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 November 2011

Abroad
Dozens were killed and hundreds wounded when tens of thousands thronged Tahrir Square in Cairo for several days, protesting against the military council. The Cabinet resigned and Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi said presidential elections would...
Adventurous Rogue
The Flamboyant Mr Chinnery - An English Artist in India and China Asia House, 63 New Cavendish Street, London W1, until 21 January Historically, British artists have not been good at money management. George Morland (1762-1804) was chronically insolvent;...
Adventurous Rogue
The Flamboyant Mr Chinnery - An English Artist in India and China Asia House, 63 New Cavendish Street, London W1, until 21 January Historically, British artists have not been good at money management. George Morland (1762-1804) was chronically insolvent;...
After Spring, Winter
The democratic dream is dying in the Middle East. And Britain is in part to blame Spring was a long time coming in the dictatorships of the Middle East and North Africa. But when it arrived it was unhesitatingly welcomed by western leaders. William...
After Spring, Winter: The Democratic Dream Is Dying in the Middle East, and Britain Is in Part to Blame
Spring was a long time coming in the dictatorships of the Middle East and North Africa. But when it arrived it was unhesitatingly welcomed by western leaders. William Hague declared the Arab Spring more important than 9/11 and the financial crisis....
A Literary Curio
The Sea is My Brother by Jack Kerouac Penguin, £25, pp. 426, ISBN 978014193335 Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac, better known as Jack Kerouac (1922-1969), the son of French-Canadians spiced with the blood of Mohawk and Caughnawaga Indians and subdued, no...
A Literary Curio
The Sea is My Brother by Jack Kerouac Penguin, £25, pp. 426, ISBN 978014193335 Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac, better known as Jack Kerouac (1922-1969), the son of French-Canadians spiced with the blood of Mohawk and Caughnawaga Indians and subdued, no...
ANCIENT AND MODERN - Televising Trials
English juries are warned to reach their decision exclusively on the evidence put before them. Would the proposed intrusion of TV into the courtroom (as in the USA) threaten this restriction by turning the trial into a public performance? The ancient...
A Night at the Opera
Thanks to the generosity of friends, Mrs Spencer and I went to the opera the other week, an exceptionally rare event. Having grown up with the rougher edges of pop and rock music, the trained voices of opera singers always strike me as being artificial...
A Refreshing Weekend of Real Conservatism
Conservatism is dead in Britain - as it is in Europe, as it is in most of the world - and if you want to know what the problem is, a good place to start is the one where I've just been: the David Horowitz Restoration Weekend in Palm Beach, Florida....
Back to Classics
The truth is, we could probably all get by with three or four cookbooks; half a dozen at most, which makes my own collection of dozens seem a bit OTT. But what you need among them is a book that covers all the essentials, so that if you're stuck to...
Barometer
Cook's recipe Shares in Thomas Cook fell 60 per cent after the tour operator entered talks with its banks. - The company's name has been synonymous with package tours since 1841, when Leicester cabinet-maker and temperance campaigner Thomas Cook took...
Barometer
Cook's recipe Shares in Thomas Cook fell 60 per cent after the tour operator entered talks with its banks. - The company's name has been synonymous with package tours since 1841, when Leicester cabinet-maker and temperance campaigner Thomas Cook took...
Boffins Tell Us Time Travel Is Possible - but Sadly Not for Northern Rock
I wrote here in July that I was hoping to see history reversed at Northern Rock. Shortly after that, Swiss boffins declared that time travel really might be possible, after discovering they could fire neutrinos through an Alpine tunnel at a fraction...
Boffins Tell Us Time Travel Is Possible - but Sadly Not for Northern Rock
I wrote here in July that I was hoping to see history reversed at Northern Rock. Shortly after that, Swiss boffins declared that time travel really might be possible, after discovering they could fire neutrinos through an Alpine tunnel at a fraction...
