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 February 2010

A Dangerous Fellow Survivor Syndrome
Paul Johnson THE SUICIDE RUN by William Styron Cape, £14.99, pp. 194, ISBN 9780224087384 . £11.99 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 In late middle age, William Styron was struck by a disabling illness, when everything seemed colourless, futile...
A Dramatic Streak
JOHN ARMSTRONG: THE PAINTINGS by Andrew Lambirth Philip Wilson Publishers, £35, pp. 240, ISBN 9780856676680 . £28 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 Late in the 19th century, archaeologists digging in the Roman Forum discovered a lime kiln. It had...
An 80-Year-Old Mystery
'The older I get, the more inclined I am to say those three words: I don't know, ' says Baroness Rendell of Babergh. She turns 80 this week, and seems milder in person than in her writing. In photographs, too, she looks a bit haughty and forbidding,...
An Affable Tour Guide
GERMANIA by Simon Winder Picador, £18.99, pp. 454, ISBN 9780330451390 . £15.19 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 In mentioning Heinrich the Fowler, 10th-century King of the Germans and one of the many obscure figures who appears in his book, Simon...
A Slave to Her Past
THE LONG SONG by Andrea Levy Headline, £18.99, pp. 312, ISBN 9780755359400 . £15.19 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 It is to Andrea Levy's credit that for this, her eagerly-awaited fifth novel, she adopts a narrative approach strikingly different...
Beyond Bathplugs
First parliament, now the BB C . Steadily, the public is seeing details of the kind of lifestyles that have been funded by the taxpayer for all these years. To the tawdry parliamentarians' list - duck houses, porn films, Kit Kat bars - we can now add...
Caveat Emptor
qA weekly airdrop of Exchange & Mart was the luxury I used to think I'd choose when the producers of Desert Island Discs realised who they'd been missing all these years. But now, I fear, it would be access to eBay, that wonderful source of 24-hour...
Character Building
This magazine salutes Robert Fidler, the Surrey farmer who built a family castle in secret and is now fighting a court order that it should be demolished. Mr Fidler had hoped, ingeniously, to foil local authorities by concealing his building behind...
Devastating Grief
A S ingle Man Nationwide, 12A A Single Man is noted fashion designer Tom Ford's debut feature film and while it is distractingly overdesigned - every table lamp looks as if it had its own personal stylist - it is also a true and proper account of...
Diary
Dreams are weird things. I have great trouble remembering mine, as the instant I try to recall them on waking, they evaporate, like the catacomb frescoes exposed to the air in Fellini's Roma. But last week, I managed to hold on to one of them for long...
Diary of a Notting Hill Nobody
Monday Hooray! Have been promoted. Am being given super-powerful new role heading up our Twitter Monitoring Unit! Obviously, because I am no longer able to do policy work, Wonky Tom will take over responsibility for all that boring stuff. So excited....
Digital Watch
It's only five years now until the big switchover from analogue radio to digital, yet the most recent audience figures suggest that the number of digital listeners is actually going down. Less than a quarter (21.1 per cent) of listeners are now via...
Dubai Notebook
Easing myself into an expensive seat on a British Airways overnight flight to Dubai, I notice two empty places to my left. The plane, I was told, was full. Someone must be very late. At this point, the rogue bookmaker who operates exclusively inside...
Family Values
Lucia di Lammermoor English National Opera, in rep until 26 February When David Alden's production of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor was first staged by ENO two years ago it was so beset by cast illnesses that it was difficult to tell to what extent...
Feasts of Colour
Gillian Ayres at 80 Alan Cristea Gallery, 31 & 34 Cork Street, W1, until 13 March Claude Monet Helly Nahmad Gallery, 2 Cork Street, W1, until 26 February Birthday greetings are in order for Gillian Ayres, who has just celebrated her 80th with...
Gallantry Is a Finite Resource
Few individuals better personify the eccentric, combative and rarefied world of medal collecting than Michael Ashcroft, the businessman and controversially deep-pocketed Tory party eminence grise. A self-made man whose fortune is estimated by the Sunday...
Good Year for the Obsessive
This may seem a little late to be talking about albums of the year. You might even ask, which year? and with reason. (I have already read three times that beloved cliche of January album reviews: 'early contender for album of the year'. ) But everything...
Is the Age of Democracy Over?
It looked like a revolution in reverse. The announced victory of Viktor Yanukovich in Sunday's Ukrainian presidential election undid that country's Orange Revolution of 2004 by returning to power the very man whom tens of thousands of pro-democracy...
Letters
Scientists must engage more Sir: Arguments over nuclear energy, stolen emails from the University of East Anglia and allegations about flawed climate data have indeed split the green movement ('The global warming guerrillas', 6 February). But sceptics...
Losing the Plot
Really Old, Like Forty-Five Cottesloe, in rep until 20 April Stage Fright Canal Cafe, until 20 February This is what the National is for. A little-known writer Tamsin Oglesby has been given a chance to shine on the Cottesloe stage. Her Alzheimer's...
