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How mean was Evelyn Waugh?

Mark Amory Race and rage in America Christopher Caldwell

16 july 2016 4.00 est. 1828







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The May supremacy

James Forsyth and Isabel Hardman
on how our new PM will rule


Heathrow is the UKs largest port, distributing British products around

the world. An expanded Heathrow with up to 40 new long haul destinations
and increased freight capacity will boost exports for British businesses.
It will add up to 211bn of growth across Britain.

established 1828

Camerons legacy

idway through his final cabinet

meeting, David Cameron realised with some horror that
it had turned into a political wake. Theresa
May had just lavished praise upon him, and
his eyes had moistened. Then it was George
Osbornes turn: the Chancellor was a bit
more humorous, but no less affectionate:
Being English, David, youll hate all this
praise, he said. Youre quite right, Cameron replied. I am English, and I dont much
like it. Fearing that every member of his
government was about to deliver an elegy,
he brought the meeting to an abrupt end.
Defining Camerons legacy is an important task for the Conservatives if they are
to build on it. The current implosion of the
Labour party, for example, can be traced to
Labours failure to manage the transition
after Tony Blairs premiership ended. When
Gordon Brown entered No. 10, he set about
dismantling the Blair legacy of public sector
reform. His vindictive destruction of any serious New Labour achievement, in an attempt
to make his own mark, ended up hollowing
out his party. It led first to the promotion of
the vacuous Ed Miliband and next to Jeremy
Corbyn and to the chaos Labour is now in.
Theresa May had no rivalry with David
Cameron, so the Prime Minister has no need
to take a wrecking ball to her predecessors
achievements. But if the Conservatives are to
build on these, they must first identify them.
Mr Cameron, like all politicians, cannot be
trusted to do it himself. Like all former prime
ministers, he wants to be remembered for his
pet projects. But also like all prime ministers, his greatest successes emerged from
policies he didnt expect to be quite so effective while many of his grandest ideas ran
The first year of Conservative majority
government has taught us that Cameron
was at his best when governing in coalition. Perhaps his greatest achievement was
the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

the selection and management of a talented

team and allowing them to get on with it.
Under Cameron, No. 10 was not pulling all
the strings of government. The action was
dispersed to different power bases: Michael
Goves school reforms; Iain Duncan Smiths
welfare reforms. In the Blair years, journalists used to call No. 10 to find out what was
happening in the government. Under Cameron, No. 10 aides called journalists for the
same reason.
Camerons notorious chillaxing style
did entail a lack of attention to detail that
eventually was his undoing. But his ability
to devolve and to stick by his ministers,
rather than sack them, when things got tough
was responsible for the extraordinary

At its best, his premiership was rooted

in a fundamental faith in the courage
and character of the British people
achievement of his six years in power. His
last visit as Prime Minister was to one of the
free schools that are known as Goves legacy
rather than Camerons. But that school
in Hounslow, west London is only there
because Cameron hired the right man to do
the right job and lent his support when it was
needed. That is a rare and effective form of
political leadership. Cameron was not an
originator of great ideas, but he was an excellent employer of great ideas and that is
more important.
His obstinacy also led him to defy conventional fiscal wisdom: to cut 440,000 public sector jobs at a time when many argued
that this would create a Keynesian-style paradox of thrift, and lead to far greater unemployment. As so often, the neo-Keynesians
were confounded six private-sector jobs
were created for every public-sector job axed
by government. While the rest of Europe
responded to the economic crisis by imposing greater regulation on business, Cameron

embarked on significant deregulation. Crucially, he made it far harder for employers to

be taken to a tribunal over spurious claims.
He offered 2,000 reductions on National
Insurance bills for small businesses. He cut
corporation tax. He created incentives for
companies to hire staff.
And hire they did. The jobs miracle
31.6 million jobs in all, more than at any point
in British history has yet to be properly
understood. Cameron leaves office at a time
when the employment rate is the highest
ever recorded, at 74.2 per cent. Supply-side
and labour market reforms had a greater
potency than anyone expected; this is perhaps the greatest single lesson of the postcrash era. As Mrs May openly contemplates
interfering with businesses, telling them who
they must appoint to their boards, she should
remember the rich economic and social dividend from Camerons restraint in office.
Income inequality fell under Cameron
because tax cuts were focused on the lowpaid and welfare was reformed to encourage people to escape poverty through work.
Where Cameron sought to meddle, it usually
ended in a U-turn and ignominy. When he
forced government back, his boldness was
rewarded. At its best, his premiership was
rooted in a fundamental faith in the courage
and character of the British people.
Britains prosperity became a magnet for
the worlds newly mobile workers, creating
an immigration problem that Cameron was
unable to solve. It also created the conditions
for Brexit: a momentous vote of national
self-confidence and the greatest-ever popular endorsement of the project of the United Kingdom. Theresa May takes over at a
remarkable juncture in history, when Conservatism is ready for its next stage. Her
premiership should aim to move away from
past mistakes as all governments do. But
it must also be based on a frank acknowledgment of what Cameron got right.

On Dadas porcelain pissoir, p32

Memories of Waugh, p26

Lincoln cathedral
vs Machu Picchu, p53



Leading article

Portrait of the Week

Diary My week in the news

Robert Peston

11 The Spectators Notes Winning

women, Mark Carney and hate crime
Charles Moore
13 Barometer May trivia, international
NHS patients, Oxonian PMs
17 Rod Liddle At least Corbyn
stands for something
18 From the archive Peace terms
20 Ancient and modern
Themistocles and Tony Blair
21 Mary Wakefield
The citalopram generation
23 James Delingpole Brexiteers won
the battle. Now weve lost the war
24 Letters Parris and Leavers;
cooking marmots; catching flies
25 Any other business So will we
really get boardroom reform?
Martin Vander Weyer

12 Best heels forward

Theresa May wont be exciting
but she might yet be radical
James Forsyth
14 Shes another Chamberlain
Joe, not Neville
John OSullivan
16 Beware the aides of May
These are some very special advisers
Isabel Hardman
18 Cops and killers
Americas summer of rage
Christopher Caldwell
20 Olympic shames
How will poor Rio cope?
Georgia Grimond
22 To be a pilgrim
A tradition finds strange new forms
Daniel Hitchens

26 Mark Amory
Evelyn Waugh: A Life Revisited,
by Philip Eade; Evelyn Waugh:
Writers and their Work,
by Ann Pasternak Slater

28 Harry Mount
Ancient Worlds: An Epic History of
East and West, by Michael Scott
29 Sarah Ditum
In the Darkroom, by Susan Faludi
Ian Thomson

The Day Before Happiness,

by Erri De Luca
30 Rose George
Tide: The Science and Lore of the
Greatest Force on Earth,
by Hugh Aldersey-Williams
31 Sam Byers
A Field Guide to Reality,
by Joanna Kavenna
Alex Clark

Fell, by Jenn Ashworth

Cover by Morten Morland. Drawings by Michael Heath, Castro, Phil Disley, RGJ, Kipper Williams, Nick Newman, Paul Wood, Adam Singleton, Geoff Thompson, Grizelda,
K.J. Lamb, Sally Artz, Dredge, Tony Husband, Mike Williams, Carol Stokes, Cluff and Bernie. To subscribe to The Spectator for 111 a year, turn to page 24 Editorial and advertising The Spectator, 22 Old Queen Street, London SW1H 9HP,
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Distributor COMAG Specialist, Tavistock Works, Tavistock Road, West Drayton, Middlesex UB7 7QX Vol 331; no 9803 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

the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

Cydney in the Dor-dog-ne, p46

Progressive pilgrims, p22

Georgia OKeeffes
tinted photography, p34

32 Stephen Bayley The truth about
Duchamps Fountain

45 High life Taki
Low life Jeremy Clarke

34 Music Mozarts Tempest

Boyd Tonkin
Exhibitions Georgia OKeeffe
Martin Gayford

46 Real life Melissa Kite

36 Theatre Unreachable; Fury

Lloyd Evans

47 Long life Alexander Chancellor

48 Wild life Aidan Hartley
Bridge Susanna Gross

Waughs first name for

Lord Copper was Ottercreek,
which made identification with
Lord Beaverbrook easier
Mark Amory, p26
In an act of pure Dada, the baroness
accidentally gassed herself in 1927,
but not before publicly wearing
tomato soup cans as a bra
Stephen Bayley, p32

49 Wine club Jonathan Ray

37 Opera Leonore;
I Capuleti e i Montecchi;
Richard Bratby

42 Notes on Holiday reading
Emily Rhodes

38 Cinema Ghostbusters
Deborah Ross

50 Chess Raymond Keene

Competition Lucy Vickery

39 Television James Walton

The Heckler Notes on the Type
Robert Colvile

51 Crossword Columba
52 Status anxiety Toby Young
Battle for Britain Michael Heath

40 Radio Kate Chisholm

53 The Wiki Man Rory Sutherland

These days in Kenya killing

a buffalo is verboten, even
in ones herbaceous border
Aidan Hartley, p48

Your problems solved

Mary Killen
54 Drink Bruce Anderson
Mind your language

Dot Wordsworth

John OSullivan, who
writes about Theresa May on
p. 14, was a speechwriter for
Margaret Thatcher, and is
editor of Quadrant.

Daniel Hitchens, who

investigates modern
pilgrimages on p. 22, is deputy
editor of the Catholic Herald.

the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

Mark Amory was

The Spectators literary editor
for approximately 30 years
from 1985, and edited the 1981
edition of Evelyn Waughs
letters. He reviews the latest
Waugh dispatches on p. 26.

Rose George is the author

of books on shipping (Ninety
Percent of Everything) and
human waste (The Big
Necessity). She contemplates
the tides on p. 30.

Robert Colvile, who

denounces typographical notes
on p. 39, has been comment
editor of the Telegraph and
UK news director of Buzzfeed.
His first book, The Great
Acceleration, came out in April.

heresa May became Prime Minister
and leader of the Conservative party
when Andrea Leadsom withdrew her
candidacy for election by party members.
This came after a front-page report by
the Times based on an interview with Mrs
Leadsom in which she said: I feel being
a mum means you have a very real stake
in the future of our country a tangible
stake. She [Mrs May] possibly has nieces,
nephews, lots of people, but I have children,
who are going to have children. Her
remarks were criticised by some fellow
Conservatives, which Mrs Leadsom found
shattering. Mrs May said gnomically that
Brexit means Brexit. David Cameron,
who had been booed when he watched
tennis in the royal box at Wimbledon,
agreed to tender his resignation to the
Queen after Prime Ministers Questions on
Wednesday. Larry the Downing Street cat
decided to stay at No. 10.

abours national executive ruled that

Jeremy Corbyn did not need the
backing of 20 per cent of Labour MPs and
MEPs to stand for re-election as party
leader against a challenge by Angela
Eagle and Owen Smith. Labour party
members who have joined in the past six
months were denied a vote, but for 2
could gain one by joining a union. A brick
was thrown through the window of Ms
Eagles constituency office during the night
when no one was there. She said that Mr
Corbyn needed to get control of people
supporting him. Serena Williams won
her seventh Wimbledon singles final and

Andy Murray his second. Sir Cliff Richard

began legal action against the BBC and
South Yorkshire Police over live coverage
of a raid on his house in 2014 by police
investigating allegations of sexual abuse
that proved groundless.
he petitions committee said that
there would be a Commons debate
on September 5 on a petition signed by
4.1 million people asking the government
to implement a rule that if the Remain
or Leave vote is less than 60 per cent,
based on a turnout of less than 75 per cent,
there should be another referendum. The
government is to buy nine new maritime
patrol aeroplanes from Boeing in a
3 billion deal entailing a facility for the
aircraft at RAF Lossiemouth in Moray.
Britain is to send 500 soldiers to Estonia
and 150 to Poland, with 3,000 on call, to
counter Russias threat in the region.
Poundland agreed to a 597 million
takeover by a South African retail group,
Steinhoff International. The shirt worn
by Sir Geoff Hurst when England won
the World Cup in 1966, which had been
estimated to fetch 300,000-500,000 at
auction, failed to meet its reserve price at

black former soldier, Micah Xavier
Johnson, aged 25, shot dead five
policemen and wounded 11 people in
Dallas, Texas, before being killed by a
bomb sent by a police robot during a standoff. In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, protests
continued after police killed a black man

on 5 July. America sent 560 more troops

to Iraq, some of them to be stationed at
Qayara airbase, south of Mosul, recaptured
from the Islamic State last Saturday. Saudi
Arabia arrested 19, including 12 Pakistanis,
as it investigated the bombs set off at
Medina and two other cities. Thousands
crossed to Colombia after Venezuela
opened the border for 12 hours to allow
people to buy food and medicine.
t least 25 people died when two
passenger trains collided head-on on a
single-track line between Bari and Barletta
on the Adriatic coast of Italy. The
European Central Bank required the
Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (founded
1472) to reduce its holdings of bad debt.
Portugal and Spain faced fines after
the European Council found that both
countries had not tried hard enough to
prevent their deficits exceeding 3 per cent
of GDP. The matador Victor Barrio, 29,
died when he was gored in the chest during
a fight being broadcast live from Teruel.

he Permanent Court of Arbitration at

The Hague ruled that China had no
historic rights to the waters or resources
within an area claimed in the South China
Sea that includes the Spratly Islands, the
Paracels and the Scarborough Shoal; China
said in response that the tribunal had no
jurisdiction. Ikea recalled its popular Malm
chests of drawers after six children were
crushed to death in North America when
the furniture toppled on to them. In Java,
12 people died of dehydration in a traffic
jam that built up during hot weather as
Ramadan ended.

the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

Robert Peston

first met a boyish, sunny Tony

Blair more than 20 years ago. Our
encounters have always been slightly
tense since I reported some clumsy
remarks he made about tax when he
was still an apprentice PM and he
reacted much as Andrea Leadsom did
against the Times last week (though via
A. Campbell rather than Twitter). On
Wednesday afternoon at Admiralty
House he is a stricken caricature of
how he was: painfully thin; waxy skin;
astonishingly terrible teeth. He is a
brilliant actor but not that good: he has
been tormenting himself over Chilcot.
But he isnt sorry for the invasion, as
he told me, and would do it again if
circumstances repeated. His journey
from fted hero in 1997 to perhaps
the most isolated man in Britain is a
national tragedy. That said, he still knows
the tricks. My cameraman Chris told
me afterwards that Blair played to an
imaginary audience just to his left with a
skill and pathos like no other politician.

a bit distracted because Andrea

Leadsom has just accused her on Twitter
of the worst gutter journalism Ive ever
seen. Oof. I dont even have to see the
Times headline or hear Rachels account
of what happened to know Leadsom is
in trouble. Earlier in the day her aide
told me that she would not appear on
my show or do any media on Sunday, the
first proper day in the leadership contest,
because she needed to recharge.

ater, at the Spectator party, I run into

one of Michael Goves team, and
ask if that now notorious email by Sarah
Vine, his wife, was leaked deliberately as
part of a fiendish plot to soften people
up for his betrayal of Boris. I am shown
another message that supposedly proves
Vine was being clumsy-fingered and had
accidentally sent the incendiary email to
a consumer products PR. So was that the
source of the leak? It would be a brave
PR who would pass such a message
on and risk alienating a columnist as
formidable as Vine. I suspect we dont
yet have all the jigsaw pieces.

t Wimbledon I run into a hedgefunder, and ask whether Britain

is now the Big Short. He funded the
Leave campaign and has made a colossal
fortune from betting on sterlings postBrexit fall. Does he think leaving the EU
will make us all richer? Well, not before
creative destruction on a terrifying scale.
Like me, he fears a ballooning in the
UKs already excessive current account
deficit which would precipitate a
further fall in the pound of at least 10
per cent. That would be inflationary and
force an increase in the cost of capital.
We would see sharp falls in asset prices
and potentially a deep recession. Maybe

the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

we would emerge as an economy leaner

and meaner in the long term. But only
after huge pain for millions, especially the
poor although my hedge-fund pal and
his chums would become considerably
wealthier from their short-sterling position.
People dont really like the rich very much
at the moment, he says to me. Oh dear.
t a north London dinner party, my
neighbour is the Times interviewer
Rachel Sylvester, who suddenly becomes

reparing for my show, I have to

take a sharp intake of breath. Piers
Morgan in the Mail on Sunday quotes
me as saying that Boris Johnson would
have been an absolute shambles as
prime minister. I probably did say it. I
worked for Johnson at this magazine,
and he drove me bonkers with his
dithering and changes of heart. But
thats not the point. I wasnt on the
TV sofa with Piers; I was having a jolly
private chat with him at the birthday
party of mutual friends. Still, thats too
nice a distinction for him and I should
have known better. Biter bitten.

aving just done the last of the

first series of Peston on Sunday,
I suddenly feel overwhelmingly sad. Dad
died ten days before episode one. I wish
he had seen it.

n Monday, Angela Eagle, standing

in front of pink Union flags,
announces her mission to defenestrate
Corbyn. I am trying to remember
what I didnt ask her yesterday on the
show when my paparazzo cousin Alan
Davidson asks me if Ive heard that
Leadsom is making a statement. Flippin
eck. Quick call confirms she is over in
Cowley Street, about to pull out of the
Tory leadership contest. I have to dash,
because well have a new PM any minute
now. But no one tells Eagle, who very
generously and on live television
calls me out to ask her a question,
when I am already hot and sweaty half
a mile away. Hope Eagle forgives me. I
tweet her that I am pretty sure Leadsom
didnt quit the Tory race with the express
purpose of destabilising her attempt to
make Labour electable though in
these strange days you cant be sure.

Robert Peston is ITVs political editor.


Charles Moore

n Tuesday night in London, I spoke

to Women2Win, a Conservative
organisation dedicated to recruiting
more women candidates. My title,
suggested long ago, was The Woman
Who Won. It referred to Margaret
Thatcher. The day before my speech
was delivered, another woman (and
former chairman of Women2Win) won,
so now there are two. Everyone seized
the moment to compare and contrast
them. There is a clear difference between
Theresa Mays situation today and Mrs
Thatchers in 1975. Mrs May, like Ted
Heath in 1975, represents the side that
just lost, Mrs Thatcher the side with a
new idea about how to win. Mrs May
is the establishment candidate: Mrs
Thatcher was the insurgent. Part of the
latters insurgency was her sex, which
brought something new and challenging
to political leadership. Today the cause of
women in politics is so much advanced
that a woman can be the safety first
candidate. A related difference is
that Mrs Thatchers electorate for the
leadership only MPs was more than
90 per cent male. Today, a woman wouldbe leader facing the same constituency
has to appeal to her own sex as well as the
opposite one. This makes her calculations
more complicated and her stance more
consensual. One reason Andrea Leadsom
was ferociously jumped on for arguing
that her motherhood was a qualification
for leadership was that her words
implied an attack on another woman,
the childless Mrs May. In her contest
with the unmarried Heath, Mrs Thatcher
said publicly, All this is so wretched for
him And unlike me he hasnt a family
around him from which to draw strength.
She survived this dig unrebuked. If her
opponent had been a woman, she could
not have done.

confident unaccountability, those

menacing, charmless jokes. It also captures
the nature of the two organisations
as currently run and reminds us that,
precisely because their leaders do not
recognise it, they must change.

rexit means Brexit, says our

new Prime Minister, but that
does not tell us what she thinks Brexit
would involve. Given the immense
resourcefulness of the EU in perpetuating
itself, one must guard against solutions
which appear to satisfy Brexit conditions,
but leave reality little changed. They
might resemble how France withdrew
from the military command of Nato in

the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

t keeps being said that racist hate

crime has increased as a result of
the referendum. One must bear in
mind how the public authorities define
these things, as confirmed this week by
Alison Saunders, the Director of Public
Prosecutions. The Macpherson report
on Stephen Lawrence set the current
rule. It defined a racist incident as any
incident which is perceived to be racist
by the victim or any other person. The
police are instructed to log all such
incidents as racist incidents. So you only
have to have more people reporting
what they see as racist incidents for an
exactly corresponding rise in the number
of recorded racist incidents. There is no
independent way of judging whether
these incidents really were racist (or
indeed, ever happened at all), so the
uninvestigated figures tell you nothing
whatever, except about the number of
people who, for whatever reason good,
bad, mad, political complain. There
have also been many incidents of Remain
people insulting Leave voters. An artist
friend, for example, whose eyesight is
too bad to drive, was in a party painting
rural landscapes. She was refused a lift
to the painting site by one of her fellows
because of the way she had voted. There
is no way of logging this sort of behaviour
with the police (unless the victim wishes
to perceive it as racist), but it is just as
unpleasant as someone who is rude to
Poles. By the way, the worst threats of
violence at present seem to be offered
not by Leave racists, but by Corbyn fans
against his challengers.

1966. This assertion of French sovereignty

by De Gaulle involved, among other things,
the withdrawal of non-French Nato troops
from French soil. In reality, however, the
secret Lemnitzer-Ailleret accords between
the United States and France ensured that
France remained bound into participation in
Cold War hostilities. Over time, French selfexclusion became less and less significant.
In 2009, President Sarkozy reintegrated
France into the Nato command structure.
An EU equivalent of this process might
tempt a Remain-led government, but would
be disastrous for trust. If Mrs May does not
grasp this, she will gradually be weakened as
disgruntled Brexiteers try to hold her kittenheeled feet to the fire.
ritics say the Bank of England put
itself under suspicion by entering the
referendum fray. Now Mark Carney says its
warnings are being borne out by the postreferendum economic reaction. He misses
the point. By having made those warnings
himself, even if he sincerely believed them,
he became like a politician trying to win,
rather than a public servant trying honestly
to manage either outcome. The more loudly
he tries to vindicate himself and attack the
motives of his accusers, the more clearly this
is proved. It would damage confidence if
Mr Carney were to leave his job suddenly,
particularly if the government pushed him;
but surely he should quietly be booking a
flight home to Canada by Christmas.

friend, himself a Remainer, describes

Jean-Claude Juncker to me as the
Sepp Blatter of the EU. It is a brilliant
comparison although I hasten to assure
Mr Junckers lawyers (and indeed Mr
Blatters) that I repudiate any suggestion
of corruption against either man. It captures
that unmerited sense of ownership, that

t will be so nice if David Cameron sticks

to his promise and stays in Parliament.
After some backbench recuperation,
he would be an ideal foreign secretary
and above-the-fray elder statesman.
The timing of his departure also frees the
Camerons from their obeisance to state
education in time to get their son Elwen,
aged ten, into Eton.


She doesnt do likes

Theresa May wont be exciting but she may well be radical

s Tory MPs gathered at St Stephens

entrance in Parliament to await
their new leader on Monday afternoon, a choir in Westminster Hall began
to sing. The hosannas spoke to the sense
of relief among Tory MPs: they had been
spared a long and divisive nine-week leadership contest. A period of political blood-letting brutal even by Tory standards was coming to an end. The United Kingdom would
have a new Prime Minister.
More than relief, there was hope for the
bulk of MPs who had previously not been
marked out for advancement. Theresa
Mays accession shows that the narrow rules
which were thought to govern modern British politics are not hard and fast. May is not
one of the shiny people. She isnt a member
of a gilded political set. Her success is the triumph of hard grind, perseverance and determination. She kept her head when all about
her were losing theirs.
Mays career is very different from Tony
Blairs and David Camerons. She was in
her forties, not thirties, when she became an
MP. Her political experience before Parliament came from being a councillor. It has
taken her 19 years from taking her seat in
the Commons to reach Downing Street,
compared with nine years for Cameron and
14 for Blair. She is also older than both of
those men were, not only than when they
first entered No. 10, but when they left it too.
What a lot of us love is that she is older
than us. Everything is possible, says one
Tory minister who backed her. A cabinet
minister told me that Mays arrival marks
the end of the fashion for younger, mediafriendly leaders. It is strange to think that
David Cameron is leaving Downing Street
before he has turned 50.
In terms of class, too, May represents
a break from Cameron and Blair. Its true
that she went to Oxford, and she is married
to another successful Oxford graduate. But
she isnt a member of the Notting Hill set
or anything like that. She was a provincial
grammar-school girl.
Perhaps the biggest difference between
her and Cameron and Blair is that she has
no gang: there arent any Mayites. On Monday night, Tory MPs did not raucously celebrate her elevation in the Commons bars, in
the way they might have done if another figure had won. Rather, they quietly discussed


the direction shell take the country in; what

kind of Brexit shell go for; and who will get
what job under her.
May does have a team of fiercely loyal
aides. Her former advisers Nick Timothy,
Fiona Hill and Stephen Parkinson all
returned to the colours for her leadership

May is not an ideological politician.

