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 November 2005

Ancient & Modern
Bill Gates, the richest man in the world, develops software that makes our home computers work with (on the whole) admirable efficiency, and commits billions of dollars arising from the profits to help eradicate Aids. Excellent. But his next move is...
Ancient & Modern
Bill Gates, the richest man in the world, develops software that makes our home computers work with (on the whole) admirable efficiency, and commits billions of dollars arising from the profits to help eradicate Aids. Excellent. But his next move is...
A New Climax in the Historic Feud between Two Big Fat Rude Tory Journalists
Many people naturally assume that the final round of the Tory party leadership is between David Davis and Dave Cameron. They are seen together on the hustings, smiling at each other through gritted teeth. They take part in debates. They talk about their...
A Wheelbarrow Full of Surprises
THE DARKNESS OF WALLIS SIMPSON AND OTHER STORIES by Rose Tremain Chatto, £14.99, pp. 215, ISBN 1860560326 . £11.99 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 The people in Rose Tremain's brisk short stories tend to be hooked on highly symbolic artefacts. Thus...
Blindfolds and Mindmists
THE DRAGONS OF EXPECTATION by Robert Conquest Duckworth, £18, pp. 256, ISBN 0715634267 . £14.40 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 Without the existence of 'apparently [my italics] sophisticated circles', which the great historian and poet Robert Conquest...
Blindfolds and Mindmists
THE DRAGONS OF EXPECTATION by Robert Conquest Duckworth, £18, pp. 256, ISBN 0715634267 . £14.40 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 Without the existence of 'apparently [my italics] sophisticated circles', which the great historian and poet Robert Conquest...
Bring Back the Baathists
The insurgents must have been watching their target for weeks: when they struck their timing was immaculate. The Iraqi army checkpoint at Mufrek Circle, north of Baquba in eastern Iraq, was well enough manned. But the soldiers were taken completely...
Bring Back the Baathists
The insurgents must have been watching their target for weeks: when they struck their timing was immaculate. The Iraqi army checkpoint at Mufrek Circle, north of Baquba in eastern Iraq, was well enough manned. But the soldiers were taken completely...
Cardinal Crimes
Madam Butterfly Coliseum Figaro Glyndebourne on Tour In my view, and I think that of a fair proportion of opera goers, Madam Butterfly occupies a unique position in Puccini's oeuvre. None of his other operas can seriously be entertained for tragic status,...
Cardinal Crimes
Madam Butterfly Coliseum Figaro Glyndebourne on Tour In my view, and I think that of a fair proportion of opera goers, Madam Butterfly occupies a unique position in Puccini's oeuvre. None of his other operas can seriously be entertained for tragic status,...
Caviar Crisis
Many of us, not being regular purchasers of the sturgeon's eggs, will be unaware of the gravity of the caviar crisis. I have only just learnt that the population of the beluga sturgeon, which produces the best-quality caviar and lives mostly in the...
Caviar Crisis
Many of us, not being regular purchasers of the sturgeon's eggs, will be unaware of the gravity of the caviar crisis. I have only just learnt that the population of the beluga sturgeon, which produces the best-quality caviar and lives mostly in the...
Cheeps, Tweets and Warbles
WHY BIRDS SING by David Rothenberg Allen Lane, £16.99, pp. 258, ISBN 0713998296 . £13.59 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 A BEDSIDE BOOK OF BIRDS by Graeme Gibson Bloomsbury, £20, pp. 370, ISBN 0747578125 . £16.79 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655...
Conduct Unbecoming
Actions are being taken in the British people's name which should make us feel appalled. The government's behaviour towards the British army has been despicable. In Northern Ireland, there are plans to give an amnesty to IRA terrorists who were never...
Conduct Unbecoming
Actions are being taken in the British people's name which should make us feel appalled. The government's behaviour towards the British army has been despicable. In Northern Ireland, there are plans to give an amnesty to IRA terrorists who were never...
Diary
I'd never have guessed that there was a connection between Joan Collins and the novelist Anthony Powell, the centenary of whose birth is being commemorated with an exhibition at the Wallace Collection. But there is, as I discovered quite by chance 20...
