cent of the digi- It’s sometimes said that Murdoch is the last publishing tycoon. But a new and very different breed has emerged tal ad market between them. This brings enough cash to buy any emerging rival and keep their duopoly intact. The concentration of such power would not be tolerated in any other field — but this one barely existed ten years ago, and it only exists because these two companies did so much to create it. Breaking them up seems a task beyond government, so the next step will be regulation. And this is where the danger lies. Already, the government is seeking to direct the tech giants in the name of national security, but it does this behind closed doors. Today, if the Metropolitan Police call the right person and ask for a website to be taken down, their request is normally obeyed. This is quite a power, and it is open to abuse. The European Commission, for example, created powers to compel Google to delete any trace of articles in its search engines if someone complains that the articles are embarrass- the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk ing. Newspapers would never agree to have their archives edited, but on some matters tech giants will bend more easily. Politicians have recently started to take an interest in ‘fake news’, untrue stories that they themselves often fall for. If they can position themselves as arbiters of what is right and truthful online, this would give them powers the state could never dare to claim over the printed press. And it might happen with a nod, a wink and unspoken convention. The ambiguity over who controls what invites a degree of corruption. So it is time for a parliamentary debate on laying out and limiting the powers that politicians ought to have over the new digital publishing houses. From that, a discussion should begin on how to determine what responsibilities they should have — and what protection they should be given from government power grabs, lest regulation of Facebook ends up as full-blown regulation of free speech. Requiring all digital publishers to moderate content, as newspapers do, might end up guaranteeing the dominance of Twitter, Facebook and Google, who have the money to do the moderating. Upstart rivals would not. Google started life in a garage in 1998; Facebook on a university campus in 2003; YouTube above a pizzeria in 2005. The speed of their growth is as extraordinary as the power they now hold. All have earned their success by providing hugely popular services for free, selling their users’ attention to advertisers for vast sums. But the power they now wield means they have rights and responsibilities that accompany that status. It is now time for parliament to decide what powers the government should have over the new publishers, and redefine press freedom for the digital age. 3 A cultured royal, p30 Basquiat, raw, p42 Memories of a storm, p22 THE WEEK 3 Leading article 7 Portrait of the Week 9 Diary A car-free avenue of culture Tristram Hunt 10 Politics The plotting against May James Forsyth 11 The Spectator’s Notes A Catalan coup, Clegg’s Brexit solution and the beauty of embassies Charles Moore 17 Rod Liddle Blame the grown-ups for the safe-space tribe 18 Barometer The cost of cheating 21 Matthew Parris May must stay 23 Mary Wakefield Defining terror 24 Ancient and modern The best way to target Corbyn? Idleness 25 Letters US gun laws, a defence of capitalism and donating fur coats 26 Any other business Planemakers’ dirty tricks and Portakabin’s challenge Martin Vander Weyer BOOKS & ARTS 12 Tech vs Trump The great power struggle of our time Niall Ferguson BOOKS 28 Peter Parker Mr Lear, by Jenny Uglow 14 The wisdom of weirdos Group therapy made me see myself Alexander Crispin 30 Alex Clark Manhattan Beach, by Jennifer Egan Michael Loveday 18 Language barrier Beware the elite’s new PC code Claire Fox ‘Isle of the Living’: a poem Steven Poole Ma’am Darling, by Craig Brown 20 Truth in fiction Robert Harris on his novel Munich Sam Leith 31 Anthony Cummins Dinner at the Centre of the Earth, by Nathan Englander 22 Story of the hurricane Remembering the Great Storm of 1987 Patrick Kidd 32 Mark Bostridge The Mayflower Generation, by Rebecca Fraser 24 Kill your friendships Pals are a luxury, not a necessity Julie Burchill 33 James Walton The Sparsholt Affair, by Alan Hollinghurst 49 Spectator Travel A nine-page special, including James Delingpole, William Cook and Ysenda Maxtone Graham Anna Aslanyan Ferocity, by Nicola Lagioia 34 Tibor Fischer Orbán, by Paul Lendvai Boyd Tonkin The Dawn Watch, by Maya Jasanoff 36 Jonathan Mirsky Richard Nixon, by John A. Farrell 37 Jeff Noon on recent crime fiction Anthony Thwaite ‘Lines on my 87th birthday’: a poem Cover by Morten Morland. Drawings by Michael Heath, Castro, Royston Robertson, Chris Mackenzie, Kipper Williams, Grizelda, Geoff Thompson, RGJ, Nick Newman, John Springs, Adam Singleton www.spectator.co.uk Editorial and advertising The Spectator, 22 Old Queen Street, London SW1H 9HP, Tel: 020 7961 0200, Fax: 020 7681 3773, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (editorial); email@example.com (for publication); firstname.lastname@example.org (advertising); Advertising enquiries: 020 7961 0222 Subscription and delivery queries Spectator Subscriptions Dept., 17 Perrymount Rd, Haywards Heath RH16 3DH; Tel: 0330 3330 050; Email: email@example.com; Rates for a basic annual subscription in the UK: £111; Europe: £185; Australia: A$279; New Zealand: A$349; and £195 in all other countries. To order, go to www.spectator.co.uk/A151A or call 0330 3330 050 and quote A151A; Newsagent queries Spectator Circulation Dept, 22 Old Queen Street, London SW1H 9HP, Tel: 020 7961 0200, Fax: 020 7681 3773, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Distributor Marketforce, 161 Marsh Wall, London, E14 9AP. Tel. 0203 787 9001. www.marketforce.co.uk Vol 335; no 9868 © 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 | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk Lear’s great art, p28 Rugged integrity, p45 LIFE ARTS 38 Laura Freeman The painter who made kings of cooks 40 Opera Giulio Cesare; Dardanus Alexandra Coghlan Theatre Labour of Love; What Shadows Lloyd Evans LIFE We seem to have become more sentimental about friendship as we have become more sceptical about love Julie Burchill p24 61 High life Taki Low life Jeremy Clarke 62 Real life Melissa Kite 64 The turf Robin Oakley Bridge Janet de Botton Bromans is so tacky and brain-dead it makes Geordie Shore look like Kenneth Clarke’s Civilisation James Delingpole, p45 65 Wine club Jonathan Ray 42 Exhibitions Basquiat; Dubuffet Laura Gascoigne AND FINALLY . . . 58 Notes on… Trains in Spain Simon Courtauld 44 Cinema The Party Deborah Ross 66 Chess Raymond Keene Competition Lucy Vickery 45 Television Bromans; Suburra James Delingpole 68 Status anxiety Toby Young Battle for Britain Michael Heath 67 Crossword Pabulum 69 Sport Roger Alton Music Your problems solved London Piano Festival Damian Thompson 46 Fleur Adcock ‘Victoria Road’: a poem The drunker Princess Margaret got, the more she pulled rank, leading to a nightmarish dinner. And there was not much else for her to do but get drunk Steven Poole, p30 Mary Killen 70 Food Tanya Gold Radio Mind your language Dot Wordsworth Why Today is losing its edge Kate Chisholm CONTRIBUTORS Claire Fox is director of the Institute of Ideas and a regular panellist on the BBC’s Moral Maze. She writes about the warping of speech on p18. Patrick Kidd is a political sketchwriter and diarist for the Times. On p22, he remembers his childhood home being blown down in the Great Storm of 1987. the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk Julie Burchill is a journalist and author who lives in Brighton. She writes about the joy of ending friendships on p24. Steven Poole is the author of Rethink: The Surprising History of New Ideas. He reviews Craig Brown’s new book about Princess Margaret on p30. Tibor Fischer is a novelist and short story writer whose parents left Hungary in 1956. He reviews a biography of the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on p34. 5 Home T heresa May, the Prime Minister, when asked by Iain Dale in an interview on LBC: ‘If there was a Brexit vote now, would you vote Brexit?’ repeatedly refused to say. Earlier, briefing the House of Commons on Brexit, she said that the country must prepare for ‘every eventuality’. The government published two papers on trade and customs arrangements that envisaged ways by which Britain could thrive as an ‘independent trading nation’ even if no trade deal were reached with Brussels. Mrs May admitted that during a transitional period, the European Court of Justice would retain jurisdiction. Asked five times if the government had received legal advice on whether the process of departure under Article 50 could be revoked, Mrs May only repeated: ‘The government made clear that we have no intention of revoking that. We will be delivering on the vote of the British people.’ On progress in negotiations, Mrs May said: ‘The ball is in their court.’ The EU spokesman Margaritis Schinas said: ‘The ball is entirely in the UK court.’ David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, had lunch with Michel Barnier, the chief EU negotiator, in Brussels. They had sea bass and roast beef, with English and French wine. No talks were scheduled for the following day. B AE Systems said it was cutting 1,920 jobs in military, maritime and intelligence services, partly because of poor orders for the Typhoon/Eurofighter. The Scottish government is to set up a publicly owned company to sell energy to customers ‘as close to cost price as possible’, Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, announced. Some parents said their children were unable to buy food for lunch because the website of the payment company ParentPay went down for several hours. A van stopped by police in Sawtry, Cambridgeshire, was found to be carrying 6,822lb of cheese — 2,822lb more than the vehicle’s weight limit. A ‘race audit’ promised by Mrs May turned out to be a new website aggregating information already published. She said that institutions must ‘explain or change’ racial disparity. The website showed all sorts of anomalies, such as that white teenagers were four times more likely to be smokers than black teenagers and that white women were more at risk of domestic abuse than ethnic minority women. By the end of the year, Britain is expected to have attracted 39.7 million tourists, more than ever before. Abroad C arles Puigdemont, the president of the Government of Catalonia, addressed the Catalan parliament and signed a declaration of independence, but put it in his pocket pending talks with Madrid. A huge rally to oppose independence had been held in Barcelona. The Catalan bank Sabadell decided to move its legal domicile to another part of Spain and CaixaBank said it was moving its headquarters from Barcelona to Valencia. Hungary protested at a law in Ukraine making Ukrainian the compulsory language for tuition in schools even in Transcarpathia, where 150,000 the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk ethnic Hungarians live. Cuban exiles complained about an Irish postage stamp commemorating Che Guevara (whose father Ernesto Guevara Lynch traced his ancestry to Galway). I n California, wildfires destroyed 1,500 houses, killed at least 15 people, with another 150 unaccounted for, and drove 20,000 to evacuate parts of Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties. The Nobel prize for peace went to the Geneva-based International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. The Nobel prize for economics went to Richard Thaler, author of the book Nudge, which prompted David Cameron to set up a Nudge behavioural insights unit in 2010. Harvey Weinstein, an Oscar-winning film producer accused of sexually harassing females, was sacked by his board but denied raping three women after allegations were made in the New Yorker. President Donald Trump of the United States, when asked about reports that his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, had called him a moron, said: ‘I guess we’ll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win.’ H ackers from North Korea were said to have stolen a large cache of military documents from South Korea, including joint war plans by the USA and South Korea. The UN said it was worried about the wellbeing of more than five million Iraqis driven from their homes by Isis since 2014. Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo of Nigeria said steps were under way to provide an electricity supply to the 50 million people (out of a population of 180 million) who did not have it. CSH 7 Tristram Hunt I used to long for mid-October when I could say goodbye to the hot rooms, cold buffets, and warm white wine of party conference season. But ever since I swapped politics for the world of museums, I have happily rediscovered those autumnal weeks of blackberries, spider webs and London returning to life after summer. At the V&A, we opened our new opera exhibition, tracing the art form’s development from Monteverdi’s Venice to Shostakovich’s Moscow. At the British Museum, the Scythians have been reviving the art of ancient Siberia. And around the capital, Frieze Art Fair has been drawing the world’s aesthetes to London. What we don’t yet know is how Brexit will affect this cultural leadership. Any bureaucratic hurdles to borrowing artefacts from the Continent, paying VAT for purchases in the European Union, or limiting the curatorial talent able to work here could badly damage our future creative capacity. when the oven doors were opened the fine bone china had fired perfectly— so a moon and Zeppelin backstamp was created in honour of the moment. I think an acquisition might be in order. I to revive the company, so he is celebrating its heritage; although not necessarily the Titanic collection, commissioned for the first-class lounge. In fact, the highlight of Crown Derby’s archive is the Zeppelin range: a complete firing of pottery which had to be halted halfway through due to a Zeppelin bombing raid over Derby. The kilns had to put out for the blackout but S omeone else wrestling with Brexit is our Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Luckily, amid all that long-form nonfiction essay writing, he can retreat to Chevening House. As director of the V&A, I am privileged to be a trustee of this Sevenoaks jewel, gifted to the nation by the Stanhope family for the use of government ministers. It is here that our leaders and officials gather to thrash out the myriad complexities of exiting the European Union. Yet what V&A curators Julius Bryant and Angus Patterson have discovered is that dominating the house’s entrance hall, up the freestanding staircase, is a suit of armour that belonged to Alonso Perez de Guzman, 7th Duke of Medina Sidonia and, er, the commander of the Spanish Armada. As Brexit Britain seeks to rediscover the bounteous, buccaneering days of Good Queen Bess liberated from the shackles of Europe, a dreadful spectre of Continental revenge is standing at the top of the stairs. W e are blessed with wonderful neighbours at the V&A. Close by lives Rory Stewart, the author and international development minister, who likes to pop over to inspect the restoration of our plaster-cast Trajan’s Column — and then bedazzle the curators with his knowledge of the Punic Wars. More significantly, we sit in the middle of the Ismaili Centre, Holy Trinity Brompton and the Brompton Oratory: a trinity of prayer and holiness. After we woke the Fathers of the Oratory at an unseemly hour with some ill-timed shop repairs, the Provost invited me to visit the community. I had feared a silent monastic dinner in the refectory but the evening proved a joy: there is nothing quite like eating supper to the sound of a priest reading passages from the Bible, the life of St Philip, and then God’s Architect, Rosemary Hill’s life of Pugin. It was like a really good Radio 4 ‘Book of the Week’ not read by an actor. Outside, in the gardens beneath the plane trees, the Oratory’s dahlias were in bloom. It feels a long way from the seaside. A n antiquarian curiosity of a different order can be found in the museum of the Royal Crown Derby pottery works. Kevin Oakes, one of the great figures in British ceramics, has moved from Stoke-on-Trent to take charge of this historic brand. As he seeks the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk t is cars, not Zeppelins, we have to worry about now. Our national museums in South Kensington suffered an unfortunate traffic incident when a car turned into a small crowd queuing to get into the Natural History Museum, causing minor injuries. As ever, the emergency services proved themselves swift, professional and commanding. But the truth is that Exhibition Road’s so-called ‘shared space’ between car and pedestrian is dangerous, confusing and unsatisfactory. We should pedestrianise this lovely boulevard which connects the V&A, Science Museum and Natural History Museum and stretches up towards Hyde Park. It should be an open civic space: an ‘Albertopolis’ for families, tourists, students and flâneurs to wander in safety and in awe. Pushkin: Gold and ruby cufflinks Cassandra Goad, 147 Sloane Street, London SW1X 9BZ Telephone: 020 7730 2202 cassandragoad.com Tristram Hunt is the director of the Victoria and Albert Museum. 9 POLITICS|JAMES FORSYTH The plots thicken ‘W orst week ever’ is one of those phrases that journalists are, perhaps, too quick to use. Alastair Campbell once quipped that if you added up all Tony Blair’s worst weeks, you got a full year. The real worry for the Tories, however, is not that last week was Theresa May’s worst ever, but that it represented the new normal. Even inside Downing Street, there are those who worry that leadership plotting and the like will continue until Mrs May leaves the building. They worry that while they are strong enough to repel the plotters — as they did so effectively this time — she isn’t powerful enough to take back control. So the whole cycle will continue, with the rebels coming back for another crack every time the Prime Minister looks vulnerable. The optimists in her cabinet believe that if the Brexit talks have moved on to trade and transition by December, May will find it easier to assert herself domestically. But the problem is that her position is now the story. The government’s race audit, which No. 10 sees as a crucial part of its political project, was therefore quickly overtaken in the news by her refusal to say whether she would vote Leave if another referendum were held today. This refusal to answer was immediately examined for what it meant for her leadership: would it make ‘Vote Leave’ Tory MPs less inclined to support her? It also raises a more profound question: can the Prime Minister overseeing the most fundamental change in Britain’s affairs in 40 years be uncertain that it is in the national interest? Those who wish to oust May don’t regard last week as the end of the matter. Rather, they think that time is on their side; that they will slowly creep up to the 48 names necessary. Their view is that with every compromise she makes on Brexit, her grip on that wing of the party weakens. They don’t need Eurosceptic MPs to abandon her wholesale. They just need two dozen to shift sides. Mrs May survives faute de mieux. The Tory party can’t agree on who should succeed her and both factions fear that the alternative would be worse for them. Many Remainers still worry about Prime Minister Boris, who they not only think is temperamentally unsuited to the job but would be punished by Brussels with the worst possible Brexit deal. Indeed, some of the increased threat to May’s position is a result of the Foreign Secretary’s foes now being more 10 confident that they could stop him reaching the final round of the contest. Most Leavebacking Tory MPs still fret that a new leader could choose to go down a different Brexit path. Then there are others who are simply concerned about what a leadership contest before Brexit could do to the party. Their fear is that it would lead to the bloodiest Tory battle yet over Europe. In normal circumstances, the solution to this problem would be some form of unity ticket. A Remainer and a Leaver would team up to reassure both sides. Indeed, this is what Theresa May did when she ran for the job. She appointed a Leaver, Chris Grayling, as her campaign manager, and promised to put Brexiteers in charge of the The anti-May rebels think time is on their side; that they will slowly creep up to the 48 names necessary process. This is why some Tory grandees still hope Amber Rudd and Michael Gove will unite, with her running to be Prime Minister and him handling Brexit. The cabinet divisions over Brexit, however, are now so deep as to render this almost unimaginable. This might suggest that despite all those cabinet ministers saying that things can’t go on like this for another 18 months, they might well do so. But there are events that could change things. The first of these is the EU Council next week. The EU knows that time is on its side. The two-year Article 50 clock strengthens its hand so it is happy to see it tick down. If ‘sufficient progress’ is not declared at this Council, it is a far bigger problem for Britain than the EU. Michel Barnier, the EU’s negotiator, might want to reach a deal, because that will advance his case to be the next Commission president. But it is also in his interests to show that he got as much out of Britain as he could have without collapsing the talks. Even Donald Tusk, the Council president, has got in on this act, raising the prospect that there might not even be sufficient progress by the end of the year. The EU knows that many in the UK government fear that if this is the case, businesses will activate their contingency plans and significant numbers of jobs will leave Britain. They know that by raising this prospect, they will increase the pressure on Mrs May to make concessions to try and avoid it. But perhaps the most pressing danger for the government is next month’s Budget. Even in Mrs May’s pre-election honeymoon period, Philip Hammond’s Budget unravelled as he was forced to drop plans to raise national insurance for the selfemployed. One wonders how the Chancellor, who has something of a tin ear when it comes to politics, will navigate this far more challenging Budget. Cabinet ministers are worried that Hammond will raise taxes. They believe that he is sufficiently worried about Brexit’s impact on the public finances not to want to borrow any more, but that there is no longer the political will in government to hold the line on spending. If Hammond does raise taxes, it will be very unpopular on the Tory benches: the tax burden is already heading to a 30-year high. The bigger concern, though, is that the government doesn’t appear to have a postBrexit economic policy. It is fundamentally unclear how Hammond thinks Britain should compensate for not being in the single market. There needs to be a vision for how Britain will make its way in the world after Brexit. A dynamic plan to make this country a more attractive place to research and invest would, ultimately, do more for tax revenues than whatever increases Hammond can get through this hung parliament. If Mrs May is to take back control of the political agenda, it will be through boldness. She needs to show that her government has some big ideas and isn’t just minding the shop until Brexit is done. The alternative to this is more weeks like the last one. SPECTATOR.CO.UK/PODCASTS James Forsyth and Iain Dale on Theresa May’s blunders. the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk Charles Moore T he Catalan nationalists surely chose this October deliberately for their attempt, now faltering, at UDI. It is the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, and the separatist vanguard is the hard-left party, the CUP. Even more vivid in their minds will be Barcelona’s own ‘October Revolution’ of 1934. The then Catalan Nationalist leader, Luis Companys, announced that ‘The monarchical and Fascist powers which have been for some time attempting to betray the Republic have attained their object’ (by the entry of the Catholic party CEDA into the Spanish government). He accordingly proclaimed ‘the Catalan State of the federal Republic of Spain’ and called for a provisional government of all Spain in Barcelona. This revolt failed. The associated miners’ strike in Asturias had the opposite of the desired effect. It gave General Franco his bloody chance to build the reputation which eventually enabled him to position himself as the saviour of Spain. The civil war came closer. So the illegal referendum in Catalonia last week was a long-meditated revenge by the left and an attempted coup d’état. It affected the rights not only of all Catalans, but of all Spaniards. Once they realised what was happening, almost all Spaniards (even on the left), and a narrower majority of Catalans, rejected it. That is why King Felipe was right to broadcast to the nation. The restored monarchy in Spain is there to defend the democratic, constitutional order which prevents civil war recurring. That is why Felipe’s father, Juan Carlos, publicly intervened to crush the ludicrous army coup in the Cortes in 1981. Now this Catalan coup, shrouded in a cloak of democracy, has overreached. This October, we have been living through ten days that (nearly) fooled the world. N ick Clegg has an ingenious solution to the Brexit problem. He wants Parliament to throw out Brexit and then get the Netherlands Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, and Sir John Major to negotiate how the United Kingdom can be recaptured and bound inside the ‘concentric circles’ which he sees as the future of the EU. I call this the Royal Dutch Shell solution to our national destiny. Certainly, if, as Mr Clegg implies, we are not fit to rule ourselves, it would be preferable to be, like Shell, headquartered in The Hague rather than in Brussels. The idea appeals to Mr Clegg because, with a mother who carries the magnificent name of Hermance Eulalie van den Wall Bake, he is half-Dutch. Perhaps he sees himself as Nick of Orange, leading our Glorious Revolution. institutionalised the building and relegated them to upstairs flats. For that, in turn, to succeed, we must appoint a greater diversity of ambassadors. The rising generation is strong on geeky negotiators, weaker on people with panache and the capacity to make influential friends. It would be good if there were a few more appointments from outside the Foreign Office. In the past, a key political appointment — Ormsby-Gore in Washington, Soames in Paris — has made a great difference. It would help, too, to put in one or two rich ambassadors ready to splash out their own money on promoting Britain abroad. The story and the stones (and brick and even concrete) of our wonderful embassies show the many ways in which this task can be accomplished. I O have been to the more obvious ones — Washington, Moscow, Paris — but I had no idea of their variety and splendour until I opened James Stourton’s new book British Embassies (Francis Lincoln). It appears at just the right time. For years, spending on our embassies has been cut back because of our enslavement to the ‘ringfenced’ international development budget. Embassies have suffered from the Tony Blair legacy in which lovely buildings and diplomacy itself were seen as ‘elitist’. It is true that, when the fashion for multilateral negotiations carried all before it, some of our embassies and residences became little more than bed-and-breakfast operations for visiting ministers. But with the approach of Brexit, we urgently need to restore bilateral diplomacy. In this cause, the swankier the buildings are, the better. Particularly when, as Stourton’s book shows repeatedly, the swank reflects well not only on Britain, but on the host country. The architectural range — so well acculturated, yet usually so distinctively British — is a history in itself of our unique engagement with the whole world, whether in Brasilia or Bangkok, Athens or Addis Ababa, Tehran or the astonishingly lovely residence in Tunis. I f bilateralism is to work, however, these buildings must be made to live again. For this to happen, ambassadors and their spouses need to regain control from managers who have too often the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk ne living ex-ambassador who did diplomacy which really mattered is Christopher Mallaby. He was ambassador to West Germany when the Wall came down, and so moved from Bonn to Berlin. His memoirs (Living the Cold War, Amberley) are also out this week. He has an arresting story from his boyhood, when his father, in 1945, commanded a British brigade of 6,000 Indian troops helping restore part of Indonesia to the Dutch after the Japanese occupation. His work was unpopular with Indonesian nationalists: ‘The BBC announced on the six o’clock news on 30 October that my father had been assassinated in Indonesia. The War Office had not told my mother. The shock was terrible.’ The nine-year-old Christopher was sent home from prep school. A few days later, the postman handed him a letter. When he looked at the envelope, he realised it was from his father. ‘My mother was resting in bed. I took her the letter and asked whether she could bear to read it. She managed a smile and read it there and then. My father had written it three days before he died.’ His mother was a widow for 53 years. Christopher did not see his father’s grave in Jakarta until 2013. His tombstone carries lines from Wordsworth: ‘More brave for this,/ That he hath much to love.’ This story, and the way it is told, show so powerfully what a life of service meant. 11 Tech vs Trump Social media helped Trump take the White House. Silicon Valley won’t let that happen again NIALL FERGUSON I n the 1962 Japanese sci-fi classic King Kong vs Godzilla, the two giant monsters fight to a stalemate atop Mount Fuji. I have been wondering for some time when the two giants of American social media would square up for what promises to be a comparably brutal battle. Finally, it began last month — and where else but on Twitter? ‘Facebook was always anti-Trump,’ tweeted the President of the United States on 27 September. Mark Zuckerberg shot back hours later (on Facebook, of course): ‘Trump says Facebook is against him. Liberals say we helped Trump. Both sides are upset about ideas and content they don’t like. That’s what running a platform for all ideas looks like.’ A platform for all ideas? Well, maybe. Others see Facebook differently. As Zuckerberg’s response to Trump acknowledged, the President is not alone in criticising him. The various inquiries into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election are turning up much that is awkward, notably that Russia bought around 3,000 Facebook ads designed to spread politically divisive posts to Americans before and after the election, as well as to promote inflammatory political protests on issues such as Muslim immigration. It may be too big a stretch to claim that Russian Facebook ads swung the election in Trump’s favour. But it seems plausible that his campaign’s use of social media, particularly Facebook, gave it a vital edge that compensated for its financial disadvantage relative to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. 12 On that, if on nothing else, I suspect Steve Bannon and Clinton would agree. ‘Facebook is now the largest news platform in the world,’ Clinton writes in her election postmortem. ‘With that awesome power comes great responsibility.’ Awesome power, yes. At the end of June, the number of active Facebook users (people who visit the site at least once a month) passed the two billion mark. WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram — all owned by Facebook — have three billion users altogether, though no doubt there is much overlap. Twothirds of American adults are on Facebook and 45 per cent get their news from it. More The ownership of today’s IT infrastructure is concentrated in remarkably few hands than half the UK population access Facebook at least once a month. The average user is on the site for 1/16 of every day. But great responsibility? In the wake of the Las Vegas massacre, Facebook briefly featured a bogus story that the shooter had ‘Trump-hating’ views. A fake page claimed responsibility for the attack on behalf of the far-left Antifa movement, saying the goal had been to kill ‘Trump-supporting fascist dogs’. Last month, the non-profit investigative news site ProPublica revealed that Facebook’s online ad tools had helped advertisers to target self-described ‘Jew haters’ or people who had used phrases such as ‘how to burn Jews’. In the words of Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg: ‘The fact that hateful terms were even offered as options was totally inappropriate and a fail on our part.’ Facebook ‘never intended or anticipated this functionality being used this way’. What Facebook intended and how Facebook is used turn out to be very different. The company’s motto used to be: ‘Make the world more open and connected.’ It’s no longer quite so simple. ‘For most of the existence of the company, this idea of connecting the world has not been a controversial thing,’ Zuckerberg recently said. ‘Something changed.’ What has changed is that the world has belatedly woken up to realities about social networks that were already obvious to anyone familiar with history and network science. For most of history, it is true, hierarchies have tended to dominate distributed networks. However, there are historical precedents for technological change leading to enhanced connectedness that empowers social networks and weakens hierarchies. The first began exactly 500 years ago, when Martin Luther launched his campaign for reform of the Roman Catholic church. Had it not been for the printing press, Luther would have been just another obscure heretic and might well have ended his life in the flames of the stake. But Gutenberg’s innovation enabled Luther’s message to ‘go viral’ — as we would now say — and it spread with remarkable speed throughout Germany and then across north-western Europe. Luther was as much of a utopian as the the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk pioneers of Silicon Valley in our own time. In his mind, the Reformation would create a powerful new network of pious Christians, all enabled to read the Bible in the vernacular and to establish more direct relationships with God than the indirect ones mediated by a corrupt ecclesiastical hierarchy. The vision of St Peter of a ‘priesthood of all believers’ would finally be realised. But the true upshot of the Reformation was not harmony but polarisation and conflict. Not everyone was inspired by Luther’s message. Some sought to go further than him. Others reacted violently against the proposed reforms. The Counter-Reformation adopted the Protestants’ novel techniques of propagation and deployed them against the heretics. Yet it proved impossible to destroy Protestant networks, even with mass executions and hideously cruel torture. If anything, persecution promoted radicalisation. Meanwhile, the constantly growing network of printed words proved itself as ready to spread madness as holiness. The witch craze of the 17th century was a classic example of a monster meme, claiming innocent lives from Scotland to Salem, Massachusetts. T here are three big differences between now and then. First, today’s social networks are vastly bigger, faster and more widespread than those of the early modern era. Secondly, whereas the printing press was a truly decentralised technology — Johannes Gutenberg was no Bill Gates — the ownership of today’s IT infrastructure is concentrated in remarkably few hands. Finally, our networked age began by disrupting markets and later politics; only one religion, Islam, has been significantly affected. But the similarities are nevertheless striking. Now, as then, newly empowered networks have led to polarisation, not harmony. Now, as then, the networks have acted as a transmission mechanism for all kinds of manias and panics as well as truth and beauty. And now, as then, the networks have eroded territorial sovereignty, weakening the established structures of political authority. The US government sought to harness the power of social networks when the National Security Agency co-opted the big technology companies into its PRISM programme of mass domestic and foreign surveillance. But the new networks did not easily integrate into old power structures. Globally disseminated leaks, courtesy of Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, exposed PRISM, while a new kind of populist politics flourished on social media. A defining feature of social networks (as in the Reformation) is their tendency to divide rather than unite. Recent research on American blogs and Twitter reveals a similar pattern: the emergence of two self-segregated ideological communities, one liberal, the other conservative. Just as birds of a feather flock together (network geeks call it ‘homo- phily’) so Twitter users retweet within their political clusters. One study found that with tweets on hot-button political topics (such as gun control, same-sex marriage and climate change), the use of emotional words increases their diffusion by a factor of 20 per cent for each additional word. Ever wondered why tweets are full of expletives? Now you know. The presidential election of 2016 was a tale of many networks. By going viral through a largely self-organised network, Trump beat Clinton’s old-school, hierarchically structured campaign, which poured money into antiquated channels like local television. Isis contributed to the febrile atmosphere with its worst attack in North America (in Orlando in June last year), prompting Trump’s populist (and popular) promise of a ‘Muslim ban’. But the Trump network had itself been penetrated by the Russian intelligence network. Trump’s campaign and, to a much smaller extent, the Russians both used Facebook and Twitter as tools to discredit his opponent and discourage potential Democratic voters. Make no mistake: 2016 will never happen again. Silicon Valley hates Trump for too many reasons to count. The most important are his stance on immigration (on which A deﬁning feature of social networks (as in the Reformation) is their tendency to divide rather than unite the Valley depends for its supply of skilled software engineers) and Big Tech’s need to ‘virtue-signal’ to its most valued user demographic: the young and affluent. They lean left. So does the otherwise capitalist Valley. The political consequences were not immediately obvious, unless you were paying close attention, but after the Charlottesville clashes between white supremacists, neo-Nazis and their various left-wing opponents, they were there for all to see. Matthew Prince, CEO of the internet service provider Cloudflare, described what happened: ‘Literally, I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn’t be allowed on the internet.’ On the basis that ‘the people behind the Daily Stormer are assholes’, he denied their fascistic website access to the worldwide web. As Prince himself rightly observed: ‘No one should have that power. We need to have a discussion around this with clear rules and clear frameworks. My whims and those of the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk Jeff [Bezos] and Larry [Page] and Satya [Nadella] and Mark [Zuckerberg] shouldn’t be what determines what should be online.’ Yet that discussion has barely begun. And until it happens, it will indeed be they who decide who is allowed on the internet. This goes to the heart of the matter. According to Zuckerberg, Facebook is ‘a tech company, not a media company… We build the tools; we do not produce any content’. Yet in practice, according to a recent Reuters investigation, ‘an elite group of at least five senior executives regularly directs content policy and makes editorial judgment calls.’ In the words of Espen Egil Hansen, the editor-in-chief of the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, Zuckerberg is now ‘the world’s most powerful editor’. It is not only neo-Nazi sites that find themselves on the online equivalent of the newsroom spike. Twitter has recently rejected paid-for tweets from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) on the grounds of ‘Hate’. These tweets were hardly excerpts from Mein Kampf: for example: ‘The fiscal cost created by illegal immigrants of $746.3bn compares to a total cost of deportation of $124.1bn.’ In the words of CIS director Mark Krikorian, ‘The internet is now a utility more important than phones or cable TV. If people can be denied access to it based on the content of their ideas and speech (rather than specific illegal acts), why not make phone service contingent on your political views? Or mail delivery?’ Google recently revealed that it is using machine learning to document ‘hate crimes and events’ in America. Among their partners in this effort is the notorious Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which maintains a list of ‘anti-Muslim extremists’ — including my wife, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and the British liberal Muslim Maajid Nawaz — but no list whatsoever of Muslim extremists. ‘YouTube doesn’t allow hate speech or content that promotes or incites violence,’ declared a recent message to YouTube content creators. But who decides what is ‘hate speech’? The phrase has become the 21stcentury equivalent of ‘heresy’. It’s what you call something before you proscribe it. Silicon Valley insists it is home to neutral network platforms. This is no longer credible. Facebook alone has, without quite meaning to, evolved into the most powerful publisher in the history of the world. Zuckerberg is William Randolph Hearst to the power of ten. So what to do? Left-leaning Democrats have an answer: revive the progressive interpretation of anti-trust policy and break up the internet monopolies. Superficially, they have a case. Amazon controls 65 per cent of all online new book sales. Google’s market share of online search is 87 per cent in the US. In mobile social networking, Facebook and its subsidiaries control 75 per cent of the American market. Yet who seriously cares what the hipster anti-trust types say? Silicon Valley is a huge 13 donor to the Democrats. Why would they make life difficult for Big Tech when it so openly leans left? The real question is when Republicans (and not just the President) are going to wake up to the threat they now face. Two big battles are looming: one on the question of net neutrality (the principle that all bits of data should be treated alike, regardless of their content or value), the other on the 1996 Communications and Decency Act, which allows tech firms exemption from liability for content that appears on their platforms. A group of senators led by Rob Portman has started the ball rolling by seeking to impose liability on companies that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking on their platforms. The initial response of the Internet Association, a trade group that is essentially a mouthpiece for the Valley, was revealing: ‘The entire internet industry wants to end human trafficking,’ it said. ‘But there are ways to do this without amending a law foundational to legitimate internet services.’ Last month, however, the IA conceded the need for ‘targeted amendments’. This battle is only just beginning, but its outcome could be decisive in both the 2018 midterm elections to Congress and the 2020 presidential race. The regulatory status quo is not only highly favourable to Silicon Valley. It could also prove highly unfavourable to Republican candidates — though (so far as I could tell on a recent visit to Washington) the penny has not yet dropped with lawmakers who are accustomed to talking only about deregulation, not regulation. In many ways, what we are about to witness will be a classic struggle between new networks and established hierarchies. Like King Kong’s epic slugfest with Godzilla, however, it’s far from easy to predict which side will prevail — or how much collateral damage they will both inflict on American democracy. In the old Godzilla movies, after all, the one predictable thing is that Tokyo always gets destroyed. Niall Ferguson’s new book, The Square and the Tower: Networks, Hierarchies and the Struggle for Global Power Power, has just been published by Allen Lane. ‘Can’t you go out and be angry like other young people?’ 14 The wisdom of weirdos Group therapy works ALEXANDER CRISPIN I t was World Mental Health Day this week — and it drove me mad. I don’t have ‘mental illness’. I have bipolar disorder, and I feel as possessive about my diagnosis as Gollum did his precious ring. One term. One label. To lump the manifold terrors of the mind together under the monolithic ‘mental illness’ is an offence against the person. Failing to differentiate shifts the stigma like a bubble under a carpet. So I was horrified to discover, in my latest stint in a psychiatric hospital, that others experience exactly the same as me. Others use the same ‘maladapted coping mechanisms’. They are also their own worst critic; they replay their mistakes; they are wracked by ‘meta-worries’: being worried about being worried. To complement the pharmacology, a large part of my treatment in the hospital is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). I didn’t know much about it on arrival and was sceptical. But the young woman who teaches the seminar, Dr Akita, is drop-dead dreamy, so now I’ve decided it’s scientific. She explains that it is a method for tackling anxiety by teaching you to stand back from your emotions and appraise them. The idea is to catch the thought underlying the feeling. For example, I become livid with the driver who’s just cut me up. How quickly can I ‘read myself’ and figure out I’m really irritated about a put-down I’ve experienced at work? With the relevant information, another person could deduce that; CBT gives you the tools to do it yourself. It sounds banal. But Dr Akita’s ruthless application of common sense is appealing. If you can take an observational stance and become your own therapist, you won’t have to rely on someone else to talk you out of your terrors. She asks us to list our ‘triggers’ on a whiteboard: ‘being alone’, ‘making comparisons’, ‘family’, ‘relationships’, ‘work situations’, ‘finances’, ‘new situations’, ‘expectations from others’, ‘dreams’, ‘things not going to plan’, ‘people judging you’, ‘indebtedness’, ‘rejection’, ‘thoughts about the past’. ‘What’s it like to see it wasn’t just you who came up with all these things, but the group?’ she asks. ‘Belittling,’ I think. ‘Reassuring,’ they say. Even more of an affront to my ego is the idea of group therapy. I came into hospital pumped up by my sisterin-law’s motivational speech that I need to take the therapy as well as the pills. So I committed to the sessions, despite assuming I would get nothing out of them. It’s not promising at first. There are anxious faces in the hot little room; one man sits with shoulders slumped, head drooping, arms dropped. Some people bounce on their chairs. One lets out a shout of frustration. The floor is covered with mutilated stress toys. People stretch like cats, yawn like hyenas, watch the clock and offer Too Much Information. They turn anyone else’s testimony back to their own problems. They exchange platitudes and clichés. Yet though my colleagues are not wellmannered, they are well-meaning, and to my horror my progress comes to depend on their goodness of heart. When it’s my turn to share, I assume I know how it will go. I’ll say I feel guilty that during bipolar episodes over the past year I have not been a good parent. I crash during the hours I’m most needed: supper, bathtime, story time; I am irritable; I can’t relieve my wife of our youngest even for a morning. I’ll get teary and the group will tell me it’s not my fault, it’s the illness, and I’ll thank them and go away still feeling guilty. But that isn’t how it goes. They pitch in with questions. They try out theories. They offer counsel. ‘Is that the only problem, though?’ ‘Why are you afraid of those parental duties?’ And this is the amazing thing: presumptuous though they are, their questions provoke ideas I wouldn’t have entertained before. What is the ideal I am operating with? If your father is your hero, and the embodiment of the steadiness you’re trying to emulate in your parenting, then of course that might lead to a paralysing fear of making mistakes. It’s hard enough to accept that you do in fact have something in common with other mentally ill people. But even worse, now I’m learning about myself through them. I need them. This isn’t just similarity confronting me; it’s the awful truth of solidarity. The early Christians talked about the wisdom of pagans. Here is the wisdom of weirdos. There are things on the periphery of your vision, says the therapist, which people in your situation can see: what you’re like, what you’re not like, what you’re doing, what you’re not doing. What Shakespeare says of self-awareness is just as true for those who are mentally unwell: ‘Speculation turns not to itself, Till it hath travell’d and is mirror’d in another person’s eye, Where it may see itself.’ Alexander Crispin is a pseudonym. the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk Healthcare No silos. No limits. At Philips, we help create seamless solutions that connect data, technology and people. Because today health knows no bounds, and neither should healthcare. There’s always a way to make life better. See how we’re removing the limits of care at www.philips.to/nobounds IS THERE A VITAL ELEMENT MISSING FROM YOUR PORTFOLIO? The Old Mutual Gold & Silver Fund When the going gets tough, should investors be following the lead of the world’s leading central banks and invest in gold? Talk to your ﬁnancial adviser about the Old Mutual Gold & Silver Fund. Please remember that past performance is not a guide to future performance. Investment involves risk. The value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amount originally invested. Talk to your Financial Adviser. Visit omglobalinvestors.com For retail investors. This communication provides information relating to funds known as the Old Mutual Gold & Silver Fund (the “Fund”). This communication is issued by Old Mutual Global Investors (UK) Limited (trading name Old Mutual Global Investors), a member of the Old Mutual Group. Old Mutual Global Investors is registered in England and Wales under number 02949554 and its registered ofﬁce is 2 Lambeth Hill London EC4P 4WR. Old Mutual Global Investors is authorised and regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) with FCA register number 171847 and is owned by Old Mutual Plc, a public limited company limited by shares, incorporated in England and Wales under registered number 3591 559. OMGI 07/17/0194. Models constructed with Geomag. ROD LIDDLE Blame the grown-ups for the safe-space tribe A car driver ploughs into a bunch of people outside the Natural History Museum in London and lefties are furious mostly because the right-wing columnist Katie Hopkins thought it was another jihadi attack. For thinking this she is a racist bigot and consummately evil — despite the fact that I suspect most Londoners thought precisely the same as Hopkins when they heard the news. We are in the bizarre situation where horrible incidents not perpetrated by Muslims are gleefully welcomed by the lefties because they believe it adds grist to their idiotic mill: other people are capable of driving cars into pedestrians, you see, so it is racist to suggest that radical Muslims have a particular predilection for doing so. This is, of course, a very stupid argument on more levels than I have room to explain. By the same token, though, it is possible to discern the glee in Hopkins’s tweets: yes, they’re at it again, those Mohammedans — told you. Anyway, the Metropolitan Police have said they are not treating the incident as terrorism-related ‘at present’ and they have released on bail the 47-year-old man they arrested who did the errant driving. That suggests to me that indeed it isn’t terrorismrelated — the fact that he was released rather than held, and the age of the accused. But I will be more comfortable in making this assumption when the name of the chap is released. The fact that it hasn’t been tilts me back slightly into the Hopkins camp: we are too frequently shielded from the truth by our authorities. They lie to us for what they think are good reasons. When his name is published and it turns out to be John Christian Whitechap, I will suspend my doubts. But I think if it had been John Christian Whitechap, we would have been told by now. So there is still a possibility, in my mind at least, that it could be something more like Mohammed al Kafirkilla. If it is, and the BBC reports the story, they will almost certainly describe the man as ‘Norwegian’ because he spent a few months in Bergen. Forgive the cynicism, please. But this kind of obfuscation happens too often. The BBC and the filth want us kept in a pristine safe space where nasty thoughts are not allowed to occur. And so they do not quite tell us the truth and instead feed us soma. I think this approach is counterproductive, as well as being morally and, of course, journalistically wrong. There was a pristine safe space at the Freshers Week at Balliol College, Oxford, too. The Christian Union was banned from setting up its stall because the student organisers believe that Christianity is an excuse for ‘homophobia and neocolonialism’. The first and most obvious response to this assertion is: how can people with such a low IQ get into one of the country’s most prestigious colleges? The students also insisted that Freshers’ Week should be a secular affair — I am unaware if the Oxford University Islamic Society was allowed to offer We are too often shielded from the truth by our authorities. They lie to us for what they think are good reasons its wares, but I’m prepared to bet that it was — and thus welcoming to everybody. The irony is that Balliol was set up under the auspices of the Bishop of Durham in 1263. And its patron saint is the Great Martyr Catherine of Alexandria, who converted hundreds of Egyptians to Christianity in the 3rd century before being beheaded at the age of 18. You can see Catherine in a painting by Bernardino Luini (c. 1480-1532) — and she’s really quite fit, for a pious martyr. She certainly looks a lot more up for it than, say, Joan of Arc — who always gives me the impression that she’d be a total pain in the arse if you took her out to Wetherspoons for a few drinks, and that you’d probably wish in the end that you hadn’t bothered. Sitting there with her mineral water and her wacko and fervent Gallic delusions. Cathy, though, the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk ‘Apparently it’s bad luck if Theresa May crosses your path.’ looks a very different kettle of fish. But I suppose that this is not the most important point to make here. The important point is surely that Balliol College, in common with the rest of the United Kingdom, is founded upon Christianity and Christianity permeates every facet of our society. It can not be rendered invisible or expunged or untangled simply because some marble-mouthed, acne-clad, Corbyn-worshipping public-school adolescent thinks it has outlived its usefulness and might offend the poofs. Gay students surely have every bit as much a right to be offended by the Christian Union stall as do god-fearing Christian students who, appalled, chance upon the LGBTQI etc stall. The student union goon said that the whole deal was about making students feel ‘welcome’, rather than uncomfortable. Well, fine. Let the Christian students feel welcome too, in that case, and give them a stall to which they might cleave. But do not pretend to the Christians or the gays that their lives will be free of offence henceforth. Inclusivity does not imply homogeneity: indeed, it demands the opposite. It demands that we get along despite some people having views which might upset us, if we are easily upset by things like opinions. One would have thought that this should be especially the case at an institute of higher education. But we have been harshly disabused of this notion in recent years. It is easy to have a go at the students — although that shouldn’t stop us at all, when they deserve it, which they often do. But the dangerous ‘safe spaces’ tripe is avidly supported by the university adults — the dons, the chancellors and so on. Right now, a chap called Felix Ngole is appealing against the decision to kick him off his social work course at Sheffield University because he explained, in an online debate, what Leviticus had to say about homosexuality. He did not say that he agreed with Leviticus. His removal wasn’t down to the idiot authoritarian students, it was down to the idiot authoritarian authorities. With guidance like that, what chance do the students have? The BBC were right — Katie Hopkins was wrong: Page 23 17 Language barrier BAROMETER Cheat sheets Official PC-speak is ever more incomprehensible The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education wants universities to catch out more students who buy essays online. How much do cheats pay for this service? — 1,000 words in seven days to 1st standard £103. Also offers 2:1 standard for £74 and 2:2 standard for £57. This website offers a refund if you don’t get the promised grade. —A rival site offers a 1st standard essay in seven days from just £18.99, with £13.99 for a 2.1 and £11.99 for a 2.2. — From £16.18 per page on a site which says ‘compare our prices with those set by solicitors, barristers, doctors or accountants’. CLAIRE FOX Falling short Where would an early exit leave Theresa May in the prime ministerial ranks? — Eight have had shorter terms, most recently Sir Alec Douglas-Home, who served three days short of a year in 1963/64. — If May survives until 29 October she will overtake the Duke of Grafton. — On 21 April 2018 she will overtake Sir Anthony Eden. — To outlast Gordon Brown she must serve until 28 May 2019. More in store Insurance firm Aviva claims store-based retail will decline as people buy more online. But are shops really dying? In the first half of 2017 there was a net loss of 659 chain outlets, but independent stores grew by a net 762: 14,419 opened and 13,657 shut. fastest growing sectors Bakers .................................................. +283 Beauty salons ...................................... +261 Café/tearoom ...................................... +208 Tobacconists ........................................ +155 Mobile phone shops ........................... +105 fastest shrinking sectors Women’s clothes .................................. -137 Newsagents........................................... -119 Electrical goods.......................................-74 Public houses/inns ..................................-73 Shoe shops ...............................................-45 Source: Local Data Company/British Independent Retailers’ Association Nation stakes How would Catalonia measure up as an independent European country? Population 7.48 million: 21st, behind Austria and Belarus, ahead of Denmark. Area 32,108 sq km: 34th, behind Switzerland and Moldova, ahead of Belgium and Macedonia. GDP $260 bn: 15th, behind Denmark, and Austria; ahead of Ireland and Finland. GDP per capita $34,700: 15th, just behind France, just ahead of Italy. Source: Catalonia Statistics Institute, IMF 18 S ince the EU referendum result last June our nation has been divided: not only by the vote but also by language. If 62 per cent of Britons (many of whom undoubtedly voted for Brexit) now say Britain ‘sometimes feels like a foreign country’, it’s not anti-foreigner prejudice so much as a feeling that people in authority are speaking at them in a foreign language. Not Polish or Punjabi but PC-speak, that opaque code that connotes whether you are ‘on message’ and one of ‘our kind of people’ or one of those racist lizard-brained Leaver oiks. Look at the new language of diversity that is now being prescribed in much of the public sector. The British Medical Association recently sent all its employees a 12-page booklet, ‘A Guide to Effective Communication: Inclusive Language in the Workplace’. This tells staff how to change their language to suit ‘an increasingly diverse society’, for example replacing ‘manpower’ with ‘staff, workforce, personnel, workers’. Ludicrously, pregnant women should no longer be called ‘expectant mothers’ but ‘pregnant people’. The Times reported in April that UK universities are forcing students to conform to new codes restricting the use of gendered language. The University of Hull warns students that ‘failure to use gender-sensitive language will impact your mark’; common terms such as ‘mankind’, ‘forefathers’ and ‘manpower’ should be replaced by ‘humankind’, ‘ancestors’ and ‘human resources’. Another layer of complexity is the demand for non-binary, gender-neutral pronouns and honorifics like ‘they’, ‘xe’, ‘ze’ and ‘Mx’. I was recently sent a code of conduct warning me of the cost of misgendering: ‘It is very important to note that any attempts to undermine pronoun introductions will not be tolerated’ [my emphasis]. I immediately became tongue-tied. Can you imagine then what it feels like to the uninitiated? The problem for most people is that they are not ‘educated’ in these linguistic niceties. I don’t mean educated as in qualifications. I mean trained in the cultural literacy now required to survive modern Britain without failing the language test and being castigated as transphobic or xxxphobic or whatever for using the wrong words. There is a distasteful snobbery lurking beneath the boast that Remainers had the best-educated on their side. But you don’t need A-levels or a degree to be smart, rational, politically shrewd, brave or forward thinking. History’s freedom fighters, from the sans-culottes to the founders of trade unionism — the people whose struggles created our modern, liberal Europe — were often uneducated, even illiterate. But the educational advantage that does matter is knowing the rules that govern new ways of speaking. These are often inculcated in university. In David Goodhart’s important book The Road to Somewhere, he describes the gulf between Anywheres (the metropolitan graduate tribe) and ‘Somewheres’ (the Brexitland tribe). The referendum results show that outside London and You don’t need A-levels or a degree to be smart, rational, politically shrewd, brave or forward thinking Scotland the highest-voting Remain areas were either ‘home to a university or have a very high entry rate to university’, while most high-voting Leave areas not only do not have a university but are geographically remote from higher-education institutions. Let no one conclude that those influenced by universities are enlightened free thinkers. Increasingly, today’s campuses are ideologically insular places that are hostile to freedom of speech and intolerant of dissent (my book I Find That Offensive! has examples). In the opaque world of student politics Germaine Greer can be no-platformed as the wrong type of feminist, speech is cordoned off in safe spaces and trigger warnings are issued for great works of literature in case they cause emotional distress. We might mock those absurdities of university life such as insisting that wearing a sombrero at a Mexican-themed party is racist, or the renaming of yoga as ‘mindful stretching’ because it’s been appropriated from cultures that ‘have experienced the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy’. But while all this seems far removed from everyday life, we should not fool ourselves that such censorious micro-managing of speech is confined to the ivory towers. It’s a mistake to underestimate the key role that colleges play in shaping the world view of the metropolitan elites who go on to dominate politics, media and employment. University life initiates almost half of tomorrow’s opinion formers into the rhetoric of identity and inclusivity, into the rules about which the combination of words can get you into trouble, into the parameters of what is considered offensive. It is this evergrowing army of graduates, well versed in the acceptable discourse, who now populate local government. They are often members of a new professional class of expert, trained to detect offensive speech and re-educate the public mind, and all the while making their way to commanding positions in public sector organisations. Look at how the Equalities Act 2010 has been used to wage a full-scale culture war against a variety of workforces deemed in any way insensitive to those possessing ‘protected characteristics’, and usually assumed to be so because they don’t use the correct lingo. One fashionable target — and one of the most invasive interventions by the army of language cops — is to disparage banter, so ‘mate speech’ is demonised as ‘hate speech’. For example, the Local Government Association’s report called ‘An Inclusive Service: The 21st Century Fire and Rescue Service’, declares the need to ‘change the culture of the service… historically dominated by white males’ by targeting workplace ‘banter’. The Oxford English Dictionary defines banter as ‘the playful and friendly exchange of teasing remarks’. More colloquially, it is understood to be the One fashionable target is to disparage banter, so ‘mate speech’ is demonised as ‘hate speech’ informal, jokey letting off steam, so important for camaraderie. But for the LGA, this unregulated speech is depicted misanthropically as an expression of ‘thinly disguised’ sexism, dangerous ‘macho culture’, bigoted small talk that needs to be stamped out. Such assaults on people’s free speech among friends are justified in the name of tackling bigotry. In fact, they reveal the bigotry of the ‘educated’ diversity enforcers, who remain unaware that their target culprits are not the ignorant, prejudiced Neanderthals they assume them to be, but just people who do not spout the correct jargon or share their ‘I Find That Offensive!’ thinskinned mentality. Goodhart cites polling across both ‘Anywheres’ and ‘Somewheres’ that shows barely any divide on liberal issues such as gay rights and racial discrimination. It concludes that the Somewheres are ‘in the main, modern people for whom women’s equality and minority rights… are part of the air they breathe’. But who cares what they really think if they don’t talk the talk? Too many associated with local politics seem to be on a mission to police those who fail to adopt the correct terminology or attitudes. The LGA report includes a chilling threat: ‘Notwithstanding the need for personal freedom, everyone needs to know… that they will be excluded if they demonstrate words or actions that do not conform to the desired culture of the future. There is no room for maintaining the status quo.’ If the missionaries for this new form of localism aim to replace the status quo with their own punitive dystopian echo chambers totally at odds with the electorate at large, then their cause is likely to suffer the same fate as Esperanto, doomed as a language spoken by a clique who can only talk among themselves. This article appears in an essay collection, ‘Neo-localism — Rediscovering the Nation’ published this week by www.localis.org.uk OVER AND OUT: AN EVENING WITH HENRY BLOFELD THURSDAY 19TH OCTOBER | 6.30 P.M. EMMANUEL CENTRE, WESTMINSTER, LONDON For more than 40 years, his voice on Test Match Special has been the sound of summer for thousands of cricket lovers in Britain and the world over. Join us for an unmissable evening with Henry Blofeld in conversation with Roger Alton, The Spectator’s sports columnist, to discuss the cricket broadcasting legend’s eagerly anticipated book, Over & Out, and to mark his retirement after a superb innings in the commentary box. TICKETS BOOK NOW Standard rate with book: £40 Subscriber rate with book: £35 www.spectator.co.uk/blofeld Standard rate without book: £35 Subscriber rate without book: £30 020 7961 0044 the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk 19 Truth in fiction Robert Harris on fake facts, his new novel – and why totalitarianism is in the air again SAM LEITH T he Sunday Times’s literary editor Andrew Holgate recently tweeted the news that Robert Harris’s latest thriller had entered the bestseller list at No. 2: ‘Pipped to the post by Ken Follett.’ Harris retweeted it: ‘Well done Ken. You bastard.’ Pipped to the post only by Follett. That’s the level Harris is at now. Even before it hit the shops, his novel was being chased for film rights by two studios. Harris is one of that small and enviable group of journalists who became novelists — and made it big instantly. His first book, the alternative history story Fatherland, set in a Germany in which Hitler won the war, was bought on the basis of the idea alone and became a name-establishing bestseller. With his new novel, Munich — set amid the 1938 appeasement crisis — Harris returns to Nazi Germany for the first time in 25 years. When we sit down together at The Spectator, I go highbrow from the off and quote Indiana Jones at him: ‘Nazis: I hate these guys.’ What made him return to the scene? ‘I’ve consciously waited 25 years to go back into that world,’ he says. ‘I didn’t want to get myself typecast as a novelist of the second world war. But I’ve long hankered after writing a novel about the Munich Agreement: the moral compromises, the drama of it, more from the British perspective than the German, and that was really my way into it.’ A pleasure of Munich, for the reader, is the way that Harris inserts his fictional protagonists — the civil servant, Hugh Legat, and an old university chum called Paul Hartmann who now works as a diplomat on the German side — into the interstices of the historical record. Legat, for instance, takes the place on the flight to Munich of a historical figure, Cecil Syers: ‘He’s bumped off the flight at the last minute in favour of my man… “Terribly sorry about this,” and Syers says, “Well your German is much better than mine, it’s quite all right, old chap!” I enjoy doing that sort of thing.’ Harris has an ‘it could have happened’ rule for himself. “I have a sort of manic OCD quality when it comes to facts,’ he 20 says. ‘I need to feel that the book is true for me to be able to write it. The New York Times, for instance, said that the weather was very hot and sticky in Munich at the time. It was the climax of the Oktoberfest — I’ve never really seen that mentioned in any book about Munich — so the streets were full of people in lederhosen and dirndls, hundreds, thousands of them. ‘When Chamberlain went by they were cheering and waving and there was a oompah band outside his hotel playing “The Lambeth Walk”. That sort of detail, which a historian probably wouldn’t have time to bother with — that’s meat and drink for me.’ Around his fictional plot — which involves Legat and Hartmann working together covertly to get Chamberlain to see the truth about Hitler’s intentions — are the larger machinations of history. There’s a sympathetic portrait of Chamberlain himself — ‘much tougher than people realise, a wiry, obstinate fellow. Not at all the weakling with the umbrella that we hear about these days. And he really did change the course of history’; a silky showing for Lord Halifax (‘the Holy Fox… doubling his tracks’); and a figure with a ‘thin-lipped smile’ called Dunglass — whom history knows (though Harris soft-pedals the joke) as Sir Alec Douglas-Home. Harris drops in that he once interviewed Sir Alec, late in life, about being in the room with Hitler and what Chamberlain said about the famous memorandum he was to wave from the steps of his plane. Harris is a fiction writer with a strong attraction to history — and a thriller writer unafraid to pick a plot where everyone knows what’s going to happen in the end. Doesn’t that present a problem? He doesn’t think so. ‘The most successful postwar thriller was The Day of the Jackal,’ he points out. ‘Of course we all know De Gaulle was not assassinated, but it doesn’t stop it being a riveting book. There’s endless fascination with the Titanic. And I wrote a novel about Pompeii. We all know the Titanic sinks and Pompeii is destroyed — but waiting for it gives you the drama. This is really like Greek tragedy. You know what’s going to happen: it’s the progress towards it which is riveting.’ Before he was a novelist Harris was a political columnist. The book’s coda has a character who talks about the power of ‘unreason’. I ask the obvious question: does he see any parallels with our so-called ‘post-truth’ era? ‘I finished the novel and then turned on the television and there was the spectacle of swastikas being paraded through a southern American city and the American President surprisingly equivocal in his condemnation of these neo-Nazis. ‘Living in Goebbels’s propaganda culture, at one point one of the characters says what he enabled the Germans to do was not to have to think. You got spoon-fed the news that you wanted and it was all very comforting. One gets that now: everyone can get the news they want. They don’t have to think: they are just comforted in their prejudices, and there is a totalitarian vibe in the air. ‘Why did I devote a decade of my life to writing about Cicero and the collapse of the Roman Republic? Even at the time I thought it was a strange occupation. Afterwards though, when you see unscrupulous multimillionaires whipping up the mob to attack the elite and the whole democratic structure crumbling under that pressure, you suddenly start to think: oh, maybe that was why I was doing it.’ SPECTATOR.CO.UK/PODCASTS Munich is published by Hutchinson at £20. Listen to the full conversation between Sam Leith and Robert Harris on the Spectator Books podcast, available free on iTunes. the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk MATTHEW PARRIS Why May must stay A s from the Manchester conference hall I watched Theresa May’s big moment falling apart, as I buried my head in my hands while her agonies multiplied, I suppose I thought this could spell the end for her premiership. But even as I thought that, then reminded myself that the same failure of the larynx has afflicted me in front of a big audience and could strike anyone and is in itself meaningless, I knew such an outcome would be unjust. There may be reasons why the Tories should find a new leader, but the triple-whammy of a frog in the throat, some joker’s idiotic stunt, and the failure of two magnetic letters to stick to a board, can hardly count among them. And of course within minutes of her sitting down my smartphone started trilling and my inbox pinging with invitations to ‘comment’ on the unhappy hour. Could she survive? Should she go? Should (for heaven’s sake) the party chairman resign? Every journalist and commentator in the hall will have had the same requests. In the days that followed, any of us could have made a tidy sum from scores of small radio and television engagements where we could have opined that of course these little accidents are always happening but ‘sadly’ (we’d say, with a grave expression) this trio of whoopsies would be ‘seized upon’ by critics and commentators as a ‘metaphor’ for Mrs May’s woes, and could well prove the ‘last straw’ that might break her hold on Downing Street … etc, etc. Lazy, cowardly journalism: making what other people might say do your wounding for you, while sneakily exculpating yourself by insisting that of course this isn’t what you say yourself — oh no — perish the thought; but there are some nasty people out there. I’m perfectly capable of sinking to this kind of thing, and in journalism you do sometimes have to hold your nose. But something came over me last week and I simply couldn’t do it. This is the first word I’ve written on the subject. And a week meditating rather than commentating on May’s position has seen my attitudes shift. She should stay. After election night this year I thought she should go, and maybe she should have. But the behaviour of some of her senior and junior colleagues since, and the reflexive responses of scores of them to her conference woes, teaches us something alarming about the parliamentary Conservative party’s current mentality and mood. It’s in a ghastly state. No state at all to choose a proper leader. Everyone seems to know whom they hate, distrust or despise, and each seems to have a strong if differing sense of where they don’t want to go. But as to whom they love, or where they do want to go, or even what sort of party they want to be, I’m picking up not the ghost of anything you could call consensus. She, meanwhile, seems ambiguous. Maybe her mind is blank. But at least she’s neither destructive, duplicitous nor mad. She’ll have to do. The party needs inten- In my wilder moments I’ve even wondered if the PM has consciously resolved to be a blank slate sive therapy and perhaps the unfolding of events in the year ahead can provide a reality check, while she holds the fort. Some of the comments we heard about or read from her fellow MPs shook even my limited confidence in parts of the party. At least Grant Shapps had the decency to go on the record. Others behaved like children, throwing a stone then hiding their hand. But that even shrewd, dutiful, decent, quietly sane Sir Patrick McLoughlin should have to face calls to resign because a mag- the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk net had failed to hold an f in place, while a wrong ’un had managed to get a conference pass (scores do, every year, always have and always will) shocked me — though not, I suspect, Sir Patrick, who has been a chief whip. I’m not easily shocked, though. I do realise that the Commons is a sometimes spiteful place. I well know there exist politicians who hold that there’s no better time to kick someone than when they’re down. And I do realise that the majority remain quietly loyal. I’m not particularly complaining that a fair handful of Tory MPs have a vicious streak while a majority have a yellow streak. I know all that. No, what settled upon me last week was something more amorphous. It was the futility of trying to choose a leader when there isn’t anyone you honestly admire, and there isn’t anywhere you’re honestly sure you want to go. ‘Who should be leader if not May?’ one wiseacre was asked by a colleague. ‘Oh anyone,’ he replied. There lies the void at the party’s heart. ‘Oh anyone’ won’t do. I’m not asking for hero worship, just some gentle indication that colleagues know colleagues whom they admire and trust; that the Conservative party is ready to look up to somebody; that something like a collective sense of direction is stirring in Tory breasts. It’s at least imaginable that as Britain’s Brexit negotiations proceed, some shared appreciation of the limits of the possible may begin to inhabit the parliamentary party and its Brexit claque in the media. The Tories need time, and given time they may profit by the pause. In my wilder moments I’ve even wondered whether Theresa May has consciously resolved to be a blank slate until those she leads can come, of their own accord, to an understanding of what needs to be chalked on to it. But I can put it no better than a backbench friend’s text to me last week: ‘For real people I’ve spoken to, the response to the speech was at worst neutral, and often positive. For want of a Lemsip, a kingdom should not be lost. It’s utter nonsense. The parliamentary party need to get their shit together and, if they must have a collective breakdown, do it in a corner silently, quietly, and away from where the Guardian can write breathless articles perpetuating it.’ 21 Story of the hurricane Remembering the Great Storm 30 years on PATRICK KIDD T he Great Storm of 1987 doesn’t have a name like those hurricanes that devastate the Caribbean and the United States each winter — it wasn’t until Abigail in November 2015 that British storms were given a personality — but it deserves its capital letters. The worst storm to hit England since 1703 killed 18 people, felled 15 million trees, famously reducing Sevenoaks to Oneoak, and cost the insurance industry more than £2 billion. It also left the City, where trading was closed at lunchtime the next day, unprepared for the Wall Street crash that led to Black Monday on 19 October. The storm, which struck 30 years ago this Sunday, left such a mark on the nation that it even featured in the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games. Between the theme music from The Archers and ‘Push the Button’ by the Sugababes, there was a snatch of Michael Fish’s infamously understated weather forecast. ‘Earlier on today, apparently, a woman rang the BBC and said she heard there was a hurricane on the way,’ Fish said. ‘Well, if you’re watching, don’t worry, there isn’t.’ He was technically correct. What raged over Britain that night was not a hurricane but a violent extratropical cyclone boosted by a phenomenon known as a ‘sting jet’ with gusts of force 12 on the Beaufort Scale. To my 11-year-old self, however, huddled behind a wall in the middle of the night as the gable end of our house was deposited on to my mother’s car, it certainly felt like a hurricane. My family lived on Mersea Island, off the coast of Essex, in a semi-detached Victorian villa up the hill from the sea. Our immediate neighbours were single-storey buildings. The storm struck our house off a long run-up. The wind had been bad all night. Gusts of 70 knots (81mph) blew for three or four hours, and none of us had been able to sleep but we were still in our own bedrooms at 2 a.m. when there was a frantic knocking on the door. Len Harvey, the caretaker of our local school, had braved the bad weather to check on his buildings and had seen 22 our roof start to disintegrate. As the slates and bricks rained down, he ordered us out of the house — my parents, my eight-year-old brother, Tom, and myself — and shepherded us, crouching, towards a garden wall, where we saw the upper storey of our house peel away, crushing the car below. My mother recalls hearing a roaring sound as we left ‘like a train rushing through the attic’. The 2.10 from Biscay to The Wash was a non-stopping service, and had it not been for that caretaker we might have been carried off down the line with our loft insulation. Our half of the semi was the exit route. Next door, owned by a delightfully eccentric widow called Becky, took the impact. But Becky was in no hurry to leave. She had a friend, Phyllis, staying with her and, having lived through the Blitz, they saw no threat in mere weather. ‘But we’re in our nighties,’ Becky protested, when told she had to leave immediately. ‘And neither of us is wearing any make-up.’ Mercifully, they gave in: it later turned out that part of the chimney breast had fallen on to Phyllis’s bed. The air, I recall, had a strange green glow, a common phenomenon in severe storms. Dust and sand swirled around us, filling our lungs as we moved away from the site. When we reached the caretaker’s We heard a roar and saw the upper storey of our house peel away, crushing the car below house, I suffered a bad asthma attack and spent most of the next week in hospital. The family returned in the morning to a scene of devastation. There was a huge hole in the side of our house, the bricks stripped away around my brother’s bedroom window. The car’s roof was caved in and the doors splayed wide. My father was amused to be asked by the insurance company, after ticking the ‘Act of God’ box, how much it would cost to repair. We were homeless for three months, put up first in a hotel and then in rented property as the house was rebuilt. Our two dogs, who had been rescued by the fire brigade, were housed elsewhere. The younger one, a labrador puppy, became so badly affected by nerves afterwards that she had to be put down on the advice of the vet. Yet our story had a happy ending. It was during our evacuation that my mother, after many years of trying for a third child, became pregnant with my sister, Rosie. Out of the thunderous, roaring devastation of the storm came the more pleasing sound of a baby’s cry. the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk MARY WAKEFIELD Calling Paddock a ‘lone wolf’ isn’t racist I t’s been nearly two weeks since Stephen Paddock committed mass murder in Las Vegas and the FBI is still casting about pitifully for clues. Why did he do it? Not even his girlfriend knows, though it’s said he claimed to have been simply ‘born bad’. Plans are afoot to put up billboards urging anyone who ever met Paddock to come forward. There’s something touching about billboards in the internet age. Perhaps because there are no answers in the offing, in place of them has swelled a great wave of outrage, not, oddly, about America’s gun laws, but about race. The strong feeling among America’s celebrity class — the pop stars, the hip hop stars and actors on Twitter — is that it’s racist of the FBI and of the President not to call Paddock a terrorist. Ava DuVernay, one of Hollywood’s hippest young directors, tweeted this: ‘The lone wolf. The local shooter. The gunman. Any and everything, but terrorist. Wonder why.’ Ava was joined by Rihanna (79.9 million followers on Twitter) and then newspaper columnists on both sides of the Atlantic. A piece in the Washington Post summed up the thinking: ‘If the shooter had been Middle Eastern or Muslim, the rhetoric would pretty much write itself at this point. I doubt he’d be granted a descriptor with a positive connotation like “lone wolf”, as if he were the protagonist in a classic Western.’ If only characters called ‘Lone Wolf’ were the usual protagonists in a classic Western… never mind. The real trouble with all this contagious indignation over Paddock’s ‘white privilege’ is that in a country with a real racism problem, it seems so terribly misplaced. The Twitter activists make much of the fact that Nevada defines ‘terrorism’ relatively loosely. It’s true that according to state law you could call Paddock a terrorist. But that wouldn’t make it helpful to the investigation — or right. The word ‘terrorist’ has a normal definition. To any regular Joe, a terrorist is a person who uses unlawful violence in the pursuit of political aims. IRA killers, for instance (all white), were terrorists. John Allen Muhammad, the DC sniper (black) was a psycho; a lone wolf. The FBI has its own official definition of terrorist, which is surely the one both it and the President should stick to. An act of terrorism, according to the Feds, is an act of violence with intent to ‘intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives’. Paddock’s meticulous, diabolical massacre just doesn’t fit this bill. It’s worse than terrorism in a way. Should Trump start suddenly tweeting that Paddock is a #terrorist? I think it would be horribly irresponsible. It would imply to the world that the Feds have uncovered some motivating ideology which they have not. All grifters and tarts that investigators hope to tempt with their billboards, each with their little piece of Paddock, will sink Once a great wave of affront starts rolling, the actual facts become submerged back down into the Vegas underworld. Terrorism means a network, and who wants to be implicated in that? ‘How can you tell the survivors Paddock was not a terrorist?’ ask the angry voices online. ‘He terrorised them, that’s enough.’ No it’s not. Moral affront can’t change the meaning of words. And surely what most survivors want most is to see this investigation make some progress. The squabble over the meaning of ‘terrorist’ is handy in one way. It at least makes it clear how muddled the whole movement is. The gist of every article on this subject is that the press, politicians and the police are too quick to cry ‘terrorist’ in the event of some attack by a brown-skinned or Muslim man. Don’t judge a gunman by his colour, they say. Well quite. But if you’re urging the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk ‘Nothing beats the feel of the printed page.’ the public not to rush to conclusions based on skin colour, you can’t in the same breath claim it’s a travesty that the President and the FBI did not jump to conclusions in the case of a white shooter, especially when all the evidence says not ideologue, but psycho. It would be an alarming irony if campaigners against racism were to advocate different definitions for different races. Once a great wave of affront starts rolling, the actual facts become submerged. It’s been claimed by quite respectable commentators that the reason the first photos to become public were of Paddock’s girlfriend was that she is a woman of colour. Paddock’s ‘white privilege’ kept him out of the papers, they say. What rot. No one who understands the hunger of any paper to be the first with pics of a psychotic killer could imagine there was a conspiracy to keep Paddock out of print. It’s an insult to real victims of racism to see it in places where it’s not. It’s also widely assumed, post-Paddock, that any judicious pause on behalf of the authorities before saying ‘terrorist’ is a favour extended only to white people. Lord knows, that might be true of the numpty Trump. He did, after all, rush to call the Parsons Green bomber a terrorist. But the FBI is consistently cautious. Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, who attacked San Bernardino in 2015, were both Muslims of Pakistani descent. Both pledged support for Islamic jihad but even so, when a reporter asked David Bowdich, head of LA’s FBI office whether this was terrorism, he said: ‘It would be irresponsible and premature of me to call this terrorism. The FBI defines terrorism very specifically, and that is the big question for us. What is the motivation for this?’ Everyone should hold their tongues and bide their time, Rihanna and DuVernay included. Everyone should be like the BBC, which though frequently infuriating, played a blinder last weekend. A black Toyota driven by a dark-skinned chap ploughed into pedestrians outside the Natural History Museum, a fact which the BBC reported without mention of terrorism. The usual monkeys cried ‘PC gone mad!’ and Katie Hopkins and Nigel Farage leapt up and down with excited rage. But the Beeb was right. It was just an accident. 23 Kill your friendships ANCIENT AND MODERN An appeal to the masses Pals are a luxury, not a necessity JULIE BURCHILL As the Tories struggle to find a policy which might appeal to their traditional supporters and not simply ape those of Jeremy Corbyn, how about a reprise of Solon’s law against idleness? In 594 bc Solon was made arkhôn in Athens to deal with a number of problems, including debt. Solon ruled, for example, that if fathers did not find a trade for their sons, their sons would not have to support them in old age; and to boost trade and jobs, encouraged foreigners to settle in Athens with their families, and facilitated Athenian commerce abroad. He also passed a law (we are told) against idleness: every year every family had to account for how they made their living, and face penalties if they could not. This law, we are told by the essayist Plutarch, was driven by the fact that farming was traditionally the ‘honourable’ occupation, but the poverty of Athens’ soil ‘could not sustain the unoccupied and unemployed’. So Solon’s proposal ‘brought dignity to craft-skills’. The result of all this, Solon presumably hoped, would be that no man had any excuse for not finding work. As Pericles later said in his Funeral Speech (430 bc), ‘there is no disgrace in the admission of poverty, but rather in the failure to take active measures to escape it’. This would certainly go down well in Tory circles but could serve Corbyn’s policies too. For as the Athenians recognised, such a law was in fact a two-edged sword. It caught out high-minded intellectuals who spent their time just thinking and writing. What did they live off? It caught out the rich, implying that their wealth was the result of ill-gotten gains. It caught out spendthrifts, wasting their patrimony for their own pleasure rather than in service to the state. In other words, if one was not working, there must be something fishy going on. This is all of a piece with the ancient Greek view that selfsufficiency was the mark of the truly free man, and wealth justified only if well-gotten and used to serve the state. One can think of worse philosophies. — Peter Jones 24 I am not a bad friend. I enjoy my mates, and I am generous, showering them with fun, money and sympathy. But I do not crave their company when I am without it, for whatever length of time, and should we lose touch, I do not miss them. In fact, I find there’s a profound pleasure in parting with a chum, whether by their hand or by yours. We should all have the courage to admit it when a friendship has become more work than play, more duty than beauty. Maybe my origins led me to feel this way. I was an only child who, at an early age, became extremely fond of my own company. Some of my earliest memories are of lurking in my bedroom and begging my mother to get rid of young schoolmates who had come calling for me to play. I was first married as a teenager, remarried in my mid-twenties straight after my divorce and then took up with the man whom I’ve now been with for 22 years. I always had my husbands to talk to, so I never grew up sharing confidences with friends the way other women do. As I have got older, I have learned how to do so, and I must say I enjoy it — it’s a oneon-one way of showing off. And, not being needy, I have found myself making friends with the ease and swiftness that other people pick up fuzzballs on their jumpers. But because of my early solitude, friends seem luxuries rather than necessities. My second husband believed I had such a fickle attitude to friendship that each Friday he would update the list of my Top Ten friends in the manner of a Top of the Pops chart countdown: ‘And straight in at No. 5 — for writing a flattering article — it’s Daisy Waugh. But down three places — for not being sufficiently fawning at the Groucho last night — it’s Emma Forrest!’ Some people might find this attitude deeply shallow, but I like Peter Ustinov’s take on it: ‘Friends are not necessarily the people you like best, they are merely the people who get there first.’ Those extreme hoarders I sometimes see on TV horrify me because we know that if you never throw anything out, you often won’t be able to find what you want. And perhaps the thing you want may be a new thing — and too many old things will take up room the new thing needs. It was Sacha Guitry (not James Goldsmith) who originally said, ‘When a man marries his mistress, he creates a vacancy’, and the same goes for friends. You need to keep the line moving in order for the dance not to grind to a halt. We seem to have become more sentimental about friendship as we have become more sceptical about love. You could forgive old Thoreau, wandering about Walden Pond in solitary bucolic bliss back in 1845, for musing that: ‘Friends… they cherish one another’s hopes. They are kind to one another’s dreams.’ But you’d think that the Spice Girls, in 1996, fresh from the cut and thrust of stage school and the chorus line, would have known better than to sing, ‘If you wanna be my lover/ You gotta get with my friends’ — not a pervy call to voyeuristic pleasure, but (according to Wikipedia) one which ‘addresses the value of female friendship over the heterosexual bond’. I adore my mates, but I’d chuck them under a metaphorical bus for someone I was in love with — because while there are only a certain number of people we can desire, potential friends (like buses) come along all the time. Some come to mind who I’ve been particularly happy to see the back of. The fantasist who couldn’t keep her clammy hands off me when drunk and would then go around accusing me of being the wretched lesbo lech. The one whose favourite put-down was ‘narcissist’, but who only ever talked about herself. The one who behaved like the Queen of Sheba when she was just a royal freeloader. The one who aspired to my career and who now writes about every issue I wrote on 20 years ago, but has such a lack of wit and rhythm that her tributes read like my originals translated into Serbo-Croat and then, badly, back into English. John Galsworthy’s heroine Irene, of The Forsyte Saga, says something I first heard as a child and which has stuck with me all my life. When she is caught out by her young protégée June having an affair with June’s fiancé, the younger girl has a right hissy fit and yells something like: ‘But I thought you were my friend!’ Irene replies along the lines of: ‘A woman of the world doesn’t have friends — she has lovers, and acquaintances.’ I wouldn’t go this far, but neither do I consider the craze for prizing female friendship above all other forms of affection to be any way for an adult to live their life. When it stops being fun, get the hell out of Dodge and don’t look back. As the party season approaches and the New Year seductively beckons, let us remember the words of the old song — and if they’re boring the pants off you, let old acquaintances be forgot. the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk LETTERS Let’s talk about guns Hong Kong phooey Sir: I was surprised that the cover stories on the recent shootings in Las Vegas (‘Say nothing’, 7 October) did not address the issue of gun control. The point surely is that if weapons are readily available, and not universally disapproved of, sooner or later someone will use them. There doesn’t have to be a specific motive, religious or otherwise, and often there is no point in looking for one. There is no question that for some people, using guns and explosives gives a thrill which they probably do not find elsewhere — and the more powerful and rapid-firing the weapon, the greater the thrill. This is why guns are locked up in armouries in military barracks, to prevent them getting into the hands even of people who have been carefully selected and trained to use them. The evidence from Australia — where a gun atrocity in 1996 led to a rapid tightening of the gun laws — is convincing: there have been no such incidents since and there was a drop of 72 per cent in single gun killings. In the UK, a similar outcome followed the Hungerford, Dunblane and Cumbria incidents. William Beckett Woolley, Wantage Sir: James Delingpole (‘If only the Tories understood economics’, 7 October) suggests that the government should follow the economic policies of what was British Hong Kong before the handover to China. As a regular visitor to Hong Kong in the 1980s and 1990s, my impression was that the bulk of the population existed in very cramped accommodation while working fearsomely hard so that a minority, mainly expats, could live lives of great luxury. The shouts of ‘Boy, another double whisky’, at the Jockey Club seemed to sum up the situation. Perhaps Mr Delingpole should remember that Hong Kongers did not have the vote, but the British drones do — and if they are pushed too far they may elect a government more sympathetic to their interests. Robert Walls Camberley, Surrey Sir Richard Greenbury Sir: I was interested in Martin Vander Weyer’s account of ‘Rickograms’ sent by Sir Richard Greenbury (Any Other Business, 7 October). As the then principal Capitalism’s alternatives Sir: If John McInnes really thinks that people can only get richer by making the poor poorer, he falls for the fallacy that economics is a zero sum game (Letters, 7 October). Market economies, where quality and productivity is driven up by competition, have over time proved to be the most effective way of increasing living standards for all sections of society. By incentivising economic progress, more resources becomes available for all groups. Anyone who lived through the 1970s will remember the strikes and the poor quality of goods and services from the nationalised sector. Far from wealth-creating, they were wealth-consuming in their losses and low productivity. The Labour government of the day, with its disastrous economic record, was the only UK government of any party to actually cut in cash terms spending on health and education — cuts for the many, not the few, presumably. Socialist systems (for example, in Venezuela) have either consigned their people to poverty or required extensive market reforms to prosper — as Britain did in the 1980s. If Mr McInnes feels ‘royally screwed’ by capitalism, he should get out more and take a look at how the alternative systems actually perform. Graham Wheatley Bourne, South Lincolnshire the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk EASTERN A I R W AY S A SUPERIOR MODEL – Up to 4 daily departures *† – Same day return journeys * – Complimentary on board drinks & snacks – Express check-in service – Fast track security channel * – Executive airport lounges * easternairways.com ZK\Ʈ\DQ\RWKHUZD\" of Ealing Tertiary College, I discovered Sir Richard had studied in one of our buildings when it was part of the grammar school. Invited as guest of honour to an awards ceremony, he arrived in a chauffeur-driven limousine. We took tea in my office where, visibly upset, he explained that the last time he had been in that room was when he was 15. His mother had brought him to tell the then head that he would be leaving the school that day, as his father had just died. Shocked, the head had asked what she had planned for him, pointing out he was an able student. ‘All sorted,’ his mother said proudly. ‘He starts at the local Marks & Spencer on Monday.’ Another example of the advantage of vocational training? Ian Wallis Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk You tube! Sir: Unusually, Dot Wordsworth overlooks another important usage for the word ‘tube’ (Mind your language, 7 October). In Scotland, especially in the west of Scotland, it is a commonplace and immensely satisfying insult, as in ‘What are ye on about, ya tube?’, the implication being that the person in question has no qualities beyond his or her digestive functions. Keith Aitken Edinburgh Chinese characters Sir: While I enjoyed Mike Cormack’s review of The Chinese Typewriter (Books, 7 October), it is a shame that he describes the Chinese writing system as ‘ideographic’. This is a longstanding myth, linked to the notion (also untrue) that Chinese characters are essentially pictorial in nature. Really, ‘ideographic’ means a script that, rather than encoding sounds or words, conveys ideas directly to the reader — something no script ever does. Mr Cormack’s mistake is understandable, with a pedigree among European writers going back to the 1500s. But Chinese is fascinating enough without mystifying it unnecessarily. Cameron Henderson-Begg Weybridge, Surrey Fur to go * At selected airports † Except Saturdays Sir: Kate Chisholm wonders how to dispose of a fur coat (Radio, 7 October). We solved the problem of our inherited fur by giving it to our local amateur dramatic society for their wardrobe collection. They were very grateful, as many period dramas require the leading lady to be fur-clad. Michael Ross Ulverston, Cumbria 25 ANY OTHER BUSINESS|MARTIN VANDER WEYER Bombardier says more about aircraft makers’ dirty tricks than the future of UK-US trade ‘B ombardier exposes post-Brexit realities’ was the FT’s headline after the Trump administration imposed a 300 per cent tariff on sales of the Canadian manufacturer’s C Series aircraft into the US, threatening 4,000 Bombardier jobs in Northern Ireland. Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar weighed in: ‘There’s been a lot of talk of a new trade deal between the UK and the US and how great that would be for the UK, but we are now talking about the possibility of a trade war.’ The truth of this story, however, is that it tells us little about prospects for the future US-UK trade accord occasionally mentioned in the US President’s tweets — other than, perhaps, that he will never agree anything that doesn’t visibly put ‘America first’ and doesn’t give a hoot whether what he says today is consistent with what he tweeted three months ago. The UK interest in the Bombardier dispute is, in that sense, largely a matter of collateral damage in continuing tensions on two fronts. First between the US and Canada in a range of sectors, despite the longstanding ‘free trade deal’ which is often quoted as a model for the UK to follow; and secondly between world-leading aircraft makers, led by Boeing in the US, Bombardier, Airbus and Embraer of Brazil. In this instance, the US giant objected to the Canadian’s ‘predatory’ pricing of planes sold to Delta Air Lines, despite having slashed its own prices to persuade United Airlines to buy at home rather than north of the border. These are standard tactics for aircraft manufacturers, along with accusing each other of being unfairly state-aided — which they generally all are. And in any such clash of global industrial gladiators, the stand-alone UK, as a component supplier with a shrunken manufacturing base, is at risk of being left looking like a powerless minor player. A parable of enterprise A reader in the FTSE boardroom world told me sternly the other day that I should resist the temptation to join the Corbynist 26 mob and most of today’s media in sniping at corporate capitalism, and instead celebrate its positive achievements. So here’s a parable designed to do just that. The Kensington Aldridge Academy is a state-of-the-art secondary school that opened in 2014 next to Grenfell Tower in North Kensington, and now has 960 pupils. ‘Aldridge’ refers to a charitable foundation created by Sir Rod Aldridge, the multimillionaire former chairman of the outsourcing giant Capita, to sponsor schools with a special focus on entrepreneurship. Some locals resented the school being built on green space that served Grenfell residents, and some anti-capitalists no doubt resented the Aldridge-Capita connection — a fortune made from outsourcing being in their eyes an ill-gotten gain from public sector shrinkage. But the school itself swiftly won praise from the Department for Education and elsewhere as a worthy example of the academy model, and has achieved a first set of excellent AS-level results. Then on 14 June came the Grenfell fire: four KAA pupils (and one former pupil) died, and the school buildings were declared out of bounds for months ahead. The solution of that crisis is the nub of this story. From somewhere in Whitehall a call was made to Portakabin, the York-based and third-generation family-owned firm that is probably most often associated with building-site huts. Could they build a temporary school, on a former military site at Scrubs Lane a mile from the disaster zone, in time for the autumn term? The answer was that they could, so long as less pressing clients didn’t mind their orders being jogged down the list. In just nine weeks, 210 Portakabin modules were fitted out elsewhere, then stacked and connected on-site to create a complete replica of KAA’s classrooms and special facilities, including its autism suite, technology workshops and dance studio. After the pupils moved in on 18 September, the school’s principal David Benson declared: ‘It looks and feels like their school… it’s the fastest school ever built.’ And it has presented sixth-formers studying entrepreneurship with a remarkable case study of what business can deliver. Continental troublemakers It’s a curious twist of history that an entirely domestic high-street bank such as TSB should be one of the first British businesses affected by political upheaval in Catalonia. Founded by a Scottish clergyman in 1810 to help poor parishioners save their pennies, the Trustee Savings Bank was first absorbed into Lloyds Bank, then carved out of it again when EU regulators insisted that part of Lloyds’s branch network must be sold off as a condition of approval for the 2008 bailout. Co-op Bank was lined up as the buyer but proved unfit, so TSB was floated in 2014 amid much hype about becoming an independent challenger that would welcome customers back to ‘local banking’ — until a few months later, when along came a bid from Banco Sabadell of Spain. The bid was accepted by Lloyds (encouraged by HM Treasury) with what some thought was indecent haste as a way of turning its residual TSB holding into cash and hastening a sell-off of the remaining taxpayer stake in Lloyds itself, subsequently completed. Sabadell, little known in the UK, turned out to be Catalonia’s second financial institution after CaixaBank and Spain’s fifth biggest lender; now both Sabadell and Caixa have decided to move their headquarters out of the troubled region for fear of regulatory chaos and a run on deposits if the independence movement does not subside. TSB’s Spanish bosses are currently sitting on packing cases and trying to get their phones working in Alicante, 300 miles from their home city of Sabadell, which is a northern satellite of Barcelona. It’s a pity they can’t consult the Reverend Henry Duncan of Ruthwell, Dumfriesshire, the founder of TSB. He always kept a beady eye on continental troublemakers, having once raised a contingent of volunteers against the threat of French invasion in south-west Scotland. the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk © COURTAULD GALLERY, PRIVATE COLLECTION, SIMON CAPSTICK-DALE (NEW YORK) Steven Poole wonders what else Princess Margaret could have done, apart from drinking and pulling rank James Walton finds Alan Hollinghurst’s new novel dazzling yet similar to all his others Mark Bostridge is puzzled that Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, considering the Pilgrim Fathers’ legacy Laura Gascoigne isn’t sure Basquiat would have been remembered if he’d lived to 80 Damian Thompson reveals the personal hygiene problems of playing piano duos James Delingpole is appalled by the new reality series Bromans – but it is what people are really like ‘Butcher Boy’, c.1919–20, by Chaïm Soutine Laura Freeman — p38 the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk 27 BOOKS & ARTS BOOKS How pleasant to know Mr Lear Peter Parker on the modest, melancholy and astonishingly gifted painter and author Mr Lear: A Life in Art and Nonsense by Jenny Uglow Faber, £25, pp. 598 Edward Lear liked to tell the story of how he was once sitting in a railway carriage with two women who were reading aloud to children from his Book of Nonsense. When a male passenger confidently asserted that ‘There is no such person as Edward Lear’, the writer was obliged to prove his own existence as ‘the painter & author’ (in that order) by showing the passengers his name on his hat, handkerchief and visiting card. In an extraordinary drawing of this event, Lear depicted himself and the two women realistically, but the doubting man is a cartoonish figure straight out of one of his limericks. Lear’s two worlds of ‘art and nonsense’ wonderfully collide in this anecdote and its illustration. To be told that one does not exist nods at Lear’s feeling that his paintings were admired only by a select audience and places him in the absurdist position of the limericks’ protagonists. The sceptical gentleman is a representative of the poems’ ‘they’, that anonymous chorus of people who frequently question or challenge those whose eccentric behaviour makes them outsiders. As Angus Davidson eloquently put it in his 1938 biography of Lear: ‘They’ are the force of public opinion, the dreary voice of human mediocrity: ‘they’ are perpetually interfering with the liberty of the individual; ‘they’ gossip, ‘they’ condemn, 28 ‘they’ are inquisitive and conventional and almost always uncharitable. Lear’s life and work offer an invigorating rebuff to that banal majority. He was born into a huge family in Holloway in 1812, programmed from birth to feel an outsider. His father was a sugar refiner turned financially unstable City broker, while his mother appears to have been more or less continuously pregnant. Of the 14 children who survived infancy, the sickly and myopic Edward was number 13. He never had any real bond with his mother, and was brought up instead by his eldest sister, Ann, who was 21 years his senior. He suffered from asthma and developed a form of epilepsy at the age of five, which meant that apart from a brief, unsuccessful and unrecorded spell at school, he was educated at home in a predominantly female household, learning such traditionally ‘feminine’ accomplishments as drawing birds and flowers, writing verse and composing and performing songs. These turned out to be far more useful to his subsequent career than anything he might have learned at a traditional public school, and in particular he proved to be an astonishingly gifted ornithological painter. Granted permission to draw birds from life at the newly opened Zoological Gardens in Regent’s Park, he published the first two parts of his spectacular Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots when he was only 18. The President of the Zoological Society, shortly to succeed his father as the 13th Earl of Derby, was sufficiently impressed by Lear’s exact but characterful paintings to invite him to make a record of the birds and animals he kept in his private menagerie at Knowsley Park in Lancashire. Occupying an ambiguous position between guest and employee, Lear would spend weeks on end at Knowsley painting Lord Derby’s birds and beasts. It was also here, in a household ‘full of children bursting from the effort of being polite in grown-up company’, that Lear wrote his first limericks, their form based on comic verses in a book he’d found there, Richard Scrafton Sharpe’s Anecdotes and Adventures of Fifteen Gentleman (1822). Derby became a crucial early patron, and in 1837 would send Lear off to Rome to develop his skills as a landscape painter. As Jenny Uglow beautifully observes, Lear’s watercolours of animals have ‘a feeling for the fast beat of a heart, the wetness of a twitching nose’, while his affinity with birds forms a constant thread in her book, in which each section has a wittily ornithological title, from ‘Fledging’ to ‘Swooping’. Several of the subjects of Lear’s limericks either keep company with, or more or less become, birds, something emphasised in the poems’ gloriously scratchy illustrations: the Old Person of Nice adopting the the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk GETTY IMAGES ‘The Road to the Pyramids at Giza’, c.1873; and (left) Blue and Yellow Macaw, c.1834 forward-leaning motion of his geese; the Old Man of El Hums, who is barely distinguishable from the birds alongside whom he is pecking at crumbs; or the Old Man of Whitehaven whose beaky nose and lifted coat-tails make him the perfect partner for a raven in dancing a quadrille. Lear asserted that ‘bosh requires a good deal of care’, and Uglow is very good indeed on the nonsense rhymes, really looking at the words and illustrations, both of which have sometimes been underestimated. She points out that the way the final line more or less repeats the first one is not a weakness, because the adjective often casts a different light on what has gone before, and that the form, conceived for an audience of children, ‘worked like a jack-in-the-box, springing a character into life, then snapping the box shut as it returned to the place of the opening line’. She also emphasises the high level of violence in the poems, and it would be interesting to know if Lear had seen Heinrich Hoffmann’s Struwwelpeter, which was published in 1845, the year before the first Book of Nonsense. Lear’s Old Man with a poker bears a distinct resemblance to Hoffman’s long, red-legg’d scissor-man, while the Old Man of the Nile saws his own thumbs off, thus sharing the fate of Little Suck-a-Thumb. Away from the nursery, Lear spent a great deal of his life travelling in pursuit of new subjects to paint and climates better suited to his precarious health. Looking back over 40 years at the sketches he had made, Lear listed some 30 journeys in search of topographical subjects, and Uglow is not the first of his biographers to struggle to convey this peripatetic aspect of his life without reducing it to an annotated itinerary. Given what a good writer Lear was himself, the temptation to plunder his diaries and travel journals is irresistible, but the proliferation of places visited and people met sometimes overwhelms the narrative. Uglow does, however, give a real sense of just how intrepid a traveller Lear was and just how hard he worked, and she writes extremely well about both the paintings and the techniques he used to create them. She is also excellent on Lear’s sometimes uneasy reliance on patronage, and his equally tricky relationship with Tennyson, lines of whose poems inspired many paintings. While remaining a keen admirer (and very funny parodist) of Tennyson’s work, Lear increasingly found the man unbearable, acutely Some of his most touching late works are caricatures of himself and his cat Foss tottering into senescence together referring to ‘the Anomaly of high souls & philosophical writings combined with slovenliness, selfishness & morbid folly’. He was devoted, however, to Tennyson’s much putupon wife, Emily, who became perhaps his closest confidante. His deep friendship with her was without the tensions that arose in those with young men such as Franklin Lushington and Hubert Congreve. Lear’s homosexuality, though probably never acted upon, has been acknowledged for many years, despite some rather desperate backpedalling by Peter Levi in his highly personal and idiosyncratic biography of 1995. Levi seemed bemused by Lear’s relationship with Lushington and insisted that Lear was ‘of course heterosexual’. Uglow takes Lear’s sexuality as read and devotes little space to the matter, simply stating that he was clearly in love with Lushington and that a ‘host of emotions, open and unacknowledged, clouded [his] feelings for’ Congreve. the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk She also notes that Lear’s vacillating and rather vague notion that he should marry — notably the many years he spent dithering over ‘dear little’ Gussie Bethell, a woman less than half his age — was devoid of romantic or sexual considerations. Lear’s supposed ugliness combined with his epilepsy (which he kept secret, learning to retire to the privacy of a room when he felt a fit coming on) made him feel unworthy, although he was still considering matrimony in his seventies — ‘a good woman to nurse me to the last’, as he unenticingly put it. What he most craved was companionship, and much of the melancholia that characterised his life arose from the sense that he was the only one among his many friends who had failed to find domestic contentment. His later years were spent in San Remo, fondly but erratically tended by his longserving Suliot manservant, Giorgio Kokali. Uglow rightly allots a good deal of space to Giorgio, but rather neglects that other important companion of Lear’s declining years, his delightfully stumpy-tailed and long-lived cat, Foss. Lear’s lifelong affinity with animals comes full circle in San Remo, and some of his most touching late works are the little caricature-portraits he drew of himself and this beguiling feline tottering into senescence together. In an ideal world, one would also have liked more on the two gardens Lear created in San Remo, for they, like Foss, provided him with both solace and material for the vast number of charming and funny letters he continued to write to absent friends. ‘How pleasant to know Mr Lear,’ he mockingly wrote of himself, and readers of this detailed, affectionate and beautifully produced biography will surely agree. 