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 2008

A Crash Course in Survival
MIRACLES OF LIFE by J.C. Ballard Fourth Estate, £14.99, pp. 278, ISBN 9780007270729 £11.99 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 No one would be allowed to have J. G. Ballard's career nowadays. When you consider the life of the average English novelist,...
A Daunting Experience
It was the late Eighties and it paid to be brash. But I wasn't brash I was green. Just down from university and wearing a second-hand doublebreasted suit I had a meeting with London's Most Powerful Agent. On Wall Street, Gordon Gekko. In Soho, Michael...
....And Good Riddance to the Beerage
Usually the passing of a major UK company into foreign ownership -- and with it the ending of British pretensions to global leadership in another industry -- is the cue for national soulsearching and recrimination. Not so the demise of Scottish &...
Be Selective
From Russia: French and Russian Master Paintings 1870 - 1925 from Moscow and St Petersburg Royal Academy, until 18 April Sponsored by E.ON It is a salutary and instructive experience to forego the relatively civilised Press View of an exhibition, when...
Changing Values
Fifteen years ago a state-of-the-art recording studio would have cost well north of a million pounds. Mix consoles were vast and needed continuous maintenance by ex-NASA scientists. Even a pair of the requisite two-inch tape machines with Dolby could...
Charlie Don't Surf. nor Do I, Alas
In Newquay, women are taking their clothes off in the streets. Men are too, mind, though I find this less of a distraction. My brother John, who lives on the edge of the town, doesn't seem to notice -- though he does notice that I have noticed, and...
Cider with Dave
One dark, moonless January night, in an orchard at the foot of the Cotswolds, I found myself among 20 or 30 figures encircling a colossal, ancient apple tree, chanting: 'Here's to thee old apple tree, we wassail thee!' We had been gathered together...
Diary
My daughter telephoned to say, to my disbelief, that she was snowbound in Hangzhou, where it never snows. The city is regarded as the most beautiful in China, with swaying willows surrounding an old lagoon on the edge of which Mao Tse-tung loved staying....
Diary of a Notting Hill Nobody
MONDAY Operation Policy Surge a complete success! Slap-up breakfast with wholemeal muffins and organic bucks fizz to celebrate burial of Tory sleaze under a confusing heap of random announcements. Of course the problem now is keeping track of them all....
Essex and the City: My Life as a 'Posh Bird' Broker
He is sending back a bottle of 1965 Croft because it 'doesn't taste right'. I know that the odds of it tasting identical to the bottle we just drank in Pétrus are slim to none even if we were sober. He is miffed at the lack of label and they bring back...
Falling for the Flatlands
Every joker with a country pile has been holding himself a festival lately. So why not join? As chance would have it, my friend Hugh has such a setup in Suffolk -- a few hundred acres over by the coast, with a wonderfully elegant little Jacobean hall...
Genius under Many Guises
THE COMPLETE NOVELS by Flann O'Brien, with an introduction by Keith Donohue Everyman, £14.99, pp. 787, ISBN 9781841593098 £11.99 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 'A satisfactory novel should be a self-evident sham, ' in an opinion Flann O'Brien (1911-1966)...
Getting a Kick
ETHEL MERMAN by George Mark Barricade Legend, £20, pp. 312, ISBN 1569802939 One frequently reads of chaps for whom their epiphany was the first sight and sound of Julie Andrews. Mine happened a good few years earlier, lying bed-bound with polio, just...
God and the GOM
GLADSTONE : GOD AND POLITICS by Richard Shannon Hambledon Continuum, £80, pp. 550, ISBN 9781847252029 Richard Shannon has been writing about Gladstone on and off for almost 50 years. His first book, a study of Gladstone and the Bulgarian Agitation,...
If We Don't Bug a Conversation between Kan and Ahmed, Who De We Bug?
Should members of Britain's beleaguered and persecuted bombing community be subjected to intrusive surveillance techniques such as bugging? It seems a bit illiberal, given their very real difficulties in day-to-day life. Hard enough trying to find a...
Inside Hamas: My Journey to Its Secret Heart
This was it: as soon as I stepped through the door of the offices of Khaled Mishal I held out my flimsy plastic folder and jabbered away in English to the four slick-suited men who were my reception committee, trying desperately to make clear that,...
Lighting Up
What a depressingly sunless month January was, here on this rainswept Devon peninsula! No sun, and purple sprouting broccoli for lunch every day as there's a glut of it and not much else. The entire village is suffering from seasonal affective disorder...
McCain, Please
Why have the US primaries been so gripping? Partly because they are suffused with an optimism and energy that is conspicuously lacking from domestic British politics; partly because the world cannot wait for the Bush era to reach its bleak conclusion;...
Missing the Picture
Why would anyone want to listen to a programme about the Oscars? Surely the whole point is to see those ghastly frocks and gimcrack smiles, effortfully put on forthe-camera-only? And yet Paul Gambaccini was sent over to Hollywood to recreate the 'magic'...
Mozart Undersold
Die Zauberflote Royal Opera House A Midsummer Night's Dream Linbury There is a hard core of central works which any major opera house needs to have, in a production that can survive many changes of cast and conductor, even of obtrusive revival director....