Diary
I'd never have guessed that there was a connection between Joan Collins and the novelist Anthony Powell, the centenary of whose birth is being commemorated with an exhibition at the Wallace Collection. But there is, as I discovered quite by chance 20...
Draw Your Own Conclusion
I think the presence of the questionmark means I get away with it. The little depiction of mine, you see, might or might not be Mohammed, or Abu alQasim Muhammed Ibn Abd Allah Ibn Abd al-Muttali, to give the chap his full title. Just as the one next...
Draw Your Own Conclusion
I think the presence of the questionmark means I get away with it. The little depiction of mine, you see, might or might not be Mohammed, or Abu alQasim Muhammed Ibn Abd Allah Ibn Abd al-Muttali, to give the chap his full title. Just as the one next...
East and West -- When the Twain Meet
MEETINGS WITH REMARKABLE MUSLIMS edited by Rose Baring and Barnaby Rogerson Eland, £18.99, pp. 312, ISBN 090787164X . £15.19 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 As far as love affairs go, the relationship between British travel writers and Islam has...
Embracing Western Culture
It's five o'clock on a November evening, and I'm leaning over a balcony watching a pipe band parading in the concourse below. But it's not the chill of a Scottish autumn I'm feeling, rather the mildness of autumn in Japan -- and the pipers are not Scots,...
Embracing Western Culture
It's five o'clock on a November evening, and I'm leaning over a balcony watching a pipe band parading in the concourse below. But it's not the chill of a Scottish autumn I'm feeling, rather the mildness of autumn in Japan -- and the pipers are not Scots,...
Facts and Fables of the New World
ANCIENT AMERICANS by Charles C. Mann Granta, £20, pp. 576, ISBN 1862076170 . £16.79 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 The Amazon can drive you mad.In Werner Herzog's cult movie Aguirre: Wrath of God, Klaus Kinski affected a crazed stare that bordered...
Fruit Salad
Laikipia Somebody should ask Tony and Bob how the Year of Africa is going. I know nobody wants to be reminded of the G8 thing any more. But they should be. Down here on the continent the African Renaissance just turned into a Jacobean tragedy. Here's...
Fruit Salad
Laikipia Somebody should ask Tony and Bob how the Year of Africa is going. I know nobody wants to be reminded of the G8 thing any more. But they should be. Down here on the continent the African Renaissance just turned into a Jacobean tragedy. Here's...
Full Marks to Blair
Over the past fortnight it has been necessary for this magazine to side with those who would like to bury Tony Blair. This week it is our solemn duty to praise him. No amount of disquiet over his illiberal -- and happily failed -- scheme to subject...
Full Marks to Blair
Over the past fortnight it has been necessary for this magazine to side with those who would like to bury Tony Blair. This week it is our solemn duty to praise him. No amount of disquiet over his illiberal -- and happily failed -- scheme to subject...
Global Failure
It took just 49 bloody-minded Labour backbenchers to demonstrate that Tony Blair cannot, after all, walk on water. Many are now ready to defy his 'legacy' reforms. His position is becoming untenable. And this at a time when he should have been at the...
Global Failure
It took just 49 bloody-minded Labour backbenchers to demonstrate that Tony Blair cannot, after all, walk on water. Many are now ready to defy his 'legacy' reforms. His position is becoming untenable. And this at a time when he should have been at the...
Good or Bad Timing
KATE BUSH by Rob Jovanovic Piatkus, £16.99, pp. 240, ISBN 0749950498 . £13.59 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 'There are no childhood pics, ' says my girlfriend. 'What's the use of an autobiography without any childhood pics?' 'It's not an autobiography....
Good or Bad Timing
KATE BUSH by Rob Jovanovic Piatkus, £16.99, pp. 240, ISBN 0749950498 . £13.59 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 'There are no childhood pics, ' says my girlfriend. 'What's the use of an autobiography without any childhood pics?' 'It's not an autobiography....
Hunter Gatherers
The natural curiosity of gardeners means that we want always to know something of where our garden plants came from, and how we came by them. We are endlessly fascinated by the lives and exploits of plant hunters. It was ever thus. For a couple of centuries...
Hunter Gatherers
The natural curiosity of gardeners means that we want always to know something of where our garden plants came from, and how we came by them. We are endlessly fascinated by the lives and exploits of plant hunters. It was ever thus. For a couple of centuries...