29 BOOKS & ARTS On the waterfront Alex Clark Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan Corsair, £16.99, pp. 436 Much has been made of the American novelist Jennifer Egan’s mutation, in her latest novel, from purveyor of metafiction and fragmentary, experimental narratives to creator of a solid piece of traditional realism. Manhattan Beach tells the story of a father and daughter in New York in the years in and around the second world war: Eddie is a mobster’s bagman, who disappears without apparent trace early on; Anna is left distraught, but is also a resilient striver, growing up to become the only female diver in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard. Betwixt and between them stands Dexter Styles, a nightclub owner and instrument of the mafia, swishing between cold malfeasance and a yearning for a life less compromised. But despite its appearance of solidity, Manhattan Beach shares with Egan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning A Visit from the Goon Squad and an earlier novel, The Keep, a vivid apprehension of the provisionality of human life and the onus on fiction to dispose itself accordingly in the attempt to capture it. Anna is a fan of Ellery Queen, eating up his tales of detection and suspense almost faster than the library can supply her. And yet she is aware of their shortcomings: For all their varied and exotic settings, mystery novels seemed to happen in a single realm — a landscape vaguely familiar to Anna from long ago. Finishing one always left her disappointed, as if something about it had been wrong, an expectation unfulfilled. That sense of nostalgia — a pull towards the half-remembered past that speaks of home — is one of the chimerical attributes of fiction that Egan seeks to probe and develop, and perhaps illuminates why she once described A Visit to the Goon Squad’s twin influences as Proust’s A La Recherche du Temps Perdu and the television mob show The Sopranos. Like Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, Manhattan Beach tracks that particular journey out of a childhood that has been devastated by sudden parental loss; both novels combine a portrayal of the exigencies of survival into adulthood with a sense of a life freeze-framed, stopped in its developmental tracks and unable to shake off its former childhood attachments and certainties. Anna also has a severely disabled sister, Lydia, to whom she whispers her most profound thoughts and desires in the belief — the reader doesn’t know whether justified or not — that her sister understands everything she says, and the knowledge that she will never 30 be able to repeat them. There is a mythical quality to a detail like this, as there is in the transformative scene in which Anna enlists Dexter Styles’s help to convey Lydia to the sea shore and briefly liberates her from her physical constraints. Back in the realist world of the novel, though, an absorbing narrative unfolds. Anna faces down the naval authorities to enter an elite group beset by danger, training to become one of the divers who repairs the ships that will sail into war on America’s behalf. The minutiae — baffling to us, in a technologically advanced society — are brilliantly realised, as Egan blends descriptions of diving dresses and lifelines with a more impressionistic depiction of the claustrophobia and the freedom of the submarine world. Anna is the novel’s pivotal figure, but Egan also shifts the viewpoint to Eddie and Dexter, men in thrall to male hierarchies who fleetingly make a bond with one anoth- Isle of the Living (after Arnold Böcklin, ‘Isle of the Dead’) How relieved we are to alight here at last, the boat shoving into shingle, hurling us headlong at dry land. The river-path snakes us away from the shore, and the hills’ round embrace consoles, as we start the length of the valley. No cypress grove, no bleak morse-code tapping at the mind’s ear, no sheer-stop cliff, God’s secret temples nowhere in the rock, only fields that seem to unfurl quite willingly, ragwort and daisy insisting themselves out of soil, and ahead a warm bothy – one chimney puffing its cigar – always awaiting us, even though we never quite arrive. —Michael Loveday er. Their entwined stories, often told via disorientating jumps in time, are what propel the narrative forward, immersing the reader in ‘the mystery that seemed now to have been flashing at Anna from behind every Agatha Christie and Rex Stout and Raymond Chandler she’d read’. Mystery fiction as a mask for even more mysterious fact: that seems a pretty accurate way to think of Egan’s own ingenious, tantalising adventures in writing. Princess Uppity Steven Poole Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret by Craig Brown 4th Estate, £16.99, pp. 423 Princess Margaret was everywhere on the bohemian scene of the 1960s and 1970s. She hung out with all the famous rock stars, actors and other arty types of the day. Marlon Brando was struck dumb; Picasso wanted to marry her. As Craig Brown puts it artfully: ‘Everyone seems to have met her at least once or twice, even those who did their best to avoid her.’ And so, having noticed her ubiquity in the indices of other books, the satirist has written a hugely entertaining sort-of-biography. Why would anyone do their best to avoid the princess? Well, she had a Prince Philipish way with the rude put down. (On being presented with a dish of Coronation Chicken: ‘This looks like sick.’) Secondly, the drunker she got, the more she pulled rank, leading to many a nightmarish dinner. And there was not much else for her to do but get drunk. This is a darkly glamorous tale, after all, of a ‘punishing schedule of drinking and smoking’, punctuated by notorious love affairs. The first, with Group Captain Peter Townsend, is genuinely sad: first he is shunted off to Belgium by the establishment so they can’t see each other, and then she eventually renounces him rather than be forced to give up her title and go into exile abroad. The second, with the photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, later to become Lord Snowdon — immortalised here as ‘Tony Snapshot’, the bitchy name bestowed on him early on by the Earl of Leicester — ends in mutual contempt. The book is brilliantly written, with a wonderful sardonic edge but also a thoughtful, at times even moving tone. Brown’s aleatory structure, hopping back and forth through time to present tableaux and anecdotes from the life, is a triumph, and renders the book probably the least boring royal biography it is possible to imagine reading. After all, as Brown, a connoisseur of the awful genre, points out: of all the arts, biog- the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk GETTY IMAGES Princess Margaret at the races in Kingston, Jamaica in 1955 Highly charged territory Anthony Cummins Dinner at the Centre of the Earth by Nathan Englander Weidenfeld, £14.99, pp. 252 raphy is ‘the least like life; and royal biography doubly so’. Brown is a rightly celebrated satirist and parodist, but the sequences here that are pure counterfactual invention (an account of Margaret’s marriage with Picasso, for example) are somewhat less funny, perhaps because funny is all they are trying to be. More hilarious is his gimlet eye on, say, the stalkerish prose of her former servant’s memoir (‘my beautiful princess’, etc); or his drive-by analysis of the Queen Mother’s ‘ruthless contentment’; or his smilingly patient evisceration of the then-poet laureate Andrew Motion’s doggerel marking the Princess’s death. Indeed, Brown’s real contumely is reserved for the crowd that Margaret attracted: the lickspittle hangers-on, the snooty theatre directors, the social climbers, and all the cynics who used her as edgy entertainment. ‘The connoisseurs wanted to see her getting uppity; it was what she did best,’ Brown notes. Besides such ‘laughing sophisticates’, the Princess herself could even seem an ‘innocent’. Margaret was dismissed by some contemporaries as just another empty-headed snob, but on this evidence she was actually that rare thing, a cultured royal. She could play the piano and sing well, it seems, if exhaustingly — she would often go on till the small hours, exploiting the convention that no one could retire to bed before Her Royal Highness. Her friend Gore Vidal thought her ‘far too intelligent for her station in life’, and her often dismissive remarks about plays she had been dragged to see to derive from a rigor- Everyone seems to have met Princess Margaret at least once, even those who did their best to avoid her ous (if circumscribed) taste rather than mere philistinism. Plus, it’s not as if the culture couldn’t do with more people who say what they really think upon leaving the theatre. The Princess’s admirable commitment to dramatic realism, moreover, clearly motivated the story recounted here of her appearance on The Archers, playing herself at a country fair. After one take, the producer asked: ‘Do you think you could sound as if you were enjoying yourself a little more?’ Splendidly, Margaret replied: ‘Well, I wouldn’t be, would I?’ Quite. I think she might, on the other hand, have enjoyed this book — though it has no index, which is rather a sorry sign of the times. the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk I first heard of this tragicomic spy romp around Israel and Palestine when Julian Barnes sang its praises in the Guardian a few months ago, having been ‘lucky to see an advance proof’. Lucky? Well, he and Nathan Englander do share an agent, who perhaps noticed that Dinner at the Centre of the Earth just happens to take its epigraph from a novel by, er, Julian Barnes. That’s showbiz, I guess; and in any case, a spot of sly boosterism rather suits this mixed-up tale of cloaked allegiances, which never quite supplies the facts you need to grasp what’s going on — at least not during the globe-trotting, time-toggling fug of the novel’s opening half. In 2014, someone known as ‘the prisoner’ rots in a bunker in the Israeli desert; why, we know not. In 2002, a Berlin-based wheeler-dealer calling himself Farid offers his contact in — or under — Gaza to a suspiciously chummy Canadian electronics exporter keen to skirt customs in Cairo. And back in 2014, a dying man resembling Ariel Sharon — Márquezianly dubbed ‘the General’ — slips from his Jerusalem hospital bed into a limbo writhing with flashbacks to a half-century of bloodshed. Clarity comes with the unmasking of Z, a double agent gone to ground in Paris, paranoid about the long arm of Mossad while fretting opaquely about ‘what he’d done’. If it seems absurd when he beds an Italian waitress quicker than you can yell honeytrap — bad spycraft, or bad stagecraft? — you sense the prospect of building a novel around a solitary fugitive just didn’t grab a writer who thrives on dialogue. The book’s most pungent scenes ring with verbal rat-a-tat over Israeli military strategy, reviled by one veteran as a ‘fucking terrorist recruitment campaign’, but upheld by the General, shown supervising the wiring of dynamite into the doorframe of an Arab home where ‘children’s heights were marked’. Englander’s problem isn’t texture, but structure: he stakes the book’s emotional and symbolic impact on two cross-border lovers introduced too late for us to care much that they’re separated by a checkpoint. And the hopscotch narrative makes much of the mystery a sham; not least because Englander ends up having to spell things out anyhow, seguing (for instance) into one of several handy overviews when someone’s ‘thoughts veer to the severity of the situation’. Better, perhaps, to have kept it simple to begin with. 31 BOOKS & ARTS GETTY IMAGES The great betrayal Mark Bostridge The Mayflower Generation: The Winslow Family and the Fight for the New World by Rebecca Fraser Chatto, £25, pp. 358 They were at sea for more than two months in desperately cramped conditions. The battered ship, barely seaworthy, pitched violently in storms where the swell rose to 100 feet. One of the beams cracked and there was talk of returning to England before it was temporarily repaired with a house jack. With spray in their faces so fierce that they could barely see, the small band of pilgrims invoked the words of Psalm 107, that God would make the storm calm and the waves still. Finally, on 11 November 1620, the Mayflower made landfall at Cape Cod, and some weeks later the settlers decided on the site of present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts, for their colony. By the following spring, only half of the 100 or so who had made the north Atlantic crossing were still alive, their immune systems weakened by lack of nourishment and poor weather. Nevertheless, even before they disembarked from the Mayflower, the pilgrims had made history by establishing the bedrock for self-government in the New World. As Rebecca Fraser says, the so-called ‘Mayflower Compact’ has been much romanticised, not least in all those cutesy depictions of pilgrims in steeple hats putting their signatures to the document in a luxury cabin. Yet in their attempt to bind the community together by drawing up an agreement on the basis of equal laws for the general good, the Plymouth Colony was undertaking a truly revolutionary act: the first experiment in consensual government in western history between individuals, without the sanction of a monarch. Four months in and the pilgrims met their first native Indian. In what reads a bit like a bad TV sketch, Samoset, a minor chief of the Wampanoag tribe, naked except for a fringed belt, emerged from the forest one day and to their amazement greeted the pilgrims with the words, ‘Hello English’ (of course he had learned the language from passing trading ships). From this initial encounter developed an extraordinary, mutually beneficial relationship between Europeans and Indians, lasting for more than a decade. The Europeans needed the Indians to access the fur trade, and the Indians were keen to adopt European manufacturing in the production of iron tools. The Wampanoags cast a net of safety around the settlers to protect them from other tribes, while Edward Winslow, one of the separatist leaders, had magical 32 Edward Winslow visits Massasoit powers attributed to him when he nursed the charismatic chief Massasoit and apparently saved his life. It is Winslow who provides the focus for this study of one family’s flight from England on the Mayflower and their new life of religious freedom forged among the Indians in America. Sometimes overlooked, Winslow was, as Rebecca Fraser demonstrates, a figure of enormous significance in the early history of the colony. Dubbed ‘Her- The Indians ﬂayed and scalped settlers, while the English set ﬁre to wigwams containing women and children cules’ for his strength and commitment in dealing with the multiple challenges facing not only Plymouth but New England as a whole, Winslow was a man of innate optimism and curiosity who never lost his sense of wonder at America’s ‘promised land’. There’s a lovely moment early on that epitomises this, as Winslow watches different varieties of whale, still regarded as semimythological creatures in Europe, bumping around the Mayflower’s hull. However, cleverly framed by Fraser, this becomes a story of a dramatic and terrible fall from a state of prelapsarian innocence. Half a century after the Mayflower’s voyage, Edward Winslow’s son Josiah commanded the New England militia against Massasoit’s son Philip in one of the bloodiest wars in American history. The Indians flayed skin off settlers and scalped them. The English set fire to wigwams containing women and children. After his death, Philip’s hands were displayed in Boston and his son was sold into slavery in the Caribbean. As the demonisation of the Indian and his ‘satanic degeneracy’ grew, colonists surveyed their razed towns and blackened fields and wondered whether this was divine punishment for their retreat from the simpler, wiser, more godly values of their pilgrim forefathers. Fraser handles the epic scenes with as much ease as she does the more intimate ones. Her book has been assembled from hundreds of tiny bits of piecemeal evidence, but one is never aware of the strain of sweated labour (though a dramatis personae would have been welcome, to identify the massive cast of characters). She has threaded the important historiographical innovations seamlessly into her text, paying more attention than hitherto to the experiences of early colonial women, and drawing on the lessons of ethno-history in her portrayal of Indian tribes. The result is a brilliant combination of synthesis and original research arriving in the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk good time for the celebration of the quincentenary of the Mayflower. It should also give a heavy burp of indigestion to the customary turkey-and-cranberry-sauce celebration of Thanksgiving next month, with its reminder of the way in which Winslow’s ideals of ‘love, peace and holiness’ gave way to a horrible, genocidal sequel. Gleaming pictures of the past James Walton The Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollinghurst Picador, £20, pp. 454 If you think you know what to expect from an Alan Hollinghurst novel, then when it comes to The Sparsholt Affair, you’ll almost certainly be right. Once again, Hollinghurst explores British gay history by plunging us into haute bohemia over several decades of the 20th century. (A few years ago he told an interviewer that the main characters in his next book ‘will all be more or less heterosexual’: a plan that sounded pretty unlikely at the time and, seeing as this is his next book, was evidently abandoned.) Once again, he combines his broad sweep with plenty of equally impressive close-up analysis — and all in prose that manages to be both utterly sumptuous and utterly precise. The novel opens in wartime Oxford, where a group of Christ Church students have spotted an unknown hunk in the rooms opposite. He is, it turns out, David Sparsholt, who’s due to be there for only a term before joining the RAF. He’s also engaged — although, as Hollinghurst readers will rightly suspect, this doesn’t mean that he’s not available for some man-on-man action. In the next section, set in the mid-1960s, David is married with a 14-year-old son Johnny, through whose eyes we see the rest of the novel and who at this stage is suffering a (mostly) unrequited crush on a French schoolboy staying with the family. We then move to the early 1970s, where Johnny’s job as a picture restorer introduces him to his father’s former Oxford admirers, centred around the home of a gay art critic — and from there, to the exhilarating new sexual possibilities that London traditionally offers Hollinghurst’s leading men. But by now we also know that Johnny’s father was imprisoned after a public scandal. Given that this is another Hollinghurst novel where the big events occur between the sections (his previous one, The Stranger’s Child was a first world war novel in which the first world war took place off-stage) the details of the eponymous Sparsholt Affair remain hazy. We do learn, however, that it included ‘money, power… gay shenanigans’, and that it took place in 1966 — the year before the decriminalisation of homosexuality, an understandably pivotal point in Hollinghurst’s work. A couple of time-shifts later, and Johnny ends the book trying his best to adjust to a world of dating apps — and allowing Hollinghurst to remind us that yet another of his lavish gifts is for rueful comedy. (For all his seriousness, he’s never a solemn writer.) Less comically, the time-shifts enable him, as in The Stranger’s Child, to show how the gilded figures of their generation gradually turn into awkward relics. If, that is, they’re not forgotten completely. In his art-restoration work, Johnny’s job is to make every part of pictures from the past gleam as brightly as when they were new. And as perfect scene follows perfect scene, Hollinghurst duly does the same here. No object in The Sparsholt Affair is too unimportant to receive his full and thrilling attention: in the last section, Johnny gets out his old ghettoblaster, ‘with its yard-long aerial, and its cassette deck, which dropped open sleepily, as if surprised to be still in use.’ No character is too passing for a devastating one-sentence summary: ‘He preserved into The gilded ﬁgures of their generation gradually turn into awkward relics – if they’re not forgotten completely old age something starkly coquettish, an unrelinquished belief in his own naughtiness and appeal.’ Hollinghurst is as deft as ever, too, at applying unexpected adjectives to abstract nouns (‘luxurious inevitability’; ‘elaborate pointlessness’; ‘sour enthusiasm’) and at subjecting virtually every thought and emotion to an exquisite scrutiny that reveals some ambiguity or paradox at its Yeah, there’s nothing worse than the terrible twos ... except the troublesome threes, frightful fours, frustrating ﬁves, shocking sixes, severe sevens, exasperating eights, nasty nines, traumatic tens, enraging elevens, tyrannical twelves ... and teenagers.’ the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk heart (‘his impatience… was mixed with a nervous longing for delay’; ‘Johnny was gripped... by the pain of not having acted, and under it, a little salve, the sense of having escaped’). Which just leaves the question of whether it matters that these techniques — together with the structure, themes and characters — are so familiar from Hollinghurst’s previous work. And on this I have to confess a certain ambivalence myself. Like Hollinghurst’s other books, The Sparsholt Affair is dazzlingly good: the best new novel I think I’ve read this year. At the same time, you can’t help noticing — and occasionally even being distracted by — just how like his other books it is. Putting the boot into Italy Anna Aslanyan Ferocity by Nicola Lagioia, translated from the Italian by Antony Shugaar Europa Editions, £13.99, pp. 464 A young woman, naked and covered in blood, totters numbly down a night road. A driver spots her in his headlights and swerves. Was he the last to see Clara alive? Did she jump to her death from a parking structure, as stated in the report? Are her rich family trying to hide more than their property deals? What was the preternatural bond that tied together Clara and her brother? Why did she let various older men seduce her? Who is running a Twitter account in her name, having begun with ‘I didn’t kill myself’? These questions will keep haunting you even after you’ve turned the last page of Ferocity. The novel, awarded the prestigious Strega Prize in 2015, ticks all the boxes of a thriller while also being a masterfully written, baroque, many-faceted depiction of modern Italy. The plot hinges on the figure of Clara, a strong presence in the life of everyone who has ever crossed her path, reconstructed from ‘an elusive compound of other people’s thoughts’. Constantly cutting between viewpoints, the narrative darts from the past to the present and back, often within the same passage, demanding — as any good book should — your full attention. You know you can’t afford to miss a single piece of the puzzle. Thanks to such deep immersion, scenes of life in Italy’s south, with its unbridgeable gap between the haves and the have-nots, remain imprinted in your mind. Eager to find out what it was the driver saw on that night, you hang on to every word of his story, which unfolds in a world where ‘even dignity sprang out of an abuse of power’. ‘Poverty is disgusting’ in this world, ‘but nothing is more disgusting than the needy 33 BOOKS & ARTS The problem with Hungary Tibor Fischer Orbán: Europe’s New Strongman by Paul Lendvai Hurst, £20, pp. 264 The name of the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, is on the lips of most left-wing, liberal politicians and intellectuals in Europe. They have adorable tantrums, denouncing him as ‘authoritarian’, ‘autocratic’ or, even uglier, ‘dictatorial’, as they congratulate themselves on their righteousness and courage in speaking out. A few months ago I visited Budapest. On the way in from the airport I saw several billboards depicting Orbán and his rich chum Lörinc Mészáros, the mayor of Felcsút, Orbán’s home town. Beneath, in large letters, were two words: ‘They Steal’. It seems to me a rather poor autocracy where that sort of thing goes on. Similarly, Lajos Simicska, a former close colleague of Orbán’s, gave a interview — widely and gleefully reported — in which he referred to Orbán as a geci, the rudest word in the language. Not many Hungarian prime ministers get a proper write-up in English. In that sense, Orbán has already won. Paul Lendvai’s book is both a profile of the man and a potted history of Hungarian politics since 1989. Unlike most journalists who pass hasty judgment on the country, Lendvai is well-informed. He’s a Hungarian who ended up in Austria in 1957 and did well there in the media. One should not perhaps hold him accountable for the jacket blurb, which describes Orbán as having ‘undisputed’ and ‘unfettered’ power. That’s simply not true: there is a political opposition; there are courts that rule against the government; there are elections; and, as we’ve seen, there’s plenty of criticism. But Lendvai is responsible for the book’s contents, which masquerades as a serious, 34 scholarly study: facts and figures abound, and citations and notes are thrown in to add a professorial touch, together with wise words from Hegel, Carlyle and Lord Acton. The author is at pains to show that he’s no hack, but a cultured thinker. He certainly knows the country and its history, but this, in the end, is a relentless cut-and-paste job, almost entirely reliant on standard Hungarian sources that aren’t available in English. And it’s slyly vicious too. I don’t mind vicious when it’s entertaining, but there is something cowardly about the way Lendvai slips in the knife. We have to wait until page 86 before he refers to Orbán’s ‘seizure of absolute power’ in 2010. He certainly won a landslide victory then, but even with his Godzilla-sized majority he does not have absolute power. As I often tire of explaining, the opposition in Hungary exists — it’s just not very good at its job. Of course the desirability of Orbán’s preeminence is another matter. Lendvai dutifully repeats the opposition’s smears. First, that Orbán is far right. How odd, then, that he countenances Roma MPs, has outlawed Holocaust denial and has financed the Oscar-winning film Son of Saul about the Auschwitz gas chambers. Second, that Orbán is Putin’s bitch. The US and the EU essentially did noth- INTRODUCTORY OFFER: Subscribe for only £1 an issue 9 Weekly delivery of the magazine 9 App access to the new issue from Thursday 9 Full website access Iran is our natural ally The National Trust in trouble Boris in Libya Can you forgive her? Isabel Hardman and Matthew Parris on Theresa May’s fate MY DATES WITH DIANA TAKI The H less ou on ston of themselves’. Flitting between fashion shops and lavish parties, Clara and her suitors ‘glittered in a cruel, gruesome light … as if they’d popped right out of a sewer main’; a strong metaphor for a region plagued by environmental catastrophes, the authorities turning a blind eye to their cause. Social injustice goes hand in hand with the ancient conflict of generations. The family at the book’s centre is being torn by tragedies of Greek proportions, and so is the entire society: the old won’t cede power, while the young are desperate to break free of their hold. This way destruction lies. Well before you learn how Clara met her end, you realise that no report would be able to paint a full picture of the forces that killed her. www.spectator.co.uk/A152A 0330 333 0050 quoting A152A UK Direct Debit only. Special overseas rates also available. $2 a week in Australia call 089 362 4134 or go to www.spectator.com.au/T021A ing about the Russians after they invaded Ukraine, shot down a civilian airliner and systematically bombed hospitals in Syria. So why should it be up to Hungary (whose Soviet-built nuclear reactor provides half its electricity) and Orbán to slap Putin in the face? Orbán does business with Putin, but he’s in the queue with everyone else. Lendvai’s sources are all openly antiOrbán. His bleating about ‘impartiality in the media’ and ‘Enlightenment values’ is rich, coming from a man who, in his youth, was a propagandist for the Stalinist Mátyás Rákosi, and in later years toadied to János Kádár (actually boasting he was Kádár’s favourite western journalist). The problem in Hungary is the vast polarisation between Orbán’s Fidesz government and the opposition. It’s a sort of civil war of insults. Adult political debate is rarely heard, because both sides swallow their own spin. I don’t doubt that there are those who sincerely equate Orbán with Caligula; and Orbán now seems to believe that if a bird messes his garden, the financier George Soros is behind it. I know many Fidesz voters, none of them happy. The hubris of wealthy ministers and haughtiness of a large majority are diminishing Orbán’s credibility. Nevertheless, he is poised to win the next election, required within six months. If he completes his term he will be the longestserving Hungarian prime minister in history. So the EU had better prepare for further torment. Oh, and watch out for more chants of ‘Orbán ate democracy’. Navigating a new world Boyd Tonkin The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World by Maya Jasanoff William Collins, £25, pp. 400 In the 1890s, when British-owned ships carried 70 per cent of all seaborne trade, legislators worried about the proportion of foreigners who served in their crews; which could top 40 per cent. Their worry is not surprising, given the verdicts gathered from British consulates in port cities on the native seaman: ‘drunk, illiterate, weak, syphilitic, drunk, dishonest, drunk…’ In 1894, a parliamentary committee interrogated officers about manning and skills in the merchant marine. One informant was a British-naturalised master ‘with 16 years’ experience’. The MPs, who didn’t presume to ask this expert witness specifically about foreign crews, recorded his name as ‘Mr J. Conrad Korzeniowski’. He had, as Maya Jasanoff puts it, ‘come a long way since landing in England in 1878’ the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk GETTY IMAGES as the penniless, orphaned son of Polish gentlefolk, his parents driven into penury, exile and early death by Tsarist persecution. A few months before he arrived in London, the 20-year-old Konrad Korzeniowski — alone, broke and ‘wrecked’ in Marseille — had attempted suicide. He never wrote about that. The story of this ‘Polish nobleman cased in British tar’ (his words) still dazzles in all its briny glamour. If that stems in large part from the unsinkable merits of works such as Lord Jim and Under Western Eyes, The Secret Sharer and Heart of Darkness, this perennial allure also feeds on his ability to speak to readers everywhere who couldn’t tell a knot from a hitch or a jib from a boom. A child stranded by his father’s patriotic conspiracies against Russian despotism, the immigrant seafarer who became Joseph Conrad spotted on the far horizon so many of the squalls and storms that still convulse us. From the crisis of old empires to the ascent of rising powers, from the global circulation of people, ideas and goods to the temptations of terrorism, the fiction he wrote in his third language (after Polish and French) bridges the age of sail and the age of the net. Jasanoff describes Conrad’s pen as ‘like a magic wand, conjuring the spirits of the future’. That wand, though, should surely be a telescope. After the mighty dreadnought of Norman Sherry’s two-volume biography, and relatively nippier lives from John Stape and Zdzisław Najder, we hardly need another stately passage between Conrad’s birth in Berdychiv (now in Ukraine) in 1857 to his death in rural Kent — the refuge he loved ‘not as an inheritance, but as an acquisition’ — in 1924. Jasanoff, a professor of history at Harvard and an enviably gifted writer, uses ‘the compass of a historian, the chart of a biographer, and the navigational sextant of a fiction reader’ as she locates Conrad’s journeys on the map of the first great epoch of globalisation before the first world war. With a focus on four masterworks (The Secret Agent, Lord Jim, Heart of Darkness, Nostromo), she demonstrates how the forces of revolutionary politics, world-spanning commerce, colonial plunder and imperial rivalry shaped both life and work without ever defining them. Lovers of Conrad know that, however worldly and topical his writing (‘no one has known... the things you know’, Henry James told his friend), some inward essence — more metaphysical than geographical —will always slip away into a sea-mist. Cattily, E.M. Forster sneered that ‘the secret casket of his genius contains a vapour rather than a jewel’. Shrewdly, Jasanoff counters that, ‘for Conrad, the vapour was the jewel’. So this is no reductive quest to match each plot twist with events in Poland, England, Borneo, Singapore, Colombia and Congo, although her historian’s eye can untie knots that might baffle the pure critic. The first-rate chapter on Nostromo — set in Latin America, for once a coast Conrad never sailed — explains much of that novel’s opaque, clotted texture. As Conrad wrote it, the intrigues that partnered the birth of the Panama Canal revealed that United States’s imperialism would soon trump Europe’s in the ferocious pursuit of ‘material interests’, Conrad speaks to readers everywhere who couldn’t tell a knot from a hitch and a jib from a boom ‘whether or not it had the word “empire” attached to it’. That book’s mid-stream rolls and pitches reflect its author’s veering responses to the sudden ‘coming of a new world order’. If Captain Korzeniowski’s voyages stoked his tales, Jasanoff also shows that imagination plots its own course. Thus Conrad transplanted his nightmare of colonial anomie from Borneo to the Belgian Congo. In Heart of Darkness, Kurtz’s savagery predates many of the foulest atrocities in the slave state run by King Leopold: ‘the most nakedly abusive colonial regime in the world.’ Pushed by anti-imperialist friends the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk such as R.G. Cunninghame Graham to join their campaigns, however, Conrad kept to his storyteller’s post. His father Apollo’s self-sacrificial tragedy had immunised him against ‘the flimsiness of ideals’. He stayed aloof, apart. Although happy ‘to sympathise with common mortals’ wherever their home, ‘in the streets under a fog, or in the forests beneath the dark line of dismal mangroves that fringe the vast solitude of the sea’, he withdrew from partisan passions. The only class he saluted was ‘the class of honest and able men’. For all her verve and skill, Captain Jasanoff proves a fairly orthodox skipper. Her own well-told trips in Conrad’s wake — one on an austere container ship across the Indian Ocean; the other in a merry vessel up the Congo — add little to her studies of his prophetic ‘prescience’. She might have said more about the Conradian conflicts that have lately ravaged the landscapes of his fiction: the cocaine wars in and around Colombia, or the grotesque carnage in Central Africa fuelled by exploitation of the minerals that power our digital devices. Another book could usefully occupy that berth. This one steers us securely and stylishly through those latitudes where Conrad witnessed the future scupper the past; and where (as Lord Jim has it) ‘the haggard utilitarian lies of our civilisation wither and die’. 35 BOOKS & ARTS GETTY IMAGES Richard Nixon in September 1968 His dark materials Jonathan Mirsky Richard Nixon: The Life by John A. Farrell Scribe, £30, pp. 752 In this giant, prodigiously sourced and insightful biography, John A. Farrell shows how Richard Milhous Nixon was the nightmare of the age for many Americans, even as he won years of near-adulation from many others. One can only think of Donald Trump. Nixon appealed to lower- and lower-middle-class whites from the heartland, whose hatred of the press and the east-coast elite, and feelings of having been short-changed and despised by snobs, held steady until their hero and champion unmistakably broke the law and had to resign his second-term presidency. Nixon won a smashing re-election in 1972, even as it was apparent that the White House was awash with skulduggery. His closest aides were caught, arrested and charged with breaking into the Watergate complex, where there were Democrat offices — though Farrell contends that Nixon gave no express orders for these and similar acts. Other cronies hoped to discover embarrassing documents in the files of the psychiatrist treating Daniel Ellsberg, who had leaked the revealing Pentagon Papers, and preserved the infamous Oval Office tapes in which Nixon confided his darkest thoughts against his enemies. The presi36 dent nearly got away with all of it. Farrell quotes Nixon as longing to be feared as a madman. The only two men he truckled to were Dwight Eisenhower, who used Nixon for his dirtier tricks, and Mao, to whom Nixon promised he would betray Taiwan. Even when he was totally exposed as a villain, liar and schemer, he was able to resign from the White House and was pardoned by his vice-president rather than having to undergo the ordeal of impeachment and ignominious removal from office. ‘I’ll destroy the goddam country. I mean destroy it. We will bomb the living bejeezus out of North Vietnam’ And he lived on, wealthy, often admired, and conceding only gradually, in an evasive, self-justifying way, that some of the things he had done were unwise, careless, wrong and even possibly illegal. Nonetheless, Farrell shows, the China breakthrough — until Nixon’s trip to see Mao in 1972, for the US Taiwan was China — and his promotion of school desegregation, were significant achievements. Without venturing too deeply into psychoanalysis, Farrell, a journalist who specialises in big biographies, argues convincingly that Nixon’s early years as a middle child with a violent father and an undemonstrative Quaker mother resulted in life-long self-doubt, vengefulness and the pursuit of power. He was always leery of the true love of his wife and daughters. He grew up in a small California town, attended the local college, went on to an almost first-rate law school, and then began his political climb towards the power he craved; but that was never enough because, of course, he really needed the love and affection he felt he had been cheated of as a child. This resulted in endless secret hatreds. Although Martin Luther King admired Nixon for his public attitude towards ‘negroes’, the president confided to a friend: ‘Most of them are basically just out of the trees... I know they ain’t going to make it for 500 years.’ And although two of his closest allies were Jewish, most obviously Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s private attitude was: ‘Most Jews are disloyal...They turn on you.’ Then there was his screaming hatred for the Vietnamese: ‘I’ll destroy the goddam country. I mean destroy it. We will bomb the living bejeezus out of North Vietnam... I’ve got everybody scared. Go berserk. Worry them.’ It was the Cold War and the Red Scare that gave him his big push originally, and the attitude and tools for attacking others. He defeated a sitting congressman by falsely suggesting he had communist sympathies. Once in the Oval Office, he pursued the ultimate elite prey in the form of Alger Hiss, an actual communist spy — as lefties like myself could not admit for years. Now Ike’s vice-president, he could get close to, but not intimate with, senator Joseph McCarthy, whose anticommunist campaign ruined, or at least blackened, many lives. The senator’s ultimate disgrace did Nixon no harm, although, along with the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk his glimmerings of financial jiggery-pokery and rough politics, it caused Eisenhower, who disliked mud and blood, almost to dump Nixon as his vice-president. What saved Nixon — and how well I remember this — was his ability to invoke in speeches his humble origins, his wife’s simple cloth coat, and above all Checkers, the family dog he magically transformed into a public pet. His fans loved it. They never knew how dark, scheming and hate-filled Nixon was, keeping in touch with his family with notes under their doors; sleeping separately from his wife (who longed for domestic life but increasingly longed, too, to become first lady); drinking too much; and spending time off with two vaguely disreputable ‘friends’ on their yachts in the Caribbean. Nor did they know about his madman language — in which he was encouraged by his closest staff, and most of all by Kissinger, the close associate who has somehow escaped obloquy. It is astounding that Nixon got away with his many vile acts and actual crimes. But as Farrell points out near the end of his important and revealing biography, Nixon presaged a time, that would last for years, of CIA eavesdropping; and of the ‘Watch Lists’ with which the CIA, the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service and the National Security Agency scrutinised, disrupted and smeared public figures. These included Martin Luther King, Norman Mailer, John Steinbeck, Sammy Davis Jr and Hubert Humphrey. The CIA developed assassination plots. They targeted Castro and Patrice Lumumba, who were not killed; but in Saigon, President Ngo Dinh Diem was. All this, as Farrell acutely observes, ‘puts Watergate in a different context... part of a continuum, no sole breach of faith’. Recent crime fiction Jeff Noon Gabriel Tallent’s My Absolute Darling (4th Estate, £12.99) has the word masterpiece emblazoned on the cover, alongside quotes from several famous authors telling us how brilliant it is. It can be difficult to see through this hype and find the true novel, but let’s try. Fourteen-year-old Turtle Alveston lives with her father, Martin, a survivalist type who’s taught her how to fire a gun and use a hunting knife from an early age. He abuses his daughter, trapping her in a circle of love and pain. When Martin brings home another young girl, Turtle at last finds the courage to confront the man who has so dominated and controlled her life. This is a bloodstained book, etched with violence, with unflinching depictions Lines on my 87th birthday Trees that I thought were dead are green again Suddenly, and so late, miraculously, Not blighted with ash die-back. What I see Surprises with a rush of happiness As if it were not necessary to die But always be open to capriciousness. — Anthony Thwaite of abusive sex and desperate love. Yet from beginning to end the writing is overloaded with beauty. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book so in love with its own virtuosity as this. It’s a double-edged sword: the brilliance holds the book back from that final true depiction of life. A novel needs flaws, wounds of its own, that correspond to the characters’ flaws: cracks to let in a little light. But this is an amazing debut: it will be fascinating to see where Tallent goes next. In Prague Nights (Viking, £14.99) Benjamin Black turns his hand to the historical thriller. In 1599 a young doctor called Christian Stern arrives in Prague, hoping to make his fortune. Instead, he discovers the body of a young woman, her throat slit. The victim is none other than the Emperor’s mistress. Stern is employed to find the killer’s identity, a task that takes him deep into the corrupt and shadowy world of the court, where the black arts of the English magician John Dee hold as much sway as diplomacy and torture. When Stern becomes a lover of the Emperor’s wife, his own life is endangered. Benjamin Black is the pseudonym of the Booker prize-winning author John Banville. Under both names he writes with precision and poise. The best historical thrillers move at two different tempos: the slow revelling in detail and the page-turning thrills of a murder mystery. Prague Nights certainly works on the historical level, while the crime aspects are taken perhaps at too steady a pace really to hold our attention. The Kafka-in-waiting aspects work best: the labyrinthine nature of court life and the endless intrigues that lead to dead ends. In Codename Villanelle (John Murray, £14.99) Luke Jennings pits a heartless female assassin against a dowdy but dogged MI5 agent called Eve Polastri. The two battle it out at a distance, one following a few steps behind the other, seeking clues at a series of killing sites. It reads a little like Terry Hayes’s I Am Pilgrim in miniature. The shortness of the book suits the coldness of Villanelle, but not the temper- the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk ament of Polastri, who needs more time and space to become interesting. Jennings pays closer attention to the process of hunting and killing than he does to character building. The final pages are thrilling, but then the book ends and nothing has been resolved, or indeed solved. Only now do we find out that this is the first part of a serial, originally published as an ebook single. It’s frustrating. The novel will be a BBC drama series, and this feels like the Acts of violence happen without forethought: the outcome of a sudden desire that takes us over prose version of season one. I wish I’d been given the whole story in one giant book: I Am Pilgrim proved that people are willing to read 800-plus pages of detailed cat-and-mouse games between killer and secret agent. This feels like short measure. As it happens, the shortest book on offer holds the most intrigue. Pascal Garnier’s Low Heights (Gallic Books, £8.99) continues his run of mordant, black-humoured, murderous farces to superb effect. After suffering a stroke, Édouard Lavenant, a cantankerous widower, employs a much put-upon nurse, Thérèse, who struggles daily with his ailing body and his devastating ill-humour. The arrival of a young man claiming to be Lavenant’s son sets in place a series of events that leads to ever more horrific acts. Garnier balances cruel jokes with startling poetic images that catch the reader unawares. There is no learning in this novel, no explaining of the urge to kill, none of the methods by which we currently account for human endeavour: instead, the acts of violence happen in the moment, without proper forethought, the outcome of a sudden desire that takes us over. It rings true. And in this novel, the ending is also unresolved: not because season two has to be sold as a separate package, but because the words grow and die and grow again naturally out of life, that beautifully unfinished story. 37 BOOKS & ARTS ARTS Cabbages and kings Chaïm Soutine turned kitchen-weary men into monarchs and popes, says Laura Freeman T he first pastry cook Chaïm Soutine painted came out like a collapsed soufflé. The sitter for ‘The Pastry Cook’ (c.1919) was Rémy Zocchetto, a 17-year-old apprentice at the Garetta Hotel in Céret in southern France. He is deflated, lopsided, slouch-shouldered, in a chef’s jacket several sizes too big for him. His hat is askew, his body a scramble of egg-white paint. Soutine painted at least six cooks in their kitchen livery. In their chef’s whites they look like meringues that have not set (‘Pastry Cook of Cagnes’, 1922), îles flottantes that do not float (‘Cook of Cagnes’, c.1924), and, in the case of the ‘Little Pastry Cook’ (c.1921) from the Portland Art Museum, Oregon, a wiggling line of piped crème pâtissière. Rémy, the first of Soutine’s ‘petits pâtissiers’, sat six times for the artist. At the end of the last session, Soutine offered the boy a painting instead of the ten sous a sitting he had promised. ‘I was a fool to refuse,’ said Rémy years later. ‘I can understand that now, but his painting seemed to me awfully bad.’ To Rémy, perhaps, but not to the American collector Albert C. Barnes, who, seeing Remy’s portrait in the Paris gallery of Soutine’s dealer Léopold Zborowski in 1922, exclaimed: ‘But it’s a peach!’ Barnes sent a car to fetch the 29-year-old Soutine, who couldn’t afford the price of a coffee in a café, from a bench in Montparnasse. Soutine was delivered, unwashed, to the gallery. Barnes had Soutine take a bath, ordered him clothes from an English tailor, installed him in a smart studio, and proceeded to buy a large number — some say 52, some 54, some as many as a hundred — of his paintings. Thanks to that first ‘peach’ of a pastry chef, Soutine never sat on a bench for want of a sous again. Five of the pastry cooks appear in Soutine’s Portraits: Cooks, Waiters and Bellboys at the Courtauld Gallery. We know Soutine for his landscapes at Cagnes, worlds tilted on their axes; his still lives of wizened chickens and scraggy pheasants; his hulks of bloodied beef. This fascinating exhibition brings together for the first time Soutine’s portraits of the pâtissiers, chefs, butchers, waiters, grooms, valets, bellhops and chambermaids of France’s grand hotels and restaurants in the boom years between the wars. Here is the below-stairs, service-corridors world of 38 George Orwell’s Hôtel X in Down and Out in Paris and London (1933), of snob waiters, sodden plongeurs and scheming soubrettes. Orwell tells the story of the chambermaid who stole a diamond ring from the room of an American lady. While detectives ransacked the hotel and frisked the staff, the chambermaid had the ring baked into a roll by her lover in the kitchen. There it stayed until the search was over. ‘Oh, yes,’ you think, looking at Soutine’s ‘La Soubrette’ (c.1933), with her sly smile and her white collar and apron not as neat as they should be. ‘She looks just the type.’ Soutine, even when elevated to suits and studios by Barnes, was in sympathy with the servants of the great hotels. Like him, many of them were immigrants (‘There is hardly such a thing as a French waiter in Paris,’ wrote Orwell) in search of a better life — the Parisian dream. Soutine’s ‘Page Boy at Maxim’s’ (c.1927) approaches us with hand outstretched, keen for a tip. ‘Never be sorry for a waiter,’ wrote Orwell. ‘He is not thinking as he looks at you, “What an overfed lout”; he is thinking, “One day, when I have saved enough money, I shall be able to imitate that man.” ’ Soutine’s ‘Head Waiter’ (c.1927) stands, in bow tie and waistcoat, with his hands on his hips in the best tradition of the ‘swagger portraits’ commissioned by kings, knights and noblemen. He might be Hans Holbein’s Henry VIII off to dissolve the monasteries, not the maître d’hôtel about to uncork a Burgundy. Chaïm Sutin (1893–1943) was born in poverty in Smilovitchi, a shtetl in Lithuania, part of the Pale of Settlement — the provinces in czarist Russia to which Jewish families were confined by imperial decree. ‘Chaïm’ is ‘life’ in Hebrew; the ‘Sutin’ he Gallicised on arrival in Paris in 1913. Soutine was the tenth of 11 children of a Jewish tailor. The young Chaïm wanted to paint — the Talmud had a thing or two to say about that — and stole utensils from his mother’s kitchen to buy a coloured pencil. He was punished with two days in the cellar. He asked the rabbi to sit for a portrait and was thrashed for his pains. Nevertheless, he found a place at a small art academy in Vilna that accepted Jews, and later enrolled at the Académie des BeauxArts in Paris. He shared a room with Amedeo Modigliani at La Ruche — ‘The Beehive’ — an artist’s colony in Montparnasse. They took turns in a single bed or on the floor. The bugs bit wherever they slept. At the Louvre, Soutine discovered Jean Fouquet, El Greco, Goya, Courbet and Rembrandt. He invests his valets and roomservice lackeys, slumped on chairs between shifts, with the authority of the throned popes of Titian and Velázquez. One of the questions the exhibition poses is: when did Soutine paint these servants of the hotels? Not during kitchen service hours, when, Orwell tells us, the whole staff ‘raged and cursed like demons… there was scarcely a verb in the hotel except foutre.’ Not on their days off. Staff never knew such a thing. They worked 15 hours a day, seven days a week. In slack daytime hours, then? But Soutine hated to rush. ‘To do a portrait,’ he said, ‘it’s necessary to take one’s time, but the model tires quickly and assumes a stupid expression. Then it’s necessary to hurry up, and that irritates me. I become unnerved, I grind my teeth, and sometimes it gets to a point where I scream. I slash the canvas, and everything goes to hell and I fall down on the floor.’ Soutine was not a happy man. He hated to be reminded of childhood privations, but suffered guilt and remorse for not sending money home. He railed against the luxury that success with Barnes had brought him. ‘Can you imagine?’ he complained of one hotel. ‘Hot water, it made me feel uneasy; and also, I cannot paint where there are rugs.’ Nor could he eat in fine restaurants. As a boy he had gone hungry. As a man, a new bourgeois with money to spend, he ate plain fare and nursed stomach pains. He painted skate, trout and artichokes with the longing of the artist who looks but cannot eat. In 1943, while hiding from the Gestapo, he died during an operation on his stomach ulcers. Among the few mourners brave enough to attend his funeral was Picasso. There is great pathos in his portraits of chefs and pastry cooks. He devoted himself to painting masters of the pâtissier’s art, turning kitchen-weary men into kings and popes — and never once a profiterole for his reward. Soutine’s Portraits: Cooks, Waiters and Bellboys is at the Courtauld Gallery from 19 October until 21 January 2018. the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk © COURTAULD GALLERY ‘Pastry Cook of Cagnes’, 1922, by Chaïm Soutine the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk 39 BOOKS & ARTS Opera Soap opera Alexandra Coghlan Giulio Cesare Hackney Empire, and touring until 24 November Dardanus Hackney Empire, and touring until 7 November Previously on Giulio Cesare… English Touring Opera’s new season caters cannily to the box-set generation by chopping Handel’s Egyptian power-and-politics opera in two, playing each half on consecutive evenings as edge-of-your-seat instalments in a sort of baroque House of Cards. Will Cleopatra outwit her wicked brother? Will she and Cesare ever get together? Will Sesto ever stop dithering and do the deed? Tune in tomorrow night to find out. If that sounds like the kind of pacy, racy entertainment you’ve always longed for in the opera house, be warned; this is Giulio Cesare: the Director’s Cut, doggedly and absolutely complete, down to every last recitative, aria and interlude. By way of a bonus feature, ETO cannily caters for the box-set generation by chopping Handel’s Giulio Cesare in two ETO has also thrown in a massive repeat — a sort of dramatic da capo that reprises the final 45 minutes of Part I: The Death of Pompey as the start of Part II: Cleopatra’s Needle, with only minor directorial variation. It’s a misstep that seems either cynical (we’ll get them to pay twice for one show) or cowardly (no one will bother coming to both parts, so we’d better bring them thoroughly up to date), and one that strains both cast and audience unnecessarily. A case of Don’t Carry On Cleo. That being said, this is still one of the best shows we’ve seen in ages from ETO — England’s Little Opera Company That Could, which works miracles within the difficult constraints of a small budget and a large tour. Cordelia Chisholm’s set (which also houses Rameau’s Dardanus, this season’s companion opera) is a handsome, adaptable affair. Gilded walls, sliding panels and endless doors give the cast plenty to play with, and serve as an antique picture frame to the 18th-century action that takes place within, gorgeously costumed in turquoise and gold. Director James Conway makes no obvious political or dramatic capital from this setting — we could be in 18th-century Chatsworth or 21st-century Chiang Mai, for all it matters — preferring to focus on the emotional interplay of his characters. Here he benefits from a cast who give him plenty of light and shade, from Soraya Mafi’s 40 quick-witted, piquant Cleopatra — revealing unexpected depths in both ‘Se pietà’ and ‘Piangerò’ — and Catherine Carby’s Cornelia, stoic and quietly ferocious, to Kitty Whately’s traumatised Sesto. If Christopher Ainslie’s Cesare (efficiently, if a little monochromatically sung) remains a cipher, it only serves to tip the opera’s sensitive power dynamic further in favour of this irresistible Cleopatra. Conway’s discreet production will please anyone who doesn’t like their opera mucked about with, but while this non-interventionist approach gives the opera’s tragic moments plenty of space to swell and simmer (an episode involving Tolomeo and the dead Pompey’s ashes is properly chilling) it’s largely tone-deaf to the comedy that trills itself so joyously through Handel’s score. Better served by Jonathan Peter Kenny and the Old Street Band, the music romps and chuckles with naughty rhythmic urgency and verve, using the bite and snap of Hackney Empire’s dry acoustic as the punchline to their many musical jokes. But that’s all the fun you’ll be getting from ETO this season. Dardanus — the company’s first foray into French baroque — is a dispiriting and joyless affair that wastes the talents of its leads and squanders the work’s beautiful ballet interludes on visual fuss and filler. As if doing penance for the unapologetic prettiness of Cesare, director Douglas Rintoul condemns us to penal servitude in the same muddy, gravelly, non-specific war zone (fatigues and guns all standard issue) familiar from so many contemporary productions. It’s neither dramatically organic nor terribly interesting, and it’s a sign of just how joy-starved the first-night audience felt that some party poppers and a pair of fairy wings raised a cheer. Rameau’s wizards and goddesses struggle to find a foothold in this inhospitable landscape, just as his delicate music fails to bloom in Hackney’s arid acoustic. But Anthony Gregory’s Dardanus works something close to magic on the show, luminous and easy from his first, punishingly high entry to his happy ending, transforming base dramatic metal into gold. Together with Galina Averina’s glossy Iphise (pleasingly spirited, even if condemned to tread this rugged male terrain in her heels), sweet-voiced Eleanor Penfold (Venus) and Grant Doyle as stern father Teucer, he makes one hell of a pitch for repertoire that has never really caught on in the UK. But it’s still not quite enough. Somewhere between the wilfully unlovely action, the failure to marry supernatural myth and modern warfare, and surtitles that would have been stiff even at the work’s 1739 première (littered with errors and confusions), Dardanus gets lost in translation — the latest victim of that weird streak of puritanical earnestness that pervades British opera, a decorative musical bibelot crushed to powder under army boots. I blame Brexit. Theatre Perishable goods Lloyd Evans Labour of Love Noël Coward Theatre, until 2 December What Shadows Park Theatre, until 28 October Labour of Love is the new play by James Graham, the poet laureate of politics. We’re in a derelict colliery town in the East Midlands where the new MP is a malleable Blairite greaser, David Lyons. He arrives to find the office in crisis. The constituency agent, Jean, has handed in her notice but David is smitten by her acerbic tongue and her brisk management style so he asks her to stay. She agrees, reluctantly, and they settle into a bickering rivalry underpinned by affection. But is there more? Possibly, yes, but both are held back by their natural reticence and by fate. Secret declarations of love go astray. One letter is sent to the wrong person and another, written in code, makes sense only when read backwards. These contrivances aren’t entirely satisfying. And the narrative has a tricky dou- The jokes come thick and fast. And sometimes thin and fast ble-helix structure that is ingenious but ultimately damaging to the overall effect. The action starts in 2017, spirals backwards to 1990, then does a head-over-heels and twirls back up to the present day. This divides our concentration. We have to spend so much time deciphering the chronology that we haven’t enough left to focus on the passion between the not-quite lovers. And the minor characters are poorly sketched. Jean’s husband is a surly Old Labour git in a Harold Wilson mac and a John Prescott scowl. David’s wife, Elizabeth, is a wellies-and-jodhpurs Sloane who seems allergic to the working class. More comedy might have been extracted from her awkwardness among the proles. No one says a word when she breezes into a Labour meeting wearing a purple power suit and looking like Margaret Thatcher about to launch a battleship. The heart of the play is the charming, ramshackle friendship between David (Martin Freeman) and Jean (Tamsin Greig). Both are on top form and the script gives them ample scope to tickle the crowd. The jokes come thick and fast. And sometimes thin and fast, it must be admitted. When David entertains a visitor from China, he wonders if it would be racist to offer him a Chinese takeaway. Or would it be cannibalism? Jean, rather improbably, confuses the Bostons of Massachusetts and Lincolnshire, and David gets the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk BOOKS & ARTS similarly muddled over Uri Geller and Yuri Gagarin. At the play’s crowning moment — when the gags should be reaching their zenith — David declares, ‘The answer is you, Jean.’ And Jean says, ‘Who’s Eugene?’ This show hasn’t the tense, farcical simplicity of Graham’s wildly successful This House. It’s an amusing, friendly stroll through the past three decades of centreleft politics. And good as it is, the material is highly perishable. By next year this will seem hopelessly out of date. Move fast. Chris Hannan’s fascinating play What Shadows wants to cram too much into a single evening. It’s three dramas in one. It starts as a lyrical and appreciative biography of Enoch Powell. It then expands into a social critique of the 1960s and the ‘rivers of blood’ speech. Then the action fast-forwards to the 1990s and the play looks at Powell’s impact on migrants in Birmingham, and on the wider constituency of Britain. The coda is a philosophical dialogue on the nature of identity and prejudice. Hannan shows us Powell at leisure, relaxing with his wife and friends, discussing church architecture over claret-fuelled picnics. To impersonate Powell is a huge challenge. The accent, for a start, is deeply tangled. The native Brummie tones are overlaid with a Home Counties fruitiness and some Australian top notes acquired during a pre-war stint as a classics don in Sydney. McDiarmid gives us Enoch Powell as a camp dilettante mincing through the groves of Shropshire Ian McDiarmid does the vocal stuff admirably well. But he can’t capture Powell’s spirit, his menace, his embitterment. ‘I am volcanic with anger,’ he once said but there’s little sign of inner rage here, nor of its physical manifestation. McDiarmid gives us Powell as a camp dilettante, like a butterfly spotter, mincing through the groves of Shropshire, piping his orotundities in a girlish whistle. Later we move to 1992 and we see him in frail old age. And here McDiarmid’s fluting delivery suits his subject far better. The play’s final section has the air of classic theatre. Powell is confronted by Rose, a formidably intelligent Afro-Caribbean woman, who argues that foreign inundations are not alien to Britain and its history. They are Britain and its history. She berates him for using his intellect to debauch the dispossessed, when he might have enlightened and elevated them. Of discrimination, Powell says, ‘Every molecule in every body is prejudiced in favour of its own survival.’ This universal statement, which Rose tacitly accepts, finds us all guilty of racism. What Powell objected to was the selective interpretation of the truth he had articulated. If the expression of tribal loyalties is encouraged among incomers but denied to natives there’ll be trouble. And there is. 42 Exhibitions Raw materials Laura Gascoigne Basquiat: Boom for Real Barbican Art Gallery, until 28 January 2018 Jean Dubuffet: Théâtres de mémoire Pace London, until 21 October ‘Art by its very essence is of the new… There is only one healthy diet for artistic creation: permanent revolution.’ Jean Dubuffet wrote those words in 1963, and when Jean-Michel Basquiat burst on to the New York art scene 20 years later — barely out of his teens, untrained and black — he seemed to embody them. Together with his friend Al Diaz, he had grabbed attention in the late 1970s with a campaign of cryptic graffiti signed SAMO© targeted on the SoHo gallery district. Born to middle-class Haitian-Puerto Rican parents in the South Bronx, Basquiat didn’t waste time tagging trains. He knew the value of location; his dad was an accountant. Photographs of the graffiti fill a room in the Barbican’s exhibition Basquiat: Boom for Real. ‘SAMO © As An Alternative 2 ‘Playing Art’ With The ‘Radical? Chic’ Sect On Daddy’$ Funds’ reads one; ‘SAMO© As A Result Of Overexposure’ reads another. Later, after the Village Voice blows the pair’s cover, comes the announcement ‘SAMO© Is Dead’. The death of SAMO © the graffitist marked the birth of Basquiat the artist. Soon the lanky kid who had once peddled postcards for a dollar outside MoMA was being invited to contribute to high-profile exhibitions: after showing in New York/ New Wave in 1981 he was greeted by the critic Peter Schjeldahl as ‘a kind of street Dubuffet (who says he never heard of Dubuffet)’. Inevitably, he was taken up by Warhol, whom he wooed with a doubleportrait, ‘Dos Cabezas’ (1982), in which Jean-Michel’s dreadlocks tangle with Andy’s fright wig. His artistic independence survived their subsequent collaboration, his youthful unselfconsciousness did not: in a photo taken in Zurich in 1982 the expression behind Basquiat’s dark glasses is a perfect replica of Warhol’s pained poker face. The downtown art world was wowed by the wonder child. How did you learn, interviewers asked him? By looking, he said. And look he did, at an astonishingly wide range of artists from Leonardo and Titian to Picasso and Dubuffet. His catalogue of Dubuffet’s 80th birthday retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in 1981 shares a display case with his copy of a book on Leon- ardo. He had the omnivorous appetite of the autodidact. ‘Originally I wanted to copy the whole of history down,’ he told one interviewer, ‘but it was too tedious so I just stuck to the cast of characters.’ Picasso and Titian are honoured with appearances in paintings, but the achievements of Rauschenberg, Lichtenstein, Duchamp and Pollock are summed up in bullet points on brown wrapping paper — a casual put-down from a kid with the world at his feet who never imagined he could be put in a box. He knew he could paint; the question, as always, was what to paint about. The obvious answer was his racial heritage. He developed a sign language of African masks and voodoo skeletons, floated against bright colour fields with lists of attributes and associations scrawled like workings-out in the margin. His paintings celebrated the achievements of black Americans — sportsmen, actors, but especially musicians — while highlighting their tokenism. They drew on his music library as much as his art library: the images of Louis Armstrong and other jazz musicians in ‘King Zulu’ (1986) were based on Basquiat’s ingredients lacked the sauces of memory he hadn’t time to form photographs in his paint-smeared copy of Black Beauty, White Heat: A Pictorial History of Classic Jazz. He painted while listening to music, sampling and scratching like a DJ, transposing rhythms and themes, track titles, record numbers and musical notation into paint. When he didn’t work to music, he played film videos. ‘I have to have some source material around me to work off,’ was his explanation. He was in constant need of stimulation, artistic and — increasingly —chemical. His best work is from his 1982 show with the Annina Nosei Gallery, before the bluechip dealers got him in their clutches: the skull-headed boxer with the crown of thorns in ‘Untitled’ (1982) is a powerful image. I’ve never seen paintings better suited to the Barbican Gallery’s brutalist concrete walls, but the work gets repetitive. Much of it is sketchy: done in a rush, it can be consumed quickly. Where did it go wrong? A group photo marking the artist’s 25th birthday in December 1985 offers a clue. In a crowd of party people his is the only black face: making art about being black for a white audience had put him in a box. If he hadn’t died from an overdose in 1988, would he still be around in 2040 to enjoy an 80th birthday retrospective like the endlessly self-renewing Dubuffet? Going round Pace London’s current show of Dubuffet’s ‘Théâtres de mémoire’, started when the artist was in his mid-70s, I wasn’t sure. The experience of standing in front of one of these monumental works, the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk PRIVATE COLLECTION © THE ESTATE OF JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT, LICENSED BY ARTESTAR, NEW YORK ‘Self Portrait’, 1984, by Jean-Michel Basquiat like mansions of the mind from which the fourth wall has been removed, is richer on so many levels: unlike Basquiat’s fragmented images, which would float away if not tethered by text, the scribbly cartoon figures and biomorphic abstract patterns in Dubuffet’s crowded collages hang together in an impossibly harmonious whole. The mind ‘recapitulates all fields; it makes them dance together,’ explained the artist. ‘It also transforms them, cooks them in its sauces…’ Basquiat’s art has a greener sort the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk of rawness than Dubuffet’s personal brand of art brut. His images dance but his ingredients are uncooked, ranged on the chopping board beside their scribbled recipes, lacking the sauces of memory he hadn’t time to form. 43 BOOKS & ARTS Guess who’s coming to dinner: Timothy Spall (Bill), Cillian Murphy (Tom), Emily Mortimer (Jinny) and Patricia Clarkson (April) in Sally Potter’s The Party Cinema Gathering storm Deborah Ross The Party 12A, Nationwide Sally Potter’s The Party, which unfolds in real time during a politician’s soirée to celebrate her promotion, is just 71 minutes long, but it certainly packs a punch. Actually, make that two. Two punches (at least). And there’s a gun, cocaine, a smashed window, throwing up, toxic revelations (of course) and a tray of incinerated vol-auvents. It is less than half the length of, say, Blade Runner 2049, but three times as dramatic, and maybe 676 times as entertaining, plus it features a stellar cast who put the work in and don’t discover stuff by simply staring at it really, really hard. Filmed in black and white, which gives it the retro feel of an old Play for Today (but crisper), the film is said to be a satire on ‘broken Britain’ and ‘a state-of-the-nation commentary’, but you can see that or not see that or just half see it or even just glimpse it momentarily. It’s hard to know, in fact, what it is saying exactly, but at least it is trying to say something, and at least it is trying to say something briskly. It begins with a hauntingly eerie guitar 44 rendition of ‘Jerusalem’ (composed by Potter’s long-term musical collaborator, Fred Frith) as a dishevelled, flustered woman opens her front door and waveringly points a gun at a person as yet unknown. We then spool back in time to see that this is Janet (Kristin Scott Thomas), who, just an hour or so earlier, had been in her kitchen, taking phone calls congratulating her on her promotion to shadow health secretary as she’s The Party is less than half the length of Blade Runner 2049 but 676 times as entertaining preparing for the party. (That is, the party tonight, and also the party in a political sense, one assumes; it’s never specified that she’s Labour but it is intimated strongly.) Meanwhile, her husband Bill (Timothy Spall), an academic, seems ominously unenthused as he sits in the other room listening to his vinyl in an almost catatonic state. (He does a lot of staring, admittedly.) As for the guests, they are Janet’s oldest friend April (Patricia Clarkson), a former activist and constantly wise-cracking cynic who admires Janet’s pinny as ‘post-modern, post-postfeminist’, which made me laugh, I have to say. Her partner is Gottfried (Bruno Ganz), a woo-woo, new-agey ‘lifestyle coach’ who would be beloved by April if only she didn’t hate him so much. Then there’s a lesbian couple, Martha and Jinny (Cherry Jones, Emily Mortimer), and Tom (Cillian Murphy), a sweaty, wired, coke-snorter who brings ‘Chekhov’s gun’ into the mix. Tom is a rich banker and represents everything all the others supposedly detest, but he is married to Janet’s colleague, Marianne, a gifted spin doctor who does not make an appearance as such but figures largely nonetheless. One does not, as a rule, associate Potter, who wrote and directed, with the mainstream (Orlando, The Tango Lesson, Rage, Yes), but this takes the mainstream dinner-from-hell scenario (see also: Festen, Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?