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. 294, No. 9161, 2004

A Bad Summer in Iraq Will Open the Way to New Regimes in Britain and the US
The most significant purely domestic event in what has turned into a terrible week on the international stage was a speech by Jack McConnell to Labour's Scottish conference in an arctic Inverness. McConnell looked ahead to next year's general election,...
A Land without Tourists
The trouble with this country is that nobody gets shot,' said Srdjan, the tubby 39-year-old music promoter, as we piled into his ramshackle Citroën and headed to an air-conditioned bar. 'Not the right people, anyway.' He meant the 'Slobbo' men who had...
American Hegemony
Opponents of the United States, for whatever reason, like to describe that country as an empire, suggesting that it controls and dominates large parts of the world in the manner of the Roman, French and British empires. Even the BBC World Service appears...
Ancient & Modern
However one regards Mrs Gun after her betrayal of the Official Secrets Act -selfless heroine of Antigonean stature, or self-important, sanctimonious little twerp - her actions raise an important question: the security of the written word.In classical...
An Enchanted Forest of Family Trees
An enchanted forest of family trees MOSAIC by Michael Holroyd Little, Brown, £17.99, pp. 304, ISBN 0316725056Michael Holroyd describes the first copy of his last book of memoirs plopping through the letterbox, the kind of moment that might have called...
A Quantum Leap
A couple of weeks ago a press release arrived in my electronic in-tray. It was from Naxos, the record company much admired for its bargain recordings of a repertoire ranging wide and free over the thousand years or so of what we on my side of the business...
A True Gentleman
Our house is a no-smoking house. There are no signs up proclaiming it as such, however. Visitors who feel like a fag take note of the fresh-cut flowers, the lack of ashtrays and the framed texts from Scripture dotted about the place and slip out to the...
A Villain Too Villainous?
Theatre 2A villain too villainous?OthelloSwan Theatre, Stratford-upon-AvonThis is going to be a pretty testing year for the RSC's new artistic director, Michael Boyd. He's just released three of last year's best shows on the West End and will shortly...
Christianity and Judaism Cannot Be Reconciled
One woman has already died of a heart attack while watching the film. No director since Leni Riefenstahl has been so reviled. There have been widespread calls for Mel Gibson's The Passion of The Christ to be banned, or at least boycotted. He has been...
Club Rules
In Competition No. 2330 you were invited to list between 8 and 12 (inclusive) unusual rules to be observed by members of a club which you would either love or hate to belong to.Christopher Sainsbury sparked this off by sending me the rules to be observed...
Dunkirk Spirits
Dunkirk, February 2004. In the seafront restaurant L'Equipage I linger over the last of the Muscadet sur lie that accompanied my moules à la marinière and remember a photograph I saw yesterday, which was dated 5 June 1940. Not 20 paces from my table,...
Elemental Vision
Exhibitions 1Elemental visionKarl Weschke - Beneath a Black Sky: Paintings and Drawings 1953-2O04Tate St Ives, until 9 MayKarl Weschke has been living in an isolated house on the tip of Cape Cornwall (locally held to be slightly more westerly than Land's...
Fame Was the Spur
Fame was the spur LOVE ME by Garrison Keillor Faber £10.99, pp. 272, ISBN 0571217222Larry Wyler is a man in conflict. He knows what makes him happy - the St Matthew Passion, sex, a beef sirloin 'slightly charred on the outside and reddish pink in the...
From Education to Catastrophe
From education to catastrophe A ROPE OF SAND by Elsie Burch Donald Doubleday, £12.99, pp. 270, ISBN 03856070'I do feel the strongest urge to talk,' confides the narrator when a chance meeting with the beautiful Olivia after more than 30 years brings...
Full, Frank and Fraternal
Full, frank and fraternal AT WELLINGTON'S RIGHT HAND: THE LETTERS OF LIEUTENANT-COLONEL SIR ALEXANDER GORDON, 1808-1815 edited by Rory Muir Army Records Society/ Sutton Publishing, £50, pp. 475, ISBN 0750933801The Army Records Society was founded 20...
Globophobia
What is the reward for a government which protects and subsidises a cherished national industry? Workers parading through the streets in gratitude? Like hell, it is. When an industry is advanced favours, it merely comes back and asks for more. The French...
