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 August 2005

A Feeling in Your Bones
Racing at Newbury on Stan James Day was more like yachting, once defined as standing in a gale tearing up £20 notes. Nor did it help when the heavens opened that my umbrella was in the stands 200 yards away and that, thanks to a back injury, I could...
A Feeling in Your Bones
Racing at Newbury on Stan James Day was more like yachting, once defined as standing in a gale tearing up £20 notes. Nor did it help when the heavens opened that my umbrella was in the stands 200 yards away and that, thanks to a back injury, I could...
A Land of Puritans, Snobs and Socialists
Our local arts festival this summer included a community opera with a large cast of children and teenagers, playing to a capacity audience of their families and friends. The show was so full of joy and energy that I came out with tears in my eyes --...
Ancient & Modern
Given the fault-line between religion and politics in the Muslim world and the priority of Sharia over secular law, what can Muslims do to reassure us that they understand their responsibilities as British citizens? Pliny the Younger and Daniel Stylites...
Ancient & Modern
Given the fault-line between religion and politics in the Muslim world and the priority of Sharia over secular law, what can Muslims do to reassure us that they understand their responsibilities as British citizens? Pliny the Younger and Daniel Stylites...
A Necessary Betrayal
Ariel Sharon, the Prime Minister of Israel, deserves praise for forcing the settlers in Gaza off the land and out of the homes that he encouraged them to settle and to build over 35 years ago. As he admitted in his televised address to Israel on Monday...
A Necessary Betrayal
Ariel Sharon, the Prime Minister of Israel, deserves praise for forcing the settlers in Gaza off the land and out of the homes that he encouraged them to settle and to build over 35 years ago. As he admitted in his televised address to Israel on Monday...
A Plague on the New Puritans
From Lawrence James Sir: Tories beware! Roundheads are infiltrating the party of the Cavaliers. The six new MPs (Letters, 13 August) who issued a tirade against contemporary decadence claim to be 'unencumbered by the political baggage of the past'....
Beacons in a Squat, Dark Sprawl
LONDON 5: EAST by Bridget Cherry, Charles O'Brien and Nikolaus Pevsner Yale, £29.95, pp. 864, ISBN 0300107013 In the 1950s Nikolaus Pevsner published London: The Cities of London and Westminster and London: Except the Cities of London and Westminster....
Cracking Up in Beirut
GRANDMOTHER WOLF by Patricia Tyrrell Weidenfeld, £12.99, pp. 280, ISBN 0297848968 . £11.99 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848 Patricia Tyrrell's previous book told the story of a young girl reunited with her mother from whom she had been abducted when...
Cracking Up in Beirut
GRANDMOTHER WOLF by Patricia Tyrrell Weidenfeld, £12.99, pp. 280, ISBN 0297848968 . £11.99 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848 Patricia Tyrrell's previous book told the story of a young girl reunited with her mother from whom she had been abducted when...
Diary
I've taken to calling myself Lady Black of No Fixed Address while I spend the summer betwixt and between houses. Floating happily in a semi-weightless state, I stay in touch wherever I am by watching BBC World News. The BBC addiction to anti-Americanism...
Diary
I've taken to calling myself Lady Black of No Fixed Address while I spend the summer betwixt and between houses. Floating happily in a semi-weightless state, I stay in touch wherever I am by watching BBC World News. The BBC addiction to anti-Americanism...
Forgetting and Forgiving
YIDDISH CIVILISATION by Paul Kriwaczek Weidenfeld, £25, pp. 347, ISBN 0297829416 . £23 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848 By the middle of the first century Rome had many synagogues; their members were actors, blacksmiths, butchers, businessmen, musicians,...
Forgetting and Forgiving
YIDDISH CIVILISATION by Paul Kriwaczek Weidenfeld, £25, pp. 347, ISBN 0297829416 . £23 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848 By the middle of the first century Rome had many synagogues; their members were actors, blacksmiths, butchers, businessmen, musicians,...
Good Intent
A framed Biblical text hanging on the wall of our home during my growingup years said: 'Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.' (2 Timothy 2, verse...
Good Intent
A framed Biblical text hanging on the wall of our home during my growingup years said: 'Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.' (2 Timothy 2, verse...
Great Expectations
Cecily Brown: Paintings Modern Art Oxford, 30 Pembroke Street, Oxford, until 28 August There has been a great deal of media coverage of this exhibition of new paintings by Cecily Brown (born 1969) at the curiously named Modern Art Oxford. (It's actually...
Great Expectations
Cecily Brown: Paintings Modern Art Oxford, 30 Pembroke Street, Oxford, until 28 August There has been a great deal of media coverage of this exhibition of new paintings by Cecily Brown (born 1969) at the curiously named Modern Art Oxford. (It's actually...
House-Building and Husbandry
BESS OF HARDWICK : FIRST LADY OF CHATSWORTH by Mary S. Lovell Little, Brown, £20, pp. 555, ISBN 0316724823 . £18 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848 Bess of Hardwick has usually been viewed as a hard-hearted schemer, an unscrupulous woman who triumphed...