BOOKENDS Not Filthy Enough
The Pursued (Pengu in, £12.99) i s a lost cr ime th r i l ler by C . S. Forester, the author of the Hornblower novels. It was written in 1935, rediscovered in 2003 and i s now publ i shed for the first t ime. Marjorie, a suburban wife and mother, comes...
BOOKS Pure and Simple
Look, I Made a Hat: Collected Lyrics (1981-2011), with Attendant Comments by Stephen Sondheim Virgin, £35, pp. 480, ISBN 9780753522608 It might be that the stage musical is now pretty well over as a form. Certainly, the gloomy parade of 'juke-box'...
Buried Treasuren
Some 80 per cent of publicly owned art is hidden from view. Andrew Lambirth on a new gallery that aims to change this In recent years there has been a surge of interest in the treasures hidden in our public art collections, many of them rarely if ever...
CHILDREN'S BOOKS - Myth and Magic
It was the second week of term and my grandson's birthday. He had just started at primary school and the only alternative to social suicide seemed to be to invite the whole class to his party. With a few old friends that made a total of 30. They ran...
Choppy Waters
The Deep Blue Sea 12A, Nationwide As there were no invites this week from Hollywood movie stars - I thought Nicole Kidman might ask me over for a girls' night in, to do face packs and nails and stuff, but not a squeak - I have to get back to the business...
Cinema Choppy Waters
The Deep Blue Sea 12A, Nationwide As there were no invites this week from Hollywood movie stars - I thought Nicole Kidman might ask me over for a girls' night in, to do face packs and nails and stuff, but not a squeak - I have to get back to the business...
Coming of Age
Bracing times for those of us who are part of the winter fuel allowance generation - FAGs, as we like to call ourselves. At Haydock Park, the courageous Kauto Star thundered back into the national conscience with a spine-tingling win in the Betfair...
Concealed Passion
Eugene Onegin Coliseum, in rep until 3 December ENO's new production of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin has created something of a stir by departing from the house almost-tradition of postmodernist, stunningly intrusive and invariably grotesquely irrelevant...
COOKERY BOOKS - Back to Classics
The truth is, we could probably all get by with three or four cookbooks; half a dozen at most, which makes my own collection of dozens seem a bit OTT. But what you need among them is a book that covers all the essentials, so that if you're stuck to...
CULTURE NOTES - into Battle
The charge of the Scots Greys at Waterloo: you'll know it from the Risk board game. Hundreds of soldiers on lustrous white horses, manes billowing as they gallop straight at the viewer. A magnificent sight, but the stuff of nonsense: the horses probably...
Dear Mary Your Problems Solved
Q. Is it on to invite friends to a birthday dinner and, with no pre-arrangement, expect them to fork out for their meal? An acquaintance - let's call him Ralphie - has done this for years. Responding to his always effusive invitation ('I'd really like...
Dear Mary Your Problems Solved
Q. Is it on to invite friends to a birthday dinner and, with no pre-arrangement, expect them to fork out for their meal? An acquaintance - let's call him Ralphie - has done this for years. Responding to his always effusive invitation ('I'd really like...
Diary
Nine years ago we moved to Herefordshire from Gloucestershire, where lovely Jilly Cooper was a neighbour. There is less bedhopping here in the Marches, fewer rakes such as Jilly's character Rupert Campbell-Blacks. Recently, however, we learned that...
Diary
Nine years ago we moved to Herefordshire from Gloucestershire, where lovely Jilly Cooper was a neighbour. There is less bedhopping here in the Marches, fewer rakes such as Jilly's character Rupert Campbell-Blacks. Recently, however, we learned that...
Exhibitions Meeting Point
World Class: The Dusseldorf School of Painting 1819-1918 Museum Kunstpalast, Dusseldorf, until 22 January I prepared for this exhibition in Dusseldorf by taking the short train journey down the Rhine to Cologne, which would hate to be thought of as...
FINE ARTS SPECIAL - Buried Treasure
Some 80 per cent of publicly owned art is hidden from view. Andrew Lambirth on a new gallery that aims to change this In recent years there has been a surge of interest in the treasures hidden in our public art collections, many of them rarely if ever...
