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. 298, No. 9230, 2005

A Cruel Twist of Fate
A cruel twist of fate THE BROKEN BOY by Patrick Cockburn Cape, £15.99, pp. 286, ISBN 0224071084 £13.99 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848This, as its title suggests, is a poignant book. In his account of the world's last great polio epidemic in Cork,...
A Driven Man
It's strange how myths about people accumulate and persist. John Buchan, for example, is perceived as an anti-Semitic, imperialistic and bigoted writer, whereas it became clear in Frederick Forsyth on John Buchan on Radio Four last week (Thursday) that...
A Nation Wobbles
The New York Times publishes a daily box score with the latest list of the soldiers killed in Iraq under the rubric 'Names of the Dead'. For instance:KAUFMAN, Charles A., 20, Specialist, Army National Guard; Fairchild, Wis.; First Battalion, 128th Infantry.MUY,...
Ancient & Modern
In our youth-besotted blame culture, the newly recovered poem by Sappho (600 BC: only our fourth complete one) has a point to make. I translate in plodding prose (square brackets = restored words): 'You, children, [rejoice in] the beautiful gifts of...
An Experiment in Old Acquaintance
An experiment in old acquaintance THE PROUST PROJECT edited by André Aciman Farrar, Straus & Giroux, £25, pp. 221, ISBN 0374238324The older I get the more convinced I become that A la Recherche du Temps Perdu is not only the only novel worth reading,...
A Truly Russian Icon
A truly Russian icon ANNA OF ALL RUSSIAS: THE LIFE OF ANNA AKHMATOVA by Elaine Feinstein Weidenfeld, £20, pp. 322, ISBN 0297643096 £18 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848For far too long, the history of 20th-century Russia has been understood almost exclusively...
Beware the Dewdrop
The summer concert season arrived for us this year with the heatwave. It is in weather like this that the effectiveness of the air-conditioning on stage becomes a matter of prime importance. Sweating while performing is as distracting as having a serial...
Crash Course
I have some native sympathy with the lackeys struggling to handle the Inland Revenue's computers which, like a berserk one-arm bandit, have just spewed out an excess £1.9 billion in tax credits. I am not sure I am the best-qualified person to expound...
Deep in the Mind of Texas
Deep in the mind of Texas YET MORE ADVENTURES WITH BRITANNIA edited by William Roger Louis I. B. Tauris, £14.99, pp. 419, ISBN 184511082X £12.99 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848Roger Louis, Kerr Professor of English History and Culture at the University...
Diary
At the weekend, one of my favourite soldiers remarked sombrely that the armed forces have been sandpapered into so small a critical mass that little needs to go wrong for things to unravel disastrously. Amazingly few people notice, however. When army...
Favourite Themes
Favourite themesAndrew Lambirth on a long-awaited exhibition of the work of Graham SutherlandAs a landscape painter, Graham Sutherland (1903-80) enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame through the 1930s and 40s, culminating in the Venice Biennale in 1952, a...
Fresh Touch
OperaFresh touchLa BohèmeRoyal Opera HouseFidelioScottish OperaIt's a good thing that the Royal Opera keeps its revivals of standard Italian repertoire in good shape, considering the many acute disappointments we have had this season from new productions,...
Glasto Vibes
TelevisionGlasto vibesFor the first time since 1990 I decided not to go to Glastonbury this year. It was a purely practical decision: the drug intake needed to get you through those three days is so vast that it wipes you out for the rest of summer and,...
Guilt Trip
Psychiatric research, which should never be taken too seriously or be uncritically believed, suggests that moving house is one of the most stressful events in a person's life, not far behind the death of a spouse. Of course, there are spouses and spouses...
Have the English Lost Their Historic Love of Liberty?
Imagine, for a moment, you are an international terrorist. Not a leading one, mind you, who might have his picture on cigarette cards if such things still existed, but your ordinary, bog-standard warped fanatic who can't get a girlfriend and who is therefore...
Jumping through Hoops
In their bright-eyed, bushy-tailed beginnings, neither imagined it would come down to this. Next week two bruised (and soon to be buried) political figures look to a sporting event to seal for themselves and posterity some sort of remembered and lasting...