Nip Terror in the Bud
Sir: Correlli Barnett would have us believe Con Coughlin is suffering from paranoia and describes George Bush's 'war on terror' as stale rhetoric (Letters, 2 February). One wonders what ailment Correlli Barnett suffers from -- perhaps 'paranoiac denial'...
No More Troubles
Thirty years ago Belfast was about as appealing a destination as Kabul or Baghdad are today. Growing up there at the time, we witnessed thousands of troops and armed police on the streets. Rigorous security checks were held right across the city centre....
Our Deadliest Secret
CABINETS AND THE BOMB by Peter Hennessy OUP for the British Academy, £19.95, pp. 356, ISBN 9780197264225 £15.95 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 This book shows how successive cabinets have handled the deadliest secret of modern times, what to do...
Persuasion Not Coercion
Sir: I enjoyed reading James MacMillan's passionate and provocative article (Arts, 2 February). His disquiet seems to be based around two related areas: modern liberalism's 'planned dismantling of the family' and its 'hatred of Christianity'. Although...
Pointless Penalising
Big, lazy V8 engines, powerful and durable, are as American as Coca-Cola and Stetsons. Europeans, with smaller cars, shorter distances, dearer petrol and hightaxing governments, have traditionally gone for fewer cubic centimetres and higher revs, which...
Problems of Keeping Mum
GRANDMOTHER'S FOOTSTEPS by Charlotte Moore Penguin, £17.99, pp. 274, ISBN 9780670917068 £14.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 Grandmother's Footsteps is about three generations of women. When Evelyn died she left a diary for her daughter, Verity,...
Pure Genius
There will be blood 15, nationwide Juno 12A, nationwide There Will Be Blood (oh, yes) stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview, a late19th-century American oilman whose own view could not be plainer: find oil, beat off the competition, buy the land,...
Reasons for Barack Obama to Be Cheerful
Washington Super Tuesday was meant to be the decisive day in the Obama-Clinton contest. Instead it was an indecisive super-muddle. Both candidates did only what they needed to do and no more. After California was called for Clinton, Missouri ended up...
Reptilian Reverie
When I was a boy my father and I used to spend our summer holidays collecting lizards. We'd prop a large bucket at an angle in a suitable spot, grease the rim with butter, put some rotting fruit at the bottom and wait for the lizards to get trapped....
Secrets and Lies
Gstaad In the good old days of the Cold War, Athenian hacks used to say that there were only two countries where secrets were safe: China and Greece. In the former nobody talked. In the latter everyone did, hence no one believed a word. I thought of...
'Sleaze' Is Such a Nasty Word. How Much Nicer to Call It ' Anti-Parliamentary Activity'
Sometimes, the answer is staring you right in the face. As the Speaker begins to wonder how he can tighten up rules on parliamentary finances without admitting that the day of the Honourable Member is past, the Guardian reports that the Home Office...
Spectator Mini-Bar Offer
I love Stone, Vine & Sun of Winchester. They keep winning awards for best independent wine merchant; they have a knack for finding delicious wines at excellent prices from places you haven't heard about yet but very soon will. They've always been...
Straight Talking
My favourite, though almost inevitably apocryphal, story from the US elections so far: Hillary Clinton, on a school visit, invites pupils to question her. 'OK, Mrs Clinton, ' says Benjamin, 'why did you vote for the Iraq war when now you oppose it?...
System Addict
What does one want at this time of year? Apart from £10,000 for the tax man, that is? If you are me the answer is a fabulously well-organised wardrobe. By that I don't merely mean one where everything pretty much has its own hanger, I mean one which...
The Entrepreneur's Art: Buying, Building, Selling
Few 75-year-olds supply and programme their grandchildren's computers or keep in touch with the younger generation by text. But Lord Young of Graffham -- the businessman who was parachuted into the cabinet as secretary of state for employment by Margaret...
The Spectator's Notes
Derek Conway maintains his position. 'I still believe I have done nothing wrong, ' he told the Mail on Sunday. To understand why he could possibly think that, one has to dig deeper into British class feeling. In wanting to become a Conservative MP,...
The Unwilling Executioner
DTECTIVE STORY by Imre Kertesz Harvill/Secker, £12.99, pp. 113, ISBN 9781846551833 £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 Fatelessness, Imre Kertész's first novel, fitted one of the coolest accounts we have of Auschwitz into a mere 262 pages. Detective...
The Wiki Man
Local newspapers usually have a slightly dotty reverence for the area they serve. My own local paper recently described Winston Churchill as 'the former Westerham resident and wartime prime-minister'. The Evening Standard has the opposite problem in...
Trust in Politics Is Dead: Long Live 'Wiki-Politics'
If a museum were built to honour the ancestral political class, it would not look much different from the House of Commons. Its corridors are lined with portraits of the political greats and its staircases are adorned with old Vanity Fair caricatures....
Venice Is the Only City on Earth Going Backwards
The peril in Venice is the people trying to save it. But save exactly what for precisely whom? Venice is a corpse. It died in 1797 with the last, preposterous old Doge eased out by the French. Napoleon then insulted the Venetians by calling the Piazza...
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.