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 Vol. 297, No. 9215, 2005

A Grand Celtic Slam
Final curtain for rugby's 2005 Six Nations tournament: Grand Slams, Triple Crowns, Wooden Spoons. Before England and France presumed shared control of the old competition a decade or so ago, a clean-sweep Grand Slam season by one nation was such a rarity...
A Kind Tyrant
A part from its size, perhaps, there's nothing much about the house to distinguish it from its neighbours - one of the countless, vaguely Gothic, Victorian seaside villas that fringe the coast of the Isle of Wight. Even its name, Dimbola Lodge, seems...
A Late Run on the Rails
A late run on the rails THE BEAR BOY by Cynthia Ozick Weidenfeld, £12.99, pp. 310, ISBN 02978480898 £11.99 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848All of a sudden, there is a buzz about Cynthia Ozick. Although respected for many years as a writer of fiction...
Alice Doesn't Live Here Any More
Alice Thomas Ellis, the novelist and former Spectator columnist who died last week, once took part in an earnest feminist questionnaire that asked her to name the most important event in women's history.'The Annunciation,' she replied.Alice - known to...
A New Deal for the Poor
The average person in Britain pays over a third - 36 per cent - of his gross income in tax. That's taking into account everything that the Chancellor grabs from you - indirect and direct taxes, what you hand over to your council as well as to the Inland...
Bobby Dazzler
A LITTLE learning is a dangerous thing in bridge, too. Those of us who enjoy reading about the spectacular coups that experts pull off, involving apparently bizarre manoeuvres like throwing away an ace or trumping their partner's winner, often fantasise...
Camping at a High Level
Camping at a high level THE LETTERS OF LYTTON STRACHEY edited by Paul Levy Penguin/Viking, £30, pp. 496, ISBN 0670891126 £26 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848Astonishingly, as far as one can discover, this seems to be the first occasion on which Lytton...
Diary
A friend of the royal family's lamented the other day that the Princess Royal, for reasons about which he could only speculate, has declined her mother's offer of a dukedom and, therefore, a place in the nobility for her son and his heirs. This does...
Dicing with Death
Dicing with death WATERLOO: NAPOLEON'S LAST GAMBLE by Andrew Roberts HarperCollins, £12.99, pp. 143, ISBN 0007190751 £11.99 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848A book on Waterloo as short as this (the text proper is 100 pages, small format) tempts a rush...
End-of-Term Report on Our Masters
End-of-term report on our masters BETTER OR WORSE? by Polly Toynbee and David Walker Bloomsbury, £7.99, pp. 346, ISBN 0747579822The only good thing New Labour have done in office they did in their first week: the granting of independence to the Bank...
Evocations of London
Evocations of LondonAndrew Lambirth on dramatic contrasts in two exhibitions by the artist John VirtueJohn Virtue (born 1947) is the sixth National Gallery Associate Artist. A great deal of fuss is being made of the exhibition which marks his two-year...
Evolution, Not Revolution
On the whole, Radio Four has had some good controllers over the years, the better ones being those who introduced gradual change. The two who were the least successful in my view both tried to rearrange the furniture after moving in; I'm thinking of...
Fit for Debate
When Michael Howard was asked about abortion by Cosmopolitan magazine he gave an entirely reasonable answer: that he himself supported the case for abortion, and was reconciled to the practice - a broad statement of principle that one might expect from...
Has Gordon Brown Delivered His Last Budget? the Truth Is That Blair Hasn't Yet Decided
The general election of 2005 is starting to develop along curiously similar lines to 1987's. A dominant ruling party is seeking a third consecutive election victory. The Prime Minister is no longer the electoral asset he was: furthermore, he is disliked,...
How I Escaped from My Hospital Hell
You thought it was difficult to get into an NHS bed? Try getting out when the bureaucrats say no.In my own case you might have thought they would urge me to be gone, for I was a bad patient. Normally I have a high pain threshold, but that Monday as I...
Important Relationships
Exhibitions 2Important relationshipsElisabeth Vellacott 1905-2002The Redfern Gallery, 20 Cork Street, London W1, until 14 AprilFox Talbot invented his 'photogenic drawing' process in 1834 and ten years later published The Pencil of Nature, the first...
Kasparov Retires
At the end of the Linares tournament, which he won, Kasparov announced his retirement. In a career spanning three decades and witnessing the demise of the nation which he first represented at international level, Garry Kasparov established himself as...
Letters
A Liddle simplisticFrom Catherine MunroSir: I read Rod Liddle's article ('A question of breeding', 12 March) with dismay. It appears that my son has autism because I found my husband's company congenial and we married and had a child. As an explanation...
Memoirs of a Genius
Memoirs of a genius PUBLISHER by Tom Maschler Picador, £20, pp. 283, ISBN 0330484206 £18 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848Tom Maschler, son of a distinguished Jewish publisher, was born in Berlin in 1932 and came to England with his parents in 1939....