She has little time for labels or
grand unifying theories
bid. They represent another change in style.
As one minister observes, Compared to the
Cameron people, these people are known to
us. We have their phone numbers. Interestingly, both Parkinson and Timothy backed
Leave in the referendum.
Nobody was sure who May would appoint
to which ministerial posts. She doesnt do
likes, a cabinet minister told me. As one of
her backers put it, This is a meritocracy, or
the nearest well get to it.
May plays her cards close to her chest on
most issues, particularly on personnel questions. No one knows what she thinks of
people. Not even her junior ministers, one
minister told me. But she knows. Shes been
sitting round the cabinet table for six years,
forming judgments on people, said another.
As Home Secretary, May was a robust

voice in cabinet on Home Office and security matters and she fought her corner
when challenged. But she tended not to
weigh in on other matters. Cabinet colleagues have little idea of her views on the
economy, for instance. Her long-serving parliamentary colleagues dont know either.
Which is surprising, since May started her
professional life at the Bank of England and
is better qualified than most to opine on the
economy. The fact that she did not, since it
was not her brief, says much about her.
May is not an ideological politician. She
has little time for labels or grand unifying
theories. She is driven by a sense of duty.
She is often characterised as a cautious politician. But this isnt quite right. It is true
that she likes to approach issues incrementally, but she has been quite bold as Home
Secretary. She has taken on the police, for
instance, in a way that never happened
under Margaret Thatcher.
Mays work on the stop and search
issue sheds intriguing light on her character.
Sources say that she took action after hearing from young black Britons who had to
deal with being stopped by the police on a
regular basis for no good reason. Her ability to understand how that made people
feel shows that, for all the talk of her steely
character, she is empathic. Those close to
the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

her suggest that the polices misuse of power

offended her sense of decency.
That same sense of decency means shell
have little time for companies and individuals that use morally dubious ruses to
avoid paying tax. Those vested interests in
the private sector which think no Tory will
ever really take them on should look at how
May has been prepared to tackle the police
as Home Secretary. Shell also be less interested in courting the Davos elite than many
previous occupants of No. 10 have been. It
isnt her style.
May will never be an exciting politician.
She wouldnt want to be. Her childhood hero
was Geoffrey Boycott. (One of the Whitehall battles she lost was over an effort to get
him a knighthood.) Yet there is, perhaps, a
better parallel between her and the current
England captain, Alastair Cook. Neither is a
swashbuckling player they dont empty
the bars or make the pundits purr. But both
have developed approaches that successfully emphasise their strengths while accepting
their limitations.
rguably, the greatest challenge for May
will be doing a job in which she cannot
be across the detail on every issue. As Home
Secretary, much of her confidence comes
from knowing her brief better than anyone.
It enables her to hold her own in discussions
with colleagues, arguments with her opponents and on the floor of the House of Commons. As Prime Minister, it is not possible to
know the details of every question that you
must decide. Shes more Brown than Blair,
and shes got to find a way of doing the job
that doesnt drive her mad, concedes one of
her biggest supporters on the Tory benches.
The other thing that May will not be able
to do as Prime Minister is micromanage. As
Home Secretary, she has run a tight ship.
Those junior ministers who valued autonomy have found her overbearing. In her
leadership campaign, May tried to reassure
colleagues about her approach. At the second 1922 Committee hustings she emphasised that she would restore proper cabinet
government. In meetings with cabinet ministers, she has stressed that she would aim to
see them regularly for face-to-face meetings
to discuss how to handle issues that concern
their departments.
David Cameron promised the same. He
said he would restore cabinet government
and proper consultation with colleagues. But
once in office, he reverted to a more closed
system of governing. It remains to be seen
whether May really can alter her way of
One area in which May must give ministers more freedom to manoeuvre is in agreeing new trade deals. One cabinet minister,
who campaigned vigorously for Remain,
admitted to me this week that he had been
taken aback by how many countries were
interested in making trade deals with the

the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

UK. It is vital that our country is in a position to sign as many of these as it can as fast
as possible after leaving the EU. Early deals
would create momentum for more and show
that Britain was intent on being an open,
outward-looking nation. That is one of the
keys to making a success of Brexit.
What will Theresa May do between now
and the next scheduled general election in
2020? Well, there will be Britains exit from
the European Union to negotiate. I understand that May has also told colleagues that
she still regards the last Tory manifesto as
operative, and wants to carry on implementing it. One close ally of hers tells me that we
will see accentuations to the 2015 agenda
rather than wholesale departures from it.
But May appears to understand that the
defeat for the status quo in the EU referendum was about more than Europe, that too
many people feel that the economy doesnt
work for them. The great challenge for postBrexit Britain is to make the country an
attractive place for investment while dealing
with the unacceptable faces of capitalism.
Another thing confirmed by the EU
referendum was the divide between London, which voted heavily to remain, and the
bulk of England which voted to leave. Part
of this Leave vote was motivated by a sense
that their regions were being left behind.
In her victory speech to Tory MPs on Monday, May emphasised the need to help parts
of the UK that felt this way. If this is to be
done, the quality of schooling in these areas
will need to be addressed 28 per cent of
pupils in the north-east are going to schools
that require improvement. In Blackpool and
Doncaster, more than half of all pupils are at
failing schools. That entrenches inequality in
our country.
The Tory party turned to Theresa May
because she was seen as offering stability
and steadiness in a time of great uncertainty. As the drama of the Tory leadership contest intensified, her cool temperament only
became more appealing. But she may well
turn out to be an unexpected radical, ushering in changes to the UK that go far beyond


Nuggets on May
Some trivia about Theresa May
At 59, she is the oldest new prime
minister since Jim Callaghan, 64, in 1976.
She has the shortest surname of any
prime minister since Andrew Bonar Law,
who held the post for 211 days in 1923.
She is the first childless PM since
Edward Heath
She is one of three recent prime
ministers whose fathers were preachers:
Gordon Brown is the son of a Church of
Scotland minister and Lady Thatchers
father was a Methodist preacher as well as
shopkeeper. In spite of her father being a
Church of England vicar, Theresa May at
one point attended a convent school
Like Lady Thatcher, May suffered a
by-election failure before securing a safe
Conservative seat. While Thatcher failed
to secure the Tory candidacy, however,
Theresa fought the Barking by-election of
1994, but saw the Conservative share of the
vote plunge to 10.4% from 33.9% in 1992.

International operations
It was revealed that 849 overseas residents
were given cataract operations on the NHS
last year. What do health tourists cost the
taxpayer, according to the government?
EEA visitors who fall ill here:
Visitors from outside EEA who fall ill
in Britain:
Expats who return for treatment: 94m
Irregular migrants who fall ill
in Britain:
People who travel to Britain specifically
for NHS treatment:

Labour classes
Who will vote in Labours leadership
election? A leaked document in January,
when the party had 388,000 members,
suggested that some of them fitted the
following socioeconomic classifications
devised by credit agency Experian:
Labour members
British population
City Prosperity (high status,
substantial salaries)
Family Basics (raising children
on limited budgets)

Isis victory

The note says, Support the newer, kinder style

of politics or suffer the consequences.

Theresa May is yet one more prime

minister to have attended Oxford.
University affiliations of postwar PMs:
Oxford: Clement Attlee, Anthony Eden,
Harold Macmillan, Alec Douglas-Home,
Harold Wilson, Edward Heath, Margaret
Thatcher, Tony Blair, David Cameron,
Theresa May
Edinburgh: Gordon Brown
No university: Winston Churchill,
James Callaghan, John Major

Shes another Chamberlain

Joseph, not Neville

ne name leapt off the text of Theresa

Mays Birmingham speech, which
began as the launch of her leadership campaign but morphed instantly into a
programme for her government this week.
It was that of Joseph Chamberlain, who was
listed by the new Tory leader in her apostolic
succession of great conservatives.
It became clear as May developed the
themes of her new Conservatism, moreover,
that Chamberlain senior wasnt being praised
just because she happened to be speaking
in Birmingham the city he made into a
worldwide symbol of great municipal government. She intended to follow in the footsteps of Radical Joe. And that could take
her along very different paths from those
trodden by both David Cameron and Margaret Thatcher.
Chamberlain is little celebrated today.
But he was the most brilliant, inventive, and
unpredictable politician in late Victorian
England, and his brilliance seems to be understood by Mays adviser Nick Timothy (see
Isabel Hardmans profile on page 16). Originally a successful businessman, Chamberlain became Liberal mayor of Birmingham
while still young, and pioneered large-scale
improvements in education, housing, and
social services. He entered Parliament with
an established reputation as a radical but
effective social reformer; Queen Victoria
thought him dangerous; Lord Salisbury
described him as a Sicilian bandit.
From his position as leader of the radical Liberal caucus, he campaigned for major
social reforms within the party from 1884
onwards, then, crossing the floor to the
Tories, he sought to transform the ramshackle British empire into an efficient economic
federation that would sustain Britains great
power status indefinitely and he might
have succeeded if he had not been cut down
by a stroke. He was ambitious in everything
he did, being later described by Winston
Churchill as a man who made the weather.
Mays speech had too many echoes of
Radical Joe to be a coincidence. Chamberlain presented himself as a reliable friend of
the working class in politics, an affection that
was reciprocated. Chamberlain was known
as Our Joe to the workers, and he never
neglected his links with them. He pushed the
Salisbury Tories into a series of moderate
social reforms even before crossing the floor,


and one of his motives for tariff reform was

to finance a larger welfare state.
May was no less clear in her declarations.
The third of her principles of government
was a country that works not for the privileged few but for every one of us. This was
followed by a grim account of the difficulties
facing a working class family in todays economy (under George Osborne) that climaxed
with: under my leadership, the Conservative party will put itself completely, absolutely, unequivocally at the service of
ordinary working people.
Chamberlain wasnt averse to a strong
dose of class war. In 1885 he made what
became known as the ransom speech, which
assumed that the new democratic electorate
would demand social reform. How would that
be financed? He argued that it must come

Mays Birmingham speech

had too many echoes of
Radical Joe to be a coincidence
from the rich and continued ominously:
But then, I ask, what ransom will property
pay for the security which it enjoys? May has
similar things to say about people and companies that dont pay their taxes (notably
Google), that indulge in asset stripping (notably Pfizer), and who award each other vast
salaries that dont seem to be much related
to performance, while keeping wages low.
She wants shareholders to have the final say
on what CEOs and boards earn.
Chamberlain was a firm believer in activist government for social improvement. His
ransom speech was a declaration that Liberalism was moving from a philosophy of
restraint upon conservative (aristocratic)

What a performer hes stilts on stilts!

government towards one of support for activist (popular) government. May plainly wants
Britain to move from a free market philosophy that restrains government to one of government activism, economically as well as
socially. She feels that there is not enough
dynamism in a UK economy marked by low
productivity (sorry, George), wants lower
prices and more reliable supply in energy
policy (goodbye to greenery?) and favours
an industrial strategy that will pick winners,
keep a watch on foreign takeovers if they
threaten job losses and create new Treasury
mechanisms to raise more funds for infrastructure investment.
Unfortunately for May, Chamberlain and
governments since him have done all the easy
social reforms, which are now seen to create
their own problems, such as dependency (not
much addressed in Mays remarks). As for
her economic reforms, some seem sensible.
Others, such as appointing consumer and
worker representatives to company boards,
will add to regulation and weaken fiduciary
responsibilities without contributing much to
efficiency, or even fairness. And debt, however cheap, still has to be repaid, which is
harder to do if the money goes into projects
that promise political rewards but no decent
return on capital. That sometimes happens
too. There clings to these ideas some of the
flavour of the Macmillan-Wilson-Heath
years of incomes policy, indicative planning,
participation, etc, which we know from experience doesnt end well.
Chamberlain was famous, too, for seeking
to transform the agglomeration of disparate
British colonies into a coherent military and
trading imperial federation what he came
to call Greater Britain. That isnt what May
has in mind by Brexit must mean Brexit.
But there are various alternatives to Europe
that no one considered while the EU was the
status quo, varying from simple trade deals
with other countries or the Commonwealth
to complex schemes such as James C. Bennetts Canzuk, which adds military co-operation, liberalised migration rules, and other
co-operative measures to free trade with
Canada, Australia, New Zealand and, in time,
Singapore and India. May is going to have to
consider these things if she is to give Brexit
a positive, global, optimistic gloss rather than
making it seem an extended damage limitation exercise. And she has a chance here to
improve on Chamberlain, since his ideas of
imperial federation were killed by the stroke
that disabled him. It might also give her the
central Big Idea that she currently lacks.
None of this will be easy. Her small
retreats from the free market could be dangerous if they grow larger. But she seems a
more interesting politician as a result of her
Birmingham speech than she did before. And
she can take comfort from Chamberlains
reply when asked how he differed from his
great rival, Balfour. Arthur hates difficulties,
he said. I love em.
the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

As a boy, I picked up
an extra paper round
in Petersfield to save
for flying lessons.
Richard Pillans, Boeing UK Chief Test Pilot

As a boy, I picked up an extra paper round in Petersfield to save for flying lessons. I managed to get my pilots
licence before I could even drive a car. Its freeing to get up in the air and see the world from that perspective.
Even though I left the British military I still feel like Im part of it as a civilian test pilot. The data we gather proves
the Chinooks are safe before the frontline fly them. We feel good about supporting the team overseas.



Mays man of influence

Nick Timothy: agenda setter, guru and champion of ordinary people

ivil servants in the Home Office,

even the senior ones, always felt a
little nervous when walking towards
Theresa Mays office. It wasnt so much
the meeting with the Home Secretary that
they dreaded as the characters who lurked
in the room directly outside hers. One senior official describes a typical scene: Fiona
Hill, one of Mays special advisers, sitting
back, getting ready to go out with her stockinged feet on the desk, giving a civil servant an absolute rollicking. Mays two
other special advisers, Nick Timothy
and Stephen Parkinson, were also forces
to be reckoned with. Now, it seems, this
team is being reassembled to help her
run Britain.
All three have taken a break from
government in the past couple of years.
Hill was forced to resign after a scandal
in which a confidential cabinet memo
concerning Michael Gove was leaked.
Parkinson, well regarded throughout
Whitehall, became a key figure in Vote
Leave; that he left such a good job to join
the campaign was taken as a sign of his
personal commitment to Brexit. Timothy,
right, went on to run the New Schools
Network, a charity that supports Goves
free schools project.
Given how slow May is to make new
friends and the trust she places in her
old ones her advisers might soon have
more influence over the shape and direction of British government than any single cabinet member. One former colleague
has said they may be as important to her as
George Osborne, William Hague and Ed
Llewellyn, the Downing Street chief of staff,
were to David Cameron. One country-running quartet would replace another: except,
in Mays case, she is the only one who
was elected.
Timothy and Hill, its said, didnt just
work as media advisers. They were integral
to the running of the Home Office and the
civil service machine. Mays former ministers complain that she relied on her advisers more than her colleagues in government.
Ministers would sometimes work late into
the night on a policy only to find that the
Home Secretary and her aides had already


signed off another version of it without telling them. It was an unusual modus operandi, but one that brought May success in a
department known as the graveyard of political ambition.
Crucially, Mays advisers are thinkers,
not just fixers. Nick Timothy, in particular,
has held great sway over her political agenda. He seems to influence what she thinks
to an almost scary extent, according to one
colleague, although other Tories argue that

May draws on Timothys wisdom only when

she already agrees with him. After all, he
campaigned for Leave while she quietly supported Remain. And while relatively little is
known about her views on issues outside
her brief, we do know what Timothy thinks
thanks to his numerous articles for the website ConservativeHome.
It was he who was largely responsible
for Mays passionate, and now-notorious
speech, to a ConservativeHome conference
three years ago. Her words seemed to outline Mayism: from the need to confront vested interests in the credit industry, banks and
big business to the role government should
play in directing businesses.
To some, this was a bold new direction

for Conservatism that would help it seize

territory from Labour. To others it was a
return to Ted Heath-style corporatism. But
whatever it was then, it now seems to be the
blueprint for the incoming Prime Minister.
Timothys influence was clear, too, in
the speech that May gave at the start of this
week when she was still campaigning for the
Tory leadership. During a visit to Birmingham (his birthplace), she outlined her vision
for social justice, praising one of Timothys
political heroes, Joseph Chamberlain (once
a notable mayor of the city).
Four years ago Timothy had written
that while Chamberlain was never actually a Conservative, he should be seen
as the partys forgotten hero because
he gave the Tories an unambiguous mission: the betterment of Britains working classes. On Monday, May said, Under
my leadership, the Conservative party will
put itself completely, absolutely, unequivocally at the service of ordinary working
Timothy worries about whose service the
Tory party is seen to be in at present. When
Iain Duncan Smith resigned from the cabinet in protest at George Osbornes plans
to cut disability benefit, Timothy wrote
that the move exposed once again the
most serious weakness the Conservatives
have the perception that we simply do
not give a toss about ordinary people.
He feels this most keenly because he,
too, was raised in a so-called ordinary
family, growing up in working-class Erdington and becoming the first member of
his family to go to university. He joined
the Conservatives because they did not
just talk the language of social mobility.
They made it happen, and they made it
happen for me.
The notorious target to cut immigration to tens of thousands is something that Timothy also defends. One
can argue that the pledge is clumsy, born
as it was when Damian Green blurted
it out in an interview during his time as
Immigration spokesman. But to May,
any target is better than no target. Timothy frequently showed impatience with
ministers who tried to plead for exemptions
from that target for their own departments.
Net migration can be cut, he believes, so
long as the Prime Minister ignores special
pleading from colleagues. His advice: it pays
to be difficult.
May does take time to meet difficult colleagues. She is known for listening respectfully while sticking to her guns. She has
seemed to embrace Ken Clarkes description of her as a bloody difficult woman, telling a recent meeting of Tory MPs that the
next person to discover how difficult she is
would be Jean-Claude Juncker.
They cheered trying not to think
about how many of them might be about to
make the same discovery.
the spectator | 16 july 2016 |


At least Corbyn knows what he stands for

y favourite comment about Angela

Eagle came from some unnamed
spiteful Corbynista MP who, with
reference to her twin sister Maria, a former cabinet minister, observed that Angela
was the lesser of two Eagles and not even
the best politician in her own family. Perhaps he was the bloke who chucked a brick
through Mrs Eagles office window this
week, or left the succinct, if politically incorrect, answerphone message for her: fucking
bitch. Although there are two or three hundred thousand semi-house-trained infants in
the Momentum movement who might well
have behaved likewise, I suppose.
Feelings are running a little high across
the political spectrum, arent they? This is
becoming the Summer of Visceral Loathing.
Great news if youre a journalist, frankly.
Less good news if youre a member of the
Labour party. I am not absolutely sure that I
still am, as I was suspended a while back for
having suggested that some Muslims arent
too keen on Jews. But my subs are still being
deducted, I note.
The point of remaining part of this doubly hijacked rabble (first by the Blairites,
now by the nutters) is moot, however. What
on earth can be gained? It will surely never
win an election again. It does not know
who it represents and its vote is evaporating gradually, from the north downwards.
Its part of the general realignment of world
politics, for sure, and the retreat and philosophical confusion of social democratic parties. But that is given added hilarity over
here by the sheer ineptitude of Labour and
its insoluble problem.
The leader, Mr Corbyn, does not have
the support of the Parliamentary Labour
Party. The Parliamentary Labour Party
does not have the support of the activists.
The activists do not remotely have the support of Labour voters. And there is nothing
Angela Eagle can do to square that circle.
Eagle, sobbing like a ninny, announced
her intention to stand against Corbyn a
few weeks back. So a leadership election
between Forrest Gump and Tinkerbell. But
then, with that respect for democracy which
has always been a hallmark of the peoples
party, the PLP tried to stop Jeremy Corbyn
having his name on the ballot. They failed

the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

and rightly so. For once the idiot holds

the moral high ground: he was voted in overwhelmingly largely by those relentlessly
involved middle-class people who paid three
quid apiece to capture what was once the
party of the working class.
But even here there is a problem for
Eagle and her cack-handed plotters. At
least Corbyn knows what he stands for, as
do Momentum. Post-Marxist idiocies, yes.
Idiocies which were out of date in 1980, yes.
Idiocies and a loathing of almost everything
the UK stands for, yes. But it is a world view,
and one which might accord with a good 7 to
8 per cent of the population, from Muswell
Hill to Hove (missing out most of the bits

On the crucial issue, the bulk of

Labour MPs are every bit as averse
to the wishes of their voters
in between). The rest of them dont seem to
stand for anything at all.
Eagle has attacked Corbyn primarily for
having failed to have campaigned with sufficient vigour during the referendum. This
facile observation lies close to the root of
Eagles misapprehension. The people of
England and Wales did not vote to leave the
EU because they were disappointed with
Jeremys performance during the campaign.
If Jezza or the lamentable Eagle had
been right there on their doorsteps, hopping
up and down with EU fervour, they would
still have voted Leave. And thats because,
for the poorest sectors of the country, and of

the Leave vote, one issue mattered above all

others: immigration. Not a dislike of immigrants, as both Eagle and Corbyn would
portray it, but a concern about the levels of
immigration to this country, and the changes
made to their communities as a consequence,
and their wages being undercut and schools
crowded or full of kids who dont speak English all the stuff which Eagle and a majority of the PLP would denounce as being the
product of bigotry, pure and simple.
There are only a handful of Labour MPs
and among them John Mann has been the
most voluble and effective who resist this
easy depiction of the partys core vote. The
Blairites and the Brownites are every bit as
signed up to the concept of untrammelled
mass immigration. It was, after all, they
who first introduced this policy to a grateful nation. At least Corbyn, at the back of
his mind, probably has some vestigial tail of
Marxism wagging away, reminding him that
the free movement of labour and capital is
not always an unvarnished delight.
So almost none of them has what it takes
simply to retain Labours rapidly dwindling
vote outside London, still less the wherewithal to start winning back a few votes from
Ukip and the Tories. The vast bulk of the PLP
are every bit as averse to the wishes of their
voters on this crucial issue as is Corbyn. And
in those areas where Labour does do well
inner London, Brighton Corbyn is a far
more attractive prospect to the voters than
Angela Eagle.
What happens next should keep us all
laughing for a long time to come. The PLP
would very much like Corbyn to get the hell
out of the party and take his Momentum
friends with him. But the trouble is, his
Momentum friends now are the party
and yet in electoral terms a fringe, a rump, of
scant importance aside from in the capital. So
there is no reason why Corbyn should stand
down or decamp. Which leaves the rest of the
PLP with the option of leaving and forming
a new party with all the money and most
of the TUC support residing with Forrest
Gump. And with no clear idea of the direction in which they intend to travel.

I cant find the chapter on WMDs.

The argument continues online.


Cops and killers

A summer of anti-police rage could swing
the presidency for Donald Trump

Washington, DC
onsidering how heavily its citizens
are armed with pistols, hunting rifles,
shotguns, military semi-automatics,
crossbows and nunchucks, considering how
ethnically diverse and historically divided the
place is, and considering that it is home to a
third of a billion more or less rootless people, it is surprising Americans dont kill each
other more. The United States is well policed,
even if it has been hard to say so lately. In the
space of a couple of days in July, black men
were shot dead by policemen in two separate
incidents in Louisiana and Minnesota. Video
flew round the internet. A protest rally called
in Texas became the site of a sniper attack by
a wild-eyed (but well-trained) black nationalist Iraq War veteran, who killed five policemen and wounded seven others.
The perception that police have an animus against young black men is largely an
illusion. It arises from the way a sociological fact has collided with a historical inheritance. Blacks, who make up 13 per cent of
the US population, commit around a quarter
of its violent crimes, including more than half
its murders. They thus have more (and more
dramatic) encounters with the police than citizens of other races. At the same time, black
Americans claims that their ancestors were
ill treated by the countrys white majority can
neither be gainsaid nor minimised.
Barack Obama and other politicians have
lately encouraged blacks to blame their frequent encounters with police on white prejudice, not black criminality. In the almost
cataleptically detached speeches he made on
his recent visits to Warsaw and Madrid, the
President appeared to recognise that attacking the police is more a political strategy
than a description of reality. He didnt speak
about the stability of the country. He said: If
we paint police officers with a broad brush
then were going to lose allies in the reform
At least a dozen police killings of young
black men have come to national attention
in the past half decade. Few have been openand-shut cases of brutality. Some are horrific
tragedies like the killing of a 12-year-old
boy, Tamir Rice, who was shot in a Cleveland park while wielding a toy gun. Some
are unsolvable like the killing of Trayvon
Martin by the neighbourhood guard George


Zimmerman in Florida in 2012. Most have

involved suspects resisting arrest.
The 2014 killing of Michael Brown, a
300lb teenager who attacked a patrolman
named Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri,
after robbing a convenience store, led to protests nationwide. President Obama stoked
them. He sent more senior administration
officials to Michael Browns funeral than
he did to Margaret Thatchers. He also sent
dozens of civil rights officials to investigate.
The red-hot attorney general Eric Holder
arrived on the scene to scold local authorities and interfere with grand jury proceedings.
Yet Wilsons explanation that he had shot
Brown in self-defence held up. The stories of Browns friends who said he put his
hands up and shouted Dont shoot! were
In the heyday of newspapers, which was
also the heyday of the civil rights movement,
incidents like these might have been taken
as the tip of a racist iceberg. In the Facebook
era they are the whole iceberg. They dont
imply a hidden social crisis. The legal profession has an infrastructure for processing such
cases. Benjamin Crump, the lawyer who represented Trayvon Martins family, showed up
to offer his services to Michael Browns. At
first there is generally indignation at what
appears a simple murder under colour of law.
Then information emerges to complicate the
picture often leaked on websites sympathetic to the police. That was the case with

Never again
From Terms of peace, The Spectator,
15 July 1916: As the man in the street
might say, The Allies are not going to
give the Germans a chance to come at us
a second time. Never again! is our motto.
And if this is the object of the war, it will
also be the object of the peace. We shall
not dictate peace terms which will lead to
the destruction of the German people or
any section of them, or to any annexations
of true German provinces; but we shall,
as far as lies in our power, see to it that
such a structure of government as that
presented by militarist Germany is an
impossibility for the future.

Freddie Gray, the Baltimore man who died

from injuries sustained on a drive to prison.
In recent weeks three officers have been tried
for Grays deaths, and none convicted.
It is early to say what verdicts will emerge
from these newest incidents. In Baton Rouge,
Louisiana, Alton Sterling, a street vendor of
music CDs, was wrestled to the ground while
resisting two policemen, and shot dead. Sterling had a long arrest record and was carrying a gun. There are reports police had been
called when he threatened someone with it.
There are not one but two phone videos. In
neither is it possible to tell exactly what is
going on.
In the incident the following day, Lavish
Diamond Reynolds of St Paul, Minnesota,
filmed and narrated the death of her boyfriend, Philando Castile, moments after he
had been shot by a policeman at a traffic stop.
It is a grisly and heartbreaking video, with
Reynoldss four-year-old daughter saying in
the background, Its OK Im with you. But
the shooting itself was not filmed. Castile was
carrying a weapon.
Fears of winding up in a politically charged
investigation have created a Ferguson effect
that hinders policing. Theres a perception
that police are less likely to do the marginal additional policing that suppresses crime,

There may be a choice this

November between public order and
the agenda of Black Lives Matter
Obamas FBI director James Comey said last
March, the getting out of your car at two in
the morning and saying to a group of guys,
Hey, what are you doing here? American
cities are less governable. Murder rates are up
9 per cent. In Chicago, where the police force
has been embarrassed by the police video of
a 2014 killing released last December, the
breakdown has been severe. Over Memorial
Day weekend in May, residents were being
shot at the rate of one an hour. Dallas was
widely praised in the wake of this weeks
sniper attacks as a success story for its newly
passive style of policing complaints of
police brutality have fallen by half since 2012.
But complaints are not the only measure of a
police departments effectiveness. Murders in
Dallas are up by 40 per cent, and in May there
were ten people killed in one week.
This months attacks on police are not
the first in retribution for alleged bias. In
the aftermath of the Brown killing, two Ferguson policemen were shot by snipers, and
Ismaaiyl Brinsley, an infuriated and unhinged
Baltimore native, drove to New York and
murdered two policemen there.
The rage of young blacks against the
police has taken on dimensions not just of a
protest but a rebellion. Fully two thirds (65
per cent) of US blacks support the Black
Lives Matter movement, even as it has come
to question the very legitimacy of the forces
of order. In the days after the Dallas shooting,
the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

one of the groups leaders, Alicia Garza, told

the New Yorker, Black Lives Matter is about
justice for black people who are being murdered at the hands of the state.
This view of American society is consistent with what the veteran civil rights leader the Revd Jesse Jackson said about Mike
Browns killing (a state execution) and
with a passage by the polemicist Ta-Nehisi
Coates which, last summer, became so popular among Facebook sharers and banner
makers that it served as the unofficial Black
Lives slogan: In America, it is traditional to
destroy the black body it is heritage. Just
why so much of this destruction should be
carried out under the aegis of the countrys
first black President, and in black-run cities,
is something of a mystery. Dallas has a black
police chief. Baton Rouge has a black mayor.
Baltimore has a black mayor, a black public
prosecutor and a black police chief, and three
of the six officers tried in the Freddie Gray
case were black.

oatess view is that white people have

always practiced genocide against black
people. If fighting genocide is your cause,
almost no tactic is off-limits. The leaders of
Black Lives Matter crossed a Rubicon this
week when they decided to proceed with
protests even after the killings of policemen
in Dallas.

