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 May 2011

ANCIENT AND MODERN - Room at the Top
If Romans had had such a concept as a 'right to life', their jurists would have dealt with the question whether it should be possible to lose it. Given that the salus (safety/ security/well-being) of the people should be the ultimate law (Cicero), one...
Barometer
A better class of tourist - The Seychelles tourism industry received a boost with the announcement that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are to spend their honeymoon there. - Like many island states in the tropics, tourism is a huge part of the economy:...
Berlioz Traduced
The Damnation of Faust English National Opera, in rep until 7 June Werther Royal Opera House, in rep until 21 May After its brief detour into magnificence with The Return of Ulysses at the Young Vic, ENO has returned to its hell-bent form with, appropriately...
Bono without the Jokes
Little Eyolf Jermyn Street Irish Blood, English Heart Trafalgar Studio 2 I rarely visit the Jermyn Street theatre because it's too nice. A small, raffish space just off Piccadilly, it has plush crimson seats and good-natured staff who never to fail...
Breaking the Bank
The vendetta against Bangladesh's Nobel Peace Prize winner 'It is all lies, ' says Muhammad Yunus, his voice quiet but firm. 'The media in Bangladesh attacks me unceasingly and I cannot stop them, but the accusations are untrue.' I believe him absolutely....
Call to Action
Revealed Turner Contemporary, Margate, until 4 September From across Margate Bay, the prickly silhouette of the new Turner Contemporary art gallery points towards the sea like prows of departing cruise liners. Here at last is the inspired intervention...
Cartoon Counselling
The Trouble with Love and Sex (Wednesday, BBC2) was extraordinary and quite successful. They took two couples plus one lonely single chap, recorded them talking to counsellors at Relate (formerly the Marriage Guidance Council, following the same rule...
Congo Notebook
Kisangani, capital of the province of Orientale, Democratic Republic of the Congo, once Zaire, is the setting for A Bend in the River, V. S . Naipaul's grim masterpiece, published in 1979, about post-colonial reality in central Africa. Naipaul's plot...
CULTURE NOTES - Vocal Heroes
Foundling Voices at the Foundling Mu seum in London's Bloom sbu ry (until 30 October) is the fruit of an oral history project that recorded the memories of 74 men and women (the youngest is now 68, the oldest 98) born to unmarried mothers who were placed...
Cut Short
'She hung up and ended the interview, ' said John Humphrys on Saturday morning's Today programme (Radio 4), sounding rather bemused. Had he really been cut off mid-round? The battle not yet won. He'd just been talking to Reem Haddad, director of Syrian...
Cut to the Chase
Attack the Block 15, Nationwide As Attack the Block is being touted as 'the new Shaun of the Dead' I expected a lighthearted romp rather than something quite bloody and nasty, although this does, at least, come in at a highly manageable 88 minutes....
Dear Mary Your Problems Solved
Q. I recently met an old friend I had not seen for some years. Answering his question about my meeting with a certain film star, I mentioned cosmetic surgery, in a disparaging tone. He seemed confused rather than amused, and after we parted it dawned...
Diary
A day in London for the launch of my new report 'The Shale Gas Shock', published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation. I argue that shale gas calls the bluff of the renewable energy movement in the same way that genetically modified crops called...
Double Toil and Trouble
Cardenio Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, in rep until 6 October Macbeth Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratfordupon-Avon, in rep until 6 October 'Shakespeare's Lost Play Re-imagined', thus Gregory Doran's subtitle to Cardenio. The play appears to have...
Dr T
Dr Siegbert Tarrasch was one of the great players and teachers of chess who flourished towards the end of the 19th century and the start of the 20th. He won major tournaments at Vienna in 1898, Monte Carlo in 1903 and Ostend in 1907, and contested (and...
Enchanting Waters
To the River by Olivia Laing Canongate, £16.99, pp. 283, ISBN 9781847677921 This is a book which is sometimes so private that reading it seems very nearly like an act of invasiveness. There is nothing salacious or rude in it, but its tone of voice is...
Focus on the Flat
The debate on whether or not the extraordinary Frankel should contest the Derby seems to be concluded, at least in Henry Cecil's mind, which is the place that matters. The common view seems to be that no mere horse could repeat over the undulations...
Freudian Slip
At Last by Edward St Aubyn Picador, £16.99, pp.224, ISBN 9780330435901 At Last is the fifth - and, it's pretty safe to say, most eagerly awaited - of Edward St Aubyn's Patrick Melrose novels. The first three, now called the Some Hope trilogy, took Patrick...
High Life
Why would a German playboy-billionaire industrialist with a large family and lots of old and good friends have dinner in Gstaad with one of his closest buddies, then go up to his chalet and put a bullet in his brain? As of writing, Gunter Sachs's suicide...
If the Slebs Think the Tabloids Are Bad, Let Them Deal with the People Who Read Them
Well, knock me down with a Ferrari, who'd have thought it? Jemima Khan and Jeremy Clarkson! The fragrant, pouting Mima - epitome of wellbred, bankrolled, metro liberal hand-wringing faux angst - getting it on with the dishevelled reactionary so far...
Imperfect Working Order
Pakistan: A Hard Country by Anatol Lieven Allen Lane, £30, pp. 528, ISBN 9781846141607 The publication of Pakistan: A Hard Country could not be more timely. International attention has been focused on Pakistan since the Americans killed Osama bin Laden...
Is There Any Hope in Politics for Pointy-Headed Intellectuals?
When the Alabama governor George Wallace described intellectuals as 'pointy-heads who couldn't ride a bicycle straight', he coupled two insults. The first - 'pointy-heads' - went straight into the legend and remains there, though I'd always thought...