… Doctor Foster!) and runs with it gleefully. Everyone is awful and everyone is harbouring a secret, and it all kicks off before dinner is even served, which is annoying. What would it have been after the vol-au-vents? Chicken in the basket? Stroganoff? (I seriously wished to know.) Swipes are taken at the NHS, feminism (‘sisterhood is a very ageing concept’, we’re told), western medicine, alternative therapies, parliamentary democracy and the comfortable life of the Islington socialist. They all skewer themselves, one way or another, and are forced to confront their self-deceptions, reappraise their ideals, significantly shift them. It sounds a drag, but it’s wittier than this, with some cracking dialogue. ‘Tickle an aromatherapist and you’ll find a fascist,’ says April. I can’t say if this is true or not, the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk definitively, but it certainly confirms my own long-held suspicion. In normal circumstances, this would have the Credibility Police all over it — would April be with a man like Gottfried? Wouldn’t these secrets have come out earlier? Who makes vol-au-vents any more? — but it all happens at such a lick that credibility is not an issue. You just don’t have time to get hung up on it. The acting is fullon, very theatrical, and perhaps even, on occasion, too theatrical. But a too-theatrical Scott Thomas or Spall or Clarkson or Ganz or Murphy or Mortimer or Jones still has to be 892 times more entertaining than, say, that blank staring business. Like I said, I can’t tell you what it adds up to exactly, but it’s fun getting there, wherever that is. Television When in Rome... James Delingpole I know I keep saying that in Decline of the West terms we’re all currently living in Rome, circa 400 AD. But now, on TV, there is actual proof of this in the form of a truly appalling reality series called Bromans (ITV2, Thursdays). Bromans is like a cross between Love Island and Carry On Cleo, so shamelessly low, tacky and brain-dead that it makes Geordie Shore look like Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation. Basically, a bunch of ridiculously buff lads strip off and participate in crap gladiatorial contests in which no one dies (thus entirely defeating the object), while Bromans is probably the most accurate reﬂection on TV of what young men and women are really like their hot blonde girlfriends smoulder pointlessly in scanty outfits, and say stupid things like ‘I’ve gone 2,000 years back. I’ve never lived that far back.’ Then they have a typical cocktail party, just like used to happen in Imperial Rome, and — we are led to assume — shag one another. What I like best about Bromans is its rugged integrity. There’s none of that relentless PC hectoring that Rod Liddle was rightly bemoaning the other day: it’s probably the most accurate reflection anywhere on TV of what young men and women are still really like; and because it’s all done ironically, clumsily and on the cheap it slips under the Guardianista outrage police’s radar. Obviously, though, I’m not suggesting you should waste time watching it. Instead, what you need is your new favourite Netflix series, Suburra. It’s a drama, set in contemporary Rome (see how cunningly I themed this week’s review), which people are calling the Italian answer to Narcos. Just as in real life, every stratum of society, from the church and the political class downwards, is rancid with corruption and simmering violence, yet redeemed, somehow — almost — by the vestiges of style, glamour and a classical aura with which everyone is imbued in the Eternal City. You’re straight in there (plot spoiler alert): an influential cardinal, noted for his probity and self-flagellating piety, is caught with his trousers down at an orgy so stupendously lush and inviting it could almost have been shot by Paolo Sorrentino. The cardinal’s fixer bills it as ‘carefree time’ — a wonderful euphemism, which I hope will become part of all our vocabularies. (‘Darling, the boys have asked me on a jaunt to Amsterdam next weekend for a spot of carefree time. Would you mind awfully?’) At once, three young hyaenas descend on the carrion: Lele, a middle-class undergraduate and policeman’s son, well on the way to deeply disappointing his old dad; Aureliano, the hot-headed, trigger-happy, snappily coiffed son of a local crime boss who, a bit like Theon Greyjoy, has been supplanted in his father’s affection by his more savvy sister; and Spadino, the Lamborghini-driving, closeted gay son from a rival crime gang the Sintis. They loathe each other. They’re natural enemies. But in the festering cesspit that is Rome, lucre conquers all to unite them in an unlikely partnership. Definitely my favourite thing so far are the Sintis. I noticed that in the Radio Times piece I cribbed the names and details from, the author sought to distance himself from the notion that they might, ahem, be ‘gypsies’. Hello? Their outrageous pikeyness is the entire point. For the arranged, dynastic nuptials of reluctant (for obvious reasons) Spadino and his dark-haired gypsy maid, they’ve recreated the Trevi fountain in their garden. Everyone in the extended family lives cheek by jowl in an open-plan palace of unspeakably vulgar bling resembling a reclamation yard flouncified by Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. All the other gangs utterly despise them because of their grisly haircuts, their surly features and, obviously, because they’re pikeys. But you, the viewer, are rooting for them all the way. Camp, smiley Spadino, especially, because he’s such a card. And his jolie-laide bride, the minx, who’s clearly not going to take his utter lack of interest in her without a fight… Obviously, till you’ve seen it, this won’t mean much to you. But once you have, you’ll agree with me, I know. It really isn’t often you enter a dramatic world so fully realised, where you get to know the characters and a quite convoluted plotline so effortlessly, and where, vilely compromised though everyone is, you become so quickly drawn into their tragic plight and their pop-Shakespearean moral dilemmas. The settings are great too: the splendour of the cardinal’s apartment; the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk the rundown beachfront in Ostia, object of the epic power struggle; the Senegalese tart with a heart’s fairy-tale love nest. I could go on, but there’s really no point. Just stop whatever you’re doing, log on to Netflix and bingewatch, now. Music Make mine a double Damian Thompson London Piano Festival Kings Place If two concert pianists are performing a work written for two grand pianos, there are two ways you can position the instruments. They can sit side by side, an arrangement known as ‘twin beds’. Or they can be slotted together so the performers face each other. That’s called a ‘69’. When Martha Argerich and Stephen Kovacevich play together, they opt for twin beds. Appropriately, you might think, since they’re divorced — but really it’s because Kovacevich insists on sitting so low that Argerich can’t see his head if she’s opposite him. With everyone else she prefers a 69, as do most pianists: it’s easier to make eye contact. And that’s crucial, because it’s no joke trying to synchronise with a duo partner when your own part is monstrously difficult. No wonder the two-piano repertoire is neglected. Indeed, it might have disappeared by now if Martha Argerich hadn’t decided, With everyone else, Argerich prefers a 69, as do most pianists more than 30 years ago, that she was too nervous to play solo in public. (Ironic, when you consider that she possesses the world’s most impregnable technique; if only similar jitters would silence one or two overrated celebrity pianists.) Instead, she enticed musicians of the calibre of Kovacevich, Nelson Freire and Daniel Barenboim into joining her in arrangements of Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Ravel’s La valse — plus the handful of masterpieces originally written for the medium, such as Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D major K 448, Brahms’s St Anthony Variations and Rachmaninov’s Second Suite. Some of the most rewarding two-piano works are reductions of orchestral scores — though perhaps ‘reduction’ is the wrong word. Losing the orchestration can give you more of the music. The Rite of Spring is every bit as barbarous in the hands of Argerich and Barenboim as it is under the baton of Boulez; it’s just that the dissonances are 45 BOOKS & ARTS spelled out differently. And if you want to make sense of Strauss’s Sinfonia Domestica, first try Argerich and Alexandre Rabinovitch in Otto Singer’s transcription, which strips away the special effects to uncover a forceful argument. Then hear what Furtwängler does with it. None of this is to be confused with music for four hands on one piano. That has its own repertoire, dominated by Schubert, and its own magic: it can be enchanting to hear two voices singing from the same keyboard. However, lots of pianists aren’t crazy about the physical contortions or yielding the sustaining pedal to the other player. Also, they worry about personal hygiene. ‘I’m drenched in sweat,’ one of them told me after playing Schubert’s F minor Fantasy. ‘And it’s not my sweat.’ But back to two-piano music, because it lies at the heart of the London Piano Festival, now in its second year at Kings Place. I’d rather miss a season of Proms than these concerts. They include solo recitals by pianists who, in a world that valued musicianship above showing off, would be household names: for example, Danny Driver and Lisa Smirnova. There are major-league soloists, too — this year, Nelson Goerner, last year Kovacevich — and on the Saturday they all leap into a two-piano marathon curated by the festival’s artistic directors, Charles Owen and Katya Apekisheva. Owen and Apekisheva are a worldclass piano duo to rank with Yaara Tal and Andreas Groethuysen and the late Duo Crommelynck (‘late’ because Patrick and Taeko Crommelynck committed suicide on the same day in 1994). Unlike those duos, however, you Victoria Road I’m saying to Meg and Alex ‘I came past your street this afternoon. I wanted to visit you but you’re dead.’ And Meg is saying, in her sensible way, ‘Can’t be helped. Next time check up first’, Radio Faulty connection Kate Chisholm while Alex gives a sort of rueful smile mouthing ‘Sorry!’ as if through a window (I can’t hear him), and flinging his hands out in apology, as when they met me at Kathmandu airport in a thunderstorm: ‘Sorry about the rain!’ Sorry about the deaths. But let’s not start. Anyway, now that we’ve established that we can get on with the conversation. I’ll show them the pictures I took of Meg beside the two saplings on a riverside walk in Stony Stratford where we planted Alex’s ashes; we used to visit the swans around there. Alex will embark on a story about spotting his hero Graham Greene in the south of France, and trying to pluck up courage… I think I may have heard it before, but I was never sure of the ending. 46 couldn’t say that they’re more than the sum of their parts. Owen and Apekisheva are ferociously gifted soloists, as we heard in the first half of Thursday’s opening concert. Owen gave us Brahms’s Two Rhapsodies Op. 79 with a bouncy spontaneity that revealed how much the music owes to Schumann; then a sequence of Liszt pieces ending in an exquisitely voiced Liszt-Wagner Liebestod. Apekisheva played the Second Piano Sonata of Mieczyslaw Weinberg (1919–96). Weinberg’s echoes of Shostakovich verge on pastiche, but she brought out something fragile and elusive — a touch of Poulenc, perhaps? One thing Owen and Apekisheva really know how to do is make a piano sing, even when the score bites and lurches. In Rachmaninov’s Second Suite — a piece that makes me question the conventional wisdom that Tchaikovsky was a greater composer — their Steinways sang to each other, melodies lifted and rhythms sharpened by the finest chamber acoustic in London. The applause was foot-stomping, a tribute not just to the performances but also to the special thrill of music for two pianos. Let’s hear more of it, please. —Fleur Adcock There’s no doubting her passion for the programme of which she is now chief of staff. Talking to Roger Bolton on Radio 4’s Feedback slot, Sarah Sands told us repeatedly how much she loved Today, how it was ‘a privilege’ to be in charge of such a ‘flagship’ programme, how its length, three hours, was such a luxury after years spent in the newspaper business. She was so happy to have so much time to cover big subjects and invite so many experts into the studio to talk about their subject. She relished the challenge of preserving the programme’s ‘depth and resonance’, its ‘great intelligence’ and ‘thoughtfulness’. Sands was responding to recent criticisms that there are now too many ‘soft’ interviews on the programme, not enough hardedged reportage, and that, in particular, the themed programme about London Fashion Week had failed to investigate that business properly, appearing instead to be rather in awe of fashion’s glamour, its celebrity and luxury brands. Sands’s glowing enthusiasm is impressive, and it has to be said that listener figures are on the rise, although this is probably a temporary response to global turbulence and domestic insecurities rather than a sustained increase. Inadvertently, though, she gave away the reason why the programme is losing its edge. Nowhere did she talk about engaging the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk the listener. Nowhere did she suggest that she appreciated the essential difference between her background in published news and what it’s like to listen. Nowhere in what she said did she appear to understand the special connection that’s made between the person behind the microphone and the listener at home. At Today, the story is becoming ever more locked inside the studio. By chance, at peak morning time on Monday, I tuned in to Vanessa Feltz on Radio London (my FM Radio 4 signal having disappeared under a blast of static, and digital being too fickle to bother with). Feltz was on fire about the Dove advertisement for body lotion showing a black woman taking off her top to reveal a white woman underneath. What struck me immediately, and kept me tuned, was her approach to the story, which went straight to the nub: who authorised the advert? How could it have got through the chain of command at Unilever (which owns Dove)? What did they intend the advert to mean? She addressed straightaway all these questions with an immediacy that felt a long way from how the Today team would have tackled the issue. Feltz, of course, fronts a phone-in programme, which is very different from the remit of Today. But it might be worth Sands and her team tuning in from time to time to learn from Feltz’s innate gift for hitting on what we want to hear, from her finely tuned connection with her ‘lovely listeners’. For Radio 4’s season of programmes marking 100 years since the Russian Revolution, Vanora Bennett took as her inspiration the classic tourist souvenir brought home from Moscow or St Petersburg, those dolls inside dolls, either the political version Nowhere did Sands talk about engaging the listener starting with Putin and going through Yeltsin, Stalin, Lenin and Marx, or the folk version of five working women, pink-cheeked, wearing headscarves, the real bearers of Russian tradition. In Russia in Five Babushka Dolls (produced by Sam Peach and Mark Rickards), she gave us five women who have influenced the course of Russian history, beginning on Monday with Catherine the Great and, via Stalin’s wife, Ayn Rand and the first Russian woman cosmonaut, ending up with one of the members of Pussy Riot, the punk rock group who were prepared to go to prison to defend their right to protest against the government of Vladimir Putin. Given Catherine’s story, as revealed by Bennett, the Empress would probably have approved of Pussy Riot’s defiance of all convention. An extraordinary force of nature, Catherine was said to have died while having sex with a horse, which says much more about the way she made men feel uncomfortable than about her actual character. Married at 16 to the weak and ineffectual Peter, she was a political pawn, sacrificed to satisfy the desire of her Prussian royal family to link their puny country to the vastness of Russia. After a few miserable, lonely years, she realised that it was up to her to make her destiny. Not averse to a bit of violence (Peter was murdered most probably at her request), she then set about modernising the country to which she had been virtually exiled, grabbing the riches of the Orthodox Church to build her own palaces and cities, and buying up most of European art to decorate them. Bennett’s essays took us further inside Russian history than the laborious drama, Ten Days That Shook the World, which was supposed to give us the sense of being witness to the October Revolution as it happened through the eyes of John Reed, an American journalist who reported back from Petrograd (as St Petersburg was then known). Here the tone was just so wrong. ‘Have you talked to the workers, the peasants? Have you been to the front?’ asks his wife Louise Bryant, also a journalist. Would she really have said that in 1917? Tours that lead you up the garden path. As market leaders in cultural tours we enjoy privileged access to historic _ov;v-m7]-u7;mv|_uo]_o|ub|-bmķuor;-m7=u|_;u-C;Ѵ7ĺ ;70;lbm;m|-1-7;lb1v-m7_ouঞ1Ѵ|ubv|vķ!$Ľv-ѴѴŊbm1Ѵvb;_ov; -m7]-u7;m|ouv1;Ѵ;0u-|;|_;Cm;v|-u1_b|;1|u;-m7]-u7;m7;vb]mĺuol |_;=oul-Ѵ|o|_;=uboѴovķ=uol"@oѴh|o"-mvvo1bķl-mo@;u-77bঞom-Ѵ ;Ѵ;l;m|vv1_-v1om|u-Ѵhvoubm;Ŋ|-vঞm]ĺ $ouvbm1Ѵ7;Ĺ-u7;mvş(bѴѴ-vo=-lr-]m-!ol-m)-Ѵhbm]ş-u7;mvbm-7;bu-Ň-u7;mvo=|_;!bb;uGardens & Villas of the Italian Lakes Gardens & Palaces of Berlin & Potsdam the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk ‘The houses chosen were an excellent mix. The private, o@ň_ouv]b7;7|ouv -uu-m];70-uࢼm!-m7-ѲѲ blru;vv;7v]u;-|ѲĸĻ Contact us: +44 (0)20 8742 3355 l-uঞmu-m7-ѴѴĺ1ol ATOL 3622 | ABTA Y6050 | AITO 5085 47 KI RK E R CULT U R A L TO U RS F O R D I S C E R N I N G T R AV E L L E R S Kirker Holidays provides a range of carefully crafted escorted holidays, with fascinating itineraries designed for those with an interest in literature, history, art, architecture, gardens and music. Groups typically consist of 12-22 likeminded travellers, in the company of an expert Tour Lecturer. Prices are per person and include flights, transfers, accommodation with breakfast, meals as described, a full programme of sightseeing, entrance fees and gratuities and the services of the Kirker Tour Lecturer. Single supplements available on request. BADEN-BADEN AT CHRISTMAS CHRISTMAS IN ROME A FIVE NIGHT HOLIDAY | 21 DECEMBER 2017 Based at one of Europe’s most comfortable and stylish hotels, the 5* deluxe Brenners Park Hotel & Spa, our new Christmas holiday combines world-class ballet performances with visits to the legendary Black Forest and mediaeval Strasbourg.We visit the famous Casino, and enjoy a backstage tour of the Festspielhaus, which hosts the Mariinsky ballet over Christmas.We attend performances of Romeo and Juliet and The Nutcracker, and have dinner at the AIDA restaurant before each.We will also spend one day exploring the picturesque Alsatian town of Strasbourg, and another discovering the glorious scenery of the Black Forest en route to Ludwigsburg’s Baroque Palace. A FIVE NIGHT HOLIDAY | 22 DECEMBER 2017 The Eternal City is the perfect place to spend Christmas, and there is a wonderful festive atmosphere with streets, shops and piazzas decorated with elegant Christmas trees, and churches adorned with nativity displays. This time of year is also blissfully free from crowds, so we will explore the city’s great galleries, religious buildings and ancient architecture in relative peace. We will stay at the 5* Grand Hotel de la Minerve, located in the heart of Rome, with a roof terrace which overlooks the dome of the Pantheon. As well as included visits to Rome’s great monuments and an included Christmas lunch in a local restaurant, there will also be some free time to explore the city independently. Price from £3,277 for five nights including four dinners, one lunch in Strasbourg and first category tickets for two ballets. Price from £1,995 for five nights including Christmas Day lunch and four dinners including one on Christmas Eve. CHRISTMAS IN DRESDEN A FIVE NIGHT HOLIDAY | 23 DECEMBER 2017 Our Christmas holiday to Dresden includes two performances at the Semper Opera – Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and The Nutcracker. There will also be visits to the Frauenkirche, the Green Vaults and the Zwinger Gallery, whose collection of Old Masters was assembled by The Electors of Saxony, Augustus the Strong and his son, Augustus III. We stay at the 4* Hotel Steigenberger de Saxe in the heart of Dresden, and will have a special Christmas lunch at the Kempinski Taschenbergpalais Hotel. Price from £1,998 for five nights including three dinners, one lunch on Christmas Day and first category tickets for two performances at the Semper Opera. Speak to an expert or request a brochure: 020 7593 2284 quote code XSP www.kirkerholidays.com NEW YEAR IN ST. PETERSBURG A SIX NIGHT HOLIDAY | 29 DECEMBER 2017 The days may be short but there is something uniquely atmospheric about visiting St. Petersburg in winter and our New Year holiday will combine the city’s extravagant art and architecture with free time for independent exploration – and a gala dinner on New Year’s Eve. Based at the 5* deluxe Hotel Astoria, we will visit the world’s largest art collection at the Hermitage, the unique displays of Russian art and icons at the Russian Museum, and the Fabergé Museum housed in the Shuvalov Palace. We shall also explore the Imperial palaces of the Tsars, the Alexander Nevsky Monastery, where a host of Russian cultural luminaries are buried and several spectacular churches. Price from £2,745 for six nights including return one lunch, four dinners including Grand Gala Dinner at the hotel on New Year’s Eve and Russian visa service. CHICAGO Writers’ blocks The Windy City has inspired everyone from Hemingway to Saul Bellow – and now William Cook ‘W rite drunk, edit sober,’ Ernest Hemingway reportedly said, and Oak Park, on the leafy outskirts of Chicago, is the place where he became a writer (the drink came later). Here is the clapboard house where he was born, and learned to read and write, and a few blocks away is the home where his father blew his brains out in 1928, just as his son would do 33 years later. Violence is ever present in Chicago, even in affluent Oak Park, but despite its reputation (or maybe, in a way, because of it) this is an intensely literary city, and a fitting location for the new American Writers Museum. ‘It used to be a writer’s town and it’s always been a fighter’s town,’ wrote Nelson Algren in an essay called ‘Chicago: City on the Make’. That was back in 1951. Today, Chi- cago is a writer’s town again. This ‘brawling,/City of the Big Shoulders’ (as Chicagoan poet Carl Sandburg put it) has inspired so many writers, from Saul Bellow to Studs Terkel, David Mamet to Sara Paretsky, and as you wander its windswept boulevards you realise that the world they wrote about is all around you. The man who drove me to Hemingway’s house was a retired policeman. He worked on the homicide squad, back in the bad old days when Chicago racked up 1,000 murders a year. Chicago is safer now — for visitors, at least. The city centre has been spruced up, repopulated by millennials and empty nesters, and gun crime is confined to the poorer neighbourhoods, where tourists rarely venture. Yet gangs, drugs and turf wars are part of daily life, and crime writing is the genre that sums up this muscu- the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk Chicago never set out to be a cultural capital, and that’s what makes its culture so dynamic lar metropolis. Perhaps that’s why it’s always been such a great newspaper town. Gangsterism and journalism have gone together ever since prohibition, when Al Capone shipped bootleg liquor across Lake Michigan, and Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur set their tabloid drama, The Front Page, here. Chicago used to have dozens of newspapers, now it has just a handful — but the city’s journalistic spirit lives on in its energetic fanzines. In record shops and comic shops, you can pick up countless homemade magazines, devoted to every subject you can think of (and quite a few you can’t). At a fanzine convention in an old union hall, I met a cartoonist called Mike Freiheit, who moved here a few years ago from New York. There, he had to take day jobs to pay the rent; here, he can afford to devote his time to cartooning. Lower living costs are a big part of what makes this such a creative city. Trendy districts such as Wicker Park are bustling with independent bookshops. Open Books, a second-hand bookstore located in a disused warehouse in the West Loop, runs literacy projects for disadvantaged schoolkids. Chicago never set out to be a cul49 tural capital, and that’s what makes its culture so dynamic and authentic. It was traditionally a city of meatpackers and toolmakers, not critics and curators. That’s why its artists and writers have always thrived. At the Green Mill, an ornate bar in the old Swedish enclave of Andersonville, poets from all sorts of backgrounds (young black rappers, old white hippies) recite their work in a raucous atmosphere that feels more like a speakeasy than a literary society. It’s an eclectic mix, and the passion is exhilarating. It’s open to all comers — anyone can get up and have a go. The American Writers Museum is a more sedate arena, located in an art deco office block downtown. I feared I’d find a dreary mausoleum, full of literary bric-a-brac (Mark Twain’s inkwell — you know the sort of thing) but thankfully this smart new space isn’t full of old curios in glass cases. Rather, it’s a rendezvous for readers and writers of all ages: a place to browse and scribble, somewhere to meet up and exchange ideas. When I was there one of several exhibits which transfixed me was Jack Kerouac’s first draft of On The Road, typed out in three weeks flat on a single 120ft sheet of paper. It’s an artefact that captures the joyous energy of American writing, and it was thrilling to see it on temporary display in this new museum. A short walk away, on Printers Row, is the world’s largest public library, named after Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor. ‘Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors,’ reads a mural on the wall (a quote from JFK). In the winter gardens on the top floor, looking out across the city, I recalled some lines from Longfellow: ‘The love of learning, the sequestered nooks/And all the sweet serenity of books.’ This isn’t only a literary city; it’s The Nathan G. Moore House, one of the homes Frank Lloyd Wright built in and around Oak Park Previous page: Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate in Millennium Park a city of all the arts. The Art Institute of Chicago boasts one of the world’s great art collections (Hemingway’s mother used to bring him here — no wonder he cited as many artists as writers among his heroes). Edward Hopper’s ‘Nighthawks’ and Grant Wood’s ‘American Gothic’ are here, alongside European treasures: French Impressionism; German Expressionism, Spanish surrealism… I finished up back in Oak Park, outside Hemingway’s childhood home. Around the corner is the first house Frank Lloyd Wright built, a bizarre blend of folksy arts and crafts and daring modernism. His studio is serene and stately, but the grandest room is the playroom he designed for his six children. As I walked back to the station I passed several of the houses he built later, each unique. It reminded me of something Hemingway said: ‘For a true writer, each book should be a new beginning.’ He claimed there was a book to be written about Oak Park, but never got around to writing it. I wonder what he would have said. The author flew to Chicago with United Airlines (united.com) as a guest of Choose Chicago (choosechicago.com). CULTURAL TOURS AND PRIVATE VIEWS Our visits are led by experts whose passion and authority on their subjects are equal to their sense of hospitality, attention to detail and above all, their sense of fun. SELECTED TOURS 2017/2018 BELLOTTO’S EYE: ARABIA FELIX: DRESDEN AT CHRISTMAS PETRA, JERASH & THE TREASURES OF JORDAN 23 - 28 DECEMBER 2017 WITH TOM DUNCAN 10 - 19 APRIL 2018 WITH CHRISTOPHER SMITH A Key to The New World: Havana & Western Cuba 15 – 26 January 2018 WITH Juliet barclay ANCIENT FRONTIERS: EXPLORING PERSIA & IRAN 6 - 20 MAY 2018 WITH TOM DUNCAN A MEDITERRANEAN PEARL: MALTA ACROSS THE AGES 10 - 16 APRIL 2018 WITH GLORIANNE MIZZI To request a brochure please call 01869 811167, email or visit our website CONTACT US Isfahan, Masjed-e Jame Mosque +44 (0) 1869 811167 | email@example.com | www.ciceroni.co.uk 50 the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk BARBADOS Lazy bays Ysenda Maxtone Graham on the lure of blue skies, powder-white beaches and total relaxation H omesick by nature, I like my foreign places to be exotic but also to remind me of home. Barbados, for types like us, is the ideal holiday destination. Sea so warm you can loll in it for hours on end, and the charm of dusty rum shacks on hot afternoons — but also cucumber sandwiches for tea, and Sunday Matins in Anglican parish churches where they sing Victorian hymns. The cucumber sandwiches were a daily treat at our English family-owned hotel Cobblers Cove on the west coast. Afternoon tea in the drawing room is on the house, and that is only one touch among 1,000 or so that make staying there bliss. Others include: the welcome from the staff who whisk your luggage away and lead you to the indoor-outdoor bar where a uniformed barman with a dazzling smile mixes you a rum or fruit punch; gorgeous suites, like small self-contained flats, with verandahs where you can set and gaze at the Caribbean Sea from your chaises longues; a constant supply of pinkand-white-striped swimming towels; and a different flavour of specially baked bread from the bread basket each evening as you sip your wine by the waves. The novelist Sam Angus, who does the interior design and makes a point of employing local craftsmen and women to make the wickerwork and ceramics, has an eye for beauty and a feeling for simple pleasures, comforts and good taste that tallies with my own, so I was happy and not homesick. I love luxury — who doesn’t? — but I don’t like being separated from the normal world. Cobblers Cove isn’t surrounded by miles and miles of golf courses or anything like that. Though it’s a mini-paradise of gardens and sea, it’s on a normal road in a normal place, with yellow buses trundling past, picking you up if you want a reggae ride into Bridgetown. A five-minute walk in one direction, and you’re in a cul-de-sac of village houses with local children cavorting on the pavements and jumping over walls; ten minutes in the other direction and you’re in the centre of Speightstown, with said rum shacks and said Anglican church. We took all three sons and each of them, with their different characters, was fulfilled and delighted. The eldest made such good friends with local Barbadians when he went to a rum shack for four hours one evening that he almost resolved to emigrate; the middle one was allowed to practise the organ in the church — Barbadians tend to say an enthusiastic ‘Yes’ if you request things; and the youngest basked in the pleasures of the moment: the bathing, the relaxing, the boat rides, the not having to think about school. The island is only 21 miles by 14, so how — I now wonder — did we manage to take an hour and a half to drive from Foul Bay in the south (a stunning empty bay with North-Cornwall-sized waves but warm sea) to the village towards the north where we stopped for a midday ice-cold drink? We did get a bit lost; the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk You don’t go to the Caribbean to get away from humanity. You go here to celebrate humanity and you do. I’ve since learned that Barbados, though small, is densely populated and has almost 1,000 miles of paved roads. You don’t go there to get away from humanity. You go there to celebrate humanity. I won’t forget that place where we had a drink in the middle of the day: a wooden shack-with-fridge where the family was sitting around doing (as my overworked lawyer husband noticed with envy) nothing. ‘Not even on their phones: just doing nothing.’ Old man asleep on a bench; young man talking to another young man in such strong Bajan accents that you could hardly understand a word they were saying; a mother and her little girl with plaited hair. We just sat there, doing nothing too, and drinking our Lipton Ice Tea, but feeling distinctly welcome. Did I mention the uniforms? Is it odd to like that? There was a lot of it about, reminding me of olden-days Britain. Clergy in cassocks; choir in mortarboards; freemasons in aprons; schoolchildren in yellow dresses; chefs in white jackets; and, best of all, the Royal Barbados Police Band in white short-sleeved shirts with epaulettes and tassels, the gentle conductor waving baton rather than truncheon on a Saturday night. Visiting the Franklyn Stephenson Cricket Academy was a thrill for husband and eldest son, who care about the West Indies cricket team and long for them to be as good as they were in the glory days of the 1980s. Franklyn Stephenson (widely regarded, I’ve been told, as the greatest cricketer never to play in a Test match) welcomed us; he feels the same, and is doing all he can to make it come true, training talented boys in the nets on weekday afternoons and arranging foreign tours for them. ‘Out of little villages like these,’ said my husband as we drove past another scattering of houses with verandahs, ‘came some of the greatest cricketers the world has ever known — sometimes three of them from the same village!’ He loved that. From May to July, hotel prices virtually halve. I’m trying to get to the bottom of the truth about the weather in those months. The only way to get to the truth is to be there for the whole summer (yes, please); but apparently you might get 20 minutes of rain every other day, and apart from that it’s the normal regime of hot, blue, sunny paradise. Apparently we British have got it into our heads that we shouldn’t go to the Caribbean in the summer and that’s wrong. Barbados needs us — and we need it. 51 UNRIVALLED TOURS FROM OUR EXPERTS DISCOVER EUROPE’S GREATEST WATERWAYS 15 days from £4,725pp Eight days from £2,195pp Eight days from £3,390pp Russian revelations with John Simpson Waltzing down the Danube with our experts Culinary delights of France with Michel Roux Jr On this cruise along some of Russia’s most picturesque waterways, join our experts to discover the country’s secrets, history and unique culture. From Budapest to Nuremberg via the verdant beauty of the Wachau Valley, explore the culture of this majestic river with two very special guests. Sail the tranquil waterways of the Saône and the Rhône and explore medieval Tarascon, historic Avignon, the heart of the Beaujolais wine region and Lyon. > John Simpson will join you in Moscow to share his experiences reporting from Red Square > Experience a private ballroom dance performance in the opulent Palais Liechtenstein by Strictly Come Dancing’s Kristina Rihanoff and Ian Waite > Join acclaimed chef Michel Roux Jr for an exclusive cooking demonstration > In St Petersburg, award-winning historian Orlando Figes will share his extensive knowledge of Russia with you > Enjoy a private performance displaying the spectacular grace and beauty of Russian ballet at the Palace of Prince Vladimir > Explore the historic monuments of St Petersburg and Moscow Departing May 27, 2018 > Enjoy a private Q&A session with the dance stars > Discover historic highlights including Budapest’s thermal baths and the worldrenowned Spanish Riding School in Vienna > Enjoy the cultural delights of Lyon including a gourmet food market visit and Q&A with the chef > Join Telegraph wine critic Susy Atkins for a private tasting and a visit to Châteauneuf-du-Pape > Choose from a number of cultural experiences > Enjoy a classical concert at Avignon’s majestic 14th-century Papal Palace featuring music by Mozart, Bach and Vivaldi Departing July 25 and October 25, 2018 Departing May 6, 2018 All tours include: All-inclusive accommodation on board a luxury five-star ship* All shore excursions as detailed in the itinerary Exclusive talks, demonstrations and Q&A with experts featured All gratuities, transfers and taxes Services of a dedicated tour manager 0333 122 7701 and quote SCMAG telegraph.co.uk/tt-tourexclusives Terms and conditions: *Please note that Russian revelations with John Simpson is a fully-inclusive package, including hotel stays. Calls are charged at local rates. Telegraph Tours are operated by the partner specified, companies wholly independent of Telegraph Media Group Ltd. Please refer to the Data Protection Notice in today’s Personal Column or telegraph.co.uk/privacypolicy. Travel insurance is not included. In the case of unforeseen circumstances tour experts/itinerary may be substituted. Prices are correct at time of print and may be subject to change – depending on availability reductions or increases may apply at the time of booking. Our partners reserve the right to change the pricing of your holiday before your booking is confirmed. Please call through to our selected partners listed for more details. 