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 April 2006

A-Day for Dummies
Next Thursday is A-Day, the day on which, according to the Department for Work and Pensions, the 'new simplified rules on pensions come into effect, offering simpler and more flexible retirement arrangements'. If you haven't got the hang of them by...
Ancient & Modern
Though the Prime Minister did not recently claim that God had told him to invade Iraq, merely raising the issue of the relationship between politics and belief in an all-powerful deity is asking for trouble. When on 28 October AD 312Constantine invoked...
An Enchanted Garden
Five minutes' drive from the unremarkable Kent coastal road is the land that time forgot. An eerie silence hangs over an ocean of shingle dotted with beached boats and odd, desertedlooking shacks where you wouldn't want to ask for a cup of sugar. Pylons...
Blair Really Thinks He Is the Wizard of Oz
With the clanging of the bell getting louder by the week, and no one needing to ask for whom it tolls, this is a bizarre time to start praising the Prime Minister for the honesty of his rhetoric. Yet when Tony Blair addressed the Australian parliament...
Diary
Television Society Awards. Grosvenor, Park Lane. Wore little white dress, big black bow, quite low neckline. Tripped over own handbag on way into hotel. Awkward frock moment. Think I got away with it. Not sure anyone noticed. WEDNESDAY : Calls for more...
Eastern Promise
What are the first images which spring to your mind at the mention of the word 'Bulgaria'? Female weightlifters? Dour, unsmiling locals? Sinister secret agents who assassinate people with poison-tipped umbrellas in busy London streets? 'No matter how...
First-Night Nerves
The life of a composer is an attractive one. He is not personally responsible for the ensemble which will perform his music, yet all the rehearsal time is made over to his requirements. In the performance all he has to do is sit and listen, and then...
Gene Genie
From Edward Frostick Sir: I find myself agreeing with Mary Midgley rather than Philip Hensher ('A good book and the Good Book', 25 March). If Richard Dawkins had not intended to imply that genes are selfish, then he should not have said so in the title...
Grassroots Taken for Granted
From Beryl M. Goldsmith, OBE Sir: Charles Moore, perceptive as ever, is right (The Spectator's Notes, 25 March). The Conservative party in recent years has been far too casual with its traditional power base: local associations with enthusiastic volunteers...
Guess What? Blair Has Given Brown Another Date for His Departure
Shortly before setting off on his Australian and Far Eastern tour, Tony Blair had a long discussion with Gordon Brown about the succession. The Chancellor was extremely clear. 'Brown wanted a handover date by the end of the year, ' says my source, 'with...
He Knew He Was Right
THE MEDICAL DETECTIVE : JOHN SNOW AND THE MYSTERY OF CHOLERA by Sandra Hempel Granta, £18.99, pp. 304, ISBN 9781862078420 . £15.19 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 Hindsight is a wonderful thing. It enables us to feel superior to our ignorant forebears...
La Trahison Des Clercs
ABSENT MINDS : INTELLECTUALS IN BRITAIN by Stefan Collini OUP, £25, pp. 526, ISBN 0199291055 . £20 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 During China's Cultural Revolution (1966-76) intellectuals, who had endured a bad time since the communist triumph...
Looking for a Sense of Direction
The Getty is under siege. As the richest museum in the world, it is bound to attract more than its fair share of attention, and criticism. Recently, it has received a huge amount of bad press, some of it deserved, some not. Following the resignation...
Lovely Girls on the Townhouse's Staircase -- It's How the Spectator Works Best
A health warning greeted me: 'LIBEL. Mr Christopher Fildes and Mr Auberon Waugh have today joined the staff of The Spectator. As from today, The Spectator is no longer insured against libel. Gatley's Libel and Slander (sixth and seventh edition) may...
Machiavelli at School
NORTH by Brian Martin Macmillan New Writing, £12.99, pp. 247, ISBN 0230000002 . £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 North, the eponymous sophisticated and cultured AngloAmerican adolescent who charms the pants off everyone he meets, often literally,...
Memories of Loss
THE OTHER SIDE OF YOU by Salley Vickers Fourth Estate, £14.99, pp. 292, ? ISBN 0007165447 . £11.99 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 The first short chapter of The Other Side of You looks so simple. After introducing us to Elizabeth Cruickshank, a...