Food Occupy Dinner
What to say about Occupy London? I support it, because I always judge a movement by the quality of its enemies, and also because its position at St Paul's cathedral makes a certain type of writer wander around, pondering, 'What would Jesus do about...
High Life
Henry Kissinger, writing on American foreign policy, mentions that, according to Dean Acheson, 'Leaving high office is like the end of a great love affair - a void left by the disappearance of heightened sensibilities and focused concerns.' Dr K. should...
High Life
Henry Kissinger, writing on American foreign policy, mentions that, according to Dean Acheson, 'Leaving high office is like the end of a great love affair - a void left by the disappearance of heightened sensibilities and focused concerns.' Dr K. should...
Historical Knockabout
The Lion in Winter Haymarket, until 28 January Salt, Root and Roe Trafalgar Studios, until 3 December It's a palace drama with all the trimmings. Trevor Nunn's new production, The Lion in Winter, plunges us into the court of Henry II and his spurned...
Home
David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said: 'Getting debt under control is proving harder than anyone envisaged.' In a speech to the Confederation of British Industry he blamed in part 'paralysis in the eurozone'. His words came a week before the Chancellor...
. . . in the Battle for London
You Can't Say That: Memoirs by Ken Livingstone Faber, £25, pp. 710, ISBN 9780571280384 Charlatan, fornicator, liar, inebriate, pugilist, Marxist, anti-Semite; Ken Livingstone has been called many things but never a writer. Actually, that's a shame because...
. . . in the Battle for L Ondon
You Can't Say That: Memoirs by Ken Livingstone Faber, £25, pp. 710, ISBN 9780571280384 Charlatan, fornicator, liar, inebriate, pugilist, Marxist, anti-Semite; Ken Livingstone has been called many things but never a writer. Actually, that's a shame because...
Into Battle
The charge of the Scots Greys at Waterloo: you'll know it from the Risk board game. Hundreds of soldiers on lustrous white horses, manes billowing as they gallop straight at the viewer. A magnificent sight, but the stuff of nonsense: the horses probably...
Jekyll and Hyde Figure
Enigma: A New Life of Charles Stewart Parnell by Paul Bew Gill & Macmillan, £21.99, pp. 245, ISBN 9780717147441 Jonathan Swift's Gulliver believed that the ideal British prime minister was a creature wholly exempt from joy and grief who applies...
Jekyll and H Yde Figure
Enigma: A New Life of Charles Stewart Parnell by Paul Bew Gill & Macmillan , £21.99, pp. 245, ISBN 9780717147441 Jonathan Swift's Gulliver believed that the ideal British prime minister was a creature wholly exempt from joy and grief who applies...
Labour's New Golden Girl
Stella Creasy, our campaigner of the year, stands out from the back benches When I arrive to interview Stella Creasy in one of the cafes in parliament, she's sitting in a meeting with two earnest, wonkish types, the coffee mugs having been cleared from...
Labou R 'S New Golden G I Rl Stands out from the Back Benches
When I arrive to interview Stella Creasy in one of the cafes in parliament, she's sitting in a meeting with two earnest, wonkish types, the coffee mugs having been cleared from the table. As time ticks by, her body language becomes urgent, but she's...
Letters
Economy pack Sir: Of your ten suggested remedies for the UK economy ('Get it right, George!', 19 November), not one mentions the obvious answer: recognise that communications technology is transforming every business and social model on the planet...
Letters
Economy pack Sir: Of your ten suggested remedies for the UK economy ('Get it right, George!', 19 November), not one mentions the obvious answer: recognise that communications technology is transforming every business and social model on the planet and...
Life of Brian
The waspish art critic Brian Sewell on his duty to be frank about his personal life - even if it shocks other octogenarians 'It must be so awfully boring being a fish, ' says Brian Sewell, as he looks out the window at his pond. 'You can only have sex...