How Ken Clarke's Candidacy Has Changed the Geography of the Leadership Contest
Ken Clarke is going to stand for the leadership of the Conservative party. That is the hard, hot, agenda-changing news here in Westminster as the third week in August stretches to its sultry close. One word of caution must accompany this disclosure....
Light and Hope in Canberra;grudging Pomp in Westminster
'Welcome, ' smiled the man at the security checkpoint. 'Do you think my belt will set off the alarm?' I asked. 'It might. Walk though and give it a try. We'll see soon enough, ' he said pleasantly. The afternoon light slanted through the white marble...
Northern Lights
The Edinburgh Festival started in 1947 as essentially a music festival, the brainchild of Glyndebourne's John Christie. The capital was soon turned into a magnet for fringe theatre and other events. It is said that dour natives fearing success left...
Northern Lights
The Edinburgh Festival started in 1947 as essentially a music festival, the brainchild of Glyndebourne's John Christie. The capital was soon turned into a magnet for fringe theatre and other events. It is said that dour natives fearing success left...
Not a Bad Neighbour, Just Difficult
LAVIE EN BLEU : FRANCE AND THE FRENCH SINCE 1900 by Rod Kedward Allen Lane, £30, pp. 740, ISBN 0713990414 The French rarely read books by foreigners about their history. This is a pity, for their own historians have not always done the job well. The...
On a Wing and a Prayer
THE SPECTACLE OF FLIGHT : AVIATION AND THE WESTERN IMAGINATION , 1920-1950 by Robert Wohl Yale, £25, pp. 364, ISBN 0300106920 Only the short-lived excitement about the Moon missions has given our age a hint of the fervour that aviation inspired in the...
On a Wing and a Prayer
THE SPECTACLE OF FLIGHT : AVIATION AND THE WESTERN IMAGINATION , 1920-1950 by Robert Wohl Yale, £25, pp. 364, ISBN 0300106920 Only the short-lived excitement about the Moon missions has given our age a hint of the fervour that aviation inspired in the...
One to Be Trusted
Two thousand holiday miles encompassing Sussex and Sutherland with barely a mile, it seemed, free of ragwort. This pretty yellow weed -- pleasing for bees, I'm told, but bitter poison to grazing animals -- must be almost universally latent in our soil....
One to Be Trusted
Two thousand holiday miles encompassing Sussex and Sutherland with barely a mile, it seemed, free of ragwort. This pretty yellow weed -- pleasing for bees, I'm told, but bitter poison to grazing animals -- must be almost universally latent in our soil....
Portrait of the Week
British Airways flights to and from London Heathrow were brought to a standstill for a day, and disrupted for days afterwards, by unofficial strikes by ground staff in sympathy with 700 staff sacked by a company supplying airline meals. Leaked documents...
Portrait of the Week
British Airways flights to and from London Heathrow were brought to a standstill for a day, and disrupted for days afterwards, by unofficial strikes by ground staff in sympathy with 700 staff sacked by a company supplying airline meals. Leaked documents...
Prickles and Thorns
THE THISTLE AND THE ROSE by Allan Massie John Murray, £20, pp. 326, ISBN 0719559995 . £18 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848 One of the oddest forms of contemporary masochism is our passion for surveys that reveal how ignorant and stupid we have become....
Prickles and Thorns
THE THISTLE AND THE ROSE by Allan Massie John Murray, £20, pp. 326, ISBN 0719559995 . £18 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848 One of the oddest forms of contemporary masochism is our passion for surveys that reveal how ignorant and stupid we have become....
Road to Nowhere
Khovanshchina Royal Opera House It was an odd oversight, or possibly it was ignorance, which led Auden not to include Mussorgsky's Khovanshchina in his list of 'anti-operas', for it lacks to an extraordinary degree many of the chief constituents which...
Road to Nowhere
Khovanshchina Royal Opera House It was an odd oversight, or possibly it was ignorance, which led Auden not to include Mussorgsky's Khovanshchina in his list of 'anti-operas', for it lacks to an extraordinary degree many of the chief constituents which...
Sleazy Does It
Gstaad Unsurprisingly, I was pipped last week by Paul Johnson on matters saponaceous, and I didn't even need to look up the word. I refer to Paul as my mentor, but only to types who think Oprah wrote the Iliad. Otherwise it might prove embarrassing...
Sleazy Does It
Gstaad Unsurprisingly, I was pipped last week by Paul Johnson on matters saponaceous, and I didn't even need to look up the word. I refer to Paul as my mentor, but only to types who think Oprah wrote the Iliad. Otherwise it might prove embarrassing...
Sound Effects
A couple of years ago I was invited to tour Compass Point Studios just outside Nassau in the Bahamas. Apart from its historical significance -- this was once the home of Island Records, where Bob Marley recorded all his great hits -- the experience...
Sound Effects
A couple of years ago I was invited to tour Compass Point Studios just outside Nassau in the Bahamas. Apart from its historical significance -- this was once the home of Island Records, where Bob Marley recorded all his great hits -- the experience...
Sunshine and Storm
When questioned for the 1891 census, Betsy Lanyon, an 84-year-old widow from Newlyn, decided she had better register a late change of career. She told her inquisitors that she was no longer a 'fishwife' -- her new occupation was 'artist's model'. In...
