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 June 2006

A Dinosaur on the Rampage
A L AND FIT FOR CRIMINALS : AN INSIDER 'SVIEW OF CRIME , PUNISHMENT AND JUSTICE IN THE UK by David Fraser Book Guild, £17.99, pp. 458, ISBN 1857769643 . £14.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 Last year in these columns, I felt honoured to be asked...
A Long Losing Run
THE LAST MAZURKA : A TALE OF WAR, P ASSION AND LOSS by Andrew Tarnowski Aurum, £14.99, pp. 348, ISBN 1845131398 . £11.99 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 This is indeed a story of war, passion and loss. But those looking for a bittersweet tale of...
American Blunders
From my open window in Cadogan Gardens I can hear a woman's lovely voice singing something from Mozart's Requiem; at least I think it's Mozart's oeuvre. One can never go wrong with Wolfie at a hot and brilliant sunny day's end, especially when the rest...
A Professional Comedian?s Desolate Vision of Hell
Since homosexuals were 'liberated' in 1967, formed a lobby (some would say the most powerful in the country) and became publicly aggressive and demanding, they have forfeited our sympathy. But it is well to remember the sadness of their lives. Tom Stoppard...
A Puzzle Still Unsolved
HOW HITLER CAME TO POWER by Sara Moore Authorhouse, 1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, Indiana 47403, £14.95, pp. 310, ISBN 142088557X, www. howhitlercametopower. com, email: sarafmoore@btinternet. com Sara Moore would explain a rise to power as astonishing...
Blair Is Right about Prison Sentences. but the Culprit Is the Man He Sees in the Mirror
Perhaps the most bizarre spectacle in the dying days of Tony Blair's time in No. 10 Downing Street has been the way in which he has joined protests and campaigns as if, somehow, he were not running the country. Last month, he signed a petition effectively...
Bonfire Diplomacy
The authorities - my mother, her sister, and my mother's cousin; combined age 230; one deaf, one inarticulate, one amnesiac; all three beset by small irrational fears, archaic prejudices and guilt - had set forth and gone shopping for the day. I had...
Coming out of the Cold
THE WOMAN WHO WAITED by Andrei Makine Sceptre, £12.99, pp. 182, ISBN 0340837365 . £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 At the beginning of Andrei Makine's new novel we meet a young narrator in possession of some fairly bleak certainties. On the...
Community Spirit
Henrietta Bredin visits Civitella Ranieri and finds a magical retreat for artists Civitella Ranieri is a massive, fortified, 15th-century castle, brooding over the surrounding countryside from a high spit of land in the folding, rolling Umbrian hills...
Courtly Celebration
Royal Ballet Triple Bill Royal Opera House Homage to the Queen is one of two ballets that Frederick Ashton conceived with a special occasion in mind - the other being Birthday Offering. Created in 1953, Homage was a choreographic celebration of the...
Diary
I feel something of a gooseberry as Mikhail Gorbachev and Margaret Thatcher sit snugly side by side on a sofa in the upstairs room of The Ivy. They are sort of flirting, bonding over old times and cold climes as the magic of their relationship is quickly...
Diary of a Notting Hill Nobody
MONDAY Hot: where's the glacier when you need it? Am sick of trawling internet for violent lyrics Dave can use for campaign against rap: just because someone called 'Lethal Bizzle' said he was a 'donut' - I don't even understand why this is an insult....
Free for Now
If, as I was told the other day, much of the frozen chicken and duck meat brought into this country comes from the Far East, it may be that some of us have already been exposed to the risk of contracting avian flu. But I don't suppose that this will...
From Guantanamo to Forest Gate
The purpose of terrorism is not only to cause bloodshed, but also to spray psychological shrapnel across the societies it attacks and seeks to subvert. After the initial horror - 9/11, Madrid, 7 July - the strategic objective is to force democracies,...
Fully Booked
Simon Heffer on why he's never lost for words Educational psychologists say that if a boy sees his father reading books, he will want to have and read books too. Perhaps that is my problem. My father was always reading. His library was packed with the...
Heart and Muscle
Icouldn't quite work out on my first visit to Bath races on Sunday why one entrance was headed: 'Bookmakers and OAPs'. Senior citizens might need a bit of special attention. But why the Old Enemy? The feeling intensified after the preliminaries: a pantomime...
Hedge Funds Are Not for Novices
These days, hedge funds are what every investor wants to own and where every alpha male (and some alpha females) now want to work. In the City, the hedge fund industry is fast replacing investment banking and commercial law as the surest perceived path...
Imagine If All Our Laws Were Written in Plain English
Rod Liddle applauds Harriet Harman's campaign against 'lawyer-speak' - but wonders whether New Labour can afford to be candid about the meaning of most of its legislation Harriet Harman has got herself back in the news by doing something rather good....
In Praise of the Patriotic Playwright
Ronald Harwood, the Oscar-winning writer of The Pianist and The Dresser, tells Tim Walker that he is delighted to be in demand - but never wants to be 'fashionable' I first came face to face with Ronald Harwood three years ago as we were waiting for...
Keeping the Balance
In a volume of his posthumously published notebooks (Garder Tout en Composant Tout), Henry de Montherlant remarks: 'Je ne sais pourquoi nous faisons des descriptions, puisque le lecteur ne les lit jamais.' Well said, but not quite true; there are readers...
Language of the Heart
Constable: The Great Landscapes Tate Britain, until 28 August (sponsored by AIG) John Constable (1776-1837) is the quintessential painter of rural England. If we carry in our hearts an image of unspoilt countryside it will, more often than not, bear...
Medicine and Letters
My copy of Schopenhauer's essays was owned before me also by a doctor, J. Raymond Hinshaw, MD. Hinshaw, a former Rhodes Scholar, was professor of surgery at Rochester, New York, and an expert in the use of lasers in surgery upon which subject he wrote...