Glories of the Silver Screen
Glories of the silver screen THIN-ICE SKATER by David Storey Cape, £16.99, pp. 268, ISBN 0224064495The anchoring memories of this novel go back to the second world war. That is where crucial people in the plot received their opportunities and their wounds....
God's Expeditionary Force
God's expeditionary force THE JESUITS by Jonathan Wright HarperCollins, £20, pp. 334, ISBN 0002571803In the 16th century Montaigne voiced the fear that missionary endeavour the white man's 'contagion' - would hasten the ruin of the New World. Though...
Gordon's Great Con
Aspiring actors are, by tradition, advised by their mentors never to work with children or animals. Budding politicians, on the other hand, should be advised at all costs to avoid pensioners. They make lousy photo opportunities and they have a tendency...
Green's Pleasant Land
So, off to meet Sir Andrew Green, retired Foreign Office mandarin, now founder and chairman of Migration Watch, which is cither an 'independent think tank which has no links to any political party' (Migrationwatch.co.uk) or is a 'nasty little outfit...
Heat and Clangour
Exhibitions 2Heat and clangourShipbuilding: Stanley Spencer and Patricia McKinnon-DayImperial War Museum North, until 7 JuneThe cavernous aluminium-clad concrete shell of Daniel Libeskind's Imperial War Museum North is an unlikely setting for a show...
I Don't Do Holidays
I hate holidays - summer holidays are what I mean: hate them, hate them. And every single year, round about now, everywhere you look it's the same old story - the papers and television are awash with all this bogus and sun-bleached fevered urgency: go...
Letters
The morality of warFrom John JenkinsSir: Correlli Barnett rests his case against Blair and Bush and the Iraq war partly on the grounds that 'only the Security Council can authorise armed action', that resolution 1441 did not authorise such action and...
Malcolm Rifkind May Be the Last Non-Cockney to Capture the Royal Borough
It was reported that Mr Jacob ReesMogg, the son of Lord and Lady Rees-Mogg, was told that he could not be Kensington and Chelsea's prospective Conservative candidate because he lacked 'the common touch'. This must be a rare instance of anyone in Kensington...
Nightmare in the Caribbean
Shortly after Christmas I went to Haiti for the first time in 13 years. The collapse of the Aristide regime was still two months away, but the Caribbean republic was already descending into chaos. At the airport of the capital, Port-au-Prince, the familiar...
No Tendency to Corrupt Here
No tendency to corrupt here ALBERT MOORE by Robyn Asleson Phaidon, £19.95, pp. 240, 0714838462Two things about this book - the first on the artist for over a century - are immediately off-putting: intermittent mustard-coloured pages, which make it look...
Patent Medicine for Mankind
Patent medicine for mankind THE BUBBLE OF AMERICAN SUPREMACY: CORRECTING THE MISUSE OF AMERICAN POWER by George Soros Weidenfeld, £12.99, pp. 207, ISBN 0297849069Judging from his publications, since semi-retiring from his hedge fund empire George Soros...
Re-Inventing the Swan
DanceRe-inventing the SwanSwan LakeNorthern Ballet Theatre, Grand Theatre, LeedsThe dramatic weakness and the basic metaphorical narrative of Swan Lake have resulted in countless different readings of the old ballet. Still, most balletgoers, critics...
Rule of Eleven
I CAN'T claim that I often get excited by mathematical calculations - or even that I usually understand them - but, like most bridge players, I hold the Rule of Eleven close to my heart. Thought to have been discovered by the editor of Whist Manual,...
Second Opinion
When I was 12 years old, I had an English teacher whom I admired to the point of hero-worship, one of whose aphorisms was that poetry was man's natural form of expression. It was prose, in his view, that was unnatural. I came to think this an absurd...
See Sydney and Fry
When I arrived in Sydney it was raining. Throughout the 23-hour flight from London, where it was also raining, I had fantasised about walking off the plane into a wall of heat and heading for the beach. Just my bloody luck, I reflected, as I stood in...
Self Addressed
One of my many favourite bits in Alain de Botton's characteristically brilliant and thought-provoking documentary on Status Anxiety (Channel 4, Saturday) was the scene where a middle-aged, effervescent American restaurant manager called Biaise tried...
Spain through True Blue Eyes
Spain through true blue eyes RICHARD FORD, 1796-1858 by Ian Robertson Michael Russell, £28, pp. 381, ISBN 0859552853Richard Ford is now a forgotten figure and we must be grateful to Ian Robertson for bringing him to life in this scholarly biography....