Identity Crisis
It's always amusing to see people pretending to be a certain race when in fact they're something else entirely. The Sunday Times journalist A.A. Gill was at it on Start the Week on Radio Four this week (Monday), posing as Scottish on the strength of...
Identity Crisis
It's always amusing to see people pretending to be a certain race when in fact they're something else entirely. The Sunday Times journalist A.A. Gill was at it on Start the Week on Radio Four this week (Monday), posing as Scottish on the strength of...
International Law Is an Ass
Slobodan Milosevic was ahead of his time. When he made his first appearance in the courtroom of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at The Hague, President George W. Bush's seat in the Oval Office was barely warm. The 'war...
Master of Reverie
Henri Rousseau: Jungles in Paris Tate Modern, until 5 February 2006 Sponsored by Aviva plc If there's one exhibition Tate Modern has mounted which needed the attentions of a sympathetic designer it's this one. Never have such vibrant paintings begun...
Master of Reverie
Henri Rousseau: Jungles in Paris Tate Modern, until 5 February 2006 Sponsored by Aviva plc If there's one exhibition Tate Modern has mounted which needed the attentions of a sympathetic designer it's this one. Never have such vibrant paintings begun...
Match Made in Heaven
My friend and I arranged to meet outside the Boleyn pub, which is on the corner of Green Street and the Barking Road, 15 minutes before kick-off. I was about five minutes late and he wasn't there. I had both our match-day tickets, so I couldn't go in...
Match Made in Heaven
My friend and I arranged to meet outside the Boleyn pub, which is on the corner of Green Street and the Barking Road, 15 minutes before kick-off. I was about five minutes late and he wasn't there. I had both our match-day tickets, so I couldn't go in...
More War
Now obviously in the light of last week's column I did try to find a subject this week which had to do with something other than war. But then I looked in the schedules and saw that there was one documentary on about the Somme and another about the...
More War
Now obviously in the light of last week's column I did try to find a subject this week which had to do with something other than war. But then I looked in the schedules and saw that there was one documentary on about the Somme and another about the...
Parliamentarian of the Year
The 22nd annual Threadneedle/ Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year lunch took place last Thursday at Claridge's and the prizes were presented by the Rt Hon. Charles Kennedy, leader of the Liberal Democrats. Welcoming Mr Kennedy, the editor of The Spectator,...
Portrait of the Week
There was much speculation about the import of the government's defeat, its first since it came to office in 1997, on a vote on the Terrorism Bill by 322 votes to 291, despite the jetting back from Israel of Mr Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer,...
Portrait of the Week
There was much speculation about the import of the government's defeat, its first since it came to office in 1997, on a vote on the Terrorism Bill by 322 votes to 291, despite the jetting back from Israel of Mr Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer,...
Red Devils
From the 1870s, soccer's insular 'home' unions had simply played among each other. Incredibly, England did not invite a foreign nation over here for a game for fully 50 years after they'd first played Scotland in 1871. Even after beating plucky little...
Red Devils
From the 1870s, soccer's insular 'home' unions had simply played among each other. Incredibly, England did not invite a foreign nation over here for a game for fully 50 years after they'd first played Scotland in 1871. Even after beating plucky little...
Shipwreck of a Genius
Love Revealed: Simeon Solomon and the Pre-Raphaelites Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery, until 15 January 2006 Simeon Solomon 'has his place, not far from Burne-Jones, in any record of the painting of the 19th century. Had circumstances been kinder...
Shipwreck of a Genius
Love Revealed: Simeon Solomon and the Pre-Raphaelites Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery, until 15 January 2006 Simeon Solomon 'has his place, not far from Burne-Jones, in any record of the painting of the 19th century. Had circumstances been kinder...
Solid and Dependable
Since its launch in 1989, Land-Rover's popular Discovery has demonstrated that critical issues for motoring correspondents, such as handling and reliability, count for little when it comes to looks, comfort, usability and aspirations. Actually, that's...
Solid and Dependable
Since its launch in 1989, Land-Rover's popular Discovery has demonstrated that critical issues for motoring correspondents, such as handling and reliability, count for little when it comes to looks, comfort, usability and aspirations. Actually, that's...
