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. 287, No. 9033, 2001

A Bad Week for Freedom, and I Fear More Casualties Still to Come
CITY AND SUBURBAN I would not care to live through such a week in the markets again, but others were denied the choice. The casualty lists from the World Trade Center are still coming in and a whole generation will be scarred by grief and loss. The survivors...
A Fruitful Sisterhood but without Procreation
MOMENTS OF TRUTH by Lorna Sage Fourth Estate, L15, pp .252, ISBN 1841156353 I have always approached literary studies that set women apart from men with a sinking heart. What is the point, in this supposedly democratic terrain, of treating the sexes...
Ancient & Modern
INTERNATIONAL suicide terrorism was impossible in the ancient world (except for Samson?): the weapons and ideology did not exist. Its nearest equivalent in results was the revenge wreaked by victorious armies on local populations. In 427 Bc, Mytilene...
A Struggle Not a War
The United States has the right and the duty to punish - no, to eliminate entirely from the face of the earth - the perpetrators and material abetters of the attacks on New York and Washington. Only if it does so, indeed, can some semblance of security...
Banned Wagon
THE campaign to force the Welsh language upon the five out of six Welsh people who do not speak it goes on apace. The DVLA and the Driving Standards Agency have both announced that in future they wish to conduct their activities equally in Welsh and...
Belief in Paradise Is a Recipe for Hell on Earth
ANOTHER VOICE To anyone but the believer, does it matter whether there is an after-life? Is it anybody's business but the believer's? Are we intruding - is it rude? - when we who have no faith question the religious beliefs of those who do? It so happened...
Blood and Fundamentalism
Islamabad THE word 'historic' has been devalued by the prattlings of news correspondents like myself, but the appalling carnage at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon may indeed be a pivotal moment. Viewed from here, it seems that America's legions...
Britain First
DEAR lain, You could hardly have chosen a more troubled time to be elected leader of the Conservative party. Britain's internal politics are overshadowed by the scale of the terrorist assault on Western democracy and international commerce. People tend...
Bunker America
IN Anne Tyler's book The Accidental Tourist, the hero writes travel books with whose help the reader can feel that wherever he is in the world, he is still snugly at home in Hydrantville, USA. With such a book, you can always find a hotel with the right...
Buy Cheaper, Later
CITY AND SUBURBAN DEPRESSED? Cheer yourself up with a glass of Chateau Petrus. You can buy last year's vintage and get L2 change out of L10,000 a dozen. Your shares may be wilting but other assets seem to be immune - so far, that is. Clarets en primeur...
Damping Down the Haystack
THE moral imperative has rarely been clearer; the difficulty of responding to it has never been more daunting. The campaign against Osama bin Laden will be one in which the defenders start with huge advantages. We have to assume that bin Laden will shortly...
Death in the Khyber
TAKE this, if you will, as a fable. It is a true story, however. At this moment, a fable may be of most interest and value. I feel full of foreboding at a course of events that may now prove unstoppable. Listening to the rhetoric of politicians, certain...
Diary
We had wondered whether to cancel the press call which was set to start at exactly 11 a.m. on Friday 14 September. Compassion in World Farming had booked the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster. Professor Fred Brown, world expert on footand-mouth disease,...
Does Tony Dream of Electric Sheep?
EVEN after the American nightmare perhaps especially - Hollywood still dreams. This month's essential movie is Steven Spielberg's AL Artificial Intelligence, and it bears all its director's trademark obsessions: the magic of childhood, the treachery...
Emotional Correctness
AGAINST the events of 11 September, my train horror outside Cambridge station seems a pitiful matter, yet it is revealing in what it says about the public mood. As the train ground to a halt, it was announced that, in common with many other public places...
Epic Curiosity
Theatre Platonov (Almeida) Putting It Together (Minerva, Chichester) Platonov has always been the impossible Chekhov. A seven-hour, untitled manuscript which was found in a bank vault some 16 years after the good doctor's death almost exactly a century...
Fascinating Familiarity
Opera Leonore (Welsh National Opera) Opportunities to see Beethoven's Leonore, as the first version of his opera is traditionally called, in the theatre are rare, so the chance should be eagerly seized to visit Welsh National Opera's excellent new production....
Gift for Understatement
Exhibitions Masaccio: The Pisa Altarpiece (National Gallery, till 11 November) For an artist of few works, Masaccio played a crucial part in the history of art. Vasari hailed him as the heir to Giotto and precursor of Michelangelo, a titan ranking with...
Grease and Fever
TAKING STOCK: CONFESSIONS OF A CITY PRIEST by Victor Stock HarperCollins, L15.99, pp. 368, ISBN 0002740699 Father Victor Stock is the colourful, dazzlingly witty, multi-talented Rector of St Mary-le-Bow in the City of London. He is much in demand not...
Ground Zero and the Saudi Connection
Washington THE first thing to do when trying to understand 'Islamic suicide bombers' is to forget the cliches about the Muslim taste for martyrdom. It does exist, of course, but the desire for paradise is not a safe guide to what motivated the appalling...
Ideal English Taste
Ideal English taste John Martin Robinson EDWIN LUTYENS: COUNTRY HOUSES by Gavin Stamp Aurum, L35, pp. 192, ISBN 1854107631 For over a 100 years Country Life has published weekly articles on English buildings, especially country houses, and in the process...
Inflicting Real Pain
It was like something out of a movie.' Not everyone said that, but enough people did, watching on television or from the streets of Lower Manhattan. At times it was even shot like a movie, the low crouch of an enterprising videographer capturing the...
In Pursuit of the Full Monty
THE ASHDOWN DIARIES, VOLUME II, 1997-1999 by Paddy Ashdown Penguin, L20, pp. 592, ISBN 0713995114 Best not to start this book unless you're fighting fit. In over 500 pages, Paddy Ashdown describes his relationship with Tony Blair from the general election...
