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 May 2006

American Beauty
Although I don't buy it often, I've always liked the New Yorker magazine, not only for its good writing but also for the humour. The cartoons are consistently sharp and amusing and the owners have cleverly marketed them as greeting cards, as The Spectator...
American Demands
The war on terror means little to a lot of people, but to the itinerant musician at an airport it means ever-increasing hassle, rough treatment and delay. In case you didn't know, the Americans have just invented a new queue the traveller must stand...
A Philosopher Rescued from Politicians
ADAM SMITH AND THE PURSUIT OF PERFECT LIBERTY by James Buchan Profile, £14.99, pp. 198, ISBN 1861979053 . £11.99 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 In February 2005 the then chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, travelled to Kirkcaldy...
Blessed Are the Spin Doctors
Rome In the run-up to the release of the film of The Da Vinci Code on 19 May the communications director for the UK branch of Opus Dei, a bundle of nervous energy even in calmer times, can hardly contain himself. 'This is going to be the most exciting...
Captain of a Dreadful Crew
BLACK SHIRT : SIR OSWALD MOSLEY AND BRITISH FASCISM by Stephen Dorril Viking, £30, pp. 717, ISBN 0670869996 . £24 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 To meet Oswald Mosley was a most unpleasant experience. You knew at once that you were in the presence...
Cool Cat
My sister and I never had pets as children, or rather we had them but they didn't tend to last very long. Indeed, no sooner had some dumb animal entered the house than my mother seemed to be making plans to get rid of it. The raven itself was hoarse...
Diary
Third-world airports are more satisfactory than ours in every department. They are more efficiently run. There is no need to walk several miles to your departure gate. They tend not to be disgustingly overcrowded like Heathrow or Gatwick. They smell...
Diary of a Notting Hill Nobody
THURSDAY The government is in 'meltdown' and we are marking the occasion with lots of glacier jokes (Steve not amused) and by gazing at our collective navel. Much argument about who should 'be in the lead', and whether letting prisoners out is worse...
Expel Foreign Crooks? No, We're Far Too Nice
Political defenders of Charles Clarke insist it's unreasonable to expect ministers to be acquainted with 'every nook and cranny' of the department they are responsible for, especially one as cumbrous as his. It's hardly his fault, they say, that 1,023...
Fighting a War in All but Name
DUSTY WARRIORS by Richard Holmes HarperCollins, £20, pp. 385, ISBN 139780007212842 . £16 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 HIGHWAY TO HELL by John Geddes Century, £17.99, pp. 230, ISBN 1846050626 . £14.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 There is...
First Impressions
I greatly enjoyed The Impressionists (BBC1, Sunday) in spite of clunky lines such as 'This is Paris, in 1862, ' and 'Cézanne! Do you know everybody?' There are the scenes where they are painting their actual paintings, when Rolf Harris seems to have...
Galbraith versus Friedman: The Great Debate Is Not over Yet
I would love to have been a fly on the wall -- or a butler -- at the US embassy in New Delhi in March 1963 when Milton Friedman, champion of laissez-faire, came to lunch with J.K. Galbraith, high priest of higher welfare spending and at that time President...
Ghosts from the Past
A STAIN ON THE SILENCE by Andrew Taylor Penguin/ Michael Joseph, £12.99, pp. 343, ISBN 0718147499 . £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 Andrew Taylor has written on a wide range of subjects, but it is for his crime thrillers that he has become...
Giants in Petty Strife
ROUSSEAU'S DOG by David Edmonds and John Eidinow Faber, £15.99, pp. 405 ISBN 0571224059 . £12.79 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 'In London, if a man have the misfortune to attach himself to letters, I know not with whom he is to live, nor how he...
Hitched and Hooked
Confetti 15, selected cinemas I don't know quite what came over me during the screening of Confetti. I was well prepared: I had curled my lip and rolled my eyes at the daft poster on the Tube; I had sighed and shaken my head over the British obsession...
Immigration, Iraq and Oil:a Bitter Brew for Bush
Don't look to polling data to get an idea of what is going on in the minds of Americans. Only 29 per cent of Americans say they are satisfied 'with the way things are going in the United States at this time'. Yet 85 per cent are satisfied with 'the...
In at the Deep End
On Saturday morning I woke early. I was in a strange bed, in an unfamiliar bedroom, fully clothed, with my shoes on. Curled up beside me was a woman I didn't recognise. I lifted the covers and peeked underneath to see if she had anything on. She was...
Looking Back in Judgment
JOHN OSBORNE : A PATRIOT FOR US by John Heilpern Chatto, £25, pp. 528, ISBN 0701167807 . £20 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 The heart starts to sink on the very first page, p. xiii to be precise, because this is still the Preface: 'When I began...