Life of Brian
'I t must be so awfully boring being a fish, ' says Brian Sewell, as he looks out the window at his pond. 'You can only have sex once a year on a prescribed day. The frogs are just the same.' We are in his study. It is a large room full of books, mostly...
Limited Menu
The changes to the Radio 4 schedule have been in operation for a couple of weeks. Have they made any difference? The extra 15 minutes added to the lunchtime news programme, The World At One, has had the knock-on effect of squeezing the afternoon. Do...
Low Life
For 21 years my bike has leant against the wall just inside the garage door. On Monday morning it was gone. Nicked. I loved that old Dawes Galaxy. But I couldn't work myself up into a state about its theft. I tried anger, I tried indignation, but without...
Low Life
For 21 years my bike has leant against the wall just inside the garage door. On Monday morning it was gone. Nicked. I loved that old Dawes Galaxy. But I couldn't work myself up into a state about its theft. I tried anger, I tried indignation, but without...
Meeting Point
World Class: The Düsseldorf School of Painting 1819-1918 Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf, until 22 January I prepared for this exhibition in Dusseldorf by taking the short train journey down the Rhine to Cologne, which would hate to be thought of as...
Money Talk
At least one market posted strong results in November. That was the market for contemporary art. In just four days in New York - 7 to 10 November - a phenomenal $775 million was spent on postwar and contemporary art at auction alone (who knows what...
Myth and Magic
It was the second week of term and my grandson's birthday. He had just started at primary school and the only alternative to social suicide seemed to be to invite the whole class to his party. With a few old friends that made a total of 30. They ran...
Occupy Dinner
What to say about Occupy London? I support it, because I always judge a movement by the quality of its enemies, and also because its position at St Paul's cathedral makes a certain type of writer wander around, pondering, 'What would Jesus do about...
Olden but Golden A Night at the Opera
Thanks to the generosity of friends, Mrs Spencer and I went to the opera the other week, an exceptionally rare event. Having grown up with the rougher edges of pop and rock music, the trained voices of opera singers always strike me as being artificial...
Opening Salvos . .
Johnson's Life of London by Boris Johnson Harper Press, £20, pp. 322, ISBN 9780007413930 When a man is tired of Johnson, he's liable to vote for Livingstone. Boris has decided to head Londoners off at the pass by writing a book about them, or rather...
Opening Salvos . .
Johnson's Life of London by Boris Johnson Harper Press, £20, pp. 322, ISBN 9780007413930 When a man is tired of Johnson, he's liable to vote for Livingstone. Boris has decided to head Londoners off at the pass by writing a book about them, or rather...
Opera Concealed Passion
Eugene Onegin Coliseum, in rep until 3 December ENO's new production of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin has created something of a stir by departing from the house almost-tradition of postmodernist, stunningly intrusive and invariably grotesquely irrelevant...
Out of Kilter
Can a critic simply be wrong, in the way that a mathematician who said that 3x3=10 would be wrong? I'm beginning to wonder, since I am the only person I've read who thought Ricky Gervais's Life's Too Short was not vile but terrific and The Killing II...
Portrait of the Week
Home David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said: 'Getting debt under control is proving harder than anyone envisaged.' In a speech to the Confederation of British Industry he blamed in part 'paralysis in the eurozone'. His words came a week before the...
Profit and Loss
As she walked towards a Palace dining room once in company with the playwright Noel Coward, the late Queen Mother noted his gaily lascivious eye flickering over the Guardsmen lining the stairs. 'No, Noel, ' she admonished him before he had spoken. 'I...
Pure and Simple
Philip Hensher finds Stephen Sondheim, in his later years, side-stepping from smartness into sincerity Look, I Made a Hat: Collected Lyrics (1981-2011), with Attendant Comments by Stephen Sondheim Virgin, £35, pp. 480, ISBN 9780753522608 It might be...
Radio Limited Menu
The changes to the Radio 4 schedule have been in operation for a couple of weeks. Have they made any difference? The extra 15 minutes added to the lunchtime news programme, The World At One, has had the knock-on effect of squeezing the afternoon. Do...
