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 2007

A Dark Tale of Insider Dealing
THE BLAIR YEARS : EXTRACTS FROM THE ALASTAIR CAMPBELL DIARIES by Alastair Campbell Hutchinson, £25, pp. 816, ISBN 9780091796297 £20(plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 For the most part political diarists are located on the fringes rather than at the...
A Dog's Life
One of the main drawbacks to living on the south Devon coast is the number of drivers on the road who are over 80. I'm not saying they shouldn't be there. I just wish they'd speed up a bit. The lanes around here are narrow and winding. Overtaking opportunities...
A Fine Balance
Serious music critics -- and I do not except myself from the breed -- have many tendencies that mark them out from the rest of society. One of them is the habit of bandying around the word 'virtuoso'. We know what it means, or at least we think so....
A Life Examined
Back in the US in the Fifties, just as atomic fear was gripping the American nation and the McCarthyite witch hunts were at their most vicious, a rather extraordinary radio programme was created by the journalist Edward R. Murrow and his production...
Bach Wins Through
Glyndebourne Royal Opera House Bach's St Matthew Passion doesn't seem an obvious 'Glyndebourne opera', except from the point of view of the nonLondoner having to use public transport to get there, who might well regard the whole outing as a penitential...
Beneath the Dynamic Surface, Brown Is Dismantling Blair's Public Service Reforms
When ministerial limousines line Great Smith Street in Westminster it is normally a sign that the Cinnamon Club is doing brisk trade. This upmarket Indian restaurant has become so popular with MPs that it has wired up a division bell in its foyer to...
Beware the Lie of the Lips
Everyone, I suppose, now knows that Gordon Brown was the first student rector of Edinburgh University. Though based on Continental models, the rectorship is a peculiarly Scottish institution. The rector is elected by the students, and elections have...
Beyond Belief
On board S/Y Bushido Last Friday the 13th was not a good-news day. I was in Ibiza, sailing around, when the papers were brought in and I read about the death of my old and very good friend Nigel Dempster. Actually, it was a blessing. He had been suffering...
Bringing Peace to the Spirit
Tate Britain, until 3 February 2008 Annely Juda Fine Art, 23 Dering Street, W1, until 28 July If you enter Tate Britain via the side entrance on Atterbury Street, you will find five large new landscape paintings by David Hockney hanging above the stairs...
'British Successes like the Queen Are Freaks'
For somebody so revered in Hollywood, there is something rather deliciously, grottily British about Stephen Frears. A remarkably prolific director for both television and cinema, in the last four years alone he has managed to produce three films that...
Brown's Stand on Russia Is a Welcome Correction
When a British citizen is killed on British soil and a foreign government refuses to hand over the suspected killer for trial, then the British government must act. It was imperative that David Miliband demonstrated to the Russian government that their...
Cosseting a Bestselling Author
THE LETTERS OF JOHN MURRAY TO LORD BYRON edited by Andrew Nicholson Liverpool University Press, £25, pp. 608, ISBN 9781846310695 £20 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 There was once a Greek called Herostratus, who, in search of enduring fame, set fire...
Dear Diary
What compels people to keep a journal? Is it because conceit persuades them that posterity must not be deprived? My night thoughts pondered this during the week that Alastair Campbell's opus was unwrapped. As far as I can make out he saw himself as...
Diary
I miss Issie. I am waiting outside in the Orangerie in the Parc de St-Cloud, in Paris, where the Chanel show is about to begin. The incessant driving rain, the clouds, thick, and black with purpose, as another deluge begins. The huge white bright spotlights...
Diary of a Notting Hill Nobody
MONDAY What a day! Just back from Service of Thanksgiving in the All-Faiths-And-None Prayer Room. Jed read an excerpt from Franklin D. Roosevelt's inaugural speech about having nothing to fear but fear itself (I thought J.F.K. said that but never mind)....
Faith in the Future
BLACK MASS by John Gray Allen Lane, £18.99, pp. 242, ISBN 9780713999150 £15.19 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 John Gray's latest work brings together many themes that will be familiar to fans of this scintillatingly gloomy intellect. It denounces...
Gale-Force Golf
'Here is the weekend weather forecast, beginning with Scotland -- severe gale-force sou'easterlies raging off the Firth of Tay, not moderating through Bell Rock and Red Head till at least late afternoon on Sunday.' Here's hoping. It is the Open at Carnoustie,...
Global Warning
Public affairs vex no man, said Doctor Johnson, and I know what he meant. He, however, did not live as we do in an age of information in which, without retiring entirely to bed, it is next to impossible to dodge the headlines altogether. Besides, there's...
Linked by an Oblique Sadness
CHEATING AT CANASTA by William Trevor Penguin/Viking, £16.99, pp. 231, ISBN 9780670917266 £13.59 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 Connoisseurs of the short story will welcome this new collection by William Trevor, his first since 2004. Trevor has...