Sunshine and Storm
When questioned for the 1891 census, Betsy Lanyon, an 84-year-old widow from Newlyn, decided she had better register a late change of career. She told her inquisitors that she was no longer a 'fishwife' -- her new occupation was 'artist's model'. In...
Take Away Their Votes
Everyone knows that it costs an immense sum to bring a new drug to market; and that the life of its patent being short, the pharmaceutical company doing so has to recoup its investment and make a profit very quickly by means of high prices; and that...
Take Away Their Votes
Everyone knows that it costs an immense sum to bring a new drug to market; and that the life of its patent being short, the pharmaceutical company doing so has to recoup its investment and make a profit very quickly by means of high prices; and that...
The Creative Use of Paranoia
I AM ALIVE AND YOU ARE DEAD : A JOURNEY INTO THE MIND OF PHILIP K. DICK by Emmanuel Carrère Bloomsbury, £17.99, pp. 315, ISBN 0747569193 . £15.99 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848 The author is a French intellectual, 'a critically acclaimed novelist...
The Last Days of the Tartan Raj
They gathered to praise Robin Cook in the forbidding Presbyterian aisles of Edinburgh's St Giles' Cathedral last Friday but the mourners -- dominated by the good and the great of Scotland -- should also have had heavy hearts for another reason: the...
The Man Who Loved Toast
THE HUNGRY YEARS by William Leith Bloomsbury, £10.99, pp. 296, ISBN 074757250X Mr William Leith approaches a toaster. 'Now I'm in a hurry. The bread is brown. Damn. Still, I put two slices in the toaster, and, while I'm waiting, I take another slice...
The Man Who Loved Toast
THE HUNGRY YEARS by William Leith Bloomsbury, £10.99, pp. 296, ISBN 074757250X Mr William Leith approaches a toaster. 'Now I'm in a hurry. The bread is brown. Damn. Still, I put two slices in the toaster, and, while I'm waiting, I take another slice...
The Protocols of the Elders of the BBC
Sometimes things are altogether more simple than we wish them to be. Sir Iqbal Sacranie, the eminent chairman of the Muslim Council of Britain, recently refused to attend the Holocaust memorial day. When asked why this was so, he muttered something...
The Sound of Silence
The musical profession has never recognised borders. Composers, performers and ensembles have moved from city to city and country to country, learning and teaching, experimenting with local styles, adding to the repertoire and delighting patrons and...
The Sound of Silence
The musical profession has never recognised borders. Composers, performers and ensembles have moved from city to city and country to country, learning and teaching, experimenting with local styles, adding to the repertoire and delighting patrons and...
The Spectator's Notes
There are certain political moves which have now become regular, almost ceremonial features of our national life. One is the IRA's announcement that the conflict is over. This is repeated once a year or so, flagged by the BBC and No. 10 as 'historic',...
The Spectator's Notes
There are certain political moves which have now become regular, almost ceremonial features of our national life. One is the IRA's announcement that the conflict is over. This is repeated once a year or so, flagged by the BBC and No. 10 as 'historic',...
The State They're In
I've noticed that one of the more interesting aspects of obsessional British EU fanatics is their inability to face the reality around them, and one of their prime specimens appeared on Straw Poll on Radio Four last week (Friday). Chaired by Nick Clarke,...
The State They're In
I've noticed that one of the more interesting aspects of obsessional British EU fanatics is their inability to face the reality around them, and one of their prime specimens appeared on Straw Poll on Radio Four last week (Friday). Chaired by Nick Clarke,...
The Sweet Taste of Revenge
MY CLEANER by Maggie Gee Saqi, £12.99, pp. 352, ISBN 086356565441 .11.99 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848 Letting out a shriek at the sight of gloomy Justin, unshaven and naked except for the amber beads around his neck, 'his cock swinging round and...
Trent Warfare
The Ashes are burning bright all right. A lot of cricket still to play. Two Tests remaining -- the fourth begins at Nottingham on Thursday, and how might things stand as they go for the grandest of finales at Kennington on 8 September? The series has...
Trent Warfare
The Ashes are burning bright all right. A lot of cricket still to play. Two Tests remaining -- the fourth begins at Nottingham on Thursday, and how might things stand as they go for the grandest of finales at Kennington on 8 September? The series has...
Tunes Played by an Enchantress
HETTY DORVAL by Ethel Wilson Persephone, £12, pp. 136, ISBN 1903155479 Frankie Burnaby is 12. She lives on a remote farm in British Columbia, where 'the clear turbulent Thompson River joins the vaster opaque Fraser'. This novella, first published in...
United in Hate
Politics makes strange bedfellows. Stranger still when the odd couple are fundamentalist Islam and the secular Left. The evolving Black-Red alliance is growing in France, Germany and Belgium. But, based on the successful British model, it is now going...
United in Hate
Politics makes strange bedfellows. Stranger still when the odd couple are fundamentalist Islam and the secular Left. The evolving Black-Red alliance is growing in France, Germany and Belgium. But, based on the successful British model, it is now going...
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