Lost
In Competition No. 2633 you were invited to submit a poem lamenting the loss of a small but important object. As I dart around like a headless chicken attempting to track down the latest small but seemingly crucial missing item, the words of 'One Art',...
Male Order
I often wonder why people are shocked, shocked - Captain Renault-like - to discover that modern football is a malodorous cesspit teeming with leeches and crooks , or that Tony Blair is a congenital liar not worthy of any position except that of orderly...
Mind the Gap
Forget all the talk about health and wealth inequalities. At the basis of the north-south divide is something quite simple and it is this: in the north people talk to each other, in the south we do not. This rule remains in place for many good reasons...
Multiple Choice
Choosing frames for my new varifocal lenses was like choosing a new personality. Each pair I tried on projected something slightly different. What kind of person should I pretend to be from now on? Philosophical? Whacky? Left-leaning? Post post-modernist?...
Mutual Satisfaction
I don't know about you, but I get infuriated by insurance. Motor insurance, household insurance, pet insurance. Some, like cover for your car, you have to have by law. Other stuff, like cover for your cat or the contents of your house, you don't. A...
Past Perfect
Last week I had the pleasure of lunching with Michael Medwin, who is the only surviving member of the cast of The Army Game (ITV, 1957-61). He is 86 now, but amazingly sharp and chipper, still an active and successful impresario. He is anxious that...
Portrait of the Week
Three Labour MPs, Mr Elliot Morley, Mr David Chaytor and Mr Jim Devine, and a Conservative peer, Lord Hanningfield, were charged with false accounting under section 17 of the Theft Act 1968 with regard to claims for parliamentary expenses. Lawyers for...
'Read This and Weep': Lessons Not Learned from Slater Walker
In the permanently uneasy truce between Threadneedle Street and Whitehall, Bank of England governor Mervyn King has never been shy of publicly criticising the Treasury. But confidential files on a banking crisis of 35 years ago show that private comments...
Spectator Debate: 'We Must Quit Afghanistan Now'
Chair - Andrew Neil Proposing - Correlli Barnett, Simon Jenkins Opposing - Charles Guthrie, Andrew Roberts Farce very nearly visited the debate on Afghanistan on Tuesday. A parliamentary three-line whip prevented the MPs Liam Fox and Peter Kilfoyle...
The Australian Bush Says: 'Come In'-And Then It Breaks Your Heart
We are driving in inland New South Wales. We could be driving across grassy English lowland. Wide green hills roll towards a dove-grey horizon, and wisps of white curl down from wet clouds to touch the higher ground. Here and there a stand of trees...
The End of the Rainbow: A Guide to the Colour Revolutions
In contrast to the storming of the Bastille, the spate of revolutions which have flickered across our television screens in the last two decades have tended to adopt brand images connected with colours or plants. Most of them have wilted as quickly...
The Euro May Be Heading for Cataclysm, but That's No Reason to Be Rude about Pigs
I was sorry to hear Gillian Tett, the FT's fragrant financial commentator, calling the eurozone's southern members 'pigs' last week. In sunnier times, Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain were referred to collectively as 'Club Med', but lately the acronym...
The Property Bubble Is Waiting to Burst
As a general rule, it is a mistake to go through life thinking about how much one's house is worth. In the summer of 2002, when I bought my 'lovely end of terrace period cottage providing compact character accommodation' in Gospel Oak, London NW5, I...
The Russian Connection
The first time I met Helen Mirren was at the Berlin Film Festival in 1985 when she was playing a Russian cosmonaut called Tanya Kirbuk in Peter Hyams's space epic 2010. She laughed about having to learn Russian phonetically so she could say 'roll the...
The Spectator's Notes
At last, the BBC has caught up with me. Readers may remember that I have been keeping and watching my television, but refusing to pay my television licence, for as long as the BBC continues to employ Jonathan Ross. (I sent the sum to Help the Aged instead....
The War over Joanne Cash-And What It Tells Us about Cameron's Conservatives
If a committee of David Cameron's advisers were to design what they regarded as the perfect Tory candidate, the result would look something like Joanne Cash. She is intelligent, successful, a talented lawyer, educated at a state school and with staunch,...
The Wiki Man
Much as it pains me to use the Spectator's pages to plug another publication, I can't help being impressed by the Economist's invention of a new kind of subscription service. Like many people, you probably enjoy the Economist, but just not quite enough...
We Are All Victims of Institutional Anti-Racism
I don't suppose that anyone is about to build a community centre in commemoration of Waad al-Baghdadi, but maybe they should. There's one for Stephen Lawrence, constructed as a token of our disgust at what Sir William Macpherson called the 'institutional...
Weighed in the Balance
THE RULE OF LAW by Tom Bingham Allen Lane, £20, pp. 213, ISBN 9781846140907 . £16 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 We sanctify some e xp re s s ion s , and in the process empty them of meaning. 'Democracy', 'freedom' or 'equality' are all used...
Your Problems Solved
Dear Mary Q. My husband's cousin is clever, kind and good-looking and has his own (rather grimy) flat. He works from home, and lives alone. Despite wanting to, he has never married. He and I are good friends and often have lunch. From time to time...
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.