9294 AMALFI COAST Steinbeck’s Eden The novelist loved Positano’s sleepy beauty and 60 years on it’s no less enchanting, says James Delingpole ‘Nearly always when you find a place as beautiful as Positano, your impulse is to conceal it. You think: “If I tell, it will be crowded with tourists and they will ruin it, turn it into a honky-tonk and then the local people will get touristy and there’s your lovely place gone to hell.” There isn’t the slightest chance of this in Positano.’ John Steinbeck, 1953 Y eah, right. The sad truth is that like so many classic destinations, Positano, on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, has long since been overtouristed almost to the point of ruination. Even as early in the season as late April, when the Fawn and I visited, the tiny beach area was almost unbearable. Boatloads of day trippers swarmed across the promenade, funnelling into the steep narrow alleys on a near-impossible quest to find somewhere to eat. At which point you might wonder: ‘Why bother?’ Well I’ll tell you why: because if you follow my two cardinal rules of modern travel, it’s still possible to experience Positano exactly as Steinbeck did in the 1950s or as the Rolling Stones did when they wrote ‘Midnight Rambler’ there in the late 1960s — in the days when travel was for the few not the many, you could smoke cigarettes and drink cocktails with impunity, and the Med really was as unspoilt and idyllic as it looks on old postcards. Rule no. 1: no box-ticking. The first thing I did on arriving at our hotel was to scan its list of things to do in and around the Amalfi Coast and then, next to each one, scrawl ‘No’. First to go was the boat trip to Capri (a tiny island with two million tourist visits a year? No thanks). Then, I ruled out the other trips too: the one to Sorrento, the one to Ravello, the one to Pompeii. This wasn’t laziness — just a grown-up acknowl- edgement of the way things are in the age of mass tourism. It’s like this: if, on your deathbed, you still haven’t seen the Mona Lisa or Michelangelo’s David or anywhere in Venice, this should be a matter for self-congratulation, not regret. Sure, it would have been great if you’d caught them in the mid-1950s when they weren’t ruined by a gazillion other people jostling for a view. But you didn’t — and you were grown up enough to accept this. Rule no. 2: ruthlessly edit. You came to see Positano as it ought to be, not as it is. Best, therefore, to confine yourself to the one place in town where arguably that magically glamorous ambiance still exists: the hotel where Steinbeck stayed, Le Sirenuse. No, it’s not cheap; when we sat reading by the pool on the terrace and the so-polite waiter came along, we didn’t dare order anything except espresso. But it is amazing: like being a Count and Contessa in your very own Mediterranean palazzo for a weekend. Le Sirenuse is a former nobleman’s palace, in the middle of town with the best position, multiply tiered as all the buildings in the village have to be because they’re built more or less into a cliff, and with quite possibly the most delectable view you will ever see anywhere in the world in your entire life. The time to enjoy it at peak magnificence is in the morning, when you look out to sea over the majolica-tiled the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk Positano’s sun-bleached terracotta houses are set against rolling hills and an azure sea This is quite possibly the most delectable view you’ll ever see anywhere in the world dome of the Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta, the sun just beginning to light up the pastel-coloured houses clinging to the cliff at the port’s edge, while sitting in the most exquisite dining room (shimmery white arches, big windows, bougainvillea-trained on the walls, lit by 500 candles), gorging yourself silly on rich pastries, fresh fruit, hams, cheeses and so. There are insufficient superlatives in the lexicon to do this experience justice. Even at the end of our threeday stay we were still getting lost in the hotel’s warren of corridors and lounges, crammed with all manner of antiques and artwork, ranging from ancient prints to a neon bar sign commissioned from Martin Creed by the hotel’s groovy aristocrat owner Antonio. But this was all to the good. It meant that apart from the occasional foray out for lunch and dinner — plus the one trip we did take, an earlyish morning walk up to the heights to catch a view of Positano before the boats and coaches arrived — we stayed in our enclave: relaxing, sipping cocktails, lounging by the pool, cooking gently in the steam room and the sauna, reading, drinking in that still-perfect view. You know what? Maybe Steinbeck wasn’t so wrong after all. Classic Collection Holidays (0800 047 1064; classic-collection.co.uk) offers three nights at Le Sirenuse (sirenuse.it/en) from £941 per person. 53 NORWAY A song of ice and snow The otherworldly Northern Lights The spectacular scenery of Norway is just a two-hour flight away, reveals Camilla Swift I t might seem strange for someone who is half-Norwegian to decide on Scandinavian studies at university. But having lived in the UK my whole life, I wanted a better understanding of Scandinavia, its language, and its culture. In four years, I learned plenty of useful skills, such as the ability to read fuþark runes and point out the Norwegian influences in Disney’s Frozen. All in all, time well spent. But I always ummed and ahed when friends asked if they should pop over on a weekend break. As much as I love the country, I felt guilty about recommending it as a holiday destination. Norway is famously expensive. Recently though, my attitude has started to change. For those used to London prices, the Norwegian capital isn’t that extortionate. Yes, eating out and alcohol aren’t cheap, but if you’re prepared for that, then a holiday here is well worth the short trip over the North Sea. The two things that tend to attract visitors are the scenery and the Northern Lights. For many tourists the easiest (and the most famous) 54 way to explore the fjords is with Hurtigruten, a Norwegian cruise company which has been ferrying passengers up and down the coast since 1893. The ships are used as passenger and freight vehicles as well as for cruising, and there are multiple options, from a fortnight’s round trip to shorter fjord trips and Northern Lights cruises. Strangely enough, in 2011 NRK (the Norwegian version of the BBC) managed to break the Guinness world record for the world’s longest live television documentary with a 134-hour long broadcast of a Hurtigruten trip from Bergen in the southwest to Kirkenes in the north. Norway is now something of a ‘slow television’ pioneer, with programmes including an eight-hour broadcast of a burning fire. The first attempt by NRK at slow TV, however, was a live broadcast of the seven-hour train journey from Bergen to Oslo. As well as making for good TV, the trip is also a fantastic way to see the country. It might sound obvious, but if you want to see the Northern Lights (or midnight sun), then it helps to go as far north as possible. Svalbard, The beautiful Lofoten Islands offer far more dramatic scenery than Svalbard the Norwegian island group within the Arctic Circle, is really the furthest north that you can go. Formerly a whaling and fishing station, the islands are now a base for mining, scientific research, tourism — and polar bears. If that sounds too cold and remote, then the spectacularly beautiful Lofoten Islands will serve you just as well, and offer far more dramatic scenery than Svalbard. But Norway has even more to offer. My family are from the eastern part of the country, not far from the border with Sweden. This is potato country, where farming and forestry are the economic mainstays. But apart from potatoes, there are also mountains — and mountains mean skiing. The outdoor lifestyle is very important here. There’s even a word to describe the ‘Scandinavian philosophy of outdoor life’: friluftsliv. Combine it with the Norwegian climate and it comes as no surprise that some of the world’s best cross-country skiers are Norwegian. Bjørn Dæhlie, one of the best in history, is practically a god here. In fact, if you look at the Olympic medals table for cross-country skiing, Norway has a 107 medals. (The next closest country is Finland, on 76, followed by Sweden, on 74.) The more I think about it, the more I wonder whether failing to recommend Norway to my friends was simply a way of trying to keep the country a secret. If that was the case, my secret is well and truly out. the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk This is the definitive Norwegian coastal voyage, visiting 34 charming ports northbound and southbound, and with the full range of seasonal excursions to choose from. CLASSIC ROUND VOYAGE Bergen – Kirkenes – Bergen åg Honningsv Havøysund st Hammerfe Skjervøy Lyngenfjo Tromsø £1,193PP Båtsfjord Vardø Vadsø Kirkenes rd Y A Bodø Ørnes Nesna O R n Sandnessjøe d Brønnøysun W 66°33'N ARCTIC CIRCLE Rørvik Trondheim nd Kristiansu Ålesund Molde jord Geirangerf Torvik Måløy Hjørundfjo rd Dovre Railway Florø Flåm Railway Bergen Railway Bergen Oslo FREE voyage if the Aurora Borealis doesn’t occur on a 12-day voyage between October and March. FLIGHT-INCLUSIVE WINTER DEPARTURES Manchester 29/01/2018; 10/02/2018; 23/02/2018; 14/03/2018; 28/03/2018 Bristol 09/02/2018 Bournemouth 21/02/2018 Glasgow 20/02/2018 Birmingham 01/02/2018; 25/03/2018 Newcastle 03/03/2018 Cardiff 04/03/2018 Leeds Bradford 17/03/2018 CALL 0203 733 2723 | VISIT www.hurtigruten.co.uk Terms and conditions: From prices quoted are in GBP and are per person, based on full occupancy of an inside two-berth cabin. Single supplements apply. Cabins and excursions are subject to availability. Hurtigruten operates a ﬂexible pricing system and prices are capacity controlled, correct at time of booking. Not included: travel insurance, luggage handling, optional excursions or optional gratuities. Flights booked with Hurtigruten are ATOL protected (ATOL 3584), economy, and include all current taxes and charges. All itineraries are subject to change due to local conditions. See website for full itineraries. Full terms and conditions apply to the Northern Lights Promise. Full booking terms and conditions available online at www.hurtigruten.co.uk © Gaute Bruvik FROM INCLUDING FLIGHTS Kjøllefjord Finnsnes Risøyhamn Sortland Harstad es Stokmarkn d or Svolvær rollfj T nd Stamsu London Gatwick 30/01/2018; 12/02/2018; 06/03/2018; 15/03/2018 12 DAYS FULL BOARD Øksfjord Mehamn Berlevåg N 12 Days AUSTRIA Stress-free slopes Skiing with kids doesn’t have to be daunting – or ruinously expensive, says Katherine Forster O ne day in February each year, my three children come home from school in London, but go to sleep in Germany. We pile into our old Rover 75 Estate, take the tunnel to Calais, then drive through France, Belgium and the Netherlands before collapsing into bed in Aachen: five countries in an afternoon. The next day we cruise down the Autobahn to Munich or Salzburg, potter around the city and have an early night. The following morning we are on the ski slopes, hours before the plane gang arrive. For a ten-night ski holiday in February half-term, the most expensive ski week of the year, our total spend is less than £3,500. For five people. That includes travel, accommodation, eight-day lift passes, ski lessons, equipment hire and food. That’s around half the cost of a week’s package holiday, and a fraction of what you’d spend in the Swiss Alps or the US. We weren’t always so frugal, though. My husband Nick and I met 20 years ago, skiing in the idyllic Swiss resort of Wengen, under the north face of the Eiger, where downhill alpine skiing was invented in the 1920s. So without skiing my family wouldn’t exist. Nick and I skied extensively throughout North America and Europe; it was our shared passion. Three children and a redundancy followed, so we stopped for ten years. Skiing is an expensive holiday, especially when there are five people to pay for. It seemed out of our reach, particularly since we wanted to ski when the snow was best (February generally), and I couldn’t contemplate taking the children away during term time. Yet with some research and planning, we manage to ski within our budget. The Sterling/Euro exchange being what it is, everyone will notice costs rising sharply this season. But you can still cut them dramatically. Driving is convenient for us, and cheap. It takes around 13 hours in all from London to Austria, but French skiing is only around nine hours away. 56 Our total travel costs are around £400 for five (including tunnel, diesel, tolls, plus breakdown cover). Having a car also means we get fantastic deals on accommodation, since we can stay out of the resort. Prices tumble sharply within a mile, and sites such as booking.com and homeaway.co.uk make finding these places simple. This year we rented a gorgeous three-bedroom apartment in an Austrian chalet, overlooking a frozen lake and sheer-sided mountains; a scene straight out of a fairytale. The owners greeted us with schnapps on arrival and we had a private sauna in the garden. All this for £800, and just a short hop from Kaprun’s Kitzsteinhorn glacier. We favour Austria since it’s friendly, atmospheric and comparatively inexpensive. You get more for your money than in France or Switzerland, which means we can sometimes enjoy long lunches on the mountain (although we often pack a picnic to cut costs and maximise ski time). Snowmaking is excellent and the lifts are fast. It’s chocolate-box pretty and everyone seems to speak English. The ski schools generally run all day, for the same price as for just a morning in France. You don’t have to pay through the nose for Englishspeaking instructors either: as long as you pick a resort served by a British tour operator, your children are bound to have other English-speaking children in their group, and an instructor who speaks the language Here the snowmaking is excellent and the ski lifts are fast. It’s also chocolate-box pretty well. This year our two eldest sons were in a teenage group in Zell am See and had an absolute blast on the blacks and in fun parks. Lift passes are a big expense, but there are savings to be made. In many Austrian resorts, children under 16 are half-price, and under-sevens are often free. Our five Salzburg Super Ski Card lift passes for eight days covered 2,750km of pistes and cost £960. Driving also means parking right by the ski lifts, avoiding the hassle of buses and of trudging along laden with kit. It also means we can ski neighbouring resorts: this year we ventured to Bad Gastein, Saalbach and Kitzbuhel and were back in time to pick up the kids from ski school. Finally, the journey across Europe is part of the holiday. Breaking up travelling both ways works well — even with profligate use of iPads there is only so long children will endure being cooped up in a car. Generally, we find an Ibis Budget to crash in for a few hours on the first night. The second night might be in Munich, or in an Airbnb on a farm. En route home we’ve explored Heidelberg and Bruges, so there’s some European culture and history thrown in, too. Of course our holidays can’t compete with those of the money-noobject set. But we squeeze in two extra days on the slopes, ski several resorts and sample some of Europe’s loveliest cities. For an affordable family ski holiday, you won’t go far wrong with an Austrian adventure. the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk RAS AL KHAIMAH Desert flocks Cally Squires finds an eco paradise in the Emirates I t’s the emirate you’ve never heard of, and a welcome antidote to the showmanship and excesses of Dubai – for now at least. The northernmost emirate, Ras Al Khaimah, is only 40 minutes by car from Dubai international airport, and is quickly emerging as an open tourist destination for the savvy traveller. Unlike in Dubai, genuine Emirati culture is still highly visible. There are several mosques worth seeing, from the ornate Sheik Zayed in the Corniche region to the traditional Mohammad Bin Salem mosque, built from coral and beach rock. Other highlights are the working date farms and the historic Dhaya fort, built in the 19th century on prehistoric ruins. The refurbished national museum of Ras Al Khaimah will teach you everything you need to know about the emirate’s history (although in summer you could be lured to just about any attraction with the promise of decent AC). The 1,235-acre Al Wadi nature reserve is far from the sparse sandpit I expected. Amid the shrubs there are free-roaming camels, sand gazelles, mountain gazelles, hares, foxes and the rare Arabian oryx, no longer a vulnerable species thanks to a successful breeding programme. You can try to spot one of 43 roaming the reserve on a Disneyfied Bedouin oasis camp evening (with camel rides, belly dancing and Henna tattoos). Or for a less contrived experience admire the view of the watering hole with a sundowner in hand on the Farmhouse terrace The Ritz-Carlton Al Wadi, a luxe desert retreat at the Ritz-Carlton Al Wadi. There’s also plenty for eco-tourists — near the Corniche region and accessible by kayak are lush mangrove swamps full of flamingos and other shore birds. For luxury travellers, there are the newly rebranded Ritz-Carlton hotels (both are former Banyan Tree resorts re-launching in November). At Al Wadi there are 101 tented villas with enormous private pools and Bedouin-luxe interiors, plus duneriding, falconry and guided nature walks. There’s also a beach hotel with similarly spectacular facilities. The only question is whether RaK can retain its identity. There are a few red flags that the Dubai model is being replicated — namely a gaudy winterthemed water park, a man-made island and ‘the world’s longest’ zip line. Happily for now, it conjures up childhood memories of that city before the skyscrapers; nostalgia for paying a few dirhams to squeeze onto an ‘abra’ to cross the creek and eating a schwarma dripping with garlic sauce on the streets of the gold souks. For more information go to: en.rasalkhaimah.ae (Tourist board) ritzcarlton.com (Ritz-Carlton hotels) waldorfastoria3.hilton.com (Waldorf) AITO 5085 ABTA Y6050 Our trips in 2018 Historic Houses of the South West Celebrating Mozart Cathedrals & Abbeys of the North Art in Castile & León Gothic Splendour in France Expert-led cultural trips from £820. +44 (0)20 3370 1988, firstname.lastname@example.org www.culturaltravel.co.uk Departures guaranteed in 2018 – no minimum numbers required the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk Great French Châteaux Flemish & Dutch Painting Berlin Divided The Ring in Dresden The Genius of Spanish Painting Art Treasures of Venice Spectacle in Verona Power & Patronage in Florence Archaeology in Pompeii Sicily: Conquests & Cultures Achievements of Ancient Greece 57 NOTES ON … Trains in Spain By Simon Courtauld ISTOCK T he first railway line in Spain, from Barcelona to Mataro a few miles up the coast towards the French border, was built in 1848 by British workers and with British expertise. I was reflecting on this, and the huge difference today between the services provided by our two countries’ railways, as the train passed through Mataro on the way to Girona. The 90-minute journey, for those of us of a certain age with a tarjeta dorada, cost five euros. The return journey to Barcelona by express train took 38 minutes and cost less than ten euros. Train travel in Spain is not only amazingly cheap; it is comfortable, efficient and almost always punctual. When you buy a ticket, you are automatically allocated a seat, and a screen in each carriage gives the destination, intermediate stops, the time and outside temperature. A recorded announcement of the next stop is made three minutes before arrival, in Spanish and English. In pleasing contrast to the experience on English trains, there are no irritating interruptions from a ‘train manager’ telling you that the buffet is closed or to check that you have all your belongings before leaving the train. Sunday timetables, unlike those in Britain, are similar to weekdays. When Spain’s railway lines were first laid, a broader gauge was adopted than Right track: The trains are cheap and on time that used in France — apparently to deter another French invasion, this time by train, only a few decades after Napoleon had crossed the Pyrenees and deposed the Spanish king. Along the north coast the trains still run (slowly) on a narrow-gauge track, stopping at stations every few minutes on the delightful route between Galicia and the Basque country. In the 1920s V.S. Pritchett commented that ‘the trains are as slow as oxen and as rare as eagles’. That may still be true if you travel between Bilbao and San Sebastian (60 FLORISTS miles, two-and-a-half hours), but since the introduction of the high-speed Ave trains, it takes the same time to cover the 330 miles between Madrid and Seville, and there are 17 trains a day on that route. The state-owned company Renfe has been responsible for the rail network for the past 75 years, and Spain may well have the largest number of stations of any European nation. At most, the station-master (always wearing a tie) puts on a scarlet kepi-style cap as a train arrives. I took several journeys this summer (Madrid to Plasencia, Zafra to Seville, Vitoria to San Sebastian) and none cost me more than eight euros. A couple of years ago I travelled almost the breadth of Spain by train, from Alicante on the Mediterranean coast to the Roman city of Merida in Extremadura. It took most of the day, with one change roughly halfway in Ciudad Real, where there was time for a good lunch. As we passed through the Don Quixote country of La Mancha and then crossed valleys fringed by hills on the edge of the Sierra Morena, it was so much more enjoyable than driving. 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Don’t worry call Lawrence on 020 8245 8999 or check www.greatspeechwriting.co.uk Free newsletters: www.spectator.co.uk/ newsletters the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk AUTUMN TOUR Rome- Palaces, Villas, Churches – a Private View | 11 – 17 October 2018 John Hall Italian Journeys Email: email@example.com | Tel: +44(0)208 871 4747 www.johnhallitalianjourneys.com 59 Mounted and framed, a Spectator cartoon makes a wonderful present 18 june 2016 [ £4.00 www.spectator.co.uk [ est. 1828 Out and into the world Go to www.spectator.co.uk/shop or call 020 7961 0015 ‘The maids are dressed as Edwardian maids – that is, pornography maids – in white frilly aprons’ — Tanya Gold, p70 High life Taki I smell a rat when it comes to Harvey Weinstein. Let’s take it from the start. The telephone rang very early in the morning and a woman’s voice told me that Harvey Weinstein wanted to speak to me. I was put on hold. I waited. And waited, and then waited some more. The reason I didn’t hang up was that I wanted to tell Harvey that if Queen Elizabeth had made me wait as long as he had I would have hung up. ‘But for you, Sir Harvey, I’ll wait an eternity.’ Well, Harvey is a Commander of the British Empire but I upgraded him a notch because, as strange as it may sound, he and I are buddies. Harvey’s a committed lefty, Hillary’s pal, and he thinks that the Germans were all bad 70 years ago (he’s totally and catastrophically wrong on all counts). But I really like him. He comes to my parties and I go to his. Last Christmas, at my New York bash, I introduced Harvey to around 20 women, and he hit on all of them. Good for him. His former lawyer Lisa Bloom was also on the telephone and asked me if I could confirm the details of a meeting between Harvey and a pretty assistant of his who had testified against him in a sexual-harassment lawsuit. Michael Mailer and I had been present because Harvey was interested in Nothing to Declare, the greatest prison book ever, written by one Taki. (It was published 27 years ago, about an event that took place 35 years ago.) The assistant kept Michael and me company while we waited for her boss, and once he had joined us and apologised for being late I said that his assistant had been extremely pleasant company because, unlike him, she was great-looking. ‘And she is very good at her job,’ added Harvey; the point of the story being that if anyone had suggested anything it was me, when I complimented her on her looks. In America today, this could get you ten years in the pokey. The S- and R-words are what the J-word was in Berlin circa 1935. Juden has been replaced by ‘sexist’ and ‘racist’. It is Nineteen Eighty-Four again. In Har- vey’s case, there is a lot to hang him with, and now that it’s out in the open, they are all creeping out of the woodwork. Even an ugly waitress has suddenly recalled that she served the ‘pig’ while he hit on women. It’s funny how feelings of anxiety and degradation suddenly appear when these kinds of revelations hit the papers. What I’d like to know is why it’s taken some 20 years, and others ten years, to come out with it. One of them, Rose McGowan, got 100,000 big ones for fending Harvey off at Sundance back in 1997, but then she spills the beans to the New York Times, which plasters it on its front page three days running. A Times columnist, a real phoney called Rutenberg, describes Harvey’s shenanigans as stomach-turning; others at the Times can hardly hide their glee at his demise. (Rutenberg writes how ghastly it was when Harvey grabbed hack Andrew Goldman in a headlock and dragged him out of a party 17 years ago. I applaud him for it. Hacks think they have a right to annoy and interfere and then lie, so Harvey did the manly thing.) What troubles me is that the Times had a plan to destroy Weinstein, not because of what he was doing — which was long ago — but because it had destroyed the careers of two Christian conservatives, Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, and now it was time for virtue-signalling; time to destroy a lefty Jew. He was not given time to defend himself. He was sacked from the Weinstein Company, his person reviled, his reputation reduced to worse than zero. Politicians are scrambling to give his donations to women’s charities, his board of governors has collapsed as three moneybags have cut and run, and Harvey the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk ‘This call may be minotaured for training purposes.’ is now as popular in LalaLand as one Adolf Schicklgruber. The Weinstein Company without Harvey is non-existent. He’s the one that cheerleads the product and wins academy awards. A boutique studio will not survive without him. The Times is hinting that Harvey should be tried and that his future depends on therapy. The idea that a paper that lies as regularly and as egregiously as the New York Times is now the decider of the fate of a man like Harvey, who came from absolutely nothing, is horrible. Yes, he has acted appallingly; yes, he has bullied women; yes, he has stripped and asked them to watch him in the shower; yes, he has suggested ad nauseam that they get into bed with him. But he has not been found guilty of any crime and denies the allegations. There are professional athletes in America who beat up and rape women but the Times turns a blind eye, as do others. Ashley Judd, who I’d give anything to go to bed with, should be ashamed of herself. She waited 20 years to join the rabble. She said no to Weinstein, so why stick the knife in now? Low life Jeremy Clarke Early on Friday morning I flew from the north of Iceland to Reykjavik, from Reykjavik to Heathrow, then I hopped aboard the night sleeper from Euston to Glasgow Central to attend the wedding of Catriona’s eldest daughter, held the next day at the Winter Gardens of the People’s Palace on Glasgow Green. Three years ago, Catriona separated from her husband after a 30-year-long union. The separation was not amicable and is as yet unsettled. Apart from a glimpse at a graduation, the wedding was the first time they had been in the same room for three years. I was invited to the reception but not to the ceremony. As the new man in Catriona’s life, I imagined I would be a cynosure when I walked through the door that evening. 61 LIFE And because they are labouring under the misapprehension (understandably enough) that your correspondent was the principle cause of the marriage’s breakdown, I also imagined I would be the object of his and his wider family’s hostility. I had brought with me from Iceland a suit and clean shirt, but no shoes. I possess shoes, obviously, but nothing respectable enough for a society wedding, and I am in no position, this month, to afford to buy any. So I put the word out that if anyone had a half-decent pair of size tens they could lend me for the day, I’d be glad. And the groom, Andrea, from Como, kindly came forward and said that he had a spare pair and that if he could find them I was welcome to them. It was typical of Andrea that, in spite of all the other things he had to think about, he made my lack of credible footwear his concern. The only problem was that the shoes he was offering were in fact Catriona’s former husband’s shoes. The symbolism of my attending his eldest daughter’s wedding with his ex-wife on my arm and his old best rhythm and blues on my feet would doubtless be considered by him, and by other hostile parties present that evening, as taking my colonialism a step too far. My simply being there was going to be difficult enough for him. For me to be there literally in his shoes might be a provocation too far. But saving myself fifty quid on shoes was more important than any symbolism, whether deliberate or unwitting. Andrea located the shoes and showed them to me. The style was hideously conservative, designed exclusively, perhaps, for the Pentecostal-pastor market. Naturally, I imagined walking into the room and every eye swivelling towards the cad, and my image as a dashing and unscrupulous young player lying in tatters once the critical and in some cases hostile eyes had reached the ground. So the evening before the wedding, I went shoe shopping in Buchanan Street, starting at House of Fraser, which, as everybody knows, is East End Glasgow slang for the local weapon of choice. The shoe department had a sale on: 50 per cent off selected stock. About 200 sale shoes were arranged by size on racks four tiers high. I searched among these with rapidly diminishing enthusiasm as a goodly proportion had a whiff of the orthopaedic about them. If you happened to be a giant on his uppers, or an impoverished midget, the selection was vast. Likewise if you were a top boxing impresario or the compère of Sunday Night at the London Palladium. An elderly saleswoman all in black offered to help. She was one of those wornout Glaswegian women who had seen it all and was under no illusions, but whose deadpan expression belied a sense of humour as black, sophisticated and alert as anyone could possibly wish for. I needed wedding shoes, I told her, for tonight. ‘No rush then,’ she said. ‘Anything here you like?’ she added, glanc62 ing towards the sale racks. ‘Not really,’ I said. ‘That’s a shame, hen,’ she said, her poker face indicating this to mean that I had better taste in shoes than my general appearance suggested, and that she was surprised by that. She led me over to the full-priced shoes and I walked out half an hour later with a pair of mirror-gloss Paul Smiths that cost more than my last two cars put together. In the hour I had to spare before leaving for the reception, I leafed through a tatty old copy of Stanislavski’s An Actor Prepares, bought in a secondhand bookshop in Iceland. The chapter on the relaxation of muscles while under the spotlight was helpful. In the event, I walked in just after the live band had started up. Everyone was so drunk and having such a marvellous time that nobody took a blind bit of notice of me or my shiny new shoes and I was straight on the dance floor to trip the light fantastic. Real life Melissa Kite They are building the bonfire already. In the dip where winter flooding sometimes creates a small lake, the wood and branches are being piled. A massive board has been nailed up announcing that ‘No More Material Is Required. By Order of The Bonfire Association.’ Therefore: ‘No Dumping.’ But someone has dared to disobey the order of the Bonfire Association, and has heaved an old blue sofa into the hollow. This has sparked an inquiry. While cycling the spaniels, I overheard a group of ladies stopped on the pathway overlooking the immolation site discussing what should be done. The organisers are aware. They will be dealing with it. The culprits ought to be ashamed of themselves, for when certain sofas burn they emit toxic fumes. I ought to be ashamed of myself too, I realise, because when I cycled past the site and saw the lumpy old sofa I felt mildly cheered up and thought, ‘Oh look, someone’s dumped an old sofa.’ Now I think about it, the episode has made me feel deeply inadequate. I wish I could attain a degree of normality in my affairs so I could become outraged by a dumped sofa. When I look at a dumped sofa, the only conclusion of any significance I can find it within myself to draw is that some other poor sod is under so much pressure they’ve heaved a sofa out here in the dark in a desperate bid to get a part of their life straight, and, let’s face it, because otherwise it’s £300 for a skip or dumper truck and if you hire a van to take an old sofa to the tip they will weigh it in and charge you more than a desperate person probably earns in a month. I’m just saying, I am beginning to identify with sofa dumpers. And I worry where that will end. But in any case, the wood and cut branches are being piled into the hollow four weeks in advance and every time I drive past on the way home — I don’t fully understand why — the sight of the slatted wooden monster slowly coming into being only to be burned to smithereens puts a chill down my spine. There is, I suppose, something very pagan about a bonfire, never mind one that begins to take shape a month in advance. The board announcing it started out by saying ‘October 28’ in huge letters, but I noticed that, a day later, someone nailed a blank square over the 28. I can’t think why. Was the date a secret until someone erroneously revealed it on the sign? In which case, why was it a secret? Who were they hiding it from? Or is it simply a matter of keeping options open until the weather forecast becomes clear. I only want to know because the dogs hate fireworks so I will go away that weekend. Alright, fine, I admit it. I don’t like Bonfire Night any more than the dogs. I always think I’ll like it but then, when the crackling of the fire starts, I get the heebie-jeebies. If they want a papist agitator to stick on top of the bonﬁre they could do worse than me It occurs to me that if they were burning the effigy of a traitor from any other religious grouping — no matter what this person had done 400 years ago — it would be taken gleefully out of context and there would be Twitter hell to pay. I amuse myself by thinking that if they want a papist agitator to stick on top of the bonfire they could do worse than me. I also wonder, out of aimless curiosity, what will come off that sofa when it burns, and for no good reason I Google bonfire toxins and discover that a 1994 study conducted in Oxford found a four-fold increase in dioxin and furan concentration in the air after a Bonfire Night celebration. It occurs to me that Bonfire Night will become obsolete, not because they are burning the effigy of a Catholic, but because the emissions breach health and safety regulations. I ought to have my own bonfire, I’ve got so much timber and other building materials piled up outside my house. Stefano has no idea when he will be able to finish the renovations as he’s fitting me in with other jobs. The skip parked next to my car looks such an eyesore I have begun to disassociate with the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk 3 issues of Apollo for £10 PLUS A FREE TOTE BAG One of the world’s oldest and most respected magazines, Apollo covers everything from antiquities to contemporary work – with the latest art news, interviews with leading international artists and collectors, expert insight into the art market and coverage of exhibitions worldwide. www.apollo-magazine.com/M084D +44 (0)330 333 0180 quoting M084D Offer available to new UK and overseas customers subscribing by continuous payment only ($15 for payments in US dollars; €15 for payments in euros). LIFE it. Perhaps because I feel so out of control, so helpless to effect a solution, whenever someone mentions it I find myself saying ‘I know! It’s a disgrace! When is it going to get sorted?’ I am thinking of writing to the council to lodge an official objection to my own mess. In the meantime, I realise there are three wooden pallets taking up room in the skip that could be a non-toxic contribution to the communal festivities. I might heave them out there in the night. The turf Robin Oakley The mission was simple: take a load of garden refuse to the council dump and be back in time to drive Mrs Oakley to an urgent appointment in Oxford. On my return, there was no Mrs Oakley in sight. Strange, since she is the sort who will camp out at the station the evening before to catch a 9 a.m. train. She had a house key; I didn’t. Half an hour of fretting later, as I mounted a ladder to peer through the bathroom window for fear she might have slipped over and knocked herself out, an enraged Mrs Oakley appeared beneath me. She had frozen stiff on the nearby bridge, where she had walked to cut me off on the only route home to save us motoring time. How could I have been so stupid not to have seen her, she inquired, employing a vocabulary distinctly richer than I had known her to possess. How could she have been so blind not to have seen me pass, I replied with equal acidity. Well, probably with added acidity. It was only after several minutes of such marital pleasantries that we both realised what had happened. The back gate of Oakley Towers, through which I had returned, is not visible from the front door. Mrs O. had clearly left through that front door to intercept me down the road at the precise second I drove in at the back. As we constantly see on the racecourse, timing is everything. It was perfect timing last Saturday when that true gent of a jockey Jimmy Fortune announced his retirement after cleverly riding his old boss John Gosden’s Nathra into a valuable third place in the Group One Sun Chariot Stakes, significantly increasing her value. As the Racing Post put it: the everdependable Fortune, who has been plagued by back trouble, was a Group One jockey going out in a Group One. Much better than departing after a Wolverhampton seller on a soggy Tuesday. 