Television Has Exploited the Housing Market to Turn Us All into Greedy Voyeurs
Only television, with its immense resources of eager young creativity, manpower, money and technology, could take the economic phenomenon of a sustained property boom and transform it into a spectator sport. It is a trick pulled off with such gusto that...
The Lure of the Far Horizon
The lure of the far horizon CONQUERORS OF TIME by Trevor Fishlock John Murray, £25, pp. 444, ISBN 0719555175In 1795, John Evans, the son of a Methodist preacher, set out from St Louis across the unchartered plains of North America in search of a lost...
The Most Important Thing Now Is That the Telegraph Should Be Sold Soon
So the Barclay brothers' bid for Conrad Black's controlling share in Hollinger International has been vetoed by an American judge. We are back to square one. A lot of time has been wasted. Meanwhile the patient itself - i.e., the Daily Telegraph - is...
The Pardoner's Tale
The pardoner's tale MY FATHER'S WAR by Adriaan Van Dis Heinemann, £12.99, pp. 324, ISBN 00434010472Books about wartime experiences are thick enough on the ground to make one wonder if it is really worth the trauma of reading yet another, but Adriaan...
The Pros of Yesteryear
What can be done about the BBC's coverage of live sport? It has lost another bauble, the Boat Race, to ITV, and while that is not in itself a grievous loss, it was careless. Once again Peter Salmon, the head of sport, took his eye off the ball, enabling...
There Are More Ways Than One to Decommission a Cat
There is one pressing and even crucial issue which successive governments have refused to address, perhaps through a failure of political will, or simply out of cowardice. And yet not a day goes by without all of us asking the same question: what on...
The Spectator's Notes
It is to Lady Morgan, the Prime Minister's political secretary, that the role of co-ordinating New Labour's proposed system of 'kangaroo courts' (or 'show trials', depending on whom you believe) for lapses in party discipline appears to fall. How does...
The Treasury Trots out Its Budget Bogey-This Time, We're Right to Be Scared
This is the time of year when the Treasury puts out scare stories. Beware of the Budget, they say. Just look at all the things we may be planning to tax. Land, for example, or fuel for aircraft, or chocolate chip cookies, because they make you fat, and...
Title Deeds
GstaadTwenty-five years or so ago Jeffrey Bernard wrote in these here pages that 'By and large I've met a better class of person in the gutter than I have in the drawing-room.' Well, Jeff denied inverted snobbery, but that's what it was. Although he...
Verdi's Gloomy Vision
OperaVerdi's gloomy visionSimon BoccanegraRoyal Opera HouseSimon Boccanegra is an opera which rises ever higher in critical esteem, and the Royal Opera's production from 1991 has surely done its part in this process. It is a model of unfussy and uncluttered...
Vlad the Placator
Vladimir Kramnik, the reigning world champion, who deposed Garry Kasparov in 2000 in their match in London, has started to wake up in the elite tournament at Linares, Spain. After some lacklustre draws he moved into top gear for his game as White against...
Water on the Brain
So Coca-Cola's latest designer drink, on sale for 95p a bottle, comes out of the tap. Dasani, the company's new bottled water, is being promoted as a 'pure' product in a £7 million marketing campaign. But, apparently, the drink is only purified tap water...
Wet Socks in St Mark's
It has been uncommon weather in Venice these last two weeks. The water has been high, which can happen at this time of the year, but not usually in conjunction with torrential snow and above-freezing temperatures on the ground. The result has been thick...
When Hollywood Trembled
When Hollywood trembled REVOLUTION!: THE EXPLOSION OF WORLD CINEMA IN THE SIXTIES by Peter Cowie Faber, £20, pp. 286, ISBN 0571209033In its brief, action-filled history of 109 years the cinema has recapitulated the history of art from cave painting to...
Why Did the Attorney General Change His Advice?
Hasn't it been an exciting few months to be a lawyer? Once they just sat quietly in offices with stripey wallpaper and dado rails, sending out the bills. Now almost every couple of weeks, it seems, they hold the fate of the government in their hands....
You Have Been Warned, Mr Blair
If you're a Telegraph reader - as I do hope you are - you too will have seen those ads placed by a Dr Vernon Coleman, MB. Not the ones that ask 'Does Your Memory Fail You?' above the ink drawing of the man in a suit and specs, but the ones that ask,...
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