Missing Erotica
Companhia de Dança; Deborah Colker The Barbican Dance and eroticism have long gone hand in hand. For centuries, moving bodies have been regarded as arousing and dangerously tempting. Twenty-first-century adverts still draw upon that popular equation...
Moving On
Twenty years ago, Britain was gripped by an architectural battle of styles. The Lloyd's building in the City opened, representing the hopes for a resurgence of modernism, while Quinlan Terry's classical Richmond Riverside was beginning to emerge from...
Murder in the Cathedral
King Canterbury Cathedral There can't be many more tantalising prospects for an operatic composer than writing an opera about the murder of Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170 and then conducting performances of it there. That is what Stephen...
My Fantasy Cabinet Would Be a Ministry of All the Failures
Most of us know what it is to finish a task undertaken for the first time, having made every mistake in the book, and regret we are unlikely ever to have to do this job again. We would know the ropes next time: the pitfalls, the useful little short-cuts....
No Reason to Pull Down the Statue
BLOOD, SWEAT AND ARROGANCE by Gordon Corrigan Weidenfeld, £20, pp. 495, ISBN 029784623X . £16 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 CHURCHILL'S SECRET WEAPONS by Patrick Delaforce Pen & Sword, £19.99, pp. 256, ISBN 1844153444 . £15.99 (plus £2.45 p&p)...
Opus Dei Is Scary Because It's So Normal
After three hours with Opus Dei women at Ashwell House in east London I wandered west, half-stunned, like a cat hit by a car. At Oxford Circus the usual loons were saving souls: 'Repent now, turn to God!' from a woman on the south side. From a north-end...
Pipe Dream
'The unexpected ones are always the sweetest, ' said J.P. McManus after his Hasty Prince had followed half a dozen duck eggs by running out the 14-1 winner of the first at Sandown last Saturday. Following the extra-marital cavortings of deputy prime...
Reassuring Period Pieces
Here in London are two historical exhibitions which treat more of human identity, national and individual, than they do of pure painting. Each one showcases art, but in the wider context of the artefacts of a particular period. For a nation which loves...
Serious but Not Solemn
Towards the end of the Seventies I was asked to write a short, critical study of Muriel Spark's novels. I accepted, with some trepidation and misgivings. At least I hope there were misgivings. There should have been, first because nothing equipped me...
System? What System?
The foreign prisoners scandal has revealed nothing less than a crisis of governance: the fundamental incapacity of what ministers feebly call 'the system' to respond to a series of urgent contemporary problems. This is a modern disaster in the making....
System? What System?
The foreign prisoners scandal has revealed nothing less than a crisis of governance: the fundamental incapacity of what ministers feebly call 'the system' to respond to a series of urgent contemporary problems. This is a modern disaster in the making....
Testing Times
Blossom by blossom, the season changes. So should the headlines. Fat chance. Weird times: roll up, roll up for a Lord's cricket Test even before the mudlarks of winter have picked the teams for their end-of-term deciders. The hanging-baskets and bunting...
The Future of Europe Will Be Decided by Tomatoes
Ioannina, Greece Like a penitent sinner, or an addict entering recovery, the European Union has developed a fondness for confessing it has lost the public's confidence. Among EU leaders and top Eurocrats, there is much talk of 'reconnecting with citizens'....
The Idea That Brown's Succession Will Save Labour Is Pure Fiction
When the last Conservative government sacrificed its reputation for competence, it was at least for a worthy cause. On Black Wednesday, British monetary policy was rescued from what was to become the eurozone after John Major's government lost a shambolic...
The Real Disgrace Is a Fit of Bogus Morality about Prescott
I spent Bank Holiday Monday trying to find out everything I could about Jo Knowsley, for your benefit. I didn't find out very much. Certain questions, crucial to the public interest, remain unanswered -- so I will have to speculate about them instead,...
The Spectator's Notes
As I write, no one knows what the result of the local elections will be, but it seems safe to predict that the turnout will not be high. Politically minded people tend to worry about low turnout because they find it hard to understand that someone might...
Warrior Writer
New York I'm in the middle of rereading Storm of Steel, Ernst Jünger's account of his first world war experience, which was published in 1920 and immediately made him famous. No writer has ever claimed to have had Jünger's experience of warfare, and...
Wives and Wallpaper
A MUCH MARRIED MAN by Nicholas Coleridge Orion, £12.99, pp. 464, ISBN 075285254X . £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 Anyone baffled by the conundrum of what to read on the beach this summer need look no further than A Much Married Man. This...
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