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. 296, No. 9198, 2004

A Cat Ate the Face of the Corpse
FallujahSlumped in a corner, his face drawn and smeared with grime after five days' fighting through the city, Specialist Lance Ohle of the US army's Task Force 2-2 surveyed the room. 'Can you imagine coming into your house and finding it like this?'...
Ancient & Modern
Government advisers are suggesting that religious education in schools should teach Christian, Islamic, Judaic, Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh beliefs. The purpose is to encourage 'tolerance and respect'.Greeks and Romans would have found this incomprehensible....
Around the World in 18 Cookery Books
Around the world in 18 cookery booksLong before she became a finger-lickin' television star Nigella Lawson's ability to conjure tastes in vivid prose and her celebration of the pleasures of eating were known to readers of The Spectator as she was this...
Austrian Resurrection
Opera 1Austrian resurrectionViennaWhen the Kaiserjubiläums Stadttheater opened here in 1898, it was heralded as one of the finest theatres in the city. An intimate house, with good acoustics and clear sight lines, it was intended to stage lyric drama...
Botched Effort
Opera 2Botched effortSiegfriedColiseumENO's Siegfried is not a disaster, but the margin isn't as large as one might wish. Seeing it hot on the heels of Opera North's Così, I was hoping for a production in which the action on stage looked as if the producer...
Christmas Books
Books of the YearA selection of the best and worst books of the year, chosen by some of our regular contributorsJonathan SumptionThere is no point in mincing words about the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (60 volumes, £6,500 until 30 November)....
Counting the Loss
Racing folk know you can't always believe what you see. But it seems a lady in Arkansas, whose story has been sent to me by a friend, didn't know this. She was one of many in those parts awaiting the Second Coming. Observing a number of bodies floating...
Death to Iraqis, but Not to Foxes
In the scheme of things, it may not greatly matter whether fox-hunting survives in England. We live in a world of woe and suffering, of pestilence, poverty and war, where millions die each year from hunger or violence, where a vast crisis in western...
Diary
I'm in Sedgefield, County Durham, contesting the nomination for the Conservative candidate who will fight the Prime Minister for his seat in Parliament. I make my speech to the assembled Tories: tax, Europe, crime, education, pensions. Afterwards I go...
Foul Play
I WAS chatting last week to Dominic Lawson, editor of the Sunday Telegraph, about his paper's campaign to grant people the right to protect themselves from intruders in their homes - with guns if necessary. My first thought was how many bridge-related...
George's Girl
WashingtonFor four years, she has been one of the most glamorous, interesting and powerful women in the world. As such, she has been scrutinised, intensively. Yet we know no more about Condoleezza Rice's views than we did four years ago. It is as if...
Globophobia
Jonathan Dimbleby has been frightening late-night audiences on ITV with a documentary called the New World War. Using interviews with Ethiopcan coffee-producers and reels of library footage of hurricanes, Dimbleby explains his thesis: 'Global terrorism,...
Greenery-Yallery
In Competition No. 2367 you were invited to supply an imaginary extract from the libretto of the flop musical Oscar Wilde. 'I am going to stand my ground and fight,/ The things you two do just can't be right,' sang the Marquess to Bosie in that ill-starred...
How to Be Generous
The last few days have seen some hysterical over-reporting of a minor adjustment in the personnel of the Tory shadow arts team, and a woeful underreporting of an excellent new policy proposal. John Whittingdale, the Shadow DCMS secretary, has announced...
In among the Catacombs
The taxi-driver made no attempt to ingratiate himself with his passengers. He kept his eyes on the road and tried conscientiously to get us through the Palermo traffic and out to the airport as fast as possible. It pays to keep your eyes on the road...
In Tasmania
IN TASMANIA by Nicholas Shakespeare Harvill, £20, pp. 374, ISBN 1843431572 * £18 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848Very down underOne of the things which drew Nicholas Shakespeare to Tasmania was that it was one of the few remote places that Bruce Chatwin,...
Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary
LADY ROSE AND MRS MEMMARY by Ruby Ferguson Persephone, £12, pp. 222, ISBN 1903155436After the fallThere is nothing new about the 'had-it-all, lost-it-all' plot. It provides common ground for the story of Adam and Eve and the labyrinthine ramifications...
Last Children of the Raj: British Childhoods in India, Volume I, 1919-1939, Volume Ii, 1939-1950
LAST CHILDREN OF THE RAJ: BRITISH CHILDHOODS IN INDIA, VOLUME I, 1919-1939, VOLUME II, 1939-1950 compiled by Laurence Fleming Radcliffe Press, £27.50 each, pp. 348 and 350, ISBN 1860648711 and ISBN 186064872X * £25 each (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800...
Letters
Oborne off targetFrom John SwiftSir: Peter Oborne seems to have spent too long in his stuffy London office and has developed a conspiracy theory too far concerning rural sports. He makes a number of unsupported assumptions in his comment on the Hunting...
