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70-page glossy quarterly magazine with Roger Scruton, Sarah Vine, Helen Lederer and Michael Heath, and


Killer robots by
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23 september 2017 [ £4.25 [ est. 1828

James Forsyth on the new
Tory battle line

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A fallen idol
ew world leaders have fallen from to find out why half of the Rohingya pop- the grounds that it wasn’t a truly democratic
grace as quickly as Aung San Suu Kyi. ulation in Burma have fled. But the satel- position. But where would that have got her
The Nobel prize-winner, who also lite images of about 80 burning villages are — and Burma? She would have been con-
holds the US Congressional Gold Medal clear enough. Her spokesmen claim that the demned for turning down an invitation to
for her bravery and peaceful resistance to Rohingya are burning down their own vil- effect change from within.
Burma’s military junta, now stands accused lages to draw attention to themselves, even Moreover, if she condemned — or even
of aiding and excusing the suppression — planting landmines to draw condemna- acknowledged — the treatment of the
even the genocide — of the Rohingya Mus- tion against the Burmese army. Her efforts Rohingya then she’d be in trouble, not just
lims, more than 400,000 of whom in recent to deny their sudden desperation to leave with the military but the public that elect-
weeks have fled from Burma, which elected Burma as ‘fake news’ fools no one. About ed her. The Buddhist-majority Burmese
her leader nearly two years ago. half of Burma’s Rohingyas have now fled population has never seen the Rohingyas
There have been calls from her fel- to Bangladesh, most arriving in the past few as fellow citizens. The partial relaxation of
low Nobel laureates for her peace prize to weeks. Such an exodus does not take place the dictatorship has exposed the sectar-
be annulled. The UN has described action without good reason. ian problems which have always bubbled
against the Rohingya as a ‘textbook exam- But even if Suu Kyi did want to take on beneath the surface.
ple of ethnic cleansing’ and complained All along, Suu Kyi has been a woman of
that its observers have been denied access Aung San Suu Kyi has been a woman the people. It is just that now the people of
to Burma to judge the situation for them- of the people. But now the people of Burma begin to emerge in a different light
selves. Our Foreign Secretary, Boris John- Burma emerge in a different light — less an oppressed, homogenous group
son, himself under fire, has weighed in this and more a mass of religious rivalries, with
week, also using the term ‘ethnic cleansing’. the military, she would probably fail. While a Buddhist majority at odds with a Muslim
The plight of the Rohingya in Burma she won a mandate in the 2015 election, minority. Add to this the incident that began
has been a cause for international concern Burma cannot be said to be democratic the most recent spell of violence — a ter-
for decades. Yet their recent treatment at in a genuine sense. Her post, that of ‘state ror attack on an army post, committed by
the hands of Buddhist mobs and the mili- counsellor’, cannot be compared to that of a a group of Rohingya militants and which
tary takes their persecution to a new level. western president or prime minister. Burma killed about a dozen — and the conditions
What seems baffling to so many is the fact has not undergone a democratic revolution for sectarian violence are ideal.
that this horror is happening under Suu Kyi, but remains under the ultimate power of The lesson of Suu Kyi is it is far easier to
a human rights campaigner who was herself the military, over which she has little con- be admired when you are a rebellious outsid-
kept under house arrest for 15 years by the trol or even influence. Having been placed er than when you eventually win some kind
military. How, it’s asked, can she now be col- under house arrest for much of the two dec- of power. The reputations of Nelson Man-
luding with her former captors, looking the ades between 1990 and 2010, Suu Kyi is now dela, Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel and many
other way as they use the tactics — mob vio- under a more metaphorical form of impris- others also suffered from the same transition,
lence and murder — once deployed against onment. though to a lesser extent than Suu Kyi. One
her supporters? Ought she to rediscover the bravery that day, perhaps, Burma will settle into peace
The answer is that she is an extreme case led her through two decades of peaceful and democracy. Whatever happens, Suu Kyi
of a much-repeated phenomenon — a cam- opposition to the military junta and make a will not be winning any further tributes from
paigner fêted in opposition for admirable stand against the army? That is what a true western liberals. But we should reflect that it
principles, but who then takes power and is martyr would do, even if it led her to prison. is not really her who has changed, so much as
found wanting. Suu Kyi might, of course, have refused the the circumstances in which she finds herself
Suu Kyi said this week that she intends position of state counsellor altogether on and our perception of her.
the spectator | 23 september 2017 | 3
Hero or slimeball? p18

Smile if you hate

Tories, p16
The cult of Bob, p32


3 Leading article 12 Brexit wars BOOKS
7 Portrait of the Week The Conservatives’ last battle over 28 Jane Ridley
Europe has just begun Victorious Century,
9 Diary George Osborne, the Today James Forsyth by David Cannadine
programme’s Don Corleone
Sarah Sands 14 A court’s contempt 30 Patrick Skene Catling
The ECJ’s quest for ever more power Dunbar, by Edward St Aubyn
11 The Spectator’s Notes Marina Wheeler Owen Matthews
The truth about Boris’s £350 million Red Famine, by Anne Applebaum
Charles Moore 16 Can we be friends?
The MP who won’t drink with Tories 31 Duncan Forbes
17 Rod Liddle Fostering hate Isabel Hardman ‘Willow’: a poem
21 Lionel Shriver Let the statues stand 18 Ukraine’s last best hope 32 Ian Thomson
22 Barometer Euro millions, drink Saakashvili, the great reformer So Much Things to Say,
driving and Scotland’s last snow Owen Matthews by Roger Steffens
24 James Delingpole The age of terror 20 Close of play 33 Neel Mukherjee
25 Letters Christians betrayed, race I’m enjoying my long goodbye Late Essays 2006–17, by J.M. Coetzee
relations and the Taki effect Henry Blofeld Richard Davenport-Hines
22 Crime and prejudice The World Broke in Two,
26 Any other business Hoping for by Bill Goldstein
a rate rise? Don’t bet on it Is Brexit-based violence real?
Martin Vander Weyer Ross Clark 34 Harry Ritchie
How Language Began,
by Daniel L. Everett
35 Thomas W. Hodgkinson
Viking Britain, by Thomas Williams

Cover by Morten Morland. Drawings by Michael Heath, Castro, Mike Stokoe, Evans, Phil Disley, RGJ, Percival, Geoff Thompson, Grizelda, Nick Newman, Dredge Editorial and advertising The Spectator, 22 Old Queen Street, London SW1H 9HP, Tel: 020 7961 0200, Fax: 020 7681 3773, Email: editor@spectator. (editorial); (for publication); (advertising); Advertising enquiries: 020 7961 0222 Subscription and delivery
queries Spectator Subscriptions Dept., 17 Perrymount Rd, Haywards Heath RH16 3DH; Tel: 0330 3330 050; Email:; Rates for a
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Email:; Distributor Marketforce, 161 Marsh Wall, London, E14 9AP. Tel. 0203 787 9001. Vol 335; no 9865 © The Spectator
(1828) Ltd. ISSN 0038-6952 The Spectator is published weekly by The Spectator (1828) Ltd at 22 Old Queen Street, London SW1H 9HP
Editor: Fraser Nelson

4 the spectator | 23 september 2017 |

Apple’s terrifying power, p36

Chatty Man, p34

The art of Haeckel, p39

ARTS SPECIAL LIFE Any drive for ideological purity
36 Rory Sutherland 53 High life Taki is flat-out creepy
How Apple came to rule the world Low life Jeremy Clarke Lionel Shriver, p21
38 Museums 54 Elaine Feinstein
Scythians: warriors of ancient Siberia ‘A Ghost in the Rylands Library’: Noam Chomsky has done his very
Daisy Dunn a poem best to make his work on language
39 Illustration 56 Real life Melissa Kite as arcane and incomprehensible
The art and science of Ernst Haeckel
57 Bridge Susanna Gross as string theory
Laura Gascoigne
Wine club Jonathan Ray Harry Ritchie, p34
41 Exhibitions Basic Instincts
Kate Chisholm
AND FINALLY . . . Nobody really goes to the bottle
43 Art market Why do artists vanish? 50 Notes on… Gresham College bank to recycle glass: we do it for
Martin Gayford Mark Mason the fun of smashing bottles
44 Opera Pagliacci; L’enfant et les 58 Chess Raymond Keene Rory Sutherland, p36
sortilèges Competition Lucy Vickery
Michael Tanner
59 Crossword Pabulum My children have impeccable
45 Television Strike; Electric Dreams; manners, although my daughter has
Bad Move; Porters; W1A 60 Status anxiety Toby Young
Battle for Britain Michael Heath inherited my violent side
James Walton
Taki, p53
46 Cinema Borg vs McEnroe 61 The Wiki Man Rory Sutherland
Deborah Ross Your problems solved
Mary Killen
47 Radio Kate Chisholm
62 Drink Bruce Anderson
48 The listener LCD Soundsystem: Mind your language
American Dream Dot Wordsworth
Rod Liddle
Theatre Oslo; Prism
Lloyd Evans
49 Music Simon Rattle’s non-job
Norman Lebrecht

Lionel Shriver, the novelist, Marina Wheeler is a Henry Blofeld has retired Jane Ridley is a historian and Rory Sutherland is
is now a fortnightly columnist barrister and member of the from commentating for Test broadcaster. She reviews David executive creative director of
for The Spectator. She writes Bar Disciplinary Tribunal. Match Special. He reminisces Cannadine’s book about 19th- OgilvyOne and The Spectator’s
about pulling down statues She’s also Boris Johnson’s wife. on p20. century Britain on p28. Wiki Man columnist. He
on p21. She writes about the European doesn’t have an iPhone. He
Court of Justice on p14. writes about iPhones on
page 36 and trade on p61.

the spectator | 23 september 2017 | 5

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an extra paper round
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for flying lessons.”
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the Chinooks are safe before the frontline fly them. We feel good about supporting the team overseas.”


Home a 21-year-old man in Hounslow, Middlesex.
and and 25-year-old man in Newport,
to be the distance to the American territory
of Guam. Within minutes, South Korea

B oris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary,

issued a manifesto for a ‘glorious future’
for Britain outside the European Union as
Monmouthshire. It was found that people
who shopped on Amazon for an ingredient
of a popular bomb-making compound
fired a missile into the sea, which happened
to travel the same distance that could have
taken it to Pyongyang. The UN Human
‘the greatest country on Earth’. This was would receive the information that it was Rights Council in Geneva demanded to
seen as a challenge to Theresa May, the ‘frequently bought together’ with the other be allowed into Rakhine state in Burma
Prime Minister. People like Sir Vince Cable, ingredients. Britain is the fifth-biggest to assess the reason for 400,000 Muslim
the Lib Dem leader, and Kenneth Clarke, audience in the world for extremist internet Rohingyas having fled to Bangladesh.
the Tory arch-Remainer, said he should content after Turkey, the United States, Bangladesh attempted to stop the refugees
have been sacked. Mr Johnson’s lengthy Saudi Arabia and Iraq, according to a study from dispersing in the country.
piece in the Daily Telegraph came six days by Policy Exchange.
before a big speech on the subject promised
by Mrs May, in Florence, before the next
round of Brexit negotiations. He declared T he number of people who died in the
Grenfell Tower fire may be fewer
H urricane Maria devastated Dominica;
‘We have lost all that money can buy,’
said the Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit,
that Britain should pay nothing for access than the estimate of 80, according to who lost the roof of his own house. It then
to the EU single market. Amber Rudd, the police, who have so far seized 31 million moved west across the Caribbean. Many
Home Secretary, went on television and documents in their investigations. Ryanair were killed when a strong earthquake
accused him of ‘back-seat driving’. Others began cancelling 40-50 flights a day for six struck Mexico City. Toys ‘R’ Us filed for
got up a row over his claim that ‘once we weeks without much notice. In response bankruptcy protection in the United States
have settled our accounts, we will take to loud complaints, it published the details and Canada. J. P. Donleavy, author of The
back control of roughly £350 million per of which flights would be cancelled up to Ginger Man (1955), died at 91. Equifax, the
week. It would be a fine thing, as many of the end of October. A ship detained and American credit reporting company, said it
us have pointed out, if a lot of that money held at Aberdeen for more than a year was might have had data stolen relating to 143
went on the NHS’. Sir David Norgrove, the ordered to be auctioned to pay the crew’s million Americans and 400,000 Britons.
chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, wages. Acidic vapour wafted over part of
said this was ‘a clear misuse of official
statistics’. Oliver Robbins, the government’s
top Brexit official, was transferred from
Hull when a dockside tank containing 580
tons of hydrochloric acid leaked overnight. I n Egypt, a mass trial concerning the
violence that followed the removal
of President Mohammed Morsi in 2013
the Department for Exiting the European
Union to the Cabinet Office in order to
Abroad sentenced 43 to prison for life and 300 to
terms between five and 15 years. Haider
work more directly for the Prime Minister.
P resident Donald Trump of the United
States said at the UN that if America is
al-Abadi, the Prime Minister of Iraq,
demanded the suspension of a referendum

A home-made bomb ignited in a wall

of flame in a morning rush-hour
Underground train at Parsons Green
‘forced to defend itself or its allies, we will
have no choice but to totally destroy North
Korea’. Of Kim Jong-un, the ruler of North
on Kurdish independence. In Spain, the
Civil Guard searched print works for the
ballot papers to be used on 1 October in
station, injuring 30 people but failing to Korea, he said: ‘Rocket man is on a suicide a Catalan referendum on independence,
explode. Police arrested an 18-year-old mission.’ His words followed the firing of which has been declared illegal. Plumbers
Iraqi orphan (who had been in foster care a missile by North Korea over Japan and unblocking sewage pipes in Geneva found
in Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey) at Dover, 2,300 miles into the Pacific, which happens the problem was cut-up €500 notes. CSH
the spectator | 23 september 2017 | 7
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Sarah Sands

N ext month, the Today programme

marks its 60th anniversary, so I
have been mugging up on the archives.
description of Theresa May as a dead
woman walking on both political and
literal grounds: ‘If she is walking, she
If there is a lasting characteristic, I can’t be dead.’
reckon it is curiosity about how the
world works. After four months in this
job, my sense of wonder is undimmed
that global experts on everything from
O n Brexit bias, tone has become
almost as important as argument.
I notice that cheerfulness can grate on
nuclear warheads to rare plants can some, who regard it as political comment.
be conjured on to the show. Political When the Australian high commissioner
debate is at the heart of Today, but it asked on the Today programme why
is knowledge rather than opinion that London, Mona Juul, slip into the studio Brits were so gloomy, it was categorised
I prize most, and even the most avid alone. The hefty entourages tend to come as an anti-Remain intervention. It is true
political interviewers have a hinterland. with business folk or with Jonathan Sacks that whoever came up with the word
They also understand the cumulative for Thought for the Day, two very different ‘Remoaners’ delivered a lasting blow.
effect of unsocial working hours. The types of security needs. The Brexiteers own optimism just as
great Sue MacGregor, who is chairing Remainers claim reason.
a reunion of Today old hands as part of
our anniversary programme, reminds
me that she once fell asleep while
S o far as domestic politicians are
concerned, I understand that the
former chancellor George Osborne I want to try to tell the story of Brexit
through concrete examples rather
interviewing Michael Heseltine. always used to bring the biggest crowd, than positions. We looked at the fashion
a detail which plays to his recent Don industry the other day and the designer

I recite the Reithian principles of

educating, informing and entertaining
like morning prayer. I didn’t go to one
Corleone image. Incidentally, a former
cabinet member, possibly unversed in US
jail culture, takes issue with Osborne’s
Patrick Grant made a simple case. When
he is making a suit, he imports parts
from different countries. He can order
of the grand universities that can no a zip from Italy overnight. If he deals
longer appear on CVs at the BBC, and so with America, he has to fill in a great
regard Today as a news version of Open pile of forms. He dreads the additional
University, an educational utopia. Some regulation. Boris Johnson wrote in his
commentators have objected to the 30 4,000-word article that was meant to
seconds we devote each day to a puzzle, have been a speech (journalists so hate
set by GCHQ and other brainboxes. It wasting material) that leaving the EU
is there to celebrate mathematics and would lessen regulation. Can he explain
to remind us that problem-solving and to Patrick how?
decoding run deep in the nation’s past and
its future. A tech entrepreneur told me it
has become the perfect start to her day. W e are all trying to figure out China
and our relationship to it. A friend
in the arts world who spends much time

T here has also been grumbling that

science, arts and culture feature more
in the programme than they used to. I
there, shrugs that it is ducks and drakes.
He says there is less worry in Beijing
about the military capabilities of North
refer back to our origins. The late Robin Korea than of triggering a humanitarian
Day, who conceived it, was steeped in crisis, with refugees pouring into China.
politics, but one of his first ideas was for Meanwhile, Chinese leaders are fearful
a daily item on an arts first night. Coming of a ravenous capitalist appetite among
from newspapers, I find it natural to mix the young. They believe materialism
subjects. A New York Times journalist will lead to spiritual impoverishment.
asked me just before I started whether all So the government is commissioning
its listeners were in hospitals or prisons, art and music ventures on a grand scale
because those subjects always led its to restore a hinterland among their
news. A daily show must be familiar Precious Mysteries
population. Imagine it happening here.
but not predictable. Real news needs to
26 September –
advance and expand our knowledge.
8 October 2017
Closed 2 October
T he Civil Service, like the BBC,
is looking for a workforce that

T he team teases me for having a

fondness for ambassadors, but the
best provide the kind of enlightened Fine Jewellery and
represents equality of opportunity.
Having examined age, race, gender and
class, they are keen to search out invisible
conversation that our listeners appreciate. Contemporary Silver anomalies. I am told they have introverts
Some come with large entourages, others, next in their sights. Presumably one of
such as the Norwegian ambassador to #goldsmithsfair the less vocal lobby groups.

the spectator | 23 september 2017 | 9

Charles Moore

S ir David Norgrove, the chairman of

the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA),
is an honourable man. When he publicly
W hat is this? ‘2017. It’s 50 years since
the Summer of Love and the same
number since I was born. Perhaps I was
rebuked Boris Johnson for his use of touched by the extraordinary moment
the famous £350 million figure about I was born into, because my life has
our weekly EU contribution, I am sure been coloured by all sorts of love from
he was statistically, not party-politically the start. My passionate parents set the
motivated. But two points occur. The tone, dripping in love for each other…
first is that Sir David was, arguably, my sister… my loud-laughing friends…
mistaken. He thinks Boris said that, after And then there are the lovers… that I
Brexit, Britain would have £350 million a have walked beside and hold tightly in
week more to spend. He didn’t. He said my heart. Love. I celebrate it, practise
‘we will take back control of roughly it, mourn it, and fight for it.’ Then the
£350 million a week’. This is correct. subject shifts: ‘But my appreciation
So long as we are in the EU, that intention is to uphold higher standards. The and experience of this most delicious
£350 million a week is out of our control, effect is to impose rule by a bureaucratic of topics, is dwarfed by Shakespeare’s
because even our rebate, which forms establishment which we, the voters, have understanding of love. My mind spins
part of that figure, is EU-dependent. no opportunity to kick out and which — when I imagine how his life must have
When we leave, it will all be under our not coincidentally — is full of Remain been: how hard he worked, how far
control. Sir David’s reaction came too supporters. In an interview with the he travelled, how dark and scary the
fast. The UKSA had already attacked magazine Civil Service World in June, Sir landscape he lived in was. If I close my
the £350 million figure when first used by David said, of the £350 million: ‘I thought eyes and propel my imagination back
the Leave campaign in the referendum. it was clear that the Brexiteers didn’t mind in time, I hear the tectonic plates of the
Is it in a grudge match with anyone who about the number so long as there was planet creak. I see the ground opening
answers back? focus on it.’ No doubt this is his sincere up and Shakespeare clambering out of a
belief, but on this most divisive subject, deep crack in the earth’s surface, dusty,

W hich leads to my second point.

Never a week goes by without
such words will not be seen as impartial. desperate and gasping for air… then, with
the clarity of clear water, he sings from
a senior politician using a statistic
controversially. This is part of the
adversarial character of politics. If a
O n Tuesday, for the first — and
undoubtedly last — time in my life,
I found myself mounting the platform at
the earth he was born… Pre Freud, pre
therapy, pre equality or civil rights, he
asked all the big questions. “What a piece
public official comments on one such the Liberal Democrat conference. This was of work is a man?” And my! I love him
remark, one naturally asks why he because my father, Richard Moore, was for it! And in this light I shout the same
ignores others. Why attack Boris alone? receiving a richly deserved award there. question into the Thames breeze.’
People begin to doubt his neutrality. He is 85, so I was assisting him up the steps
Looking at the authority’s record
since Sir David became its chairman in
March, I see that it has rebuked only
in Bournemouth. Part of his distinguished
service to his party consists in the fact —
surely unique in human history — that
T he above outpouring is by Emma
Rice, artistic director of Shakespeare’s
Globe. It is less than 50 per cent of her
one other politician — complaining to he has attended every Liberal annual programme notes on a new play at the
Amber Rudd about a misleading leak conference since 1953: these shows have Globe — part of her ‘Summer of Love’
of immigration figures. Is it credible that taken up a year of his life. He told me that season — called Boudica, which she only
Jeremy Corbyn or John McDonnell or he spoke at the first one he attended, in mentions in her final paragraph. In dusty,
numerous Remainers have brandished Llandudno, in favour of what was then desperate, gasping Shakespeare’s original,
no figures which do not add up? As referred to as the Schuman Plan, the the line Rice loves him for is not actually
Treasury private secretary to Mrs embryo of what is now the European a question. It is Hamlet’s exclamation.
Thatcher (and a very helpful witness for Union. It is sad for him that Britain will Luckily, she won’t spend much longer
me in my biography of her), Sir David leave the EU more than 65 years later. shouting it half-comprehendingly into
had painful experience in the ‘shadowing No doubt my euroscepticism is partly the Thames breeze, because the Globe’s
the Deutschmark’ saga of how hard attributable to delayed teenage rebellion, board realised their mistake in appointing
it is to disentangle the economic and but the funny thing is that my father and someone who knew Shakespeare so little.
statistical aspects of the European I have extremely similar views about the She leaves the job in the spring. The search
issue from its politics, so it should give importance of European civilisation: we for novelty in the arts, from which she
him pause. The schoolmasterly role of just disagree about how best to uphold it. It benefited, is undoubtedly necessary, but
UKSA is part of a bad trend in modern was touching that the audience recognised it does often produce what Dr Johnson
governance which sets officials in his integrity and commitment. What nice (speaking, in fact, of Cymbeline) called
judgment over our elected rulers. The people — quite unsuitable for politics. ‘unresisting imbecility’.

the spectator | 23 september 2017 | 11

Brexit wars
The Tories’ latest titanic battle over Europe

he time for choosing is fast approach- about the ‘end state’ that it indicated. No losing the internal argument. By contrast,
ing for Theresa May. Soon she must one in the cabinet disputes that Britain must the cabinet ministers pushing for EEA-
make a decision that will define leave the EU single market. Free movement minus (who voted Remain) are upbeat.
her premiership and her country’s future. of people — the price of single market mem- One predicts: ‘That’s where we’ll end up.
The past few days have shown how hard, bership — is out of the question after the Not in but very close.’ They believe that civil
if not impossible, it will be for her to keep Brexit vote. But a close second to single servant Olly Robbins’s move from the Brex-
her entire cabinet on board with whatever market membership is being proposed. This it department to No. 10 should help secure
EU deal she signs. It is imperative that she would involve Britain ending free move- that shift. One senior Brexit department
now picks what kind of Brexit she wants. ment, but doing everything else it can to stay figure tells me: ‘Olly Robbins and Treas-
But doing so will risk alienating — or even in regulatory alignment with the EU’s inter- ury civil servants are in favour of EEA-lite’.
losing — various cabinet members. She has nal market: what one cabinet minister calls That’s why those pushing for this course are
been trying to blur the lines for months, EEA-minus (meaning European Economic so delighted that Robbins is working for
but as one of those closely involved in this Area). Britain would have something close May. They believe his presence, and his close
drama warns: ‘She can’t fudge this forev- to internal market membership on condition relationship with the Prime Minister (they
er.’ Another participant in the struggle says: that it would not diverge from the EU on an worked together at the Home Office), will
‘She’s got to decide who she wants sitting issue without prior agreement. help steer her down this path.
round the cabinet table.’ To Brexiteers inside government, this The EEA-minus crowd hope that the
Mrs May had planned to reveal the removes one of the main points of leaving: Florence speech will advance their agenda.
next part of her Brexit plan in her speech the chance to chart a different course on One says this is a ‘crunch week’. They believe
in Florence, but the political tussle started issues such as the economy and techno- that if Boris Johnson goes to Florence ‘he’s
long before she left for Italy. We have seen logical and medical research. One laments: dipped his hand in the blood’ and it will be
the Foreign Secretary defying his boss, then impossible for him to resign over Brexit
being attacked by the Home Secretary, More than a year after the referendum — at least with any credibility. But those
while Brexiteer cabinet ministers were the cabinet cannot agree what kind close to the Foreign Secretary believe that
forced to deny that they had agreed to of deal they want with the EU his very public intervention against EEA-
resign en masse. Yet these are merely the minus, in the form of his 4,000-word article
opening skirmishes in the latest battle of the ‘They’ll have us over a barrel for ever more. for the Daily Telegraph a week ago, will have
Tories’ 50-odd-year civil war over Europe. It is the opposite of taking back control.’ helped constrain the Prime Minister. His
The Brexit referendum did not settle this Critics complain that this plan ‘is coming declaration that Britain should not pay for
question; it just redefined it. This battle now from a place of trying to keep everything access to the single market and should enjoy
threatens to be the bloodiest. the same as far as possible’. They fear Brexit ‘regulatory freedom’ after Brexit, is seen by
The cabinet is split between those who might not mean Brexit after all. his allies as making it ‘harder for him... but
want to stay as close as possible to the EU But the EEA-minus crowd — led by it also makes it harder for her to go as far as
single market, copying regulations and Chancellor Philip Hammond and Cabinet Hammond wants’.
transposing European Court judgments Secretary Jeremy Heywood (one thing that Boris had become fed up at being cut out
where necessary, and those who want to Brexit should explode is the myth that the of the picture: not invited to key meetings
chart a more independent course and go for civil service are impartial actors) — are and not allowed to use his talents properly.
a free-trade agreement with the EU based the ones with their tails up. Talking to keen The last straw was what one source close to
on the one recently struck by Canada. A Brexiteers in the past few days I have sensed him describes as a ‘sneak attack’ while he
basic (and reasonable) question hangs in the an immense nervousness about where things was out of the country earlier this month.
air: what does Britain want? Yet the govern- are going. There is a general feeling that they On Monday 11 September, No. 10 emailed
ment has managed three rounds of Brexit are being successfully cast as zealots and are various cabinet ministers asking them to
talks with the EU without saying which is its hold a time two days later for a meeting with
preferred option. the Prime Minister without saying what the
This is not a clever negotiating tactic meeting was about. The Foreign Office said
borne out of a desire to keep Brussels guess- Boris would not attend, as he would be in
ing. Rather, it is a consequence of the gov- the Caribbean inspecting hurricane dam-
ernment not knowing the answer. It might age. Then No.10 said the meeting was about
seem remarkable, incredible even, that more Brexit. But still no indication was given
than a year after the referendum and almost about its crucial importance.
six months after Article 50 was triggered, the Michael Gove was invited. But, as No.10
cabinet cannot agree. But it is true. Barely would have known, he is much more relaxed
a week ago a ministerial meeting about the about the terms of transition than the For-
Florence speech broke up without agree- eign Secretary. Unlike Boris, he’s been
ment because Michael Gove had concerns comfortable for a while about making mem-
12 the spectator | 23 september 2017 |
ber-state-sized budget contributions to the
EU during this period. Why? Because he is
sceptical of the civil service’s ability to get
the bureaucracy ready for leaving in March
2019, and so doesn’t regard a two-year
transition as a particularly bad thing.
To Boris, the cash matters. He was furi-
ous when he was briefed on the plans for the
Florence speech, as he remains determined
to honour his pledge to ‘take back control’ of
£350 million a week. If the UK pays into the
EU as normal during any transition, there
will be no extra cash available for the NHS, or
any other public service. This would severely
hamper any Johnson leadership bid when
May steps down. His opponents would say:
we’ve left the EU, Boris, where’s the money?
This is a particularly sensitive point for
Boris because ever since the referendum
his internal critics have been warning Tory
MPs that the £350 million line is the equiva-
lent of Nick Clegg’s tuition fees pledge: an
unforgivable act of perfidy in the eyes of the
public. As one of those who will be involved
in any Johnson leadership bid says: ‘He
needs to detoxify himself with that money.’
When Boris was told he couldn’t deliver a
speech ahead of May’s visit to Florence, he
went public — and repeated the £350 mil-
lion figure. He pointedly made no reference
to transition, and suggested that the money
the UK sends to the EU would come back
straight after Brexit.
In recent days, he has calmed down. I’m May has three problems. She is sincere petence, complacency — or a more cynical
told he could ‘live with the transition’ but in her desire for a deal that respects the ref- desire to rule out this option out by stealth.
as long as the Prime Minister makes clear erendum result, so a lot of energy will be Then we come to the third issue: one that
that it will be followed by ‘a complete, clean focused on trying to persuade her that an the British Brexit debate too often forgets:
EEA-minus deal fulfils this function. Its there is another side in this negotiation.
Boris had become fed up at being advocates argue that it does so because free Even if May is persuaded to hug Europe
cut out: not invited to key meetings movement would end. Dissenters say — close, the EU may have other ideas. One fig-
with some justification — that it does not, ure who has the ear of Davis at the Depart-
and not allowed to use his talents because this country would not be ‘taking ment for Exiting the European Union says:
back control’ in any meaningful sense. ‘EEA-lite is a non-starter as the EU won’t
break’ with the EU. On this point, Gove The next issue is whether the UK could accept it without free movement’, which the
agrees. He is concerned about any system in walk away without a deal. May famously referendum took off the table. If this is the
which the UK would have to keep mirror- said that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’. case, it will render much of the governmental
ing the single market in the entire economy But there is growing concern in government discussion of the past few weeks irrelevant.
rather than just being EU-export compliant. that preparations for ‘no deal’ are so inade- Europe has destroyed the past three Tory
One friend of Gove’s says that the role quate that the UK couldn’t actually do that. prime ministers. After the referendum, one
of the European Court of Justice is crucial. I understand that civil servants in David figure turfed out with David Cameron said
May has previously said she will not accept Davis’s Department for Exiting the Europe- that at least it would stop the Conservatives
its writ. But what Gove worries about is the an Union have taken to writing emails set- banging on about Europe. Instead, the fight
UK being bound by the ECJ indirectly, and ting out the problems, chiefly to ensure that is intensifying as the endgame approaches.
forced to copy its judgments in some way. their backs are covered should any Chilcot- Whatever deal May agrees will be a com-
ECJ rulings are not always in this country’s style inquiry look into what went wrong. The promise, both within her own party and with
best interests, as Marina Wheeler explains chances of ‘no deal’ may be as low as one the EU itself. To the Remainers, the deal
on page 14. in five. But even that should demand a level won’t be as good as membership, while the
If opposition to some kind of EEA-minus of preparation that is simply not happening. Brexiteers will have to admit that the new
deal is the hill on which Boris chooses to fight, Some even suspect that Sir Jeremy Hey- arrangement does not take back as much
others will back him. One minister stresses wood is relaxed about the lack of planning control as they would like. So, the 50-year
that if May goes down that route it would for a ‘no deal’ scenario because he thinks Tory civil war over Europe continues.
be ‘very dangerous for her’. To date, she has this means the government won’t walk The battleground will be how much
been supported by the 80-odd Tory MPs away without one. One Tory Eurosceptic Britain should diverge from the EU and
who are belong to the European Research complains: ‘We prepared for the millennium chart its own course in the world. This might
Group, which campaigns for a clean Brexit. bug, we stockpile vaccines for bird flu and not turn into the Tories’ own Hundred
But they would turn on her if it looked as all sorts of epidemics. So, why aren’t we pre- Years’ War. But it would be no surprise if it
if Britain would be made to march in lock- paring for “no deal”?’ It is a good question did for another three Tory prime ministers
step with the EU’s regulatory framework. and makes you wonder whether it is incom- before it is finally over and done with.
the spectator | 23 september 2017 | 13
A court’s contempt
munications data was unlawful. It imposed
requirements about accessing data, in
order to safeguard privacy rights under the
Charter. According to the government, if
The ECJ’s quest for ever-more power applied, these would ‘effectively cripple’
the agencies’ bulk data capabilities. The
MARINA WHEELER IPT went further: ‘We are persuaded that if
the Watson requirements do apply to meas-
ures taken to safeguard national security, in
particular the BCD regime, they would frus-
trate them and put the national security of
the United Kingdom, and, it may be, other
Member States, at risk.’
Despite this chilling conclusion, the