Intense Emotions
Television At times like this the newspapers beat a constant funeral march, instructing us to go about our business to the background of muffled drums. They're right, of course; they have to reflect the horror and near despair of what has happened and...
Is Mummy out of Date?
MIXED FEELINGS: THE COMPLEX LIVES OF MIXED-RACE BRITONS by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown The Women's Press, L11.99, pp. 204, ISBN 0704347067 Yasmin Alibhai-Brown dismisses as `extraordinarily naive or presumptuous' the blanket use of the word 'black' for all...
Justice Not Bombs
IT is by now a commonplace that Clare Short is the exact opposite of the left-wing harridan sometimes depicted in the tabloid press. As we settle into the chairs in her office in the Department of International Development, I have the chance, once again,...
Letters
The war against terrorism From Sir Michael Howard Sir: Historical analogies are almost always misleading; but with so many people referring to 1939 and 1941, may I gently remind your readers of what happened in 1914? Then a terrorist outrage - the assassination...
Living with Luck
Low life Let's 'ave a look at yer 'and then, dearie,' said Gypsy Lee. I offered her my left, which she accepted with both hands. She caressed my palm lightly with her thumb, as if it were a thing of beauty. I was glad to sit down. We'd been walking round...
Mother Superior Jumps the Gun
OPEN SECRET by Stella Rimington Hutchinson, L18.99, pp. 296, ISBN 0091793602 The Mother Superior has said she is willing to have sex. Prior to getting into bed she consults a number of senior members of her church about what she can and can't do. Naturally...
Paradigms and Paradoxes
DOUBTS AND LOVES by Richard Holloway Canongate, L16.99, pp. 360, ISBN 184195179X At the Lambeth Conference of 1988, a majority of the Anglican bishops not only voted against the ordination of women priests, but worse, a group of fundamentalist Christians...
Patrick Cosgrave
Patrick Cosgrave, who died this week at the age of 59, was political editor of The Spectator from 1971 to 1975, and a key figure in the rise of Margaret Thatcher. Below we print an extract from one of his most vitriolic pieces, 'Exit the Squatter', which...
Pocket Sensation
The turf Joining jockey Paul Doe for breakfast at Clear Height Stables in Epsom, I had imagined he might, like most riders I know, toy with a slice of dry toast and sip a black coffee. Not a bit of it. Paul matched me mouthful by mouthful through the...
Range but No Passion
STRANGER SHORES: ESSAYS 1986-1999 by J. M. Coetzee Secker, L17. 99, pp. 374, ISBN 0436 233916 The daisy chain of readers reading readers threatens to become infinite. Reading J. M. Coetzee's reading of William Gass's reading of several translators' reading...
Short Shrift
Radio It was television's moment, really, the dreadful, unprecedented pictures of passenger jets crashing into the World Trade Center in New York. The radio would have to come later, calmly marshalling as many facts as possible and trying to make sense...
Thank God for the Guardian and the Observer: At Least They Are Getting a Debate Going
MEDIA STUDIES There is no political debate about what happened in New York and Washington. Tony Blair and lain Duncan Smith have virtually closed that down by saying that we are all Americans now. Last Friday's reconvening of the Commons was a pretty...
The Chaos Theory
Rougemont very long ago, the age of the Gods was challenged by the rise of individual men. Kings and heroes came onto the scene and one of them, Alexander the Great, even believed himself divine (only towards the end). Kings created oligarchies in which...
The Haig of WWII?
BOMBER HARRIS: HIS LIFE AND TIMES by Henry Probert Greenhill, L25, pp. 432, ISBN 1853674737 In Turville churchyard next to where I live stands a headstone to a Sergeant-Pilot P. H. Hazell. Last month, the 60th anniversary of his death in action, aged...
The Knave of Hearts
The knave of hearts Harriet Waugh ADAM AND EVE AND PINCH ME by Ruth Rendell Hutchinson, L16.99, pp. 400, ISBN 0091 79434X Adam and Eve and Pinch Me went down to the river to bathe. Adam and Eve were drowned. Who do you think was saved?' Jerry Leach,...
The Lying Game
Singular life The other day a man in a bookshop asked me if I had read a certain paperback thriller that he had picked up from the shelf. And if so was it any good? 'Oh, yes,' I gushed, 'absolutely; it's brilliant.' Then I wondered why I had said that....
The New and the True
The first impression you receive on walking into the stunning Frank Auerbach retrospective at the Royal Academy (until 12 December) is that here are marvellous paintings. The second is that in many cases they are hard to 'read' - meaning that it is not...
The Tristesse of Trieste
TRIESTE AND THE MEANING OF NOWHERE by Jan Morris Faber, L16.99, pp. 196, ISBN 0571204430 Trieste, as Jan Morris readily admits at the beginning of her 44th book, is 'not one of your iconic cities, instantly visible in the memory or the imagination'....
Verdi Winner
Dance Birmingham Royal Ballet (Sadler's Wells) Although Giuseppe Verdi's ballet music might not be every musicologist's desert-island choice, there are many in the dance profession who found and still find it highly inspiring. And there is little doubt...
Very Well, Then, Alone
New Hampshire THE best quote of the war so far came from George W. Bush's meeting with the four senators from New York and Virginia (the two states that came under attack). 'When I take action,' said the President, 'I'm not gonna fire a $2 million missile...
What the West Must Understand
IN the bookshop of the East London Mosque in Whitechapel Road, I recently came across a slim volume called Muslim Nursery Rhymes, in which traditional English songs are rewritten in order to convey Islamic sentiments to children. For example: Rock a...
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