Lies, Damned Lies and Education
When Tony Blair made his famous pledge to concentrate on 'Education, education, education!', maybe we all misheard, and he really said: 'Obfuscation, obsfucation, obsfucation!' After all, that is what his education ministers have spent the past seven...
Light Entertainment
Exhibitions 1Light entertainmentLászló Moholy-Nagy: A Life in MotionAnnely Juda Fine Art, 23 Dering Street, London W1, until 18 DecemberIf you were looking for someone to blame for the explosion of multi-disciplinarity in contemporary art, László Moholy-Nagy...
Museum without a Soul
We are told that our individualist art has touched its limit, and its expression can go no further. That's often been said; but if it cannot go further, it may still go elsewhere.André Malraux, The Voices of Silence'An institution,' said Emerson, 'is...
Nation of League
This Saturday, 20 November, and next, Twickenham's presumptuous clan gathers its travel-rugs round its knees and bays for colonials' blood. Likewise, the hipflasks will warm cockles and loosen throats to raise the rafters for the boys in green, blue...
New Labour Is Back to Its Favourite Pastime: Bullying the Working Classes
New Labour wishes to market 'good health' as a desirable commodity to its feckless and stupid subject people, but government ministers are having a tough time of it. A white paper to tackle obesity is in preparation and the big idea is that food will...
New Selected Poems, 1984-2004
NEW SELECTED POEMS, 1984-2004 by Carol Ann Duffy Picador, £14.99, pp. 253, ISBN 0330433946 * £12.99 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848A maverick wit and talentIn a poem called 'House', written in 1874, Robert Browning warned readers to respect his privacy...
Nixon at the Movies
NIXON AT THE MOVIES by Mark Feeley University of Chicago Press, £19.50, pp. 399, ISBN X0226239683What the President sawA staff writer for the Boston Globe, Mark Feeley is also a lecturer in American Studies at Brandeis University. I mention this because...
On Beauty/a History of Human Beauty
ON BEAUTY edited by Umberto Eco Secker, £30, pp. 438, ISBN 0436205173 © £26 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848A HISTORY OF HUMAN BEAUTY by Arthur Marwick Hambledon & London, £19.99, pp. 276, ISBN 1852854480 © £19.99 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800...
On the Trail of Herzog
FilmOn the trail of HerzogAt 8.30 a.m. on a crisp autumn Sunday a group of 20 huddled on King's Cross station's platform nine and three-quarters - empty but for a smattering of camera-toting Japanese Harry Potter enthusiasts ready to embark on a journey...
People Power
The rebuilt town hall of the ancient Borough of Henley still stands brave over its market place. This was Henley's forum and seat of government, a one-stop shop of civic welfare. From here Henley's streets were lit, paved and policed, Henley's traders...
Poetic Eye
Exhibitions 2Poetic eyeRobert Frank: StorylinesTate Modern, until 23 January 2005(sponsored by Deutsche Borse)It is not Robert Frank's fault, but one might think from the hype - 'arguably the world's greatest living photographer', etc. - that he had...
Quiet Man
RadioQuiet manAt the time of writing, Mark Damazer, the new controller of Radio Four, has yet to appear on Feedback on Radio Four to outline his plans for the network; nor, apparently, does he intend to before the current season of this programme ends...
Recent Crime Novels
Recent crime novelsRumpole is back with us. In Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders by John Mortimer (Viking, £16.99) Rumpole is writing his memoirs and looks back on his first murder case when, as a pupil in a lazy barristers' chambers, he takes over...
Restaurants
Alas, half-term is over, my son is back at school, and I have the house back to myself during the day. Oh, how I miss him, or would do if I wasn't so thrilled to get rid of the pesky old so-and-so. Oh dear, school today, I said on the first morning while...
Sacking Johnson Is by Far the Best Thing Howard Has Done since Becoming Leader
One of the hazards of writing a column about the press is that sooner or later you are bound to be cornered by an editor or journalist whom you have teased. I shall never forget the time I was harangued in the street by the charming wife of my old friend...
Second Opinion
THEODORE DALRYMPLEMany of my non-medical friends complain of the pointlessness of their jobs. What they do has no meaning, they say, no intrinsic worth, apart from paying the bills. My friends feel like caged mice which run incessantly inside wheels:...
Speak Your Mind, Lose Your Life
Even by the grisly standards of ritual killing, it was shocking. On 2 November in Amsterdam the Dutch iconoclast and filmmaker Theo van Gogh was dragged from his bicycle in broad daylight and murdered. His killer, a bearded Dutch-born Islamic radical...
Spectator Wine Club
It's our final Christmas offer this week, and we start with a tremendous treat. Amanda Skinner of John Armit Wines has knocked £40 per half dozen off Pol Roger White Foil(1), one of the greatest of all non-vintage champagnes and the favourite of Winston...
Terror Tactics
New YorkWith the exception of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg - whose circle of defenders and sympathisers have just come together at the Museum of Jewish Heritage here for a new documentary celebrating their martyrdom - there is no greater Cold War icon...