Its come to our attention that

youre not a mother

There is a reason why political activists

usually halt campaigning when violence is
done in the name of anything that resembles
their cause. Both sides in the Brexit referendum obeyed this imperative in the wake of
the killing of Jo Cox. In US cities, such caution
has been thrown to the wind. You cant stop
the revolution, marchers chanted in Chicago
over the weekend. Its not a setback at all, a
BLM activist told the New York Times, referring to the Dallas massacre. Thats showing
the people of this country that black people
are getting to a boiling point. For all the talk
of racism, there has been a reckless inattention to the possibility that non-black citizens
might have a boiling point too.

A week before the Republican convention in Cleveland, street politics is destabilising electoral politics. The events of early July
have shifted the presidential campaign seismically. There may be a choice this November between public order and the agenda of
Black Lives Matter.
Historically, American voters have preferred the former. An April article in Salon
magazine predicted that Black Lives Matter
would be the Secret Turnout Ally of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. But this
only means that Clinton will have a bigger
challenge getting on the majoritys side. Her
partys route to the White House requires
turning out black voters in high numbers
and taking 90 per cent of their votes. Donald
Trump, meanwhile, has been campaigning for
months as if the coming election will be a referendum on whether the country backs the
cops or not. He has lined up important police
endorsements and laid the predicate for a traditional law-and-order campaign of the sort
Richard Nixon won with in 1968. For a variety
of reasons, a majority of Americans would be
reluctant to see Trump as their president just
now. But under the pressure of violence and
disorder, such reasons can become harder
and harder to recall.
Christopher Caldwell is a senior editor at the
Weekly Standard.

with The Spectator. Subscribe today.

the spectator | 16 july 2016 |


Olympic shames


Themistocles vs Tony Blair

The Rio Games are approaching amid a hailstorm of bad news


Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

elcome to hell was printed on a
banner written in English at Rio
de Janeiros international airport
recently. Police and firefighters dont get
paid. Whoever comes to Rio will not be safe,
the message concluded. Its fair to say not
everyone is feeling the Olympic spirit ahead
of the Games that start here next month.
Bad news abounds. The citys mayor made
headlines by declaring the security situation
horrible, and body parts were reported to
have washed up near the Olympic beach
volleyball venue. Then an investigation by
Human Rights Watch exposed an alarming
number of murders by Rio policemen.
Earlier in the month a baddie was busted
out of hospital by his gang mates. A few
weeks earlier, the Australian parathlete Liesl
Tesch called the city a dangerous place after
being mugged for her bike. In May, three of
the Spanish sailing team were robbed at gunpoint in the touristy district of Santa Teresa.
It has been a difficult year for Brazil. The
countrys image of itself as a cheerful and
increasingly prosperous place has been battered. A corruption scandal involving the
state oil company, Petrobras, has helped
cripple the economy and crack the political
order. In May, the president, Dilma Rousseff,
had to step aside to face impeachment proceedings for fiddling election finances. Since
then Michel Temer, her deeply conservative deputy from another party, has taken
the reins. There is real concern that no one
in charge has been concentrating on preparing the nation for the first Olympics in South
How the mood has changed. Brazil was
awarded the mega-event in 2009 when it was
the proud B of the Bric economies, flush with
cash and hope. Today, however, the state of
Rio de Janeiro, which relies heavily on the oil
industry, is suffering. The Petrobras affair and
falling oil prices have left it with an expected
deficit this year of 19 billion reais (4.3 billion). Such shortfalls have had a direct effect
on its ability to pay its workers, including
police and teachers, and to fund infrastructure projects crucial to the Olympics.
On 27 June, the interim state governor
Francisco Dornelles declared a state of public calamity in financial administration and
warned that unless certain steps were taken


the Olympics risked being a big failure. In

response, Temer promised 2.9 billion reais of
federal cash for security (85,000 police and
soldiers will be brought in for the two weeks
about twice as many as were in London in
2012). The money should also guarantee the
opening of a metro line extension, if only four
days ahead of the Games.
But the omens are not good. Recently, in
the Amazonian city of Manaus after a torchrelay event, a jaguar that was meant to be a
living version of the Olympic mascot escaped
her handler. When four tranquillising darts
failed to floor her, she was shot and killed.
Moreover, fears persist over the mosquitoborne Zika virus, which causes terrible birth
defects. Zika has deterred tourists and even
some athletes from coming to the Games.
Jason Day and Rory McIlroy, two of the
worlds top golfers, have said they will miss
their sports re-entry into the Games because
of the possible implications for their families if they were to catch the virus. Some 150
medical professionals recently called for the
Games to be cancelled or postponed because
of Zika, but the Brazilian health minister says
the risk is minimal and a report by Cambridge
University puts the likelihood of visitors contracting Zika at one in 500,000. It is winter,
and a cold one at that, in Rio at the moment,
so there are fewer breeding mosquitoes, and
preventative measures have already reduced
incidences of Zika. Still, wariness lingers.
What remains a mystery is why anyone
would take the Olympics on. They are said to
be the most complicated logistical event anyone could undertake. Every four years the
host nation is subject to the worries and criticism of the rest of the world.
The great hope is that, as soon as the
Games begin, all the fear and gloom will
vanish amid a flurry of wonderful sport and
human triumph. Thats what happened in
2012: the cynicism and doomsaying melted
away as soon as the opening ceremony began.
Brazilians, for all their problems, still possess the optimism and openness that defines
them. The jeitinho brasileiro the Brazilian
knack for skipping around rules to get stuff
done may lead to corruption and unfulfilled promises at the government level. But
the same spirit carries its people through the
day to day. Theyll need it more than ever
when the Games begin in August.

Tony Blair has

excused himself for the Iraq war by
saying that he did what he believed
was right. But no one was suggesting
that he had done what he believed
was wrong. The charge was a matter of
integrity: that he deceived Parliament
and turned a blind eye to the evidence
on weapons of mass destruction.
The Athenians knew a sharpster
when they saw one. The historian
Diodorus described how in 477 BC
Themistocles, a man admired by the
Athenians but known to be something
of a con man, conceived of a plan
to turn Piraeus, at that time a rocky
outcrop, into a full-blown commercial
and military harbour. Aware, however,
that the Spartans would be bound
to try to stop it if it were discussed
openly, he asked the Athenian
assembly to appoint two people to
vet privately an important project
of mine.
The Athenians appointed to the job
two of the straightest men they knew,
but who were also political rivals of
Themistocles. When they heard of the
plan, they announced to the assembly
that it was both feasible and greatly to
the citys advantage.
The assembly, still not trusting
Themistocles motives and suspecting
a coup of some sort, demanded that
he reveal all. When Themistocles
still refused, they instructed him
to describe his plan in secret to
the public body that acted as the
assemblys steering committee if
that body agreed, they would give
him a free hand to proceed. When
the committee learned the details, it
agreed that the scheme was a cracker;
and the assembly promptly asked
Themistocles to go ahead. His scheme
turned Athens into the powerhouse
he had envisaged.
Diodorus account describes the
resolution of a question of public trust
in a political individual. The Romans
categorised this as an issue of publica
fides, the trust in leaders, laws and
institutions which are themselves
trustworthy. This virtue for so the
ancients saw it is foundational
across any society. After Chilcot, after
the referendum, the post-referendum
leadership farce and now Corbyn
it is at stake as never before.
Peter Jones
the spectator | 16 july 2016 |


Whats to blame for a generations desperation?

outh is wasted on the young, for the

most part, and thank God for that.
Theres nothing grislier than a teenage
girl aware of her hypnotic effect on men, or a
youngster who begins his important thoughts:
As a young person, I These days, though,
its not youth thats wasted on the young so
much as life, which is an altogether more
troubling problem.
Over the last year or so, Id say a good third
of the British kids Ive met, from 15 to 25, have
been suffering in some way from anxiety or
depression. Often its obvious: severe anorexia; forearms calibrated with razor marks. The
child says a wan hello, then slinks off to resubmerge in social media. The adults discuss
the problem sotto voce. Theyre game, modern mums, willing to face mental illness, but
theyre baffled too: whats up with these kids?
Theyre the best-fed, best-educated, luckiest
humans that have ever been. Theyre likely to
be the longest-lived too, though ironically the
least keen on life.
Rachael Dove, a 25-year-old fashion journalist, wrote a moving, exasperating piece in
the Telegraph last year calling this the Age of
Desperation. Over half of her friends were
anxious, she said, some severely and debilitatingly. The lucky few have been referred
to therapists, but theres a year-long wait for
talking cures on the NHS. The others were
taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
(SSRIs) like citalopram, which by all accounts
is the new Prozac.
Last week came the depressing news last
week that antidepressant use is at an all-time
high in England, and I remembered Rachael
and her friends. Last year, 61 million prescriptions were filled for antidepressants, including citalopram. In the last decade, in other
words, since Generation Y hit puberty, antidepressant use has doubled.
This wont come as a total surprise to those
of us with a weather eye on Gen Y. They are
so easily overwhelmed. Exams? Too stressful.
Jobs? All the wrong sort or not well enough
paid. In a recent issue of this magazine, Claire
Fox dubbed them Generation Snowflake
because of their pitiful delicacy. Since her article, Brexit has bought on a mass meltdown of
snowflakes, some of whom claim, quite seriously, that they were so upset by the referendum result that, come August, any exam
the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

failures should be discounted. I only wish this

was an audacious scam.
Fox blames adults for the fragility of the
young. Weve coddled them into insanity, she
says. Jean M. Tweyne, author of Generation
Me, agrees: kids told that they are special
from birth simply cant cope when the world
turns out not to give a hoot.
Rachael Dove herself an anxious Y-er
thinks the trouble is too much information;
too much choice. Her friends, she says, are
paralysed by options: hundreds of uni courses, thousands of possible paths through life;
too many friends to keep up with, too many
perfect beach bodies on Instagram to ever
feel comfortable in ones own skin.
Both theories ring half-true, but theres

What worries me about these teens

isnt that theyre freaked out, but that
they cant seem to shake off the terror
something missing. This is a nationwide problem it bridges the socioeconomic divide. In
the poorest areas of the UK, where mollycoddling really cant be a major problem, one in
six people pop SSRIs.
I tend to think its normal to be anxious
as a teen or an early twentysomething
whatever your choices, whatever generation
you belong to. Peer groups are vicious; boys
always have and always will judge a girl by
her BMI. After puberty, out in the world,
existential terror is a reasonable and proportionate response to a sudden awareness that
youre just one of 7 billion humans on a small
planet in a vast expanding universe.
Rachael mentions that two of her friends
became so terrified that they took themselves
to A&E. Well me too. In my late teens I
thought my way into a state of near-constant

terror. It began with too much mulling over

the meaning of life, gathered pace after an illadvised acid trip. The fear was itself unbearable so I lived in a nightmarish feedback loop,
anxiously examining myself for signs of anxiety, which provoked full-blown panic.
One night in Paris, staying with a university friend, I became convinced my face was
paralysed. I ran out of his apartment at 3 a.m.
in search of a hospital and ended up in the
bright lights of an A&E ambulance bay, crying and begging for help in GSCE set phrases. I remember the ambulance drivers sitting,
smoking, unconcerned. See a doctor in the
morning, one said.
What saved me in end wasnt medication
but a job. Being a gossip columnist should
have been unbearably anxious-making I
was shy and a constant mess, in work more
suited to a gregarious glamourpuss but the
fact of having to get to the office to file stories
put a spanner in the cogs of fear.
So what worries me about these desperate
teens isnt that theyre freaked out thats
normal but that they cant seem to shake
off the terror. And here I think the internet
might be to blame. Its good not to feel alone
but whats different about Y-ers is that
they can, and do, seek out and hang out with
like-minded mopers round the clock, and if
your friends are united by anxiety, youve got
no choice but to stay anxious or lose them.
Ive heard kids listing their mental illnesses in the same bored, confident voice they use
to order artisan coffee: I have borderline personality disorder, a touch of narcissism, light
OCD. They put me on citalopram. You?
Citalopram. Far from being a cure, I suspect it of being another anxiety trap acting
as those chatrooms do, to prevent angst evaporating from this generation in the normal
way. Though big pharma says otherwise, the
therapeutic effect of SSRIs has been disputed,
though it has been proved that they increase
the risk of suicidal thoughts in some children.
Some 61 million prescriptions a year, and no
effect except to make things worse for kids.
Why are they doled out? Perhaps because
doctors dont know what else to do. It gets
a whingeing patient out of the way, and no
harm done, right? Except perhaps there is. As
in the dark ages, so in these enlightened times:
maybe its the remedy that is the real disease.

Pilgrimages progress
One of Britains oldest Christian traditions
is reviving in a strange new form

f Christian Britain is fading away, what

will survive of it? One answer seems to be
pilgrimage. In the past decade, 30 pilgrimage routes have been created or rediscovered;
holy places have seen a 14 per cent growth in
visitor numbers since 2013. These figures are
recorded by a new organisation, the British
Pilgrimage Trust, which wants to revive the
British pilgrimage tradition of making journeys on foot to holy places.
The BPT stresses that not all pilgrims are
religious: Bring your own beliefs is the slogan. Guy Hayward, who co-founded the BPT
with Will Parsons, observes: We have to tread
very carefully around the language of spirituality and religion. But he thinks pilgrimage
has a universal appeal: it connects you to the
world, and to other people. Youre walking in
the land, in nature, youre talking to people.
Its not complicated, but at the same time its
very tangible.
Perhaps, then, pilgrims should leave their
smartphones at home? No, no! Parsons is
emphatic. We think that modern pilgrimage requires modern technology to make
the most of it. Phone maps are better than a
fold-out when youre lost in a wood. The BPT
plans an app to link pilgrims with accommodation spots churches, fields, village halls.
Britain was once a land of pilgrims. In the
Middle Ages, the shrine to the Virgin Mary
in Walsingham, Norfolk, was one of Europes
most-visited pilgrimage destinations. Then
in 1538, Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell
banned pilgrimages. The shrine was demolished, the famous statue of Our Lady of
Walsingham dumped on a bonfire, and the
site turned into luxury housing. An Elizabethan balladeer sighed: Bitter, bitter, O to
behold/ The grass to grow/ Where the walls of
Walsingham/ So stately did show.
The grass grew for another 300 years, until,
at the end of the 19th century, first Anglicans
and then Catholics reclaimed the shrine.
Today Walsingham attracts 250,000 visitors
a year, and is expanding. The Catholic shrine
has just launched another building project.
Many of Britains pilgrims are Christians.
But many are simply curious, or historically
minded, or keen to walk somewhere beautiful. The BPT points out that Britain is full
of holy places; its creating a database of
pilgrimage routes. The shortest on their list


is a ten-mile trip from Abingdon Abbey to

Christ Church cathedral, Oxford. The longest
whose route the BPT is in the process of
developing is a 21-day walk from Winchester to Canterbury, taking in three river sources, nine holy wells, 61 pubs and 78 churches.
The BPT was partly inspired by the huge
success of the Camino de Santiago, the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. (Last year more than 5,000
Britons walked it.) Leslie Gilmour, who runs
the Camino Adventures website, has often
asked pilgrims if theyre religious. Most
jump straight in there and make the distinction between religion and spirituality. Theres
spirituality that a lot of people believe in who

The trust stresses that not

all pilgrims are religious: Bring
your own beliefs is the slogan
have no affiliation with religion. What kind
of spirituality? Theres more connection
with other people on a day-to-day basis on
the Camino than I think most people have at
home, he says. Pilgrims naturally turn to one
another for help, and treat one other equally.
The ego is very much stripped away when
youre just walking and theres no BMW in
the car park, or big houses or whatever.
The Camino family is easily sentimentalised, as Jean-Christophe Rufin registers in
his recent Camino travelogue, The Santiago
Way: Filthy, exhausted, forced to carry your
burden in all weathers, you know the simple joys of brotherhood in the same way that
prisoners do. But Gilmour draws an agree-

ably medieval parallel. I would compare it to

the Canterbury Tales. You get all sorts: people who are out for adventure, people who
are out to have a few beers every night, and
others who are more pious perhaps. Pilgrims
learn that it takes all sorts to make a world.
As Guy Hayward puts it: When you meet
strangers on the path who support you, you
realise, gosh, maybe the worlds a better place
than I thought it was.
The BPTs philosophy emphasises personal fulfilment on pilgrimage, says their
website, You are free to be the best person
you can dream of being but also social
conscience: they encourage pilgrims to give
something back, whether by picking up litter,
buying locally or talking to a stranger. They
also promise that You will rediscover your
relationship with self and Nature. Engaging with the world in the way your body was
designed to do is a sure path to feeling grateful for being alive.
It is, in short, a very 21st-century kind of
spirituality. It has much in common with the
atheist church the Sunday Assembly, whose
slogan is Live better, help often, wonder
more. Which sounds very much like the selfhelp tradition a term Hayward happily
applies to pilgrimage. It is a self-help technique, as much as anything else. But religion,
of course, is a self-help He checks himself.
I mean, would it call itself self-help?
Its a complex question, but as far as
Christianity goes I think the answer is probably no. Jesus provoked not so much a sense
of wonder as fear, astonishment, fiercely personal hatred and even more fiercely personal
love. He spoke about individual fulfilment,
but said that the only way to it was a slow
death by crucifixion. He showed compassion,
but often in startling ways negotiating with
devils, controlling the weather, raising the
dead. It was not your average Ted talk.
In the West in the past 50 years, Christianity has sometimes forgotten its more dramatic claims. It has preferred communitarianism
and social justice and a fuzzy spirituality.
Churches have often given a magnificent witness of solidarity (think of how much the network of food banks depends on them) and
provided an alternative to empty consumerism; but their message has also become harder and harder to distinguish from Live better,
help often, wonder more. The BPTs vision is
attractive, but it does sound a bit like the next
stage in Britains steady de-Christianisation.
Parsons doesnt agree: he thinks pilgrimage can be an opportunity for a beleaguered
national religion. The Church in Britain desperately needs to find a way to invite people
in, he says, and he has a point. But whatever impact pilgrimage has on Christianity, it
is an appealing image: the land crisscrossed
by phalanxes of pilgrims, drinking locallyproduced ale, zipping up their sleeping bags
in church halls, and retreading paths which
were nearly abandoned for good half a millennium ago.
the spectator | 16 july 2016 |


Brexit won the battle. But now weve lost the war

hen Jonathan Swift wanted to

mock the immeasurable superficiality of British politics, he imagined it as a contest between the Big-Endians
and the Little-Endians. That is, between
those who believed fervently that the only
way to open a boiled egg is at the pointier
end; and those certain that the only proper
way to attack it was from the larger, more
rounded end.
But that was in the 1720s and Swift was
joking. Not in his most extravagantly cynical fantasies, I dare venture, could our greatest satirist have conceived that 300 years on
a British prime minister would be chosen
on the basis of the following question: Do
you think that it was injudicious and horrid
and career-ending of female candidate B to
mention in an interview that she had kids,
knowing that female candidate A did not?
And that apparently the only reasonable
answer would be: Yes!
I followed the debate (mainly via Twitter)
from a villa in Sicily. Being abroad can give
you a perspective sometimes lacking when
youre too close to the fray. And what I saw,
I must say, left me as planet-struck as by
anything I have ever witnessed in the decades I have spent spectating on the festering
roach-pit that is Westminster.
Most especially what disgusted me was
the behaviour of the commentarati: the
people (you had just one job, FFS) charged
with holding our political class to account.
Not all of them (props to Louise Mensch
and a handful of others); just most of them,
including more than a few whod taken
the right side on the Brexit. I watched,
amazed, as they piled in with their tuppenny
hapennies worth on this most pressing of
issues. Oh definitely she meant it. Listen to
the audio! What? Shes trying to defend
herself? How very dare she? Kill the witch!
Burn her! etc.
Get a grip! I wanted to say to these pontificating twonks, some of whose opinions I
had previously trusted. Do you not think
maybe there are more pressing criteria to be
judging Britains future leadership on? Like:
the composition of the next cabinet; how
likely they are to effect the full Brexit voted
for by nearly 17,500,000 people; how alive
the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

they are to the underlying causes of that

massive grassroots statement of discontent
with the metropolitan elites status quo?
But, apparently that wasnt the sophisticated view. No: we had had our peasants
revolt; wed got as far as London; wed made
our point. Now, it was about time the natural
order was restored, with the ringleaders of
that suddenly unfashionable cause Gove,
Leadsom, the firebrand Nigel John Ball
Farage being put to death, as is proper
on these occasions, and life going much as
Revolutions are all very well: but God,
you dont want to rock the boat do you?

Imagine how well feel when we realise

that access to the Single Market was
just another Remain marketing con
This is my take-home message of the events
of the last few weeks. We Brexiteers won the
battle that no one expected us to win. But
boy, did we just lose the war.
Sure our new insect overlord Theresa
May has declared that Brexit means Brexit.
But that in turn could mean anything. Associate membership (a bastard non-status that
one of the few commentators who really
understands the EU, Mary Ellen Synon, was
warning the Bruges Group several months
before the referendum was precisely the
fudge we should most dread and fear)? Entry
into a European Economic Area and accept-

Itd be really useful to still have

some journalists right now.

ance of free movement of peoples, putting

us on terms even less favourable than tiny
Switzerlands? Desperate, panicked acceptance of whatever rancid sops the EU deigns
to toss us in return for access to that matchlessly wondrous entity the Single Market?
Imagine how well feel when, belatedly,
we discover that access to the Single Market was never some binary choice between
trade or no trade, but just another Remain
marketing con which has been accepted
unanimously as a good thing because no one
did their homework.
This will happen a lot post this extraordinary coup by the losing Remain faction.
Were now back pretty much where we were
before the EU referendum started in the
hands of an administration which will do all
it possibly can to frustrate everything Brexiteers were hoping to achieve. Theresa May
will be like continuation Cameron, who in
turn was continuation Heath: an endless
series of disappointments and missed opportunities.
I dont want to sound like a Remainiac:
please, let me never become that twisted
or bitter. But I have to admit I now have a
pretty excellent idea how they feel. Partly,
Im numb with shock. Yes, of course, I knew
that the establishment would fight hard to
protect its self-interest and we got a taste of
it with Project Fear and Project Lie. But its
viciousness and determination during the
referendum campaign was as nothing to its
behaviour once it had theoretically lost.
What I feel most, though, is sadness. For a
lot of us Brexiteers, leaving the EU was just
the beginning of a peoples revolution against
that remote, entrenched, largely unaccountable elite. Not a war on capitalism, as the left
so wilfully misrepresents it, but definitely an
assault on cronyism, on too big to fail, on
central-bank manipulation, on the misuse of
immigration to create growth at the expense
of GDP per capita and quality of life, on
the screwing over of the many by the few.
Now a once-in-a-generation opportunity has
been snatched from the grasp of us amateurs
by professionals so ruthless were like Cub
Scouts whove just met the SS Leibstandarte.
Still, material for a few more columns,
I guess.