One of Us
As Spectator readers would have expected, this magazine was an early and enthusiastic backer of Boris Johnson as the next Mayor of London. On 4 July we gave him our official endorsement and urged him to run on our Coffee House blog (www. spectator....
Peace Would Be a Better Business Plan for the Island of a Hundred Ministers
Flying into Colombo's civil war on tourist-less Sri Lankan Airlines, my eye was caught by three plugs in the in-flight magazine from the country's investment board: 'Generous Fiscal Incentives', 'Transparent Legal System', and 'One of the Most Livable...
Road Congestion and Casualty Waiting Times Are Explained by My Rut Theory of Queueing
A friend twisted his knee badly playing football last week. In considerable pain next morning and able to bend the knee only with difficulty he contemplated going to an Accident and Emergency unit at a London hospital. The alternative was to assume...
Sex and the City Has Nothing on Screwball Comedy
You can learn a great deal about a culture from its fantasies. If Sex and the City is anything to go by, ours are pretty impoverished. The first film version of the HBO series is going into production and will be released next year, guaranteed to offer...
Shakespeare Got It Wrong
THE FEARS OF HENRY IV : THE LIFE OF ENGLAND'S SELF-MADE KING by Ian Mortimer Cape, £18.99, pp. 478, ISBN 9780224073004 £15.19 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 Henry IV, in Ian Mortimer's graceless (and sense-defying) words, is 'the least biographied...
Some Advice for Boris from a Proud Father
Boris was born in New York on 19 June 1964. I missed the birth since I had slipped outside for a moment to buy a pizza. When I first saw him he was bundled up in the hospital nursery with only the soles of his feet showing. These were completely black....
Star Quality
Keeping thin enough to star in your sixties comes hard, and the recently sadly deceased George Melly once inquired of Mick Jagger why the rock supremo's face was so lined. 'Laughter lines, ' replied the Rolling Stone. 'Nothing's that funny, ' replied...
Summer Treats
The summer ballet season in London, with the traditional arrival of illustrious foreign guests, has a well-established historical tradition. It was during the summer months that, in the 19th century, famous and not-so-famous foreign ballet stars appeared...
Super-Size Fun
PG, Nationwide This film is fun. It is fun, fun, fun, fun, fun. It might be the most fun you can have with your clothes on or, if you have been married a good while, then with them off. John Travolta as Mrs Edna Turnblad is fun. Christopher Walken as...
The Ebb and Flow of War
FATEFUL CHOICES : TEN DECISIONS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD 1940-41 by Ian Kershaw Allen Lane, £30, pp. 656, ISBN 9780713997125 £24 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 Britain's decision to fight on in 1940; Hitler's to attack the Soviet Union in 1941; in...
The Good and the Bad
These are difficult times for the BBC. The fine for the Blue Peter phone-in fraud was, in its way, as big a shock as the famous vandalising of its garden. The silly Crowngate affair in which what they claimed was the Queen staging an angry walk-out...
The Great Leveller
I spent much of my early boyhood in a disused cemetery -- a Gothic beginning to my adolescence which was the result of nothing more romantic than the fact that only a high wall, over which I could climb with the help of an elderberry tree, divided our...
The KGB Man Who Spied on the Bond Markets
It's not every day a former KGB spy invites you to interview him. But Alexander Lebedev is not your typical KGB spy. He's made billions in stock-market trading, he throws lavish parties in London attended by the likes of Tom Wolfe and J.K. Rowling,...
The Painters' Painter
ROGER HILTON: THE FIGURED LANGUAGE OF THOUGHT by Andrew Lambirth Thames & Hudson, £35, pp. 288, ISBN 9780500093344 £28 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 'Give me the cheque, you look like a decaying oyster' -- thus Roger Hilton accepting the John...
The Price of Sex in the City
Morgan Stanley has just hosted its first 'early access' event for young women: 75 girls from 15 top schools were taken on a tour of the trading floor (I bet there weren't many traders off sick that day) and given 'networking' sessions in which they...
The Rein in Spain
For a week this spring I swapped my husband for a horse named JB. It seemed like a fair trade: I can't imagine Mark would have carried me across the sierras of southern Spain without (a) grumbling, (b) demanding significant recompense or, most likely,...
Wakefield Is Probably Wrong about MMR, but I Am Glad He Has Taken His Stand
Dr Andrew Wakefield, if he is still a doctor by the time you read this, seems to be a baddun. A disciplinary panel heard that when children arrived at his house for a birthday party he grabbed a syringe and extracted blood from each one of them, giving...
Why Russia's Defensive
Sir: The only pertinent fact from Fraser Nelson's anti-Russia diatribe last week is that the country's defence budget is 5 per cent that of America's. (The New Cold War, 14 July). The rest of the article is scaremongering. An evening spent in Moscow...
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