Letters
Parting could be sweet Sir: Your leader ('Disunited Kingdom', 7 May) omitted to mention that if Scotland becomes independent, tens of thousands of British government jobs will be moved to England, and as many again from the private sector will invigorate...
Lib Doom
When politicians start complaining about the media, you know that they're in trouble. This weekend, a Liberal Democrat minister bounded up to me to complain about a double standard in the way that his party was reported. 'Yes, we've lost councillors...
Lost Labour
When disabled activists converged on the House of Commons this week to protest against welfare reform, they wanted to remind the Tories of what happened the last time a reforming government tried to tackle disability benefits. That was December 1997,...
Low Life
I came up to town for a party to launch a new publishing company called Notting Hill Editions. One thing led to another afterwards, my rail ticket was open-ended, and I stayed up in town for two days and nights, drinking in pubs and clubs. Two incidents...
Magnificent Young Men Are Ready to Die for Us, but That Doesn't Mean We Should Let Them
I'm in Dallas, Texas, for a Heritage Foundation conference when who should march into my hotel but a battalion of US marines, ahead of their deployment to Afghanistan. I watch, agog. The marines all look desperately young, even the ones who've done...
Moving with the Times
It is inevitable that a festival the size of the Proms should become a showcase not just for the artists taking part, but also for the way classical music is perceived more generally. There would be no point in a public services' provider such as the...
Neighbourhood Botch
'Localisation' is an expensive path to greater political corruption The last time the Dorset village of Cerne Abbas played a part in national debate was in the 17th century, when - recent studies suggest - locals carved a rude chalk parody of Oliver...
Parisian Perspectives
The Caillebotte Brothers' Private World: Painter and Photographer Musee Jacquemart-Andre, Paris, until 11 July In 1879, two young brothers moved into a new fifth-floor apartment at no. 31 Boulevard Haussmann, overlooking the Opera. Flush with inheritances...
Parting Shot
In Competition No. 2695 you were invited to submit the last will and testament of a fictional character. I t is always striking when it comes to a challenge of this sort how like-minded the comping community is in its choice of fictional characters....
Portrait of the Week
Home Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader and D eputy Prime Minister, said: 'People want a louder Liberal Democrat voice in government, ' after his party did very badly in local elections and saw its proposal of the alternative vote defeated in...
Portraits of a Marriage
Andrew Lambirth on the special relationship between the artists Zoran Music and Ida Barbarigo that is explored in an exhibition that shows their work together for the first time in more than half a century At the Estorick Collection, a modest north...
Power of Invention
Lorenzo Lotto Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome, until 12 June Lorenzo Lotto's portraits alone should have secured him a place in history as a major Renaissance painter. Yet, ironically, while his works continued to be admired, his name was all but forgotten....
Precious Little Warmth
The Macmillan Diaries, Volume II: Prime Minister and After, 1957-1966 edited by Peter Catterall Macmillan, £40, pp. 796, ISBN 9781405047210 There's something wrong with these diaries. This is not to disparage the scholarly efforts of their editor, Dr...
Real Life
My appeal against a fine for stopping for a few seconds on a faded zigzag line in a dark, deserted suburban street has been rejected, unsurprisingly. What is more surprising is the letter I received telling me about this. It was signed by someone called...
Redefining the War
Our aim in Afghanistan is no longer to secure victory but to avoid obvious defeat, says Alex Massie Afghanistan: How the West Lost its Way by Tim Bird and Alex Marshall Yale, £19.99, pp. 304, ISBN 9780300154573 Dead Men Risen: The Welsh Guards and the...
Spectator Wine Offer
Many Spectator readers look forward to what has become an annual event - the release of the new Chateau de Sours wines. The star is, as always, the rose, which many believe made pink wines respectable once again, compared at least to the thin, wine-gummy...
Sword of Controversy
'I've refused to become a prisoner of "Piss Christ", ' said the photographer Andres Serrano, referring to his 1987 photograph of a crucifix submerged in a glass filled with urine. But the fact remains that he has become a very wealthy prisoner of that...
The Chattering Classes
Louise Stern on what the deaf really think of 'hearing people' I'm at my desk in London chatting to a deaf woman in Mexico. We are communing through the internet. At 17.57 GMT , an instant messenger bubble pops on to my computer screen: 'Louise Stern:...
The Latest Mis-Selling Scandal Is One More Symptom of a Deeper Problem
The payment protection insurance (PPI) scandal is, by common consensus, the worst case of financial misselling until the next one. These policies were foisted by banks on personal borrowers, supposedly to cover repayments if they fell ill or lost their...
The Mark of Cane
The Sugar Barons by Matthew Parker Hutchinson, £25 pp. 446, ISBN 9780091925833 Sugar transformed our world. From its origins in New Guinea, this tall sappy grass initially made slow progress around the globe. It reached India in 500 BC, and then travelled...
The Spectator's Notes
Making a speech in Scotland at the weekend, I met scores of people who want their country to remain in the Union, but do not know what to do about it. They complain that they have no leadership. Unionism is probably still, by some way, the majority...
Too Many Toddlers
A new baby boom is reaching school age, and we're not prepared Some time in the next week or so, all being well , my wife will have baby number three. That means more hours spent in Battersea Park's playground, a flocking place for parents who inhabit...
Wheels of Fortune
Pedalare! Pedalare!: A History of Italian Cycling by John Foot Bloomsbury, £14.99, pp. 316, ISBN 9780747595212 The Bicycle Book by Bella Bathurst Harper Press, £16.99, pp. 306, ISBN 9780007305889x There are among us a churlish few who consider the term...
Who Now Carries the Spirit of Seve?
Anyone concerned that their tear ducts might not be in working order should take a look at the 2009 Sports Personality of the Year show, when Severiano Ballesteros was given a lifetime achievement award. The gong is presented to Seve at his home in...
Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.