Lurid about Leavers

Sir: Matthew Parris has spent much of the
past few months denigrating those of us
who want to leave the EU, but his latest
article (For the first time, I feel ashamed to
be British, 9 July) really does go too far.
It is simply untrue to claim that the
leaders of the Leave campaign relied on
hatred of immigration, and that this won it
for Leave. As Brendan ONeill pointed out
(Not thick or racist: just poor, 2 July), a
majority of Leave voters (including me, for
what it is worth) rejected the EU primarily
for sovereignty reasons. But whatever
Mr Parris may feel, there is nothing
immoral about wanting to control (not
stop) the number of immigrants who enter
ones country. Very many other sovereign
states do just that, without incurring his
wrath. As for Daniel Hannan losing his
temper with Christiane Amanpour, he was
no doubt angry because, like so many of
us, he is sick and tired of accusations that
wanting to control immigration is racist
and disgraceful. I have for many years read
and enjoyed Mr Parriss columns, and am
disappointed that he has chosen to portray
Leavers in such lurid terms.
Richard Hoare
East Lavant, West Sussex

PM, I worry this could diminish faith in her

premiership before it has even started.
Anton Bayliss

be a relief for our MPs to know that their

work is restored to its proper place.
Miles Tuely
Woodstock, Oxon

Thinking in miles

A recipe for marmot

Sir: Ysenda Maxtone Graham, in her piece

on imperial measurements (Imperial
ambitions, 9 July) didnt mention the quiet
withdrawal of the attempt to change our
road signs. For a few years it looked as if
we would have to think only in kilometres.
Thank goodness sense prevailed.
Nicholas Pemberton
Portway, Frome

Sir: Philip Henshers tour dhorizon of the

gloomier aspects of Swiss cuisine is too
kind to the poor long-suffering marmot
(Books, 9 July). I believe they were eaten
for a good while, particularly in the Valais,
for many centuries an impoverished
backwater where locals consumed anything
that could be consumed. Travelling in
the Valais in 1771, the Reverend Norton
Nicholls of Lound and Bradwell in Suffolk
was presented with a joint of marmot,
stuffed with garlic, that the host had kept
for three weeks; the salad was dressed with
rancid linseed oil. He deemed it inedible.
The wine was scarcely more inspiring,
with the Reverends travelling companion
writing: Do not worry where Hannibal
got his vinegar; he could have wine from
Obergesteln fit to split any rocks.
This particular marmot adventure is
related in Gavin de Beers outstanding
Escape to Switzerland (1945).
Richard Michaelis
New York

Parliaments authority
Sir: I disagree with Toby Youngs claim
(Status Anxiety, 2 July) that the decision
to leave the EU reflects a decline in the
authority of Parliament. On the contrary,
it shows a desire to see the authority of
Parliament restored. There is now so much
legislation imposed on us by the EU over
which our representatives have no control
and, worse still, regulations which are not
even voted on by the EU parliament. It will

A sense of loss

Rubbish finds

Sir: Ralph Prothero (Letters, 9 July) writes

that we have referendums and elections for
a reason, which is that they are a peaceful
means of resolving our differences.
Elections, yes. But referendums? Of the
three UK-wide ones we have had, two
were to dampen down raging rows within
the ruling party, while the third (the AV
referendum) was a stitch-up between the
two parties of a coalition.
In the same issue Hugo de Groot
writes I did it [vote Leave] for them [his
children], to hand them back their country.
Along with many of my family and friends
who voted Remain, I feel I have just lost
my country. No amount of sloganising
about Brussels bureaucrats can change
that deep-rooted feeling.
Alan Pavelin
Chislehurst, Kent

Sir: Henry Jeffreys should not be ashamed

of taking home usable items from rubbish
bins (Downwardly mobile, 9 July). At
the gates to our colourful alleyway in an
up-and-coming area of south Manchester
we have found a large saucepan, two
leather dining chairs, a microwave oven
and, the pice de rsistance, a 50-inch
plasma television.
Jack Cregg

Mays mandate
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Sir: As a Conservative party member who

was intending to vote for Theresa May in
the leadership election, I have to wonder,
with all of Corbyns shouts about his
mandate from the Labour membership,
how May can comfortably lead the party
without approval of the Tory membership.
While I think May will make a fantastic

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Sir: As a professional entomologist I feel

compelled to correct Elizabeth Hurleys
observation, with regard to the Brexit
referendum, on what attracts flies: Note:
you attract flies with honey, not vinegar;
small wonder the majority of the country
flew in the opposite direction (Diary, 9
July). On the contrary, many flies (order
Diptera) are attracted specifically to
vinegar (hence the common name vinegar
fly), including the famous laboratory
species Drosophila melanogaster, the
fruit fly. Honey tends to attract not flies, but
wasps and ants (Hymenoptera), the more
socially advanced of our six-legged friends.
Andrew Polaszek
Natural History Museum, London SW7
the spectator | 16 july 2016 |


The new PM is right to want boardroom

reform, but how can she make it happen?

spent Sunday at the Sage Gateshead

watching an epic performance of Gtterdmmerung (I declare an interest, as
a trustee of Opera North), so my head was
full of it as I braced for more political backstabbing and immolation on Monday. That
was very much the way it went as Andrea
Leadsom fell, Theresa May rode her horse
into the ring of flame that is the forthcoming Brexit negotiation, and Jeremy Corbyn, still clutching Labours tarnished ring,
was dragged underwater by Angela Eagle,
unlikeliest of Rhinemaidens.
Enough of the Wagner mash-up: what
really caught my ear during the brief
moment between Mrs Mays campaign
launch and coronation was her attack on
the business elite. This might be, as some
commentators were quick to suggest, a bid
for support from the mass of voters who are
enraged by unpunished bankers, gold-plated
executives, offshore tycoons, zero-hours
contracts and lousy shareholder value
everything thats happened in the corporate
world in the past decade, in fact. Those goldplated executives were, of course, Remainers almost to a man, so they also make a
useful target for a pragmatist trying to ingratiate herself with hardline Leavers.
But let us give Mrs Mays sincerity the
benefit of the doubt, and assume she really means it. Another senior Conservative
(with a successful business track record)
remarked to me recently that something
has gone wrong with capitalism and that
view is widely held by thinking people who
would agree with Mrs May that the widening
gap between executive and shopfloor pay is
irrational [and] unhealthy, that companies
should pay fair tax where they operate, that
predatory takeovers are destructive, and
that boards drawn from narrow circles of
the like-minded fail to understand why the
rest of the world thinks them greedy, heartless and too often incompetent.
So there are real issues to address. But
the question is how. Making a success of
Brexit requires deregulation to allow business to thrive, not new rules that could make
the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

coalition business secretary Vince Cables

interventionism look limp by comparison.
Mrs Mays pledge to force boards to include
worker representatives a Germanic concept and a throwback to the industrial
democracy debate of 40 years ago will, I
predict, end up quietly shelved as conditions
deteriorate in coming months.
Binding annual shareholder votes on
senior executive remuneration, on the other
hand, could give impetus to the patchy
shareholder spring that has so far had little effect in challenging sky-high awards at
BP, WPP and elsewhere. And it would place
responsibility where it needs to take root,
with institutional shareholders whose block
votes can actually overturn board decisions.
The smart move, rather than confronting big
business head-on, would be for Mrs Mays
ministers to persuade pension funds by carrot or stick to regard corporate cultural
reform and social awareness as a priority for
their own enlightened self-interest.

Hunting for value

The FTSE250 is the index to watch. Its elder
brother the FTSE100 has, rather remarkably, re-entered bull market territory, having risen 20 per cent from its February low:
but that, as I observed last week, is largely
about dollar-based investors buying global companies on the cheap. The broader
set of 250 mid-cap companies offers a better indicator of sentiment among domestic UK share-pickers, and since the initial
shock of the Brexit vote, when the index fell
from 17,365 to around 15,000, it has climbed
most of the way back. Buoyed by Mrs Mays
victory because it removes one element of
uncertainty and not because she is seen
as a champion of enterprise, which she isnt
investors are hunting for value among
stocks afflicted by early panic-selling.
Chief among these are property companies and housebuilders. Directors of two
major housebuilding companies talked
frankly to me in the days after the vote, and
neither could see any immediate downturn

(house purchases cancelled, for instance)

that justified the fall in their shares. Among
the biggest risers in their sector at the beginning of this week were Crest Nicholson and
Galliford Try. My man who knows a thing
or two about turbulent markets, Spectator
Moneys veteran investor Robin Andrews,
also points to Persimmon, which issued
a positive trading statement last week, yields
more than 7 per cent, has very little debt,
and is a big beneficiary of the government
Help to Buy scheme that Mrs May looks
most unlikely to curb, given her remarks on
Monday about the issue of affordability of
housing for the young.
What else does Andrews have his eye
on? Even UK banks are tempting if one
takes the Governors recent soothing words
at face value and they look less vulnerable to collapsing bond markets than some
European counterparts. For the risk-taker,
Lloyds and Barclays look interesting. As
for bigger beneficiaries from a weak pound,
Rolls-Royce at this level might be excellent
long-term value as it reorganises under new
management. And for the ultimate calming
investment during the troubles ahead, Try
some physical silver and gold.

Under the lash

Its always a pleasure to welcome new readers to the column. When I set out my rational
case for voting Remain, I labelled myself a
roundhead but never spotted anyone else
using that particular epithet in the debate:
imagine my reaction to last weeks assault by
celebrity diarist Elizabeth Hurley on postBrexit whingers for their mean-spirited,
round-headed response to the vote result.
Moi? Joy! Like many a red-blooded Englishman, I would have offered good money for
a lashing from the actress-model famous
for her safety-pinned Versace dress, but this
one came free. Meanwhile, Im keen to hear
whether Love Island winners Nathan and
Cara think central banks would be wise to
launch more post-Brexit rounds of monetary stimulus.



A familiar life (revisited)

It is 50 years since the death of Evelyn Waugh. Mark Amory
wonders if there is anything we dont know about him

Evelyn Waugh: A Life Revisited

by Philip Eade
Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 30, pp. 403
Evelyn Waugh: Writers and Their
by Ann Pasternak Slater
Northcote House, 13.99, pp. 144

A Life Revisited, as the modest, almost nervous, title suggests, mainly concerns Evelyn
Waughs life with comments on but no analysis of his books. There have been at least
three major biographies already, as well as
large volumes of diaries, letters and journalism and many slighter volumes. There is
more to come. Waughs grandson, Alexander, who has defied current trends by writing a fine book on the males of the family,
is editor-in-chief of The Complete Works of
Evelyn Waugh, with the first of 43 volumes
coming out next year. He has also collected an unrivalled archive containing unpublished notes, letters and interviews, and
commissioned this book for the 50th anniversary of his grandfathers death.
All of which presents Philip Eade with
a problem. How much knowledge can he
assume? Should he include the best known
stories and remarks? On the whole he does.
I must admit that I read about the second world war hoping to find his reply to
a general who complained of his having
had a few drinks in the mess: I told him I
could not change the habits of a lifetime
for a whim of his. Also the funniest letter
he ever wrote, concerning the blowing up
of a tree stump near the castle of the Earl
of Glasgow is quoted in full. At the end
Waugh wrote, this is quite true, and Eade
commends Waughs flair for embellishment,
but the present Lord Glasgow confirms that
yes, it did actually happen pretty much like
So this reader, along with many others,
followed a familiar story, nodding at some
bits, uncertain whether other details are
new or had just been forgotten. To know
more turns out to be to forgive more. Yes,
Waugh was a snob but a selective snob, not
a sucker up to grand bores. Yes, he could be
rude and cruel but he could also be kind

and generous. He made many warm and

lasting friends. Somehow his merciless selfknowledge makes his defects more acceptable. Anything you could say about him, he
already knew.
Relations with his respectable publishing
father and precociously successful novelist
brother were worse than I knew. His loving mother remains a shadow in the background. Being bundled off to Lancing as a
second choice was less than perfect, Oxford
still merges with the golden glamour of
Brideshead Revisited, and goodness they
did drink a lot. More homosexual flings and
in particular more about his lover Alastair
Graham, who sent him a nude photograph
of himself, just as people, often MPs, do
nowadays. Poverty drove him to teach at
a boys private preparatory school, where
Dick Young, who inspired the character
of Captain Grimes in Decline and Fall, an

His merciless self-knowledge makes

his defects more acceptable: anything
you said about him he already knew
unashamed and indeed boastful paedophile, compels our attention and almost our
approval by sheer vitality. That book and
its success arrive in the nick of time to save
him, but then he plunges into a disastrous
and short-lived marriage. That broke up
while he was scribbling Vile Bodies, an even
greater success. Waughs unhappiness is
thought by many to have contributed to his
becoming a Roman Catholic, which is little
discussed. Waugh met and fell in love with
Teresa (Baby) Jungman, also a Roman
Catholic, and assumed that marriage was
impossible. (I approached her in the late
1970s, asking if she still had Waughs letters
to her. She said that she did not wish anyone to see them. I wrote again, as I do not
think I did to anyone else, with all the persuasions I could think of about their interest
and importance. She refused again with an
otherwise amiable letter that began Dear
These letters and a memoir by Waughs
first wife were available to Eade and fill out
details of important relationships, but do
not radically alter what we knew. Waughs

successful novels continued. I dont think

that I knew that the first name for Lord
Copper was Ottercreek, which made
identification with Lord Beaverbrook easier. Travel books mingled with the novels.
He was an amusing celebrity and his social
circle widened to include Mitfords, Lygons
and then Herberts, one of whom, Laura,
became his wife, after he had obtained an
The second world war snapped many
peoples lives in two. Waugh welcomed
it and joined up in 1939 aged 36, and was
called Uncle. This sounds friendly but
Waugh has always been described as unpopular with the men; Eade, however, has found
an interview with his loyal batman, who
insists that he was everything youd expect
an officer to be. There have been accusations that Sir Robert Laycock, Waughs
commander and military hero, disobeyed
orders and jumped the queue to get away
from Crete, while Waugh falsified his official account to cover up for him. Since then,
points out Eade, a substantial body of contrary evidence has been excavated, which
goes a long way towards refuting the accusations against Evelyn and his military mentor. There is another story which involves
Laycock. Waugh still yearned for action and
very much wanted to go to Syria with him.
In the event he was left behind. This was
contrived by Lord (Shimi) Lovat, a personal
enemy, who said then and later that Laycock
had never intended to take him. In fact Laycock was angry when he found out.
Waugh was given leave to write Brideshead Revisited, which was a huge success
and remains his most popular book (A
Handful of Dust is his most admired in literary circles). Hollywood beckoned and
he spent some pleasant weeks there, meeting Charlie Chaplin and Walt Disney, the
two artists of the place, though possibly
he never intended to allow a film. Instead
he studied Forrest Lawns, a cemetery, and
chatted with a woman who gave the personality smile to the embalmed corpse, or
The Loved One, as the resulting novel was
called. Material for a book was extremely
welcome, though the breakdown that led to
The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold was frightenthe spectator | 16 july 2016 |


Evelyn Waugh in the 1920s

ing for him and his family. When he died in

1966 he was 62 and seemed to be worn out,
an old man.
Evelyn Waugh by Ann Pasternak Slater
mainly concerns the books, their technique,
and how they came from his life. Eade says
the books could hardly have been easier
to understand, but this turns out to be not
entirely true. Slater notices every word or
phrase and has spotted if it is ever repeated.
She knows where Waugh had got to in writing Vile Bodies when his marriage broke up
and how that affects the style. She observes
that a correction by Waugh when Tony Last
is asked whether he believes in God has
been read as I suppose no when it is actuthe spectator | 16 july 2016 |

ally I suppose so. This leads to her theme:

the earlier satiric works before his conversion present a disordered world where
apparent chaos is artistically controlled.
Scrutinise the kaleidoscope and a perfect
pattern is revealed. Sometimes he returns
to this approach as in Put Out More Flags
and The Loved One. The Catholic novels
Work Suspended, Brideshead Revisited,
Helena and The Sword of Honour have
a quite different style, derived from Victorian novels, and are predominantly rational
and realistic.
I hesitate to sum up Waughs purpose in
a phrase but it concerns mans relationship
with God and Gods with man. Slater says

an agnostic will struggle to understand this.

For instance, in a memorandum explaining
Brideshead to Hollywood, Waugh states that
the second half shows how the grace of God
turns everything in the end to good, though
not to conventional prosperity. I, an agnostic, had half noticed most of this and merely thought the second half of Brideshead
uncharacteristically boring. I still struggled.
Could Vile Bodies, written in such tearing
haste, be so complicated? Waugh thought of
many titles for A Handful of Dust, including
A Handful of Ashes and Fourth Decade, not
seeming to care much which was adopted. Is
this being meticulous with shades of meaning? But of course Slater knows all that.



Ancient worlds collide: Alexander and Porus at the Battle of Hydaspes, in what is now Punjab, painted by Charles Le Brun, 1673

Worlds apart
Harry Mount
Ancient Worlds: An Epic History of
East and West
by Michael Scott
Hutchinson, 25, pp. 432

Classics is a boastful subject. Even the

name classics has an inner boast; as
does the classics course at Oxford, Literae
Humaniores (more humane letters), and
the courses second half, Greats.
Michael Scott, a classics professor at
Warwick University and a telegenic media
don, tries to put an end to the boastfulness
in this book. It has always understandably
annoyed him that, in the field of Greek and
Roman studies, book titles often include the
words Ancient World as if there were
only one ancient world, and it only included
Greece and Rome.
And so he attempts an ambitious reordering of ancient worlds thus the books
title and brings the study of Greece and
Rome together with Central Asia, India and
China. He begins with the late 6th century
bc the early years of Athenian democracy and the Roman Republic, and the Confucius era in China. Then he jumps to 218 bc,
when China had its first emperor and Hannibal took on Rome. And he finishes in 312
ad, when Constantine began to convert the
Roman world to Christianity, just as Buddhism was spreading through China thanks
to the Silk Roads.
It is a thoroughly admirable ambition
but it doesnt really work because it isnt
until the end of his period that there is any
real overlap of the different strands Scott

longs to plait together. Yes, there are a few

early collisions, and Scott begins with one
of the best: Megasthenes, a 3rd century bc
Greek who wrote of Indian legends, linking the birth of their society to the Greek
gods of the Mediterranean. Among them
was Dionysus, who, according to one legend,
taught the Indians to make wine, build cities and establish law. And, by the 1st century
ad, Roman toffs were wearing Chinese silk,
with Roman merchants sailing to southern
Arabia and Tamil India.
But, for the most part, particularly in
the early period in Scotts book, East and
West rarely met in any significant way. As
Scott himself, too honest to push his thesis,
says, We believe Greece and Rome had no
direct knowledge of China until after the
fourth century bce.
Scott, then, is forced to make pretty
broad generalisations about the parallels
between the civilisations: that, in Greece,
Rome and China, they all felt a nagging
sense of injustice... towards governance that
was overwhelmingly autocratic. Well, you
could easily say that of countless civilisations in countless periods. There are bound
to be similar phenomena across civilisations like the regular wars that blighted
Confuciuss world, as they did Greece and
Rome but coincidence doesnt mean causation, particularly when the coincidences
are separated by thousands of miles.
The differences between the civilisations
are often as great as the similarities. And
Scott, again, is honest enough to acknowledge that, Unlike the Greeks, the Zhou [the
Chinese dynasty] did not face an external
enemy of the might and magnitude of the
Because the parallels between the civili-

sations wax and wane, Scott is forced to do

a lot of comparing and contrasting. So he
accepts that Confucius is a long way from
the radical democracy of Athens; but, then,
unwilling to let go of the parallels, he argues
that there is something democratic in Confucian teachings because his system applied
equally to all people, not just rulers.
Its certainly true that there were sudden, great intellectual leaps forward in
the classical world and the East in the 5th
century bc, but there is no apparent glue
between them.
And so, rather than being able to show
East and West shuttling smoothly in each
others directions, Scott must make lurching gear changes between the two: As Hannibal and Rome sat in stalemate and Philip
[V of Macedon] succumbed to alcoholic
gloom, 8,000 kilometres to the east Qin Shi
Huangdi revelled in his accomplishments.
The book ends up, then, as a good triple
history of Rome, Greece and China, with
quite a bit of India, too. It acts as an effective primer to, inter alia, the birth of Greek
democracy, Confucius, the battles of Marathon and Salamis, Hannibal, Constantine,
early Christianity and early Buddhism.
This is an impressive feat in the tightlydemarcated groves of academe, where academics tend to study individual flowers and
flowerbeds, rather than leap the wall into
the next-door garden.
Scott is blissfully free, too, of latinate,
jargon-rich academese, even if he is keen
on the polite perfect passive, acknowledging debts to other academics: It has been
argued that...; It has often been lamented
that.... But, in the end, Scott fails to show
the global, connected ancient world he set
out to describe.
the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

Daddy dearest
Sarah Ditum
In the Darkroom
by Susan Faludi
William Collins, 16.99, pp. 432

In 2004, after a 25-year estrangement, Susan

Faludis father reappeared in her life via
email. I have had enough of impersonating
a macho aggressive man I have never been
inside, it read, and was signed, Love from
your parent, Stefnie. The 77-year-old had
embarked on a new life as a woman, both a
dramatic abruption and the continuation of
a biography full of reinvention. He was born
as a Hungarian Jew called Istvn Friedman,
survived the Holocaust thanks to a talent
for imitating Nazis, adopted the name Faludi to show he was 100 per cent Hungarian, and later settled in the US, where he
became Stephen Faludi, archetypal American Dad and, as a photographer, a master
manipulator of images.
In 2014, Stefnie Faludi died, and In
the Darkroom is a memoir of the fraught
reacquaintance between father and daughter. Its also a record of Stefnie Faludis
extraordinary life, and an unsettling interrogation of that modern obsession, identity. Who is the person you were meant to
be? asks Faludi. Is who you are what you
make of yourself, the self you fashion into
being, or is it determined by your inheritance and all its fateful forces, genetic, familial, ethnic, religious, cultural, historical?
Primo Levi asked If This Is a Man. Faludi
looks at her father Stefnie and wonders, is
this a woman? Is this a Jew? Is this a Hungarian? How much of the thing we call a self
is truly negotiable?
Faludi is a feminist (she made her reputation with the agenda-setting book Backlash in 1991), and the fault line between
feminism and transgender issues is one of
the most perilous in current politics. Any
deviation from the dogma that transwomen are women full stop can incite furious
condemnations, and possibly no-platforming and glitterbombing. The subject is beset
with clich and taboo: preferred pronouns
must be meticulously and retrospectively
observed, the individual is always the arbiter of their own identity, gender identity is
not a fetish, and its objectifying to focus on
Happily, Faludi has no time for these
tedious conventions. At one point, she reads
every transition memoir she can find in an
effort to understand her father, and confesses herself utterly frustrated by them.
But Stefnie too is blissfully ignorant of
the rules of political engagement. Magyar
(the language Istvn learned as a little boy)
has no gendered pronouns in any case, and
Faludis father fluffs hes and shes in English often and without injury. Far from being
the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

coy about the bloody details of transition,

Stefnie has hers filmed and ambushes
her daughter with a screening of it. Far from
denying any sexual motive, Stefnie insists
on showing her favourite sissy slave girl
erotica sites to her daughter.
From this, one might imagine that Faludi
and her father share a particularly intimate
bond. Not at all. As a child, she found him
simultaneously inscrutable and volatile
distant and intrusive by turns. He enforced
his paternal authority with violence. When
his wife wanted to get a job, he threw dinner plates to the floor. When his daughter
threatened his authority, he smashed her
head into the ground repeatedly. And when
his wife left him, he broke down the door of
the family home and stabbed her new boyfriend with a Swiss army knife.
In post-transition life, Stefnie still carries a knife: now its the pink-handled
ladies version, equipped with manicure
tools. Despite her fathers insistence that
the past is ancient history, Faludi wonders
how much has truly changed. Her father,

The fault line between feminism and

transgender issues is one of the most
perilous in current politics
ever the despot, takes satisfaction in compelling service staff and public functionaries
to cslkom me meaning kiss the hand,
an expression of conventional Hungarian
chivalry. Meanwhile, a female neighbour
is constantly on hand to help with cooking
and cleaning: housework was appealing as a
fetish, but when it comes to being a woman,
Stefnie seems to draw the line at drudgery.
And behind all this, the question of
Jewishness an identity which, as Hungarian Jews learned when their Magyar
neighbours enthusiastically participated in
the Holocaust, cannot be slipped by sheer
force of will. Faludi has her own identities
to move through: cool observant journalist,
affectionate daughter, critical feminist. As
she does so, she finds no pat answers, but
few have asked these questions with such
riveting precision.

Im not on the train.

The art of getting by

Ian Thomson
The Day Before Happiness
by Erri De Luca, translated by Jill Foulston
Penguin, 9.99, pp. 114

Naples, ragamuffin capital of the Italian

south, is reckoned to be a hive of pickpocketing and black-market manoeuvrings. (A
Neapolitan gambling manual advises: Rule
Number 1 always try to see your opponents cards.) Crime is not the whole picture, of course. To look out across the Bay
of Naples remains a visual education in
the grand style as the twin, dromedary-like
mounds of Vesuvius shadow the dead cities
of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Erri De Luca, one of Italys bestselling
authors, was born in Naples in 1950, and
understands perfectly the citys obscure
exuberance of life. The Day Before Happiness, a novella, unfolds amid the card-sharps,
prostitutes and barefoot scugnizzi (urchins)
who scrimped and scuffled in the city during
the postwar years. The narrator, an orphan,
is very much a product of the moral and
material ruins of fascism, being disaffected and homeless. He is looked after by an
elderly apartment concierge, Don Gaetano,
who brings him food and teaches him how
manipulate the Naples lottery with the aid of
the gambling cabbala known as La Smorfia,
in which dreams are assigned a corresponding lottery number (Diego Maradona, 23; the
Holy Madonna, 8).
A loquacious man, Don Gaetano regales
his ward with stories of wartime Naples,
when the occupying Germans rounded up
and murdered Jews, and famished locals ransacked the municipal aquarium for its tropical fish. (Nothing, absolutely nothing, that
can be managed by the human digestive system is wasted in Naples, though what sort
of pasta dishes resulted from the aquarium
raid is unknown.) The narrator, awed by Don
Gaetanos fluency in what Neapolitans call
larte di arrangiarsi, the art of getting by,
dutifully writes down all he says about the
war and consequently brings Naples vividly
to life for the reader. The citys dark, corridor-like streets seem to owe something to
the souks of the Middle East something
to the Levant.
Unknown to the narrator, his girlfriend
Anna is engaged to be married to a Neapolitan so-called man of honour. On his release
from jail the camorrista lunges at the unsuspecting suitor with a butchers knife. Nothing
much else happens in this slender if atmospheric novel (very nicely translated by Jill
Foulston). No doubt The Day Before Happiness is intended to capitalise on the worldwide success of Elena Ferrantes Neapolitan
quartet. By comparison De Lucas book is no
masterpiece, but those who love Naples (as I
do) will find something to enjoy here.