he issue of sovereignty has mysteri- nothing to do with it. The Charter of Fun- IPT is prevented by EU law from deciding
ously disappeared from the debate damental Rights, by contrast, is an EU whether the Watson requirements apply and
over Brexit. Some business-focused instrument, enforced mainly by the EU’s whether the Privacy International challenge
commentators even like to assert that in a European Court of Justice (in Luxembourg). succeeds. The case must be sent to the ECJ,
‘global, interconnected world’, sovereignty After testing the evidence in the Privacy and given the ‘supremacy’ of EU law, what-
is meaningless. But a court judgment, deliv- International case, the IPT found that only a ever it rules must stand.
ered earlier this month, perfectly illustrates ‘minuscule proportion’ of the data collected On the day of the IPT judgment, Mr
what is at stake. was ever examined, that the intrusion was Justice Mitting was reported as saying that
The case is about national security. Spe- minimal and that the only people whose the case raised profound political ques-
cifically, it is about the legality of techniques data was accessed were those believed to tions about the role of the EU and the
used to identify and disrupt people intent on pose a security threat. nation state. He is right. This is an aston-
unleashing terror: the kind of terror we have Isn’t that the end of the matter? In any ishing state of affairs. Apart from anything
seen recently in Manchester, Westminster, case, issues of national security are sup- else, the ECJ is ill-equipped to rule on
Borough Market and Parsons Green. posed to lie outside the remit of the Euro- such matters. It is not a human rights court
The technique at issue is the bulk col- pean Court of Justice. Article 4 of the Treaty (unlike the European Court of Human
lection of communications data (BCD). on European Union states that ‘national Rights in Strasbourg). It has no facility to
This data is the ‘who’, ‘where’, ‘when’ and security remains the sole responsibility of handle security-sensitive evidence, unsur-
‘with whom’ of communications, not what each member state’. prisingly, given member states did not
was written or said. It includes, for exam- However, that is not how the European intend it to have a national security role.
ple, information about a subscriber to a Court of Justice (ECJ) has chosen to view it. In due course the ECJ will rule on the
telephone service or an itemised bill. This scope of its own jurisdiction. There is no
is acquired by commercial service provid- Issues of national security are reason to think it will choose to limit its
ers and supplied to the intelligence agencies supposed to lie outside the remit of the reach. On the contrary, it has shown itself
for them to analyse. According to David European Court of Justice to be increasingly willing to thwart the will
Anderson QC, the former Independent of member states. To the dismay of human
Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, the use In a series of recent, poorly reasoned deci- rights groups, it blocked a long-standing
of these powers saves lives. Interrogating sions involving the collection of BCD, the wish that the EU become a signatory to the
such data has enabled terrorists’ intended ECJ has ignored Article 4 as well as pro- ECHR. Why? Because deferring to judg-
targets to be identified swiftly, even where visions in directives to similar effect. It has ments from Strasbourg would impede its
the individuals involved were not already also failed to refer to its own previous judg- own ambitions to become the EU’s premier
under surveillance. ments which recognised public security as human rights court.
Nevertheless, privacy campaigners being outside its remit. In other words, governments of coun-
oppose the collection of BCD, and use the In the latest case, called Watson (as in tries that are signatories to the ECHR are
courts to try to outlaw it. In October 2016, Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour bound by decisions of the European Court
the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) — Party), the ECJ’s Grand Chamber ruled of Human Rights. But the EU decided that
a specialist court set up by the British par- that the indiscriminate collection of com- it stands above any such external check on
liament to scrutinise the activities of the its powers.
intelligence agencies — rejected one such Many people were surprised by the inte-
attempt, ruling that the existing commu- grationist ambitions set out by Jean-Claude
nications data regime complied with the Why wait for Juncker in his State of the Union address.
European Convention on Human Rights This is because they have chosen to look the
(ECHR). But the claimant, Privacy Inter- tomorrow’s other way while power and authority have
national, hasn’t given up. Now, it argues
that BCD must also comply with the Char-
papers? moved ineluctably to the EU’s federal insti-
tutions — away from member states, and
ter of Fundamental Rights. This is the EU’s THE BEST their citizens. Reclaiming sovereignty allows
bespoke human rights instrument from ANALYSIS IS the nation to decide for itself how to balance
which the UK government claimed — ALREADY ON the needs of security with the requirements
wrongly — to have secured an opt-out. THE SPECTATOR’S of privacy and keep its citizens (and visitors)
The existence of two parallel Euro- WEBSITE safe. Co-operating with others to improve
pean human rights charters is confusing. security plainly makes sense. Giving up the
The ECHR, which is enforced by the Europe- To sign up to receive the week’s right to decide does not.
an Court of Human Rights (in Strasbourg), highlights delivered to your inbox each
and since the Human Rights Act, by the Saturday, visit Marina Wheeler is a barrister and member
national courts, predates the EU and has of the Bar Disciplinary Tribunal.
14 the spectator | 23 september 2017 |
Can we be friends?
there can be this picture painted that is so
starkly removed from what I’m seeing in my
constituency.’ She is in politics both to con-
front stereotypes and those who she thinks
Labour MP Laura Pidcock isn’t half as fierce as she seems propagate stereotypes.
But here is the puzzle: Pidcock may be
ISABEL HARDMAN appalled at some ‘nasty party’ Tories who
are relying on stereotypes of the people she
represents. But might she, now, be relying
on a stereotype of a Tory? It isn’t just that
Pidcock doesn’t want to go drinking with
Conservatives. She doesn’t seem to want to
do much drinking (whether coffee or wine)
with anyone. She mentions the importance
of ‘professionalism’ throughout our inter-

ave you heard the one about the always felt compelled to stand up for people view, and ends up admitting that she doesn’t
new Labour MP who refuses to be that were being ribbed because they didn’t really socialise with politicians of any politi-
friends with Tories? When Laura have the best trainers. There were very vis- cal persuasion. ‘I want to reach out more
Pidcock dropped into an interview with a ible signs of poverty in the school that I was because I don’t really socialise much,’ she
left-wing website that she has ‘absolutely no very aware of.’ says. ‘I’m just so insistent on doing a good
intention of being friends with’ any Tories, She’s on the left of her party, but dislikes job and I don’t know if they [her fellow MPs]
she was surprised by the fuss that followed. being described as a ‘Corbynite’, which to are all off having a good time.’
It might have seemed odd to her, but with- her makes Labour sound like a ‘cult of per- She has said already in the chamber that
in Parliament it’s well known that friend- sonality’. But she says she can’t think of she finds the place ‘intimidating’ — and it
ships that cross the divide spring isn’t unusual for a new MP to pitch
up the whole time. Sometimes it’s themselves as standing outside the
personal: Kezia Dugdale, leader of system. But Pidcock doesn’t seem to
the Scottish Labour Party, caused want to enter it at all, save in a pro-
headlines when she started dating fessional capacity. She even believes
a nationalist MSP. But more often, that she and other Labour MPs with
political: to achieve something, MPs strong northern accents, like her col-
from different parties often have to league Angela Rayner, are treat-
work together. ed like ‘exotic creatures’ merely
But the new member for North because of the way they speak, not
West Durham sounds as if she is what they say.
appalled at the whole system. Her Is this just a new MP sounding a
first speech in the House of Com- bit earnest? Perhaps, but normally
mons was a denunciation of it. ‘The newly elected folk like to emphasise
clothes, the language, the obsession the camaraderie in their intake, rath-
with hierarchies, control and domi- er than suggesting, as Pidcock does,
nation, are symbolic of the system that they see each working day in
at large,’ she told her fellow MPs. Parliament as a ‘shift’ and save their
Then she elaborated in her inter- energy and time for their friends at
view, saying she’s ‘not interested in home. It might actually be that Pid-
being cosy’ with the Tories (or ‘the cock’s refusal to be friends with
enemy’), as she’s ‘disgusted at the Tories has as much to do with being a
way they’re running this country ‘swot’ as it does with her discomfort
— it’s visceral’. It was such strong, about their beliefs.
almost hateful language that I felt It will be interesting to see wheth-
a little nervous trotting up to her in er she keeps this up, or whether she
Parliament and asking if she’d like finds drinks and dinners with unlike-
to be interviewed by The Spectator. minded colleagues help her get
The strangest thing about the things done. But my more immedi-
29-year-old is that, in person, there is no anything she really disagrees with him on. ate concern is whether, having had a cof-
trace of the angry tribalist. She’s constant- Before entering Parliament she was a trade fee and an hour’s interview with me, she
ly smiling, giggling quite often, and has a unionist and anti-racism campaigner, work- would want to be my friend. She bursts
warmth to her that is so at odds with her ing on the Show Racism the Red Card cam- out laughing. ‘I’m sure there’s humanity in
public image as to be rather discombobu- paign. She was also a councillor, but lost her you, Isabel,’ she jokes. ‘From what I gather
lating. So what’s going on? Northumberland seat to a Tory a month from you, you are a very genuine person
‘From a very, very young age I was before being elected to Parliament. or I wouldn’t have agreed to do the inter-
taught to see everything through a political Her constituency has the highest rate of view.’ I’m happy to take the compliment,
lens and through a class lens,’ she explains. suicides in the country. She says she often but I don’t think this makes me particularly
She attended anti-Thatcher protests in feels ‘close to tears’ after her surgeries with unusual in Parliament.
her buggy and in her final year of prima- people in crisis, often as a result of govern- Indeed, I wonder whether if Pidcock
ry school she recalls her parents celebrat- ment policies such as benefit cuts and the ends up accidentally having a coffee with
ing Tony Blair’s landslide victory in the rather clunky introduction of universal a real-life Tory MP she might find there’s
1997 election. At secondary school she was credit. ‘I do feel genuinely sick and frus- humanity in them, too. She might even find
known as ‘the political one’ and a ‘swot’. ‘I trated and, yes, angry. But really upset that she wants to be their friend.
16 the spectator | 23 september 2017 |

Poor old Ron and Pen,

just trying to help

ere’s the problem. An Asian bloke for… well… um… I’m not absolutely sure snared by the man who protects and feeds
gets on to the Tube holding a bulg- you are helping, if I’m honest. Your kind- them. They, too, dislike talking about their
ing Lidl bag with wires sticking out ness and good intentions may be unques- plight and the deaths are not mentioned: we
of it. I don’t know if it had the words ‘large tionable. But helping? Really? Ron and Pen must accept our fate, they say. I don’t know
bomb’ written in Magic Marker on the side might well complain later that the number what the Islamic view of rabbits is.
of the bag. Anyway, a little later, it blows of foster children they reared who may have Second, Mr Jones is approaching his
up, and lots of people are injured. Later later gone on to try to bomb the rest of us nineties and his missus is in her seventies.
again, surprise is expressed that he had was only 1 or 2 per cent of the total but it Have they not been taken advantage of by
been able to get through with his primitive would still be too large a proportion for me. the authorities?
bag of tricks. We are continually exhorted I am a bit Trumpish in the number of people ‘Have we got anyone for Ron and Penny
to be vigilant on public transport, so why from Iraq, Syria and Somalia I wish to be let this week? I see a new batch have arrived.’
wasn’t he apprehended? Did nobody think into the country. I have a number in mind, ‘Yeah, give them young Mohammed for
it looked a bit suspicious? I have the feeling a smallish number, and it is one we are told a few months and see how they get on.’
we know the answer to that. Just think of What sort of checks are made before
the howl-round, the furore, if the man had What sort of checks are made before these supposed refugees are farmed out to
been pulled over and it hadn’t been a bomb. these supposed refugees are farmed out the kindly and the gullible? But then, I sup-
Like the Muslim chap who was evicted from to the kindly and the gullible? pose, what checks are made before they are
a flight last year because he had mentioned let into the country in the first place.
9/11 and felt compelled to take legal action. was actually invented by Islamic scholars. And then there is this. The narrative we
And so that’s where we are, right now. When nasty people aver that Islam has given are expected to buy into is that terrorism is
Pinned to our seats by over-sensitivity, as us nothing, they are at least partly right. nothing to do with Islam and, further, that it
the train enters the darkness of the tunnel, Several points occur as a consequence. is a state of mind imposed upon young and
next stop paradise. First, the speed with which the Parsons ‘vulnerable’ Muslim men and women by an
Both of the men so far arrested for last Green bombing dropped down the news outside agency — a foreign agency and an
week’s outrage were the foster children of agenda. At roughly the same time as our little agency which, again, has nothing to do with
two elderly, respectable, caring, decent and bomb, a jihadi went berserk with a hammer Islam. This is the process of ‘radicalisation’
honest mugs, Ronald and Penny Jones, from in Chalon-sur-Saône, France, and attacked we keep hearing about and I have never
Sunbury-on-Thames. According to a neigh- two women. Before this a French policeman bought into it, having a certain respect for
bour, they were gutted to read that their was stabbed trying to arrest three female the concept of free will. And, I would con-
charge may have carried a bomb on to a Muslims, just returned from Syria, who were tend, a rather less generous view of Islam’s
Tube train full of commuters. Better gutted driving with some haste towards Notre- worldwide beneficence and pacific nature
than decapitated, I suppose, or incinerated. Dame, their car full of gas cylinders. Hear than the one we are all enjoined to take.
Apparently Ron and Pen had experienced much about that? We have become a little And yet here we have a young man
a certain amount of trouble with the young like the warren of sleek, cultured, sheltered, taken into the kindly, if somewhat wrinkled,
man suspected of planting the bomb. We liberal rabbits in Watership Down whose bosom of an English couple who, it may
don’t know what sort of trouble. Wandering number reduces each day because they are emerge, still ended up trying to terrorise
around chanting stuff in Arabic? Perhaps people in the name of his weary God. If the
they thought it was just a difficult phase Joneses had been a Muslim family, then the
he was going through, like acne or heavy press and the police would be demanding to
metal. ‘They just need to be loved,’ one of know what they knew of this process of rad-
the Joneses told the press, adding, ‘It’s so icalisation, and what they had done to coun-
rewarding… They are grateful to be safe.’ ter it. But there is nothing to be done. The
Well, indeed, and how spectacularly that religion itself sets its people apart from the
gratitude is expressed. rest and, in all too many cases, this apartness
The couple have housed at least 250 leads to a hatred. Radicalisation is nothing
‘children’ from war-torn countries, i.e. Iraq, to do with it.
Syria, Somalia, the usual suspects. ‘We just
like to be able to help people,’ they said, SPECTATOR.CO.UK/RODLIDDLE
plaintively when they received their MBEs ‘He’s been downgraded to a Category One.’ The argument continues online.
the spectator | 23 september 2017 | 17
Ukraine’s last best hope
Mikheil Saakashvili is a reckless narcissist – but he might just transform the country

ou have to hand it to Mikheil Poroshenko offered Saakashvili the British-Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce,
Saakashvili: the man doesn’t give up. post of governor of the Odessa region. spoke optimistically of Odessa becoming
After a tumultuous nine years as pres- Ukraine is one of the most corrupt ‘one of the richest cities in eastern and cen-
ident of Georgia, which began with a furious countries in the world, tying last year with tral Europe’.
anti-corruption purge, culminated in a short Russia for 131st place out of 176 on Trans- It didn’t happen. In November 2016,
but disastrous war with Russia in 2008 and parency International’s Corruption Percep- Saakashvili and Lortkipanidze resigned
ended with accusations of embezzlement tions Index. And Odessa is the most corrupt their posts, complaining that their efforts to
and authoritarian practices, he is deter- region of Ukraine; in fact, the multi-ethnic kill off Odessa’s crime syndicates had been
mined to return to power — not in his own port city has been famous for its criminality stymied by none other than Poroshenko
country, but in Ukraine. pretty much since its foundation by a half- himself. Fighting dismal approval ratings
Saakashvili is brilliant and divisive. Spanish, half-Irish mercenary-adventurer and an ongoing war against Russian-backed
His many fans, principally drawn from in 1794. Saakashvili swept in on Odessa’s separatists in Eastern Ukraine, Poroshen-
the educated and the young of Georgia crooks like a righteous avenger. In Georgia, ko faced a choice between angering the
and Ukraine, see him as exactly the kind he reformed the crooked traffic police by criminal clans on whose political support
of clear-thinking, fearless leader who can firing every single officer, and he cleaned up he depended and supporting Saakashvi-
sweep away the tangle of cronyism that has corruption in the port of Poti by temporar- li’s house-cleaning campaign. Poroshenko
turned most former Soviet states into klep- ily scrapping customs duties altogether. chose political expediency. Then, in late
tocratic autocracies. To the sceptics, who Saakashvili believed that the same zero- July, Saakashvili — who studied law in Kiev
include the many hundreds of thousands of tolerance tactics would work in Odessa. He
officials he has put out of a job, he’s a reck- appointed Yulia Marushevska, a 27-year-old Saakashvili combines high principle
less risk-taker who provoked Russia into political activist, as director of the mafia-
invading the breakaway Georgian territo- controlled port and installed a high-tech with almost manic personal ambition,
ries of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008. system for tracking all shipments and cus- rashness with ironclad self-belief
They also accuse him of being a relentless toms payments that was publicly accessible,
self-publicist more interested in showboat- in real time, online. Saakashvili also got an and speaks fluent Ukrainian as well as Rus-
ing than actually making things work. old ally from Georgia, Giorgi Lortkipan- sian — was stripped of his Ukrainian citi-
Having spent time with Saakashvili idze, appointed chief of police. He drafted zenship on an obscure technicality while on
(at the presidential palace in Tbilisi during in foreign advisers to help his anti-corrup- a speaking tour in America. That left him
the war, where I scribbled furiously to keep tion effort, including an anti-fraud officer officially stateless.
up with his mile-a-minute conversation from the City of London Police and an offi- Saakashvili could easily have applied for
as he drank red wine with correspondents cial of the EU border agency. Bate Toms, an political asylum in any number of countries:
late into the night, and later in New York, American-born lawyer and chairman of the he has many powerful allies, including Ari-
where he transformed himself into a Wil- zona senator John McCain, who described
liamsburg hipster during a brief post-presi- him as ‘my great young Georgian friend’ in
dential retirement), I have come to believe a presidential foreign-policy debate against
that both sides are right. Saakashvili com- Barack Obama in 2008. Instead he chose
bines high principle with almost manic to crash right back into Ukrainian poli-
personal ambition, rashness with ironclad tics — quite literally. Earlier this month
self-belief. It makes him both one of the Saakashvili, accompanied by several hun-
most inspiring and flawed political figures dred supporters, a handful of European
of modern times. parliamentarians and Ukrainian politicians,
Saakashvili stepped down as President attempted to cross the Polish-Ukrainian
of Georgia in 2013, his once-popular party frontier by train. Poroshenko mobilised a
destroyed in the polls. The regime which large force of border guards to stop him.
succeeded him, in classic post-Soviet fash- Abandoning the train, the Saakashvili party
ion, brought a slew of embezzlement and boarded buses and tried another crossing,
abuse-of-office charges against Saakash- which they were told was closed because
vili, and stripped him of his Georgian cit- of a bomb threat. Undeterred, they head-
izenship. But in 2015 his political career ed for a third border control point, where
was re-launched when Ukrainian Presi- around 100 supporters formed a flying
dent (and chocolate billionaire) Petro wedge with Saakashvili at its centre and
18 the spectator | 23 september 2017 |
charged through a cordon of Ukrainian riot role in Poroshenko’s decision to exile his
police. Later than evening he was address- turbulent rival. Saakashvili has now vowed
ing cheering crowds outside the Mayor’s to stand against Poroshenko in the next
office in Lviv. presidential election.
Saakashvili claims, with some justice, Much more is at stake than just Saakash-
that the cancellation of his citizenship was vili’s political career and freedom. The
illegal and that he plans to challenge it in whole vector of the West’s foreign policy
court, as is his right as a Ukrainian. But towards the former Soviet Union, including
he is also running a massive risk. Geor- Russia, since the end of the Cold War has
gian courts have requested his extradition been to encourage the rule of law, democ-
(Saakashvili, again with strong justification, racy and free speech, on the promise that
has dismissed the abuse-of-office charges as reform will lead to prosperity. Two popular
politically motivated). Though the Ukrain- ‘Let’s call him Brexit.’ revolutions in Ukraine and one in Geor-
ian prosecutor-general has said that he will gia (the Orange and Maidan revolutions in
not prosecute for the illegal border crossing, lin-connected individuals and companies as 2004 and 2014, and the Rose revolution in
Saakashvili’s liberty is now at the mercy of punishment for their ongoing support for 2003) have seen people angrily rise up to
local party politics. separatists in Eastern Ukraine. Poroshenko depose corrupt Moscow-backed regimes in
The question is whether Poroshenko also asked Trump to send weapons to fight favour of supposedly clean, pro-European,
has the cojones to risk making Saakashvi- what he calls the ‘Russian occupiers’, some- pro-Nato governments.
li a martyr — and himself an internation- thing the US has hitherto shied away from. The hopes of all three revolutions,
al pariah. Poroshenko desperately needs Both efforts would be seriously complicat- thanks in part to Russian interference,
economic support from the European ed by throwing Saakashvili in jail. military and otherwise, have collapsed in
Union and the International Monetary But the more profound conundrum is ignominious failure and corrupt business-
Fund, both of which have already balked whether Saakashvili, with his flamboyant as-usual. If there’s to be any hope that post-
at Kiev’s dismal failure to tackle corrup- and confrontational style, can actually suc- Soviet nations can, in the pungent Russian
tion. Imprisoning Saakashvili, the long- ceed in his crusade to transform Ukraine phrase, finally ‘live like people’, then feisty
time darling of the West, would destroy from a dysfunctional mafia state into a reformers like Saakashvili have to succeed.
the last vestiges of Poroshenko’s credibil- prosperous European country. In June, A reckless egomaniac he may be, but he’s
ity. He also needs support from the US. In Saakashvili founded a political party based the closest there is to someone who’s on
July, Poroshenko travelled to Washington to on anti-corruption, and though its ratings the side of the angels in a corner of Europe
ask Donald Trump personally to maintain remain tiny, the new political movement is beset with ultra-nationalism, kleptocracy
pressure on Russia by sanctioning Krem- generally thought to have played a major and Russian aggression.

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the spectator | 23 september 2017 | 19

Henry Blofeld

T his retiring is a hectic business. When

I said in June that it was going to
be my last year with Test Match Special,
for BBC television. Alongside him was
the formidable Jim Swanton of the Daily
Telegraph, a figure who would have made
Brewer, who actually supervised my
performance, told me that Dickie Bird
had also intended to do this and had to
it never occurred to me that I would Bismarck look to his laurels. When this be restrained. The members gathered in
have to do much more than float quietly huge chimney suddenly started to belch force below the balcony of the Bowlers’
into the sunset. Yet I suddenly became smoke, Fingleton said immediately, ‘I see Bar where the bell hangs. When the
a much greater object of interest than Jim Swanton’s been elected pope.’ moment arrived, I gave it six deafening
I had managed to be in my previous 46 clangs. What fun it was.
years behind the microphone. In no time
at all, I found myself sitting on Andrew
Marr’s sofa, before shifting to Piers
D uring the Lord’s Test against South
Africa I was asked to ring the five-
minute bell before the start on the I was also selected to commentate on
the second Test against South Africa
Morgan’s boudoir for Good Morning Saturday. This privilege is normally at Trent Bridge, a special joy for me
Britain. And on it went. I flitted from reserved for former Test players so I as it is my favourite Test ground. I
studio to studio and on the journeys in was greatly honoured. Michael Vaughan played there in a first-class match in
between I was bombarded with calls appointed himself my main advisor. He 1959 when that great Australian all-
from local radio stations as far apart as assured me that, when holding the bell, rounder Keith Miller turned out for
Radio Cornwall and Radio Norfolk. the two-handed interlocking grip was the Nottinghamshire against Cambridge
way forward. He also suggested, somewhat University in one of his last games, and

O n one such journey, a remarkable

coincidence occurred. The evening
before, my wife Valeria and I had talked
mischievously, that as it was the five-
minute bell, I should clang away for the full
five minutes. The MCC secretary Derek
made a hundred. My main thrill this
time came on the first day. I was taken
during the lunch interval to a bus stop in
for a long time about TMS and all the the neighbouring Loughborough Road
adventures I have had. I remarked that where I launched a new gleaming green
one sadness was never establishing Number 6 bus with ‘Henry Blofeld
any contact with Howard Marshall, OBE’ painted on the front of the
who pioneered cricket commentary bonnet. Nottingham City Council was
before the war. In a wonderful voice, his thanking me for all my years of spotting


commentary on Len Hutton making 364 its buses at Trent Bridge. I wonder what
at the Oval against Australia in 1938 was Robin Hood would have made of it.
highly recognisable as the start of what AN EVENING WITH
we do in the commentary box today.
Marshall himself was dead and I never
made contact even with someone who
HENRY BLOFELD A nd so to my final Test at Lord’s,
where for three days the full-house
crowds were so encouraging it felt more
knew him. My agent Ralph Brünjes 19TH OCTOBER 2017 than faintly surreal. On the third and
and I were snarled up in traffic on the EMMANUEL CENTRE, final day my last spell of commentary
Embankment by Chelsea Old Church WESTMINSTER passed off smoothly enough. When
when he received a message from his I finally handed over to Ed Smith,
office. Apparently a lady who was a there was only a mild skirmish when
relation of Marshall’s wanted to speak to my headphones became inextricably
me. We arranged to meet. She said that entangled with my binoculars. At the
when Marshall died she had inherited a end, I walked all the way round the
number of his things, including a picture ground between the boundary rope
he had painted of the tavern side of and the stands and the full house crowd
Lord’s from the top deck of the pavilion. stood and cheered me to the echo. It
She wanted to give it to me. was wonderful, but I have to say I found
it slightly embarrassing. It was all so

S he and her husband brought it

round to our house. It is charming,
with that tall black chimney still in
staggeringly unbelievable. Then Joe
Root, the England captain, asked me up
to the dressing room for a glass or two
place far back on the other side of of champagne and presented me with
St John’s Wood Road. Seeing that a shirt signed by the England players. I
chimney always reminds me of when the also spotted Alastair Cook holding his
Australians were playing a Test match BOOK TICKETS NOW one-year-old daughter with scarcely a
at Lord’s in the 1950s, and the mildly fumble and much more certainty than
irascible former Australian opening he had held any recent catch at first slip.
batsman Jack Fingleton was working 020 7961 0044 She is a brave young lady. What a day.

