The Critic Magazine12 min cititePolitics
“The Masses Might Even Stone You…”
AS OUR TRAIN APPROACHED the Hong Kong-China border, a loudspeaker boomed out a warning. "Anyone without a permit must leave the train at the next stop. You are about to enter a restricted area." John Penlington, the ABC’s Hong Kong correspondent and,
The Critic Magazine9 min cititeCrime & Violence
Fighting Back Against The Censors
OVER THE LAST DECADE, Britain’s free speech advocates have faced a frustrating puzzle. They seem to have the public on their side: a Com-Res poll earlier this year found that half the population agrees with the statement “Free speech is under threat”
The Critic Magazine4 min citite
Man About Town
THE ARTISTE FORMERLY KNOWN as Meghan Markle — now Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex — has written a children’s book, The Bench. This has been greeted with excitement (in America) and dismay (in Britain). Personally, I’m delighted that one of the world’s
The Critic Magazine3 min citite
Trophy Cabinets
SIPPING A DOUBLE ESPRESSO in his pine-panelled Mayfair office in Bruton Street, it is hard to think of Simon Phillips as a survivor. The big guy in English antique furniture, his shop is on two floors and if you are looking to acquire furniture this
The Critic Magazine4 min citite
Sarah Ditum on Pop
THIS IS EMBARRASSING FOR ME to admit as a feminist, because as a feminist I know that nothing is more sacrosanct than another woman’s reproductive choices. Even to broach the issue is just asking to be hauled up before the court of microaggressions f
The Critic Magazine8 min cititePolitics
In Praise Of Meritocracy
HAS THERE EVER BEEN A MAGAZINE quite as meritocratic as Encounter? To write for this Anglo-American monthly, which flourished from the 1950s to the 1980s, the sole criterion was to be a first-class writer or thinker on either side of the Atlantic, an
The Critic Magazine5 min citite
Cricket’s Bible Takes The Knee
Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack 2021 edited by Lawrence Booth Wisden, £55.00 IT’S A SLIMMER WISDEN THIS YEAR, only 1,250 pages, but Lawrence Booth, editor of this celebrated annual publication for the last 10 of its 158 summers, can permit himself a bow
The Critic Magazine6 min citite
He’s Not The Messiah!
IF MI6 HAD ACTUALLY BEEN ABLE to get its arse in gear to send someone to Moscow in 1963 to whack Philby, we would have felt pretty terrific about it — wouldn’t we? As it was, as Simon Winder detailed in his riotously disenchanted book The Man Who Sav
The Critic Magazine4 min cititeWorld
America First
WHOSE PROBLEM IS CHINA? As Patrick Porter reminds us in his piece in our China special this month, she’s ultimately America’s. The United States is in first place and China is not. Whatever there is to be “lost”, it’s America’s to lose. But what is a
The Critic Magazine3 min citite
COMMEMORATIVE STATUES, MEMORIALS and the like are often targeted by destructive forces, both in terms of physical attacks and ideological objections raised against architectural or artistic styles. Architect LIAM O’CONNOR’s design of the memorial in
The Critic Magazine10 min cititeEnvironmental Science
Adapt And Survive
THE CLAMOUR THAT GREETED the awarding of the Pritzker Prize — architecture’s Nobel — to the French practice Lacaton & Vassal in April this year was near universal throughout the architecture world. A rare thing indeed. Lacaton & Vassal represent that
The Critic Magazine5 min citite
Scapegoat Of A Paranoid Era
ONE OF THE MOST POIGNANT documents I have ever read was a private letter, reproduced in the American press, from a mother to her two sons aged ten and six. It was dated 18 June 1953 and began: “Dearest Sweethearts, my most precious children,” later a
The Critic Magazine12 min cititePolitics
Outcast Of The Angry Generation
IMAGINE THE HORRORS OF TWENTIETH century Germany synthesised in one man and you would produce an identikit of Horst Mahler. This is a study of the legacy of Nazism, the violent left-wing protests and terrorism of the late 1960s and 70s and the upsurg
The Critic Magazine5 min citite
An Oyster Without Grit
DAVID HOCKNEY IS NOW 83 years old and has been famous for fully 60 of those years. Since he appeared in the “Young Contemporaries” exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1961,while still a student at the Royal College of Art, celebrity and accolade
The Critic Magazine7 min cititeWorld
China The Rules Of Engagement
IN WASHINGTON, A ROUGH CONSENSUS has formed that China needs some containing. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken baulks at the word, preferring the catechism of a “rules-based order”. Containment, though, does not mean literally bottling China behi