64 Certainly you will not see a sweeter bit of timing than young Charlie Bishop’s ride on Accidental Agent to bring home his first Ascot winner in the valuable Totescoop6 Challenge Cup, a Heritage handicap. As Accidental Agent’s orange cap began scything through the field, and as he held off the late challenge of the grey Lord Glitters, a £270,000 import from France, the lady in front of me in the stands began screaming him on at the top of her voice, jumping up and down with a force that could have split the concrete. It was Accidental Agent’s trainer Eve Johnson Houghton, who is having a phenomenal season, egging on the handsome three-yearold. If ever sheer force of will and waves of emotion could have brought home a horse a winner, Eve’s performance would have done it, but Charles Bishop had timed his challenge perfectly anyway. Having invested myself on Accidental Agent at 20-1, I added to the shouting, although I passed on the jumping. For the country’s leading woman Flat trainer, this one was special. Accidental Agent is owned and was bred by her mother, who was equally moved by the success, although I don’t think she heard Eve saying later that Mum could use the £112,000 prize to pay for the horses she has just been buying at the sales. Accidental Agent has done the Johnson Houghtons well already, winning an £81,000 sales race at Newmarket on the same day last year, but there is clearly more to come in Listed and Group races in 2018. The only nasty moment came when Eve realised, after ferrying buckets of water to Accidental Agent in the winners’ enclosure, that she had lost her handbag. Fortunately, it reappeared soon after, having been retrieved by her mother. They have been having a wonderful year at Woodway Stables in Blewbury on those lush gallops where her father — now, at 77, one of the older assistant trainers in the business — handled such horses as Ribocco, Ribero, Habitat and Ile de Bourbon. With Fulke Walwyn and Peter Walwyn as relatives, it is a family with a formidable racing pedigree. Eve’s grandmother Helen trained the 2000 Guineas winner Gilles de Retz in 1956, in the days when the Jockey Club used to insist that women could not train and their licence had to be held by a man. The success was therefore recorded in the name of her assistant Charles Jerdein, who later became an art dealer in New York, an occupation memorably described by his former employer as ‘selling old masters to old mistresses’. Accidental Agent’s success was Eve’s 48th of the season, so she is already comfortably ahead of her previous record of 41. And she has been doing it with all sorts, including my favourite, the consistent veteran What About Carlo. It really is time that some of the big owners with hefty cheque books started sending her some horses with Classic potential. They would not regret it. Bridge Janet de Botton Somewhere between 1 and 3 a.m., I turn off the lights but I can’t turn off my whirring brain. Cards float before me, doubled contracts torment me and unbid slams haunt me. My antidote to this is Desert Island Discs. I always hope for someone who unexpectedly plays bridge or has a bridge story, Omar Sharif being the only one, until last night when I downloaded Jack Lemmon. Asked by Sue Lawley about his parents and childhood, he came up with the astonishing tale of how and why he was born in a hospital lift. His mother and father were playing bridge — and winning — and they ignored all signs of labour until they could ignore them no longer! Jack was almost born in the car as it raced to the hospital, but his parents made it to the hospital lift, pressed the button and… calamity! It got stuck between two floors. No wonder his comic timing was so great. This hand, from the Friday Night IMPs game at YC, must have caused many a sleepless night: Dealer North All vulnerable z J 10 9 5 yK8 2 XA 4 2 wK 9 5 zQ3 y A 10 5 X9 7 5 wQ 8 2 3 3 N W E S zK7 6 y Q9 7 X KQ w A10 West Pass All Pass z A8 y J 4 X J 10 8 w J7 6 6 4 3 4 2 6 North East South 1w 2z Pass Pass 1z 4z The lead was the X 7. Most Declarers tend to address the trump situation first and it looks obvious to try the Spade finesse, running the zJack from dummy. When it lost to the Queen, they needed something good to happen in the Heart suit and, when that was not forthcoming, most of them went minus. Some of the better players had another plan: they took their two Diamonds, played Ace and King of Clubs, cashed the XAce and ruffed a Club in hand. With the minors eliminated, it was time to lead the zKing from hand. East wins, but whether he opens up Hearts now or puts his partner in with the zQueen, the contract will make. Sweet dreams. the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk SPECTATOR WINE JONATHAN RAY A s readers know, The Spectator is a famously broad church. All manner of opinions are held and expressed here, and it’s impossible to find common ground, be it on Brexit, Trump and May, or even on the relative merits of Marmite and Bovril, say, or how to pronounce ‘controversy’ correctly. No one agrees about anything. What a shock, then, to find total unanimity among thirsty members of Spectator staff who joined me and Laura Taylor from Private Cellar to taste wines for this offer. Never were spittoons so redundant. The following six wines were the favourites. Actually, I lie: there was one dissenting voice about just one of the wines. In the interests of dictatorial democracy, though, said voice was made to reconsider his position and naturally ended up agreeing with the majority. The 2016 S’Elemè Vermentino di Gallura (1) had everyone purring. Indeed, Helen and Scarlett said ‘Ooh, lush!’ in almost perfect unison. Made from 100 per cent Vermentino grown high in the wind-battered, granite slopes of northern Sardinia, it’s vibrantly fresh (thanks to cool nights), generous and ripe (hot days). It’s also gloriously citrusy with just a hint of peach on the long finish. £10.95 down from £11.95. The 2016 Château Argadens Blanc (2) is a blend of 65 per cent Sauvignon Blanc and 35 per cent Sémillon from the Entre Deux Mers. Given that the estate is owned by the Sichel family, there’s a touch of Château Palmer stardust here and it’s beautifully made. Alex loved its hint of almonds; Scarlett admired its typical Sauvignon grassiness, and I liked its subtle use of oak and its long finish. £11.25 down from £12.95. The 2016 Mallory & Benjamin Talmard Mâcon Uchizy (3) is a Burgundian beauty. ‘We should definitely offer this one!’ declared Declan. Made on a family-run property that straddles the Mâconnais villages of Uchizy and — rather delightfully — Chardonnay, it’s 100 per cent, erm, well, Chardonnay, and full of creamy, lemony flavours with a satisfying richness in the mouth. £12.90 down from £13.90. The 2015 Jean-Pierre Moueix Bordeaux Rouge (4) is outstanding and that’s not a word I use lightly. Everyone in the room applauded its quality and everyone thought it absurdly underpriced. A blend of 80 per cent Merlot and 20 per cent Cabernet Franc from a first-rate vintage, it’s fabulously concentrated with blackcurrants, blackberries, herbs and spice. The finish goes on forever and is just so damn juicy. Helen reckoned it was the wine of the tasting and one to be savoured by the fire in a winter wind-blown country pub. £10.95 down from £12.95. The 2015 Podere 414 ‘Il Badilante’ (5) There was total unanimity among thirsty members of The Spectator – never were spittoons so redundant comes from the Maremma, that marshy region of Tuscany bordered by the Mediterranean in the west and forest-covered hills in the east that’s home to such fabled wines as Ornellaia, Sassicaia and Solaia. Made by Simone Castelli from 100 per cent Sangiovese, it’s effectively the second wine of Castelli’s much-loved and hugely soughtafter Morellino, and is full of sweet, ripe Tuscan fruit and warming herbal notes. ‘It’s not just yum, it’s yummy,’ was one of the more technical comments in the room. £12.50 down from £13.75. Finally, the 2015 Rocche Costamagna Barbera d’Alba (6) a deep, dark, intense red from Piedmont made by Alessandro Locatelli. Nowhere does Barbera quite like Piedmont and this is a belter. It has chocolate and coffee on the nose and rich cherry and spice on the palate. Although high in acidity, it’s welcomingly soft and smooth, and Ryan in particular was completely won over by its complexity and concentration of flavours. Lovers of fine Italian wine will understand completely why we all loved it so much. £12.75 down from £13.75. The mixed case has two bottles of each wine and delivery, as ever, is free. Jonathan Ray’s Drink More Fizz! (£14.99, Quadrille) is out now. ORDER FORM Spectator Wine Offer www.spectator.co.uk/wine-club Private Cellar, 57 High Street, Wicken, Cambridgeshire CB7 5XR Tel: 01353 721 999; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Prices in form are per case of 12 White 1 2016 S’Elemè Vermentino di Gallura, 14% 2 2016 Château Argadens Blanc, 12% 3 2016 Mâcon Uchizy, Mallory & Benjamin Talmard, 13% Red 4 2015 Jean-Pierre Moueix Bordeaux Rouge, 13.5% 5 2015 Badilante Podere 414, Simone Castelli, 14% 6 2015 Barbera d’Alba, Rocche Costamagna, 14% Mixed 7 Sample case, two bottles each of the above List price Club price No. £143.40 £155.40 £166.80 £155.40 £165.00 £165.00 £158.50 £131.40 £135.00 £154.80 £131.40 £150.00 £153.00 £142.60 Total Mastercard/Visa no. Start date Issue no. Expiry date Signature Please send wine to Name Address Sec. code Prices include VAT and delivery on the British mainland. Payment should be made either by cheque with the order, payable to Private Cellar or by debit or credit card, details of which may be telephoned or faxed. This offer, which is subject to availability, closes on 25 November 2017. Postcode Telephone Email* Safe place to leave your wine *Only provide your email address if you would like to receive offers or communications by email from The Spectator (1828) Limited, part of the Press Holdings Group. See Classified pages for Data Protection Act Notice. The Spectator (1828) Limited, part of the Press Holdings Group would like to pass your details on to other carefully selected organisations in order that they can offer you information, goods and services that may be of interest to you. If you would prefer that your details are not passed to such organisations, please tick this boxR. the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk 65 LIFE Chess Prodigy Raymond Keene Competition Officially amazing Lucy Vickery Twelve-year-old Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa scored a sensational result in the recent Isle of Man Masters. At the age of ten years and ten months, he achieved the extraordinary distinction of becoming the youngest official international master in the history of chess. The youngest ever grandmaster is last year’s world championship challenger Sergei Karjakin, who was elevated to the chess peerage when he was 12 years and seven months old. Praggnanandhaa now has five months in which to break that record. In the Isle of Man Praggnanandhaa scored a respectable 50 per cent (4½/9) and notched his first win against a grandmaster rated 2700+ — the former British champion David Howell. Here is Praggnanandhaa’s amazing victory. Diagram 1 Praggnanandhaa-Howell: chess.com Masters, Isle of Man 2017; Caro-Kann Defence Diagram 2 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 The most celebrated game with this line was Capablanca’s great victory with Black against Nimzowitsch at New York 1927. Interestingly, many commentators are now comparing Praggnanandhaa’s style with that of Capablanca. 3 ... Bf5 4 Nf3 NimzowitschCapablanca went 4 Bd3 Bxd3 5 Qxd3 e6 6 Nc3 Qb6 7 Nge2 c5. A wilder alternative is 4 h4 as in Tal-Pachman, Bled 1961. 4 ... e6 5 Be2 Ne7 6 0-0 c5 7 c4 dxc4 8 Na3 Nbc6 9 Nxc4 Nd5 10 dxc5 Highly unusual. Normal is 10 Bg5 as in So-Dziuba, Reykjavik 2013. The move chosen by White unduly eases the process of Black’s development. 10 ... Bxc5 11 Bg5 Qc7 12 Rc1 0-0 13 Qb3 h6 14 Ne3 Bxe3 15 Bxe3 Nxe3 16 Qxe3 Qb6 This offer to trade queens leaves Black with smashed pawns but it also means that his queen’s rook gains immediate access to the fray. 17 Qxb6 axb6 The position is equal. 18 a3 Be4 19 Nd2 Nd4 20 Rfe1 Bd5 21 Bd3 Rfd8 22 Rc3 g5 23 Ne4 Bxe4 24 Rxe4 Ra5 25 b4 Rad5 26 Bc4 R5d7 27 Bf1 Nf5 28 g3 Rd1 29 Kg2 Ra1 30 Bd3 Kg7 31 h4 (see diagram 1) 31 ... gxh4? Missing White’s coming intermezzo. After 31 ... Ne7 the position remains completely equal. 32 Rg4+ Kh7 33 Bxf5+ exf5 34 Rxh4 Black now suffers from weak pawns in all sectors of the board. 34 ... Re8 35 Rc7 Kg7 36 Rxb7 Rxe5 37 Rxb6 Rxa3 38 PUZZLE NO. 478 White to play. This position is from the above game, Praggnanandhaa-Howell, chess.com Masters. What is the accurate move White needed to play here? Answers to me at The Spectator by Tuesday 17 October or via email to email@example.com. There is a prize of £20 for the first correct answer out of a hat. Please include a postal address and allow six weeks for prize delivery. Last week’s solution 1 Rxa3 Last week’s winner Gerry Devenney, Edinburgh 66 WDW4WDWD DpDWDpiW W0WDpDW0 DWDW)n0W W)WDRDW) )W$BDW)W WDWDW)KD 4WDWDWDW WDWDWDWD DWDWDWDW WDWDWDWD DWDkDpDW W4WDWDWD DWDWDW)W WDWDR)KD DWDWDWDW Rbxh6 Re4 39 Rh7+ Kg8 40 Rh8+ Kg7 41 R8h7+ Kf8 42 Rh8+ Ke7 43 Rc8 Rb3 44 Rc4 Re5 45 Rh7 Rb5 46 Rc7+ Ke6 47 Rh6+ f6 48 Rc6+ Ke5 49 Rhxf6 R3xb4 50 Rfe6+ Missing the coup juste. White can force the win with an accurate move for which see this week’s puzzle. 50 ... Kd4 51 Rcd6+ Rd5 52 Rxd5+ Kxd5 53 Re2 (see diagram 2) 53 ... f4 A terrible howler after which Black is lost. With 53 ... Rb7 54 f4 Rf7 the endgame is a technical draw. 54 g4 Now Black’s situation is hopeless. 54 ... Rb3 55 f3 Rb8 56 Re4 Rf8 57 Kf2 Rf7 58 Ke2 Rf6 59 Kd3 Rf8 60 Ra4 Rb8 61 Rxf4 Rb3+ 62 Ke2 Ke5 63 Rf5+ Kd4 64 Kf2 Black resigns WDWDWDWD DWDWDWDW WDRDW$WD DrDWipDW W4WDWDWD DWDWDW)W WDWDW)KD DWDWDWDW In Competition No. 3019 you were invited to submit a limerick describing a feat worthy of inclusion in Guinness World Records. This assignment is a nod to my nine-yearold son, who is a big fan of astonishing facts. Every year, when he gets his mitts on the latest Guinness World Records, he follows me around the house bombarding me with them. To the records I’ve recently expressed amazement at — most people in a camper van; most basketball slam dunks in a minute by a rabbit; tallest ever domestic cat — you added the feats below, winningly celebrated in limerick form. Each one printed earns its author £9. Honourable mentions go to Clare Sandy, Jeffrey Aronson, Mike Morrison and Martin Parker. Though most Guinness records, it’s said, Will not last in the days up ahead, There’s one that is stable: Cain’s brother, poor Abel, Will always be ‘Man Longest Dead.’ Robert Schechter A new Guinness record’s appeared, And how Edward Lear would have cheered: Four larks and a hen, Two owls and a wren; It’s official — most nests in a beard. Nicholas Hodgson An ancient streetwalker called Annie Collected pound coins in her fanny. She could fit in no more Once she’d lodged 84. It was more of a nook than a cranny. Fiona Pitt-Kethley A salt-crusted sailor from Seaton, In record time (yet to be beaten), Popped up to the poop With a gallon of soup And slurped till the last scrap was eaten. Alan Millard The Member for Grange-Over-Sands Walked a world-record stretch on his hands, Saying ‘You folk up there With your heads in the air Need to understand grass-root demands.’ W.J. Webster I’ve had ten thousand partners in passion, More than three thousand times Cleggy’s ration — I’m fit as ten fleas Though I’m weak in the knees And I can’t do it terrier fashion. I’m up for inclusion. I’m next, Though my feat may well leave you perplexed. Last Tuesday my thumb Was as taut as a drum As it tapped out its millionth text. Bill Greenwell the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk LIFE Could you balance, like Hirst, on an easel, A drum with ten gallons of diesel? And on top of the drum Andrew Marr and a plum, Four kettles, a shark and a weasel? Mark Shelton A remarkable girl in North Wales Is endowed with the world’s longest nails. She could scratch a man’s balls In Niagara Falls, Though her sense of decorum prevails. Rob Young A sexy and daring old stager Took a walk in the buff for a wager From Llanelli to Hull Via Plymouth and Mull And Maidstone and Crewe and Alsager. G.M. Davis A tattooist who lives by the Clyde Has inked more than his visible hide. By each nostril and ear, By his mouth, at the rear, He has lettered CONTINUED INSIDE. Chris O’Carroll There was a young man from Melrose Whose place in the Records Book shows That his entry was through His ability to Balance six boiled eggs on his nose. Brian Murdoch They laughed when, in old-fashioned flannel, She dived in the cold English Channel. They confessed they’d been wrong When she swam to Hong Kong; Now she sits on the World Records Panel. Frank Upton A talented sculptor from Leith Made statuary out of his teeth. The top set were nudes, So to mollify prudes He carved the disciples beneath. Basil Ransome-Davies If Guinness were anxious to see Who the pottiest Potus might be It would just take a sec For the checkers to check That honours belong to D.T. Max Ross There was a young lady from Crewe Who cartwheeled around Chester Zoo, When the animals saw her They all rooted for her, And then began cartwheeling too. Katie Mallett Crossword 2331: Anagrams by Pabulum Unclued lights suggest nine different words, each made up of the same five letters. These letters will appear in the completed grid in an alphabetically ordered sequence which must be shaded. Elsewhere, ignore an accent. Across 6 Young sailor turned cricketer (6, hyphened) 12 In the normal way all sections united in study (10, three words) 13 Wrongfully seize moneylender soft King Edward spared (5) 14 Connected to god, visionary peeled bananas (7) 15 College in California returned call concerning religious instruction (10) 16 Type of bathroom to fit in exactly (7, two words) 22 Plunder from woman’s junk? (7) 25 Messages in the box backed Congress (7) 27 Native Americans mingle with bloodhounds (7) 31 P for priest (4) 32 Chefs sprinkle this poi with real nuts (7, two words) 35 Understudy’s part long ago (4) 38 Rising and climbing (7) 40 Partiality of one and only point (10) 41 Luxembourg banished one glorifying air refresher (7) 42 Rogue with no time for sin (5) 44 Quakeress missing as drilling ridges (6) 45 Barometers tyrant committed to helpers (8) Down 2 Item eaten with bread and laudanum child ingested (8) The kindliest soul on the planet Is a lady in Ramsgate called Janet, Who knits little pink boots For the moorhens and coots In the nearby marshes of Thanet. Hugh King NO. 3022 : A POEM FOR BORIS You are invited to compose a safe poem that Boris Johnson could have on hand in case he feels a verse quotation coming on when out in the field. Please email up to 16 lines to firstname.lastname@example.org by 25 October. the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk 3 Trim uniform (skirt required) (5) 4 Revolting old hat modernized (7) 5 Extremely tidy residence pig disrupts (7) 7 Force of habit inhibiting unionist (6) 8 Old weapon left in sink (5) 10 Flying racers keeping up in Batmobile? (8) 11 Different crisps but inferior type (9) 17 Some other article (3) 18 Gloomy Rex hugged by kind person (5) 19 Airs filled with passion produced by songbirds (9) 21 Chief in boring jumper (5) 26 Swimming goon dips like an aquatic (8) 28 Human body lacking a bone (3) 29 Amerind with name of Stoic tragedian (7) 33 Provide kit for English team (6) 34 Buries money (it’s taken from coiners) (6) 37 Hills bearing new buds (5) 39 Very large mega-bird soaring up avenue (5) A first prize of £30 for the first correct solution opened on 30 October. There are two runnersup prizes of £20. (UK solvers can choose to receive the latest edition of the Chambers dictionary instead of cash — ring the word ‘dictionary’.) Entries to: Crossword 2331, The Spectator, 22 Old Queen Street, London SW1H 9HP. Please allow six weeks for prize delivery. Name Address Email SOLUTION TO 2328: SECOND COMING The suggested title is Brideshead Revisited, HEEDS/ RABID (6A/42) being an anagram of BRIDESHEAD. The six characters, all members of the Flyte family, are ALEXANDER (Lord Marchmain) (21D), TERESA (Lady Marchmain) (37), and their children, BRIDEY (17), SEBASTIAN (8), JULIA (33) and CORDELIA (19). FLYTE (diagonally from the eighth row) was to be shaded. First prize Daisy Jestico, London SE23 Runners-up Mrs J. Sohn, Gorleston-on-Sea, Norfolk; E. Feinberg, Rancho Mirage, California 67 LIFE Status Anxiety I met Weinstein and, yes, I’d heard the rumours Toby Young A ccording to an ex-employee of Harvey Weinstein’s, the movie producer once whispered something to himself that she found so disturbing she wrote it down. After leaving his film company, where she claimed to have acted as a ‘honeypot’ to lure young models and actresses to meetings with her boss in hotel rooms, she signed a confidentiality agreement. But she has decided to speak out anyway. The words he muttered were: ‘There are things I’ve done that nobody knows.’ This is one of the less shocking details in a long New Yorker article published on Tuesday in which 13 women allege that Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them, including three who accuse him of rape. This followed a New York Times investigative piece last week in which the 65-year-old producer is accused of having reached legal settlements with eight women over a period dating back 30 years. The Weinstein Company initially said that he would be taking a leave of absence and his lawyer, Lisa Bloom, described the allegations as ‘patently false’. Then, a few days later, the company announced he had been fired and his lawyer decided she could no longer work for him. If the accusations are true — and Weinstein denies he has ever had non-consensual sex — this scandal This scandal will conﬁrm the deepest suspicions of American conservatives about Hollywood liberals will confirm the deepest suspicions of American conservatives about Hollywood liberals. Until now, Weinstein has been one of the film industry’s most prominent supporters of progressive causes, particularly women’s rights. He helped to endow a chair at Rutgers University in the name of Gloria Steinem, the feminist author, and in January he made a point of joining a women’s march at the Sundance Film Festival to protest against the serial groper in the White House. It goes without saying that he was hugger-mugger with the most prominent Democrats in the land. Last year he held a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, and earlier this year he employed Malia Obama, the ex-President’s daughter, as an intern. How big the scandal grows will depend on how complicit his colleagues were in his alleged wrongdoing. I don’t just mean his employees, many of whom stand accused of covering for their boss. I mean the filmmakers he has worked with for the past three decades. Gwyneth Paltrow broke cover earlier this week to claim she had been sexually harassed by Weinstein when she was 22. Why, then, did she thank him three years later when she won an Oscar for her performance in Shakespeare in Love? The same goes for Angelina Jolie and all the other actresses who have gone on the record only in the past week to describe the ordeals Harvey put them through. Why didn’t they speak up sooner? There are extenuating circumstances, of course. Weinstein is one of the most powerful producers in Hollywood and they probably feared their careers would suffer if they blew the whistle on him, assuming the allegations are true. Many of them also say they felt a deep, personal shame that they’d been abused in this way and didn’t want the world to know about it. No, the people whose careers may now be in danger are the male filmmakers who worked with him — people like Ben Affleck, the co-writer and co-star of Good Will Hunting, which Weinstein produced. He has said he is ‘saddened and angry’ about the alleged abuse, but the actress Rose McGowan, who claims she was assaulted by Weinstein in 1997, has accused Affleck of knowing all about his supposed behaviour. Affleck has not responded to her claim. Full disclosure: I met Harvey Weinstein at the Sundance Film Festival in 2007 and then at Cannes in 2008. Both times it was in connection with the film version of my book How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, which he had expressed an interest in producing. I had heard the same rumours about him as everyone else, but nothing concrete enough to write about. The reason these allegations haven’t surfaced until now is because no one has been willing to go on the record. Some people have come to Weinstein’s defence, not by pointing out he is innocent until proven guilty, but by claiming that the behaviour he has been accused of is par for the course in Hollywood. But the latest revelations in the New Yorker, if true, render that defence untenable. It feels like the end for Harvey Weinstein — and it’s a scandal which will infect dozens of others, too. Toby Young is associate editor of The Spectator. MICHAEL HEATH 68 the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk Spectator Sport Why the England team is so unexciting Roger Alton D uring a riveting session at the Cheltenham Literary Festival with sporting brainboxes Mike Brearley and Matthew Syed, discussion touched on the Ringelmann effect. This is the tendency for members of a group to perform less well together than individually. Old Ringelmann observed it in tug-ofwar in the early 20th century. On their own the athletes pulled a big weight. In a team they grunted, grimaced but didn’t pull so much. They were skiving; sheltering behind teammates. You can bet Ringelmann would be rubbing his hands over the state of the England football team. After a seemingly interminable World Cup qualifying campaign full of the dreariest football imaginable, England flopped across the line for Russia. Victory over Slovenia came in the last minute with a scuffed kick from Harry Kane. This was met with paper planes and bored or departing fans. But it’s the World Cup, for heaven’s sake. Why can’t more people get more excited? Partly it is the sheer length of this stuff: the fragmentation of Europe has given a load of micro-statelets a When players pull on the England shirt they seem to shrink qualifying place. England could be drawn against Tierra del Fuego, Chad and the Moon and still just qualify with a chain of dreary 1-0 wins. But many are good players with their clubs. Young Marcus Rashford, once hailed as the future of Manchester United, is a central part of the England set-up. But can he deliver? At Cheltenham an anguished fan pointed out that Rashford had delivered four lamentable corners to the near post against Slovenia but no one on the field had given him the bollocking he deserved. Where were the Shearers or the Bryan Robsons who wouldn’t stand for this rubbish? When England players pull on the shirt they seem to shrink; in other countries the players seem to grow. Look at Northern Ireland, a very moderate side indeed but now in the play-offs. And the Republic, beating Wales in front of ecstatic fans in Cardiff with even Roy Keane, sporting one of his overnight beards, smiling. But England’s qualification has been like all the others — a stream of dross fixtures and dross performances. Even though England might only be as good as Stoke City, and Northern Ireland only as good as Derby County, and no national team in the world could probably ever win the Champions League, it is still the World Cup and for countries which don’t have mega-billion leagues, it means so much. To see how much, watch Costa Rica’s equalising goal against Honduras in the fifth minute of added time to win a passage to Russia, or Egypt’s commentator barely able to speak through tears as Liverpool’s Mo Salah scored in the last minute to put them through. Iceland, with a population the size of Nottingham, have thrilled all neutrals with the best World Cup qualifying story in decades. They finished above Turkey, Croatia and Ukraine. Could England have done that? Sure, our players are good, but maybe just not that good. The top Premier League teams do not revolve around their England players, apart from Spurs. England lack a play-maker, though the Premier League has many great ones from overseas: Mata, Ozil, Coutinho or Hazard. There are no England names to match those. We have a team of 11 very good players, but so do a lot of other teams. The most successful sides have seven or eight very good players and then three or four outstanding ones. England have no outstanding ones who seem confident or good enough to take the ball forward at speed and take on defenders. As a result, England pass the ball sideways or backwards but are pretty unconvincing going forward. Gareth Southgate seems a decent fellow, much liked by all, but is he a big or forceful enough character to motivate an international team? Don’t hold your breath. DEAR MARY YOUR PROBLEMS SOLVED Q. A well-known television mogul,whom I had met only once, came to dinner at my house. I was on good culinary form and though I say it myself, the food and wine were exceptional. For various reasons it turned into an almost bespoke dinner for the mogul, in that the other guests were all people he had been desperate to meet, and so one way or another he became the guest of honour. He even struck some sort of deal with one of them. In any case we had a great evening and he thanked me profusely as he left. The next day I opened the door to find someone with an unimpressive bunch of flowers together with a card from the mogul. They looked like the sort of flowers in cellophane that one might pick up at a petrol station. Out of politeness, I wrote him an effusive card, which I realise in retrospect was the wrong thing to have done. How should I have thanked him while at the same time hinting that his floral tribute did not quite cut the mustard? — Name and address withheld A. You should have thanked him by text or email and included a photograph of the bunch. This image would have spoken louder than words. There is a real likelihood that either the florist has shortchanged him or that his secretary/PA had performed inadequately in her ordering. the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk Q. A perk of my job as a critic is a stream of press tickets to plays and ballets. I like to invite friends, but if we meet for dinner they invariably offer to pay the bill as a thank-you for the ticket. Even when I explain that the tickets haven’t cost me a penny, they insist. In wanting to treat friends, I end up the treated one. How can I avoid tussles over the bill? — L.F., Bayswater, London A. How about saying ‘and what’s more the tickets have come with a voucher for such and such [some local eaterie] so if you’re planning on dinner afterwards perhaps you could go there and I could join you for free’. Sort the ‘voucher’ out en route to the theatre by slipping into the restaurant and explaining the issue to them. In this way you will be able to still treat your friends to the theatre without the risk of their overdoing the payback. Q. One of my oldest friends is a wonderful but slightly selfobsessed man. He is godfather to my second-born, but always gives money to my eldest when he sees us, and nothing to my second. How can I gently remind him that it is the other daughter who is supposed to be his goddaughter? She is only young but is starting to notice and get upset. Last time he came, he gave a wonderful crisp £50 note to her older sister. — Name and address withheld A. You or your daughter should email him to say she is doing a ‘friendship tree’ for a school project. It includes all her godparents. Could he help to flesh out the project by supplying a short paragraph about himself? 69 LIFE Food Elle Decoration meets pub food Tanya Gold T he Mandrake is a new ‘design hotel’ in London, which means it is for people who treat Elle Decoration magazine as their primary source of op-ed. It lives in a red-brick terrace in Fitzrovia and it feels very odd, like a corpse with the beating heart of a baby, perhaps even a Beckham baby: would it have preferred to demolish the crusty frontage and establish itself inside Heathrow Terminal 5, or a giant fridge? Who can say? And why is it named after a poisonous plant? The entrance is dark, and haunted by black-suited men. I do not know what they do, besides lurk charismatically and pretend they work for Karl Lagerfeld, and he is in danger, perhaps from cheap skirts, or his own plastic surgeon. Inside, there is a checkin desk by a curved fake leopardskin sofa, an arrangement of black and white ostrich feathers, and a painting that looks like a Hieronymus Bosch repainted by toddlers and the animals of London Zoo. Design continues into the bar: there is a sculpture of a woman who is part tree, as women often are; a Design continues into the bar: there is a sculpture of a woman who is part tree, as women often are goat, or maybe gazelle, wearing peacock feathers; a skull with something crawling out of its head – like a writer! It’s potentially very meaningful if you are a cocaine addict but not otherwise. The maids are dressed as Edwardian maids; that is, pornography maids in white frilly aprons. They match the ostrich feathers, and this is insulting; it reminds me of Dubai, where they style the staff according to ethnic origin and height. These maids may be art installations. Or they may be real maids, in which case they should unionise and seek guidance from Len McCluskey. There is also a library. I love design hotel libraries because they stock books for people who don’t like reading but are pretentious enough to want books anyway, and here they are: Yves Saint Laurent (he made dresses); Margiela: The Hermès Years (he made coats with ‘fluid drapery’, whatever the hell that is) and Andy Warhol: Portraits (of other idiots). There is also a restaurant called Serge et le Phoque. It is a sequel to a Hong Kong restaurant which has been featured in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, which is sponsored by Miele. They make vacuum cleaners. Perhaps the pornography maids have Miele models, which they use to clean the bespoke tapestry. I can’t say. This restaurant, which is almost empty (two blonde women, the editor and me), is clearly an afterthought, inserted for the sake of form. Fashion people aren’t interested in food. It is the opposite of their culture. Serge et le Phoque does not have the naff horror of a sculpture bar, although there is a private dining room which is completely red, like Karl Lagerfeld unconscious on the operating table. It is long and light, with spindly velvet chairs and pale walls. Rather marvellously, as if the chef is completely normal and was employed by mistake, it serves pub food. I eat an enormous £14 cheese and ham toastie — or Croque Monsieur. But I prefer the word ‘toastie’, and the Mandrake Toastie is a steaming cheese brick. I also order a grim sirloin steak with chips so vast I cannot eat them. The ideal clientele could probably sit on them; perhaps hold a conversation with them. The editor does better with a tomato salad. But the restaurant cannot recover from the absence of fashion hags. Perhaps it will abduct them from the Chiltern Firehouse. Afterwards I visit the terrace. It is an outdoor room with seething walls of plant, and it seems to have nothing to do with London; rather, it denies London. I sit, and wonder how long it will take to die. Serge et le Phoque, The Mandrake, 20 Newman St, London W1T 1PG, tel: 020 3146 8880. MIND YOUR LANGUAGE Not so much ‘Kiss me mucho,’ sang my husband with a revolting leer, ‘and we’ll soar. And we’ll dance the dance of love forevermore.’ I poured myself a whisky in a vain attempt to catch up, and returned to my task. Not so much was the subject of my researches, and I soon wondered why it had only recently begun to annoy me. It qualifies as a catchphrase, I think, though some dictionaries of slang list it too. Much has been very productive of slang. Ben Jonson had characters exclaiming ‘Much!’ and meaning ‘not much’, 400 years ago. Contrariwise, since the second world war, Not 70 much! has been used to contradict a statement such as ‘I seldom drink’. Muchly has served as a humorous formulation for the past century or so, and by the 1970s was looked upon as a camp element in language. Another slangy formula caught on in the 1990s, following the pattern: Jealous much? Pathetic much? As for not so much, the usage that we are discussing is implicitly a response, as in: ‘Do you like Gefilte Fisch?’ ‘Not so much.’ Sometimes it defies standard English grammar: ‘I like this guy John Kennedy. Since him, not so much.’ We are not, then, discussing the phrase in contexts such as Not So Much a Programme, More a Way of Life (a television show produced by Ned Sherrin in 1964, between TW3 and BBC3). According to some slangologists, it has become very fashionable since 2010, but I have found examples of people complaining about it in 2006. Unsuccessful attempts have been made to find its roots in American Jewish culture. Others seek its origins in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (screened on television between 1997 and 2003), though that seems likely to be at most a propagator. Not so much boils down to the same meaning as Up to a point (which, in reply to Lord Copper, the newspaper proprietor in Scoop, was as near a negative as could be ventured). Having gained popularity as a formula for humour, not so much is likely to outlive its effectiveness for an irritatingly long time. As with Simples! or Been there, done that or Anytime soon, the success of its voguishness is its undoing. — Dot Wordsworth the spectator | 14 october 2017 | www.spectator.co.uk Subscribe to The Spectator Try 12 issues for just £12 HOW I WRITE: Irvine Welsh d Susan Hill d Geoff Dyer d Kamila Shamsie d Nicola Barker Adam Nicolson d Michael Moorcock d Gary Shteyngart d Francis Spufford 12 august 2017 [ £4.25 www.spectator.co.uk [ est. 1828 Fire and fury Jacob Heilbrunn on a lethal war of words Andrew J. 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