20 the spectator | 23 september 2017 |


At this rate, we’ll have to rename New York

rowing up in Raleigh, North Caro- section perhaps soon to be called something never reading the inscriptions — and the
lina, I took the monuments around other than ‘Columbus Circle’. In the past few older the statuary, the more oblivious the
the state capitol for granted. The weeks, a smaller Columbus statue has been public. They’ve no idea who’s up on that
first Confederate soldier killed in the Civil defaced with red paint; another Central Park pedestal, and they don’t care; at best, little
War, Henry Lawson Wyatt, has leaned into statue, of a renowned gynaecologist who girls fancy the horses. (Don’t imagine that I
the wind on those grounds for 100 years. experimented on slaves, was also vandalised. recalled those two bronzes around Raleigh’s
Atop a pedestal inscribed, ‘To North Caro- Columbus cost indigenous peoples dear. capitol. I had to look them up.) The only
lina women of the Confederacy’, a mother Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. As Oxford folks I see study big dated statues are bored
in billowing skirts reads to her young boy, University was recently reminded, Cecil foreign tourists. Consequently, the terrible
his hand on his scabbard. Only in adulthood Rhodes was an imperialist. Prior to 1960 injury these tributes ostensibly cause a range
have I done a double take. I was raised in a or so, every celebrated man in the Western of minorities feels manufactured.
slightly weird place. world would probably qualify in today’s Thus, while I’m happy for statuary to
In an era of fungible Walmarts, regional terms as a ‘misogynist’ (a strong word thrown be ‘recontextualised’ with a contemporary
distinction in the US is hard to come by, and around with well too much abandon). slant on subjects that can’t pass today’s puri-
I treasure Raleigh’s funk factor. Yet I didn’t We now require those we admire for ty test, the real effect would be negligible.
grow up around folks who wished the South particular achievements to be blameless in No one to speak of would read the plaques.
had won the Civil War and wanted to bring every respect, while the very definition of In contrast to the spontaneous, celebra-
back slavery. For much of my lifetime (OK, blamelessness, ever more strict, is a mov- tive destruction of homages to Stalin or
NC isn’t in a salutary political place in Trump ing target. Applying today’s demanding Saddam in the heat of overthrow, this drive
World), cities like Raleigh have had better standards of rectitude to previous genera- to politically decontaminate public memori-
race relations than many Northern ones. tions — requiring all past notables to have als is a cool power contest. The social justice
Up against the movement to cleanse the brigade is muscle-flexing. Yet their right-
American South of Civil War tributes, aes- We require those we admire to be eous efforts will have little palpable effect
thetic attachment to regional oddity consti- blameless, while the very definition of on people’s lives. Perhaps the most expedi-
tutes a weak argument. I’ll make it anyway. blamelessness is a moving target ent solution is to ‘recontextualise’ what a
These sculptures are curious, interesting, monument is: a three-dimensional record of
specific to one part of the country and often embraced racial equality, feminism, disabil- what and whom some predecessors wanted
better crafted than anything that would ity rights, anti-colonialism, non-smoking and to remember at the time it was erected, rath-
replace them. Some are defiant; many oth- gender fluidity — means pulling down virtu- er than a lauding in the present of absolutely
ers have a mournful cast. They are sobering ally every statue standing. Named after the everything these figures ever said and did.
reminders of a dreadful juncture in Ameri- Duke of York, involved in the slave trade, Symbolism is important, but purely sym-
can history, and you have to remember a war New York could be in for rebranding. bolic gains belong low down the list of vital
even to regret it. Junking all these memorials This campaign is potentially limitless, not social reforms, when in the US, blacks’ medi-
off in some cluttered museum would result to mention anti-historical. More, any drive an income is half that of Asians and two-
in an ineffable atmospheric loss for my com- for ideological purity is flat-out creepy. thirds that of whites. Take a jackhammer
plicated home town. Can we have a little more ‘Let he who is to Jefferson’s visage on Mount Rushmore
Yet post-Charlottesville, any reflec- without sin cast the first stone’? This ram- and what have you got? Gesture without
tive discussion of the fate of these relics is page against any regard for ancestors who substance. Do American progressives real-
regarded overnight as over. Mysteriously, didn’t tick every modern political box has a ly want to confront, ‘Never mind that we let
after one unfortunate woman was murdered totalitarian texture, and would leave Ameri- cops shoot whomever they like and never
by a single right-wing malefactor with a driv- cans a sterile public environment with only serve a day in jail, because we chucked that
ing licence, it’s a given that every Confeder- statues of Eleanor Roosevelt and Harriet bronze of Robert E. Lee that you’d never
ate monument must come down. Dissension, Tubman — until, that is, some eager bea- even noticed before’?
even ambivalence (like mine), means you’re ver unearths, say, their insensitive remarks Bulldozing statuary long part of a local
a white supremacist. about cross-dressers. landscape is gratuitously divisive (people do
Predictably, the push to politically sani- Aside from contributing to a general notice memorials when you smash them).
tise public spaces isn’t stopping at Civil War ambience — a sense of something having We’ll have too little to show for these scuf-
monuments. In New York City, a mayoral happened once, of someone having done, fles once the dust settles. Neither the UK
commission will examine what iconography you know, whatever — most public statuary nor the US needs more discord. This short-
might get the axe. Under consideration for functions as outdoor furniture. It’s decora- of-monumental matter is an elective con-
removal is the statue of Christopher Colum- tive. With signal exceptions (DC’s Vietnam flict. Amid the Trump/Brexit turmoil, this is
bus towering over 59th Street, at an inter- memorial), most people ignore monuments, a time to pick battles with care.
the spectator | 23 september 2017 | 21
Crime and prejudice
Roll up, roll up Beware of jumping to conclusions about Brexit-induced violence
Party conferences this year revolve around ROSS CLARK
the familiar settings of Bournemouth,
Brighton and Manchester. But one party
used to be more adventurous.
— For its first conference in 1981 the newly
formed Social Democratic Party (SDP)
opted to have a rolling conference with
meetings in Perth, Bradford and London,
with the entourage travelling between
them (to quote the Conservative Research
Department) ‘rather like Trotsky in his

armoured train’. othing spoke of the fractious seemed to be a far less pleasant place.
— The following year the train rolled atmosphere in the aftermath of The idea of anti-Polish murder in post-
between Cardiff, Derby and Great the Brexit referendum more than Brexit Britain was understandably shock-
Yarmouth, but broke down between the death of 40-year-old Arek Jozwik in a ing. But what was the evidence for it?
Peterborough and Ely on the last leg. shopping centre in Harlow, Essex in August Crimes take time to investigate, the truth
— The travelling conference was then 2016. What might, on any other weekend, takes months to come out. When the answer
abandoned, but during its last assembly
have been passed over as just another came in Chelmsford crown court last week,
as a major party in 1989, leader David
grubby Saturday-night incident on Britain’s there was far less media interest. Given the
Owen gave his speech on the seafront at
Scarborough due to a bomb scare. drunken high streets became elevated into prominence of the story, it’s worth setting
a symptom of Brexit-induced racial hatred. the record straight.
Euro millions James O’Brien, an LBC radio talk-show The killer, a 16-year-old, was sentenced
host, declared that certain Eurosceptics had to three years’ detention for manslaugh-
How much do we send to the EU per week? ‘blood on their hands’ as did ‘anybody who ter. The court ruled he threw a punch which
£350 million gross contribution excluding has suggested speaking Polish in a public caused Jozwik to fall to the ground and sus-
rebate (due to rise to £375 million by 2019). place is in any way undesirable’. This was tain fatal head injuries. Rightly, his violence
£235 m gross contribution minus rebate. the premise of almost all reporting on the has been punished, but was it an unprovoked
£155 m gross contribution minus rebate story: a man seemed to have been murdered hate crime? It emerged from the case that
and EU funding of UK public projects. for being Polish. there was a racial element to the incident
£106 m gross contribution minus all EU Viewers of BBC1’s News at Six were
money spent in UK, such as farm payments.
told, ‘the fear is that this was a frenzied rac- James O’Brien, a host on LBC radio,
Last orders ist attack triggered by the Brexit referen- declared that certain Eurosceptics
dum’. The story was taken up by the world’s
media with the New York Times writing had ‘blood on their hands’
Wayne Rooney was banned from driving
for two years, fined £170 and given 100 that Jozwik ‘was repeatedly pummelled and
hours of community service for drink- kicked by a group of boys and girls’ because, — although the racism was not aimed at Mr
driving. In addition to disqualification, how according to his brother, he had ‘been over- Jozwik. On the contrary, the court heard it
are drink-drivers punished? heard speaking Polish outside a takeout was Mr Jozwik and his friends who made
— In 2015 there were 37,578 convictions, pizza restaurant’. Razem, a left-wing Polish racist comments against the then 15-year-
30,357 of them male and 7,007 female. This party, released a statement saying ‘the rac- old and those he was with. As the defence
compared with 72,127 a decade earlier. ist and xenophobic attitudes are reaping an counsel put it: ‘They made racist remarks to
Fines ...................................................... 76% increasingly horrid harvest.’ In Harlow, resi- the youngsters, then invited violence from
Community orders............................... 16% dents held a candlelit vigil to protest against them, and they were considerably bigger
Suspended sentence ............................... 3%
what was explained to them as a wave of and stronger than the young people.’
Immediate custody ................................. 2%
Conditional discharge ........................ 0.5%
hate. To people at home and abroad, Britain The tragic death of Mr Jozwik brings
Absolute discharge ............................. 0.2% shame on Britain for conditions in town cen-
Source: tres late at night. But what evidence of a link
to Brexit? None at all. Drunkenness and
Melting point violence have been a problem for decades.
So what about the great surge in hate
The final surviving snow patch from last crime that was reported after the Brexit
winter in the Scottish Highlands was vote, of which the death of Mr Jozwik was
reported to be on the point of melting — said to have been part? In October last year,
for only the sixth time in 300 years. How the Home Office reported a spike in report-
many snow patches have survived from ed hate crimes in the July — 5,468 of them,
winter to winter in recent years? a 41 per cent increase on the same month
2011-12 ....................................................... 2
in 2015. Quoted in a Guardian article which
2012-13 ....................................................... 6
2013-14 ........................................................ 6
carried a photograph of Mr Jozwik, David
2014-15 .................................................... 21 Issac, chairman of the Equality and Human
2015-16 ..................................................... 74 Rights Commission, declared that the fig-
2016-17 ....................................................... 7 ures ‘make it very clear that some people
Source: Scottish Snow Patch Survey ‘This area’s popular with people who go used the referendum result to justify their
on to develop special dietary requirements.’ deplorable views and promote intolerance
22 the spectator | 23 september 2017 |
and hatred’. Maybe; but then again maybe abusive graffiti which appeared on a Polish
not. The figures have to be considered in the cultural centre in Hammersmith. This pro-
context of rising reports of ‘hate crime’ since duced understandable horror and a local MP,
it was first introduced as a category of crime Greg Hands, underlined that Poles are wel-
five years ago. In 2013/14 there were 44,577 come. Only later did it emerge that the graf-
hate crimes, followed by 52,465 in 2014/15 fiti read ‘Fuck you OMP’ — OMP being a
and 62,518 in 2015/16. Interestingly, the fig- Polish centre-right think-tank which had
ures have spiked in July each year, perhaps backed Brexit.
as people take advantage of long evenings The Jozwik case provides a salutary les-
to spend more time on the street. If Britons son for anyone who is tempted to jump to
have been becoming more hateful over the conclusions about crimes before the full
past few years it is a trend which began long facts are known. Such reactions are them-
before the EU referendum. ‘We need you to lead the selves a form of prejudice, which in this case
An alternative explanation is that there Brexit negotiations.’ has been committed by people who consid-
has been an increase in reporting of this ered themselves to be standing up against
type of crime owing to the publicity given on — mere perception is enough. When you prejudice. Racism and xenophobia should
consider that an Oxford physicist last year never be tolerated, and it is good that great-
The idea of anti-Polish murder was tried to report the Home Secretary’s speech er efforts are being made to stamp them out
at the Conservative party conference as than in the past. We should rightfully feel
understandably shocking. But a hate crime, you see the problem. In the ashamed that Mr Jozwik met his death here
what was the evidence for it? event, the police recorded Amber Rudd’s and ask what is it that makes our town cen-
speech as a hate ‘incident’ but decided it tres at night such breeding grounds for vio-
to it, aided by the somewhat loose offi- wasn’t a crime. lence and aggression.
cial definition: ‘any criminal offence which Mr Jozwik’s death was not the only But the idea that the referendum
is perceived, by the victim or any other reported post-Brexit ‘hate crime’ which unleashed a frenzy of violence against
person, to be motivated by hostility or turned out to be nothing of the sort. Among foreigners culminating in the murder of
prejudice towards someone based on a per- other high-profile incidents, the window Arek Jozwik — something which caused a
sonal characteristic.’ of a Spanish restaurant was broken in Lew- lot of soul-searching among Leave as well
In other words, for a ‘hate crime’ to be isham — recorded on that trusty record as Remain voters at the time — has turned
recorded no one has to prove that a crime of crime, Facebook, as a result of Brexit- out not to be true. On that point, people on
was motivated by hate on the grounds of induced hate but later treated by police both sides of the Brexit divide should surely
race, nationality, sexual orientation or so as a burglary. Then there was the be relieved.

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the spectator | 23 september 2017 | 23


Accept this as the new normal? Never

ot long after the Parsons Green of that presumably staged but iconic sec- side down, apparently because it’s not how
Tube bombing, another of those ond world war photo of the jolly milkman British people should behave. It goes: ‘We
viral, defiant-in-the-face-of-ter- doing his rounds in the rubble of the Blitz — stood up to the Nazis during the Blitz. We
ror cartoons started doing the rounds. It as part of its now familiar, life-goes-on-as- stood up to the IRA. Now we’re responding
was quite witty — a section of Tube map, normal response to every terror event. with the same sangfroid and stiff upper lip to
redrawn in the shape of a hand giving those ‘No, we’re not bovvered,’ the doughty all this bothersome, but perfectly manage-
pesky terrorists the middle finger. But it commuters all insisted — those the BBC able nonsense from Johnny Muslim.’
wasn’t remotely funny. In order for humour felt worthy of quoting, at any rate. But What’s odd is that the people who most
to work it has to spark a feeling of amused frankly, what other option do they have? commonly express this point of view are the
recognition. This did the opposite. It said We can’t all be like Marco Pierre White Jr, kind of people — BBC journalists, celebri-
something that all but the most deluded the son of the celebrity chef, who tweeted: ties, Guardian columnists, lefty students —
among us know to be a complete lie. ‘Parsons Green Tube station this morning who would hitherto have felt embarrassed
The lie is that when a terrorist bomb was targeted by terrorists, this is why I don’t by such jingoism. There has been a weird
fails to detonate properly and injures ‘only’ take the tube #theRichDontDie.’ Tasteless inversion where robust, right-wing Church-
a dozen or so people, rather than killing it may have been, which is why he apolo- illian types who think something must be
scores, this constitutes some kind of moral done have been cast as lily-livered surrender
victory; that Londoners — indeed Britons The longer this ‘Keep buggering on monkeys, while the progressive appeasers
generally — now accept such incidents as and it’ll go away’ narrative persists, the portray themselves as indomitable heroes.
‘part and parcel of living in the big city’; that It’s canny politics and an excellent way
our mood is not one of fear, helplessness longer MPs can delay doing anything for open-borders, SJW types to goad Katie
and apprehension but of cheery optimism Hopkins and Tommy Robinson on Twitter.
and determination not to have our lifestyles gised and withdrew it, but it contained more But I don’t think this Keep Calm and Carry
altered in the face of terror. than a grain of truth. On nonsense — which reached peak stupid
Really? Perhaps someone should have Of course we’re going to go on tak- when breakfast TV presenter Phillip Schof-
explained this to the passengers on the Lon- ing public transport, because how else are ield filmed himself walking fearlessly over
don to Birmingham train a couple of days we going to get to work? But that doesn’t Westminster Bridge the day after the attack
after the Parsons Green bomb. The teenage mean we’re not going to squirm involuntar- there — is doing anyone much good. In fact
daughter of some friends was in one car- ily every time someone of Middle Eastern it’s only putting us more gravely at risk.
riage and told me what happened. ‘There appearance gets on with a rucksack or a coat The longer this ‘Keep buggering on and
was a weird beeping noise which no one that looks a bit too bulgy. Nor that we’re not it will all eventually go away’ narrative per-
could explain. Then a funny smell. Everyone going to spend our whole journey feeling sists, the longer our MPs will be able to delay
was looking at each other, like: “What are like cattle on the way to the slaughterhouse. doing anything to address the problem.
we going to do? This is horrible! We’re not In private, people admit this. Rarely Barely four months ago, 22 children and
going to make it home. We’re going to die in public, though, as it contradicts an offi- adults were blown to pieces, and 250 injured,
here now!” Then this man next to me pulled cial narrative that seeks to brand those for the crime of going to an Ariana Grande
the emergency cord and the train stopped.’ who express such qualms as letting the pop concert. In any other era, so appalling
It turned out to be a false alarm. With an incident would be as seared into the pub-
impressive speed, a railway employee lic consciousness as, say, the sinking of the
appeared and assessed that it was safe to Titanic or the immolation of the R101, with
resume the journey. So: not a drama you’re concerted action from politicians of all par-
going to read about it in the papers. But my ties to make sure such a terrible thing never
point is, look at how all those passengers happened again.
reacted; see how quickly their terrified imag- And what has our generation of poli-
inations were triggered by sounds and smells ticians done? Called a few Cobra meet-
(brake fluid, probably) that, not so long ago, ings. Declared the occasional Level 5
they would have accepted as part of the rou- security threat. Claimed emptily that ‘enough
tine rattle, whistle and pong of a typical rail- is enough’. Meanwhile, there are an estimated
way journey. This is the new normal. Yet our 32,000 Muslims eager to commit the next ter-
political class remains in a state of denial. ror atrocity — with another 100,000 prepared
As does the BBC. Just this morning, I heard to give them moral support. When did any of
it vox-popping sundry unflappable District us ever vote for this to be our new normal?
Line commuters — the modern equivalent ‘Who’s going to kick off?’ Isn’t it about time something was done?
24 the spectator | 23 september 2017 |

sector will doubtless encounter high-

Christians betrayed flying second- and third-generationers as
The Taki effect
Sir: Michael Karam’s article (Ya Allah!, colleagues and managers. Sir: Taki does not seem to realise just how
16 September) is timely. Many Westerners Yet why does much of the public sector famous and influential he really is (High
seem to be unaware that there is such a still feel so different? By veering into Life, 16 September). In his column of
person as a Christian Arab (a Christian mental health and crime statistics, Munira 9 September he urged readers to obtain my
who speaks Arabic as their first language), Mirza (Theresa May’s phoney war, 16 book Facing the Persians. It deals, among
yet there are millions. At the time of the September) risks missing the point. While other poems, with the minds of his revered
Crusades, Christians were a majority in the institutions are not necessarily racist (or Spartans at Thermopylae. Within days it
Near East. In 1914 about 25 per cent of the sexist or homophobic for that matter), they had sold out, requiring urgent reprinting,
Near and Middle East was still Christian. are often ossified after years of dominance with requests coming both nationally and
The percentage is now much lower because by narrow cliques disconnected from a worldwide, from Germany to western
events have forced massive Christian fast-changing wider society. If Mrs May’s Canada. Unrecognised indeed!
emigration, especially to North America. race ‘audit’ can begin to tackle this, it will Ian Olson
The serious consequences of this achieve something worthwhile. Aberdeen
ignorance were not only felt by the Sanjoy Sen
Christian Iraqi removed from a flight Aberdeen
after another passenger heard him
A fat lot of good
speaking Arabic. The West’s ill-thought- Sir: I write to disagree with Theo White’s
out interventions in the Arab and wider
Data Roman proposal that government should interfere
Muslim world have had dire repercussions Sir: Every week I turn to ‘Ancient and in any way with people’s choice of food
for the Christians of the region, who have Modern’ in the hope that the Roman (Letters, 16 September). In 1979, a report
become targets of Muslim revenge. soldier who heads the column will have came out which suggested that we should
It was clear to me at the time of George been issued with a smartphone. He will cut down on sugar, cut down on salt, cut
W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq that President never conquer the barbarians with such down on saturated fat, and increase fibre in
Bush and Blair had no idea that there outdated technology. Perhaps Peter Jones our diets. Professor John Yudkin also wrote
was a Christian community in Iraq, nor could put a word in Caesar’s ear? a book, Sweet, White and Deadly, which set
that it would be put in extreme peril Alison Sproston out how bad sugar is for us. It was widely
once the invasion started. Today it has London SE16 publicised, and as a nutritionist I had to
almost disappeared. The final betrayal write a review of it when at university.
has been the inadequate response of the I concluded then as now, that sugar is the
West to the plight of Christian refugees culprit for many of our woes. Our enemy
from Syria, Iraq and elsewhere. In justice is sugar.
they should be given priority as genuine But do I want a sugar tax? No. People
asylum seekers; instead, politically correct have to make their own decisions and take
immigration authorities seem to be responsibility for themselves. Did either of
prioritising Muslims and the Christians are these or any other books and articles make
in danger of being forgotten. a scrap of difference? Not a bit. Despite
Alistair Kerr plenty of research and reports, the public
Louth, Lincolnshire take notice of either what suits them, or
what suits the media. In the case of salt and
fat, subsequent research has shown that all
The Mass in Maltese the hype about cutting down on saturated
Sir: Michael Karam is quite right to point fat and salt was misguided.
out that the Arabic word for God is shared In the case of sugar, Professor Yudkin’s
by all major faiths represented in the book has been swept under the carpet and
Middle East. But one doesn’t have to travel the result is the massive increase in obesity
outside Europe to hear that designation and Type 2 diabetes. Until we get away
used hundreds of times daily, and by non- from lobbyists and fad diets, and start to
Arabs. In very Catholic Malta and Gozo, believe the results of proper research, we
there are more than 1,000 masses a week, will never improve our eating habits.
most in Maltese. As a first-time visitor last Dy Davison
year I was delighted to listen to the familiar Rothbury, Northumberland
forms recited in that fascinating language
and to join with the people saying: ‘[I
believe in] Alla.’ It felt good to do so.
Sovereign territory
Dr Clare Hornsby Sir: Any of the 1,600 inhabitants of
London SW1 Barbuda who take The Spectator will
be surprised to read that it is a British
overseas territory (‘Portrait of the
Out of the race Week’, 16 September). Barbuda, along
Sir: Visitors to any British town centre will with its sister island Antigua, became an
have no trouble spotting all manner of independent country in 1981.
thriving businesses built up by immigrants. Jeremy Stocker
And anyone working in the private Willoughby, Warwickshire
the spectator | 23 september 2017 | 25

A rate rise in November? After years

of dithering, don’t bet on it

t is more than three years since Bank low turnover. Then there’s the looming con- handsomely for the benefit of its looseness
of England governor Mark Carney was sumer debt crisis, which gets worse month with the truth all these years having stam-
accused by Labour MP and Treasury by month so long as disposable incomes peded for the exit.
Select Committee member Pat McFadden fail to keep pace with inflation and credit is This week’s Ryanair news story, howev-
of behaving like ‘an unreliable boyfriend, readily available. Would it be better to prick er, almost certainly isn’t a Ratner moment
one day hot, one day cold’ in his hints about that bubble sooner or later? in the making. The cancellation of 50 flights
forthcoming interest-rate rises. And it’s more The last quarter-point rise in bank rate, per day — 2 per cent of a daily schedule of
than a decade since the last time the offi- in July 2007, was the 35th rate change of the 2,500 low-cost flights — in order to fulfil
cial UK bank rate actually moved upwards: decade that preceded it. In those days, the pilots’ holiday entitlements without spoiling
the only shift since McFadden’s remark has mechanism was well oiled and well under- the airline’s punctuality record, threatens to
been a cut from 0.5 per cent to 0.25 per cent stood by markets — even if hindsight tells leave 250,000 customers uncompensated
in August last year. In fact there’s a palpable us the cheap-money era of the early 2000s and has also wiped £500 million off the air-
sense that the Bank, in common with other laid the foundations for the financial crisis line’s stock market value. But Ryanair boss
central banks, has all but lost the power to that followed. Now, central bankers are not Michael O’Leary built his business on the
deploy interest rates as a monetary tool, hav- so much unreliable boyfriends as petrified principle that passengers can ‘bugger off’ if
ing left them so low for so long. ones in a perpetual dither. The more finely they don’t like it, and says he doesn’t ‘give
So we wait to see whether this week’s balanced and scrutinised their decisions, the a rat’s arse’ about the share price. On that
round of rate-rise signals lead to action at the more potential negatives that might follow basis I suspect he’ll fly through this turbu-
Monetary Policy Committee’s next meet- from a single move, the greater the tempta- lence unscathed, chiefly because passengers
ing on 2 November, or fades into the new tion to do nothing until it’s too late. I’m not on the uncancelled 2,450 daily flights will
year. The flurry began when MPC member betting on a rate rise in November. continue, grudgingly, to admire the cost-
Gertjan Vlieghe, previously labelled as the crushing operational ruthlessness that has
panel’s ‘über dove’, said, ‘We are approach- Those Ratner moments transformed air travel to their benefit, how-
ing the moment when the bank rate may ever rudely they are sometimes treated.
need to rise’ in response to inflation close to I was intrigued to read that Moira Ratner,
3 per cent and ‘a modest rise in wage pres- wife of former chain-store jeweller Gerald, Dangerous automata
sure’. Carney echoed that view in a speech urged her husband not to use the notori-
in Washington, cautiously adding ‘over the ous passage of his speech to the Institute of Likewise, I predict one-click shoppers will
coming months’. Directors at the Royal Albert Hall in April not shun Amazon, despite the revelation by
Their remarks pushed the pound above 1991, in which he joked about earrings in his Channel 4 News that if you use the online
$1.35 (its post-referendum low was $1.20) shops being ‘cheaper than an M&S prawn retailer to buy a combination of household
and to €1.14 from an August low of €1.07 sandwich but [they] probably won’t last as chemicals that could create a homemade
and tourist-rate parity. A stronger pound long’, and about being able to offer a sher- bomb, the algorithm informs you that ‘cus-
is itself anti-inflationary, since it reduces ry decanter at such a low price ‘because tomers who bought this’ also bought anoth-
import prices; and if inflation thereby ticks it’s total crap’. His business promptly shed er lethal component, ball bearings. Like the
down again, the urgency of a rate rise will £500 million in market value and was gone promulgation of jihadist material through
begin to evaporate. Hence the Bank may be by the following year, along with his fortune. Google, Facebook and Twitter, this raises a
trying temporarily to deploy the exchange- The ‘Ratner moment’ entered the lan- whole other debate about the impossibility
rate tool, at the expense of UK exporters, guage of business — and we witnessed a of effective surveillance, and the absence of
in the hope of being able to leave the inter- classic example in Lord (Tim) Bell’s sham- any moral compass within internet automa-
est rate tool in the box. Why? Because there bolic Newsnight interview earlier this ta that grow far beyond human scale.
are also fears — expressed by Carney to month, in which the once-invincible veteran But businesses like these that are highly
the irritation of Brexiteers who still regard of spin tried to declare himself innocent of efficient can, it seems, get away with amoral
him as a mouthpiece of Project Fear — Bell Pottinger’s association with the Gupta and uncaring attitudes because consumers
that Brexit uncertainty is contributing to a family in South Africa while Kirsty Wark still value them for what they offer, espe-
slowing of growth and business investment, read out an internal email from him claim- cially when it’s cheap or free. Only when the
which won’t be helped by higher rates. ing credit for winning the account. The PR wider world has already recognised a brand
Nor will the housing market, which is firm he co-founded went into administration to be a con trick at heart does that Ratner
now in a doldrums of stagnant prices and eight days later, the clients who had paid so moment await.
26 the spectator | 23 september 2017 |
Jane Ridley is amazed that


David Cannadine has
found a new way to view
19th-century Britain
Harry Ritchie hails an
unlikely hero: homo erectus
taught us how to speak
Thomas W. Hodgkinson
says that Alfred the Great
saved our island from a
savage horde, much as
Churchill did
Rory Sutherland admires
the success of the iPhone –
but worries about the
Daisy Dunn learns that the
Scythians attached the
remains of their enemies to
their horses
Laura Gascoigne is dazzled
by the illustrations of a
dodgy German biologist

‘The Falconer’, c.1880, by

Hans Makart
Martin Gayford — p43
the spectator | 23 september 2017 | 27


Britain über alles

The 19th-century belonged to us, according to David Cannadine’s
ambitious new history. Jane Ridley is mesmerised by it

