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 2012

A Cavalier Attitude to Monarchy A Cavalier Attitude to Monarchy
The King's Henchman by Anthony Adolph Gibson Square, £20, pp. 394, ISBN 9781908096302 Historians have long been more interested in the Roundheads than in the Cavaliers. It was the parliamentarians who achieved England's revolution, or the nearest thing...
A Global Hegemony of Clean Lines
20th-Century World Architecture Phaidon, £125, pp. 824, ISBN 9780714857060 Phaidon Press invented the art book. It was in 1930s Vienna that Bela Horovitz and Ludwig Goldscheider established the format of the illustrated monograph: a short essay by an...
All in the Telling
Hymie Joke Book by Michael Winner The Robson Press, £12.99, pp. 256, ISBN 9781849543910 I like Jewish jokes. I begin every conversation with the literary editor of The Spectator with one or two, do the same with the judge across the road, and tell my...
A New World Power
For decades, America has dreamed about becoming self-sufficient in terms of energy, and ending its dependence on unsavoury Arab regimes. Now this dream seems within reach. The International Energy Agency this week forecast that America is undergoing...
A Perfect Media Storm
For those of us who write for the tabloids, there's something almost poetic about the crisis currently engulfing our more respectable rivals. E ver since the Guardian 'exposed' the News of the World for deleting Milly Dowler's voicemails - a story that...
Apologia Pro Vita Sua
A Matter of Principle by Conrad Black Biteback, £14.99, pp. 508, ISBN 97818459543569 Any fair-minded person who has looked into the matter knows that Conrad Black was wrongly convicted. Indeed under English law he would not have been prosecuted at all,...
Apologia Pro Vita Sua
A Matter of Principle by Conrad Black Biteback, £14.99, pp. 508, ISBN 97818459543569 Any fair-minded person who has looked into the matter knows that Conrad Black was wrongly convicted. Indeed under English law he would not have been prosecuted at all,...
Aristotle on Entwistle
George Entwistle accounted himself 'honourable' as he resigned his position as head of the BBC, and Lord Patten joined in the applause. It was as if Entwistle thought he deserved it. Ancient Greeks would have been baffled. You cannot honour yourself....
Books of the Year
A selection of the best books of 2012, chosen by some of our regular contributors. A.N.Wilson Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie (Bloomsbury, £14.99). At last, an Anglican Father Brown. Runcie has sensibly set his detective stories...
Bridge
Time and again in bridge, when tackling problematic contracts, I miss simple solutions which, it turns out, were staring me in the face. It's some consolation to know that this sort of temporary blindness is a fairly common condition: bridge clubs are...
Bringing Obituaries to Life
How a dusty corner of the newspaper became a glamour posting. I used to be a foreign correspondent. Some t imes I though t i t was a pre t ty glamorous job. At dinner parties I might occasionally drop hints about the dangerous sorts of places I had...
Cinema Everlasting Love
Amour 12A, Nationwide Michael Haneke's Amour is about love as we near the end of life and is so painful it isn't a film to 'like' or 'enjoy' but is one you do have to see. It's amazing. It is, effectively, two hours and seven minutes of watching someone...
Clay Pride
The Last Sane Man: Michael Cardew, Colonalism and the Counterculture by Tanya Harrod Yale, £30, pp. 457, ISBN 9780300100167 What a superb potter Michael Cardew was. What a fascinating, complex man. And what a lovely book this is. Next to Bernard Leach,...
Creative Destruction: Lessons from New Orleans Seven Years after Katrina
Never say this column doesn't offer global perspectives. OK, sometimes it comes in folksy Yorkshire parables - but a fortnight ago I was up close with Branson in Mumbai and today I'm speaking to you from the Louisiana Superdome. Yes, I'm standing right...
Dear Mary - Your Problems Solved
Q. Our son goes to a state primary school in west London which in most respects we are very happy with. However, the teachers correct him every time he says 'what?' and insist he says 'pardon?' instead. The upshot is that he now says 'pardon?' even...
Diary
I have just returned from sunny Los Angeles, visiting Simon Cowell, the subject of my most recent biography. He told me about a visit by Cheryl Cole to his amazing house in Beverly Hills to patch up their arguments. 'My book is number 1, ' boasted Cheryl....
Downhill for Generations
Mark Palmer finds a family legacy on the slopes My 22-year-old daughter is feeling a little low. Me, too, actually. I've just told her there aren't enough pennies in the coffers to go skiing this season - just as there weren't last season. I suggested...