Making waves
Rose George



Tide: The Science and Lore of the

Greatest Force on Earth
by Hugh Aldersey-Williams
Viking, 18.99, pp. 425

The tour guides of Ephesus, in Turkey, have

a nice party trick to wake up their dozing
coach passengers. As the coach drives along,
they say, This is the ancient port of Ephesus, and the passengers look, as I did, at
fields and trees and nothing else. They peer
for the sea and are told it is miles away.
Ephesus was a major river port in antiquity
but the river has long since silted up and left
its port stranded. This fact isnt in AlderseyWilliamss book on tides but there are plenty more to be told of the curious, attritional
relationship of humans and the tidal waters
of the planet.
Dont be put off by the two muted squibs
that open the book: an unexciting tale of
sailing that youve read a thousand times
elsewhere, then a colossally English endeavour set on an ordinary creek in Norfolk,
where Aldersey-Williams lives, and where
he decides to watch a full tide cycle, for 13
hours. He does his best to provide drama,
but froth and tiny tidal creatures can only
provide so much. Living humans dont provide much drama, either. They are surprisingly colourless: even Cedric Robinson, the
Queens Guide to the Sands for the last 50
years. More interesting than Cedric in this
portrayal are the terrifying tides of the
sands, which can fill the huge bay with six
billion cubic metres rushing in at ten miles
an hour.
Perhaps Aldersey-Williams prefers
water to people. Even when he builds up
his trip to find the Maelstrom of myth
actually a well-known tidal zone in Norway
the result is disappointing. He stands on
a ledge to watch the water move, when his
reverie is spoiled by a boatload of people
heading into the maelstrom. The lead driver waves to me. Tosser, I think. This bizarre
snobbery pops up throughout: when he
encounters a film crew filming The Suspicions of Mr Whicher on the banks of the
Thames, he is sure that his attempt to emulate the mudlarks of old is a much higher
class of activity. Other people are generally
dismissed as tourists, an unappealing trend
Ive noticed elsewhere.
Its a shame, because Aldersey-Williams
also serves us shoals of dizzying facts and
history, even though I fizz with frustration
at not being told exactly how tides work
until halfway through the book, and though
I have to consult the glossary to know what
a foul or neap tide is. Answers: tides are a
result of complicated interaction between
the Moon, the Sun (which exerts nearly
half as much tide-generating force as the

Royal Marine commandos coming ashore on Juno Beach, 9 a.m., 6 June 1944.
The Allies fixed a tidally perfect day to land using a Victorian music machine

much closer Moon) and the Earth. Its most

helpful to think of them as the product of
a giant wave, pushing in parts and pulling
in others. It is a strange concept, that one
sea can have more tides than others, but the
Mediterranean has very few, while the Bay
of Fundy has the highest tides in the world,
shifting four million cubic metres per second. Oceanographers translate this using
a unit called the sverdrup, named after a
Norwegian scientist. But if you still struggle
to comprehend what four sverdrups a second consists of, let me translate: a terrifying
amount of water comes and goes with ter-

I fizz with frustration at not being

told how tides work until halfway
through the book
rifying force and terrifying speed. Even if,
as Aldersey-Williams finds out, it may not
look like much.
Tides are intensely complicated because
their height and impact depends on the
attraction of the Earth, Moon and Sun,
but also on the shape of coastlines, wind
speed, and the shape of the Earth. No wonder humans took millennia to understand
them, from Aristotle puzzling over the currents of Chalcis, to Galileos efforts to make
sense of tides despite ignoring the influence
of the Moon. Isaac Newton depended on
the astronomical calculations of Anthony
Flamsteed, Astronomer General, to become
the first to understand the major role of
the Sun in creating tides. His treatment of
Flamsteed publishing Flamsteeds lifes
work, a star catalogue, without Flamsteeds

permission, and with unsanctioned amendments was less impressive.

Tides can create and break civilisations (for example, Ephesus) that depend
on them for shipping, trade and existence.
They can kill, of course, as in the tragedy
of the 27 Chinese cockle-pickers drowned
by the sea off Morecambe. And they can
win wars. The Dutch queen Wilhelmina
once visited the belligerent Kaiser William
II. When he remarked provocatively how
much taller his guards were than hers, the
queen is said to have replied, True, your
majesty, your guards are seven feet tall. But
when we open our dykes, the water is ten
feet deep. The Netherlands was not visited
by the Kaisers army. The Dutch historical
geographer Adriaan de Kraker has calculated that a third of all floods in parts of the
Netherlands since 1500 have been deliberately incurred as defensive measures.
My favourite section of the book is on
the role of tides in the D-Day landings. It
comes in a charming chapter linking music
to tides, because the Victorians invented
wonderful analogue machines to calculate tide times that relied on harmonics.
The planners of D-Day used one of these
machines, from 1872, to predict which day
was best for the landings: arriving too early
would mean waiting offshore and losing the
surprise element; arriving too late meant
an ebbing tide would make it harder to
advance up the beaches. The harmonics got
it right: Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was
so convinced that the high tide arrived too
late for a landing on 6 June that he took the
day off to celebrate his wifes birthday.
the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

The wonder of knowledge

Sam Byers
A Field Guide to Reality
by Joanna Kavenna
Riverrun, 14.99, pp. 256

Transparency, remarks Eliade Jenks, narrator of Joanna Kavennas fourth novel, A

Field Guide to Reality, is an aspiration. But
wouldnt it be strange, if you could see all
things clearly?
Its an apposite question. For a novel
with illumination and the quest for knowledge at its heart, clarity is in beguilingly
short supply. Set in a distorted contemporary Oxford smothered by an eldritch mist,
peopled not only by modern-day academics but by the spectres of thinkers past, and
illustrated in gloomy monochrome by Oly
Ralfe, A Field Guide to Reality is a work of
cunning misdirection and trickery a mystery in thrall to mysterys beauty.
When the scholar Solete dies, he leaves
his friend Eliade a message. He has been
studying the nature of light and perception.
In a playful, perhaps slightly paranoid move,

A work of cunning misdirection

and trickery: a mystery in thrall to
mysterys beauty
he has hidden his final, definitive work, the
Field Guide of the title, and he wants Eliade to find it. After a gorgeous prologue
in which Eliade projects herself into the
minds of long-dead theorists bewitched by
rainbows and sunbeams, a familiar but wellexecuted structure emerges. For each new
chapter, a new expert, explaining to Eliade
their theories in the hope that one of them
can lead her to Soletes book.
Requiring the reader to invest in a narrative device so plainly intended as little more
than an intellectual vehicle could, in the
wrong hands, result in a dry and rather infuriating novel. That it proves so entertaining is testament not only to Kavennas skill,
but also to her enthusiasm. This is a novel
charged with a vital and distinctly unfashionable faith in the wonder and plurality
of knowledge itself; and with the conviction that insight comes to us in many forms:
through equations, experiments, speculation, accident, and even, in one of the
books finest passages, through the accidental consumption of hallucinogenic tea. In
Kavennas world, faith, science and magic
intersect. Dreams become clues; equations
become spells. Its a timely reminder that
science, religion and the arts, currently so
unsatisfactorily and clumsily demarcated,
have not always existed in such strident
Ralfes illustrations work best when they
complement the tone of the prose in a less
the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

direct way, creeping in slyly from the edge

of the page, disrupting the linearity of the
text. In this mode, they feel tuned to the
chiaroscuro of Kavennas evocations. When
they function as illustrations in a more literal sense, however, the effect is one of slight
over-explanation. Similarly, Kavenna is at
her best when she floats away from the tangible, inhabiting instead the hazy, near-gothic interstices between reality and mirage:
The city was adrift in mist and when you
reached the outskirts, when you slunk beyond
the streets and lost the punctuations of lamps
and cars and people, there was just this dim
slur of land, with coils of mist above it, around
it. Engulfing you as you tried to cross it.

Only as the novel progresses does the

reader come to realise its real trick. For all
its lightness of touch, its energy and humour,
this is a work concerned with darkness of a
very different kind: grief. Soletes death, we
realise, is a stand-in for death itself, which
always occasions an adjustment to a new
reality for both the dead and the living. As
Eliade says: The death of others rids you
briefly of egotism. This, it transpires, is the
most difficult understanding of all, and one
for which, like the investigations into light
that weave their way through this strange
and charming novel, there are no easy formulae.

Mournful and meticulous

Alex Clark
by Jenn Ashworth
Sceptre, 18.99, pp. 292

After a curtain-twitching cul-de-sac, a Preston shopping precinct, and the Church of the
Latter-Day Saints brought to Lancashire,
Jenn Ashworth ups sticks for the seaside
in her fourth novel. Set in the determinedly genteel resort of Grange-over-Sands, just
across the bay from Morecambe on the
Cumbrian coast, Fell is a disturbing, precisely rendered tale of charisma, misplaced faith
and transgenerational trauma, with a touch

Im off school my teachers taking her

holidays this term.

not too heavy-handed, fortunately of

the supernatural.
This is the same part of the world as that
of Andrew Michael Hurleys gothic prizewinner The Loney, and both novels make
great use of the treachery of the tides, the
beaches that can disappear beneath the
water in an instant, as gullies and channels shift, and the sands run like mercury: no one can trace the same path across
them twice. But Fell also brings to mind the
claustrophobic, suburban world of Dennis
Potters great play Brimstone and Treacle, in
which a devastated and vulnerable household is breached by a mysterious, sexually
charged stranger.
The house in this case is The Sycamores,
home to Jack and Netty Clifford and their
daughter Annette, still a child but intensely alive to the encroachments and silences
of her mothers terminal illness. Soon, the
familys lodgers young men issued with
a standard brown towel, given their breakfasts each morning, a blind eye turned
when they come home late on a Friday
are sent on their way. All except for one:
the uncategorisable, unnerving and blandly
named Timothy Richardson. After apparently curing Jacks failing eyesight during
a chance encounter, Tim pitched up with a
pair of rabbits and a winning way and never
left; now, he keeps Jack and Netty hovering
between hope and despair as they wait for
his sporadic gift to make an appearance.
The novel shifts between this unspooling narrative, in which the reader can only
expect the inevitable catastrophe but nonetheless, like Jack and Netty, is fooled into
clinging to hope, and the present day. Here,
we meet an adult Annette as she returns,
now in her fifties, to her parents dilapidated
house; as she begins, fairly ineptly, to tackle
it, their spirits flit around, protectively, helplessly, desperately.
If this sounds hokey, it really isnt. The
woo-woo elements of the novel (Tim really
does seem to have some paranormal capabilities, rather than being a pure chancer)
function effectively as metaphors for
transience, regret, our desire to hold on to
the insubstantial.
Annette is a blank, rootless character because her life has been so porous;
squidged into the familys domestic quarters, shunted aside during her mothers
decline, co-opted into the shiny new life of
her father and stepmother. Each characters hidden desires roil beneath the surface,
threatening to burst into life at any moment.
And the writing is so sharp and vivid: the
relentless damp of the house, then and now,
dust puffing out from the rotting settee, a
painful confrontation between Jack and a
former lodger over a drunken game of darts,
cigarettes exchanged against the noise of
gas hissing through the lighter. It is meticulous and mournful at the same time, a thoroughly involving and suggestive novel.



Taking the pissoir

Who really made Marcel Duchamps Fountain? Stephen Bayley looks back at the early
days of the Dada movement a century after it began

ou have to imagine the lines that follow in separate fonts to get the full
sense of the nonsense in Karawane,
one of Hugo Balls verses without words:
jolifanto bambla falli bambla
grossiga mpfa habla horem
giga goramen

And it ends not with a bang, but with . . .

ba-umf. See the original and its impossible not to be impressed by the industrialstrength madness of Balls absolute certainty.
His poetics of nonsense claimed to drain
words of meaning, but quite the opposite
effect was achieved. The meaninglessness is
itself meaningful: cognition is on an infinite
loop. Sense or nonsense, Ball intended to
show that this humiliating age has not succeeded in winning our respect.
So, in the middle of this, our own humiliating age, its nice that the centenary of
Balls Dada movement is being commemorated in a series of events, performances and
exhibitions in Zurich. In his novel Flametti,
or the Dandyism of the Poor (whose subject
is a libidinous circus troupe) Ball cites the
laughable impotence, stupendous smugness and self-evident limitedness of politics in 1916. If any of this sounds familiar
in 2016, it proves that self-destructive Dada
actually has enduring values. It was not a
style, but a state of mind.
They say that in law-abiding Switzerland
what is not forbidden is compulsory, but in
1916 Zurich was a liberal refuge from the
horrors of war. This was the year of Gallipoli,
the first Zeppelin raid on Paris and the final
version of Einsteins baffling general theory
of relativity. And in Zurich, the Cabaret Voltaire opened on 5 February at Spiegelgasse 1
in a back room of the Hollndische Meierei
pub. This was the spiritual home of the Dadaists, an incontinently irreverent rival to the
established Caf Odeon whose customers
included the altogether more sober James
Joyce, Lenin, Einstein and Stefan Zweig.
It is absolutely fitting that the anarchic
Dada has confused etymology. Some said it
was from the Russian for yes, yes (Caba32

ret Voltaire was near Lenins apartment).

But dada is also French for rocking horse.
A local soap company called Bergmann &
Co. used a rocking horse as a trademark and
since one group manifesto portentously proclaimed, Dada is the best lily-milk soap in
the world, that, too, might be an explanation. But explanation is bourgeois and the
Dadaists were not.
The personnel reveal something of the
movements character. Hugo Ball was a
dramaturge from Munich who liked getting
dressed up in geometrical cardboard outfits. His wife was a chanteuse and when the
couple became disenchanted with Dadas
descent into absolutely unfathomable non-

The Dadaists would rush into the

Caf Odeon and shout Dada! at a
bemused Lenin or Zweig
sense, they left Zurich for Ticino and became
interested in mystical Catholicism and best
buddies with Hermann Hesse.
Romanians were prominent in Dada.
Marcel Janco was an architectural student at
Zurichs important Eidgenssischen Technische Hochschule, but set aside functional
things to perform poems in a simultaneous
babel of German, French and English. His
party piece was Lamiral cherche une maison louer. Then there was Tristan Tzara,
born Samuel Rosenstock. He was the catalyst of the group and its busiest publicist:
Tzara advocated cutting words out of newspapers, shaking them up in a bag and assembling the result into a hopefully meaningless
poem. And dont forget Hans Arp, a friend
of Kandinskys. Only in the bizarre context
of Dada could the citation of Kandinskys
name suggest orthodoxy. Meanwhile, Arps
wife, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, performed cubist dances. Her portrait is now on the Swiss
National Banks 50 franc note.
The shouty silliness of the Cabaret Voltaire and the pranks of the Dadaists (who
would rush into the Caf Odeon and shout
Dada! at a bemused Lenin or Zweig)
would be only a very small footnote in the
history of art were it not for the influential

diaspora from Zurich. Ball and Tzara were

adroit communicators: news of nonsense
travelled fast and made good copy.
In Berlin, local Dadaists supported Rosa
Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in the 1918
uprising. In Elterwater in Cumbria, Kurt
Schwitters built his Merzbau an undefinable amalgam of collage, assemblage and
architecture in a rustic barn. Merz is a
fragment of the word Commerz, which
Schwitters found in a newspaper and made
his motif. Schwitters is the gold standard of
collage. Dada also gave us photomontage
and in the compositions of John Heartfield
this technique turned anti-war propaganda
into a densely effective medium.
But it was in New York that Dada became
most memorable. Marcel Duchamp emigrated to Manhattan in 1915, bringing the
Dada sensibility of art-as-attitude with him.
Depending on your point of view, Duchamp
is either one of the last centurys most important artists a witty magus who felt the
pulse of his historical moment and, with great
art, changed the history of art or an attitudinising charlatan, scoundrel and shameless
publicity hound. My own view tends towards
the former, although, this being Dada, either
interpretation might be true.
The notion of a readymade work of
art is the ultimate expression of the Dada
sensibility and the ultimate readymade was
Duchamps urinal, exhibited in New York
in 1917 as Fountain and signed, in drippy
autograph, R. Mutt. Anything you want
to think about Fountain is true. Taking
the piss? Of course! Anticipating the valorisation of the industrial object which, as
design, became, with rocknroll and movies, one of the great cultures of the 20th
century? Absolument! A satire on consumerism, a critique of art-world amour-propre,
a modern vanitas portrait? Naturally. The
invention of appropriation? Too damned
right! An argument about authenticity in art
that predicts Walter Benjamins great essay
about reproductions? Most certainly.
I could go on, but recent research suggests that Duchamp was not actually the
source of Fountain. Instead, it is now being
the spectator | 16 july 2016 |


Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, multisexual kleptomaniac, scatologist and creator of Duchamps

Fountain, c.1920

credited to the Baroness Elsa von FreytagLoringhoven (ne Pltz), the subject of an
unfinished biography by Djuna Barnes.
The baroness was a performance artiste,
a multisexual kleptomaniac and scatologist in whose cheerfully obscene poetry we
find coinages such as Phalluspistol and
She called Duchamp MArs which, it
was explained, stood for My arse. In an act
of pure Dada, she accidentally gassed herself in Berlin in 1927, but not before publicly
wearing tomato-soup cans as a bra, presenting herself hither and yon half-naked, shaving her head and lacquering it with red
the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

enamel and, just days before Marcel created Fountain, sending him the porcelain
pissoir signed with the Mutt nom-de-plume
that was, in fact, her own. Only in the 1950s

Dada actually has enduring values. It

was not a style, but a state of mind
did Duchamp begin authenticating versions
of it and these are what we find in various
museums around the world.
In a mess of confusion, Dada disappeared
up its own bullhorn in 1923. The following
year Andr Breton published La Rvolution
surraliste, which gave pictorial form to the

nonsensical dreamworld declaimed from the

stage on Spiegelgasse. As for Cabaret Voltaire, the premises fell into desuetude and
were occupied by situationists, scroungers
and traditional squatters, but it reopened in
2004. Ba-umf.
Dada has a place in the history of nonsense that begins with Lewis Carrolls slithy
toves and matures into Alfred Jarrys
play Ubu Roi, whose first word is Merde!
Opposed as it was to what Duchamp called
retinal experience, it did, perhaps, not create great beauty, but it changed the way we
see the world. And thats one definition of
true art.


Where should this
music be?
Boyd Tonkin
This must rank as the most heartbreaking
example of premature chicken-counting in
musical history. Gotter has made a marvellous free adaptation of Shakespeares The
Tempest, wrote poet Gottfried Brger to
the translator A.W. Schlegel on 31 October
1791. Mozart is composing the piece. Three
days later, brimming with misplaced confidence, the dramatist Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter confirmed that the edifice is all ready to
receive Mozarts heavenly choruses.
By 5 December 1791, Mozart was dead.
Most probably, he never saw Gotters Tempest adaptation, although the musicologist
Alfred Einstein stirred the pot of Mozartian
myth by presuming that the master had set
to work on it during his dying days. So the
second most famous phantom opera drawn
from the plays of Shakespeare evaporated
into fantasy before it had even begun.
As for the best-known unbuilt blueprint,
it has a more tangible history. Over a quarter-century, Verdis long-planned, neverexecuted opera of King Lear went through
two librettists (Salvadore Cammarano and
Antonio Somma), a handful of false starts,
a posse of disappointed opera-house managers (starting with Benjamin Lumley in
London in 1846) and numberless dark
nights of the composers soul. Eventually,
Verdi gave up on the storm-battered king
and instead conquered the scarcely less formidable peaks of Otello and Falstaff. You
might argue that Lears bond with Cordelia,
which obsessed Verdi, also colours the great
music for the jester and his daughter Gilda
in Rigoletto.
These twin might-have-beens, their
heavenly harmonies forever drifting just
out of earshot, epitomise the lure of perfect Shakespearean opera. In this anniversary year, directors and programmers have
rammed their seasons full of musical Shakespeareana. The 2016 Proms alone offer a
dozen Bard-based concerts, from crowdpleasing staples such as Mendelssohns
skittering soundtrack to A Midsummer
Nights Dream to a brace of lesser-spotted
takes on Lear itself: Berliozs concert overture, and Debussys fragments of incidental music.
Meanwhile, opera houses have plucked
assorted rarities from the 300-strong inventory of Shakespearean music-dramas. On
23 July, Glyndebourne will begin its run of
Batrice et Bndict by the Bard-worshipping
Berlioz his version of Much Ado About
Nothing. Weirder obscurities have resurfaced. When the youthful Richard Wagner
watched Das Liebesverbot his surpris34

ingly jaunty opera of Measure for Measure

crash and burn on its ill-starred debut in
1836, he must have thought it sunk for good.
This spring it popped up, under Ivor Boltons
baton, at the Teatro Real in Madrid.
Even Il Re Lear itself has begun to hover
on the brink of incarnation. Last November, the Lenz Foundation theatre in Parma
put on a sort of multimedia revue inspired
by Verdis sketches and outlines for the
projected work. No one, to my knowledge,
has attempted a full-scale Mozartian pastiche of The Tempest. But Simon McBurneys staging of The Magic Flute for ENO
and Netherlands Opera in 2013 treated its
metaphysical cabaret as a sort of unconscious prelude or preparation for the nonexistent opera, with Sarastro as a prototype
Prospero meting out ordeals and rewards.
Premired in September 1791, The Magic
Flute would have alerted Gotter to Mozart
as a prospective setter of the Tempest
script. Post-Flute, he evidently looked like
the go-to guy for a mystical pantomime.
Dream on. This brace of unwritten masterpieces still lures opera-lovers for whom

These twin might-have-beens

epitomise the lure of the perfect
Shakespearean opera
the ideal Shakespearean drama teases
and tantalises, as Ariel does The Tempests
drunken mariners. However, the curtain
never rose on a faithful, fully rounded
Shakespeare opera, and never will. Even
Otello itself, the nearest shot to a bullseye, renders down the plays dark heart
Iagos motiveless malignity, in Coleridges
phrase into the villains upfront demonic
manifesto: Credo in un Dio crudel. Yes, its
magnificent, but it isnt really Shakespeare.
Opera and music-theatre composers tend
to treat the texts with the same merry abandon as the playwright did his own sources.
They plunder and ransack Shakespeare;
they pimp him; they customise him; they
cut him down and mash him up. Enduring
music often grows out of misunderstanding,
mistreatment and betrayal, all the way from
the mischievous alchemy that Purcells The
Fairy-Queen performed on A Midsummer
Nights Dream in 1692, through to Thomas
Adss and Meredith Oakess slimline compression of The Tempest in 2004.
Shakespeare in opera maybe Shakespeare in music amounts to a sonic landscape of ruins. It could be that the frankest,
the most fruitful, adaptations acknowledge
this smashed and pulverised incompleteness. In Luciano Berios Un re in ascolto,
itself haunted by Mozarts uncomposed
Tempest, a production of that play forever
impends but never quite happens. At this
years Proms, on 27 August, soprano Barbara Hannigan will sing Hans Abrahamsens ravishing let me tell you: a rhapsodic
song-cycle, first written as a novella by Paul

Griffiths, which uses only the words that

Ophelia speaks in Hamlet. Griffiths and
Abrahamsen make a virtue out of shattered Shakespeare.
Yet the mirage of Absolute Shakespeare
at the opera still beckons. In 1857, Il Re
Lear was actually offered to the San Carlo
theatre in Naples before Verdi changed his
mind. In some alternative universe envisaged by a steampunk novelist, it reached
the stage to thunderous acclaim. Through
his detailed notes for Cammarano, you
sense that Verdi can already hear parts of
the work, whether the Fools bittersweet
ditties, Edmunds Iago-like aria to pitiless
Nature, or the Act 3 finale that reunites
Lear and Cordelia. Lear awakens. Magnificent duet, as in Shakespeares scene.
Curtain falls. How much of the entire operatic repertoire would you sacrifice for the
chance to hear that scene?

Privates on parade
Martin Gayford
Georgia OKeeffe
Tate Modern, until 30 October

In 1927, Georgia OKeeffe announced that

she would like her next exhibition to be so
magnificently vulgar that all the people who
have liked what I have been doing would
stop speaking to me. Perhaps, then, she
would approve of the massive retrospective
of her work at Tate Modern. This show is, as
is frequently the case in the largest suites of
galleries on Bankside, considerably too big
for its subject. The scale, however, is a matter
of institutional overkill. Its vulgarity, magnificent or otherwise, is supplied by OKeeffe
(18871986) herself in a pared-down,
high-modernist way.
Resident for much of her long, long life in
the New Mexican desert, she prided herself
on her all-American toughness. They make
me seem like some strange unearthly sort of
creature floating in the air, she complained
in 1922 they being male critics and artists. The fact was, she continued, I like beef
steak and like it rare at that.
Actually, there was some justification
for thinking the early works with which she
made her name were on the ethereal side.
Music Pink and Blue No. 1 (1918) seems
to show an arch made in some thin material such as linen or paper, through which a
patch of sea- or sky-like blue can be seen.
Such pictures and others, including
Blue and Green Music (1919/21) with various undulating waveforms in sickly pale
green might belong to the genre of spiritualist abstraction, in company with the
works of the Swedish artist Hilma af Klint
that were shown at the Serpentine earlier this
the spectator | 16 july 2016 |


M A R I T I M E E D G E , 2 016

oil on canvas

127 x 102 cms 50 x 401 4 ins

Painting for Annear is a process of discovery through making, a negotiation between the world
that is also a spiritual rite of passage. The act of painting is instinctive, rather than long pondered,
but he approaches his daily stint in the studio in a highly professional manner, focusing his inner
resources on a state of being that is dispassionate, disciplined and truthful.
Andrew Lambirth

Exhibition 20th July 5th August

2 8 Cor k S t re e t , L o nd o n W1S 3 N G

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and seemingly paper-thin. This was, perhaps, the result of OKeeffes close association with photography and its practitioners.
Her mentor, lover and eventually husband was Alfred Stieglitz, photographer
and leader of the New York avant-garde.
He was the first to exhibit her work, in the
gallery called 291 (from its address on Fifth
Avenue). Subsequently, she was the model
or perhaps performance artist is a more
apt description in a remarkable series
of pictures taken by Stieglitz, among them
extremely sensuous nudes.
These are included in the exhibition, as
are works by two other friends who were

Im agnostic on the sex question: my

objection is that OKeeffes work was
very short of the joy of paint
major photographers Paul Strand and
Ansel Adams. The results are odd. Usually,
when paintings and photography are shown
side by side, the former easily overwhelm
the latter, having much more oomph and
visual pizzazz. But OKeeffes New Mexican
landscapes, for example, dont have the ruggedness or volume of black-and-white shots
by Ansel Adams of the same subjects.
There is plenty to admire about
OKeeffes life her energy, her determination, her sheer longevity (Van Gogh was
at work when she was born; Jeff Koons was
already well known when she died). However, a little of her art much less than this
exhibition contains is enough. The critic Clement Greenberg complained in 1946
that her work amounted to little more than
tinted photography. I think Greenberg got
it in one.