Victorious Century: The United with Europe and with its expanding empire any more), the Whig government under
Kingdom 1800–1906 is integrated into the narrative of domestic Lord Grey bowed to the people and pushed
by David Cannadine politics. This is a global history, a spellbind- through the Great Reform Bill. This was the
Allen Lane, £30, pp. 555 ing account of Britain’s rise and fall as a prelude to a decade of reform, of sustained
great power. legislative engagement with contemporary
David Cannadine was a schoolboy in 1950s Starting the story in 1800 shifts the con- issues, which was something entirely new.
Birmingham, which was still recognisable ventional perspective. The Act of Union It marked the end of the old military-fiscal
as the city that Joseph Chamberlain had with Ireland, as Cannadine points out, was state and the beginning of the so-called age
known. In the 1960s the town planners an expedient forced upon Prime Minister of improvement. Overseas, this was a piv-
demolished much of Victorian Birming- Pitt by the war with France. It seemed the otal decade too. European peace coupled
ham. The bulldozing of 19th-century cit- only way to prevent a rebellion in Ireland with the opening of new markets in China
ies coincided with — and helped to cause or a French invasion. It pleased none of the and Latin America offered unprecedented
— a boom in Victorian history, led by Irish. Nor was the Younger Pitt’s strategy opportunities for trade and investment. The
Asa Briggs. As a postgraduate student at of fighting the French by defeating them UK was more engaged with the world than
Cambridge, Cannadine wrote a thesis on at sea, and financing coalitions of the con- ever before.
Birmingham’s 19th-century aristocratic tinental powers on land, a success. The co- In 1848 the historian Macaulay declared
landowners. Since then, there has been a that the history of England was ‘essentially
torrent of academic research on 19th-cen- As every schoolboy used to know (but the history of physical, of moral and of intel-
tury history, and this has had a ‘deadening now doesn’t), Lord Grey bowed to the lectual improvement’. The Great Exhibition
and dampening effect’. The Victorians have of 1851 was a defining moment, celebrating
gone out of fashion. Historians have migrat- people with the Great Reform Bill Britain’s material progress. But, as Canna-
ed to the rich pastures of the 18th century dine shows — and this is a major theme —
or the newly available archives of the 20th. alitions always broke apart and Napoleon’s for every Macaulayan self-congratulatory
So much has been written about 19th- domination of the land seemed compre- optimist, there was a doom-laden Matthew
century Britain that a new interpretation hensive. Not until Pitt had fallen did Britain Arnold, wracked with doubt and wringing
seems almost impossible. But in this magnif- begin to win. his hands. The backwardness of Britain’s
icent Penguin history, Cannadine pulls it off. The Napoleonic War of 1803–14 was the education by comparison with its Europe-
At first sight the book seems conventional only major conflict in recent history where an neighbours was much bemoaned (as it is
enough. This is a narrative history. It is also Britain had no strong political leader; mere- today), and so was the rise of overseas com-
a political history. As Cannadine explains, ly a succession of mediocre prime ministers. petitors.
the vital feature of 19th-century Britain These included Spencer Percival, the only The most extraordinary part of the story
was the extraordinary importance of Par- British PM to be assassinated, and the sec- was not visible to contemporaries. Indus-
liament. Other countries had parliaments, ond-rate Addington (‘Pitt is to Addington/ trial supremacy gave the United Kingdom
but none were as enduring or as prestigious As London is to Paddington’) — though a global hegemony, which was at its zenith
as Westminster. Cannadine reckons that the latter has been in the 1850s and 1860s, but Britain’s wealth
Most histories of 19th-century Britain much underestimated. The war was a tri- didn’t translate into military might. At
begin in 1815 and end in 1914. Cannadine’s umph for Britain’s military-fiscal state. It home, governments came under constant
account, by contrast, starts in 1800 with was financed by massive borrowing, made pressure to reduce defence spending, and
the Act of Union with Ireland, which cre- possible by a buoyant wartime economy the British army was by far the smallest of
ated the United Kingdom, and ends with and a sophisticated banking system. Mili- all the European great powers. The price of
the Liberal landslide election of 1906; both tary success was enabled by the efficiency of parliamentary government was an empire
dates are landmarks in Britain’s parliamen- the Whitehall bureaucrats, overseeing ships, on a shoestring. It’s a miracle that the Vic-
tary history. But this is not a clichéd text- weapons and supplies. For France, by con- torians managed to hold on to their empire.
book story of the triumph of democracy and trast, the war was an economic disaster. The So how did they do it? One way was by
reform. Nor is it an insular, inward-look- result was that Britain, whose future had devolving power to white settlement col-
ing narrative of Westminster high politics. seemed in the balance in 1800, emerged in onies, many of which were granted self-
There is something else going on here. Can- 1815 as the strongest and richest power in government in the 1850s. The 1857 Indian
nadine begins his history in the middle of the world. Mutiny or Great Rebellion was the most
the Napoleonic Wars with France. Through- The 1830s was the hinge decade. As significant crisis of the 19th-century Brit-
out the book the story of Britain’s relations every schoolboy used to know (but doesn’t ish empire: the stakes ‘were at least as high
28 the spectator | 23 september 2017 |
Bristol ablaze: anger at the Lords’ rejection of the Second Reform Bill sparked riots in Queen’s Square, Bristol, October 1831
(William James Muller)

as they had been at the Battle of Waterloo’, of legislation, though few thought much of the foundations had been in some ways
says Cannadine, and it too was a close-run it at the time: the 1867 Canadian Confed- fragile and fortuitous,’ writes Cannadine,
thing. Afterwards, the Brits economised by eration Act, which welded Canada into a ‘the nineteenth century had “belonged”
ruling India in collaboration with the tradi- vast, land-based nation bordering America, to the United Kingdom more than to any
tional elites. effecting a major geopolitical reorientation. other power, and as it ended there was seri-
The Second Reform Act of 1867 cre- By the 1880s the signs of decline were ous concern, which turned out to be well-
ated an electoral system where ‘the Liber- clear. Britain still accounted for 23 per cent founded, that the twentieth century would
als would need the votes on the margins to of world manufacturing output. But in Ire- “belong” elsewhere.’ Britain’s humiliating
enable them to dominate England, where- land (and to a lesser extent Scotland and performance in the Boer War, when 450,000
as the Conservatives would use their pow- Wales), nationalists were fighting a land imperial troops took three years to subju-
erbase in England to try to dominate the war and the Union was under strain, while gate 60,000 Boer soldiers, rubbed home its
UK’. This, as Cannadine observes, explains Germany and the US were powering ahead failings. There followed an episode of self-
Gladstone’s preoccupation with Ireland, of the British economy. During the second doubt and the abandonment of Britain’s
which was an attempt to buy Irish votes government of the anti-imperial Gladstone, policy of splendid isolation.
and undercut the nationalists by offering Britain occupied Egypt, and gained further This is a thumping great book, and it is
reforms. Gladstone’s attempts to conciliate African territory at the Congress of Berlin, probably destined to become a classic. Can-
Ireland, culminating in his conversion to but this expansion was defensive and pessi- nadine writes long sentences and his para-
Home Rule, failed. Also unsuccessful were mistic. It was soon to lead to imperial over- graphs go on for a page or more, but there is
his attempts to repair the weaknesses of stretch, when the British found themselves something hypnotic and compelling about
the mid-Victorian state with education bills in possession of an empire which, even on his majestic delivery. Extraordinarily for a
and civil-service and military reform. Can- shoestring economics, they couldn’t afford. history book there are no footnotes. Only a
nadine has little time for Disraeli, though Kipling’s ‘Recessional’, written at the historian at the very top of his game can do
he gives his government credit for what in time of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee that and get away with it, and Cannadine
the long run was a truly significant piece in 1897, articulated the mood. ‘Even though succeeds triumphantly.
the spectator | 23 september 2017 | 29

sary actions of a decisive commander-in- val sources, there was little natural about it.
Harsh, but entertaining chief, but in his current naked condition the From the earliest days of the Revolution, she
Patrick Skene Catling naked character of these actions screamed writes, ‘the link between food and power was
at him, like ex-prisoners recognising their something that the Bolsheviks also under-
Dunbar torturer in the street.’ An Aubynesque sim- stood very well… constant shortages made
by Edward St Aubyn ile can brighten a grey passage: ‘A gaudy food supplies a hugely significant political
Hogarth, £16.99, pp. 211 sunset, like a drunken farewell scrawled in tool. Whoever had bread had followers, sol-
lipstick on a mirror.’ diers, loyal friends.’ As early as 1921 Maksim
When millionaires become billionaires they But the overall focus, satisfactorily, is on Litvinov — later Soviet foreign minister —
become even greedier and more ruthless. contemporary social pathology and Dun- told a group of visiting American aid work-
At the highest level, Trumpian economics bar’s moral transcendence. Most of the ers coming to help the starving of the Volga,
can be lethal. Edward St Aubyn, in his pow- novel is harsh; all of it is entertaining. in his precise but accented English, ‘Yes, but
erful new novel Dunbar, applies the oxya- food is a veppon…’
cetylene brilliance and cauterisation of his It took Stalin’s ruthless genius to fully
prose to bear on the tragic endgame of a The hunger weaponise hunger as a tool of total war
family’s internecine struggle for control of against the enemies — real or imagined
a global fortune. St Aubyn is a connoisseur Owen Matthews — of the Soviet regime. The first Five Year
of depravity, yet also shows he cherishes the Plan of 1928 called for peasants’ private
possibility of redemption. Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine land to be confiscated and all herds and
Henry Dunbar is an 80-year-old Cana- by Anne Applebaum grain to be turned over to the new collec-
dian mogul who founded and developed Allen Lane, £25, pp. 496 tive farms. All over the Soviet Union, peas-
the world’s second-most influential media ants slaughtered their livestock and gorged
conglomerate. His older daughters, Abigail In 1933 my aunt Lenina Bibikova was eight themselves rather than give them up to the
and Megan, want the wealth and power; his years old. She lived in Kharkov, Ukraine. Soviet state. Eyewitnesses from the Red
youngest daughter, Florence, wants only his Every morning a polished black Packard Cross reported seeing peasants ‘drunk on
love. The rivalry is freakishly intense, but automobile would draw up to the door of food’, their eyes stupefied by their mad,
one can endure the horrors and enjoy the the handsome pre-revolutionary mansion
author’s stylish craftsmanship. her family shared with other senior Party It took Stalin’s ruthless genius to fully
At first the old man’s situation seems cadres to take her father to his job as Party weaponise hunger as a tool of war
terminally dire. The diabolically acquisitive boss at the Kharkov Tractor Factory. When
daughters have bribed his personal physi- he returned in the evening her father would against enemies real or imagined
cian to commit him to a supposedly secure be carrying bulging packets of sausages and
psychiatric hospital in the Lake District. meat from the factory canteen. Lenina did self-destructive gluttony, and the knowl-
Demented and further confused by drugs, not remember wanting for anything. edge of its consequences. Harvests from the
Dunbar has been incapacitated so that he Yet in reality Kharkov, like all Ukraine’s new collective farms fell disastrously. By the
should be unable to resist the final quashing cities in that terrible year, was an island summer of 1932, it was clear that Ukraine
of his authority by a hostile takeover at an of plenty in a sea of starvation. All over — for centuries the grain-basket of the Rus-
imminent board meeting in New York. Sur- Ukraine millions of peasants were dying sian empire thanks to its fertile black earth
prisingly, however, Dunbar’s hospital room- of hunger in a massive, man-made famine and twice-yearly harvests of winter barley
mate, Peter Walker, an alcoholic comedian deliberately unleashed by the Soviet state. and summer wheat — had catastrophical-
with a multifaceted personality disorder As Anne Applebaum chronicles in her ly failed to meet the production quotas set
and voices to match, proves to be providen- wrenching, vivid and brilliant account of the by the Kremlin. Stalin reverted to what he
tially sympathetic and resourceful. Holodomor — literally, the ‘hunger-death’ knew best from his days as a bank-robber
‘I really did have an empire, you know,’ — famine had become the main weapon in Tbilisi — violence, and theft. Requisition
said Dunbar. ‘Have I ever told you the story of a war unleashed by Stalin on both the gangs were sent to seize grain reserves, seed
of how it was stolen from me?’ reactionary peasant class and on Ukrainian reserves, animal fodder and, ominously,
‘Many times, old man, many times,’ said national identity itself. daily food supplies.
Peter dreamily, who is moved not to achieve During the famine years those peasants The unfulfilled portion of the Plan had to
justice in big business but to contrive their who managed to crawl to Ukraine’s cities, be ‘fulfilled unconditionally, completely, not
escape to the nearest bar. Dunbar, as bellies bloated from hunger, were rounded lowering it by an ounce’, Stalin’s lieutenant
instructed, spits out his medication and fol- up by special trucks that patrolled at night Vyacheslav Molotov told the Ukrainian
lows Walker out through the kitchen’s back on secret orders from the municipal author- authorities in October 1932. Already, the
door. They find a vehicle suitable for rugged ities to pick up the living and the dead. By secret police had rounded up wealthy peas-
terrain, with the ignition key conveniently morning there was no trace, for those who ants who had resisted collectivisation and
in place. Dunbar’s captors have confiscat- chose not to see, of the horror which was shipped them to newly built gulags in their
ed all his credit cards, except one he man- unfolding all around. tens of thousands — the guards dubbed the
aged to hide, a card for a Swiss account That wilful blindness has continued ever trainloads of humanity ‘white coal’. Now,
with unlimited credit. The alcoholic, having since. For Ukrainian nationalists, the Hol- the Soviet authorities unleashed something
served his narrative function, is recaptured odomor was a genocide unleashed against very close to a war on their own Ukrainian
and kills himself. Dunbar is then free for a their people that is today commemorated citizens. ‘During the Revolution I saw things
lonely, dangerous escape in the snow, pur- in a day of national mourning akin to Holo- that I would not want even my enemies to
sued by hospital guards. caust memorial day in Israel. For the Soviet see,’ wrote the Politburo member Nikolai
Dunbar is saved from frostbite and col- authorities — and now, disgustingly, Putin’s Bukharin. ‘Yet in 1919 we were fighting for
lapse by a tramp, a defrocked vicar who was tame historians — the great famines of the our lives… but in 1930–33 we were con-
ruined by Dunbar’s newspapers. ‘When he early 1930s were nothing more than a natu- ducting a mass annihilation of completely
had been running a global empire, his cru- ral disaster. defenceless men together with their wives
elty and his vindictiveness and his lies and As Applebaum shows, drawing on a and children.’
his tantrums were disguised as the neces- wealth of witness accounts and Soviet archi- On 1 January 1933 Stalin demanded that
30 the spectator | 23 september 2017 |
the Tsars). ‘Famine was only half the story,’
she writes. ‘While peasants were dying in
the countryside, the Soviet secret police
simultaneously launched an attack on the
Ukrainian intellectual and political elites.
As the famine spread, a campaign of slan-
der and repression was launched against
Ukrainian intellectuals, professors, muse-
um curators, writers, artists, priests, theolo-
gians, public officials and bureaucrats.’ The
archives show that Stalin’s aim was demon-
strably not just to exterminate the reaction-
ary peasantry but to squash all memory of
the independent Ukrainian state that had
flickered briefly in the aftermath of the first
world war.
Perhaps most controversial is the debate
over whether the Holodomor was, in fact,
a genocide. Some commentators have
accused Applebaum of shying away from
that loaded word — though in fact she is
perfectly clear that the debate is a purely
Mykola Bokan’s photograph of his family, including a memorial to ‘Kostya, who died of semantic one. Raphael Lemkin, the Pol-
hunger’, July 1933. Bokan and his son were arrested for documenting the famine — both ish-Jewish lawyer who invented the word
died in the gulag
‘genocide’, spoke of the Holodomor as the
‘classic example’ of his concept: ‘It is a case
the Party use a recent law on ‘theft of state an ideological touchstone, as vehemently of genocide, of destruction, not of individu-
property’ to prosecute collective and indi- denied by the Kremlin as it is promoted by als only, but of a culture and a nation.’ The
vidual farmers in Ukraine who were alleg- nationalist Ukrainians. controversy stems, as Applebaum explains
edly hiding grain. That telegram is probably Applebaum resists the passions of that in a carefully written epilogue, from the
the closest thing we have to a direct com- raging ideological battle and sticks to the later, more legalistic definition of ‘geno-
mand from the Kremlin ordering the Hol- relentless, horrifying facts, unequivocal- cide’ as set down by the United Nations in
odomor. Stalin’s cable, writes Applebaum, ly documented in the Soviet secret police 1948. The Soviet delegation to the first UN
‘was a signal to begin mass searches and per- reports, eyewitness accounts and the cor- General Assembly had argued that politi-
secutions… in practice that telegram forced respondence of senior Party leaders. She cal persecution was ‘entirely out of place
Ukrainian peasants to make a fatal choice. squarely places the Holodomor in the in a scientific definition of genocide’, and
They could give up their grain reserves and wider context of the Soviet regime’s battle successfully lobbied that the official defi-
die of starvation, or they could keep some with Ukrainian identity itself (an imperial nition be restricted to the annihilation of
grain reserves hidden and risk arrest, execu- crusade against separatism inherited from entire ethnic groups. ‘Genocide’ thereafter
tion or the confiscation of the rest of their became ‘organically bound up with fascism-
food — after which they would also die of Willow nazism and other similar race theories’,
starvation.’ Applebaum writes. ‘The Holodomor does
The result was ‘such inhuman, unimagi- not meet that criterion. The Ukrainian fam-
nable misery, such a terrible disaster, that Of all the trees, the willow is ine was not an attempt to eliminate every
it began to seem almost abstract, it would The last to lose its yellow leaves single living Ukrainian; it was also halted,
not fit within the bounds of conscious- in the summer of 1933, well before it could
ness’, wrote Boris Pasternak after a trip to And yet among the first to try devastate the entire nation.’
Ukraine. The young Hungarian communist Its newborn growth in early spring Applebaum’s summary of the reality of
Arthur Koestler found the ‘enormous land When it can glisten gold and green the genocide debate says more about Mos-
wrapped in silence’. The British socialist cow’s successful — and cynical — manipu-
Malcolm Muggeridge took a train to Kiev, As trees come back to life again, lation of international discourse than it does
where he found the rural population starv- But when it rains it seems to cry, about the events of 1930–34 in Ukraine.
ing. Embittered, the idealistic Muggeridge To hang its head and tear its hair But it will also anger Ukrainian national-
left the Soviet Union, convinced he had wit- ists who see the Holodomor — as they see
nessed ‘one of the most monstrous crimes in As down the leaves the water seeps today’s conflict in Donbass — as a species
history, so terrible that people in the future And forms a droplet on each leaf of epic blood feud between the two Slavic
will scarcely be able to believe it ever hap- And, while the rain and wind are there nations. They are wrong. Both conflicts are
pened’. about the Kremlin’s imperial programme of
The enduring tragedy of the Holodo- To wave its arms and shed a tear, power and control rather than blind ethnic
mor — which left at least five million dead, We think of it as him or her hatred.
including almost four million Ukrainians Although in truth it does not care, Today’s ideologically charged conflict
— is that Muggeridge was right. Plenty between Kiev and Moscow often reduces
of modern Russians still don’t believe it But we need company in grief history to the cannon fodder of propaganda.
ever happened. Since Ukraine’s independ- And that is why we like to hear That makes Applebaum’s meticulous study
ence — and even more so since the Rus- The willow is the one that weeps. — the first since Robert Conquest’s excel-
sian annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the lent but inevitably poorly sourced The Har-
ensuing Russian-backed separatist war in vest of Sorrow (1986) — so important. The
Donbass — the Holodomor has become — Duncan Forbes Soviet state successfully concealed the real-
the spectator | 23 september 2017 | 31

est signing, Bob Marley.


In many ways the ground-

work for Marley’s eventual
success was laid by Hen-
zell. The first Bob Marley
and the Wailers album, pro-
duced by Blackwell, Catch a
Fire (1973), was a Jamaican-
American hybrid, whose
hard-driving Kingston
rhythms had been overlaid
in a London studio with
rock guitar solos. It was
Blackwell’s, not Marley’s,
idea to aim the music at a
‘rebel’ white college audi-
ence. Unsurprisingly, Catch
a Fire was ignored by Brit-
ain’s black reggae crowd
(to whom the Harrow-edu-
cated Chris Blackwell was
‘Chris Whiteworst’).
To date, more than 500
books have been published
on the ‘Reggae King’ Bob
Marley, who died of can-
cer in 1981, aged 36. For
many non-Jamaicans, Mar-
ley is reggae: he remains
Bob Marley and the Wailers at the Crystal Palace Bowl, 7 June 1980 an international celebrity,
honoured with a waxwork
at Madame Tussaud’s and,
as Roger Steffens reminds
ity of the Holodomor even from children to white British audiences. us, listed in Forbes magazine at Number 5
like Lenina Bibikova who were growing up Without the soundtrack album, it is fair among the ‘highest-earning dead celebri-
in its midst — then spent 70 years denying to say, reggae would not have taken hold in ties’ for 2014.
its crimes. Applebaum has drawn back the Britain in the way it did. Fashionable dinner Steffens, a US-based music critic and
veil — with the same force, clarity and read- parties in early 1970s Britain often enjoyed longtime Marley fan, has spent years inter-
ability as in her earlier books on the Gulag a musical accompaniment of the Maytals’ viewing friends, associates and admirers of
and on the Soviet postwar conquest of East- gospel-hot ‘Pressure Drop’ or Desmond the Jamaican superstar. So Much Things to
ern Europe — on one of the 20th century’s Dekker’s ‘007 (Shanty Town)’. Earlier, in Say, an ‘oral’ account of Marley’s life and
most egregious crimes. the 1960s, scooter-riding Mods had adopted times, amounts to an absorbing alterna-
Jamaican ska as a supplement to their diet tive biography. Among the author’s many
of imported American soul, but reggae was interviewees are Blackwell (whose mother
The cult of Holy Bob a ganja-heavy newcomer, whose strangely Blanche Blackwell, incidentally, died last
hymnal, incantatory quality insinuated itself month at the age of 104), Carlton ‘Carly’
Ian Thomson happily into the middle-class hippie culture Barrett, Junior Braithwaite and Peter Tosh
which Mods (and indeed skinheads) pro- of the Wailers (all three of whom would
So Much Things to Say: The Oral fessed to despise. eventually be murdered by Kingston gun-
History of Bob Marley Prior to Henzell’s film, reggae had been men), as well as the reggae singer-songwrit-
Text and photographs by Roger Steffens given only minimal airplay on BBC radio, ers Bob Andy and Joe Higgs.
W.W. Norton, £20, pp. 434 and the British press was hardly enthusi- According to Higgs, the word reggae,
astic. It was ‘black music being prostitut- originally spelled ‘reggay’, first appeared in
The Harder They Come, Jamaica’s first (and ed’, Melody Maker reported Deep Purple 1968 with a Leslie Kong-produced hit called
still finest) home-grown film, was released and the Edgar Broughton Band as say- ‘Do the Reggay’ by Toots & the Maytals.
in 1972 with the local singer Jimmy Cliff as ing. In 1985, going one better, Morrissey It was a black music imaginatively rooted
the country boy Ivan Martin, who becomes of the Smiths announced: ‘Reggae is vile.’ in the soul of ancestral slave Africa. Mar-
a Robin Hood-like criminal outlaw amid the (Bizarrely, in October 2007, British Con- ley himself was not, however, black. With a
ganja-yards and urban alleys of the Jamai- servatives adopted Jimmy Cliff’s rousing Caucasian father (Captain Norval Marley of
can capital of Kingston. The film’s director ‘The Harder They Come’ as a Tory anthem, the British West Indian Regiment), he found
Perry Henzell, a ganja-smoking white Jamai- the party of law and order thus endorsing, if it easier to deal with the world at large —
can who had been sent to board at Sher- unwittingly, the crime habits of a Kingston that is, with white people. Although Marley
borne school, was influenced by the gritty rude bwoy.) was brought up in Kingston’s impoverished
‘newsreel’ school of Italian neo-realism The Harder They Come, a favourite, Trench Town ghetto, his mixed race com-
(Bicycle Thieves, Obsession), which aimed oddly, with George Melly, was part-financed plexion and handsome aquiline features lent
for a documentary immediacy off the street. by the Island Records founder-boss Chris him an acceptable ‘uptown’ look.
The soundtrack, assembled by Henzell in Blackwell, who saw in Jimmy Cliff’s rebel In his brief introduction, the British-
under a week, effectively introduced reggae film image a means to promote his lat- Jamaican poet Linton Kwesi Johnson
32 the spectator | 23 september 2017 |
speaks admiringly of Marley’s ‘iconic sta- writer — appears here in no fewer than simplicity born of wisdom and maturity, but
tus’ and (in another cliché) his ‘consum- four essays, the last of which, ‘Eight Ways here, Coetzee’s ‘late style’ is all lucidity.
mate professionalism’. Through all the of Looking at Samuel Beckett’, is original,
‘trials and tribulations’ (another cliché) of revelatory, dense with thought and ideas
his fame the Trench Town rocker contin- that could be used as a springboard for sev- Muddled in minutiae
ued to embrace universal love, smoke ganja eral doctoral theses. There are two essays on
(he was ‘no joker-smoker’, says a friend), Patrick White, one of the greatest novelists Richard Davenport-Hines
and eat nut cutlets. Unfortunately, Marley’s of the last century (and a fellow Nobel lau-
proto-hippy ‘One Love’ vibe died a death reate); the essay on White’s posthumously The World Broke in Two: Virginia
in Jamaica long ago: there is too much vio- published unfinished novel, The Hanging Woolf, T.S. Eliot, D.H. Lawrence,
lence for kindly, dreadlocked Rastafari ide- Garden, has an illuminating discussion on E.M. Forster, and the Year that
alists who grow cannabis plants and hope to The Vivisector and how the novel ‘was… Changed Literature
save the planet by smoking them. So Much fated to be an elegy not only for the school by Bill Goldstein
Things to Say (the title is taken from a song of painting represented by Duffield [the Bloomsbury, £25, pp. 336
on Marley’s Exodus album) offers lots of novel’s protagonist] but also for the school
new information on the Jesus-like cult of of writing represented by White himself’. A ‘Publitical’ is a neologism worth avoiding.
Holy Bob. startling essay on Les Murray sails close to Bill Goldstein uses it to describe T.S. Eliot’s
personal criticism, augustly reprimanding activities when launching and promoting his
the poet for carping about his status as an quarterly review of literature, the Criterion,
Deep learning outsider in Australian literary life, a status which had its first issue in October 1922.
Coetzee thinks is largely a pose. Eliot wanted an eminent French author as a
Neel Mukherjee Unsurprisingly, given Coetzee’s deep contributor: ‘the only name worth getting is
knowledge and abiding interest in German Proust’, he told Ezra Pound. As the founding
Late Essays 2006–2017 language and literature, there are essays editor of the New York Times books web-
by J.M. Coetzee on Goethe, Hölderlin, Kleist and Walser site, Goldstein is attuned to cultural fash-
Harvill Secker, £17.99, pp. 304 (Coetzee is a great standard-bearer for ions, publicity drives and the politicking of
this sui generis Swiss writer). The essay on literary factions. And so he makes a painful-
Given the brilliance of his career as a fic- translating Hölderlin presents a clear (and ly reductive explanation of Eliot’s remark:
tion-writer, it is easy to forget that J.M. gripping) summary of the life and works of ‘The importance of Proust was publitical
Coetzee has a commensurate career in non- the poet, finds time to talk about his appro- above all.’
fiction. He trained as an academic (Eng- priation by the National Socialists and con- 1922 was the publication year of P.G.
lish literature, mathematics, linguistics and test the appropriation, before moving on Wodehouse’s The Clicking of Cuthbert and
computer analysis of stylistics), taught for to the merits and shortcomings of Michael of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philos-
several years in the US and in South Afri- ophus. It was the foundation year of the
ca, and continues to translate, write essays Not a single page goes by in Laugh-a-Gram cartoon film company (pro-
and reviews — most notably for the New this collection when you don’t prietor, Walt Disney). But there was nothing
York Review of Books — and introductions learn something ‘publitical’ about Wodehouse or Wittgen-
to books. This third volume of non-fiction stein, and so Goldstein turns his focus on
pieces, Late Essays 2006-2017, gathers a Hamburger’s translation of the poetry. One Eliot (who finished and published The Waste
selection mostly from the NYRB and from can only feel humility and gratitude in the Land), D.H. Lawrence (who wrote a novel
his introductions to a series of novels trans- presence of such deep learning, so lucidly set in Australia, while living in a small town
lated into Spanish and published by the conveyed. It brings to mind a similar essay, in New South Wales), E.M. Forster (who
Spanish-language press El Hilo de Ariadna. ‘Paul Celan and his Translators’, in Inner overcame writer’s block and began his last
The current crop seems to be sim- Workings, and the long essays, on translat- novel), and Virginia Woolf (who wrote a
pler essays than the ones that appeared in ing Kafka, and Robert Musil’s Diaries, in short story, ‘Mrs Dalloway in Bond Street’,
Stranger Shores (2001) and Inner Workings Stranger Shores. which she expanded into a wonderful novel).
(2007). In the earlier works, we’ll find a dis- A spare, dry sense of humour occasional- As Kangaroo was published in 1923, A Pas-
cussion of the concept of hybridity in the ly flashes through the essays. Making a list of sage to India in 1924 and Mrs Dalloway in
memoirs of Breytenbach, or a long piece on the jobs (and their corresponding locations 1925, the reality behind Goldstein’s chrono-
Benjamin’s ‘Arcades Project’, or referenc- in parentheses) which the young Beckett logical arrangement seems weak.
es to Homi Bhabha’s notoriously impene- applied for, Coetzee writes, ‘…advertising Goldstein is an enthusiast for literature
trable book The Location of Culture, or a copywriting (in London), piloting commer- with the right measure of self-belief. He
bravura lecture, ‘What Is A Classic?’, which cial aircraft (in the skies)’. And Coetzee’s crackles with excitement about the making
forensically dissects T.S. Eliot’s own lec- own stylistic austerity can make certain riffs of books and the creating of literary repu-
ture bearing the same title that breathtak- in the ‘Eight Ways…’ piece look positively tations. His admiration for his four chief
ingly positioned the modernist project in a like flights of fancy. His powers of syntheses protagonists gives a nice temper to his own
redefined map of European literary great- and linkage are formidable, something only book: there is no one whom he wants to
ness. Certainly, one can see the differences possible to pull off if an author has seem- show up or do down. Einstein and Patrick
between the introductions and the NYRB ingly boundless reserves of knowledge and Hennessy, scientist and historian, both took
pieces, but this is not a failing, rather an reading. Not a single page goes by in this as their motto: ‘Never lose a holy curiosity.’
intelligent understanding of genres: the collection when you don’t learn something: But although Goldstein reveres his quartet,
demands of a short introduction to a Euro- he will pick out the moment from Beck- his inquisitiveness is neither discriminating
pean or English-language classic in Span- ett’s letters when, talking about Cézanne, nor hallowed. He gives his readers a trudg-
ish translation are different from those of Beckett will strike ‘the first authentic note ing chronicle, week by week, sometimes even
an intellectual (but not academic) literary- of [his] mature, post-humanist phase’. The day by day, of his protagonists’ activities and
political magazine. term ‘late style’, certainly in the Said-ian ideas during 1922. His purpose is to convey
Coetzee’s lifelong interest in Beckett connotation of it, is often meant to signify the tensions, fumbling, frustration, arousal
— his PhD dissertation was on the Irish jaggedness and incompletion married to a and joyous climax of creativity. But the fore-
the spectator | 23 september 2017 | 33