One Last Canter Round the Budget Course but Now It's Time to Dismount
This is where I came in. Another Gordon Brown budget: how well we know them by now the thumping delivery, the gabbled numbers, the loopholes closed and opened, so many initiatives, so much complexity, so many popular causes. British films, British science,...
Out of the Ashes
BaghdadAs the Puma chugs over Baghdad I look out over the machine gun and I have to admit I am full of a sudden wistfulness. I have been here before, almost two years ago exactly.It was a week after the end of the war, and in those days my feelings were...
Recording Secrets under Orders
Recording secrets under orders THE GUY LIDDELL DIARIES, VOLUME I, 1939-42 edited by Nigel West Frank Cass, £25, pp. 330, ISBN 0415352134This book is a goldmine of once highly secret intelligence material: the diary kept, night by night, by the head of...
Reputations on the Line
Do the Japanese do it better and, if so, why? They certainly do it better than Mercedes which, in the past decade, has sunk from 1st to 28th in the US JD Power reliability survey. Many of its recent problems are due to over-complex electronics, which...
Rob Tony Blair of the Reputation for Winning and You Have Robbed Him of Everything
Catch your opponent unawares. Hit him with an accusation which he cannot come straight back at and answer. While he flails, change the subject fast. Move to a new charge. Keep changing the subject before your opponent has got to grips with the last one....
Serious Laughter
The very last out-take in a compilation of humorous out-takes I saw about five years ago has stayed in my mind's eye ever since, evergreen and distinct, like a favourite sexual fantasy, to be played back in times of boredom or emergency. During an interval...
Shattering Tragedy
OperaShattering tragedyDie WalküreRoyal Opera HouseOn the TownColiseumThe central theme of the Ring cycle is always said to be love versus power, the initial act of disruption being Alberich's renunciation of love in the opening scene of Das Rheingold....
Skiing for Pleasure
GstaadSkiing without poles accentuates the new carving technique, which uses one's edges and the upper body to turn. During the 1950s we checked before a bump, planted the pole, unweighted the skis and turned. Then came the Austrian technique of weddle,...
Subversive Needles
Exhibitions 1Subversive needlesKnit 2 Together: Concepts in KnittingCrafts Council, 44a Pentonville Road, London N1, until 8 May, then towingWhen Henry Moore wanted to make W clear that he thought Eric Gill's sculpture dull and unadventurous, he compared...
Theatre of Cruelty
Theatre of cruelty THE COLOSSEUM by Keith Hopkins and Mary Beard Profile Books, £15.99, pp. 209, ISBN 1861974078 £13.99 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848'The Colosseum is the most famous and instantly recognisable monument to have survived from the...
The Devils' Advocate
For most people, to defend a blood-stained tyrant is perverse and shocking; to defend two seems like recklessness. Yet the causes of both Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic are what occupy Ramsey Clark, 78, as he crowns a political career that started...
The Great General Who Lost Battles
The great general who lost battles HIS EXCELLENCY GEORGE WASHINGTON by Joseph Ellis Faber, £20, pp. 352, ISBN 0571212123 £18 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848What a stupid name for a biography. It's like calling a book 'His Braininess Albert Einstein'...
The Irish Are Coming
For me there was never a comedian to match Ireland's Dave Allen, perched on his stool fastidiously flicking imaginary cigarette ash off his suit, drawing out a story with a sip of whisky and flaying with the laughter he provoked all those who set themselves...
The Latest and the Best
The latest and the best THE OXFORD HISTORY OF WESTERN MUSIC by Richard Taruskin OUP, £280, pp. 4016, ISBN 0195169794For once the publisher's blurb has it right. This is a 'sweepingly ambitious' project, written by a 'towering and often provocative figure...
The Love Bug
WOMENSeeking MenSLIM, LOVELY, free and happy, no baggage, loves town and country seeks male, 40-50, for fun and romance. Kent/Ldn. Call me now on 0906 644 6844 Voicebox 45666HERO SOUGHT by very pretty, cuddly, 30 something girl looking for love. I am...
The Seeds of Hate
Illegal asylum-seekers can rest a little easier in their beds for the moment because right now the Fleet Street redtops have got it in for the gypsies instead. We haven't quite got to the stage of Kill a Pikey and Win a Metro, but one assumes it is just...
The Spectator's Notes
Despite already knowing about the IRA's involvement in the £26 million robbery of the Northern Bank, Paul Murphy, the Northern Ireland Secretary, last month approved a renewal of the exemption which allows Sinn Fein (and other political parties in the...
Torquemada
In Competition No. 2383 you were asked to supply a poem (preferably with rhymes) in which each line contains an anagram (more than one word can be involved).I intended this comp to be torture, I hoped that my postbag would consequently be light this...
Unanswered Questions
We still aren't sure why, two summers ago, Dr David Kelly killed himself. I don't believe for one moment he was murdered - cui bono? And, for example, I have no doubt the mysterious men in black near the scene really were policemen.Yet it does remain...
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