Murder Round the Cathedral
THE RISK OF DARKNESS by Susan Hill Chatto, £12.99, pp. 374, ISBN 0701176822 . £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 The body count is impressive in Susan Hill's new crime novel; so, too, is the roster of crimes and causes of death. Detective Chief...
Nailing the Zeitgeist
JPOD by Douglas Coupland Bloomsbury, £12.99, pp. 448, ISBN 074758222X . £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 When Microserfs was published in 1995, it sealed Douglas Coupland's reputation as a nonpareil, the foremost recorder of American popular...
Pagan Rites
Ashford-in-the-Water has beaten us to it. Their well-dressing service was last Sunday. Ours is still weeks away. Most of us are far too genteel to let our annoyance show. And few of my neighbours would openly admit that there is rivalry - even less...
Popular Appeal
Last time it was cows, this time it's sheep. I'm not talking about an agricultural show, but about the London Architecture Biennale, which begins today when Lord Foster will be herding sheep across the Millennium Bridge towards Smithfield Market. In...
Russian Shenanigans
Fedora Opera Holland Park Mazepa WNO, Birmingham Hippodrome Opera Holland Park is suddenly fashionable, even people who have never been near it writing about how wonderful they hear it is and vowing to go, while as usual those of us who have been saying...
Sales Hype
Where Are We Going? Palazzo Grassi, Venice, until 1 October An ancient Roman sceptic wondered how, when two augurs passed in the street and caught one another's eye, they managed not to burst out laughing. A Damien Hirst bisected lamb suspended in a...
Smoke Signals
Thank You for Smoking 15, nationwide T hank You for Smoking is a satirical comedy about the culture of spin, adapted from Christopher Buckley's 1994 novel of the same name. Its hero is the wolfish Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart), chief lobbyist employed...
Star Quality
In the last of the present series of Great Lives on Radio Four last week (Tuesday) the career of the late Sir Robin Day was reviewed. Day died in 2000 when he was 76, and interestingly he was nominated for 'Great Life' status by someone more than half...
Summer of Love
Summer reads: doesn't the very phrase conjure up unfortunate images of lobster sunburn? But what to do, when a long summer stretches ahead and there are still hours in the day to kill after you've finished watching the footie, or the live feed of Big...
Surfing Lunch
Philip Marsden explains why Cornwall is on his wavelength The north Cornish village of Watergate Bay, a few scattered cafes and guest houses in a steep treeless valley, is not a pretty sight. The beach is obscured by a line of roofs. The main feature...
The Art and Craft of Government
GOOD AND BAD POWER by Geoff Mulgan Penguin/Allen Lane, £20, pp. 373, ISBN 9780713998825 Any book about the exercise of power that carries a ringing endorsement by Peter Hennessy on its dust-cover promises well. Perhaps, therefore, it is the fault of...
The Ghosts of the Spanish Civil War Awaken
Dan Hannan says that Zapatero's divisive government is reviving memories of a conflict that most Spaniards would much rather forget Madrid Spain is inhabiting a counterfactual. The last election result wasn't meant to happen. Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero,...
The History Boys
Last Saturday afternoon in Frankfurt's tent-like Waldstadion, British football writing's dumpling eminence Malcolm Brodie, 80 next birthday, laid out his pad and his pencils at his pressbox desk. 'What's new?' he could have been excused for muttering...
The Hooray Who Became a Middle-Class Style Guru
A black-helmeted cyclist half-circles in the middle of the road and wobbles to a halt to greet me in front of the Boden headquarters in North Acton. Johnnie Boden, eponymous founder and chairman of the mail-order-clothes-for-middle-class-families business,...
The Match between Brown and Cameron Will Go to Penalties
Irwin Stelzer says that the sharp policy distinctions of the past are no more, but that the choice ahead of the voters is still one to relish. This is his audit of the scores so far Politics is about choices. It is not about wishes, for wishing won't...
The Neutral Prop
Susan Boyd claims that the best accessory of all can't be bought From the back her clothes suggest that she could be a young woman aged between 19 and 24 - she most certainly isn't. From the back his clothes suggest he could only be a soberly dressed...
The Rake's Progress
Richard Northedge profiles PartyGaming, the online casino, a year after its controversial flotation Happy birthday, PartyGaming. Or possibly not. A year ago, the City was divided over whether this online poker and casino group's stock would soar or...
The Spectator's Notes
Major Bruce Shand, father of the Duchess of Cornwall, who died at the weekend, was a man of great charm. He had a very attractive combination of enough confidence to put you at your ease and enough diffidence not to seem arrogant. In old age he had...
The Wait Is Over: It Is Time to Return to the Subject of Llamas
Emily is ten months old. She is beautiful, and full of the joys of summer. She has the wide eyes of the young, long eyelashes, a shy but inquisitive nature, and a frisky little tail. Emily is my latest llama. It is the habit of us columnists to tell...
Time for a Naked Protest against Global Cant and in Support of Jeremy Clarkson
I was all set to join some of my more liberated neighbours on York's Naked Bike Ride last Friday, until I discovered that it was yet another protest against 'global oil dependency'. The debate about climate change, carbon emissions and who is doing...
Trophy Tales
The World Cup, and once again people who don't watch football from one quadrennium to the next manifest an interest in all those surreal pairings: Ecuador v. Poland, Iran v. Mexico, Togo v. Switzerland. I (and many others) have been disobliging about...
Will We Betray Georgia as We Betrayed Hungary?
Susan Richards says that the Russian ban on Georgian wine is a whisper of the tensions that could turn into a roar - a Great Game for the 21st century The drink of choice for Russia's thriving new middle class is Georgian wine. They love to celebrate...
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