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. 297, No. 9210, 2005

A Floating, Maybe Drowning Voter
A floating, maybe drowning voter So Now WHO DO WE VOTE FOR? by John Harris Faber, £7.99,pp. 160, ISBN 0571224229John Harris, the mop-topped commentator from Manchester, better known as a music journalist (and a very fine one) than a political correspondent,...
A Model Prince
The Prince of Wales, it is said, employs a manservant for the task of squeezing toothpaste on to the royal toothbrush. The servant cannot have the most demanding of careers, but he is almost certainly providing greater public utility than are many of...
Bizarre Books
In Competition No. 2378 you were invited to supply an extract from a book entitled either How to Fire an Employee or How to Fill Mental Cavities.How not to fire an employee was once demonstrated by my friend H, a timid, kindly American publisher who...
Cash Rich
The best pop video ever made was the one Mark Romanek directed in 2003 for Johnny Cash's swansong - 'Hurt'. It's also definitely the bleakest. The Man in Black was on his last legs when he made it, a doddery, rheumy-eyed 72, and here you see him very...
Club Ties
St MoritzThis is the worst news I've had since Paulus's Sixth Army surrendered in Stalingrad. I was speaking to a very old friend in St Moritz when she suddenly asked me why I live in the Third World. 'But I live in Gstaad,' I stammered. 'Yes, exactly,...
Diary
As the result of a hip operation (arthritis, but I encourage people to think it was made necessary by a riding accident), I won't be able to follow hounds again before the ban comes into force next Friday. I used to hunt as a child but gave up the chase...
Die in Britain, Survive in America
Which is better - American or British medical care? If a defender of the National Health Service wants to win the argument against a free market alternative, he declares, 'You wouldn't want healthcare like they have in America, would you?'That is the...
Finding the Connection
It's often said - if mainly by Londoners - that London is the musical capital of the world. In spite of the city's lack of a state-of-the-art, bang-up-to-the-minute large concert hall with finely engineered acoustics, in spite of the bedraggled state...
Fits and Starts
Fits and starts EPILEPTIC by David B. Cape, £16.99, pp. 361, ISBN 0224075020 £14.99 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848A book with a title like Epileptic does not raise high expectations: will it be an account of suffering nobly borne, or a worthy medical...
Give Us Our Money Back
I have found it: the philosopher's stone of politics, the fiscal elixir of life, the magic formula that has eluded democratic governments for centuries. There really is such a thing as a pain-free spending cut.Over the past month, the two main parties...
Happy with Unhappiness
OperaHappy with unhappinessLa Traviata; TurandotRoyal Opera HouseThis is the time of year when the Royal Opera aims to keep people happy by providing standard fare, usually, it almost goes without saying, about people who are very unhappy indeed. True...
He Knows If You've Been Bad or Good, So Be Good for Eddie's Sake
Bill McDonough once preached to Wall Street from the pulpit of Trinity Church, taking his text from St Matthew and reminding his astonished hearers of their duty to their neighbours. Lord George (Eddie, still, in the City) prefers to take his text from...
Hotel Reservations
We'd had a tiff in the Strand and I'd stormed off. It was late. I didn't have anywhere else to stay the night, and I live in Devon, so I had to storm off halfway across Britain to get home. I caught the last train out of Paddington by the skin of my...
Huddled Masses Yearning to Breathe Free
Huddled masses yearning to breathe free HUMAN CARGO: A JOURNEY AMONG REFUGEES by Caroline Moorehead Chatto, £12.99, pp. 336, ISBN 0701175958 £11.99 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848As asylum looks like being a key election issue, Caroline Moorehead...
Labour's Heavies Make the Sopranos Look like the Vienna Boys' Choir
Watching Labour's 2005 election campaign unfold, I'm afraid words fail me. The great Democrat governor of New York Mario Cuomo once remarked that 'we campaign in poetry but we govern in prose'. And even though I struggle to find the language to do justice...
Leave It to Hollywood
To help us through the many longueurs of the recent Iraqi election process, some members of the Baghdad press corps devised an exciting new competition: seeing who could spot the cheesiest advertisement or trailer on any international rolling news channel....
Lekanthropy
The Hungarian grandmaster Peter Leko has led a curious werewolf-like existence. At certain times he is the heart and soul of utter pacifism, seemingly willing to agree a draw at the drop of a cape. Indeed, in his worthily fought world-title contest against...
Letters
RSPCA isn't 'anti-pets'From Jackie BallardSir: Jeremy Clarke's article ('Animals don't have human rights', 22 January) contains so many inaccuracies that it is virtually a fact-free zone.It is absurd to suggest that the RSPCA has an 'anti-pet agenda'....