play is so fidgety and inconclusive that the ments remains unaware of it,

reader is left panting for a cup of cocoa. but Chomsky’s crazed theo-
Goldstein is a man for the microscope ries — about humans’ innate
rather than the telescope. His readers are language-learning devices and
given such close and tiny details that the big the deep structure of a univer-
vision is lost. There is nothing interesting in sal grammar that creates all
Eliot’s decision to wear black tie at a dinner languages — have been com-
of Lady Rothermere’s or in the stewed pears prehensively disproved. The
offered to Lawrence for breakfast. Inordi- new orthodoxy is the empirical
nate quotation from his subjects’ letters and school of cognitive linguistics,
diaries makes for choppy, disjointed read- and Daniel Everett is its star
ing and peppers Goldstein’s pages with too pupil — and the one thinker
many inverted commas. He seems remote with the credentials and ambi-
in his understanding of Woolf as a woman, tion to try to reach the general
and at his most sympathetic in writing of public.
Forster’s doubts and anxiety. Yet Gold- Here, Everett takes on one
stein’s account of Kangaroo will be new of Chomsky’s daftest claims —
and appetising to most readers. If only he that the innate neural gizmo
had written more about this half-forgotten which makes us able to talk
novel, and less about people’s ailments and didn’t evolve gradually but just
squabbles. turned up, created by accident,
He puts Eliot, Lawrence and Woolf, if by some genetic mutation that
not so much Forster, into a mental land- miraculously gave us brains
scape of postwar trauma. The scale of death wired for words. Chomsky esti-
from the war of 1914–18 and the subsequent mates that this fluke happened
influenza epidemic left its survivors griev- about 50,000 years ago... when
ing and haunted: memories of the past were rock art and cave paintings also
encased in everybody’s present thoughts. began to appear. And cue the
Goldstein reiterates: Twilight Zone theme tune.
‘Mrs Dalloway in Bond Street’, Kangaroo and
Complete nonsense, of
The Waste Land all declared the glaring con- course. There is no innate lin-
tradiction of 1922: the war was over, but had guistic machinery in our brains,
not ended. there was no magical quirk in
our DNA that gave us a lan-
This is too trite a theme to bear the weight of guage-learning machine, and it
significance that is piled on it in The World Our hero, homo erectus did not all happen 50,000 years
Broke in Two. ago.
The title is one of the best points in This is now so universally
Goldstein’s book. ‘The world broke in two accepted that Everett doesn’t have to spend
in 1922 or thereabouts,’ Willa Cather wrote
Learning to talk much time debunking what is obviously a
in 1936 of the year when Joyce published Harry Ritchie preposterous theory. Instead, he can con-
Ulysses and Eliot The Waste Land. The centrate on the alternative explanation —
phrase looks catchy on the book cover, but How Language Began: The Story of that language developed slowly, at proper
Goldstein is ungrateful to Cather. In the Humanity’s Greatest Invention evolutionary pace, not jumping into com-
modernist ascendancy of 1922, ‘the form of by Daniel L. Everett plete existence all of a sudden, just as the
storytelling she prized, and excelled at, was Profile, £25, pp. 384 first giraffe didn’t appear out of nowhere to
no longer of signal importance’, he says on the surprise of the rest of the short-necked
the first page of his book. ‘She was the relic One of the great achievements of science is herd.
of an old literature, the value of which had that so many of its branches, from astron- Giving language enough time to evolve
not been preserved against the new litera- omy to zoology, have been blessed by such means that it must have started much fur-
ture that Joyce and Eliot represented.’ great popularisers — your Attenboroughs, ther back than a mere 50 millennia ago.
This is the New York literary publiti- your Sagans, your Dawkinses. Alas, there is About 1.9 million years further back, Ever-
cian talking like a commodity dealer tak- one inglorious exception to this marvellous ett estimates. Since we, homo sapiens, turned
ing a short-term position. Cather’s novel of rule — linguistics. A discipline that has pro- up only 200,000 years ago, this means that
1922, One of Ours, is a lopsided, risk-taking duced enormous and enormously important it wasn’t us who invented language but an
triumph with flaws that increase its fascina- advances over the last century — but not ancestor species — homo erectus.
tion: it would be acclaimed for its war writ- one linguist who has managed to tell the rest Like us, homo erectus emerged in Africa
ing if she had been a man. Her next novel, of the world about them. Steven Pinker did and, like us, they soon spread far and wide
A Lost Lady (1923) is a marvel of emotion- have a bestseller with The Language Instinct, — throughout Europe, China and Indone-
al richness: Madame Bovary set in a small but he was moonlighting from his day job in sia. They were smaller than us, and their
American community called Sweet Water; neuropsychology. brains were smaller than ours, but not that
little known in England, but unforgetta- Linguistics does have one world-class much smaller, and the speed and extent of
ble to anyone who has read it. Both novels intellectual celebrity, but Noam Chomsky their roaming indicates some level of col-
leave A Passage to India bowled middle- is celebrated mainly for his radical politics, lective organisation — and communication.
stump. Goldstein’s dismissal of Cather as and he has done his very best to make his The archaeological record, however, is
démodée gives an early warning of what is work on language as arcane and incompre- scant: a carved seashell, some sharpened
wrong with his over-researched, unreflec- hensible as string theory. stones that formed the most basic of tool-
tive and lustreless book. The world outside linguistics depart- kits, and the most amusing item in archae-
34 the spectator | 23 september 2017 |
ology — the ‘Erfoud manuport’. Formerly in northern Europe, how in 782 the Emper-
the prized possession of some homo erectus
Demonised by history or had 4,500 prisoners beheaded on the
who carried it around his or her person, this Thomas W. Hodgkinson banks of the Weser, and later decreed that
is a cuttlefish bone that looks like a phal- anyone who refused baptism should be exe-
lus. In fact, in a phallus lookalike competi- Viking Britain: An Exploration cuted. It may have been this, Williams sug-
tion, any actual dick would be pushed into by Thomas Williams gests, that persuaded the Scandinavians to
second place by this cuttlefish bone, which William Collins, £25, pp. 416 step up their raids to the West. Fearsome as
looks so like a phallus that it undermines they were, they were fearful of these ruth-
its supposed significance as a symbolic arte- Some oleaginous interviewer once sug- less, self-righteous Christians in the South,
fact. Symbol? The Erfoud manuport just is gested to Winston Churchill that he was the who worshipped a son-sacrificing God and
a dick. greatest Briton who ever lived. The grand ritually ate his flesh. There’s an argument
There is, however, startling evidence from old man considered the matter gravely. ‘No,’ that their long-shafted, two-handed, horse-
the fossil record — the remains of homo he replied at length. ‘That was Alfred the slaying axes were developed in response to
erectus which have been found on Flores Great.’ the threat from evangelical Frankish cav-
and Socotra, dating from about 700,000 years In his hefty, hard-to-pick-up History of alry.
ago. Both Flores and Socotra are islands, not the English-Speaking Peoples, Churchill Williams’s revisionist zeal doesn’t pre-
visible from the mainland, reachable only by expatiated on King Alfred’s foremost qual- vent him from admitting that the Vikings
challenging seas. And to establish successful ity: it was his ‘sublime power to rise above were, in some ways, very different from us.
communities, at least 50 people must have the whole force of circumstances, to remain Their slave girls were occasionally forced
made the crossing together. unbiased by the extremes of victory or to immolate themselves on the funeral
If they could sail, they could certainly defeat, to persevere in the teeth of disaster, pyres of their deceased masters, having
talk, Everett reasons. Reasonably enough to greet returning fortune with a cool eye, to first submitted to gang rape at the hands of
— those fossils provide melodramatic proof have faith in men after repeated betrayals’. their friends and relatives. And the warri-
of homo erectus’s planning, social organisa- Remind you of anyone? But perhaps it ors had a peculiar way of celebrating vic-
tion, technology and cooperation, their indi- isn’t surprising that Churchill should have tory. They would bugger the vanquished foe.
vidual intelligence and collective culture. singled out for reverence another wartime It was not, as far as we know, a practice in
And, surely, surely, Everett argues-cum- leader who had saved his island from a sav- which King Alfred indulged after routing
pleads, their ability to communicate with age horde. Alfred’s ultimate victory over Guthrum at Edington.
each other using some sort of language. the Vikings remains our foundation myth, This even-handedness makes Viking
Their chat wouldn’t have been up to a ninth-century fore-echo of the clash with Britain a better work, if not necessarily a
much, Everett has to concede. Homo erectus Nazism. And this, according to Thomas Wil- better read. Williams is scrupulous to avoid
lacked our vocal prowess and their brains the easy pub-chat message. He writes flu-
were smaller and slower, so these were Did the Anglo-Saxons glimpse in ently and with feeling. It did, though, strike
dimwits saying dull, basic things slowly with me as odd that a book with such a title
grunts and moans. ‘Me Tarzan, you Jane’ —
the Vikings a garish, nightmarish
should devote only ten pages to the quar-
that really is the kind of thing homo erectus image of their former selves? ter-century when Britain was ruled by the
must have said to each other. Scandinavian king Cnut and his sons, or the
Which doesn’t sound like much of an liams in his robust new book, is one among Knýtlinga, as they were collectively known.
advance on a dog’s bark, but it really is — many reasons why the Vikings have tended That was the period, arguably, when the
because even a basic language is an extraor- to be demonised by history. The more brutal country could most truthfully have been
dinary achievement, requiring theory of and bristle-bearded the enemy, the greater described as ‘Viking Britain’.
mind, the creation of a shared attention is Alfred’s Greatness for subduing them. Williams’s answer may be that by then
space, honed physical control and, most And the greater, therefore, are we. the Knýtlinga weren’t really Vikings, since
startling of all, the collective creation of a Viking Britain — an engrossing account they were no longer marauding hoodlums,
symbolic communication system involving of the skirmishes, wars and final symbiotic nor pagan. But this is to restore the ste-
thousands of communally agreed meanings absorption that occurred between Anglo- reotype he has already dismissed. I found
and conventions. Saxons and Scandinavians from the late myself wondering if the author was drawn,
That’s why no other species has man- eighth to the early 11th century — suggests despite himself, to the old story, and if this
aged to create even the most basic sort of that another motive for exaggerating the might be part of the reason for his mild air
language. Getting to that stage requires a differences between the Vikings and our- of gloom as he traipses off, in several wryly
fizzingly creative and aware brain, so max- selves is a queasy awareness of the simi- entertaining autobiographical vignettes,
imum respect to homo erectus for having larities. The idea is that the Anglo-Saxons to scrutinise a rune stone or brood upon a
made that intellectual leap. Me Tarzan, you glimpsed in the enemy a garish, nightmar- tumulus. It is usually raining. One time, he
Jane — simple and dull, but a huge break- ish image of their former selves. After all, has argued with his wife.
through. it hadn’t been so many generations earlier Glance at the author photo on the dust
Everett’s case isn’t new — the idea that that they too had arrived by sea, calling on jacket and you’ll see that, with his mighty
homo erectus invented language has been a comparable pagan pantheon (they wor- beard, Williams himself resembles the pop-
around for a couple of decades — but his is shipped Woden; the Vikings Odin) for the ular image of the Viking. Was it this that
a new and ambitious attempt to explain it to courage to ride roughshod over the natives, led him to become curator of early medi-
that fraction of the population that doesn’t rape their women and ransack their wealth. eval coins at the British Museum? Or did
have a linguistics degree. He doesn’t quite Since then, they had converted to Chris- he grow the beard later, consciously or sub-
pull his populist schtick off — his prose is tianity. Which made them the good guys, consciously absorbing the style notes of his
a bit costive and repetitive and the illustra- up to a point. Yet as Catherine Nixey has specialism? It’s impossible to be sure. But I
tive anecdotes tend to clunk. But it’s a laud- detailed in a recent book, the early Chris- like to imagine that in the photograph for
able effort, the subject-matter is completely tians were often as vile and violent as their his next book, which will no doubt deal with
enthralling. Though he may lack the Dawk- foes. She focused on the Middle East and the Vikings’ adventures on the continent
ins touch, Everett is at the very top of his Maghreb. Williams describes the brutality and elsewhere, Williams will be wielding a
intellectual game and field. of Charlemagne’s wars against the Saxons long-shafted axe.
the spectator | 23 september 2017 | 35


Rory Sutherland doesn’t have an iPhone. But he knows why you do

or many years The Spectator employed With Apple’s control over both hardware race is so good you’re happy to go along
a television reviewer who did not own and software, any new product or upgrade with it.
a colour television. Now they have is a media event worldwide (Android In the same way, we accept a proprie-
decided to go one better and have asked upgrades take place piecemeal, depending tary charging cable and no headphone jack
me to write a piece to mark the tenth anni- on your handset). Apple’s tempo of innova- because the Apple taste-sommelier tells us to.
versary of the iPhone. I have never owned tion is hence kept at a humanly comprehen- Apple hence has the extraordinary
an iPhone. (In the metropolitan media sible level. power to make people accept things they
world I inhabit, this is tantamount to put- Together these two things mean that, didn’t previously want. No other tech brand
ting on your CV that you ‘enjoy line danc- once you decide you are an Apple person, can seduce to the same extent. This gives it
ing, child pornography and collecting Nazi choosing an Apple phone is easy — as is exceptional power to innovate.
memorabilia’). deciding when you will next upgrade and to How can we not admire this? The only
But, even though I’m a diehard Android what. For an Android user, the ‘choice archi- reason to worry is scale.
fan, I still cannot help paying attention to tecture’ is baffling: new phones are launch- Let’s be clear. Humans do almost every-
every single thing Apple does and says. I ing all the time at every different price-point thing to generate feelings. We don’t have sex
don’t think this happens in reverse. I doubt imaginable. Unless you want to spend weeks predominantly to produce children — or buy
Apple owners pay any attention to the next reading reviews, you can lose the will to live. Prada sunglasses to protect our eyes from the
phone announcement from LG or Nokia It is often the case with super-dominant sun: we do it because of how it feels. Nobody
— any more than Anna Wintour lies awake brands that they possess a superpower that really goes to the bottle bank to recycle glass:
wondering what Primark’s autumn season we do it for the fun of smashing bottles. Or
has in store. When Apple created the smartphone, take those alcohol-based hand sanitisers you
How has it achieved this? Well, like De did it unwittingly create 20 Marlboro get in public lavatories: if asked, you would
Beers before it, Apple has exhibited a rare explain that you are using it to reduce the
marketing genius in creating something that
in electronic form? risk of infection, but really it’s because of the
defies the usual rules of economics. is so strong that we accept it without think- pervily enjoyable sensation you get when the
By stubbornly resisting the pressure to ing. It is, when you think about it, a remark- liquid evaporates on your hands.
chase volume sales by producing cheaper able quality of Coca-Cola that, aside from We do things that feel good, then we
variants of the iPhone, and through fanati- water, it is the only cold, non-alcoholic post-rationalise. And Apple’s greatest
cal attention to design, Apple has, ingen- drink you can order anywhere in the world insight is that a phone’s appeal lies less in
iously, become a technology company with without having to think for a second wheth- what we can instrumentally do with it than
the characteristics (and the margins) of a er or not it is available. You can be in the in how it feels when we do it.
luxury-goods company or a high-fashion bar of the Colombe d’Or, a McDonald’s But there’s one important difference.
brand. in Taipei, or a beach shack in Belize and, We don’t (well, I don’t) spend five hours a
On the one occasion that Apple if you ask for a Coke, you’ll get it. If they day having sex, buying sunglasses or recy-
deferred to the bidding of financial analysts don’t have it, that’s their fault, not yours. cling bottles. There aren’t one-and-a-half
and introduced a lower-cost alternative to Ask for a Dr Pepper or a ginger beer in billion people spending an hour a day sani-
the flagship iPhone (the plastic-bodied 5C), those places and you’ll get an ‘I’m sorry, no’ tising their hands. Apart from anything else,
it failed. Just as there is very little demand accompanied by an eye gesture that some- there’s a time and a place for all these things.
for the world’s second most expensive how implies that you are a weird idiot just But for a smartphone the time and place is
champagne, or for private jets with densely for asking. ‘all the time, any place’.
packed seating, there is very little demand Like a fashion brand, Apple’s peculiar When something changes behaviour
for the world’s second-best flagship phone. magic lies in taste-making. Conventional to the extent the smartphone has done, do
As someone wisely once said to me, in business logic suggests that you should find we need to ask what the downside may be?
response to a business proposal, ‘Yes, there out what people want and then provide it to (Silicon Valley professes to be improving
may be a gap in the market, but is there a them in volume at as low a price as possible. the world, but is wilfully blind to unintended
market in the gap?’ Apple’s approach is closer to that of an art- consequences.) Are 40 billion working hours
Notice that, for the world’s most valuable ist, chef or couturier — it exists to inform being wasted every year because it feels bet-
company, Apple sells remarkably few things. and improve your taste, rather than to ter to write on a lovely touchscreen rath-
Ring up Samsung, and they won’t just sell reflect it: ‘It’s not the customer’s job to fig- er than an ugly but functional keyboard?
you a phone, a vacuum cleaner and a televi- ure out what they want,’ as Steve Jobs put it. When it is a rainy day in Peckham, how
sion, they can also build you an offshore oil In some ways, Apple is more like a does it improve your life to see pictures of
rig or a supertanker. By contrast, I can name French brand than a democratic American your friends on holiday? When Apple creat-
every current Apple product from memory. one. In France, the more expensive the hotel, ed the smartphone, did it unwittingly create
But it isn’t only the range that is kept the more likely it is to refuse to make you 20 Marlboro in electronic form? Though at
tightly controlled: so, too, is the pace of a sandwich. There’s only one extortionate least when people smoked they were paying
replacement. prix-fixe menu, but the view from the ter- attention to the other people in the room…
36 the spectator | 23 september 2017 |

iPhone 8 Plus, unveiled last week at the new Steve Jobs Theater at Apple Headquarters, Cupertino, California.
The new features include a Retina HD display, A11 Bionic Chip and wireless charging
the spectator | 23 september 2017 | 37



The icemen cometh
Daisy Dunn
Scythians: warriors of ancient
British Museum, until 14 January 2018

You wouldn’t want to stumble upon the

Scythians. Armed with battle-axes, bows and
daggers, and covered in fearsome tattoos,
the horse-mad nomads ranged the Russian
steppe from around 900 to 200 BC, turning
squirrels into fur coats and human teeth into
At their mightiest, they controlled terri-
tory from the Black Sea to the north border
of China. They left behind no written record,
only enormous burial mounds, chiefly in
the Altai mountains and plains of southern
Siberia. Chambers that weren’t looted in
antiquity were preserved in the permafrost
only to be discovered millennia later. It is
thanks to Peter the Great and the expedi-
tions he launched that so many objects have
now been retrieved from the ice.
There are hats for horses topped with
felt cockerels, lumps of cheese kept in pret-
ty pouches, a stick-on beard dyed chestnut

Chambers were preserved in the

permafrost only to be discovered
millennia later
brown. Scythians: warriors of ancient Siberia
is unlikely to leave you pondering how little
humans have changed.
Herodotus said that the Scythians were
cleverer than their Black Sea neighbours.
They did their best work in gold, punch-
ing and pummelling appliqués from flat
sheets and moulding huge belt buckles
into shapes of animals in combat. A vul-
ture tramples a tiger to maul a yak. A tiger
chews the hind leg of a panther-wolf-bird
hybrid. Scythian men wore their buckles
over sheepskin coats and leather trousers.
Some tribes completed the ensemble with
tall pointy hats.
The Scythians were racially diverse. Sev-
eral women buried in mounds at Pazyryk,
near the modern Chinese/Mongolian bor-
der, look European, while the chiefs have
Mongol features. Standing face to face with
one of these heavily tattooed, mummified,
injured warriors is as unsettling as it sounds.
Was it the third blow of the battle-axe to
his skull that killed him, or the thrust of the
sword to his brow? At least he was dead
by the time he was scalped and relieved of
his brain.
Herodotus said that the Scythians scalped
their enemies, too, attaching the remains to
their horses’ bridles. They embalmed their
own dead, stuffing them with straw, pine
needles, herbs and larch cones from the War horse: horse headdress made of felt, leather and wood, late 4th–early 3rd century BC
38 the spectator | 23 september 2017 |
Siberian forests. The remains were placed in to record complex combinations of spirals,
coffins made from whole trees and interred
Illustration lattices, stars, needles and radial spokes
in felt-lined chambers. When a chief died, Frills and furbelows by looking through a microscope with his
says Herodotus, his horses were killed and left eye while focusing on drawing with
his cupbearer, cook, groom, squire, messen- Laura Gascoigne his right.
ger, and one of his concubines strangled and The exquisitely illustrated Monograph
buried with him. The mounds at Pazyryk Over the winter of 1859–60, a handsome on Radiolaria he published in 1862, soon
contained dozens of horses and enough sad- young man could be seen patrolling the after his marriage, won him the German
dles, bridles and bits to keep them going in shores of the Gulf of Messina in a rowing Academy of Sciences’ highest honour, but
the afterlife. boat, skimming the water’s surface with a on the day of the award — his 30th birth-
One of the most beautiful objects in net. The net’s fine mesh was not designed day — his beloved Anna died of a ruptured
the exhibition is a small saddlecloth dec- for fishing, and the young man was not a appendix. From that point on, writes Julia
oration of a winged bull. Discovered in Sicilian fisherman. He was the 25-year-old Voss in The Art and Science of Ernst Hae-
northern Kazakhstan, it was embroidered German biologist Ernst Haeckel from Pots- ckel, he was ‘consumed by a ferocious uni-
from wool with a delicacy one wouldn’t dam searching for minute plankton known versal loathing’ and ‘gradually gave way to
expect from a people so enamoured of as Radiolaria. In February he wrote excit- the darkest nihilism’. The image is hard to
triple-blade arrowheads. It was delicacy, edly to his fiancée, Anna Sethe, that he had
though, that the Scythians used to define caught 12 new species in a single day — What do you do with a genius with
themselves. Pass the cases of terrifying war ‘among them the most charming little crea- unconscionable views?
implements, and you come to a copy of a tures’ — and hoped to make it a full century
felt tomb hanging featuring men with neat before leaving. square with a 1904 photograph of a twinkly-
Haeckel had a degree in medicine but eyed Haeckel standing next to a chimpan-
Herodotus said that the Scythians no interest in treating patients, whose visits zee skeleton with a human skull in his hand,
would ‘howl in wonder’ as they he curtailed by holding surgeries from 5 to looking like a more benign and less simian
inhaled cannabis 6 a.m. A man of prodigious energies who Darwin. But it helps to explain his devel-
survived on a few hours sleep, he preferred opment of views on race, euthanasia and
bobbly haircuts and cheerful moustach- to devote his waking hours to documenting war ‘as a continuation of biology by other
es riding horses. They look almost cute. in watercolour drawings the intricate struc- means’ that today seem inexcusable.
Although the human remains suggest the tures of different species of Radiolaria, as Things would have been fine if this
Scythians were clean-shaven, the Greeks seemingly infinite in their variety as three- Übermensch of a biologist had stuck to
and Persians characterised them with dimensional snowflakes. With no formal publishing illustrated studies of underwa-
beards. Perhaps they aspired to grow facial art training, he had an astonishing ability ter creatures, from Radiolaria (1862–1888)
hair (no one really knows what the false
beard was for).
Their women, after all, were trouser-
wearing, horse-riding warriors — Amazons,
according to Herodotus. In his Histo-
ries, the Amazons sleep with the Scythian && 
men but refuse to cohabit with the exist-
ing Scythian women because they are not
outdoorsy enough. The Amazons therefore
set off with their Scythians to establish a
new people. With their peculiar wooden 
hats — topped with tall plaits of hair —
and weaponry, the women of Scythia must  

have looked terrifying to the Greeks. It’s
now thought that they really did inspire the
Amazon myths.
It would have been nice to see something
of the Amazons in this otherwise exhilarat-
ing exhibition. One senses a slight tenta-
tiveness on the part of the curators to draw
too much from Herodotus, even though the
evidence from the mounds corroborates so
much of his colourful account. He said the
Scythians would ‘howl in wonder’ as they
inhaled cannabis. A brazier with burned
hemp seeds is on display. He described stag-
es in their burial practices that the archaeol-
ogy confirms. The Scythians were much as
he described them: formidable horsemen, ""
horsewomen and warriors with a taste for !"#/**$'%(',+)+.-,-
fine craftsmanship; they worked gold as if it
fell ‘from the sky’.