Ministry of Fear
ELIZABETH'S SPY MASTER : FRANCIS WALSINGHAM AND THE SECRET WAR THAT SAVED ENGLAND by Robert Hutchinson Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £20, p. 416, ISBN 0297846132 . £16 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 Just because you're paranoid, as the cliché runs,...
Modern Manners
In an age of corporate looting, insider trading, commercial gouging and crass commercialism, it is well to ask why we are picking on Didier Drogba for cheating. One tries to emulate one's betters, and, as Matthew Norman wrote in the Sunday Telegraph,...
Oars-De-Combat
'Are you ready . . .' The winds skim and frisk like a well-thrown flat pebble across the chop and chill of the mucky water. So do two slim, sleek boats carrying 16 broad and beefy men. Ships, towers, domes rip by . . . temples, wharves, jetties, tower...
Pathos of the Expatriate
THE MATCH by Romesh Gunesekera Bloomsbury, £14.99, pp. 308, ISBN 0747578583 . £11.99 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 I don't know if it is still there, but in the museum at Lord's there used to be a glass case containing a stuffed sparrow killed...
Perfect Parody
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo Peacock Theatre mavin khoo Dance Linbury Theatre Good parody is an act of love; cheap caricature is not. Indeed, love for ballet is the secret weapon of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, the all 'tutued' male...
Portrait of the Week
MONDAY Orders from Dave. We must seize back the agenda, get everyone off sleaze. Problem is, DD wants to get stuck in and keeps ringing to set us on to some new loans-for-honours research project. Nigel says we must say, 'Yes, right away, Mr Davis'...
Restaurants
The thing is, you just cannot beat a truly great steak. I think if I knew that my next meal would be my last, I would ask for a truly great steak. I know this is unfair on the pig. The pig gives us so much: pork, ham, sausages, bacon, Babe, gammon,...
Scarcely on Speaking Terms Any More
CONVERSATION : A HISTORY OF A DECLINING ART by Stephen Miller Yale, £15, pp. 368, ISBN 0300110308 . £12 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 The ancient Athenians were mad about it, but the Spartans thought it a waste of time. It flowered in the coffee...
Searching for the Saint
In February 1939 excavators preparing the tomb of the late Pius XI encountered the remains of a pagan necropolis under the basilica of St Peter's in Rome in which, according to tradition, the Apostle Peter was buried. Pius's successor, Eugenio Pacelli,...
Shamed and Horrified
Shooting Dogs 15, selected cinemas The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada 15, selected cinemas Having made a waspish comment about John Hurt's acting a few weeks ago, I ought now to give credit where it's due: his is a restrained, authoritative performance...
Slash and Burn
FASHION AND FICTION : DRESS IN ART AND LITERATURE IN STUART ENGLAND by Aileen Ribero Yale, £40, pp.352, ISBN 0300109997 'A ship is sooner rigged by far, than a gentleman made ready, ' scoffed Thomas Tomkis in 1607, about how long men took to dress....
Spectator Mini-Baroffer
As I write, the arctic winds have died down but a heavy, soaking drizzle has replaced the cold. So there could be no better time to have a mini-bar selection of wines to welcome the spring, all supplied by our friends at Lay & Wheeler. Just buying...
Spice Routes and Stonework
It is six hours now since we started out from Jodhpur and still the Ambassador is bouncing down this coccyx-cracking desert road with no end (or anything else) in sight. We had been warned. 'Jaisalmer is one of the remotest cities in India, ' the guidebook...
Spiritual Journey
Michelangelo Drawings: Closer to the Master British Museum until 25 June Sponsored by BP There has been a certain amount of controversy about this exhibition, the first Michelangelo show at the British Museum for 30 years. The exhibits are drawn almost...
Stark Vision
Jenufa; Tosca English Touring Opera, Cambridge English Touring Opera's spring tour reached Cambridge the week after the undergraduates left for the Easter vacation, and, though I realise that enthusiasm for opera among students is fairly uncommon, I...