Real Life
If 40 was the question, climbing a mountain was not the answer. I don't know why people go looking for themselves when they approach middle age and I always swore I wouldn't do it. But then I found myself a few months off the dreaded landmark birthday...
Real Life
If 40 was the question, climbing a mountain was not the answer. I don't know why people go looking for themselves when they approach middle age and I always swore I wouldn't do it. But then I found myself a few months off the dreaded landmark birthday...
Republicans vs the World
In the race to take on Obama, playing dumb about foreign affairs is the politically clever thing to do During the 2008 US presidential election cyc le, the respec ted journa l Foreign Affairs invited the leading presidential candidates from both parties...
Republicans vs the World in the Race to Take on Obama, Playing Dumb about Foreign Affairs Is the Politically Clever Thing to Do
During the 2008 US presidential election cyc le, the respec ted journa l Foreign Affairs invited the leading presidential candidates from both parties to outline their views of world politics. All of them responded with essays that, one presumes, they...
Rumbled in the Jungle
Cry Havoc by Simon Mann John Blake, £19.99, pp. 351, ISBN 9781843584032 This book is a mess. Simon Mann may have been brought up on John Buchan, educated at Eton and Sandhurst, and taken Conrad and the Iliad with him on his African travels, but his...
Rumbled in the Jungle
Cry Havoc by Simon Mann John Blake, £19.99, pp. 351, ISBN 9781843584032 This book is a mess. Simon Mann may have been brought up on John Buchan, educated at Eton and Sandhurst, and taken Conrad and the Iliad with him on his African travels, but his...
Saleroom Money Talk
At least one market posted strong results in November. That was the market for contemporary art. In just four days in New York - 7 to 10 November - a phenomenal $775 million was spent on postwar and contemporary art at auction alone (who knows what...
Sorry, Ken, but Even I Know You Can't Say That
This week I thought I would offer advice on the sort of things one can and cannot say in public without fear of censure. I realise that I may not be the most obvious person, at this moment in time, to offer such a service. Maybe even the last person....
Spectator Spirits Offer
It is no great revelation that the very best whiskies come from Scotland. However, the only nation that runs the Scots close is Japan. Irish whiskey is currently the most dynamic category in brown spirits and the finest bourbons are fine indeed. Why...
Spectator Sport Coming of Age
Bracing times for those of us who are part of the winter fuel allowance generation - FAGs, as we like to call ourselves. At Haydock Park, the courageous Kauto Star thundered back into the national conscience with a spine-tingling win in the Betfair...
Tal Order
With the Tal Memorial in Moscow in its closing phase, I have discovered a game by the so-called wizard of Riga which had eluded me. I t was won by Tal against Boris Spassky in a blitz event at Glenrothes in Scotland 1988. Until recently I had no idea...
Televising Trials
English juries are warned to reach their decision exclusively on the evidence put before them. Would the proposed intrusion of TV into the courtroom (as in the USA) threaten this restriction by turning the trial into a public performance? The ancient...
Television out of Kilter
Can a critic simply be wrong, in the way that a mathematician who said that 3x3=10 would be wrong? I'm beginning to wonder, since I am the only person I've read who thought Ricky Gervais's Life's Too Short was not vile but terrific and The Killing II...
Thanks to the Financial Crisis We're All Economists Now
I was standing with a cheerful huddle at a farm near Monyash in the Peak District, seeing off the Four Shires Bloodhounds on a foggy November Sunday. The hounds bayed and the horses stamped, and I wished I could still run well enough to be the quarry....
Thanks to the Financial Crisis, We're All Economists Now
I was standing with a cheerful huddle at a farm near Monyash in the Peak District, seeing off the Four Shires Bloodhounds on a foggy November Sunday. The hounds bayed and the horses stamped, and I wished I could still run well enough to be the quarry....