New York Street with Moon, 1925, by Georgia OKeeffe

My best fiend
Lloyd Evans
Royal Court, until 6 August

year. There was also, however, from early on,

another interpretation of OKeeffes imagery, not so much transcendental as gynaecological. Her paintings, the artist Marsden
Hartley noted, are probably as living and
shameless private documents as exist.
OKeeffe strongly resisted this line too,
but that didnt stop many people agreeing
with Hartley. Much ink, the critic Robert
Hughes remarked, has been spilled on the
topic of whether OKeeffe ever set out to
use specifically genital images (before spilling a little more himself). Her flower paintings hugely enlarged close-ups of blooms
and blossoms filling big canvases are particularly liable to put observers in mind of
private parts.

To deny the sexuality of one of her iris

pictures, Hughes insisted, is absurd, it
amounts to not seeing the work itself. Im
not so sure. After all, her horticultural canvases are very much like the oriental poppies, amaryllises and lilies they are supposed
to represent (perhaps Hughes had not had a
good look at those). So Im agnostic on the
sex question: my objection is that her work
was very short of the joy of paint.
That is, the textures and surfaces of all
her figurative subjects whether flowers,
Manhattan skyscrapers, bare hills in the
desert of New Mexico to which she moved
in the late 1920s, or the skulls of droughtstricken animals were homogenised.
They come out uniformly smooth, polished

Soho Theatre, until 30 July

Anthony Neilson is an Arts Council favourite known for trivial but impenetrable plays
with off-putting names like The Wonderful World of Dissocia. His latest effort has
another hazard-warning instead of a title.
Unreachable starts with an actress auditioning for a dystopian sci-fi movie set in
a clichd future. She lands the role and
we cut to the film-lot where more clichs
await. Pretentious director Max is furious
because the sun wont stay in one place and
he decides to ditch his digital cameras and
film instead on old-fashioned celluloid. The
shoot is suspended while producers scrabthe spectator | 16 july 2016 |

ble around for emergency funding. This

self-involved storyline would be unbearable if it werent for the charming whimsicality of Matt Smith as Max. He develops a
minor crush on his leading lady, whose cynical attitude to her trade is coolly refreshing. If you want me to feel something, pay
me. Their dialogue has flashes of coarse
wit. The actress claims to dislike babies
because they cry, suck tits and shit themselves. Max says he knows thesps who do
little else. The psychological details of the
characters begin to fall into place. Max was
raised as an orphan and his tantrums are
a ploy to win him the emotional reassurance he needs. Hes mothered by his executive producer (Amanda Drew), who relies
on the lead cameraman for rough-sex liaisons that are kept scrupulously secret from
Max. These layers of intrigue and manipulation are all too realistic between close
colleagues. The script seems to be settling
down as a cheerful backstage comedy when
Max makes a fatal decision.
He hires Ivan (also known as the Brute),
who surges up through the floorboards
like a cherubic madman, his blond locks
stiffened with hairspray, his shirt ripped
open to the waist. Ivan is an ungovernable

The Brutes role is a flight of rhetoric

that every play-goer will queue to see
again and again
heap of pretention whose Slavic name and
German accent recall the ghost of Klaus
Kinski. He boasts that he arrived on set
having walked barefoot for 30 miles, pausing only to seduce a mother and daughter
in a passing caravan. He curses all films as
vomit and sewage and he detests anyone
who labels Hollywood an industry. Coal
mining and steel, he bellows, are industries.
This is a slaughterhouse. Last time Ivan
worked with Max, they ended up hunting
each other on horseback through a forest
teeming with mantraps. Now they embrace
as brothers and promise to create a masterpiece. Within hours Ivan is calling Max
a cathedral to mediocrity whose films are
travesties of beauty and truth created by
philistine investors to make yuppies crawl
out of their shelters for a brief interlude of
wretched escapism. When Ivan falls unexpectedly in love, he reveals a gentler side to
his egoism. He boasts that he hires only the
oldest and ugliest streetwalkers out of pity
for their fading looks. He never eats vegetables because hes haunted by memories of
his fathers allotment. I heard their screams
as he tore them from the ground.
The play becomes lopsided towards the
close as it evolves into Ivans solo show.
But Im not sure this matters. The Brute is
a role every actor would kill to play. And
its a flight of rhetoric every play-goer will
queue to see again and again. On pressnight Jonjo ONeill was operatically brilthe spectator | 16 july 2016 |

liant as the swivel-eyed monster and yet

he was self-indulgently careless as well.
He corpsed twice, quite openly, and his fellow actors seemed not to mind this atrocity. They even joined in. My hunch is that
theyve grasped the nature of this project.
Theyre merely inaugurating roles that
future actors will develop and extend for
years to come. Thats how good it was. The
birth of a classic.
Fury is a snapshot of a Peckham towerblock where incoming toffs mingle with the
native underclass. Sam is a drunken single
mum who fancies Tom, a rich country boy
studying for an MA. But Tom turns out to
be an amoral blackmailer who agrees a pact
with his victim. He will keep quiet about
Sams assaults on her small boys provided
he gets to rape her.
Every character in this part of Peckham
is criminally malevolent. Sams ex-boyfriend
declines to support his sons as he needs
money to sire more fatherless kids. An old
pal of Sams arrives offering friendship but
the overture sours. Dirty little bitch, she
tells Sam. I hate you so much. Three social
workers show up and accuse Sam of prostituting herself and of failing to wash her sofacovers. And they turn their pious aggression
on the audience. Whos the monster here?
Her? Him? Us?
The good news about this witless cage
fight is that the author is sitting on a goldmine. Shows like EastEnders are constantly
in need of these turgid cockney quagmires.
And they pay a fortune to anyone willing to
dredge up the bilge.

First things first
Richard Bratby
Leonore; I Capuleti e i Montecchi;
Buxton Festival, in rep until 23 July

Leonore is the first version of Beethovens

Fidelio, and Stephen Medcalf thinks its better. What Leonore gives us is more discursive but more dramatic, he declares in the
programme of this Buxton Festival production. Well he would, wouldnt he? Hes the
director. Youd hope hed have some faith
in the piece. And whats undeniable is that
with Leonore you get more Beethoven for
your buck than in Fidelio. True, theres no
Abscheulicher! and no glowing declaration
of universal brotherhood from the Minister.
But if youve ever wished that Beethoven
had given us a bit less of all that freedom
and humanity stuff and a bit more romantic
comedy, Leonore is the version for you, as
Beethoven spreads Marzelline, Fidelio and
Jacquinos ditzy domestic love triangle over
two leisurely acts.

To be fair, the differences extend

throughout the work. Fidelio, in the
increasingly rare event of an adequate production, can feel like being caught in a tractor beam, with everything pulling towards
the exultant sunlight of Beethovens final
scene. The finale of Leonore is less stable
both in pace and tone, with a revolutionary mob storming the prison and demanding Pizarros blood. And those rambling
domestic scenes do shift the overall focus
of the piece to something closer to its original subtitle, The Triumph of Married Love.
Perhaps with pacier direction in the dialogue-heavy first two acts, at any rate
Leonore might emerge in its own right as
the more ambiguous, more richly characterised work Medcalf describes.
The designs, by Francis OConnor,
place the action at the time of composition. Thats logical, and those Napoleonic tailcoats certainly look handsome. But
having gone for realism, Medcalfs occa-

So Beethoven meant Leonore as a

metaphor for creative block? Memo to
directors: its not all about you
sional flashes of artifice are unsettling:
the ensemble suddenly holding position
and singing Mir ist so wunderbar as if in
freeze-frame, or Hrolfur Smundssons
growling Pizarro forcing his soldiers into
a faintly kinky blood-brotherhood ritual.
The Buxton audience giggled awkwardly
at the climactic moment when Leonore
(Kirstin Sharpin) removes her disguise to
reveal herself as Florestans wife, and time
and again a committed cast (plus a spirited orchestra under Stephen Barlow) finds
itself on the wrong side, emotionally, of one
of Medcalfs visual gimmicks.
Sharpins voice, boyish and bright in the
earlier acts, opens out thrillingly in the high
drama of the dungeon scenes. Scott Wilde
has both vocal and physical gravitas as
Rocco, and a lot more could surely be found
in this character, who genuinely does seem
more complex in Beethovens first draft.
You have to wonder just how seriously Medcalf really does take Leonore not least
because of an embarrassing framing device
that has David Danholts Florestan miming away as Beethoven in full mad-genius
mode during the overture, and then resuming that persona in the final moments. What,
so Beethoven meant this whole tremendous
human drama, the masterpiece with which
he wrestled for a decade, as a metaphor for
creative block? Memo to directors: its not
all about you.
Still, Buxton specialises in rarities, and if
nothing this summer is quite as succulent as
Charpentiers Louise last year, Leonore was
an infinitely more thought-provoking choice
than yet another example of that bane of
modern operatic life, the rediscovered Donizetti turkey. Buxtons one specimen of bel


canto this year is also rewarding: I Capuleti

e i Montecchi, the Bellini melodrama thats
emphatically not based on Romeo and
Juliet, in an efficient contemporary updating by director Harry Fehr. The setting is
a Camp Bastion-like fortified compound.
Guelphs versus Ghibellines become militarised state versus black-clad insurgents, and
the whole thing is given wings by the urgent,
poetic conducting of Justin Doyle and a terrific pair of lovers: Stephanie Marshalls
coltish Romeo and Sarah-Jane Brandon as a
Giulietta whose pure, exquisitely controlled
singing quivers with quiet emotion.
Musical values are equally high in Francis Matthewss production of Handels
Tamerlano. As Laurence Cummings and
the English Concert dance, lilt and languish in the pit, the cast throw off Handels
vocal fireworks with an ease that borders
on nonchalance. Just a generation ago,
to hear an account of a Handel opera as
graceful, as nuanced, in fact as consistently beautiful as this would still have been a
matter of luck.
But as Handels semi-legendary figures
sauntered on and off in lounge suits and
dressing-gowns, I realised, perversely, that
Id like to have felt a bit more danger: slightly wilder flights of exotic rage from Rupert
Enticknaps barbarian emperor Tamerlano,
a little less poise from Marie Lyss luminous
Asteria, and perhaps direction that felt closer to an epic tragedy than a camp soap opera.
Paul Nilons raw performance as Tamerlanos vanquished rival Bajazet provided the
main piece of grit around which this pearl
might have coalesced, though audiences in
1724 apparently found it bizarre that a heroic character should be sung by a tenor rather than a castrato. This production, however,
needs to grow a pair.

Girls v. ghosts
Deborah Ross
PG, Nationwide

From the moment this all-female reboot

of Ghostbusters was announced, the fanboy panic set in: where will it end? An
all-female Top Gun? Will it make me pregnant? Who are these women? Where do
they come from? Are they a recent thing?
Do we know any? If its proved they can
carry big Hollywood comedies, how will
they ever be stopped?
Such vitriol had to be coming from a sexist place as films are rebooted all the time
and superheroes are endlessly Batman
cant bend down to pull up his socks without being rebooted yet they dont provoke hate. Plus, its not as if remaking a film

Who ya gonna call? Melissa McCarthy (Abby), Kate McKinnon (Holtzmann),

Kristin Wiig (Erin) and Leslie Jones (Patty) in Ghostbusters

erases the earlier one. You can purchase the

1984 original on DVD for 3.99 and watch
Bill Murray salivating over Sigourney Weaver all you like, and also cuddle it as you go
to sleep, if youve a mind. So the outcry was
misogynistic, certainly, and while the best
comeback would be to say this a riot, a blast,
a hoot and hilarious, the trouble is, it isnt.
Its only just about OK, which is a blow, I
admit. I may even be quite gutted.
As directed by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids,
Spy, The Heat), who co-wrote with Katie
Dippold (The Heat), the film stars Melissa

Who are these women? Where do

they come from? Are they a recent
thing? Do we know any?
McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon in the major roles, while Leslie Jones
plays the black one you have to have on
board. (In the original, it was Bill Murray,
Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson as the black one you have to have; times
dont change that much.) The narrative sticks
closely to the original as three scientists
(McCarthy, Wiig, McKinnon) are booted out
of their academic establishments because of
their belief in the paranormal. They set up on
their own to tackle the slimy psychic disturbances that seem to be besetting Manhattan,
and along the way recruit a fourth member
to their team (Jones), who is not just the
black one you have to have, but also works
at the train station and is the only non-scientist. (The times dont change that much, as we
have already noted.) I would also add that
in every instance where there is a boss, the
boss is male, as is the mayor, and all police

officers, so its business as usual there.

This is high energy and super-busy,
with our quartet racing all over town in
their boiler suits as they battle slime and
evil ectoplasm with their insane weapons.
There are some decent jokes. They take a
pop at their online trolls. Aint no bitches
gonna hunt down ghosts, is a comment elicited when they post their first supernatural
encounter on YouTube. Chris Hemsworth,
who is supremely game, plays their dumb
but pretty receptionist, as salivated over by
Wiig. They beg the mayor of New York to
believe them when they say that the city is
in danger: Please dont be like the mayor in
Jaws. Please. But much of this is lost amid
all the frenzied laser-zapping and a wholly
confused and messy plot that incorporates a
straight-up baddie. Where is the downtime?
Where is the equivalent of Rick Moraniss
loser accountant who also has the hots for
Weaver? And hosts a party for clients during which he announces their financial status
as they come in the door? Where are those
downtime laughs?
Ideally, one wouldnt wish overly to compare any reboot to the original let it stand
on its own two feet! but here its unavoidable, as there are so many nods and winks
to it, plus all the principal characters (aside
from Ramis, who has died) appear in cameos. This could never have recaptured the first
film, which was simply one of those happy
accidents of cinema, as aided by excellent
chemistry between the leads, and the sense
of an intelligent cast being incredibly silly,
and knowing they are being incredibly silly,
and the joy there is to be had in that. (This is
what struck me most on rewatching it recentthe spectator | 16 july 2016 |

ly.) But this cast dont bring that knowingness, dont establish any chemistry and
while this couldnt recapture, it could have
reinvented, had it been reinventive enough;
had it been remade with some proper, fullon 21st-century smarts and characters that
didnt go about saying, Lets do this! amid
many other similar banalities. Its OK. Its
not a disaster. And it doesnt vindicate the
naysayers. This film fails to fly not because
it stars women, but because thats the only
good idea it had. Gutting.

The prodigy
James Walton
On Tuesday night on Channel 4, a stern male
figure peered over his glasses (as equipped
with one of those cords favoured by the
middle-aged specs-wearer) and offered us
his robust views on how government benefits encourage laziness. Which might not
sound that unusual except that the male
figure in question was 12.

Back in 1997 the New Yorker published

a piece lampooning the proliferation of
Notes on the Type those oleaginous
mini-essays informing us that this book
was set in Backslap Grotesque Italic
Semi-Detached, a variant of Bangalore
Torpedo Moribund adapted in 1867 from
a matrice by the Danish chiseller Espy
Sans, a character if ever there was one.
In the years since, the situation has
gone from worrying to insufferable.
Many non-fiction books now suffer from
a severe case of distended colophon
sentence after rococo sentence, in the
best M&S chocolate-box language, on
the lineage of the type and typographer,
on the amusing top notes of blueberry
and persimmon that can be detected
in the prose. I recently read one that
explained not just who invented the
font, but who was long thought to have
invented it, before concluding: The type
is an excellent example of the influential
and sturdy Dutch types that prevailed in
England up to the time William Caslon
developed his own incomparable designs
from them. But if Caslons are incomparable, why not use them instead?
All this verbiage is meant to assure
you of two things. The first is that the text
is part of the great chain of ideas that
stretches back through the ages. The colophon in my own recent book, set in the
delightful Bembo, invokes Aldus Manutius, Francesco Griffo, Cardinal Bembos De Aetna and Claude Garamonds
the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

His name, no less improbably, was Mog

and he was a contestant in the new series
of Child Genius, now hosted by Richard
Osman these days almost as ubiquitous on television as Susan Calman is on
Radio 4. As ever, the first few minutes
were spent assuring us how fiendish the
quiz would be; but, as ever too, this was no
mere hype. One of Mogs early questions
was what comes next in the sequence 1, 3, 5,
15, 17, and although the avuncular Osman
disappointingly failed to explain why Mogs
instant answer of 51 was correct, a spot of
Googling has revealed that the sequence is
formed by alternately multiplying by three
and adding two.
But what makes the programme such
an addictive pleasure (if perhaps a mildly
guilty one) is that we get the contestants
back stories which is how we heard
Mogs political views and saw for ourselves
his appealingly unashamed enjoyment of
his own cleverness. We also found out that
hes learning several languages, among
them Mandarin and Korean, and that he
likes to relax by doing a little art, with
Picasso an acknowledged influence. Mog is
a very unique person, his waitress mother


Notes on the Type

Romain de lUniversit. I doubt any of

my readers could point out Claude Garamond in a line-up, let alone Aldus Manutius. But it gets the point across: people
have been saying clever things in Bembo
for centuries, and therefore anything
written in Bembo is clever.
More importantly, as with organic
coffee or single-origin chocolate, youre
being reassured that what you possess is
a luxury good. Instead of thinking about
Word documents and typesetting software, youre meant to imagine a master
typographer, running his fingers across
the metal letters until he comes across
the perfect fit: Farage: My Story? Ah yes,
the Baskerville, I think. Its telling that
the more digital society has become, the
longer and fruitier the typography notes
have got.

told us in what sounded like a rather longsuffering tone.

But, as far as the programme is concerned, Mog was unusual in another way
as well because hed chosen to take part
in the competition himself, with his parents
happy to look on in baffled awe. More typical was 11-year-old Christopher, whose dad
Simon had not only insisted that he enter,
but also made him study every previous episode of Child Genius as part of his revision.

One of Mogs early questions

was what comes next in the sequence
1, 3, 5, 15, 17
In his defence, Simons motives for making his young son appear on TV being asked
very difficult questions in front of a studio
audience were impeccable: Because I never
got a chance to. Less convinced, meanwhile,
was his Vietnamese beautician wife, who at
one point tried to take Christophers mind
off the ordeal ahead by massaging his feet:
a plan that might have worked better had
Simon not kept bursting in and bellowing
such questions as 26 squared?
Oddly, come the big day, even hearing

But heres a strange thing. While

these blurbs dwell endlessly on the
provenance of a font, they never actually talk about the most important thing:
what it looks like.
You dont have to be a typography
geek to appreciate the tiny differences
in angle, weight and stroke, in the style
of the ascending t and descending g,
that makes Caslon feel sturdier and
Garamond airier or how the sentence that feels stuffy in Trajan becomes
frivolous in Comic Sans.
But when it comes to books, the job
of a font (apart from being legible) is to
be invisible. Its function is to tell you,
almost subliminally, whether you are
reading something by Primo Levi,
Stephen King or Katie Price, and then
get out of the way of the words.
When a book is a genuinely luxury
object the publishing equivalent of
one of those gatefold-sleeved luxury
albums with liner notes in the artists
own blood then yes, we might want
to know about the font, and about the
beautiful vellum-like paper, and all the
other little details that reassure us that
50 was a small price to pay for such a
status symbol.
Otherwise, rhapsodising about the
font youve just read hundreds of pages
of is like a magician boasting about how
he did his tricks. It calls attention to the
illusion and in the process shatters it.
Robert Colvile


his dad loudly proclaim that Im expecting

Christopher to absolutely nail it didnt settle the boys nerves, and he caved in a bit
under the pressure. Nonetheless, his ability
to name the currencies of Mozambique and
Papua New Guinea meant that he made it
through to next weeks episode leaving
the narrator to note, with careful emphasis
on the first word, that Simon is a step closer to having his ambitions fulfilled.
The Investigator: a British Crime Story
(Thursday) is clearly intended as ITVs
answer to such true-crime documentary
series as Making a Murderer and, for
both good and ill, thats pretty much what
it turns out to be. Not surprisingly for a programme co-produced by Simon Cowells
company, it doesnt stint on whats known
in the trade as the grammar of television:
the melodramatic reconstructions; the constant badgering of us to marvel at what
were hearing; the pretence that its discovering things it obviously knew about
in advance. But its also picked a genuinely
intriguing case and while the presenter
Mark Williams-Thomas (the policeman-

The Investigator is clearly intended

as ITVs answer to the likes of
Making a Murderer
turned-journalist whose most famous coup
was exposing Jimmy Savile) cant be called
a TV natural, his slightly plodding decency acts as a useful counterbalance to the
excesses elsewhere.
His investigation in this four-part series
is on behalf of Samantha Gillingham who,
in June 1985 when she was 16, returned
home with her dad Russell to find a note
from her mother that read, Ive had enough
and Im leaving. When nothing more was
heard from her, Russell did report the disappearance, but after a woman claiming
to be the missing Carole Packman turned
up at a police station to pronounce herself
safe, the search for her was called off. Yet,
nine years later, for reasons the first episode left unexplained, Russell was arrested for her murder and is now serving life.
The body, however, has never been found,
and he continues to protest his innocence.
Understandably, Sam is desperate to find
out the full story but her father hasnt
answered any of her letters.
So far, Williams-Thomas has definitely
been better at raising interesting questions
than at answering them. We have learned,
though, that Russell was a violent man
whod moved his much younger mistress
into the family house, and later the marital bed.
You could argue, in fact, that the investigation is proceeding a little too slowly but
maybe thats just another way of saying how
successfully the programme, ultimately a triumph of content over style, makes us want
to know what on earth happened to Carole.

Sounds of the suburbs
Kate Chisholm
In After the Vote, her talk for this weeks special edition of A Point of View (Radio 4) on
the subject of Brexit, the philosopher (and
former Reith lecturer) Onora ONeill suggested that the media have played a large
part in creating our current crisis. All branches of it failed to communicate with the public
an accurate and honest account, she argued.
The BBC, she said, provided coverage but
failed to challenge unfair or dubious claims
by either side, adding that democracy does
not work if such claims are not properly challenged. This for her is the true nature of the
democratic deficit lack of information,
of informed debate, of proper checks. The
public, she argued, were not given credible,
accessible and assessable information on the
big questions we faced before the vote and
are now being confronted with afterwards.
ONeills talk was just one of five this
week, in an attempt to provide each morning a more balanced perspective on what
Brexit means. It came as a relief after such
days of bitterness, bile and misinformation
to hear ONeills measured thoughtfulness.
Elsewhere on Radio 4 there were other
reassuring signs that the country has not yet
quite gone to the dogs. The roses are still
blooming in John Betjemans Metroland,
those districts of outer London served by
the Metropolitan Line and including Chesham, Pinner and Northwood, reported Hugh
Muir in Black Flight and the New Suburbia
(Sunday). Much else, though, is changing. In
Pinner, for instance, the cricket XI is now
mainly made up of black or Asian players,
part of the exodus of people of ethnic origin to the suburbs. The high street has shops
selling spices, yams and plantains. There are
mosques and temples in the vicinity.
Muir wanted to find out why so many
black people were leaving the inner city
behind, and the community they had grown
up in, and what problems they had faced on
moving into the suburbs. Its a surprisingly
upbeat story, and not at all what you might
expect to hear. Most of these migrants from

She wont be a minute shes just sending a

hext message.

the city moved out, like their white counterparts, because of gentrification pushing up
house prices in places like Hackney, Leyton,
Brixton and Mile End. It was the only way
to buy a house. But the move outwards was
not such a big change. We are second generation. Those connections to our cultural
background were already diluted.
In Chalfont St Giles, in deepest Buckinghamshire, he met a family whose son now
plays in the village football team. The father
said he never really felt it to be a challenge settling into commuter-belt life. He
had come across some awkward conversations but saw this as an opportunity, not an
issue. There have been tensions elsewhere.
In the suburbs of Leeds, Muir was told that
British-born residents with a typical love of
gardening have been irritated by the incoming Asian families whose view is rather different, often paving over the front garden
to park their cars. But overall the picture he
drew was of a new diversity that is enriching these communities rather than causing
divisions. The church spires of Metroland
might now find themselves in competition
with domes and minarets, but Muir argued
that Betjemans beloved suburbs could be
an example to the rest of the country on how
to manage these new internal migrations.
In The Untold this week, Grace Dents
series delving into the personal stories
behind the privet hedge, we heard from
Phillida and Christopher Purvis, who are trying to raise the money to create their own
Marigold Hotel. If youve not seen the film
(starring Judi Dench and Maggie Smith and
telling a fictional story about a group of
pensioners who go to India to live out their
retirement in a rundown hotel), the Purvises plan is to open a guest-house in the Nilgiri Hills, on the borders of Tamil Nadu and
Kerala, which will provide a rest home for
their ageing and worn-out western friends. In
exchange their guests will offer their professional skills to the local Adivasi people, much
of whose land was taken from them years
ago to create the tea plantations of the Raj.
The Purvises need to persuade their
friends to cough up an initial 10,000 each
in exchange for a months stay in India each
year for ten years. This will give them the
100,000 they need to build the hotel and
set up the training schemes and community
projects that are all part of their big plan.
You could say its a new kind of benevolent colonialism. If enough people believe
in it, it will be sustainable, the couple said.
But theyve yet to raise the money. And, as
they are discovering, its not so easy to work
out how to help the Adivasi. When it was
suggested to the local people that to make
more money from the honey they collected
in the forest they should sell the beeswax
as well, they refused, explaining that they
leave the beeswax behind for the bears
because it stops them attacking us. You cant
argue with that.
the spectator | 16 july 2016 |


Holiday reading
By Emily Rhodes

olidays are a welcome chance to

lose ourselves between the covers
of a book, especially for those of us
who struggle to find time to read amid the
assorted tyrannies of daily life. So the book
that ends up in your suitcase had better be a
worthy companion.
The disorganised need not fear: you could
do worse than grabbing a paperback at the
airport. A holiday is a great time to read an
easy new bestseller, not least because your
friends are likely to have read it, so you can
all discuss it over the third bottle of ros
during a long lunch. Just one note of caution: time tells. Many current bestsellers will
have all but disappeared within a few years,
whereas a classic endures for a reason. So to
avoid your reading being too forgettable, for
each new book, take an old one, too.
Not only is a holiday a chance to catch up
on a classic youve never got around to, it is
also an opportunity for the rare pleasure of
rereading. Just think how many times youve
listened to your favourite piece of music,
compared with how few youve read your
favourite book; this is the moment to redress
the balance a little. Not only do you get to
enjoy happy memories of your first encounter, but a gap of however many years means
you read through a different lens, and the
book is transformed into something alto-