The Class of '82
SEND IN THE IDIOTS by Kamran Nazeer Bloomsbury, £12.99, pp. 240, ISBN 0747579105 . £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 André is a computer scientist. He is also a puppeteer. He finds conversation difficult, so he speaks through his puppets. Mischievousness...
The Everlasting Bonfire
HELL AND OTHER DESTINATIONS : A NOVELIST'S REFLECTIONS ON THIS WORLD AND THE NEXT by Piers Paul Read Darton, Longman & Todd, £12.95, pp. 247, ISBN 0232526516 This splendid book of articles, essays and reviews, some published for the first time,...
The Long Road from Alabama to Blackburn
Potholes. America's ambassador to Britain, Robert Tuttle, was sure that one of the shocks for his boss, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, during her visit to Blackburn, would be potholes. Or the talk of potholes. Which will be one of the many differences...
The Magic Mountain
I arrive in Johannesburg with my usual baggage: fear. An old Africa hand has told me that I must keep my wits about me, especially on the road. No need to panic, he says, but do be sensible. Sensible? Perhaps I should see if I can hire a gun at the...
The New Butskellism
So, after all these years, we're back to Butskellism, that anodyne blend of Rab Butler's centrist Conservatism and Hugh Gaitskell's right-of-centre socialism. It was interesting to hear the parallels between David Cameron's approach to Blairism and...
The Rahman Case Shows Yet Again That Islam, Not Extremism, Is the Problem
It's not the singer; it's the song. Last week Abdul Rahman was released from prison in Kabul where he was being held on a charge of apostasy. Rahman renounced Islam 16 years ago and was picked up when the police found him in possession of a Bible. The...
The Shock Is That Italy's Elections Really Matter
Rome Not long ago I took one of my grandsons to the Colosseum. There were centurions and chariots on view but my grandson was unimpressed. 'Where are the Christians and the lions?' he asked disappointedly. I feel a bit like that about the Italian elections....
The Spectator's Notes
David Cameron's bold entry into the debate about housing this week reminds one of how strange it is that housing has spent such a long time in the second division of politics. For post-1945 Labour, council housing was the key to getting the right votes...
The Task the Israelis Have Set Us
The performance in the Israeli elections of Kadima, the new centrist party founded by Ariel Sharon, is almost as remarkable as the survival of the state of Israel itself in the 58 years since its foundation. True, Kadima did not secure the clear mandate...
The Tory That Blair Thinks Is Underrated
Liam Fox could have been designed by a committee of Tory modernisers. He was brought up in a council house, educated at a comprehensive and worked as a hospital doctor in the deprived east end of Glasgow. He has met Mother Teresa, still buys pop music...
Train Strain
There's something about travelling on a night-sleeper train; something glamorous, thrilling, something faintly aphrodisiac that elevates the mood. Standing at the busy bar in the buffet car of the Night Riviera service from Paddington to Penzance, prior...
Trying Times on Easy Street
THE CHALLENGE OF AFFLUENCE by Avner Offer OUP, £30, pp. 454, ISBN 0198208537 . £24 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 The multibillionaire Warren Buffett, a folk hero of the age of affluence, once reminded disciples of his hugely successful investment...
Ventures into the Spanish Past
WINTER IN MADRID by C. J. Sansom Macmillan, £16.99, pp. 536, ISBN 1405005467 . £13.59 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 SHANGHAI NIGHTS by Juan Marsé Harvill Secker, £12.99, pp. 195, ISBN 1843431505 . £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 The complex...
Visit Little-Known but Lovely Ladronia
The great thing about Ladronia is that no one has ever heard of it. This small East European state, which won independence after communism collapsed, is therefore a lovely holiday destination, unspoiled by Western propriety. Having languished under...
What I Learned about Condi over Lunch
Along time ago, before George W. Bush was elected, and before 'Condi' was an internationally recognised nickname, someone who knew Condoleezza Rice in one of her previous incarnations told me that the thing to remember about her is that she is definitely...
Where's the (Organic) Beef, Dave?
A well-regarded member of the Cameron cosa nostra sat opposite me at lunch last week. Others at the table included a leading tabloid editor, a charity boss, a clutch of top political broadcasters, a business editor and a couple of senior businessmen....
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.