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 January 2010

A Pair of Aces
William Cook talks to the creators of some of TV's funniest and best-loved comedy programmes As our economy disappears down the plughole, along with the reputations of most of our bankers and politicians, the one consolation is that entertainers like...
Are You Sophisticated? Here's How to Find Out
The word 'sophisticated', though commonly used, especially by persons who turn out on close investigation to be unsophisticated, is tricky, and truly sophisticated people avoid it altogether. Now, having got that off my chest, let us try to define it....
Books
Of the same 1980s generation as Peter Doig and the Young British Artists (Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin et al), Stephen Chambers has always pursued a far more maverick, and profoundly more interesting, path. Starting out as a well-regarded, heavyduty abstract...
Community Living
Phew! Normal service has been resumed. No more panto; no more guest editors forcing Evan, Jim, Ed and Sarah into embarrassingly coy interviews with Karl Lagerfeld et al. ; no more year-end reviews of the year behind and portentous glimpses of the year...
Cricket's 'Golden Age'
You have to hand it to Kevin Pietersen. He's certainly got chutzpah - or should that be a death wish? Just when you might think he'd be happy, having finally won the battle to take part in the Indian Premier League, he's gone and started another fight,...
Crowd Pleaser
Cecilia Bartoli Barbican Turandot Royal Opera House For this year's appearance at the Barbican, Cecilia Bartoli, ever exploratory in her repertoire, chose an evening of canzone, songs by composers and a few by singers of the bel canto repertoire. She...
Dear Mary
Q. A friend from university invited my boyfriend and me to stay with her parents in a very grand house over New Year. We were made very welcome, but my boyfriend felt out of his depth in at least one instance and wonders what you would have advised....
Diary
To Cornwall for New Year with a carload of children and a husband muttering, 'It will be cold, you know how you hate the cold.' I'm a glass-half-full kind of a person, and the prospect of a beautiful clifftop break was blotting out the weather warnings...
Diary of a Notting Hill Nobody
Monday Mr Clarke on the phone again, v crabby. He says it's taking a lot of hours out of his day having to answer questions about the economy and can't we stop people calling him so he can get on with counting sparrows. 'At this rate the only way I'll...
Foreign Friends
FROM BONBON TO CHA - CHA edited by Andrew Delahunty OUP, £10.99, pp. 426, ISBN 9780199543694 . £8.79 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 On the spine of From Bonbon to Cha-cha shines the silhouette, in gold leaf, of a dancing couple, which makes the...
Getting the Detail Right
Evelyn Waugh told Nancy Mitford he was 'surprised to find' that Proust 'was a mental defective. He has absolutely no sense of time.' (Joke, given the novel's title? ) 'He can't remember anyone's age. In the same summer as Gilberte gives him a marble...
Give Me Five
In Competition No. 2577 you were invited to supply definitions of five types of anything you chose. As the eagle-eyed among you will have spotted, Jaspistos set an almost identical assignment a few years ago, inspired by Sydney Smith's six types of...
Heading for Another Fall
Even with the sharp political mind of Peter Mandelson on his team, it is possible that Gordon Brown failed to foresee one political consequence of his scheme to borrow and spend his way out of the recession. How can the government complain about tax...
Interesting Season
Gstaad When Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet committed suicide just before Christmas, I hoped against hope that others would do the same. No such luck. Villehuchet was an aristocrat, a gentleman and an honest man. He felt responsible for the loss of...
Letters
A coherent story Sir: Douglas Murray says ('Studying Islam made me an atheist', 3 January) that what killed the Bible was not Darwin but 'German biblical criticism. . . the scholarship on lost texts, discoveries of added-to texts and edited texts'....
Love of the Land
There were four brothers. They'd just been left their uncle's farm in his will, a few dozen acres of Leicestershire. It was a fairly standard small-farm package. They'd all grown up with the place, working there through the summers: a red-brick farmhouse,...
Moderate Arab States Need Israel to Succeed
Douglas Davis says that if Hamas holds out it will shift the balance of power in the Middle East further towards Iran and the radicals Pity the international diplomats. Hardly back from their Christmas break, they were plunged into yet another dizzying...
Not So Fantastic
THE NATURAL HISTORY OF UNICORNS by Chris Lavers Granta, £18.99, pp. 258, ISBN 9781847080622 'A long time ago, when the earth was green, / There were more kinds of animals than you've ever seen. / They'd run around free while the earth was being born,...
Onward Christian Zionists
Rod Liddle on the crazed, quasi-fascist evangelicals in Britain and America who believe war in Gaza heralds the Second Coming of Christ It being the new year and all, I thought I'd introduce you to some new mentalists, just in case you're getting bored...
Quality Treat
There are still some things that the BBC does incredibly well, and The Diary of Anne Frank (BBC1, Monday to Friday) was one. It's the licence fee that allows the corporation to take these risks, and next time the Murdoch press whinges about it, you...
Question Time
Slumdog Millionaire 15, Nationwide From the wonderful things I'd already heard about Danny Boyle's latest film Slumdog Millionaire I was fully poised to fall madly in love with it, and perhaps even run off with it although I would not have its babies...
Recent Loves
And so to the records of the year. I usually do this piece in December, but as all sensible shoppers know that's the worst month in the year to buy anything for yourself - particularly music, in what is very much a buyer's market. Amazon's prices, normally...
Something to Smile About
Eos is a word I struggled with, presuming it to derive from the Greek prefix, eo-, meaning dawn or beginning, particularly in relation to plant or animal life. Then I discovered Eos was goddess of the dawn, beloved by (rather too) many Titans, though...
Spectator Wine Club
Now is a good time to lay in wine. Merchants are selling off stock to raise capital; meanwhile they are nervously waiting for the grisly effects of the pound's recent fall. And while some growers on the Continent will cut their own prices in euros,...
Squaring the Circle
These London Squares: green thoughts in a grey mind, like ample zoo enclosures that help keep the animals sane. In Queen Square between Faber and the Homeopathic Hospital you did a weekly stint at, your colleagues planted a memorial magnolia sapling...
Suited and Booted
It was minus four degrees, dampness hung in the air, and visibility was down to about 120 yards. As I drove up on to Dartmoor with fog lamps on, wipers going, and heater and blower at full blast, I didn't anticipate that this year's New Year's Day 'Get...
The Spectator's Notes
Although television coverage of the Israeli attacks on Gaza is extensive, it is uninformative. The BBC, in particular its reporter Jeremy Bowen, seems to be in thrall to the images it can project. But, by its Charter, the BBC has a duty to educate,...
Why Brown and Cameron Are Silent on the Coming War with Iran
Only when Tony Blair popped up on the airwaves did it become clear just how different it is this time. Israel is again at war - yet, unlike 2006 there are no MPs clamouring for Parliament to be recalled. There is no Prime Minister who regards himself...
Why Do We Feel So Comfortable Criticising Israel, but We Never Mention Hamas?
What are we to make of the disquieting information that Ehud Barak's favoured pastime, when not waging war, politicking or dressing as a woman, is the dismantling and reassembling of clocks? 'That's really creepy, ' I said to the wife, when somebody...
Winter Wonders
Bruegel to Rubens: Masters of Flemish Painting The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, until 26 April If you felt deprived of snow this Christmas, hasten along to The Queen's Gallery, for there, in a splendid exhibition of Flemish painting from the...
Withdrawal from Heroin Is a Trivial Matter
Theodore Dalrymple is outraged by the mollycoddling of drug addicts coming off heroin and the notion that their predicament is a matter of human rights We live in Keynesian times: the answer to the economic problems created by a mountain of debt frittered...
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