Life and Letters
Russian bandit capitalism - sorry, the joys of the free market - is reaching beyond the grave. Latest victim: Fyodor Dostoevsky. The novelist's great-grandson Dmitri has called foul on the lottery company Chestnaya Igra ('Fair Play'), and is suing for...
Make Naivety History
'My friend Kevin says that it's as if we're all living with an elephant standing in our livingrooms - but we just don't see it!!' - Richard Curtis, author of The Vicar of Dibley.So are you blind, or what? The elephant in your living-room to which Richard's...
Neglected Talent
A couple of years ago, the Ken Burns television documentary Jazz was screened by the BBC. While some aficionados welcomed the ten-part series for bringing an underappreciated art form to the attention of a general audience, others were more scathing...
Raging and Ranting
When I was last in the United States, I was pleasantly startled to hear on the radio right-wing talk-show hosts, the scourge of Democrats and those on the drippy Left. Rush Limbaugh led the way. Even G. Gordon Liddy, one of the Watergate conspirators,...
Seductive Power
DanceSeductive powerManonRoyal BalletOn the way home after a fairly good performance of MacMillan's Manon, a friend asked me whether I still had something to say about that ballet, given the number of times I have seen and reviewed it. I replied that...
Spin-Doctor Campbell Proposes a Risky Course of Schemo-Therapy
All of us, whatever our politics, will be sad to hear that the Prime Minister is once again undergoing treatment from his spin doctors. Mr Alastair Campbell, president of the Royal College of Spin (RCOS), has been called back to No. 10. He is carrying...
Squashed!
One of Ian McEwan's familiar set-piece exuberances in his acclaimed new novel Saturday - 'undoubtedly his best': Anita Brookner, The Spectator, 29 January - has neurosurgeon hero Perowne indulging in an intensely competitive game of squash with anaesthetist...
Surrealist Legend
ExhibitionsSurrealist legendLee Miller: PortraitsNational Portrait Gallery, until 30 May Sponsored by Herbert SmithThe ravishing new exhibition of Lee Miller's portrait photographs at the NPG is prefaced by a corridor selection of shots of Miller by...
Table Manners
PLAYING as a guest at the Portland Club the other week, I was struck by how polite and considerate its members are - certainly in comparison with most rubber bridge players. There are no recriminations or raised voices. In fact, there's something anachronistic...
Taking a Break
Tired. I am exhausted. For one reason and another the workload has been intense recently, and the pressures have been unyielding. After a while you wander through the days in a numbed haze, faintly aware of passing deadlines, and thinking only of pillows....
The Benefits of Hindsight
The benefits of hindsight POISONED PEACE, 1945: THE WAR THAT NEVER ENDED by Gregor Dallas John Murray, £25, pp. 739, ISBN 0719554780 £23 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848There are so many ways in which the second world war may be viewed and therefore...
The Painter Properly Portrayed
The painter properly portrayed WALTER SICKERT: A LIFE by Matthew Sturgis HarperCollins, £30, pp. 768, ISBN 0002570831 £26 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848We are continually told that biography is the dominant literary expression of the age, that Britain,...
The Spectator Classics Cup 2005
After the resounding success of last year's Classics Cup, the competition for 2005 has been expanded.1. There will he three Rounds, one each term.2. There will be three Sections per Round. Only one entry, in only one Section, will be allowed per person...
The Spectator's Notes
All journalists, by our nature, tend to favour freedom of information; but it does not necessarily follow that Freedom of Information is a good thing. The behaviour of the political parties since FoI has confirmed the worst fears of civil servants. The...
Time to Rescue BBC English
Last month at the British Library, as part of the admirable series of poetry evenings organised by Josephine Hart, Edward Fox and Dame Eileen Atkins presented a reading of 'Four Quartets'. It is not eccentric to declare Eliot's long poem, composed between...
Tunnel of Love Vision
Tunnel of love vision VILLAGES by John Updike Penguin, £17.99, pp. 321, ISBN 024114308X £15.99 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848Tim Madden, the narrator of Norman Mailer's Tough Guys Don't Dance (1984), offers a perceptive instance of literary criticism...
Why Is the Times So Down on the Tories? and Is It to Do with Katharine Raymond?
Political parties should not sue newspapers: that would certainly be my general view. But one can understand why the Tories should have issued a writ against the Times. It follows two articles in the newspaper last month alleging that its Aussie campaign...
You Are What You Eat
Thailand and Japan have traditionally had some of the lowest cancer rates in the world. Recent reports, however, show that cancer, particularly of the breast and prostate, have increased dramatically in the past 20 years. This is generally blamed on...
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