Be like Jimmy Stewart: rediscover a classic

gether new. A recent revisit to The Prime

of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark, last
read during my post-GCSE summer, was
especially fruitful as I fondly remembered
feeling so at home amongst her precocious
sex-obsessed schoolgirls, while now being
more akin to their teacher, Jean Brodie, in
her bittersweet prime.
Choosing a book set where youre holi-

daying brings both the writing and the place

to life. Reading As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning in Spain was sheer heaven, The Leopard was essential for Sicily, and
oh how I wish Id read Tender Is the Night in
the heat and glamour of the south of France
rather than in the London rain. This applies
to staycations too: Nan Shepherds The Living Mountain is a beautiful companion for a
trip to the Scottish Highlands; Jane Austen a
treat for Bath, and frankly it would be criminal to go to Cornwall without something by
Daphne du Maurier.
But too few is better than too many.
Aside from the indignity of having to wear
all your jumpers at once to get your bookheavy bag through airline weight restrictions, limiting your choice means youll
settle down to one book rather than distractedly flitting between several on your e-reader. Moreover, if you run out of things to read
while youre away, you will find yourself borrowing from a friend or even a stranger, or
pilfering from the (usually well-stocked)
shelves of the villa or B&B. You will most
likely alight on something which youd never
have thought of at home, and this serendipity almost always leads to the perfect book.
Then, when its time to return home, you
could leave a book behind, ready to be discovered by a future holiday reader.



the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

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the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

How can we stop our guests using the

Brexit crisis as a row creation
Dear Mary, p53

High life

The Spectator readers party was as always a

swell affair, with long-time subscribers politely mingling with neer-do-wells like myself,
the former having cakes and drinking tea, the
latter desperately raiding the sainted editors
office for Lagavulin whisky. But for once I
was on my best behaviour, first out of respect
for our readers, secondly because of the man
I had personally invited to the party, Hannes
Wessels, a Rhodesian-born 14th-generation
African, whose book A Handful of Hard
Men has me shaking with fury at our double
standards where whites are concerned, and at
the gauzy mythology of PC that has painted
white Rhodesians as oppressors.
Just as American race relations are unravelling, with the odious New York Times
running editorials just about excusing the
murders of five white police officers in Dallas
by a black hoodlum, lets take it from the top
where the battle for Rhodesia is concerned.
As I write, public anger has brought Zimbabwe to a standstill. Ninety-two-year-old
Mugabes 36-year rule has been celebrated at
a cost of $1 million while the country is totally
broke and unable to pay its civil servants.
Evelyn Waugh had it right. In 1932 he
wrote that the unthinkable had come to
pass. Europeans were departing Africa, leaving the benighted natives to fend for themselves. How prescient was Waugh? Heres
our own Theodore Dalrymple writing about
his arrival in Rhodesia in about 1975. Rhodesia was being condemned loudly and
insistently as if it were the greatest threat to
world peace and the security of the planet
. . . I expected to find on my arrival, therefore, a country in crisis and decay. Instead, I
found a country that was, to all appearances, thriving: its roads were well maintained,
its transport system functioning, its towns
and cities clean and manifesting a municipal
pride long gone from England . . . The large
hospital in which I was to work was extremely clean and ran with exemplary efficiency.
Heres Stephen Glover on the death of
Ian Smith: The BBC yesterday gave his
the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

corpse a final kick. If the insane Robert

Mugabe has ruined Zimbabwe, where there
is starvation and an inflation rate of several
thousand per cent, the fault is Mr Smiths,
whose reactionary policies allegedly paved
the way for this monster. . . The good Mr
Glover goes on to say how he had believed
much of the anti-Smith propaganda before
seeing the real Rhodesia for himself. Once
in Salisbury, he found a well-ordered society which, despite having been subjected to
13 years of international sanctions, was
much richer than any of the independent
African states he had visited. In his hotel
there were many black guests and no evidence of apartheid. He went on to write that
however flawed Ian Smith might have been,
his sins paled beside Mugabes.
Many African countries are poorer now
than when they received their independence, despite the billions they received from
a guilt-ridden Europe, yet its Europeans
who turn a blind eye to the war and genocide practised by African leaders, and to this
day condemn the whites of Rhodesia and
South Africa for no other reason than the
colour of their skin.
Hannes Wessels was born in 1956 in
Salisbury and grew up on the Mozambique
border. He left school to become a combat
soldier and saw lots of action. His book is a
paean to the greatest soldier he got to know
well, Captain Darrell Watt, of the Rhodesian
SAS and Special Forces. Watt won all his
battles but eventually, thanks to Lord Carrington and gang, lost the war. For 12 long
years in the cauldron of war Captain Watt
never lost a battle, exhibiting Spartan-like
bravery and better than Spartan-like ingenuity in combating far, far superior forces. The
Rhodesian SAS amounted to just an incredible-to-believe 250 men. In the book Wessels
recounts harrowing incidents perpetrated by
Zanu and Zapu (Mugabe and Nkomo forces) soldiers on black and white civilians, and
even on their own recruits.

Hello vape-crisis centre?

Which brings me to the big lie. The problack propagandist Christopher Hitchens
once made fun of Ian Smiths facial scars, scars
acquired when he was shot down while serving
in the RAF against the Luftwaffe. Smith had
left Salisbury and volunteered to fight for kith
and kin. The BBC never mentioned the fact
that Smith volunteered it wouldnt, would
it? and Hitchens made fun of it. Such are
the joys of siding with the politically correct.
Darrell Watt and his brave band of 250
were a fluid and volatile unit that performed
every imaginable fighting role: airborne
shock troops, sniper duty, sabotage, seek
and strike, you name it, Watt performed it.
And managed also to survive. Like the great
man that he is, he is now saving wild life on a
continent that is being plundered for profit.
Hannes Wessels studied and practised law
briefly, then became a professional big-game
hunter for 20 years. He is now a conservationist and lives with his wife and two daughters north of Cape Town in South Africa.
Although I might sound like some ghastly
celebrity phony who declares pride in knowing a scumbag like Russell Brand, I am very
proud to be a friend of Hannes Wessels, and
to praise a work about brave men who we,
the West, betrayed so cruelly. We definitely
wish our disintegration as we continue to
support rapacious, vicious, corrupt and murdering maniacs such as Mugabe and others
of his ilk in Africa, while continuing to paint
civilised white men like Watt and Smith as
the unacceptable past. Shame on us in general and shame on white liberals in particular.

Low life
Jeremy Clarke

One moment Trev and I were grooving on

the dancefloor, Trev with his head bowed,
his eyes closed, and his arms extended like
a glider; the next, it seemed, Trev was telling the taxi-driver to drop us off outside an
18th-century townhouse with its front door
on the high street. As I got out of the taxi, I
fell over for the third time that evening. Id
fallen down on the dancefloor while danc45


ing to Dont Let Me Down by the Chainsmokers. And before going out Id taken a
flyer in the garden at home after contesting
a 5050 ball with my six-year-old grandson,
distinctly hearing a crack as my right shoulder hit the deck.
Trev paid the driver and pressed the
doorbell. I was still languishing on the
pavement when the door was opened by
a preternaturally gentle and accepting
young man, who seemed not to mind at all
answering the door at four in the morning

As I got out of the taxi, I fell over for

the third time that evening
to two drunks in their fifties, one of whom
was lying on the pavement groaning. He
led us through the house and into a sitting
room, in which every surface was forested with empty bottles and cans. The party
looked like it might have been a good one
but it was now clearly over, the only remnants this quiet young man, his petite, darkhaired French girlfriend and Sean, Trevs
nephew. Immediately obvious to Trev and I
addled as we were was that Seans latest ambition in life was to lie with our hosts
French girlfriend, an ambition of which our
host was tragically all too aware, but gallantly pretending to ignore.
I slumped down in one armchair; Trev in

Listen to Jeremy Clarke read

his Spectator columns

another. Our sad young host affected great

happiness at the arrival of two late guests
and busied himself offering beer, chemicals
and a choice of music. (No, unfortunately he
didnt have any Pointer Sisters, he said to
me.) Then I fell asleep. When I awoke, the
curtains were edged with daylight. Trev was
noticeably absent, as was our host. But on
the sofa, Seans siege of the Frenchwoman
continued. She was lying in the foetal position and Sean was cosying up to her but
hadnt yet made a decisive lunge. Earlier
in the evening Trev had proudly described
Sean to me as an unbelievable shagger. But
if you asked me, his approach work was far
too cautious, relying as it did on inanities
and sheer attrition.
At this point I ought to have upped and
left. But I felt ill, my face hurt and my shoulder was on fire. I reclosed my eyes and listened to the sparring.
Please, he was saying. Lets go to bed.
But there is only one bed, she said in her
French accent. And my boyfriend is already
sleeping there. Thats OK, he said. You
can lie next to him and Ill lie next to you
and just hold you. Its all I want to do. Just
hold you. Please?
She considered for a moment, then said,
But supposing he wakes up? He might be
upset to find you in bed too.
Knowing now that there was a bed in the
house with a vacancy, I determined to seize
the opportunity and get there first. I stood
up shakily, and said, Did someone mention
a bed somewhere? Yes, said the Frenchwoman with alacrity. Go to the top of the
stairs and go through the only door that is
So off I wobbled. I went up the stairs
and tried a few doors before I found one
that was unlocked, went into the bedroom
and climbed into bed beside her boyfriend.
What are you doing? he said, waking up
and sitting bolt-upright in dismay. Your
girlfriend said to come on up, I said, almost
asleep already.
He was very decent about it. He said
that normally he wouldnt mind, only his
girlfriend had arrived in England only that
day, and he had been looking forward to

Im receiving a text . . . is there a Milly here

. . . someone called Joe wants to contact you. . .

sleeping with her for such a long time, and

he was hoping that she would be coming
up to join him very soon. Such a nice guy.
I rose, stumbled back downstairs to the sitting room, and slumped back in the armchair. He says he is looking forward to
sleeping with you and not me, I said. Then
I fell asleep again.
I dont know how long I was asleep. It
might have been two minutes or half an
hour. But the next time I woke, Sean was still
pressing his suit. Keeping my eyes closed,
but listening, I now heard her unexpectedly
relent. I am sick of that guy, actually, she
said. I dont know why I came here. We can
stay down here. And maybe as soon as that
old man goes, we can do something.

Real life
Melissa Kite

Bonjour mes amis! Cydney spaniel ici, en

France! Well, the Eurotunnel was very nice,
although the dog departure lounge could
have been grassier. Im not a fan of AstroTurf. Doesnt hold a scent very well. No one
checked my passport either. Mummy passed
it through the window with hers and his as
we went through, but the French police
laughed and said they didnt want it. What
a cheek. Mummy was cross because it cost
over a hundred pounds. Hopefully they will
check it on the way back so we can get our
moneys worth.
The other passengers were friendly.
There were a few dachshunds and a Hungarian vizsla in the dog-agility area, stretching their legs before departure. No sarcastic
growls about Brexit. Apart from an Italian
spinone who wouldnt take no for an answer,
everyone was perfectly civil.
What a relief to get away from the backbiting in south London, where everyone
seems to be perfectly hysterical. The Greek
rescue dogs on Tooting Common keep asking whether they are going to be sent back
where they came from. I told one of them to
give it a rest the other day. Of course he will
be allowed to stay. But he said: You dont
understand. I dont want to stay. I want to be
sent back. I was only minding my own business, tied up outside a supermarket in Crete,
waiting for my owner to buy some washing
powder, when this British lady comes along
and says, Oh, you poor dear thing! Abandoned by your owner, another casualty of
the eurozone crisis! And she unties me and
takes me away and before I know whats
the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

happening Im on a boat, then Im in England walking in this blasted, miserable park

in the cold and rain three times a day. And
the food! Its atrocious. Completely tasteless. Moan, moan, moan. I had to walk away
in the end.
Thank goodness for les vacances. France
is great fun, even if it is too hot. The main
thing is, you can eat snails here. Snails! Ive
been trying to eat snails in the back garden
for years and she always screams, Ah! Lungworm! and sticks her hand in my mouth and
pulls them back out again. Here you can eat
as many as you like. And you can eat frogs.
And horses, apparently. The mind boggles.
Ive had horse hoof before I always clear
up the leftovers after the farriers been
but a whole horse? That would last me two
or three meals at least, I reckon.
The locals have all been welcoming. I
met a young Jack Russell type on the first
night at our stop-over hotel in Angers. He
wouldnt leave me alone. Wanted me to
make all sorts of commitments but I told him
I couldnt promise anything. We might pass

Ive had horse hoof before I always

clear up the leftovers after the farriers
been but a whole horse?
by there again on the way back, who knows?
Im keeping my options open. When we got
to the farmhouse where we are staying in
Dor-Dog-Ne there were two very handsome
setters, both very keen. Im playing it cool by
snarling then grabbing them by the throat
every time they say hello. Well see. . .
Their humans made a big fuss of me. The
man said, Cest un grand voyage pour une
petite bb. But Im not a baby, Im a grown
dog. Im going to have to stop answering to
her silly pet names, its embarrassing.
I cant quite get the hang of this temperature. I try to lie in the shade under her
sunlounger while shes toasting herself, but
there are so many interesting smells that I
cant resist running round sniffing, burrowing myself into hedges, and so I get all hot
and start panting, but Im not getting in that
pool, no way. Theres a sea monster in there,
lurking along the bottom. They call it the
pool hoover. Ive pounced at it a few times
to see whether I can frighten it but its not
backing off so Im not taking any chances.
The food is terrific. Boy, these Frenchies
can cook. And they allow dogs to sit at the
table everywhere. None of that dreadful
canine discrimination that Britain is rife
with. We had steak-frites followed by ice
cream the first night. Superb, although I
could have done with them passing me
down more of that Chantilly whipped
cream. The next night we had duck, then
more ice cream and cream. Felt a bit sick
after that, to be honest. Had to scoff a
load of grass. Im having French dog food
tonight by the looks of it. She bought tins
from the supermarch. Probably best. As
the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

long as I get some of those snails before

we leave Ill be happy. Off for a walk now.
French birds to chase. A bientt!

Long life
Alexander Chancellor

When you are recovering from a stroke,

you spend much of the time asleep. But
when you are not sleeping, you are told that
the most important thing you have to do is
avoid stress. All doctors agree that stress is
the main impediment to recovery. But how
can you possibly protect yourself against it?
The causes of stress can creep up on you
from anywhere without warning, and there
is nothing you can do about it; and lately I
have been bombarded by shocks.
I was one of the ignorant for whom the
victory of Brexit in the referendum was itself
a shock, but this also set in train a whole
bunch of further assaults on the nervous
system. There was the resignation of David
Cameron, followed by Boris Johnsons sudden withdrawal from the contest to be his
successor, which was brought about by his
treacherous replacement Michael Gove who
was joined in the race by my own local MP in
South Northamptonshire, Andrea Leadsom.
Mrs Leadsom had been little known
nationally until she became an articulate
advocate of Brexit during the referendum
campaign, but I had been well disposed
towards her. Although I had never met her,
she had been supportive of a successful
campaign to prevent the construction of a
wind farm next to my house. My keenness
for her waned a little when she emerged
as an enthusiast for leaving the European
Union, but I was still taken aback by her
sudden decision to pull out of the battle to

Can you stop rustling that newspaper? This is

the quiet carriage.

become Britains next prime minister.

The reason she gave for this was patriotic: that her challenge to Theresa May
was delaying the countrys urgent need for
a new leader. But I wonder if her will had
not been sapped by the furore that had been
whipped up by her remarks on motherhood
in an interview with the Times? She claimed
to have been shattered by these ill-judged
remarks, in which she had suggested that
she, as a mother, had a greater stake in Britains future than the childless Mrs May. The
tastelessness of these remarks may in itself
have shown her to be unsuitable for the premiership, but she was being stupid anyway.
Children are not necessarily assets to a political leader, nor are they lucky to have a parent who is one.
Margaret Thatcher, the role model
whom both May and Leadsom revere, had
no end of trouble with her son Mark, who
got caught up in embarrassing international
business deals, was involved in a failed African coup dtat, and got lost in the Sahara
desert during a motor-car rally, while his
twin sister, Carol, gave voice to the strains
of having a mother so driven by work.
Tony Blair said that it was harder to be
tough as a father than as a prime minister
and that sometimes you dont always suc-

Andrea Leadsoms children may come

to consider themselves fortunate that
she failed to become PM
ceed after his then 16-year-old son, Euan,
had been picked up drunk and incapable
by police in Leicester Square. When Jack
Straw was Blairs home secretary, he too was
embarrassed when his son Will was caught
selling cannabis in a sting by the Daily Mirror. And so it goes on.
Even Winston Churchill was unevenly
fortunate in his children. Mary Soames, his
youngest, was a paragon, but his son Randolph could be drunken, rude and boorish;
and his actress daughter Sarah, who most
famously starred with Fred Astaire in the
1951 film Royal Wedding, led a rackety life,
having also a serious drink problem and
making some unfortunate marriages and
relationships. It is possible that Freddie,
Harry and Charlotte Leadsom may come
to consider themselves fortunate that their
mother failed in her ambition to reach the
highest rung on the political ladder.
These have been trying times for us
stroke sufferers, but now that Cameron,
Johnson, Gove, Leadsom and all the main
actors in the great referendum drama have
bitten the dust, there may be calmer waters
ahead. Theresa May looks promising. She
will not have an easy time, to put it mildly,
but she seems unlikely by nature to impose
on us more stress than is strictly necessary.
She has promised not to be showy but just to
deal practically with whatever task she faces.
Thats the person we need.


Wild life
Aidan Hartley

Gilgil, Kenya
At our Gilgil hut in the Rift Valley Ive had
a new flower garden planted to welcome
my wife Claire home from England. Here
at 7,000 feet in Africa, temperate and tropical species grow together: roses and aloes,
pears and bananas. In midwinter, when she
went under the knife, I was back in Kenya,
trucking in gardenias, honeysuckles and
hydrangeas. During springtime in her chemotherapy pod, as the red liquid dripped into
her arm, I was talking with our landscaper
Eileen about marguerites, birds of paradise and camellias. When Claire was pinned
down by radiation earlier this summer, at
our hut the rains were drenching new lilies,
the giant iris, lavender and buddleias. Now at
last shes home.
In some ways Claire prefers Gilgil to the
ranch. Here life is green and more ordered,
like a garden away from the rock fields
and dust devils. Here theres a social life,
whereas on the ranch one senses what it
would be like to live in a Mad Max or zombie movie. Ranch life is for me much better
than Gilgil, but whereas wildness is tolerable
and even enjoyable on the farm, in Gilgil its
a threat and most of all, its a menace to
the new garden.
We used to have chickens in Gilgil, where
mongooses did not kill them. Cowhands did
not steal them. The chickens multiplied until
there were mobs of them. We kept geese
as guard dogs. We had a little flock of fluffy
sheep in a paddock. They thrived here, whereas on the farm they are routinely rustled, or
slaughtered by cheetahs. The problem with
the chickens, sheep and geese was that they all
began eating the new flower garden. I could
see that soon, all of Claires new plants would
be gone and so I sent them all away clucking, honking and bleating to the farm. Peace.
But instead, a new visitor arrived in Gilgil,
our suburban paradise. One morning I found
his vast hoof prints denting my Kikuyu grass
lawn, which Ive done my best to manicure. A
large, old bull buffalo. Then at night the dogs
encountered seven buffaloes in the garden.
Who knows where they came from, but this
herd, made up of cows and calves, vanished
within a day or two. The old bull stayed. What
he likes doing most is horning young saplings, especially juniper trees, possibly because
he likes getting the aromatic oily cedar sap
around his ears to drive off ticks and flies.
Horning thoroughly destroys a young tree.

This is not the first time a buffalo has

been sighted here. Golfers on the spectacular course below the house occasionally meet
them on the fairways. And its not the only
wildlife species either. In Gilgil there are
wild pigs, duikers (a small antelope), porcupines and ant bears. On the golf course years
ago a lion famously bounded after an elderly lady out walking her dogs between the
second and third holes. Her sons solution
was to make her go back out in the following days, with strips of raw meat stapled to
her jacket, while he and a friend positioned
themselves with hunting rifles on the teeing
grounds. They literally used the old bird as
bait (though the lion was too wise to show
up on the links again).
Until now, the porcupines and so on have
stayed out of the new garden. Not the buffalo. These days in Kenya killing a buffalo is
verboten, even in ones herbaceous border.
We tried calling the wildlife rangers hoping
theyd come to do it, but in vain. Shooting
a buffalo is quite dangerous. These days, to
go for a walk in our six acres of grounds is
very clearly to risk ones life. Weeding flowerbeds is for me an experience as much filled

The elderly lady went back to the

golf course as bait, with strips of raw
meat stapled to her jacket
with adrenaline as when I ran the bulls during Pamplonas festival of San Fermn long
ago. Gilgil may be what Kenyans call a civilised, even tame sort of place but people
are quite a resilient lot. At the Gilgil Club
bar, I raised the issue of what to do about the
buffalo eating our garden. Leave him alone,
said one neighbour. Buffaloes make good
askaris. A woman said, I came face to face
with him last weekend. I call him Old Knock
Knees. After a pause she said, quite cheerfully, I suppose hell kill somebody.
And so the old bull lurks in thickets and
gulches by day, while Claire looks at her garden and we say how much we hope life can
return to normal. By night the buffalo emerges, to spend the hours of darkness sampling a
salad bar of expensively planted heliotrope
and oleander, of angelonia and agapanthus.

Have you seen the price of replacement

ink cartridges?

Susanna Gross
Ive never had the courage to psyche at
the bridge table, but I grudgingly admire
those who do. Sally Brock and I were well
and truly kippered at the recent European
womens pairs championships when, neither
side vulnerable, I opened 1 holding AK43,
K986, J4, 854. Our innocent-looking young
Dutch opponent found the gutsy overcall
of 1 , holding QJ52, 42, Q1085, Q97. Sally
held 87, AQJ1073, AK, A106 and felt,
quite reasonably, that she had no option but
to pass. So the Dutch woman played in 1
undoubled, five down a great result, given
that we were making 4 plus one.
One of the most famous psychers of all
time was Adam Plum Meredith, the brilliant and eccentric Irish player who won the
world championships in 1955. As one of his
partners said: For Plum, a three-card suit is
not only biddable, it is rebiddable. More, it is
playable. Plum was particularly fond of opening a spade, regardless of his spade holding.
The following rubber bridge hand was typical:
Dealer South

NS: 40 part-score

A9 8 7
AK Q 9 6 4
Q J 10 8 4 3
J 8 75

AK 5
10 9 7 6 4 3
6 5 3



9 7 6
A5 2
K Q J 10 4
10 3








After Plums 1 , his partner bid 2 , and

when Plum bid 2 , he jumped to 4 a
slam try, given the part-score. Plum figured
his partner had short spades, long solid clubs
and two aces just the ticket. West led a
spade. East overtook and led back a heart.
Plum won, drew trumps, established clubs
by ruffing and claimed. When West scolded
his partner for not returning a spade at Trick
2 to shorten dummys trumps, Plum retorted
that it wouldnt have worked. He would ruff
the spade, come to hand with a trump, and
ruff his last spade with the A. Hed then
cash his A and his remaining trumps. On
the last trump West, holding K and J875,
would be squeezed in hearts and clubs.
the spectator | 16 july 2016 |


e at The Spectator drink a lot of

Pol Roger Champagne. Its more
or less the house pour. Not every
day you understand, just on high days and
holidays such as the Spectator summer party,
from which more than a few of us are still
And I must say that when standing like
a vertical sardine in the crush of said party,
stuck fast between a resolute Remainer and
a wild-eyed Brexiteer, both about to kick
off, there is nothing more heartening than
the sight of the familiar white-foil bottle. A
tap on the waiters shoulder, a pirouettelike turn, a swift gulp and I was away, free
to muscle in on the gossip behind me about
what happened at that Boris barbecue.
The Spectator and Pol Roger were founded a mere 21 years apart the Speccie in
1828 and Pol in 1849 and both continue
to go from strength to strength. Pol Roger
remains one of the few family-owned
houses in Champagne and enjoys the rare
distinction of having had royal warrants
under both Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II.
Pols most famous customer of all,
though, was Sir Winston Churchill, after
whom the companys prestige cuve is
named. Pol Roger was his firm favourite and
he developed quite a taste for Odette PolRoger too, the striking wife of Jacques PolRoger, eldest grandson of Pol Roger himself.
Indeed, so smitten with her was Churchill
that he named his racehorse Pol Roger and
promised to visit Odette in pernay. Invite
me during the vintage, and Ill press the
grapes with my bare feet, he declared.
Its said that Churchill got through more
than 500 cases of Pol Roger in the last ten
years of his life, leading his daughter, Lady
Soames, to remark, I saw him many times
the better for it, but never the worse. So
highly regarded was Churchill by Pol Roger
that it was only ten or so years ago that they
finally removed the black mourning band
from the label of the non-vintage fizz that
had been in place since the great mans
death in 1965.
The day this issue comes out, James
Simpson MW, managing director of Pol
Roger (UK), will be hosting a Spectator
Winemakers Lunch in our boardroom and

the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

Im delighted that hes agreed to offer readers two of the fabulous fizzes well be sampling via the good offices of Private Cellar,
one of our esteemed partners.
The Pol Roger Brut Rserve NV, the
aforementioned White Foil, is blended
from 30 or more base wines drawn from
several different vineyards and several dif-

So smitten was Churchill

that he named his
racehorse Pol Roger
ferent vintages (Pol being famous for the
high percentage of reserve wines it uses).
Its a tidy blend of one third Chardonnay
(for lightness and elegance), one third Pinot
Noir (for body and character) and one third
Pinot Meunier (for freshness and vigour)
and is about as fine a non-vintage Champagne as you can find. UK stocks have an
extra six months in bottle before release,

leaving the wine full of nuts, apple, brioche

and even honeysuckle. 35.95 down from a
list price of 39.95.
The Pol Roger 2006, the most recent
vintage to be released, is made from 60 per
cent Pinot Noir and 40 per cent Chardonnay drawn from 20 Grands and Premiers
Crus vineyards in the Montagne de Reims
and the Cte des Blancs. It has been aged
for nine years in the cavernous, chalky Pol
Roger cellars and is deliciously creamy and
toasty with hints of baked apple and peaches
and a wonderful underlying citrus freshness.
Its perfect now, of course, but Id suggest
hanging on to it for a bit and allowing the
nutty, brioche-like flavours to develop further. 57 down from 60.
The wines are sold in boxes of six, with
free delivery for 12 bottles or more and any
reader buying two boxes, mixed or unmixed,
will receive an elegant and indispensable
six-bottle Pol Roger-branded jute bag.