Lernean Debacle
At last it has happened. After several years of approximate stand-off between the world's top grandmasters and computer rivals, a leading player, Michael Adams, has been pole-axed in London by the appropriately named Hydra computer. The score in the...
Letters
Second-hand smokeFrom: Mike UngerSir: Rod Liddle makes a living out of being controversial, but to do so with effect he should also be accurate with his facts ('My right to cough up blood', 25 June). His article suggests that people who complain about...
Ministers Propose but Markets Dispose - the Wraps Come off Project Rubicon
Apologies for absence. I was, indeed, away last week - in airports, in limousines, in meeting rooms booked under false names in secluded hotels, and in the engine-rooms of my financial advisers, urging the number-crunchers on. Secrecy was of the essence,...
My Vision for a Tory Britain
The Britain of our dreams is one of personal liberty, equality of opportunity and a caring community. It is best summed up by the philosophy of One Nation Conservatism. It is what made me and many others a convinced Tory. Given that the Conservatives...
Plastic Poll Tax
It seems increasingly plausible that among the many Britons to have had their identities stolen is one T. Blair of London SW1. Perhaps it was an application for a platinum card, carelessly discarded in the Downing Street dustbin, which allowed the criminals...
Sharing the Pinnacle
Sharing the pinnacle THE RIVALS: CHRIS EVERT VERSUS MARTINA NAVRATILOVA by Johnette Howard Yellow Jersey Press, £17.99, pp. 400, ISBN 0224075055 £15.99 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848One-to-one conflict injects adrenalin into sport. For a period,...
Single-Minded
I'm getting married this week, and I still haven't found the right dress, or booked the florist, or worked out the placement at lunch. Frankly, I've never been this unprepared for a bridge tournament.My husband-to-be doesn't play bridge (I doubt he'd...
Slob's Paradise
Ah! Agh! Aaah! Ah! Aaaaa! Ugh! Ugha! Aha! Aaaah! Aaaha! Aaa! No, it's not an orgy I'm listening to, just Wimbledon 2005. What has happened to the once-gentle game? You'd think phone-sex operators had taken over. Incidentally, the guttural noise has nothing...
Spectator Mini-Bar Offer
A few weeks ago I went to Le Gavroche restaurant in London, to a dinner hosted by Penfold's, Australia's largest and most important winemaker. The firm wanted to show that its wines could stand up to some of the finest French cooking in the world, which...
Thankless Children
My father checked himself into a nursing home at the age of 73. He'd had heart trouble many years previously and subsequent related problems getting about: even walking to the bathroom had become an interminable effort. He would sink back into his armchair...
That Colossal Wreck
That colossal wreck AFGHANISTAN by Bijan Omrani and Matthew Leeming Odyssey Books & Guides, £19.95, pp. 768, ISBN 9622177468, distributed by Cordee Books, 3(a) De Montfort Street, Leicester, LE 17 HD, Tel: 01162543579There is a delightful tradition...
The Spectator's Notes
The renewed interest in Our Island Story on its centenary takes me back to the first history book I read. It is called A Nursery History of England, by one Elizabeth O'Neill who was, I now see but did not notice at the time, covertly sympathetic to Catholicism...
Three Men in a Boat
Responding to Boh Geldof's call for a Dunkirk-style armada of small boats to pop across the Channel to pick up those French people wishing to protest at Gleneagles, the Sunday Telegraph last week commissioned me to pop across to Boulogne in a fishing...
XI Plus Extra Man
In Competition No. 2398 you were invited to write an entertaining piece of prose incorporating a dozen given cricketing terms, but using them in a non-cricketing sense.One competitor added a postscript: 'I have not used the term "Chinaman" to refer to...
Your Guide to Fundamentalist Moderation in the Tory Party
That fundamentalist who has just won the Iranian election showed the way. Since then, Mr Michael Howard has given a lecture arguing that the Conservatives should not attach decisive importance to tax cuts. Mr David Willetts had already said more or less...
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