Theatre Historical Knockabout
The Lion in Winter Haymarket, until 28 January Salt, Root and Roe Trafalgar Studios, until 3 December It's a palace drama with all the trimmings. Trevor Nunn's new production, The Lion in Winter, plunges us into the court of Henry II and his spurned...
The Spectator's Notes
On Tuesday morning, I was sitting reading Jessica Douglas-Home's vivid new book about the great Delhi Durbar in 1911 (A Glimpse of Empire, Michael Russell). In the background, the Today programme was burbling. I had just got to the bit about the Maharajas...
The Spectator's Notes
On Tuesday morning, I was sitting reading Jessica Douglas-Home's vivid new book about the great Delhi Durbar in 1911 (A Glimpse of Empire, Michael Russell). In the background, the Today programme was burbling. I had just got to the bit about the Maharajas...
The Technocrats' Coup
Just a few weeks ago, calling someone a 'technocrat' was a soft insult. The word meant, in effect, an efficient dullard. Now, technocrats appear to be inheriting the earth. They represent a new global elite, and they have recently added Greece and Italy...
The Technocrats' Coup
Just a few weeks ago, calling someone a 'technocrat' was a soft insult. The word meant, in effect, an efficient dullard. Now, technocrats appear to be inheriting the earth. They represent a new global elite, and they have recently added Greece and Italy...
The Turf Profit and Loss
As she walked towards a Palace dining room once in company with the playwright Noel Coward, the late Queen Mother noted his gaily lascivious eye flickering over the Guardsmen lining the stairs. 'No, Noel, ' she admonished him before he had spoken. 'I...
Trading Places
Venice and Egypt Doges' Palace, Venice, until 22 January Venice and Alexandria were, as far as the Venetians were concerned, twin cities. According to legend, St Mark had visited Venice before going to Alexandria, where he preached, performed miracles...
Trading Places
Venice and Egypt Doges' Palace, Venice, until 22 January Venice and Alexandria were, as far as the Venetians were concerned, twin cities. According to legend, St Mark had visited Venice before going to Alexandria, where he preached, performed miracles...
Two Bridges
In Competition No. 2723 you were invited to supply an updated version of Wordsworth's 'Upon Westminster Bridge'. A reading of the sonnet on Westminster Bridge in September 2002, to commemorate its 200th anniversary, was all but drowned out by the roar...
Voices from Tahir Square
Revolution is back on the streets of Cairo. Veterans of the last uprising (which unseated Hosni Mubarak) say that the police brutality is more intense than ever before, but the protestors are determined not to back down. 'It's like January but on crack,...
Voices from Tahrir Square
Revolution is back on the streets of Cairo. Veterans of the last uprising (which unseated Hosni Mubarak) say that the police brutality is more intense than ever before, but the protestors are determined not to back down. 'It's like January but on crack,...
Vote for Happiness
More democracy, new research indicates, really does make you feel better What makes you happy? If you did not think anybody cared, you could not be more wrong. Your happiness has become a major issue. It is being investigated by professors with regression...
Vote for Happiness Really Does Make You Feel Better
hat makes you happy? If you did not think anybody cared, you could not be more wrong. Your happiness has become a major issue. It is being investigated by professors with regression analyses. It is being fussed over by politicians who want to show their...
What's Going On?
The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories by Don DeLillo Picador, £16.99, pp. 211, ISBN 9781447207573 An early sentence in this collection of stories, first published between 1979 and the current issue of Granta, runs thus: We were in the late stages now, about...
What's Going On?
The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories by Don DeLillo Picador, £16.99, pp. 211, ISBN 9781447207573 An early sentence in this collection of stories, first published between 1979 and the current issue of Granta, runs thus: We were in the late stages now,...
When It Comes to the Crunch, Cameron Will Choose His Party over Europe
Downing Street's negotiating team returned from Berlin last Friday afternoon in good spirits. Angela Merkel had accepted that Britain deserved concessions as part of Germany's plan for a new European treaty. The Prime Minister was delighted, believing...
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