The Spectator

A weekly, UK-based magazine covering current political, economic, and cultural issues. Articles include interviews, commentary, opinion pieces, essays, and cultural criticism.

Articles from March 2011

Abu Dhabi Notebook
With oil trading at more than $100 a barrel, Abu Dhabi holds a jackpot-winning ticket in the lottery of life. The emirate sits on reserves of nearly 100 billion barrels, about 9 per cent of the world's proven supply. At today's pumped-up price, its...
A Clash of Commerce and Culture
Other People's Money by Justin Cartwright Bloomsbury, £18.99, pp. 257, ISBN 9781408803882 Other People's Money - and How the Bankers Use It by Louis D. Brandeis was a collection of articles about the predatory practices of big banks, published in...
After the Revolution
As the war for Libya's future is underal Facebookers and Islamic Holy Bookers - and the latter seem to be winning. The results of last weekend's referendum point to a simple truth: the internet was fine as a tool for gathering a few hundred thousand...
A Grief Ago
A Widow's Story by Joyce Carol Oates Fourth Estate, £20, pp. 450, ISBN 9780007388165 The cautionary slogan 'less is more' has never been the American writer Joyce Carol Oates' watchword. Over the last 40 years she has written a torrent of books...
Amateur Hour
Ultra-professionalism can stifle joy and ruin a sportsman's game Thrilling as the race was, last week's Cheltenham Gold Cup will leave an even more remarkable legacy: the winning jockey, Sam Waley-Cohen, did it as an amateur. Being a jockey isn't his...
Barometer
Night shift The BBC director general, Mark Thompson, says the corporation may cut the £150 million a year it spends on nighttime programming, with the 'theoretical possibility' that insomniac viewers might be left with a black screen. - Although it...
Blue Yonder
This year's Varsity match between Oxford and Cambridge, sponsored by Henry Mutkin, and held at the RAC Pall Mall earlier this month, resulted in a one-point win for Oxford, who have now reduced their deficit since 1873, when the contest was first held,...
Can Osborne Make Britain Right Again?
George Osborne is using his budgets not only to get the economy moving but to make Britain a centre right country once more. The political test of his economic policy will be whether the Conservatives succeed in creating a new majority who feel invested...
Capital Rewards
London has been the subject of more anthologies than Samuel Pepys had hot chambermaids. This is fitting, as an anthology's appeal - unexpected juxtaposition - matches that of the capital itself. But it does mean that any new contender has to work hard...
Colourful Quebec
CANADA'S LARGEST PROVINCE OFFERS UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCES A quirky dash of Europe in North America, Quebec is Canada's largest and most varied Province, more than seven times the size of the UK. The wide variety of experiences it offers are based...
DC Confidential
AMERICA Peter McKay revisits old haunts in a city that combines power, grandeur - and Old South sleepiness The thing about Washington is that it's in Dixie, ie the South. Although the most powerful nation in history is run from there, it's a drowsy...
Dear Mary - Your Problems Solved
Q. After dining at a well-known gastronomic salon in Bombay with two gap-year visitors, together with two exceptionally pretty girls working in Bombay, we were sitting in a side room, whereupon a gentleman with a straggly beard tried to join our group...
Diary
With the Middle East in flames and Japan in meltdown, I decided to head for Brazil. As somebody who makes a living commenting on international politics, I was worried that my choice of destination might seem eccentric. But President Obama evidently...
Don't Expect Us to Keep Cheering on This Vague and Bizarre Adventure
Actually, it's a good question. How long is a piece of string? I've often wondered, and I've seen some string in my time. The problem is, they were all of different lengths, these bits of string, some long, some shorter. I suppose the mean length of...
East Anglian Friends
Restless Times: Art in Britain 1914-45 Norwich Castle Museum, until 25 April The Class of . . . Ipswich Art School, until 12 June Denis Wirth-Miller The Minories Gallery, Colchester, until 1 April Three exhibitions in East Anglia serve to remind...
Epigrammatic
In Competition No. 2690 you were invited to invited to submit quatrains reflecting on current events in the Middle East in the style of Edward FitzGerald/Omar Khayyam. FitzGerald is, of course, master of the beautifully turned aphoristic phrase. And,...
Glutton for Punishment
Wild Coast: Travels on South America's Untamed Edge by John Gimlette Profile, £15, pp. 320, ISBN 9781846682520 With its vast areas of barely explored wilderness, and its heady mix of the sublime, the bizarre and the lushly seductive, South America...
High Life
New York Twenty-two years or so ago, I wrote a column for the New York Observer, a weekly paper owned by a tycoon named Arthur Carter, a man who had come up the hard way and had made his fortune on Wall Street, but one who had retained his loathing...
Hot Shots with Cold Feet
Never has so much firepower been allied with so little desire to use it When the United Nations sanctioned the use of force against Colonel Gaddafi, it could not quite bring itself to use the word force. The word force is, well, forceful. It suggests...
Iron in the Blood
Bismarck by Jonathan Steinberg OUP, £25, pp. 577, ISBN 9780199599011 How curious that such an outsize man, in physique as well as personality, should be remembered today mainly for giving his name to a small fish. For the 19th century, Bismarck was...
Letters
All in the delivery Sir: Toby Young's opinions about Cardinal Vaughan school (Status anxiety, 19 March) are subjective and misguided. When seeking a new headteacher, our governing body will be looking for the best person to fill that role and that...
Low Life
This year I was once again sumptuously entertained at the Cheltenham Festival by the racing tipster Colonel Pinstripe in his tented chalet. On Gold Cup day I presented myself at the flouncy entrance and the Colonel, standing just inside, like the custodian...
Maastricht Treats
The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) takes place in Maastricht, Netherlands, every year. It showcases the finest examples that the most prestigious commercial galleries of the international art world have to offer - from ancient to contemporary art and...