ORDER FORM Spectator Wine Offer
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Tel: 01353 721999; Email:
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Electric shock
Raymond Keene
To mark the UKs decision to exit from the EU,
I can think of no better example than the triple
match victories of Howard Staunton against
major European rivals, victories which
established him as the de facto champion of the
chess playing world. From 1843 to 1846 Staunton
comprehensively defeated three leading
opponents from France, Germany and Poland,
St Amant, Horwitz and Harrwitz, in the process
overturning the domination of France, which had
previously been upheld by those great luminaries
of the game Philidor and Labourdonnais. As a
prominent Shakespearean scholar himself,
Staunton could justly claim with Faulconbridge in
King John (Act V Scene 7): Come the three
corners of the world in arms, and we shall shock
them. Nought shall make us rue, if England to
itself do rest but true.
As Barry Martin pointed out in the June issue
of Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster Today,
Staunton also capitalised on his status as the
civilised worlds leading master of chess, to
promote the ingenious British commercial
invention of the Electric Telegraph, otherwise
known as Cooke and Wheatstones Marvellous
Messenger. Staunton played the first ever
recorded electronic master game of chess in 1845,
in Portsmouth against a team in London, and as
such can be considered the father of all sports
and games played electronically and on the
internet today.
This week, two Staunton wins against his French
and German rivals.

Lucy Vickery
Diagram 1

Diagram 2


Gambit Declined

masses his forces to bring them into contact

with the e4-square. 15 Ra2 After this artificial
move, Whites game crumples. 15 ... Ne4 16

1 d4 e6 2 c4 d5 3 e3 c5 4 Nc3 Nf6 5 Nf3

Nc6 6 Bd3 a6 7 0-0 Bd6 8 a3 b6 Staunton

Bxe4 dxe4 17 Ng1 cxd4 18 exd4 Nf5

The black forces burst into life. 19 Nce2 e3
20 fxe3 (see diagram 2) 20 ... Rxe3! The

Saint Amant-Staunton: Paris 1843; Queens

employs the fianchetto an idea with which the

Frenchman was clearly unfamiliar. 9 Re1 0-0
10 h3 White seems to be at loss for a plan. 10 ...
Qc7 11 b3 Ne7 Preparing ... Bb7 to take
control of e4. 12 Bd2 This is very feeble. 12 Bb2
was more to the point. 12 ... Bb7 13 cxd5
exd5 (see diagram 1) Black can now look
forward to eventual occupation of e4. 14 Kh1
White is drifting. This weak move deprives the
e-pawn of protection. 14 ... Rae8 Staunton


White to play. This position is from StauntonHorwitz, London (Game 3) 1846. How did White
conclude his attack? Answers to me at The Spectator by Tuesday 19 July or via email to victoria@ 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 weeks solution 1 Qxb7+
Last weeks winner Nathan Weston, Lancaster

rook is immune. If 21 Bxe3 Nxe3 threatens

mate and the queen. 21 Qc1 Qxc1 There is
nothing wrong with this but 21 ... Bxg2+ 22
Kxg2 Qb7+ 23 Kf1 Rfe8 was winning
immediately. 22 Rxc1 Rxb3 23 Rc3 Rxc3
24 Bxc3 Nh4 Black has an overwhelming
position in the endgame. 25 Nf3 Nxf3
26 gxf3 Bxf3+ 27 Kg1 Re8 28 Kf2 Bxe2
29 Rxe2 Rxe2+ 30 Kxe2 Bxa3 31 Kd3 f6
32 Ke4 b5 33 Kd5 b4 White resigns


In Competition No. 2956 you were invited

to provide extracts from the unappealingsounding programme of a festival that is
making a misguided attempt to stand out in
an overcrowded marketplace.
Competitors might have taken inspiration from The Daily Mashs Magic Fox Vintage Smoothie Boutique Urban Forest Pop
Up Chill Retreat, a hybrid of Waitrose and
The Wicker Man and a combination of all
the most annoying, smug, po-faced aspects of
festival culture into a smorgasbord of heavily
branded twatness. Highlights included people wearing fox masks just prancing around
Adrian Fry shone in a smallish field and
takes the bonus fiver. The rest earn 30.
The Tipsy Boar, Tunbridge Wells, is proud to host
the Saloon Bar Philosophy Festival. Some of the
finest untutored minds in Britain will be setting
forth their views on anything and (literally)
everything. With all lectures guaranteed to last
longer than you thought possible, its tremendous
value. From metaphysics (a retired butcher asks Is
Nothing Something? with accompanying vaguely
illustrative gesticulations) to Ethics (an Esher
housewife explains Fairness Isnt Always Right
with reference to something recalled from a Roger
Scruton column), theres something for everyone.
Therell be the usual symposium on Love with a
panel who have lost or never known it, many
phenomenological studies of pints half full of beer
and half empty, a keynote speech from a
compliance consultant on how Machiavelli Didnt
Know the Half of It and an existentialist in the
corner who will gradually cease to exemplify his
philosophical position with each drink downed.
Adrian Fry
Welcome to Words R Food, where spoken word
meets soybean curd and Localberry Jam is proud
to sponsor the slam. Welcome to the only festival
that stimulates your imagination and your taste
buds alike with cutting-edge performance poetry
and gourmet, locally sourced, ethical cuisine.
By day, well enjoy wholesome fruit, vegetable,
grain and tofu snacks that we prepare
collaboratively for one another under the tutelage
of meatless master chefs. By night, well gather for
high-energy readings, challenging yet supportive
workshops, mix-and-mingle cocktail gatherings,
inspirational talks on vegan living and conscious
creativity, and other events designed to celebrate
poetry, community and our shared values.
Between sessions, enjoy exploring the lively,
historic neighbourhood around our festival venue.
Display your Words R Food badge for valuable
discounts at local businesses, but be advised that
the festival does not officially endorse any of the
street poets and food vendors operating in the
Chris OCarroll
This year the Dogging Literature Festival will take
an exciting new direction: showcasing local talent


the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

rather than going after the all-too-familiar big
names. Freshness is the keynote. Fortunately, there
is a plethora of gifted writers in our community,
some of whom are well established contributors to
e-zines. Erik Pratt, paranormal author whose
work has been described as incredible literally
out of this world, will be reading from his spinechilling novel in progress, Zithlon and the Tombs
of Arcturus. Shudders galore there, but by contrast
Doris Draper, part-time lollipop lady, mourns
her own vanished beauty and the fate of the
planet in exquisite lilting verse. Her moving
chapbook, Bus Pass Tremors, from which she will
read, will be on sale. All this and much more,
under the aegis of Master of Ceremonies and
comic genius George Biggins, whose fabulous
blog, Dogging Day By Day, is legendary.
Basil Ransome-Davies
10.30 a.m. Progeny Portsmouth Sinfonia
introducing the next generation of the much-loved
orchestra, taking on Edgar Varses Intgrales.
Bring any wind instrument. Pets welcome.
11.32 a.m. Swedish death metal band Armageddon
offer their own luminous take on Edith Holdens
Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady. Curated by
Nicholas Parsons.
12.48 p.m. Sir Derek Jacobi reads Daisy Ashfords
haunting The Young Visiters.
1.11 p.m. Conversation: Was skiffle piffle?
Jimmy Page in conversation with himself and
Janet Street-Porter, with washboard interludes by
Lower Britling School Under-14 Daddy-Os.
2.26 p.m. Debate: Rod Liddle, Nigel Farage and
the Countess of Wessex discuss the ethics of
assisted suicide.
3.23 p.m. Contemporary whistling by Whistlers
4.54 p.m. Easy Does It: a tribute by English
National Opera to the late Bert Kaempfert.
6.12 p.m. The Irony Board and the Vacuum
John Cooper Clarke and Pam Ayres join forces to
read homilies to housewifery. (Retiring collection.)
Bill Greenwell
Copwash Flower Festival 6-8 August
The Duchess of Babergh will open the festival at
11 a.m. by lifting the curtain on the Auricula
Theatre. The folk group Kings and Weavers will
then perform a medley of songs celebrating this
flower down the ages.
The well-known artist Godfrey Hall will be
showing his latest paintings of dead leaves. These
lovingly illustrated withered sprigs reveal the
effects of environmental stress on trees and plants.
(All pictures for sale.)
10 a.m. Sunday, John Berg, lay preacher, will give a
sermon on the common weed lolium temulentum.
The Cockle symbolises wickedness invading the
good field of the Church. Let thistles grow up to
me instead of wheat, and thorns instead of barley
(Job 31:40).
The grand finale on Monday afternoon: Where
Have all the Flowers Gone? a panel discussion
about the Dutch and UK horticultural industry in
the light of the Brexit vote.
Sarah Drury

NO. 2959: MAY DAY

You are invited to submit a poem on a political theme entitled May day. Please email
(where possible) entries of up to 16 lines to by midday on 27 July.
the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

by Columba
Answers to clues in italics are to
be subjected, before entry in the
grid, to the treatment indicated by one unclued light (three
words). Definitions of the
resulting entries are supplied by
the other unclued lights.
1 Details no longer always in
unfinished dance (8)
6 Fellow admitted to
constant trouble with a
caravan (6)
10 Discerning elite had eggs
scrambled (12, hyphened)
13 Devout type in hole
defending revolutionary
position (7)
14 Communist spirit brought
about in hardship (6)
16 Cleese film about lecturer
suffering woe, sick
17 Detective acting with
authority turned and
proceeded (8)
21 Disconcert good sort,
accepting hard line (8,
two words)
23 One following gripping
account not precisely true
25 Sporting idol, man of the
26 Complacently empty
system, hideous
28 Exceptional muscle
breaking part of crust (7)
29 Earl involved in an ace
commemoration (8)
34 Fans complain endlessly
about confusion (8)
35 Ship slang spoken (4)
36 Dry garden almost
separate (6)
38 Loaves not left for
kangaroos (7)
40 Knight, fine, in set of the
same kind (12)
41 Runner absorbed by music
and language (6)
42 Poor batting time for
banter (8)




























2 Gain attention before noon
3 Awls among chisels in store
5 Trial to be rigged without a
book (8)
6 Force with base on young
leaders lands (7)
7 Legal opinion of cheese
carrying weight (5)
9 Owner wanting millions for
plant (5)
12 Disappear from stormy
scene after hail, going
north (8)
15 Increased abuse about
Homer so out of order
18 Allowing one mate rum
and so on at sea (10)
19 Notice nickel in piece of
mechanism (8)
20 Understand chatter upset
recipients of money (6)
22 Collection of data about
old trade in silk (9)
24 Emperors daughter
tormented a servant (8)
27 Experience in course of
board game (7)
31 Ricks bars last in country
32 Name tag in light slipper
33 Drama followed by me in
provinces (5)

37 Money necessary to escape

agitation (4)
A first prize of 30 for the first
correct solution opened on
1 August. 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 2269,
The Spectator, 22 Old Queen
Street, London SW1H 9HP.
Please allow six weeks for prize



SOLUTION TO 2266 : 587

Associations with adjectives are ALL RIGHT (16),
GREAT DANE (42), and SMALL BEER (4). The hymn,
by MRS C.F. ALEXANDER (28, 18) is number 587 in the
English Hymnal.
First prize Frank Anstis, Truro, Cornwall
Runners-up Dr John Stabler, North Creake, Norfolk;
R.B. Briercliffe, Onchan, Isle of Man



Status Anxiety
The truth about
post-truth politics
Toby Young
he departure of Andrea Leadsom from the Conservative
leadership race was a blow to
pundits who claim were living in an
age of post-truth politics. According
to Michael Deacon, the Telegraphs
political sketchwriter, she was an
ideal candidate because she embodied the anti-factual mood of the
country. Facts are negative, he wrote,
parodying the attitude of Leadsoms
knuckle-dragging supporters. Facts
are pessimistic. Facts are unpatriotic.
To be fair to Deacon, whose sketches are often very funny, he noted that
the war on truth is being fought as
energetically on the left as it is on the
right and singled out a group of diehard Corbynistas who believe their
man is the victim of a Zionist conspiracy. But most commentators who
wheel out the phrase post-truth politics are on the left and use it to sum
up their opponents cynical disregard
for the norms of democratic debate.
Indeed, it was coined in 2010 by an
American pundit called David Roberts to describe the success of Republicans in Congress. They dont try to
win support for their policy positions
by making evidence-based arguments
a form of grown-up debate that
only Democrats engage in, apparently. No, they exploit the knee-jerk emotional responses and tribal loyalties of
their followers. If the Democrats are

The more
you know,
the more
likely you are
to have an
bias, whether
left or right

in favour of a policy, then it is the duty

of all good Republicans to oppose it,
and to hell with the facts. Since Roberts coined the phrase it has become a
clich and scarcely a day passes without some left-wing sage attributing the
rise of Donald Trump to this shocking
debasement of political discourse.
It goes without saying that the
losing side in the EU referendum
are great believers in the post-truth
hypothesis. According to this theory,
their factual arguments, complete with
block graphs and pie charts, were no
match for the nativist pleas of rightwing politicians and the Murdoch
press, which exploited irrational fear
of the other. Exhibit A in the case for
the prosecution is the following quote
from Aaron Banks, the multimillionaire who bankrolled Leave.EU: The
Remain campaign featured fact, fact,
fact, fact. It doesnt work. Youve got
to connect with people emotionally.
Its the Trump success.
Its all nonsense, of course. Not
the claim that conservatives are more
influenced by emotional appeals than
they are by rational argument, which
is obviously true, but the educated
elites conviction that they are only
ever swayed by reason. It is a sign of
their vanity and self-righteousness
that they regard themselves as the
embodiment of J.S. Mills democratic
ideal, selflessly engaged in a search
for the truth, when all the evidence
yes, evidence suggests theyre
even more tribal than those of us on
the right.
This was the eye-opening discovery of Jonathan Haidt, professor of
ethical leadership at New York Universitys Stern School of Business and
author of The Righteous Mind. Five

years ago, at a conference of several

hundred social psychologists in San
Antonio, he asked members of the
audience to raise their hand according
to which political tribe they belonged
to. Eighty per cent identified as liberal
or left of centre, 2 per cent as centrist
or moderate and 1 per cent as libertarian. None admitted to being conservative. These findings have been
duplicated across the social sciences,
but its not just the academic wing of
the metropolitan elite who are prone
to liberal-left groupthink. In general,
people whom social psychologists categorize as weird (Western, Educated,
Industrialised, Rich and Democratic)
are even more tribal when it comes
to their attitudes and behaviour than
those we think of as belonging to an
inward-looking monoculture Ukip
voters, for instance. Contrary to the
self-understanding of the Bremainers,
being outward-facing doesnt mean
being open to new ideas.
This unwelcome fact is an example
of a well-established rule in social psychology, which is that the more knowledgeable you are, the more likely you
are to suffer from ideological bias,
whether left or right. That was the
conclusion of Peter Hatemi and Rose
McDermott in a recent paper for the
Annual Review of Political Science.
All the evidence suggests that those
who place a high value on facts and
see themselves as truth-seekers are
no more likely to arrive at their political views through reason and analysis
than swivel-eyed Eurosceptic loons.
We are all post-truthers and probably
always have been.
Toby Young is associate editor of
The Spectator.



the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

The Wiki Man

We need to invent something
better than Machu Picchu
Rory Sutherland
dont know if youve noticed, but
middle-class rules now require
that every dinner party cheeseboard must contain at least two
cheeses which arent very nice. Typically one will be a veiny French
cheese which is not as good as Stilton;
another may be that foreign thing
with rind on it which isnt nearly as
good as Cheddar.
I was baffled by this for a long
time, until I realised that these cheeses are not bought to be eaten, but to
signal the sophistication of the occasion. Economists might call them
Veblen cheeses. (One day someone should make an inedible cheese
called Veblenne. Theyd make a fortune.)
There are many forms of consumption today where dress it up
all you like it is obvious the main
value lies not in the intrinsic value of
the thing itself but in signalling the
refinement of your taste. This increasingly creates a kind of feedback loop
where people are driven to absurd
lengths to gain competitive bragging

nothing the
rich alone
can buy
that makes
the same
as owning
a car does

Take travel. A week ago, I asked

for a show of hands in a London lecture theatre. As I suspected, more
people in the audience had been to
Machu Picchu than to Lincoln cathedral. What I didnt expect was the
ratio: over three to one.
I was once offered a trip to Machu
Picchu myself, but decided it was one
of those places Dr Johnson called
worth seeing, but not worth going
to see. Why endure a long flight and
altitude sickness to see some rubble
in the Andes when for 40 I could
take a daytrip to one of the worlds
architectural masterpieces where the
only discomfort would be finding the
tea shop had closed? It seemed a lot
to pay for posting a photo to Facebook saying Hey, Im next to some
stones before collapsing with hypoxia. But what do I know?
Later in the week I learned a relative at boarding school had been
vetoed by his parents from joining a
school snorkelling trip. Seems mean?
It was to Fiji. Jeez, I thought, In the
1970s we thought it was a treat to
be taken to Penscynor Wildlife Park
with a dank sandwich and a Wagon
Wheel. Actually thats not quite true:
we didnt think it was a treat in fact
we thought it was a bit shit but Im
certain there wasnt a Fiji alternative
on offer.
Perhaps the reason for the
increasingly bizarre expenditure patterns of the rich is simple. No one has

invented anything useful and expensive since about 1950. My grandfather

was a GP in a mining town from the
1920s to the early 1950s. There was
a host of innovative things he could
afford which his neighbours couldnt.
A fridge, a washing machine, a dishwasher, a radio, a television and,
most important of all, a car. These
things were mind-blowingly expensive by modern standards but they
were life-changing stuff.
Nowadays there are no sensible
equivalents. You can buy a fancier
car but even then you hit the law
of diminishing returns early on. Yes,
its nicer to travel at the front of the
plane than the back you get a big
seat, and the kind of vast table which
makes you wish youd packed a double-breasted brown jacket and a map
of Poland but an economy ticket still takes you to the same place.
Theres nothing the rich alone can
buy that makes the same difference
as owning a car does. So they buy
houses and cheese.
Someone needs to invent something to fill the void and fast. I
would settle for a single-person pilotless drone for about 80,000. Otherwise more and more of our GDP will
end up squandered on school trips
to Fiji and the purchase of nastier
Rory Sutherland is vice-chairman
of Ogilvy Group UK.


we could gatecrash. We are now

kicking ourselves for not having
been pushy, as our friends say it
was a great party and the hosts
told them we would have been
welcome. How should we have
tackled this, Mary?
Name and address withheld
Q. My wife and I are enthusiastic
dancers so when we heard that
people we know through mutual
friends were giving a party on
a sprung floor at Cecil Sharp
House in Regents Park with
ceilidh dancing and a caller, we
were desperate to go. The trouble
was, we hadnt been invited.
We knew there was no sit-down
dinner to complicate things and
logic told us that the hosts would
probably welcome additional
numbers of willing dancers. I was
too shy to telephone them and
put them on the spot by asking if

A. You should not have

telephoned in the first place but
you should have emailed to say
you had heard they were giving a
party in the Cecil Sharp building,
a venue you were thinking of
using yourself as you love dancing
so much you are considering
giving a party there. Would they
be kind enough to report back if
the evening is a success and they
would recommend it? This would
have given these mutual friends
the option for them to email back
one of two responses. It could be
either Do join us, you would be

the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

welcome, or Yes we are sorry

not to be able to invite you to
join us on the night but we have
already exceeded the numbers
allowed by fire regs!
Q. At the age of 63, I am having
some corrective dentistry which
means I have to wear wire braces
on my teeth of the sort normally
seen on adolescents. I find friends
and acquaintances have been
extraordinarily rude in their
responses to the rows of metal,
saying things like Isnt it a bit
late for that, old boy? or Hardly
worth the effort at your time of
life. How should I respond to
these discouraging impertinences
without being rude back?
Name withheld, Pewsey, Wilts
A. You should wear a pleasant but
knowing expression as you reply,
Funnily enough its already been

worth it. But (staring into their

mouth) more to the point, why
arent you having it done?
Q. I believe some people to be
using the Brexit crisis as a row
creation scheme: it gives them
the chance to express anger
(about other matters) that they
might usually have repressed.
How can we stop our guests
from creating a bad atmosphere
by starting to catastrophise or
triumphalise as soon as they
arrive for drinks or dinner?
V.B., Hove, Sussex
A. Why not take a tip from
100-year-old Arthur Mason
of East Yorkshire who, as he
welcomes visitors to his house,
points out a swear box into
which they will be obliged
to pay 5 if they mention the
referendum or Brexit?


From Hegel to Riesling
Bruce Anderson

ohn Stuart Mill did not describe the

Conservatives as the stupid party.
He merely said that although not
all Tories were stupid, most stupid people voted for them (cf. Brexit). But at
any level above automatic loyalty at
the polling box not to be deprecated Conservatism is no creed for the
intellectually limited. It requires hard
thinking. The socialists have an easier
life. First, they have a secular teleology: socialism. Second, assuming that
history is on their side, many lefties
feel entitled to lapse into a complacent
assumption of moral superiority. That
helps to explain why there has been no
serious left-wing thinking in the UK
since Tony Crosland in the 1950s.
Though Tories may envy the complacency, they are condemned to stress.
Without a political teleology, they have
no way to simplify history. Their challenge is as complex as the human condition. There are a few useful maxims.
Falkland: When it is not necessary to
change, it is necessary not to change.
Berlin: The great goods cannot always
live together. Oakeshott: Civilisation
is only a collective dream. Wisdom,
certainly, but what should Tories actu-

Over the
decades I have
met two Tories
who were not

ally do? How should they decide when

it is necessary to change, or which great
good should take priority? As for civilisation, dreams and nightmares, the
task of preventing our era from turning into the Dark Ages plus weapons
of mass destruction is best entrusted
to Tory tough-mindedness, and there
is no guarantee of success.
No teleology: it is even hard for
Tories to come up with a penny catechism. What must you believe to
qualify as a Tory? I think the answer is
not much, but that passionately. Tories
should love their country, regarding
themselves as the true British national party. While reluctantly conceding
that there might seem to be patriots in
other parties, Tories assume that such
persons are suffering from mental confusion and are really Tories. Tories are
devout monarchists. Over the decades
I have met two who were not: bizarre.
A Tory who eschews monarchism is
like a man who rejects first-growth
claret in favour of Diet Coke. Beyond
that, Tories should argue that when it is
needed, government should be strong.
When not needed, it should be absent.
They should also have a Burkean reverence for prejudices and institutions.
Conservative, Tory: which are we?

While you were in the kitchen, Theresa May resigned

over a sex tape and I was asked to form a government.

That at least is an easy question: both.

Conservative: those clipped syllables
are redolent of realism and the wisdom of the counting-house. Both are
necessary; neither is sufficient. There is
always a danger that the Conservative
party will turn into the political wing
of the Treasury: that its spokesmen will
never sound happier than when lecturing hungry sheep about the price
of grass. But Toryism has hints of the
Oxford Court and Prince Ruperts
cavalry. This should remind Conservatives that there is more to life than
the counting-house. We are almost
back with 1066 and All That. A sensible Conservative/Tory should seek a
Hegelian synthesis of Wrong but Wromantic and Right but Repulsive.
Earlier this week, a few shrewd
Tories were also seeking a new outlet, and a drink. Even aside from the
current little local difficulties, the conservative movement on both sides of
the Atlantic could do with some intellectual renewal; perhaps, indeed, some
new syntheses. So an online journal
has been launched. Called Reaction, it
is edited by Iain Martin, well known to
Spectator readers. It will not be exclusively reactionary: not too much of
Joseph de Maistre, thou shouldst be
living at this hour. But there will be
provocation and fun.
There was at our party. We argued
a lot, while drinking quantities of
Dnnhoff Riesling Kabinet: a perfect
summer quaff. Dnnhoffs wines have
been praised in this column before.
The best grower in the Nahe, his wines
are cheaper than Rheingau bottles
of similar quality. They enabled us to
christen Reaction and end the evening in a fine old Tory mood: eupeptic


Gig economy
In the same song where the
brilliant lyricist Ian Dury gave the
world the couplet, I could be a
writer with a growing reputation/
I could be the ticket-man at
Fulham Broadway station, his
narrator speaks of first-night
nerves every one-night stand.
Perhaps we are now more
accustomed to one-night stand
referring to a casual sexual liaison,
but in the less metaphorical sense,
dating from the 19th century and
was later used by Bernard Shaw, it
simply means a one-night musical
engagement, or gig.
Gig is first recorded in 1926,
in Melody Maker. By 1939 it

had given rise to the modernsounding gigster, someone who

plays gigs. Now in our day, it has
found a new outlet in the idea of
the gig economy. The gig economy
gives people one-off odd jobs.
They become self-employed
or freelance. One online
employment exchange is called
eLance. Looked at less positively,
workers in the gig economy
become casual labourers. Just as
tradesmen take their stand in the

Zcalo outside the cathedral in

Mexico City, waiting for work, so
thousands of odd-job people seek
employment on websites such as
TaskRabbit and minor artisans
market their wares on Etsy.
There is some anxiety about
having no steady job, once
thought of as a job for life. But job
itself has changed in meaning. It
first popped up in the Elizabethan
period, in the phrase job of
work. Perhaps it derives from
job meaning cartload, though
that gets us little further. In any
case, it did not mean permanent
employment. Employment has
long been expressed by the word

work; in the Vespasian Psalter, a

gloss added in the ninth century
translates the Latin opus in Psalm
104 as werce Man goeth forth
unto his work, as the Authorised
Version has it. But that might just
be day-labour.
Jobs remained high or low. The
stock-jobber (already known by
that name in the 17th century)
wore a silk hat and made the
market until Big Bang in 1986
quite exploded him. Still with us
are jobs for the boys, a feature
of crony capitalism allied with
quangocracy. Plenty of scope
there for the gig economy.
Dot Wordsworth

the spectator | 16 july 2016 |

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