Daisy Dunn is the author of Catullus’

Bedspread and The Poems of Catullus
the spectator | 23 september 2017 | 39


‘Cnidarians’ from Haeckel’s book Art Forms in Nature, 1899–1904

40 the spectator | 23 september 2017 |
to Siphonophorae (1869–88), Calcareous little forced, but Max Ernst’s snappily titled 1746, was never put on public display.
Sponges (1872), Arabian Corals (1876), ‘The Gramineous Bicycle Garnished with Highmore, who was a friend of the artist
Medusae (1879–81) and Deep-Sea Keratosa Bells the Dappled Fire Damps and the William Hogarth, a fellow governor of the
(1889). The trouble started when he strayed Echinoderms Bending the Spine to Look Foundling Hospital and responsible for the
from marine biology into human biogenet- for Caresses’ (1920–1) is a clear descend- image on the subscription roll, appears to
ics. Carried away by Darwin’s theory of ant of Haeckel’s calcareous sponges. The have realised it was way ahead of its time.
evolution, he sought to introduce some 600 pages of stunning plates in this sump- When it did eventually appear in a sale
Teutonic order to the vagaries of natural tuous book could win him a whole new catalogue at Sotheby’s in the 1960s it was
selection. Darwin scented danger when generation of artist followers, just as long attributed to the more famous Hogarth, not
his young disciple sent him a copy of his as they stick with the marine invertebrates Highmore, and described as ‘An angel suc-
General Morphology of Organisms in 1866: and avoid the apes. couring a foundling child’, the focus divert-
‘My dear Haeckel, Your boldness some- ed from the mother’s actions to the act of
times makes me tremble,’ he wrote, ‘but… The Art and Science of Ernst Haeckel is mercy, of rescue.
someone must be bold enough to make a published by Taschen. Now at last it is being shown here for
beginning in drawing up tables of descent.’ the first time, and at the end of an exhibi-
Haeckel’s illustration of the descent of man
in the embryology textbook Anthropoge- Exhibitions The woman has been stopped in
nie he published eight years later showed the nick of time from strangling
a chimpanzee, gorilla, orang-utan and Afri- Mothers’ ruin her baby to death
can up the same tree. Kate Chisholm
What do you do with a genius with uncon- tion designed to show that Highmore (1692–
scionable views? If he’s an artist, judge him 1780) was much more than just a society
by his art. Fortunately for history’s verdict At the heart of Basic Instincts, the new exhi- painter, depicting the respectable front of
on Haeckel, his art has lasted better than bition at the Foundling Museum in London, the Georgian middle class. His choice of
his science: while his Radiolaria have been is an extraordinarily powerful painting of murder weapon — the pink ribbon — is a
renamed Radiozoa and downgraded from a mother and baby. At one time the ‘Angel very poignant reminder of why the Found-
multicellular to unicellular organisms, his of Mercy’ was sold as a greetings card by ling Hospital was established by Thomas
dazzling draughtsmanship remains undi- its owner, the Yale Center of British Art in Coram, a retired sea captain.
minished. It takes an illustrator’s skill to Connecticut, presumably intended as some- On his return from roaming the world
describe such minutiae, but an artist’s imag- thing you might send your own mother or in the 1720s Coram was shocked by all the
child. But take a second glance and you starving, threadbare children he saw on the
It takes an illustrator’s skill to might well wonder who bought the card and streets of his home city, abandoned and
describe such minutiae, but an artist’s who they might have sent it to.
imagination to bring them to life In Joseph Highmore’s Georgian scene,
a young, fashionably dressed woman is
ination to bring them to life: if the frills and splayed across the canvas, her feet in deli-
furbelows of Haeckel’s ‘Desmonema anna- cate silk shoes, a tiny baby, naked, resting
sethe’ (1879) evoke lacy lingerie blowing in precariously on her lap. On her left cowers a
a breeze, it reflects the fact that he named veiled figure in grey, resolutely turned away
this particular jellyfish in loving memory of from her; on her right, a huge figure in clas-
his first wife, just as he later immortalised sical robes and wearing a pair of massive
his young lover Frida von Uslar-Gleichen — feathery wings offers a guiding hand, point-
lost to a morphine overdose in 1903 — in ing towards the buildings in the background
the nomenclature of the jellyfish Rhophile- which are meant to represent the Foundling
ma frida. (His longer-lived second wife of 30 Hospital, established in London in 1739.
years, Agnes, didn’t have so much as a sea Closer study reveals that the delicate pink
slug named after her.) ribbon stretched between the woman’s
It was Frida who assisted him with the hands is poised around the baby’s neck; a
preparation of what would become his tiny pink brushstroke indicates the baby’s
most influential work, Art Forms in Nature, tongue, gasping for breath.
published in ten instalments between 1899 It becomes clear that this is not a typical
and 1904. Coinciding with the birth of art virginal scene. The woman has been stopped
nouveau, its treasury of biomorphic won- in the nick of time from strangling her baby
ders was plundered for inspiration by to death. But her fashionable silks, her des-
architects and designers. Amsterdam’s perate expression, the hooded, cowering fig-
new Stock Exchange, opened in 1903, ure all suggest the baby is the consequence
and Monaco’s Oceanographic Museum, of rape, not wanton sex, and the woman has
launched in 1910, both boasted chande- been abused, ruined and now abandoned,
liers modelled on Rhophilema frida, but possibly by the very people who are now
the most extraordinary monument to Hae- looking at the painting. Her baby just-born,
ckel’s art was the entrance to the 1900 perhaps on that very spot, arrives not in a
Exposition Universelle in Paris designed comfortable bed but in a dark cavern, out-
by René Binet after Clathrocanium regi- with the safe domestic space.
nae, a species of Radiolaria resembling a There’s a shocking immediacy about the
Prussian spiked helmet. portrait, a sense that what is unfolding in
Haeckel’s influence on the fine arts is the picture is happening around you. This
harder to measure. The connections Voss woman could be your daughter, Highmore
makes with Kandinsky and Klimt seem a seems to be saying. The picture, from about
the spectator | 23 september 2017 | 41


‘The Angel of Mercy’, c.1746, by Joseph Highmore

struggling to survive, and he determined mission for the picture to be used as the chosen for her and then duped and raped
to rescue them. The charitable foundation, frontispiece to her memoirs, published in by her persecutor Lovelace. The novel was
which still bears his name and still works ‘to 1748, and for a note to be inserted in the text a huge success, some of the girls deposited
create better chances for children’, accept- indicating that the portrait could be seen at at the Foundling Hospital were named after
ed 228 children between 1741 and 1745, his studio in Lincoln’s Inn. It was an adver- her, and it remains (at just under a million
schooled at the hospital and trained for words, or four volumes of 600 pages apiece)
future employment. Many of the mothers In the 18th century even middle-class perhaps the most profound dissection of
left a token as a distinguishing mark, in case women were in danger of assault male and female desire ever written.
they should ever be in a position to reclaim and social exclusion Highmore’s earlier portraits of women
their child, and many of these tokens were are very much of their time — decorous,
ribbons, very often pink. tisement for his work, but it was also a huge fashionable, somewhat dull. But his connec-
‘We need to rethink Highmore as an art- risk, aligning himself with such a notorious tion with the Foundling Hospital alerted him
ist but also rethink that period, when even female celebrity. to the inequalities and injustices of his time
middle-class women were in danger of Visitors to his studio could also have and to the plight of women and children at
assault and social exclusion,’ says Dr Jac- viewed a portrait of ‘the noble Clarissa’, the mercy of men who always held the keys.
queline Riding, curator of the exhibition. heroine of Samuel Richardson’s eponymous ‘Angel of Mercy’ still has the power to shock
Another portrait on show is of the famous novel, also published in 1748. Clarissa, from and, sadly, tells a very modern story.
courtesan Teresia Phillips, who claimed to an educated, wealthy family, dies of hunger
have fallen into prostitution after being and self-neglect after being abandoned by Basic Instinct is at the Foundling Museum
raped at the age of 13. Highmore gave per- them for refusing to marry the man they had from 29 September until 7 January 2018.
42 the spectator | 23 september 2017 |
Makart was able to put on a tremen- through Assisi without looking at the fres-
Art market dous performance, too. In 1879 he designed coes of the Upper and Lower Churches of
Fickle fortune a spectacular parade to celebrate the silver San Francesco. Giotto, Simone Martini and
wedding anniversary of the Emperor Franz Cimabue simply weren’t then on the list of
Martin Gayford Joseph, with floats, costumes, every detail interesting things to see.
conceived by the artist — and Makart lead- Similarly, nobody took much interest in
Here’s an intriguing thought experiment: ing the entire caboodle in person on a white El Greco between his death in 1614 and the
could Damien Hirst disappear? By that I horse. The Viennese liked it so much they mid 19th century. For a long while, Johannes
mean not the 52-year-old artist himself — carried on repeating the ‘Makart parade’ Vermeer was, if not a complete artistic non-
that would be sensational indeed — but the until the 1960s. entity, then no more famous than dozens of
vast fame, the huge prices, the hectares of He gave his age what it wanted: masses other 17th-century Dutch genre painters.
newsprint, profiles, reviews and interviews of voluptuous naked flesh depicted with Even within recent times, the rise of Ver-
by the thousand. Could all that just fade sub-Rubenesque gusto, mixed with jewels, meer’s reputation has been stratospheric. In
from our collective memory into a black rich textiles and maybe a spot of blood. But 2014, the most popular art exhibition in the
hole of oblivion? world was a show in Tokyo in which the big-
The answer is: yes, quite easily. Artists Could Damien Hirst fade from our gest attraction by far was one of his paintings,
vanish all the time. Take the case of Hans collective memory into a black ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ (seen by 750,000
Makart (1840–1884). He was a contempo- hole of oblivion? people at a rate of 10,000 a day). Twenty-five
rary of Monet, Manet and Degas, but enor- years ago this picture was not even the most
mously more acclaimed in his lifetime than who remembers Makart now? To be fair, a celebrated Vermeer.
any of those. A period of Viennese life was few art historians do — and probably more The market in artistic fame — even of
dubbed the ‘Makart era’, a fashionable in Austria than elsewhere. But compared old masters — is surprisingly volatile. The
idiom was named the ‘Makartstil’. with Cézanne or Sisley — obscure nobodies examples above are, of course, those who
One reason for his success was that he when he was riding that white horse — his is got remembered again. But plenty, famous
was a master of PR. Makart transformed a very dim name these days. in their day, never get rediscovered. Alter-
his studio, an old foundry, into a vast stage Makart’s is not an isolated case. Many of natively, they may be hugely admired by one
set crammed with floral displays, sculp- the most familiar figures in the history of art age, then relegated to a much less prominent
ture and opulent bric-à-brac. Cosima Wag- passed through periods — lasting in some spot in our collective consciousness. Rapha-
ner described it as a ‘wonder of decorative cases for centuries — during which nobody el Mengs, Guido Reni and the Carracci are
beauty, a sublime lumber-room’. To a 21st- paid them or their works any attention at all. among those currently in this position: their
century eye, old photographs of the space In 1786, Goethe — one of the most cultivat- works still hang on the walls of major art gal-
look like installation art. ed and erudite people in Europe — passed leries, but they are not paid much attention.

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the spectator | 23 september 2017 | 43


‘The Japanese’ by but only for a short period (approximately


Hans Makart, 1988–93 in Hirst’s case; 1959–63 in Smith’s).

1870–75 He certainly managed to provide just
what a particular era wanted (future histori-
ans may call it ‘the plutocratic period’). His
auction of new works at Sotheby’s — held, by
eerie coincidence, on 15 September 2008, the
day Lehman Brothers collapsed — realised
£111 million. But his prices and reputation
have been bobbing up and down since then.
His current exhibition, Treasures from
the Wreck of the Unbelievable, which fills
two large museums in Venice until Decem-
ber, looks like an attempted relaunch. It has
pulled in the crowds but received some hos-
tile reviews (‘undoubtedly one of the worst
exhibitions of contemporary art staged in
the past decade’ according to ARTnews).
The numerous exhibits, fabricated at a cost
of millions and priced accordingly, might
well sink back down into the cold, green
depths of collective indifference.
The good news, from Hirst’s point of
view, is that what disappears may always
resurface. Makart, Smith and Denny may
yet make a comeback. To echo Hockney, it
would require an incredibly perceptive per-
son to know what, if anything, being made
today will fascinate future centuries.

Small wonders
Michael Tanner
Pagliacci; L’enfant et les sortilèges
Leeds Grand Theatre, and touring until
18 November
When it comes to art that is being made ing behind me in the queue whose face I
right now, the volatility is even greater. couldn’t quite place. After a bit he remarked It has been a reasonably good week for
Recently, I’ve been looking at Private View, in a melancholy tone: ‘In 1970, this lunch was peripatetic opera-loving female-underwear
a lavish coffee-table book published in 1965. given for me.’ It was Richard Smith. fetishists. In La bohème at Covent Garden
It was intended as a snapshot, as the subtitle During the 1960s and early 1970s Smith, Musetta slipped out of her knickers and
puts it, of ‘The Lively World of British Art’, and his friend and art-school contempo- swung them round, as everyone, except
including gallery owners, writers and many rary Robyn Denny, were among the bright- me, mentioned in their reviews; and now,
others, but mainly artists. est stars in British art. The glittering prizes in Leeds, in the first of Opera North’s ‘Lit-
In many ways it’s a marvellous volume, — Venice, Tate retrospectives while they tle Greats’, what laughter the actors in the
with wonderfully evocative photographs by were still in early middle-age— were theirs. drama got was from Tonio and others trying
Lord Snowdon. Quite a few of those featured Then it all went away. There are 85 works by on Nedda’s bra.
are still highly familiar: Bridget Riley, Francis Denny in the Tate collection, but only one is This new production of Pagliacci by
Bacon, Frank Auerbach, Lucian Freud. But currently on view (which is more than there Charles Edwards, sadly under-attended, was
dozens of names are now known only to spe- have sometimes been). possibly too ingenious. It is set in a rehearsal
cialists in the period. Some of them even the Towards the end of his life, Smith reflect- room, and we see the first day of rehears-
experts would have to look up. ed sadly: ‘I was the right kind of artist for als and then the final run-through. It kind of
David Hockney, who got a few pages in that kind of time. Then… I don’t know.’ works, but anyone unfamiliar with the opera
Private View, once observed that ‘very few Denny kept telling him, Smith said, ‘Our would have found it mysterious, and some of
people would know what the truly significant time will come, Dick. Our time will come.’ the time I felt I was on shifting sands. Still,
art of today is. You’d have to be an incred- But he’d been saying that for a long time: the central thrust of this sole real master-
ibly perceptive person to do so. The history ‘years and years and years’. piece of verismo hit one powerfully, from the
books keep being changed.’ That’s demon- So the answer is that it would be entire- superbly delivered prologue by the Tonio of
strably true. And it’s possible to climb a long ly conceivable for Hirst — mega-rich and Richard Burkhard to the final despairing cry
way up the pole, then slip right down again. colossally well known though he is — to melt that the comedy is over. There are occasion-
Some years ago, I was lining up to go away like mist. Indeed he has several resem- al vulgarities in the score, the last few bars
into a lunch in honour of the artist repre- blances to Makart and Smith. Like the for- being the most egregious case. But mainly it
senting Britain at the Venice Biennale. I fell mer he is a master of self-presentation. Like is dramatically pungent, wonderfully melo-
into conversation with an elderly man stand- the latter, it seems to me, he had good ideas, dious, and frequently inspired. Its usual
44 the spectator | 23 september 2017 |
twin, the shameless Cavalleria rusticana, is wound, with the knights’ approving chorus. this case, the real nature of Ross and Honor’s
perhaps more coarsely enjoyable, but Pagli- In the programme book there are heavy- relationship — was left unrevealed. As ever,
acci has refinement and, in the relatively weight quotations from Melanie Klein, but you could appreciate how smart and grown-
complex figure of Tonio, the deformed (not she is only, as is so often the case with psy- up it was to let us make up our own minds.
that he was here) and jealous clown, pathos choanalytic thinkers, emphasising a point But as ever too, in a less sophisticated part of
and unease. that has already been made with clinching the mind, there was a definite twinge of dis-
With an all-round excellent cast, Peter conviction by artists. appointment at being left dangling.
Auty’s Canio stood out, dramatically fright- The other big new programmes of the
ening and with his superb voice on its best week were all sitcoms — which I’ll take in
form. But Canio is given the most chances; Television ascending order of quality. On Wednesday,
the build-up from suspicion to conviction to ITV brought us Bad Move, co-written by and
crime passionnel is plotted by the compos- Loose ends starring Jack Dee as a man who’s moved to
er-librettist with skill, the performer of the James Walton the countryside with his wife — or at least
role just having to be careful that he doesn’t to that version of the countryside general-
feel too much too soon. Jon Vickers set the ly found in sitcoms. Cue rude shopkeepers,
standard here, but Auty can be ranked along- On Sunday night, Holliday Grainger was smug neighbours who announce their visits
side him. And the Nedda of Elin Pritchard on two terrestrial channels at the same with a hearty ‘Coo-ee!’ and much anguish
was excellent too, in her Madame Bovary- time playing a possibly smitten sidekick of about the lack of internet access. The result
like dreams, and her growing nervousness. a gruff but kindly detective with a beard. isn’t wholly terrible, but it is distinctly plod-
Opera North’s orchestra showed that it is Even so, she needn’t worry too much about ding, as if Dee had given himself a creative
not only the Ring that they are consummate getting typecast. In BBC1’s Strike, she con- writing assignment in which the aim was to
performers of, and Tobias Ringborg, not pre- tinued as the immaculately turned-out, reproduce as faithfully as possible all the ele-
viously known to me, found plenty of col- London-dwelling Robin, who uses such ments of a bog-standard prime-time sitcom.
ours in the score. traditional sleuthing methods as Google Far better, and far more idiosyncratic,
These Little Greats will come in vari- searches. On Channel 4, not only was she is Porters (Dave, Wednesday), a pitch-dark
ous combinations, and audiences can pick dressed in rags, with a spectacular facial show featuring a group of hospital por-
which ones they prefer, or just go to a single scar and a weird hairdo, she was also living ters who vary between the unpleasant, the
one — there is a separate programme book in an unnamed dystopian city, where her
for each of them. The second on this occa- detective work relied on a handy capacity The people most depressingly fluent in
sion was Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges, to to read minds. BBC bollocks are the ones who’ll have
Colette’s marvellous text. A much trickier This was the first and highly promising
piece to bring off, it actually triumphs in this episode of Electric Dreams, which has set
been promoted next time you see them
production by Annabel Arden to an extent itself the ambitious task of adapting ten sci- deluded and the psychopathic. Subjects for
I’d hardly have thought possible, especial- fi stories by Philip K. Dick, each with a dif- hilarity on Wednesday ranged from mental
ly after the Glyndebourne production, one ferent writer, director and cast. Sunday’s illness to a bloke smashing a dead rabbi on
of the few that I have taken as definitive. programme opened with a demonstration the head with a mobile phone.
Wallis Giunta is brilliant as the Child (it’s understandably protesting against a new law This is not, then, a programme for those
performed in French), more plausibly boy- that all citizens must have their minds read who like their comedy lovable. On the other
ish in figure and movement than any other by the mutants known as Teeps — as in tel- hand, the plotting is inventive (at times
I’ve seen. The cast clearly adore doing it, epathics. Unfortunately for the protestors, a alarmingly so), there are plenty of good
with John Graham-Hall outstanding as Tea Teep called Honor (Grainger) was already lines, and, as in Green Wing, the heartless-
Pot, a large upwards- curving black spout in deploying her psychic powers to identify the ness somehow ends up being bracing rather
just the right place. Maybe the Tom Cat and ringleader for the cops. And once she had, than mean-spirited.
Female Cat could make more of their duet, it didn’t take her long to discover either his And so to the best of the lot: BBC2’s
but though Colette might have liked them most shameful secrets or his co-conspirators. W1A, now back for a third series. The mak-
to, Ravel might not have. Martin André con- Her reward was to be made the assistant to ers claim that their feelings towards the
ducted with the gusto that is often lacking Agent Ross (Richard Madden) in his quest BBC are a mixture of exasperation and
when people tackle this piece, and brought to root out more anti-government, anti-Teep affection — but on Monday, once again, the
the work to a close that was both charming subversives. exasperation was much easier to spot.
and moving. At first, it seemed as if the pair had risen We rejoined the BBC management
It occurred to me midway through the above the mutual suspicion between ‘Nor- team as they launched a new initiative
piece that it is really Ravel’s Parsifal, not mals’ and Teeps — who’ve been banished that requires ‘finding what we do best and
perhaps an insight that everyone will want to their own ghetto. The longer the episode doing less of it better’. (Incidentally, in my
to share. But the Child is shown us, to begin went on, though, the less certain this became. intermittent experience, the people most
with, very much in a state of nature, bent Dick’s stories, written during the Cold depressingly fluent in BBC bollocks are the
on self-gratification and failing to notice War, are already famous for their ability to ones who’ll have been promoted next time
the feelings of others. When Parsifal is resonate in any era. And here — without the you see them.) Meanwhile, the more cut-
hauled on to the stage for shooting a swan programme ever stinting on the thrills — the ting-edge types have decided that ‘nobody
and declares, ‘If I see something flying, I parallels with our anxieties about state and watches television any more’ and that the
shoot it’, he has to learn pity, which he is corporate surveillance, the death of privacy future lies with ‘BBC Me’, where viewers
able to do only through the recognition of and the fear of minorities (justified or other- provide content for the corporation instead
his ill-treatment of his mother, leading to wise) came across in a way that managed to of the outmoded other way round.
her death. The things that we have seen the feel both unignorable and unforced. It was As usual, enjoying W1A’s pin-sharp, side-
Child mistreating, from furniture to live also nicely tricky to work out whose side we of-the-angels satire was undercut by just one
creatures, are all moved when he bandages were on. thing: the thought that somewhere in the
the Squirrel’s wounded paw, and they mur- My only slightly sheepish reservation is real BBC there’ll be people wondering if all
mur that ‘Il est bon, l’enfant’ — Ravel’s ver- that the ending was one of those inconclu- this doesn’t sound like rather a good idea
sion of Parsifal’s final healing of Amfortas’s sive ones, where the final revelation — in (going forward).
the spectator | 23 september 2017 | 45

The rivals: Shia LaBeouf as John McEnroe and Sverrir Gudnason as Bjorn Borg in Borg vs McEnroe

rally and now, you will be thankful to hear, quite easily have been called plain Borg. Yet
Cinema that’s it with the tennis puns. (I only had we still don’t get under his skin. Far from it.
No balls two anyhow.) Mostly, he is allowed to stare deeply into
The film stars Sverrir Gudnason as the middle distance like some dishy Scandi-
Deborah Ross Borg and Shia LaBeouf as McEnroe and noir detective or, perhaps, a character from
it all plays out in the lead-up to their most a Bergman film. But what is he thinking? We
Borg vs McEnroe famous showdown. That is, the 1980 Wim- never find out.
U, Nationwide bledon final that ran to five tempestuous Directed by Janus Metz, and written by
Ronnie Sandahl, the film initially depicts
Borg vs McEnroe is a dramatised account Borg stares dishily out to sea, but what the players as polar opposites. Borg is
of one of the greatest tennis rivalries of is he thinking? We never find out shown in his Monaco apartment, staring
all time — between Bjorn Borg and John deeply and dishily out to sea, while McEn-
McEnroe (the clue was always in the title) sets. For Borg, the cool Swede, a win would roe watches TV footage of himself, remon-
— that doesn’t hit nearly as hard as it mean a record-breaking fifth consecutive strating with a referee, prior to appearing
should. It does the job. It gets us from A to title, but only if he could see off this Ameri- on a TV chat show. ‘You and Borg are as
B. But it doesn’t dazzle. It doesn’t have the can upstart with the volatile temper, potty different as two people can be,’ the chat-
dramatic smarts to lend either surprising mouth and wild, frizzy hair. It also interlaces show host tells him.
tension or excitement to otherwise famil- their back stories although, being a Scandi- Borg is ‘Ice-Borg’. He is unflappable,
iar events, or shed any new light on them. navian production, it is far more interested seemingly emotionless. He spends the night
It’s more the pt-pt-pt-pt of a stolid baseline in Borg than in McEnroe. The film could before matches testing the strings on nearly
46 the spectator | 23 september 2017 |
50 rackets, feeling the tension with his bare along the shoreline near her home with a
feet. Meanwhile, McEnroe (‘Superbrat’) is
Radio notebook and pen. ‘Just writing down every
shown losing his cool every which way. He Seeing the light wildflower that I saw… It does seem to help
loses his cool on court, with interviewers, take my mind away from the torture cham-
and does not obsessively test his rackets Kate Chisholm ber inside my head and to focus on the sea
the night before. Instead, he goes clubbing. campion or thistles…’
I think that if the chat-show host hadn’t ‘You can’t lie… on radio,’ says Liza Tarbuck. This week on the World Service its
pointed out that they’re as different as two The Radio 2 DJ was being interviewed for daily afternoon programme, BBC OS,
people can be, we might possibly even have the network’s birthday portrait, celebrat- presented by Nuala McGovern, has been
worked it out for ourselves. ing 50 years since it morphed from the Light looking at the experiences of Syrian refu-
Except they aren’t, essentially. That dif- Programme into its present status as the gees across Europe and the Middle East
ferent. The film’s big reversal comes at UK’s best-loved radio station — with almost in an unusual collaboration with Germa-
around the halfway mark when we spool 15 million listeners each week. ‘The intimacy ny’s Westdeutscher Rundfunk radio sta-
back in time to see that Borg was furi- of radio dictates you can’t lie because peo- tion and Swedish Radio (both of which are
ously angry as a youngster, but had been ple can hear it.’ funded at least in part by licence fee). The
taught to channel it by his trainer, Berge- She’s absolutely right. As she went on intention, part of a European Broadcast-
lin (Stellan Skarsgard). ‘All that rage, fear to explain, when you’re driving and it’s just ing Union initiative, is to find out wheth-
and panic,’ Bergelin tells him. ‘Load it in the radio and you, no distraction, ‘You can er those who have been forced to flee are
every stroke.’ The young Borg runs into the hear things in my voice that I don’t even recovering from being uprooted, from
forest, screams, hits trees, gets over himself, know I’m giving away.’ It’s what makes those terrifying journeys by sea and long
emerges a new man. (What is this therapy radio so testing for politicians, you can see treks across Europe in the hope of find-
and where can I get some?) But where did right through them, and why so many of the ing refuge. Are they beginning to feel inte-
all the anger come from initially? There’s DJs on Radio 2 have become household grated with the communities where they
some suggestion that he suffered from dis- names. We love Ken Bruce, Jo Whiley, Liza ended up?
crimination as a boy, wasn’t considered the Tarbuck, Clare Teal, Steve Wright — and WDR has established its own digital sta-
so many of those who have gone before — tion for refugees, edited and presented by
The film simply pt-pt-pt-pts its way because they sound as if they really want to them. WDRforyou reaches its audience,
from A to B, like a stolid baseline rally talk to us, really know how we are feeling, in Farsi, Pashtu, Arabic and other Middle
really want to make our days a little more Eastern languages, mostly through Face-
right class for tennis, but this isn’t a suffi- cheerful. book. Monday’s ‘live’ broadcast on the
cient explanation. And as an adult, he had Even when, as Ken Bruce told us in the
all these weird superstitious rituals — his rather clumsily titled Bryan Adams: Radio ‘Writing down every wildflower I saw
parents were only allowed to watch him 2 — a Birthday Portrait (produced by Susan seemed to take my mind away from
at Wimbledon every second year and had Marling), it used to take four days for a lis- the torture chamber in my head’
to wear the same clothes; he always had tener’s comment to reach him in the stu-
to have the same hire car — which are dio, there was always an immediacy about World Service (produced by Zoe Murphy)
explained to us in montage but are never the connection between presenter and lis- was from the WDR studios in Cologne and
interwoven into his psyche. tener. On this has been built Radio 2’s suc- was streamed throughout Europe via the
Meanwhile, McEnroe is so barely col- cess. You might not like the music but it’s EBU. Salama and May, both from Syria and
oured-in he’s more of a sideshow. LaBeouf hard to switch off when the chat between trained as journalists by WDR and Swed-
does capture his scrappy volatility, but it’s tracks is so engaging, so energised, so keen ish Radio respectively, gave us their take
that, over and over. And Gudnason’s per- to please, without being patronising, over- on what it means to be a refugee. Salama
formance is ultimately as shallow because eager or complacent. Your attention is wanted to investigate attitudes to death in
he’s never required to show anything never taken for granted. Germany. What will happen when I die?
beyond that cool detachment. But what is It’s always been a go-to place for me Where should I be buried? If in Germany,
he thinking, ffs? Nope, still haven’t a clue. when I need a pick-me-up, a more light- none of my Syrian relatives will be able to
It does make you long for scriptwrit- hearted look at the world, an alternative visit my grave.
er Peter Morgan to have taken it on. He is to gloom and despair. The new season of May, who arrived in Sweden in 2012, was
the master of warring rivalries: Rush, The One to One (produced by Mark Smalley) married at 15 to an abusive husband. She is
Damned United, Frost/Nixon, even The on Radio 4 is focusing on practical, every- now divorced and no longer wears the hijab.
Queen, which was, in effect, the Queen vs day ways to counteract more serious bouts She wanted to find out how other Syrian
Tony Blair. He would have given us a dra- of despair. Isabel Hardman, assistant edi- women have been affected by moving to a
matic through line, as well as an understand- tor of this magazine, talked about her own country where attitudes to marriage, gender
ing as to why any of this might matter, plus struggles with mental illness and in the equality, the woman’s place are so different.
those smarts — the ones that bring tension first programme on Tuesday took us out- ‘I feel like a teenager,’ she says. ‘I’m finding
and excitement to familiar events. The final doors, into the countryside, to hear from out who I really am.’
match, told in a 20-minute sequence, may the psychiatrist Dr Alan Kellas what he Later in the week we heard from Syr-
or may not be a decent re-enactment —I’m has learned about the benefits to health ians living in Malmo in Sweden, Berlin,
not enough of a tennis nut to know — but of reconnecting ourselves with the natural Beirut, Cairo and Athens. What emerges
because we’ve never properly understood world. is how different the stories of integration
what’s at stake for both players psychologi- Kellas is working on research into ‘sus- can be, and how surprising, the newcom-
cally, there is little at stake for us. Also, the tainable’ mental health, suggesting that ers to Beirut sometimes finding it far more
pacing is so workmanlike that it does not being outdoors can help us to become difficult to settle than those who ended up
feel like any kind of thrilling culmination. aware, to switch on our hearing, engage with in Malmo.
It has simply pt-pt-pt-pt-ed its way to here. the world, while being active may provide If you missed them, the reports and live
This is, in short, a standard sports biopic a sense of purpose. Hardman recalled how programme can be found online. It’s an
which, like I said, does the job. But it cer- she has been helped by engaging in ‘method- opportunity to catch up on stories that have
tainly does not ace it. (Look! I had a third!) ical activities’, forcing herself to go for walks slipped off the agenda.
the spectator | 23 september 2017 | 47