Test Yourself
Grandmaster Daniel King has recently distinguished himself by scoring 9 ½/10 in the Four Nations Chess League and taking first prize on tie-break in the second Staunton Memorial. A noted TV commentator and fertile author, his latest offering is Test...
The Daily Telegraph: 80 Years of Cryptic Crosswords
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: 80 YEARS OF CRYPTIC CROSSWORDS by Val Gilbert Macmillan, £9.99, pp. 280, ISBN 1405049235Across the years and down memory laneYour Aunt Agatha will be pleased, and so she should be. And she will show it. Your carefully considered...
The Great Divide
Watching North and South (BBC1, Sunday), I reflected how much life had changed in Mrs Gaskell's location. Some years ago I was doing What the Papers Say in Milton - sorry, Manchester - and during a delay I overheard the crew talking about restaurants...
The H Factor
The one-year-old Bentley Continental GT coupé is still sometimes called the Baby Bentley, but since it weighed in at just under two and a half tonnes at birth it's clearly no mewling automotive infant. With a top speed of 198mph, it's the fastest road-going...
The Last of the Celts
THE LAST OF THE CELTS by Marcus Tanner Yale, £25, pp. 398, ISBN 0300104642 * £20 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848The sea that retreatedThe most startling historical fact I have come upon in recent years is on page 62 of this book. In 1882 an attempt...
The Lion Sleeps Tonight
LaikipiaI was in Nairobi traffic when I received an SMS message on my phone from the farm: LIONS ATE DONKEY LAST NIGHT. ONLY ONE HOOF LEFT. We have seven donkeys - or, rather, now we have six. They collect water from the spring. More often in this part...
The Mean Machine
According to all objective criteria the Conservative party leadership ought to be very low in the water. The assassination of Iain Duncan Smith almost exactly 12 months ago has brought about numberless benefits: a new mood among fundraisers; the restoration...
The Peloponnesian War: Athens, Sparta and the Struggle for Greece
THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR: ATHENS, SPARTA AND THE STRUGGLE FOR GREECE by Nigel Bagnall Random House, £12.99, pp. 318, ISBN 0712698817 * £11.99 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848A soldier's angle of observationThere was a chilling moment on television a few...
The Right Has Won the Argument, So Why Is It So Angry and Sour?
My father made a surprising remark to my mother and me last week. 'I have the impression,' he said, 'that young people are more intelligent these days.''What do you mean, Dad?' I said.'Just that. Listening to what they talk about, what they know and...
The Scarith of Scornello: A Tale of Renaissance Forgery
THE SCARITH OF SCORNELLO: A TALE OF RENAISSANCE FORGERY by Ingrid D. Rowland University of Chicago Press, £16, pp. 192, ISBN 0226730360A typically Tuscan jokeThere is something irresistible about forgers, cocking a snook as they do at their target establishments...
The Spectator's Notes
Although hunt supporters are right to point out that people of all classes hunt, Labour MPs are equally right to see their ban on hunting, now at last being enacted, as a great blow against the upper classes. Very occasionally, you meet an upper-class...
The Two of Us: My Life with John Thaw
THE TWO OF US: MY LIFE WITH JOHN THAW by Sheila Hancock Bloomsbury, £17.99, pp. 301, ISBN 0747570205 * 15.99 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848Living with the InspectorIn this ingenious 'double biography', which covers not only her own life and that...
Thomas Hardy's 'Facts' Notebook
THOMAS HARDY'S 'FACTS' NOTEBOOK edited by William Greenslade Ashgate (Tel: 01252 351855), £49.50, pp. 365, ISBN 1840142359The bad old times recordedThe inconsistency between how they lived their own lives - the sort of people that they seemed to be -...
Threadneedle/spectator
The 21st annual Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year wards, sponsored by Threadneedle Investments, were presented by the Rt Hon. Michael Howard, QC, MP, the guest of honour at the awards presentation luncheon held on Thursday 11 November 2004 at Claridge's...
We Do Our Best to Measure Our Pleasure but Somehow It's Lost in the Post
The postman who calls at 30 Able Road may be a new urban myth but, as myths do, he tells a story. The people at number 30 found that they were getting post for 30 Baker Street, 30 Charlie Avenue, 30 Dog Mews, 30 Easy Street and so on. When they compared...
Weirdness in Washington
CinemaWeirdness in WashingtonThe Manchurian Candidate15, selected cinemasThey don't make 'em like The Manchurian Candidate of 1962 any more. That weird, creepy, paranoid thriller of the Cold War flopped at first, was given retrospective topicality by...
Winds of Sorrow
WINDS OF SORROW by Alan Ogden Orchid Press, £12.99, pp. 359, ISBN 9889776413Where Vlad once impaledIf the fall of Nicolae Ceausescu, the Romanian dictator, is one of those world events that many people remember very vividly, it may be because of its...
With Many Tories Likely to Vote Lib Dem, a Hung Parliament Seems a Real Possibility
Since it is probably as well that those of us who earn a living by political punditry should occasionally have a spasm of humility, let me share one of my own with you. I know in my heart that Labour is likely to win the next election, but I cannot for...
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.