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 July 2010

Ancien & Modern
The French may legislate to ban the allenveloping burka/niqab worn by some Muslim women, but Claudius, Roman emperor AD 41-54, would no more have banned them than he did trouser-wearing Frenchman. In AD 48, Gallic chieftains who had longstanding treaties...
As Hayward Becomes the New Sir Fred, Who Will Be Bob Dudley's Role Model?
I told you so - and I might even have said it first. 'Hayward may have to be sacrificed, ' I wrote on 5 June. 'In that case, the next man in the line of fire could be Bob Dudley, who has the advantage of being an American. . .' I might have added that...
'A Totally Irresponsible Art'
Nina Conti appears convinced that her puppets are real. Freddy Gray investigates Isn't Nina Conti too good-looking to be a ventriloquist? One thinks of blokes in working-men's clubs with frazzled hair, not Nina with her smiling face and big brown eyes....
A World in a Handful of Words
THE COLLECTED STORIES by Lydia Davis Hamish Hamilton, £20, pp. 733 ISBN 97680241145043 Though Lydia Davis probably first came to the attention of English readers through her translations, she has been making a substantial reputation for herself in...
Beauty and the Beasts
Some 13 years ago, a six-year-old girl called JonBenet Ramsey was murdered in Boulder, Colorado. It was the only murder in the city that year, and a particularly brutal one; she had been dragged from her bed and apparently attacked with an electric...
Because She's Worth It
The scandal over Liliane Bettencourt's L'Oreal fortune is exposing the way French high society operates, says Patrick Marnham. And it is harming President Sarkozy in the polls It all started as a banal family squabble over ? 17 billion. Liliane Bettencourt...
Cameron Has Given Up on Afghanistan
A fundamental shift has quietly taken place in Britain's approach to Afghanistan: the focus is now on leaving, not winning. Con Coughlin asks if we are seeing the return of the politics of appeasement It is difficult to pinpoint the precise moment that...
Crackle of the Universe
'Is there anybody there?' is the question that Anne McElvoy could have asked Diane Abbott in their now-infamous Today programme interview last Wednesday. If by chance you missed this classic radio moment, Ms Abbott had just been telling us how she intends...
Dangerous Balls
For Conservatives, a leadership fight is a blood sport: a feast of passion, revenge and political violence. Labour's current contest has thus far been the precise opposite: an excruciatingly dull five-way verbal joust between candidates who have nothing...
Dressing Down
Why do 21st-century Englishmen turn into such slobs in summertime? Harry Mount laments the rise of sleeveless vests, baggy shorts and plastic sandals Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the continental midday sun. But at least the mad dogs don't dress...
Friendly Fire
Laikipia, Kenya My cousin Charlie Williams is a young Irish Guards captain about to deploy in Afghanistan. The other day he came to stay on our farm in Kenya's highlands and I got a glimpse of what he's about to go through in an exciting yet poignant...
Great Expectations
La Traviata Royal Opera House Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance Royal Opera House The Royal Opera ended its season with yet another revival of Richard Eyre's production of La Traviata , and the Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance,...
I Have Finally Seen How the Big Society Might Work
Like many members of the Tory tribe, I've struggled with the Big Society doctrine. As with the doctrine of the Holy Trinity there have been moments when I thought I'd grasped it, but upon being asked to explain it to somebody else, found that it had...
Increasingly Isolated, Karzai Turns to Pakistan
The extraordinary raw intelligence leaks from the Afghan battlefield confirmed what many people already believed, or feared, about the war. But amidst the avalanche of documents, several new facts have emerged. We now know, for example, that civilians...
Instant Dislike
When the cabin crew capo spoke on the public address system, she expected nothing less than our undivided attention. We had to suspend our conversations 'right now' or 'right at this moment'. Her accent, I think, was Sydney suburbs. But this one passenger...
Letters
Colourful Mo Sir: I am surprised to read Charles Moore (The Spectator's Notes, 24 July) opine that 'in a better world' there would have been no film about Mo Mowlam but instead one depicting the 'heroic struggles' of Owen Paterson. Mo Mowlam was vibrant,...
L'homme Qui Dit Non
THE GENERAL by Jonathan Fenby Simon & Schuster, £30, pp. 707, ISBN 9781847373922 The study of history is a subversive calling. All countries make up a story that suits their idea of themselves. Authoritarians stamp out independent historical scholarship;...
Mr Haque's Murderers Were Racists -- So Why Won't Anyone Admit It?
Rod Liddle attacks the dangerous liberals who refuse to accept that young black males often come from a culture that celebrates violence, misogyny and racism The moment on the video that really hurts, that really digs in - if you are a human being,...
Mud, Blood and Jungle Rot
MATTERHORN by Karl Malantes Corvus, £16.99, pp. 598, ISBN 9781848074947 The Matterhorn, at 14,679 feet in the Alps, is said to be very difficult to climb. It is an apt military designation for a (fictional) jungle peak that United States Marines were...