LCD Soundsystem: American

Grade: B+
Number one. Everywhere, just about.
You have to say that the man has
a certain sureness of touch. Hip
enough not to be quite mainstream,
rock enough not to be quite pop. The
knowing nods — to Depeche Mode,
Eno, 1970s post-punk and 1980s
grandiosity and always, always, Bowie.
Fifteen years on from James
Murphy’s first excursion in these
clothes and the man from New
Jersey, now grizzled and greying, has
come up with an album as good as
any he’s made — which is a qualified
nod of admiration: I often find his
tunes too eager to please, the neatly
corralled stabs of funk a little forced.
Murphy always wants to have his
cake and eat it, get the dance crowd
in and the indie kids too. You have
to say that, commercially, this
formula works. But it is a very arch
balancing act. Robert Lindsay as Jack Cardiff in Prism
American Dream — you just know
that title isn’t going to be one of
exultation — is fashionably morose,
full of self-reproach. There are whiffs cess and it treats geopolitics like a flat-share
of the Bunnymen here and there and,
Theatre comedy. The bickering partners are hauled
as the melodies swarm upwards and Speech therapy in by the lordly Norwegians and forced to
power chords come in, even (Christ hammer out their differences around the
help us) Simple Minds. But, leaving Lloyd Evans table. Play-goers need have no prior knowl-
the lyrics — banal, inchoate, self- edge of Israel and its fraught relationship
pitying — aside, there are some very Oslo with the Palestinians. Everything is laid out
fine moments. Few people can tweak Lyttelton Theatre, until 23 September on a plate and the viewer is made to feel like
their little synthesisers to such effect. a privileged observer at the launch of a con-
‘I Used To’ is ominous, thudding, Prism spiracy. Each side is guilty of subterfuge and
electro-rock with a crisp, mesmerising Hampstead Theatre, until 14 October exaggeration. The Norwegians pretend to
drumbeat. ‘Oh Baby’ — fiendishly be impartial while engaging in ‘constructive
cleverly constructed — sounds a bit Oslo opened in the spring of 2016 at a mod- ambiguity’, i.e. the creation of false obstacles
like Yazoo covering Suicide. The best est venue in New York. It moved to Broad- whose removal can be claimed as a victory
is last — the 12-minute minimalist way and this imported version has arrived by either party.
throb of ‘Black Screen’, where at last at the National on its way to a prebooked Toby Stephens enjoys himself playing
the listener is invited to wait a while, run at the Harold Pinter Theatre. It’s bound the host, Terje Rod-Larsen, as an oily buf-
to immerse themselves, before the to be a hit because it’s good fun, it gives a foon, and Paul Herzberg’s Simon Peres is an
pay-off. If only he had the confidence, knotty political theme a thorough examina- amusing study in majestic vanity. Director
or the lack of concern, to do that tion, and it’s aimed squarely at the ignorant. Bartlett Sher manages to capture the emo-
more often. In the early 1990s Norwegian diplomats tional temper of the talks. The delegates are
— Rod Liddle set up ‘back-channel’ talks between the all chest-thumping males who seem to adore
PLO and Israel. The play follows that pro- the romance of the process, the schoolboy
48 the spectator | 23 september 2017 |
secrecy, the encrypted language, the hush- to Cardiff pootling around in his garage in Meyer — their first female candidate — did
hush locations, the scent of power, and the extreme old age again. not suit their sound. In 2005, Riccardo Muti
awareness that history itself is present at the There are great things in this flawed play. was ousted at La Scala by a players’ vote of
table. It becomes clear that the simple phys- Fans of Hollywood’s glory years will adore no confidence.
ical proximities, the sharing of waffles and it. But the blunders and missteps are puz- Further erosions followed. In the
whisky, can help to break down the barriers. zling. Terry Johnson has been allowed to absence of maestros, managers controlled
Sworn enemies gradually move from mutual combine the roles of writer, script editor and content. ‘I would never let a music director
suspicion to grudging respect and finally to director. An extra pair of eyes would have tell me which soloists to hire,’ a US orchestra
amity and friendship. helped. president assures me. ‘Nor would I accept
By the end the Arabs are laughing at an his preferred guest conductors.’ Patron-
impersonation of Yasser Arafat performed age used to be a maestro’s perk, giving old
by an Israeli wearing his jacket as a head- Music codgers access to young talent that some
dress. A melancholy truth emerges from all would shamefully abuse. Loss of patron-
this: if every Israeli and Palestinian were Director’s cut age has all but disabled the role. Except for
forced to spend a month talking heart-to- Norman Lebrecht Muti in Chicago and Barenboim at the Ber-
heart to his neighbours, peace would follow. lin State Opera it is hard to name a musical
Terry Johnson’s new play charts the life institution today where the dominant voice
of Jack Cardiff, an Oscar-winning camera- Much fuss has been made of the title given belongs to the music director.
man, who worked with Hitchcock, John to Sir Simon Rattle on arrival at the Lon- Take Covent Garden. Antonio Pappa-
Huston, King Vidor, and many others. We don Symphony Orchestra. Unlike his LSO no has kept the old ship running at decent
meet the ageing genius in his dotage as he predecessors — Valery Gergiev, Colin speed for 15 years but was powerless to
dodders around a converted garage in the Davis, Michael Tilson Thomas, Claudio
care of his wife and a nurse. The set-up is Abbado, André Previn — all of whom were Simon Rattle has a job title that has
baffling. Cardiff is writing an autobiogra- engaged as principal conductor, Rattle has less clout than a viscountcy
phy and he describes to his nurse the artis- been named music director, a position that
tic challenges involved in creating a great bears serious administrative responsibilities. stop cuts to his orchestra. Over 45 years at
shot. Yet Cardiff has severe dementia so As Rattle put it recently in one of a dozen the Met, James Levine has left no lasting
media interviews: ‘Valery wasn’t interested, imprint. When his friend, Kathleen Battle,
If every Israeli and Palestinian were nor Claudio. Colin loved them to bits, but was fired for being a pest, Levine was unable
forced to spend a month talking heart- he made it very clear that he did not want to reinstate her. At the Vienna State Opera,
to-heart, peace would follow anything to do with the running or the audi- all Franz Welser-Möst could do when his
tions or the personnel… I will be much more productions were cut by the general director
his vanishing vocabulary keeps undermin- involved with the day to day.’ was to resign, stating that the music direc-
ing his ability to reminisce articulately. And But will he? Of all the erosions that tor’s job lacked meaningful authority.
for some reason the nurse has a dual role have affected orchestras in the past genera- So what, exactly, can Rattle hope to
as a secretary. Her job is to annotate Car- tion, among the most significant is the pro- achieve at the LSO? He has told friends he
diff’s random thoughts and shape them into gressive degradation of the music director. would like to see some changes in person-
a book. And yet she doesn’t own a computer. Once a towering despot who fired players nel, but hiring and firing are entirely in the
She has to bang out his words two-fingered at will and treated orchestras as personal players’ hands. All the music director can
on an old typewriter. It’s very hard to grasp. fiefdoms — think Toscanini, Beecham, Solti do is nudge and wink to his supporters and
Robert Lindsay seems content to play — the role evolved first into a chummy pri- hope for a desired outcome. Rattle opened
Cardiff as a harmlessly dotty old twerp. mus inter pares and latterly into some way the season with a programme of all Eng-
Claire Skinner, far too young for Cardiff’s below par. lish composers, most of them living, but he
wife, potters around in mumsy clothes and The passing of tyrants is not altogether won’t be allowed to push programming any
a hairdo like an electrocuted hedgehog. unwelcome. Boston players still tell of the further than the box office will bear — and it
It’s all rather dispiriting to watch. After oboist who, fired in mid-rehearsal, stalked won’t bear more than one such eye-catcher
the interval we flip back half a century out yelling, ‘Fuck you, Koussevitzky!’ The per season.
and we’re in the Belgian Congo, where Russian maestro, no master of English idiom, What Rattle ought to do is abolish oti-
Cardiff is filming The African Queen. We replied, ‘Is too late to apologise.’ Despotism ose tours that exhaust his best players,
watch him relaxing between takes as he of his kind was decidedly unappealing. along with the recording dates at Abbey
plays cards with Bogie and Lauren Bacall Leonard Bernstein, Koussevitzky’s pro- Road with fourth-rate wannabees. But LSO
and swaps catty witticisms with Katharine tégé, pioneered a friendlier style, salting his needs the dough from these dates and play-
Hepburn. A sex-mad Bacall drags Bogie rehearsals with Jewish jokes and, on occa- ers would not tolerate a music director who
off for a quickie in the jungle and Bogie sion, dropping both hands to his sides and interferes with revenue streams.
lashes Hepburn with a caustic put-down. conducting by expression alone — as if to In an ideal world, Rattle would tour the
‘No wonder Spencer drinks.’ This half-hour say that the conductor is a luxury item, to be LSO around its own country, instead of eve-
section is so good it deserves to be extend- sparingly used and widely shared. rywhere abroad, with a rallying cry to raise
ed into a full-length play. By the 1980s it was common for the top standards. That won’t happen either, because
Claire Skinner is utterly transformed as maestros to be music director on two or the Arts Council won’t fund anything that
Hepburn. Her wig and make-up deserve three continents, allowing each orchestra treads on the toes of regional clients. All of
prizes for their creator, Amy Coates. Skin- a fragment of their golden attention. With which leaves Rattle with a job title that has
ner brilliantly conveys Hepburn’s delicate, maestros away, their powers were usurped. less clout than a viscountcy, an honorific to
prickly manner, and her punctilious dic- Musicians seized the right to choose new deceive the media into believing in miracles.
tion is matched by the barbed fluency of her members of the orchestra. In 1989, Herbert These inhibitions may help explain why the
prose. The entire scene is wonderful. Then von Karajan resigned from the Berlin Phil- incoming music director has set such store
the action shifts again. Marilyn wafts in and harmonic after years of acrimony, following on getting the public authorities to build him
we watch Cardiff setting up a shot and eas- the players’ rejection of his choice of prin- a new hall. That, at least, could be credited as
ing her frazzled nerves. Then we’re back cipal clarinet in 1983, arguing that Sabine a concrete achievement.
the spectator | 23 september 2017 | 49

Gresham College
By Mark Mason

ow many people need to gather There were more shenanigans in the 1890s,

together before it becomes more when the professor of geometry Karl
likely than not that at least two of Pearson illustrated his lectures on the laws
them will share a birthday? The answer of chance by scattering 10,000 pennies
might surprise you. It’s just one of the many across the floor.
intriguing facts that I’ve learned at Gresh- By then the college had moved to new
am College. premises. They’ve since moved again, to
Gresham was founded in 1597, the Barnard’s Inn Hall, a 14th-century gem near
brainchild of Thomas Gresham, king of Chancery Lane. Some of the bigger lectures
what’s now called the Square Mile. He had take place at the Museum of London, while
also established the Royal Exchange, and more than 2,000 have been recorded and
decreed that rents paid by merchants there School of thought: the site of the first are available to watch on the college’s web-
should fund free lectures open to anyone. college in Bishopsgate site. I love the thought of Thomas Gresh-
The arrangement continues to this day. No am coming back to see his dream of wider
need to enrol or book: anyone can turn up occupant of the second post was Christo- learning fulfilled on such a scale.
at any lecture that takes their fancy. So next pher Wren. In 1660 the college gave birth So how many people do have to gath-
time you buy a Paul Smith T-shirt or Tiffany to the Royal Society, which meant that, for er together for a 51 per cent probability
ring at the Exchange, congratulate yourself a while, the Society’s members were known of a shared birthday? It’s just 23. Count-
on your contribution to public learning. as ‘Greshamites’. Samuel Pepys attended a er-intuitive, I know, but think of it this way.
The logos of both institutions feature a 1666 lecture at which one of the first-ever You’re the first person in the room. The sec-
grasshopper: this was Gresham’s emblem. blood transfusions occurred. ‘There was a ond person to enter has a 1 in 365 chance
One of his ancestors was abandoned in the pretty experiment of the blood of one dog of sharing your birthday. So does the third
countryside as a newborn baby, and was only let out, till he died, into the body of another person, making it 2 in 365. But there’s also
discovered when a boy chased a grasshopper on one side, while all his own run out on the the chance they could share each other’s
into the field. Gresham knew that without other side,’ he wrote. ‘The first died upon birthday. Imagine those three possibilities
that insect he would never have existed. the place, and the other very well, and likely as the three sides of a triangle. When you
From the start, lectures were delivered in to do well.’ get to four people there are the four sides of
English as well as Latin (Oxford and Cam- At that time, professors lived in the a square, plus the diagonals. Now imagine a
bridge used only the latter). Gresham also college (then sited on Bishopsgate). Rob- 23-sided shape, with every point joined to
led its more famous cousins in having pro- ert Hooke knocked a hole in his roof every other point. The possibilities sudden-
fessors of geometry and astronomy; an early so he could stick a telescope through it. ly seem a lot larger than you assumed...

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By post By email By phone SPEPRASY17
‘To try to solve the puzzle of socialism’s
enduring appeal, we have to turn to
evolutionary psychology’
— Toby Young, p60

very strong, has a sweet nature and thinks wear our club tie. Everyone, including Arki
High life only of girls all day, and definitely all night. Busson and Rolf Sachs, who never wear
Taki Both children have expressed shock to me neckties, did so.
at how their peers see rules and traditions Celebrations of a life are bittersweet
as something to resist or ridicule on the occasions. Some are too corny, others down-
grounds that they interfere with self-expres- right false. This was as good as it gets. The
sion. They also agree with me about mass Revd Emma Smith was perfect, the choir
tourism, the bane of modern life. divine, and things began to rock with Sir
When the hippies first told us that if it James McGrigor’s childhood memories of
feels good, do it, one never imagined that 40 Nick. Rolling in the aisles, as they say. He
years later their message would have become was followed by Commodore Tim Hoare, a
law. One can even change gender nowadays lifelong friend and Eton schoolmate. Tim is
As everyone who stands up when a lady by declaring oneself a man or a woman, and a very serious man who shows only his funny
enters the room knows, the once sacrosanct make the news if anyone expresses shock. side to people. He spoke briefly and mov-
rules of civility throughout the West have It’s all about being a victim. Now everything ingly, and generously gave Bob the rostrum.
all but disappeared. The deterioration in goes, including activities once considered We l l , M a r k A n t o n y w o u l d h a v e
manners has been accelerated by the com- shameful or criminal. Third-century Rome blanched. Geldof spoke for 30 minutes and
ing of the devil’s device, the dehumanising has nothing on the 21st-century West. when he finished, everyone in the church
iPhone, as well as by phoney ‘art’ and artists Thus, despite the sadness of the occa- wanted more. Both Tim and Bob spoke
such as Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons. I don’t sion, the hundreds of us who attended the with such eloquence and heart-rending
know why, but Warhol is a bugbear of mine. memorial service of thanksgiving and cele- truthfulness that Nick was brought back to
He always treated me politely, featured me bration for the life of Nick Scott were a wel- life. This is a hard thing to say but I have
favourably in his magazine Interview, and come sight. Nick was president of Pugs club, never in all my days heard a better eulogy.
referred to me in a good light in his diaries. dandy, soldier, raconteur, humorist extraor- He described Nick in depth, but his flaws
Perhaps me being violent back then — he dinaire, gentleman, landscape artist, farceur, came across in a positive light, all due to
headlined a cover story with a reference to great friend and as sensitive a soul as it is Geldof’s words. He didn’t hide a thing. Nor
me being a terrorist among the rich — made possible to be without being too precious for did he skirt any issue. The rhythm was per-
him think twice before he stuck the knife in. words. They say that you can tell a man by fect, from sad to funny, from melancholy to
Warhol ruined many lives by leading peo- his friends. Well, just check out the following: burst-out-loud laughter.
ple astray with drugs and false promises, but the Maharajah of Jodhpur did a round trip My only hope is that this extraordinary
most of all he ruined art by making it showy. from India — 20 hours’ flying time — on his eulogy has been preserved on tape. The
The fact that today’s hustlers sell a picture magic carpet. The crown prince of Greece, mother of my children called it the best ever
of a Coke bottle or a shark suspended in Pavlos, hopped on a plane in New York, flew and I have to agree. Geldof is a poet of rare
formaldehyde for millions is obscene. The all night, attended the service at St Luke’s intelligence and talent and what a pity it was
worship of money and celebrity is Warhol’s Church, Chelsea, then drove back to Heath- that he called me useless during the greatest
legacy and art’s tragedy. row and caught a plane back to the Bagel. eulogy ever.
I thought of Warhol and what I call ELCP His brother, Prince Nikolaos, flew in from
— Extraordinarily Lower Class People — as Greece, as did George Livanos, whose doc-
I roamed around London this week. Being tor has prescribed rest. Bob Geldof changed Low life
an ELCP has nothing to do with the old class the dates of his singing tour in order to
system; it is all about vile manners while address us. I’ll get to that in a moment. A Jeremy Clarke
shopping in Bond Street. Most ELCPs are part of the church was reserved for Pugs
Chinese, with dyed blond hair, wires in their club members and we were all advised by
ears and an extremely vapid expression on the president pro tem Count Bismarck to
their faces. The only thing that matters to
an ELCP is wealth, and the ability to out-
shop the next idiot. Comfort and fame are
also prerequisites. They are forever posting
pictures of their ugly selves via the devil’s
instrument. The Tao, which was known as
the Way of Heaven, and which embodied I got off the plane at Changi still pleasant-
the sacred character of ancient China, has ly sedated by Xanax, passed through the
gone with the same wind that swept away ‘nothing to declare’ channel, and there, wait-
the antebellum south in the US. ing with my name on a signboard, was my
I may write as an oldie, but my children guide for the next four days. Joy was short,
agree with me. They both have impeccable middle-aged and had a low centre of grav-
manners, although my daughter has inher- ity. She was Chinese, she said, pleased about
ited my violent side. Her raised voice sends it. A minibus and driver were waiting at the
shivers. My son, who is a great athlete and Saying it with flowers kerb. ‘Get in!’ said Joy. I did as I was told. We
the spectator | 23 september 2017 | 53

drove to the centre of Singapore just in time ly losing confidence in the intelligence of said simply ‘Trump’, which made it far more
for the Garden Rhapsody light and sound the waiter, she would have truck only with covetable. That is how much her Americans
show. the manager. When at last she found time love and appreciate her. She would bring it
‘Look! Supertrees! Can you see them?’ for conversation with her new client, she tomorrow and show me. Unfortunately for
she said. You couldn’t miss them. Tower- monopolised it. me, she would not be wearing it. It was too
ing above and around us were a dozen or so Joy was a simple soul and inordinate- precious. But she would bring it and let me
50-metre-tall branched steel structures twin- ly proud of the social status conferred by have a look at it.
kling with coloured lights. For a quarter of an her prestigious occupation of tourist guide. Another feather in her cap was getting
hour the lights changed colour in time to the There was a very famous, very beautiful to shake hands with the Duchess of Cam-
chord changes of sentimental songs from hit Hong Kong film starlet, in fact, who pre- bridge five years ago. Joy flicked through her
musicals. We sat cross-legged on the ground ferred to use her above any other guide phone’s photo album and showed me a video
among a thousand other tourists gaping when she visited Singapore. She showed me clip of Kate Middleton looking very glad to
upwards. ‘Look! No litter! Very clean!’ said a photograph on her huge smartphone: Joy have just met Joy. Joy told me how adroit she
standing next to this beautiful Hong Kong had been that day in obtaining information
Joy showed me a video clip of film star. Joy’s face was a picture of star- from a security guard — one of her many
Kate Middleton looking very struck defiance. ‘Which one is you?’ I said. contacts — about which part of the penned-
pleased to have met her ‘Funny,’ she said, dismissively. in crowd Kate would make for first.
She was immensely popular, she said, I was indeed most fortunate, I agreed,
Joy, impatiently diverting my attention from and particularly with American tourists. to be allocated such a prestigious and well-
the rhapsody of light and sound to the clean- One of them had lately sent her a Donald connected guide. Something akin to modes-
liness of the concrete on which we sat. I obe- Trump election-campaign baseball cap. It ty fleetingly softened her features. Amazing
diently searched the concrete for litter. ‘Did was a special edition, I must understand. as her life was, however, Joy felt that she was
you enjoy?’ she said when the music stopped Instead of saying ‘Trump–Pence’, this one destined for greater things. This job was only
and the lights ceased to flash. ‘Very gay,’ I
said. ‘Gay?’ she said. She was dumbfound-
ed. ‘What you mean, gay? I don’t understand
you. Now we eat.’
We ate at a table for two in a circular
restaurant perched in the canopy of one of A Ghost in the Rylands Library
these ridiculous Supertrees. Joy ordered the
restaurant staff around with toe-curling per-
emptoriness. She chose the dishes. Quick- The other members of the conference
are scholars of after-lives
but since my papers lie in this archive
I am visiting the story
of old conflicts and silly disappointments
INTRODUCTORY OFFER: now once again exposed:

Subscribe for I am a ghost

only £1 an issue of all the messy drafts which here survive

– and so much energy went into them
9 Weekly delivery of the magazine I might have managed a more sensible life.
9 App access to the new Instead I chose to register
issue from Thursday all that felt with so much urgency
9 Full website access it could not be forgiven.

My generous hosts,
Iran is our natural ally The National Trust in trouble Boris in Libya

Can you forgive her?

Isabel Hardman and Matthew Parris on Theresa May’s fate

TAKI it is an honour to be in your possession.
I was always driven
to find the human voice within a song
ou on
H less

and set out thoughts as clear as spoken words could make them –
but for all my dedication
0330 333 0050 quoting A152A

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available. $2 a week in Australia call 089 362 4134
or go to
— Elaine Feinstein
54 the spectator | 23 september 2017 |

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a foot on the first rung of the ladder. Was I entering your email, but if you do all it says
married, she said? Sadly not, I said. Was she
Real life is ‘Please tell us your email address.’ ‘But you
married? ‘No. Single,’ she said. Melissa Kite already have my email address, you fiends!
The Xanax had made me ravenous. Joy That’s why I’m angry!’ I scream at the screen.
talked about her work and her famous cli- Not wanting to enter my email again, and
ents and her ambition while I gulped down make the seventh circle of junk-mail hell
the spicy food. ‘Eat!’ she said, maternally even worse, I decided to ring customer ser-
shovelling another heap of whatever it was vices. I suppose I expected a mild apology.
on to my plate. ‘Do you like the music?’ she But the chap on the other end of the
said. The music was a repetitive saxophone phone — in Swansea — took umbrage.
melody with a sort of spaced-out funk ‘That’s nothing to do with us,’ he snapped.
‘How can emails from BT asking me to
The Donald Trump election BT have just put the phone down on me for sign up for BT Sport be nothing to do with
campaign baseball hat was too asking them to stop sending me junk mail, BT?’ I asked, hardly believing that those
precious to wear, she said which is a bit much really. I rang the cus- words were having to come out of me as
tomer services number to ask if they would they came out of me.
background. If I had said not, no doubt she please unsubscribe me from all the emails ‘I don’t know who they’re from,’ he said.
would have conferred with the manager and they’ve been sending since I became a wifi ‘They’re not from us.’ And he went on and
had it changed. I did like it, however, and customer of theirs. ‘You’re driving me mad on about how he had no way of stopping
said so. In fact, I was listening to it, repet- with these emails,’ I explained, and truly I emails that were nothing personally to do
itive as it was, rather than to her. She did was at the end of my tether. with him.
not like it, she said. It was bloody awful. She Every day, the same message arrives in ‘I’m not saying you personally sent these
said ‘bloody awful’ in a posh British accent. my inbox, warning me I have only days left emails!’ I said, my voice getting on for a
‘Do you like my accent?’ she said. ‘I am to take advantage of a special offer on BT squawk. He then gave me the old ‘calm
funny, aren’t I? Everyone laughs so much Sport. I wouldn’t mind but one of the things down or I won’t help you at all’ routine.
when I do my funny accents. Oh, you will I spent countless precious hours of my exist- ‘Look, I’m cross because you’ve done some-
see how funny I am. All my clients say I am ence explaining to BT when I took out wifi thing wrong,’ I said. ‘This is another prob-
so funny. Eat!’ I gobbled faster. ‘You have was that on no account did I want BT Sport. lem. You wind your customers up then tell
never been married?’ she said, sceptically. I’ve tried to unsubscribe from the emails but us we’re the problem when we get angry.’
‘No,’ I said. ‘You have girlfriend?’ ‘Many,’ all that happens when I select the unsub- ‘Well, I’m just trying to help.’ No, you’re
I said. ‘Oh,’ she said, and for a moment she scribe option is that I am redirected to a not. ‘The thing is,’ I said, ‘I took out BT wifi,
looked crestfallen. page bearing a short paragraph that, if it I gave you my money, and all you’ve done
is a way to unsubscribe, is surely the most ever since is send me an email a day asking
impenetrable way that proposition has ever me for more money. So if they don’t stop I’ll
been worded. This is it, word for word: have to terminate my account.’
‘Contact BT. Email is the quickest and He told me to hold the line while he got a
most environmentally friendly way to keep supervisor. A very short time later, barely a
up to date with BT’s latest news and offers. minute, he came back and informed me that
We’d love to continue contacting you by his colleague had successfully unsubscribed
email, but feel free to unsubscribe here if me from all BT marketing emails.
PODCAST you wish. Email address………………… Oh, so when you said you can’t make
If you are a BT customer and just want to them stop what you meant was you can
WRITERS WORTH change your contact email address please make them stop in 30 seconds, I didn’t say.
visit ‘Out of curiosity, before I go, tell me what
LISTENING TO Submit.’ it was I should have done on that unsub-
That’s it. All you can conceivably do is scribe page.’
enter your email. But as they already have ‘You press the unsubscribe button and it
my email, and what I’m trying to achieve is unsubscribes…’ ‘No, ’ I said. ‘You can’t press
them not having my email, how does enter- a button…’
ing my email achieve un-entering my email? ‘You’re not listening!’ he shouted, and
You can click the submit button without then he went off on one, yelling down the
phone about me not paying attention. ‘You
need to calm down,’ I said. There was a gasp,
a barely audible retort. ‘You (something or
other)…’ And a click, as the phone went
down. The usual questionnaire was texted
to my phone 15 minutes later.
‘Hello, BT here. You spoke to our advi-
sor. What did you think?’
Subscribe to The Spectator ‘Well, I rang to complain, he told me to
Podcast on the iTunes calm down, shouted at me, then, when I told
store or listen at him to calm down, he put the phone down on me,’ I texted back.
‘Thank you for taking part in our survey.
Your feedback will help us to continually
improve.’ Of course it will. And I’ll get no
more junk mail. And the world will live as
56 the spectator | 23 september 2017 |
Susanna Gross

I’m writing this from Stuart Wheeler’s beau-

tiful villa in Tangier, in the hills just above the
bay, where for a week every September he
hosts a high-stake rubber bridge game. There

are sometimes one or two new faces, but usu- as de Daumas Gassac is one of has a touch more weight and creaminess,
ally it’s the lucky old regulars who return, the great estates of the Langue- being a half-and-half blend of Viognier and
like Patrick Lawrence, Alexander Allfrey, doc. Indeed, it is often referred Chardonnay. It has the peachy aromatics of
and none other than the great Andrew Rob- to as the Languedoc’s Grand Cru or First the former and the buttery, honeyed notes of
son. This is my sixth visit, and I love it: the Growth, and I am just one of many to have the latter. It is utterly charming. £10.50, down
company, the food, the booze, the distant call fallen under its spell. from £12.
of the muezzins. Of course, Andrew’s pres- The estate’s Moulin de Gassac range is The 2016 Moulin de Gassac ‘Guilhem’
ence adds an extra layer of magic: it’s a treat famously accessible and shares the same Rouge (4) is a typical Languedoc blend of
to play with and against him, even if he does pedigree and winemaking philosophy as that Syrah, Grenache and Carignan filled with
win our money, and even more so to have of Mas de Daumas Gassac, and speaks just ripe briary fruits, spice and chocolate with a
him on tap to discuss hands. as resolutely of its terroir. long, robust, slightly earthy finish. It’s a crack-
The fun started before we’d even got It is also extremely well-priced, particu- ing value everyday red. £8.95, down from £10.
here. On the plane out from Gatwick, larly so for readers of The Spectator since our The 2016 Moulin de Gassac ‘Albaran’ (5)
Andrew passed us all a bridge quiz, using partners Mr Wheeler have lopped off up to is made from old vine Syrah and Cabernet
real hands from the recent World Transna- £1.50 a bottle. Several of these wines aren’t Sauvignon with some time in oak. It’s a per-
tionals. We had to give in our answers at the available anywhere else and those that are fect autumn red, full of cassis, spicy blueber-
end of the flight, which kept us unusually won’t be so keenly priced. Fill your boots. ries and plums. There’s a touch of vanilla too,
quiet (probably Andrew’s plan). No one got The 2016 Moulin de Gassac ‘Guilhem’ and firm but mellowing tannins and a long
full marks. Try this one — but cover the N/S Blanc (1) is a slowly macerated, cool fer- finish. £10.50, down from £12.
hands as we only got to see E/W: mented blend of Grenache Blanc, Sauvignon Finally, the 2016 Moulin de Gassac ‘Elise’
Blanc and Terret Blanc that’s full of white (6), a half-and-half blend of old vine Syrah
Dealer East z AK 8 3 2 stone fruit and a delightful freshness. It makes and Merlot. It’s full of soft, juicy, concen-
yQ9 6 2 a perfect aperitif. £8.95, down from £10. trated fruit with the smoothest of tannins.
X 10 8 7 The 2016 Moulin de Gassac Viognier Although it’ll keep a year or so it really
w2 (2) is a delight. It’s peachy, apricotty and deserves to be opened immediately and
slightly nutty with surprisingly good acid- knocked back with abandon. £10.50, down
z Q 10 9 ity. It’s as good on its own as it is with grub. from £12.
z 54
y84 £9.95, down from £11.50. The mixed case has two bottles of each
N y A K J 10 3 The 2016 Moulin de Gassac ‘Faune’ (3) wine and delivery, as ever, is free.
XK J 9 5 4 W E
wQ 8 4 w K 10 7
ORDER FORM Spectator Wine Offer
z J 7 6
y 75 Mr. Wheeler, Estate Office, Park Lane BC, Langham, Colchester, Essex CO4 5WR
X6 2 Tel: 01206 713560 Email:
wA J 9 6 53 Please note prices are for cases of 12
List price Club price No.
West North East South White 1 2016 Moulin de Gassac ‘Guilhem’ Blanc, 12% £120.00 £107.40
1y Pass
2 2016 Moulin de Gassac Viognier, 12.5% £138.00 £119.40
1NT Pass 2NT Pass
3NT Pass Pass Pass 3 2016 Moulin de Gassac ‘Faune’, 13% £144.00 £126.00
Red 4 2016 Moulin de Gassac ‘Guilhem’ Rouge, 13% £120.00 £107.40
North led the z3. How would you play? 5 2016 Moulin de Gassac ‘Albaran’, 13.5% £144.00 £126.00
If spades are 4–4 there’s no problem, you can
6 2016 Moulin de Gassac ‘Elise’, 14% £144.00 £126.00
knock out the wA for your ninth trick. But I
was pretty sure North had led from zAKxxx, Mixed 7 Mixed case of six, two each of the above £149.00 £118.70
making it unsafe to play a club. I decided to Mastercard/Visa no. Total
cash the yA (in case the yQ drops), run the
Start date Expiry date Sec. code
diamonds and then finesse the heart. I was
Issue no. Signature Prices include VAT and delivery on
awarded just half a point for my answer, the British mainland. Payment should
because although I would have made the Please send wine to
be made either by cheque with the
contract, my thinking was too shallow. There Name order, payable to Mr. Wheeler, or by
is a way to combine your chances. Start by Address debit or credit card, details of which
cashing five diamonds. North can’t discard a may be telephoned or faxed. This of-
spade. Nor can he discard two hearts if he Postcode Telephone fer, which is subject to availability,
holds yQxxx or yQxx. So he has to discard Email* closes on 4 November 2017.
his club(s). Now you exit with a spade! If *Only provide your email address if you would like to receive offers or communications by email from The Spectator (1828) Limited, part of the Press Holdings
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the spectator | 23 september 2017 | 57