Mad about the Boy
Submarine 15, Nationwide I love this film. It's terrific. You should go see it, and go see it now. Just abandon everything and go. The children? They'll be fine, so long as you put all sharp objects and poisons out of their reach. Don't use that old...
Making a Hash of Things
According to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, every alien race in the universe has independently invented an intoxicating drink called 'jinantonix' or at least something that sounds very similar. It's an idea which probably arose from the fact...
More 4
Big changes are happening to the airwaves, part of the frenetic technological revolution that's been unleashed by the development of a digital language. Radio, against expectations, is proving itself a vital force in these fast-moving times, because...
Next, Osborne Should Tackle the Plague of Charity Shops Depressing Our High Streets
The dramatic form of the modern, Brownian Budget speech requires a headline-grabber at the end to deflect commentators from analysis of the statistical soup and re-announced tax-tinkering that went before. But the politics of being 'all in it together'...
Osborne Can Go Further
Every time George Osborne has been in serious trouble, he has produced a tax cut - and it has worked perfectly. He did it again in his budget, and the reception was rapturous. Herein lies a clue. It is not just that Britain is horribly overtaxed. The...
Our Island Story
I vividly remember the moment when I saw my first black person. It was December in either '68 or '69, so I would have been three or four at the time, and my father's works had arranged some kind of coach outing to meet Father Christmas. Seated near...
Potrait of the Week
Home David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said that attacks on Libya to protect civilians from Colonel Gaddafi were 'necessary, legal and right'. He told the Commons that the UN resolution authorising them 'explicitly does not provide legal authority...
Power Lunches : Where Washington Eats
P.J. Clarke's This new K Street watering hole has an old-time Washington feel which, coupled with its private dining area Side Car, makes it a favourite of lobbyists, journalists and White House staffers. Capitol Lounge When the Republicans took back...
Real Life
Never download anything strange from the internet. Never put your credit card details into a site you are unfamiliar with. Yes, I know. But I was desperate. I couldn't make my father's new laptop work and having bought it for him as a gift I was miffed....
Sins of the Fathers
The papacy is in good shape and looks set to last another 2,000 years, says Paul Johnson; but too few popes in the past have been pious or clement or innocent The Popes: A History by John Julius Norwich Chatto, £25, pp. 506, ISBN 9780701182908 The...
Spectator Mini-Bar
This mini-bar starts with a stunning wine. It's the 'traditionally made' (i.e., like champagne) sparkling rose reserve from the celebrated Chateau de Sours (1). Amazingly, our merchants this week, Private Cellar, have knocked off £39 a case, because...
Spellbound
Fantastic Mr Fox; Il Tabarro, Gianni Schicchi English Touring Opera, touring until 25/27 May Rodelinda Royal College of Music English Touring Opera continues to be the most heroic of companies. This spring season it is performing at 17 locations,...
The Deceptive Quality of Light Verse
When cares attack, and life seems black, How sweet it is to pot a yak, Or puncture hares or grizzly bears, And others I could mention; But in my animal Who's Who No name stands higher than the gnu, And each new gnu that comes in view Receives my prompt...
The Gorbachev Files
An 80th-birthday selection from the secret archives of the last Soviet leader The international stage is dominated by two men this March: Muammar Gaddafi, fighting like mad for the survival of his regime, and Mikhail Gorbachev, celebrated around the...
The Greatest Living Pianist
Why, despite his devoted fans, Grigory Sokolov won't play live in Britain Grigory Sokolov is a pianist in h is fifties; he is overweight, Russian, sleeps only three or four hours a night, is a strict vegan and is obsessed with the occult. He can calculate...
The Masters in Miniature
Jeremy Treglown finds something for everyone in Penguin's new Mini Modern series It's a cool silver-grey in colour, weighs two and a half ounces and fits flexibly into your pocket. It opens easily to reveal words imaginatively chosen and arranged in...
The New Alliance
For the first time since Suez, America is taking a back seat to Britain and France in a military operation 'Freedom fries, ' served instead of French fries back in 2003, are no longer on the menu in Washington DC. French wine, out of fashion after Jacques...
The Spectator's Notes
There is a school of thought which argues that P resident Obama's reluctance to lead over Libya is a brilliant piece of presentation. He wisely does not wish to be seen to attack yet another Muslim nation, the argument goes, but he will, in fact, do...
The Two Libyas
Classical wisdom is reasserting itself The Foreign Office is contemplating the possibility that - as in Iraq, where the 1992 no-fly zone allowed the Kurds to take control in the north - the current intervention may split Libya. It would revert to what...
Three's a Crowd
Triple Bill Royal Ballet, in rep until 28 March Black and White English National Ballet, Coliseum According to some sources, the legendary impresario Sergei Diaghilev invented the mixed-bill formula for ballet. Whether or not this is true, there...
Trip Switch
The drugs don't work sung the Verve on one of their best songs, and I'm feeling the same myself at the moment. The stash in my bedside cabinet aren't drugs of the recreational variety but anti-depressants that I have been taking, on and off, but mostly...
Well Trained
AMERICA Andrew Petrie journeys from NYC to DC the old-fashioned way Behind you, the New York skyline recedes as you plunge into bridge-and-tunnel New Jersey on a three-hour, five-state train journey to the District of Columbia. Of historical interest...
What Does Sarah Palin See in Israel That Makes Her Think of Alaska?
In the world of sectarian Scottish football, as you may know, they have adopted the Israeli-Palestinian fight as their own. Celtic fans wave Palestinian Authority flags, in an attempt to draw parallels between the Middle East and the troubles they wish...
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