End of the Party
Chinese communism may not survive to mark its centenary Beijing The 18 th Cong re s s o f the Ch ine se Commun ist Party had begun , and President Hu Jintao was droning his way through his last big speech before stepping down for good. Irritatingly,...
Everything Goes
As Kiss me Kate opens in London, Trevor Nunn explains why he sees no barrier between plays and musicals. When I first began rehearsing a musical, I discovered to my genuine surprise that I was breaking an unwritten rule . . . that directors of serious...
Exhibitions Unexpected Structures
Gillian Ayres: Paintings from the 1950s Jerwood Gallery, Hastings, until 25 November Gillian Ayres: Paintings and Works on Paper 2010-12 Alan Cristea Gallery, 31 & 34 Cork Street, W1, until 21 December Frank Auerbach: Early Works 1954-78 Offer Waterman...
Food Tea and Lunacy
Food and fashion are enemies, so congratulations to the Berkeley Hotel for attempting detente with something insane. I t has invented a fashion 'tea' called Pret-a Portea which is, I am told by a press release, 'designed to add a creative twist to the...
Fun and Games - except with Mother
Daughter of Empire: Life as a Mountbatten by Pamela Hicks Weidenfeld, £20, pp. 262, ISBN 9780297864820 The Duke of Edinburgh, a New Zealand typist claimed in 1954, was 'the best investment that the royal family has made in all its history'. But would...
Give Me Stress
Nigelissima: Instant Italian Inspiration by Nigella Lawson Chatto, £26, pp. 273, ISBN 9780701187330 Jamie's15-Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver Michael Joseph, £27, pp. 288, ISBN 9780718157807 Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi Ebury, £27, pp....
He Knows It Teases
House of Fun: 20 Glorious Years in Parliament by Simon Hoggart Guardian Books, £14.99, pp. 346, ISBN 9780852653814 Simon Hoggart has spent 20 years going to Westminster to annoy people. He entertains no high-minded delusions about politics and he writes...
Here's a BBC Scandal That Should Really Make You Disgusted
How many of you reading this were abused by Jimmy Savile? Few if any, I would hazard. And while I don't wish to play down the misery wrought over four or more decades by that loathsome perve, the BBC scandal I'm about to describe has resulted in damage,...
High Life
Miami Beach To the Mecca of brutalism, a place that rivals Marbella for vulgarity, with sprawling marble-clad palaces, boxy condo blocks and concrete lumps in the place of old world, clubby wrought-iron and glass canopies. Clubs down here mean strippers...
In Praise of Bryan Ferry
Bit all youthful obsessions age well. This one has. Francis Lee, the barrel-chested footballer who banged in goals for Bolton Wanderers and Manchester City, was my first idol. Billy Wilder, Johnny Mercer and Philip Larkin rank among the heroes of my...
Letters
What the result says Sir: John O'Sullivan ('Obama's hollow victory, ' 10 November) says that after President Obama's re-election, 'America looks a less naturally conservative country, more a centre-left one.' But we ought to consider what John O'Sullivan...
Listening out for the Silent Minorities
A day or so after writing a column, when the horse has certainly bolted, you read it in print. Now you are hit by l'esprit d'escalier. Ideas you left out stare you in the face. Friends call with arguments you never thought to include - obvious, once...
Living on the Brink
A Free Man by Aman Sethi Cape, £14.99, pp. 226, ISBN 9780224096904 To write this book Aman Sethi, a journalist for the Hindu, spent five years hanging out with the casual labourers of Bara Tooti Chowk in Delhi's Sadar Bazaar, who live and die on the...
Long Life
The BBC and the Church of England are two rather similar institutions, both designed for the comfort and consolation of modest, well-meaning Englishmen who don't like to be shaken about or threatened by anything disagreeable or jarring. The BBC is in...
Low Life
Two policemen and a policewoman were the first of the emergency services to arrive on the platform. The policemen ran about like headless chickens. The woman was calmer. She quickly grasped the essentials of the situation, such as under which wheel...
Making the Bomb
Inside the Centre: The Life of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Ray Monk Cape, £30, pp. 802, ISBN 9780224062626 Of the making of many books about J. Robert Oppenheimer there is apparently no end. There have been 23 previous lives, seven of them published since...
Merkel's Sovereign Remedy
'Europe is speaking German now, ' said Volker Kauder, parliamentary chairman of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrat party, about a year ago. He was urging Britain to back Merkel's plans for saving Europe's rickety banks and state budgets....