The Critic Magazine3 min cititeArchitecture
The Potting Shelf
AS DAYLIGHT HOURS extend towards the summer solstice, so the list of gardening tasks lengthens. If you consult the experts, this month’s is split between two categories: the nurturing and the cruel-to-be-kind. Precious young plants — cossetted, tende
The Critic Magazine4 min citite
Romeo Coates
★ WITH DELIGHTFUL English Rose Emily Blunt having been endlessly persecuted for an attempt at Irish in her latest film, isn’t it time to draw a line under this obsessive nonsense? In simpler, happier days of old, a professional actor from the south o
The Critic Magazine3 min cititePolitics
Walled In Against The Modern World
IN 2010, BETWEEN leaving politics and resuming journalism, I wrote two chapters of a novel. It emerged from my experience of representing in parliament what was then the highest number of Muslims in any Conservative-held seat, Wycombe. It imagined a
The Critic Magazine3 min citite
Independent Minds
WHAT DO THE following titles, all published in the past dozen years or so and all highly rated by the Secret Author’s acquaintance, have in common? The books in question are The Wake, a novel by Jeremy Page, Next Year Will Be Better, a memoir by John
The Critic Magazine4 min citite
Michael Prodger on Art
THERE ARE SOME 2,807 historical bronze artefacts from Benin in Nigeria now scattered around 160 of the world’s museums. They number high-relief plaques and sculptures in the round and the majority were looted in 1897 when the British Navy attacked an
The Critic Magazine2 min citite
Vaccine For The Soul
ON 21 JUNE, alarms and alarums allowing, the all clear will sound and Great Britain will declare Victory over Virus. There will be celebration; there will be commemoration; there will undoubtedly be libation as the country returns in relief to “norma
The Critic Magazine6 min cititeWorld
China Wolf Bait
EARLIER THIS YEAR, THE CHINESE embassy in the United States made an appalling claim. “Studies show that in the process of eradicating extremism, the minds of Uyghur women in Xinjiang were emancipated and gender equality and reproductive health were p
The Critic Magazine4 min citite
Preaching To The Choir
AN INSTITUTION LED by a self-selecting elite obsessed with the hot topics of today’s culture war alienating increasing numbers of its supporters until they eventually vote with their feet, leaving the very survival of that institution in doubt. The L
The Critic Magazine8 min cititeWorld
China Cold War Or Hot Peace?
HENRY KISSINGER HAS SUGGESTED that the west and China are in the “foothills of a new Cold War”. The Chinese scholar Wang Jisi has called the confrontation more of a “hot peace”, a useful term for a strange relationship where both sides are economical
The Critic Magazine5 min citite
Torn In The USA
AMAZON’S NET PROFITS increased by 84 per cent in 2020. As Covid-19 swept across America during March and April, Jeff Bezos’s personal fortune increased by $24 billion. In contrast, nearly a million American manufacturing jobs were lost in the decade
The Critic Magazine3 min citite
I read Gawain Towler’s article on Pick for Britain and the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) with great interest (The Critic online, 9 May). He makes some fair arguments regarding the programmes, but he misses some key points on seasonal ag
The Critic Magazine4 min citite
Robert Thicknesse on Opera
OF ALL THE GREAT BORES spawned by the pandemic, few can be more insufferable than those people who went to Venice and then deluged you with crappy pictures of some tragic deserted piazza, accompanied by poorly encrypted encomia about how lucky Venice
The Critic Magazine4 min citite
Christopher Silvester on Cinema
THERE IS NO BEST ACTRESS OSCAR for a female animal, otherwise I know which candidate I would have voted for this year. She is a sow called Gunda, she lives on a Norwegian farm, and she is the star of the dialogue-free feature documentary that bears h
The Critic Magazine2 min citite
No Babies, No More Nazis
A recent article in British Vogue posed the question: “Is having a baby in 2021 pure environmental vandalism?” The answer seems obvious to me, given that babies are responsible for 90 per cent of all the world’s carbon emissions. (That’s probably the
The Critic Magazine4 min citite
Rotters, Rogues And Champagne Moments
AT AROUND 1AM ON 11 June 1921, a telegram from the England cricket selectors finally reached the Hon Lionel Tennyson, captain of Hampshire and playboy about town, who was deep into a night at the Embassy Club on Bond Street. Having been routed by Aus
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