Chess Competition
Bronstein’s legacy Diary stories
Raymond Keene Lucy Vickery
In Competition No. 3016 you were invited
to submit an extract from the diary of the
Last week I focused on the games and somewhat Diagram 1
spouse of a high-profile political figure, liv-
tragic career of the ingenious David Bronstein. ing or dead.
Before his time the King’s Indian Defence was rDb1W4kD It was a neat idea on the part of David

viewed with a certain degree of suspicion, not Silverman to imagine Calpurnia’s journal in
least because of the early and gigantic concessions the style of Bridget Jones’s Diary, but hard
it makes to White in terms of occupation of
central terrain. It was Bronstein who resurrected
WDW0WhnD to match the genius of the original. Also

eye-catching, in a patchy entry, were Philip
and then espoused that previously neglected Machin (Diana Mosley) and Alan Millard
defence, paving the way for later practitioners,
(Ri Sol-ju).
such as Tal, Fischer and Kasparov. Nowadays,
High fives to the winners below, who are
the KID has become one of the main highways
of opening theory, along which both grandmaster
GWHWDPDW rewarded with £25. Adrian Fry takes £30.
and neophyte may travel, secure in the WDWDBDP) Dear Diary and Dear Donald’s people whose job
knowledge that the defence is essentially sound.
is to read Diary for Donald, Melania very happy
today as every day, not tiniest bit terrified. I love
A new book, The King’s Indian Defence: Move by
him (this means Donald, Donald’s people) so
Move (Everyman Chess) by Sam Collins brings
much. His uniquely oval mouth, blue eyes brim
the theory of this opening fully up to date. Here is Diagram 2 full of egotistical fulfilment, that bigly face topped
a game with notes based on those from the book.
rDb1WgkD with hair which only look like gold flavour spun
sugar but is absolutely real, no joking. I love his
Gelfand-Nakamura; Bursa 2010; King’s Indian
Defence Dp0WDrDW tiny little hands poking and kneading where tiny
little hands never should. And above it all, that
W0W)WhWD voice, half wheedle, half bellow, like home-

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 e4 d6 5 Nf3 0-0 6 shopping channel voice-over through bullhorn.
Be2 e5 7 0-0 Nc6 8 d5 Ne7 9 Nd2 Ne8 10 b4 f5 11 ‘Fantastic!’ and ‘Amazing!’ it says over and over,
c5 Nf6 A direct approach, aiming to force f2-f3 so
that the kingside pawns can be set in motion. 11 ...
WDNDP0Wh speaking of itself, of himself, for ever. Like God,
he is everywhere: White House, locker room,
Kh8 is also possible. 12 f3 f4 13 Nc4 g5 14 a4 Ng6 DWHWDP0W television, Ivanka’s place. So I am never really

15 Ba3 White can also play more directly with 15 utterly alone, especially when at his side, with no
cxd6 cxd6 16 Nb5. (diagram 1) 15 ... h5 Nakamura chance (fake news alert!) to plan escape from
crushed another expert of the Classical Variation,
Alexander Beliavsky, after 15 ... Rf7 16 a5 h5 17
$WDQ$WGK gilded cage.
Adrian Fry
b5 dxc5 18 b6 g4 19 bxc7 Rxc7 20 Nb5 g3 21 Nxc7
Nxe4 22 Ne6 Bxe6 23 dxe6 gxh2+ 24 Kxh2 Qh4+ The King, alas, is not the most generous of men. It
25 Kg1 Ng3. 16 b5 dxc5 17 Bxc5 Rf7 18 a5 g4 19 Kxg2, although his position remains is true that he hath given me some pretty pieces of
b6 g3 20 Kh1 Bf8 A logical move – the c5-bishop uncomfortable after 24 ... Rg7. 24 ... Nxe1 jewellery, yet I was chagrined to learn of late that
is perhaps White’s best piece and worth Perhaps Gelfand overlooked this simple but they are but paste. Why, even my ladies-in-waiting
exchanging, plus the second rank is cleared for beautiful idea – White is two queens up but are richly bedecked with veritable rubies,
the black rook. 21 d6 21 Bg1 is very logical, when mated by a lowly pawn after 25 cxd8Q g2 mate. emeralds, and diamonds. I made so bold as to
Black can try 21 ... Nh4! and if 22 Re1, he has the 25 Qxe1 g2+ Again the most precise, even draw this great disparity to the King’s attention,
stunning 22 ... Nxg2!! 23 Kxg2 Rg7 24 Nxe5 gxh2+ better than 25 ... Qxc7 (which was also very but his reply was dismissive: ‘Our coffers are
25 Kh1 Nxe4! and White resigned in Roozmon- good for Black). 26 Kxg2 Rg7+ 27 Kh1 Bh3!! empty, Madam, and gold does not grow on trees
The same theme, but in a stunning second — unless you count the Autumn leaves.’ He
Charbonneau, Montreal 2008. 21 ... axb6 22 Bg1
edition. 28 Bf1 Qd3 29 Nxe5 Bxf1 30 Qxf1 guffawed heartily at his own witticism.
Nh4 23 Re1 A logical move, preparing to shore
Qxc3 31 Rc1 Qxe5 32 c8Q Rxc8 33 Rxc8 Qe6 Now, however, I do believe that the King
up the kingside with Bf1, but also a big error. 23
White resigns A fabulous game by Nakamura, intends to offer me the diamond necklace that I
hxg3 is better. (diagram 2) 23 ... Nxg2!! Exposing
and a wonderful advertisement for Black’s crave, for this morning two gentlemen in his
the white king and setting off a stunning tactical
service called on me. ‘Madam,’ they said. ‘We are
sequence. 24 dxc7 White should have tried 24 chances in this utterly chaotic variation.
instructed by His Majesty to take the
measurements of thy neck.’ I smiled with delight.
Dear, thoughtful Henry!

White to play. This position is from Jobava-

WDW4WDnD Brian Allgar

Nepomniachtchi, FIDE World Cup, Tbilisi 2017. DW1WDpip Today I told Winston millions rely on him, while he
relies on me. I support their support. Never has so
Can you spot White’s winning coup? Answers
to me or via email to
WDWDpHpD much been owed by so many to one poor woman.

He just laughed.
by Tuesday 26 September 2017. There is a prize How glorious! I had his company this evening
of £20 for the first correct answer out of a hat.
Please include a postal address and allow six
W0W4WDWD and we enjoyed dinner together. I told him that this
was our finest hour. He just laughed.
weeks for prize delivery. DWDW!RDP I haven’t seen him for days and then he breezes
in late this evening. ‘I will have to seek you on the
Last week’s solution 1 ... Rg1+ W)WDW)PD landing grounds, in the trenches, in the streets and
Last week’s winner Julian Pope,
South-West London
$WDWDWIW on the beaches,’ I said. He just laughed.
At breakfast this morning he was his stubborn
self. ‘You never, never, never give in or admit
you’re wrong,’ I shouted, to his great amusement.
58 the spectator | 23 september 2017 |

Then he said: ‘You’re my inspiration, Clemmie.’

Inspiration! It would be a wonder if he Crossword
remembers a single word I say.
Frank McDonald
2328: Second
B’s not at her brightest when copying the Latin. Her
latest slogan for getting shot of the invaders is by Pabulum
REXIT MEANS REXIT. I suspect Suetonius won’t
be impressed by that. What’s wrong, I suggested, in a
tactical retreat to the Fens, a bit of a punt on the
Broads, retire to Cromer sort of thing. The people
have spoken, said B, returning to her investigation of
the latest Mona fashions. Apparently they’re
wearing transverse-slash necklines, and carrying 6A and 42 (whose unchecked
badger handbags. Whatever you like, I told her, it’s letters give IDEA) combine
your chariot. Second husbands must know their to suggest the title of a novel.
place. She went off in the afternoon and razed St Remaining unclued lights give
Alban’s: to impress the faithful and appease the the forenames (in one case a
Trinovantes (their leader, Mogga, is getting pretty nickname) of six of its char-
uppity). What about a new slogan? I suggested: say, acters, whose surname (5) will
Strong as a stable. Or, woad and see. She gave me appear diagonally in the com-
that taut smile. The tribal powwow this autumn will pleted grid and must be shaded.
be another bloodbath.
Elsewhere, ignore two accents.
Bill Greenwell

I’ve never liked March — the scaly tail of winter

— but this year I’ll be especially glad to get past
the Ides at least. The atmosphere here is febrile,
1 Interceder tried maxi 41 Wavy Navy in uniform 28 Compounds of actinium
menacing even. Julius says I’m imagining things, of
getting dressed (9) dyed regularly (4) turned dull bluish-grey (7)
course. And now that he’s officially dictator for
9 Sloth-like nursemaids? (4) 43 Empresses freely assist 29 Fanny Adams entering
life he’s even more the great Ego Sum, and thinks
11 Decorum in good session art (9) canon’s house (6)
he’s invulnerable. Veni, vidi, vici is his answer to
with spirits (10) 31 Pancake contains caviar,
everything. When I murmur something about
12 Terrier requiring food (4) Down perhaps it’s tossed (6)
hubris he tells me not to spout Greek at him.
14 Drink Charles imbibed as 1 Priestess in pulpit after 34 Workers over in cattle
‘Greek is for the schoolroom. And I’m certainly
dyspepsia cure (6) mass (5) farms? (5)
not going to feature in anyone’s so-called tragedy.’
18 Gross aristo snubbed 2 Bit of durra – spot of 35 Prosecutor pitched up in
He’s always been brilliantly successful at
knight (4) cereal (5) courts (5)
facing down opposition but I’m afraid he’s not as
20 Kay sat fiddling with classy 3 Most gifted alto made
good at realising what’s going on behind his back.
kimonos (7) joyous (6)
A soothsayer once said he was born by the knife
21 Decay infecting maple 4 Old viol famous rioter
to die by the knife. But she was probably just
pedestal (7) chucks about (5)
another feeble-minded Greek. Pray Mars.
23 Content of burrito cooked 5 Decorator wearing
W.J. Webster
in iron dish (7) coat (7)
24 Painter is saucy in 6 Aircraft designer from
… John’s started behaving rather strangely. Name
conversation (5) hythe in Kelso (7)
Pressure of the job, naturally, but certain tongues
25 Fool about with English 7 Woman is engaging court
have been wagging re his ‘controversial’
poem (5) and makes law (6) Address
replacement of G.H. as Foreign Sec. Sour grapes
27 Lottery prize is this Scot: 10 Nasty Peter, icier and very
will flourish in any vineyard, especially SW1. But
Frank! (7, hyphened) unsympathetic (11)
PM does have her all-seeing Grantham eye on him
30 Poles crew for Charon? (7) 13 Bag carried by little lass (7)
so could be he’s heading for higher things: Tarzan
32 Route first-born talked 15 Most like lute (easily
and Hurdy-Gurdy need to look to their ‘Laurels’.
about with Oscar’s butler transported in case of
On the subject of slapstick comedians, J’s been
(7, hyphened) concert) (8)
invited on to the MCC Select ion Committee, viz.
36 Chief knave with cur’s 16 Crop lauded and valued
middle-aged codgers with lairy schoolboy ties,
heart (4) again (11)
contriving desperate puns involving leg glances,
38 Malign lady pockets sixth 22 Actually excellent tailored Email
short slips, bowling a maiden over, &c. Standards
letter (6) coat (7, two words)
not what they were — ruffians and pop stars get in
39 Go slow inside city (4) 26 Maybe red-bodied
nowadays…where will it end, women in the Long
40 European celebrity still and blue-horned bats
Room? Thomas Lord knows…
painted by artist (10) meander (7)
J v late home — again; claims some of them
went on to an Indian restaurant, wouldn’t say
which. Most odd: he never used to fancy after-
hours Curries… SOLUTION TO 2325: HARD TASK
Mike Morrison
The theme was PIGS.
First prize J. E. Green, St Albans, Hertfordshire
To mark the recent arrival in our house of Runners-up Michael Moran, Penrith, Cumbria;
the latest Guinness World Records, I am John M. Brown, Rolleston on Dove, Staffordshire
going to repeat a challenge set several dec-
ades ago and invite you to submit a limer-
ick describing a feat worthy of inclusion in
that great publication. Please email up to
five entries each to
by midday on 4 October.
the spectator | 23 september 2017 | 59

the same bottle. He reminded me of these apps haven’t been updated for
Status Anxiety a pharmacist trying to flog thalido- 40,000 years. They were designed for
The mystery of socialism’s mide to an expectant mother while small bands of hunter-gatherers rath-
making no attempt to hide the fact er than citizens of the modern world
enduring appeal that it has caused the deaths of at and prompt us to look more favour-
Toby Young least 2,000 children and serious birth ably on socialism than free-market
defects in more than 10,000 others. capitalism. Why? Because in hunter-
And yet, nearly 13 million Britons gatherer societies, where the pooling
voted for Corbyn. Could it be that of resources is essential for survival,

ne of the mysteries of our age they just don’t know about all the the principle of ‘from each accord-
is why socialism continues to misery and suffering that socialism ing to his ability, to each according
appeal to so many people. has unleashed? to his need’ makes perfect sense.
Whether in the Soviet Union, China, That’s a popular theory on my By the same token, we have a great
Eastern Europe, North Korea, Cuba, side of the political divide and has deal of difficulty grasping that people
Vietnam, Cambodia or Venezuela, it prompted a good deal of head- acting in an individual, self-interest-
has resulted in the suppression of free scratching about how best to teach ed way can create huge communal
speech, the imprisonment of political elementary history — such as that benefits, as it does under capitalism.
dissidents and, more often than not, more people were killed by Stalin Back in the primeval forest, our sur-
state-sanctioned mass murder. Social- than by Hitler. One suggestion is vival depended upon distrusting peo-
ist economics nearly always produce to create a museum of communist ple who weren’t willing to engage in
widespread starvation, something we terror that documents all the peo- reciprocal altruism.
were reminded of last week when the ple murdered in the great socialist In hunter-gatherer societies, goods
President of Venezuela urged peo- republics — and full credit to the are finite. If someone has more than
ple not to be squeamish about eating journalist James Bartholomew for his fair share of meat, there is less
their rabbits. That perfectly captures getting some traction behind this for everyone else. That’s not true of
the trajectory of nearly every socialist idea. But is it really historical igno- capitalist societies, where successful
experiment: it begins with the dream rance that prompts people to invest entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs cre-
of a more equal society and ends with their hopes in Corbyn? An inconven- ate wealth without taking anything
people eating their pets. Has there ient fact for holders of this theory is away from others; but because we’re
ever been an ideology with a more that those who voted Labour at the programmed to think of resources
miserable track record? last election tended to be better edu- in a zero-sum way we cannot eas-
Why, then, did 40 per cent of the cated than those who voted Tory. ily understand this. Instead, we’re
British electorate vote for a party led To try and solve the puzzle of inclined to believe people like Cor-
by Jeremy Corbyn last June? It wasn’t socialism’s enduring appeal, we have byn when they tell us the rich only got
as if he acknowledged that all previ- to turn to evolutionary psychologists that way by stealing from the poor.
ous attempts to create a socialist uto- Corbyn was and in particular Leda Cosmides and So what’s the solution? Are we
pia had failed and explained why it selling exactly John Tooby, two of the leading think- doomed to repeat the mistakes of the
would be different under him. There ers in the field. They contend that we past? Hopefully not, but we need to
was no fancy talk of ‘post-neoclassical
the same don’t come into the world as tabulae tell a story about capitalism that is just
endogenous growth theory’ or ‘pre- snake oil that rasae, ready to take on the imprint as appealing to people’s 40,000-year-
distribution’, as there had been by his every left-wing of whatever society we happen to be old moral intuitions as the sales patter
two predecessors. No, he was selling huckster has born into. Rather, we are more like of socialist snake oil salesmen.
exactly the same snake oil that every smartphones that come pre-loaded
left-wing huckster has been peddling been peddling with various apps, including a set Toby Young is associate editor
for the past 100 years, and in exactly for 100 years of moral intuitions. The problem is, of The Spectator.


60 the spectator | 23 september 2017 |

ment — a fancy government term reached Albuquerque and was at
The Wiki Man for ‘You don’t have to fill in any sod- LAX the following day. It then sat
Make life easier and ding forms’. in customs for three weeks. After a
Likewise, economic models of weekend recovering from the flight
all else will follow free trade set great store on whether to London, it spent a further week
the EU tariff on cheddar after Brexit in Warwick so British customs could
Rory Sutherland will be 3 per cent or 4 per cent. This charge me £50 in VAT for re-import-
is largely irrelevant: trade facilita- ing my British-bought clothes. It
tion matters more than tariff reduc- arrived a month after I had posted it.
tion. A better starting point for UK This is an average speed of 6.25 miles
trade policy might be to ensure that per hour — with customs delays

ou can try to change people’s a normally sane individual in the UK eradicating any advances in trans-
minds, but this is difficult. can send something overseas without portation from the past 150 years.
You can bribe people to change tearing his frigging hair out. Subtracting the hours it spent in the
their behaviour, but it’s expensive. Far A few months ago I sent a small air, it averaged 2.3 miles per hour.
simpler is to make the new behaviour box of British foods to an expat On good days the Donner Party did
easy and enjoyable in and of itself. friend in Canada who was recover- better than this.
Recently, colleagues of mine ing from cancer. They crossed the No I’m not totally naive. I real-
were asked how to promote the Atlantic in ten hours, then spent ise that when Nissan exports cars it
habit of recycling domestic refuse. three days in a warehouse in Toron- doesn’t put them in the post. Nev-
They explained there was no need to to. Apparently I needed to appoint ertheless, if you believe in trade,
mention the environmental benefits a ‘Customs Broker’. (Naturally I had it should be something available
at all. ‘Just make sure everyone has a wide selection of Ontarian Customs not only to multinationals but to
two pedal bins, not one.’ Regardless Brokers on speed dial. They then small firms and individuals who
of people’s attitudes to the environ- demanded a ‘commercial invoice’ can’t afford to employ rooms full of
ment, what really matters, as Martin or ‘bill of lading’. I vainly tried to bureaucrats who know what a ‘bill
Luther King might have said, is not explain to the maple suckers that I of lading’ is.
the colour of their politics but the I explained was happy to pay any duty owed, but I refuse to believe here aren’t
contents of their kitchen. I was happy that I’d sent ten packets of Twiglets, technological solutions (Blockchain
To encourage pension saving, to pay any duty not a bloody doomsday device. It was may be one) that can reduce the
the government spends more than yet another week before they were friction of trade and make it faster,
£20 billion annually in tax rebates. owed, but I’d actually delivered. easier and more trustworthy. The
To swathes of the population, this sent ten packets Last month in Santa Fe I wanted financial costs of most tariffs are now
enormous and wasteful incentive is of Twiglets, to post some of my luggage home. small: what we should seek is not so
entirely unmotivating. What finally I put it in a box, paid $100 for Pri- much free trade as pain-free trade.
did persuade eight million people
not a bloody ority Air (CH022836798US, if you
to join workplace pension schemes doomsday want to check) and filled out the cus- Rory Sutherland is vice-chairman
was something called auto enrol- device toms form in full. By evening it had of Ogilvy Group UK.


plenty of hospitality when staying desire to have a fuss made of me. friends making a fuss of you, and
with us in England. Mary, can I’ve sworn friends and family to can bask in the glow of attention
you rule? Moreover how can we secrecy, and warned that if and love without worrying the
avoid it happening again when anyone organises a surprise party, whole world knows you are 40.
we join them later this year? I will be livid. I’ve considered
— Name and address withheld. deactivating Facebook for the Q. Mary, last week you suggested
day, but the thought of my that some people, wrongly, have
A. Your friends should have birthday not being acknowledged shame issues about hosting rats.
drawn the line at two lunches paid by my wider group of friends We live between a cover crop of
Q. Last year my husband and I for by your husband. Next time, depresses me. What should I do? maize — a terrific food source for
stayed with a much-loved, but email them in advance to say that — Name and address withheld. pheasants and partridges — and
slightly airy-fairy friend in her you have become very interested the pens from which the birds are
house in Tuscany. Flights, tips, in Tuscan dishes and would like A. On your Facebook profile, go released. The maize also appeals
presents, a hire car and house- to cook a couple of lunches or to ‘Settings’, ‘Account Settings’, to rats, who deposit gnawed cobs
sitters were already costing us dinners for her house party with ‘Timeline and Tagging’, and round the garden. When a visiting
rather a lot, but she insisted we ingredients that you’d buy in local change ‘Who can post on my American family saw a rat running
went out to (quite expensive) markets. Add that — because you timeline’ from ‘Friends’ to ‘Only past the back door, my response
local restaurants for lunch four are on a ‘bit of a budget’ this year me’. That way no one can post was: ‘Shh! Don’t tell the others, or
days out of five to experience — this would be ‘just as much fun embarrassing pictures of you they’ll all want to see one.’
the regional cuisine. She let my and more affordable’. on your wall with ‘40 today’ — M.W., Welford, Berkshire.
husband pay each time. emblazoned across them. If they
I felt this was overdoing it, Q. I’m approaching a mortifyingly try, they’ll find they won’t be able A. Thank you for sharing this.
especially as we had to pay for embarrassing birthday. The big to, and will send a private message
her, her husband and her three 40. I am torn between wanting to instead. You will therefore receive Write via the editor or email
adult children, and they have had keep it under wraps, and a childish a lot of private messages from

the spectator | 23 september 2017 | 61


sport, or whatever they call 20/20. signal the bitter-sweet fate waiting in
Drink But an ungenerous climate can bring ambush for his principal characters.
All’s fair in love and Waugh consolations. That prince of foragers, Yet he had a point. The tiny wild berries
young Louis, deciding that these were work as an heraldic escort to the taste-
Bruce Anderson the perfect conditions for mushrooms, bud fireworks of British strawberries.
set off into the wood with a bucket and On their own, they flatter to deceive.
brought it back, full of chanterelles. In love and cookery, earthiness has
Scoffing them, we also drew on an honoured place. The beef was roast-
the lingering fruits of summer. A sum- ing. To accompany it, Roland harvest-
mer pudding was to be garnished with ed some horseradish, mired in mud.
some final wild strawberries. They There was then a problem. Our table
always look delicious — and the name. was to be graced by a much greater
Caviar apart, is there anything more power than horseradish, and the two
alluring in the culinary vocabulary? must never be allowed to mingle. In
That said, what about the taste? In that decanters, the grandeur of earlier

was reminded of Wild West films passage of Decline and Fall so aptly autumns awaited us. We stopped to
from boyhood. Then, the belea- named ‘Pervigilium Veneris’, Margot sniff and stayed to genuflect.
guered garrison scanned the hori- and Paul saunter from bed to lunch. In I had warned my friends that
zon; would the US cavalry arrive Waugh, low-life deflation is never far luncheon would not only be an occa-
in time to save them from being away. They come across Philbrick, that sion for indulgence. There was work to
scalped? (John Wayne always did.) master of multi-faceted fraudulence, be done. We had two bottles to com-
Now, one was hoping for relief, not In decanters, who is eating some of those ‘bitter pare, a 1989 and a 2000, both from
from the Injuns, but in the form of the grandeur little strawberries which are so cheap that superb house, Léoville-Barton.
an Indian summer. This is of especial of earlier in Provence and so very expensive in The debate was vigorous, and incon-
interest to those who have a tendresse Dover Street.’ He warns Paul that the clusive. The memsahib thought the ’89
for Somerset cricket. Its paladins usu- autumns League of Nations is taking a beady- was just about the finest claret she had
ally have a charmingly amateur qual- awaited us. eyed interest in Margot’s business (the ever drunk, and one could taste why.
ity. As Cardus wrote of an earlier We stopped Mistress Quickly of 1920s Belgravia, A harmony of sun and nature and arti-
cricketing vintage: ‘[They are] chil- she is the most elegant whore mon- fice, it was in a state of grace. So often
dren of the sun and wind and grass.
to sniff and ger in all literature). ‘Bitter’ is surely when drinking such a wine, one won-
Nature fashioned them rather than stayed to an exaggeration, perhaps a deliber- ders whether it would have benefited
artifice.’ Somerset needs a match or genuflect ate one. Waugh may have intended to from another three years, or would
two in order to gain points and avoid have been even better three years ear-
relegation. That said, the way we were lier. This was perfect. The novice, the
playing earlier in the season, being 2000, divided opinions. Still shy of 20,
rained off was the best hope. it was a young unbroken colt. Even so,
It would help if those in charge I thought it deserved the blue riband.
of schedules should remember three What fun. Louis, his palate not yet
things. County cricket is a summer trained to Bordeaux, but permitted
game. It is also one of the glories of a sip, began to understand why the
English civilisation, almost entitled grown-ups were so intent at the glass.
to rank with the cathedrals and the The seasons, the generations, the wine:
common law. As such, it must not be by the end, we could hear the music
brushed aside in the interests of junk ‘Good heavens, a flying Ryanair jet!’ of the spheres.


Shocking bad hat
My husband complains that is seldom credited with putting his used as a quasi-adverb like this,
the disposition of teenagers finger on it. was thought a vulgarism (though
in London is one of mocking The date of Mackay’s book is Wellington wouldn’t have
hostility. I seem to suffer less from important because to the Duke minded).
such encounters, and console him of Wellington, on seeing the first The Oxford English Dictionary
by saying it was ever thus. phrase is in a book with a title Reformed Parliament in 1833, contains no entry for shocking bad
In the 1790s ostlers’ boys perhaps more entertaining is attributed the remark ‘I never hat, but the phrase figures in its
would shout ‘Quoz!’ to disconcert than its contents: Memoirs of saw so many shocking bad hats illustrations of other words. The
an uncertain-looking passer-by. It Extraordinary Popular Delusions, in my life’. The account of this earliest comes from 1831, when
was a word of doubtful meaning, and the Madness of Crowds remark was not published until R. S. Surtees recounts the fortunes
perhaps connected with quiz. (1841) by Charles Mackay (the 1889, in Words on Wellington by of Mr Jorrocks, in hunting
A generation later, young natural father of Marie Corelli, Sir William Fraser, who had made raiment, reaching a spot opposite
loafers would call out ‘Oh, what the sensational novelist). Mackay a reputation back in the 1850s at Somerset House in the Strand,
a shocking bad hat!’ — enough to gives a circumstantial origin for the Carlton Club with his stories to be met with boys heckling him
instil doubt in the most carefully the phrase from a Southwark of Wellington. But he was only with insults pronounced with the
dressed shopman or clerk. election, but I don’t find it seven in 1833. conventional Cockney V for W:
Neither men nor women were convincing. It is quoted by Eric The disapproval is literally of ‘Vot a swell! Vot a shocking bad
seen out in public without a hat. Partridge in his Dictionary of the hats. The moral character of hat! Vot shocking bad breeches!’
The locus classicus for the Catch Phrases (1977), though he a bad hat is secondary. Shocking, — Dot Wordsworth

62 the spectator | 23 september 2017 |

Winemaker’s lunch
with CVNE

Join us in the Spectator boardroom on Thursday 19 October 2017 for the next in this year’s series of Spectator
Winemaker’s Lunches with Maria Urrutia, marketing director of family-owned Compañia Vinicola del Norte
de España, better known as CVNE, producers of exemplary Rioja since 1879.

Born in New York and educated in the UK, Maria – the fifth generation of her family to work at CVNE – is
uniquely placed to discuss her family’s wines in a global context.

During a delicious four-course cold lunch provided by Forman & Field, Maria will introduce a wide selection of
CVNE’s Rioja wines including specially selected vintages of the Contino Blanco, the Monopole Blanco Seco,
the Viña Real Crianza, the Cune Reserva, the Imperial Reserva and the Imperial Gran Reserva.

CVNE is one of Spain’s finest wine producers and our lunches are hugely popular, so do book promptly to
avoid disappointment.

The Spectator, 22 Old Queen Street, London SW1H 9HP

Thursday 19 October | 12.30 p.m. | £75

For further information and to book | 020 7961 0015
Courage and commitment - that’s the

FP CRUX European Special Situations Fund

Since launch*
Return on £1,000 invested 1 year 2 years 3 years 4 years 5 years
- 31.08.17

CRUX European Special Situations Fund £1,219 £1,549 £1,666 £1,744 £2,314 £2,856

Sector average : IA Europe ex UK £1,235 £1,421 £1,486 £1,593 £2,048 £2,065

Index : FTSE World Europe ex UK £1,260 £1,454 £1,473 £1,627 £2,055 £2,041

Cash : Bank of England Base Rate £1,003 £1,007 £1,012 £1,017 £1,023 £1,037

Source: FE © 2017, bid-bid, £1,000 invested, cumulative performance to 31.08.17. *Launch date 01.10.09.

Active managers who invest in their own funds The Fund has comfortably lapped the index and most
Active investment management requires confidence, of the tracker funds that follow it nearly every year over the
courage and commitment in every investment decision, past five years, as shown in the table above. So if you’re
something the managers of CRUX’s European Special investing in Europe put yourself on the podium with active
Situations Fund have plenty of. asset management, not in the slow lane with
a passive investment.
They are also committed to aligning their investment
aims with that of their clients by investing meaningful Past performance is not a guide to future returns. The value of
amounts of their own assets in their funds. an investment and any income from it are not guaranteed and
can go down as well as up and there is the risk of loss to your
As you can see from the table above, it’s an approach which investment.
is delivering strong performance and over the years they have
achieved an impressive track record.

Consult your financial adviser, call or visit: 0800 30 474 24

Fund featured; FP CRUX European Special Situations Fund I ACC GBP class. The Henderson European Special Situations Fund was restructured into the FP CRUX European Special
Situations Fund on 8 June 2015. Any past performance or references to the period prior to 8 June 2015 relate to the Henderson European Special Situations Fund. This financial
promotion is issued by CRUX Asset Management, who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority of 25 The North Colonnade, Canary Wharf, London
E14 5HS. A free, English language copy of the full prospectus, the Key Investor Information Document and Supplementary Information Document for the fund, which should be
read before investing, can be obtained from the CRUX website, or by calling us on 0800 304 7424. For your protection, calls may be monitored and recorded.

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