Mind Your Language Lichen
On an article in the Times about eating oak moss I saw the headline: ' I 'm lichen it!' Since I pronounce lichen to rhyme with kitchen, this meant little to me. You may think that I have no business pronouncing lichen in this way. That is the strong...
Opera Slow Progress
The Pilgrim's Progress English National Opera, in rep until 28 November The Tempest Live from the Met As usual on the rare occasions when Vaughan Williams's last and largest opera, The Pilgrim's Progress, is performed, the new production at English...
Portrait of the Week
Home Abu Qatada, detained in Britain for seven years although not charged here, but wanted on terrorist charges in Jordan, could not be deported, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission ruled, because evidence might be used against him that had been...
Radio Carry on Broadcasting
By some strange, freakish coincidence, just as the biggest story to hit the BBC in recent years was about to cut through the airwaves on Saturday night, Radio 4 was discussing the question, Who's Reithian Now? It was as if, by some act of God, Lord...
Real Life
Ikea is a totalitarian state. When you drive under the overhanging barrier preventing reasonably sized vans from gaining access to its car park you are entering sovereign territory. Should you get stranded in Ikea for any number of reasons, the best...
Scotland's Top Ten
The Scottish Country House by James Knox, with photographs by James Fennell Thames & Hudson, £28, pp. 192, ISBN 9780500516553 It is no mean feat to produce a publication of the type that used to be described as 'a coffee-table book', devoted to...
Television Time Trials
It's amazing what can be squeezed into an hour of The Hour (Wednesday, BBC2): smutty photos, gang violence, bent coppers, illegal gambling, fascism, racism, a political cover-up, a media expose, leaked documents, seduction, abuse, neglect, the corrupting...
Theatre Issues of Trust
People Lyttelton, in rep until 9 February; next booking period opens 23 November Blackta Young Vic, until 24 November An orgy of navel-gazing on the South Bank where a national treasure is satirising the National Trust at the National Theatre. Alan...
The Coming Showdown Fraser Nelson
Angela Merkel is running out of nice things to say about David Cameron and the Tory rebels who are dictating his European policy. Der Spiegel magazine recently compared the British to 'at best spectators in the gallery like Statler and Waldorf, the...
The Fall of Petraeus
The general and CIA director was never more than a plastic hero Washington DC In the middle of a breaking news story, MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell sounded like she was about to cry. Something had happened to the CIA director David Petraeus - but what? Andrea...
The French Connection
Through the Window by Julian Barnes Vintage, £10.99, pp, 243, ISBN 9780099578581 When novelists write essays, they often boom through megaphones, aggrandise the importance of their views and inflate their stature. Julian Barnes, however, seems to be...
The Spectator's Notes
David Dimbleby is right that the BBC is bedevilled by managerialism. He makes an apt comparison with the National Health Service, where his wife, who works in mental health, reports similar horrors. But no one goes on to ask why this is so. It is assumed...
The World in Union
Here's a thing: some years ago Rhodri Davies left Cardiff and emigrated to New Zealand with his young half-Scottish, halfIrish wife Megan. Not long after settling in Auckland Megan gave birth to a son, Jock. Jock was a bright boy, and mad keen on rugby....
To Win the Next Election the Tories Must Crush the Liberal Democrats
On the wall in Conservative Campaign Headquarters is a clock counting down the days, hours and minutes to the next election. It is so large that anyone who enters for the next 901 days won't miss it. The party is now on an election footing, as the clock...
Vengeance, at a Price
The Orphan of Zhao Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, in rep until 28 March 2013 The Merry Wives of Windsor Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratfordupon-Avon, in rep until 12 January 2013 Where have you been all my life, Orphan of Zhao? Come to think of...
Weaving Magic
Tapestry, papal and princely, never quite went away. Today it satisfies a need for conspicuous displays of skill of the kind celebrated in the V&A's recent show Power of Making. The surprise hit of last year's Venice Biennale was Penelope's Labour:...
Welby's Impossible Task to Lead the Opposition to Gay Marriage
The new Archbishop of Canterbury has the cleanest-shaven chin I think I have ever seen on an adult male human. It is as if, in an attempt to rid himself of even the vestigial suspicion of facial growth, he has shaved twice with a Gillette Mach 3 TurboTM...
Wild Life
Northern Kenya If I go out in darkness I dread neither the leopard nor the lion but I recoil from the aardvark: for me a terrifying creature. The ant bear, or earth pig, is a living fossil with snout of pig, a serpent's tongue, ears of a rabbit and...
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