My Neighbors in a Foreign Place
Directly across the courtyard from me lives a middle-aged woman, the ringleader of the building. Sometimes she and I open our windows simultaneously and look at each other for an instant in shocked surprise. When this happens, one of us looks up at...
Nel Mezzo del Cammin
As I write, the British Championship in Canterbury is reaching its midpoint and the leading contenders will face the task in the coming week of fighting their way out from the dark wood to outdistance their massed rivals. This week, with no information...
No Love Lost
IN OFFICE HOURS by Lucy Kellaway Penguin/ Fig Tree, £12.99, pp. 342, ISBN 9781905490394 I THINK I LOVE YOU by Allison Pearson Chatto, £12.99, pp. 358, ISBN 9780701179676 There is chick lit, or witless, ill-written, juvenile popular fiction, and...
Nothing's Easy
What I want to know is - what's easy about it? EasyJet, I mean. I've just used it to go to the south of France and I'm struggling to accept that 'easy' best describes it. I haven't been on a budget airline for a while but I well remember the era of...
Over and Out?
A LAST ENGLISH SUMMER by Duncan Hamilton Quercus, £20, pp. 367, ISBN 9781849160933 Cricket writing, in the age of professionalism, affords less room to dreamy scribes. Fact and revelation are preferred to style and reflection. The roaming tour diary...
Pilgrims' Progress
In Competition No. 2657 you were invited to imagine what merry band Chaucer might bring together if he were writing today. It was another bumper entry this week, and you fell into two camps. There were those who reasoned that were Chaucer writing today...
Potrait of the Week
Mr David Cameron, the Prime Minister, visited India, and on the way said he was 'angry' that negotiations for Turkey to join the European Union were so slow. While Mr Cameron was abroad earlier in America, Mr Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, had...
Six of the Best
On board s/y Bushido 'Trimming the Jib' is a short essay by Ernest Hemingway and it has to do with the sea. And love. And passion. He wrote it shortly before The Old Man and the Sea , which helped land him the Nobel Prize in Literature. Here it is in...
Spectator Wine Club
I like the word 'plumptious', though it's not in the dictionary. I think it was invented by Ken Dodd. It is the perfect term to describe some wines, especially many of those in this offer. It means, I suppose, rich and rounded, full flavoured, a joy...
Summer Round-Up
Cornwall is looking beautiful under summer sun and outdoor pursuits beckon, but St Ives provides the perfect alternative when the beach palls or rain threatens. Besides the Tate, there are a number of commercial galleries, and chief among them is Wills...
The Burka Curtails My Freedom
The great debate about the full-face Muslim veil is usually cast in terms of religious rights, says Carol Sarler. But what about my right to see who I'm talking to? So we're all agreed then. The great burka debate has enthusiastically consumed recent...
The Invisible Man
ATTLEE : A L IFE IN POLITICS by Nicklaus Thomas-Symonds I.B. Tauris, £25, pp. 329, ISBN 9781345117795 Nicklaus Thomas-Symonds's study of Clement Attlee is a specimen of that now relatively rare but still far from endangered species, the 'political'...
The Spectator's Notes
This column may not, I admit, have praised the Foreign Office at all times, so it is pleased to reveal an admirable FCO operation which has been going on, quietly and successfully, since early last year. In 2008, it became clear - many would say it...
The Wiki Man
At first glance the climate change debate is simple: you either believe the doom-mongers or you don't. Soon, however, other questions arise. Is the world warming up or not? If so, is this warming anthropogenic or the result of a natural cycle? If greenhouse...
Time to Take the Thumbscrews off the Banks
The biggest risk to the economy is not government cuts, says John Redwood, but lack of credit. There's plenty ministers can do to get companies, and people, borrowing again This time it is different. Normally the UK economy bounces back from a downturn,...
Trail of Wounds
Beautiful Kate 15, Key Cities Beautiful Kate is one of those emotional-journey films that begins with a family member returning home after a long, unexplained absence and, whatever else happens, you know they are not all going to settle down to a nice...
University Challenge
A small revolution in higher education took place this week when David Willetts, the universities minister, permitted BPP, a business and law college based in Shepherd's Bush, to use the title 'university college'. By doing so he created the first private...
What Washington Thought of Cameron: Smooth, Genial, Evasive-And Tough
He came, he saw and, to the surprise of many in Washington, David Cameron conquered. Those who have been exposed to his personal charm were less surprised. For them, the surprise - perhaps they should have known better than to be surprised -- came from...
Your Problems Solved
Dear Mary Q. I arranged to meet my son at King's Cross to hand over some camping equipment for him to take to the Secret Garden festival. I planned to go by Tube (from Balham) but the load was heavy. I justified the ordering of an expensive minicab...
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