Spilling the Beans on Bankers, Blondes, Booze and Boxers
A funny thing happened to me on the way to The Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year lunch. The early crowd in the foyer of Claridge's ballroom was largely made up of City guests invited by our excellent sponsor, Threadneedle Investments, while less...
The Age of Unreason
To this day I am astonished when I hear that sensible, biologically mature adults allow themselves to be treated as if they were incompetent dimwits by a new army of professional surrogate parents. In days of old, traditional authority figures, like...
The Age of Unreason
To this day I am astonished when I hear that sensible, biologically mature adults allow themselves to be treated as if they were incompetent dimwits by a new army of professional surrogate parents. In days of old, traditional authority figures, like...
The Discreet Charm of Sewers
THE THIRD MAN'S VIENNA : CELEBRATING A FILM CLASSIC by Brigitte Timmermann Shippen Rock Publishing, Euros 49, pp. 416, ISBN 3950205004 Public visits to the sewers of Vienna are rare: the clammy atmosphere can cause breathing problems. Nevertheless in...
The Rioters Want Liberté, éGalité, Fraternité;what They Don't Want Is an Islamic State
At the time of writing, after more than two weeks of it, the disturbances on the British editorial and opinion pages are still going on: 'Failure of French model of assimilatio. . . police lack of respect. . . decaying banlieues. . . alienation. . ....
The Spectator's Notes
On the face of it, the government would seem to be hypocritical in its attacks on Sir Christopher Meyer's memoirs. After all, it is said, the Cabinet Office saw the text of DC Confidential and approved it. How can ministers now complain? It turns out...
The Spectator's Notes
On the face of it, the government would seem to be hypocritical in its attacks on Sir Christopher Meyer's memoirs. After all, it is said, the Cabinet Office saw the text of DC Confidential and approved it. How can ministers now complain? It turns out...
The Times It Is A-Changin'
THE HISTORY OF THE TIMES : THE MURDOCH YEARS by Graham Stewart HarperCollins, £30, pp. 727, ISBN 139780007184385 . £24 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 Because the Times is, or was, a newspaper like no other, it has enjoyed the distinction of successive...
The Very Best of Bad Verse
OGDEN NASH : THE LIFE AND WORK OF AMERICA'S LAUREATE OF LIGHT VERSE by Douglas M. Parker Ivan R. Dee/Rowman & Littlefield, £19.99, pp. 316 ISBN 156663637 In the mid-1930s, the poet Ogden Nash visited a rodeo, where the star attraction was a handsome...
Time for David Cameron to Reach beyond the Media Class
We have entered an equivocal and shiftless passage in British politics. Tony Blair is in the situation of a relegated football club towards the end of the season. He is going down, and there is a zero statistical chance that he can survive. He lingers...
Tsunami of Cash
When, last Christmas, I whipped out my credit card to make a donation for victims of the Asian tsunami, it was more out of emotion than out of a genuine calculation that my money could achieve some good. The pictures of flattened villages were appalling,...
Tsunami of Cash
When, last Christmas, I whipped out my credit card to make a donation for victims of the Asian tsunami, it was more out of emotion than out of a genuine calculation that my money could achieve some good. The pictures of flattened villages were appalling,...
Why Children Need Us
From Mary Marsh Sir: In attacking charities such as the NSPCC, the RSPCA and Cancer Research UK ('Bullying for charity', 12 November) Guy Adams also harms the beneficiaries. Both larger and smaller charities have a vital role to play in the voluntary...
Why Children Need Us
From Mary Marsh Sir: In attacking charities such as the NSPCC, the RSPCA and Cancer Research UK ('Bullying for charity', 12 November) Guy Adams also harms the beneficiaries. Both larger and smaller charities have a vital role to play in the voluntary...
Wild and Crazy
New York I thought Catherine Meyer made the week's most intelligent remark: 'If Cabinet ministers can sell their memoirs, why can't civil servants?' Or words to that effect. She's a good German, probably the old-fashioned kind, but the old-fashioned...
Wild and Crazy
New York I thought Catherine Meyer made the week's most intelligent remark: 'If Cabinet ministers can sell their memoirs, why can't civil servants?' Or words to that effect. She's a good German, probably the old-fashioned kind, but the old-fashioned...
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