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. 285, No. 8977, 2000

Amusing When Not Accusing
Amusing when not accusing Frederic Raphael FELLATIO, MASOCHISM, POLITICS AND LOVE by Leo Abse Robson, L16.95, pp. 220 Leo Abse is a smiling Jeremiah who combines the capering shamelessness of a Jewish comedian with the gauche candour of the provincial...
Ancient & Modern
RESEARCH is being done on the effectiveness of anthroposophical medicine, which treats the physical, mental and spiritual dimensions of the body. It claims that the body is made up of earth, air, fire and water, and health depends on a 'balance' between...
A Rage for Respectability
I'M A MAN by Ruth Padel Faber, L12.99, pp. 409 Hard though it may be to believe, some people take pop music a bit too seriously. Musicians we can perhaps forgive, although they usually compound the sin by taking their own music far more seriously than...
Banned Wagon
AS demonstrated by the emasculated Rio carnival that was the Millennium Dome's opening ceremony, multiculturalism is one of the government's favourite battle-cries. But just how deep does its commitment to other cultures go? About as deep, it turns out,...
Boys Will Be Girls
THE GIRLS OF RADCLIFF HALL by Lord Berners Montcalm, The Cygnet Press, L25, pp. 100 Here we have a rare spoof, first `printed for the author for private circulation' 65 years ago. It has waited a long time to be reviewed. Now re-issued in an edition...
Brave New Worlds
Land of the Free, Home of the Brave (Crane Kalman, 178 Brompton Road, London, SW3, till 16 September) The Crane Kalman Gallery is gaining something of a reputation for mounting high-quality summer exhibitions at a time when most other galleries are closed...
Charm Is Not Enough
'Charm', pronounces Anthony Blanche in Brideshead Revisited, `is the great English blight . . . It spots and kills anything it touches. It kills love, it kills art.' By all accounts (particularly this chatty, highly subjective biography), Sir Hugh Casson,...
Competitive Instincts
Racing journalism may not be as tough as rock journalism, once defined by Frank Zappa as people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk on behalf of people who can't read, but it still has its problems. Some trainers find it easier communicating...
Crime and Complicity
I listen to many radio documentaries; they tend, on the whole, to be better than those on television, where pictures are needed to accompany facts. No pictures, no facts. Interviews are necessary with radio where the facts can be stated without adornment....
Dashing and Coquettish
Since the death of George Balanchine in 1983 the state of health of his brainchild, the New York City Ballet, has been a constant cause for concern. Inevitably, the handling of Balanchine's choreographic heritage and the artistic policies adopted by...
Dear Mary
Q. I am enjoying my retirement by doing voluntary work serving behind the counter in a busy little well-run charity shop. My enjoyment has, however, been somewhat marred of late by the strange behaviour of a female colleague. She is a grabber and a stroker....
Diary
Perhaps it's the lateness of the hour but on Saturday night, driving from Heathrow to the Hampshire coast, I'm consumed with melancholy. The endless stream of traffic on the spaghetti-like tangle of motorways brings forth nightmarish visions of the future:...
Do They Know What Is Is?
EVERY night, at eight sharp, we sit down at our stripped-pine table, devour a plate of seared tuna, and give praise to Cherie Blair and the Human Rights Act. Then we plan our next holiday in a villa outside San Gimigniano, breaking only for a brief chat...
Final Countdown
Singular life Final countdown Petronella Wyatt Everyone was talking about the great white shark. How it had swum into the Mediterranean just north of Rome no one could fathom (good pun, that). Perhaps it had made its way through the Suez Canal. What...
Fresh from the Fringe
Renata Rubnikowicz looks at the best and most innovative acts In a city bursting this month with 1,350 shows in the Fringe alone, performers are becoming ever more inventive at finding venues. With its exceptionally good match of play to place, Douglas...
Georges, Paris
ONE of the strangest sights I have seen was the 1998 World Cup opening ceremony in Paris. Spread over two days, it involved sixstorey robots marching through the city's streets surrounded by regiments of foilwrapped aliens, giant bugs trampolining all...
Good and Faithful Servant
Good and faithful servant Parviz Radji THE PERSIAN SPHINX: AMIR ABBAS HOVEYDA AND THE RIDDLE OF THE IRANIAN REVOLUTION by Abbas Milani I. B. Tauris, L19.95, pp. 346 For part of the time Amir Abbas Hoveyda, the longest-serving prime minister of Iran,...
If You Want to Reunite the Two Cultures, Teach Drawing
The controversy about artists and the painting of clouds rather misses the point. All good artists observe clouds closely and draw them accurately when they choose. The meteorologist who condemned Rubens ignored the fact that the great man, one of the...
In the Front Line of Cooking
In the front line of cooking Hugh O'Neill KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL by Anthony Bourdain Bloomsbury L16.99, pp. 307 Once when visiting the cavernous kitchens of the Waldorf Astoria in New York I saw a sous-chef without an ear the result of a scuffle with a...
Jumbos on the Jumbo
Jumbos on the jumbo Anthony Blond MALARIA by Susan Hillmore Cape, L10, pp. 134 Malaria is a jewelled horror of a book, whose cover, a putrescent peony on a shiny black ground, indicates the gloom within, an apocalyptic vision of what might happen to...
Letters
Laura and the BBC From Baroness James of Holland Park Sir: I would be grateful if I might correct an inaccuracy in Mr Boris Johnson's interview with me (`The problem of pain', 19 August), which may have arisen through an indistinct tape or through a...
Loud and Lusty
Opera Cavalleria Rusticana (English Touring Opera) Salvator Rosa (Dorset Opera) Loud and lusty Michael Tanner At this time of year opera, at any rate in cities, tends to be given either as part of a festival, or as part of an annual course, or the collaboration...
Mind Your Language
I WAS trying to explain to my husband how the regular interlocking border, which I had always known as the Greek key-pattern, is sometimes arranged to form swastikas. `But the Greeks didn't call 'em swastikas. What's the English for them?' he asked in...
No Hope in Soap
I love Big Brother. The best thing about it isn't the programme itself - though that's compelling enough - but the various parlour games it's given rise to. For instance, earlier this week after a very enjoyable weekend in the country, my girlfriend,...
Peak Practice
The batting collapse is the mark of the desperate cricket team: all who watch England know this of old. What is worse, it becomes a habit. There is a good, solid team ethic behind a collapse; a kind of safety in shared and total failure. England's bowling...
Portrait of the Week
Soldiers were brought back on to the streets of Belfast as members of the illegal terrorist groups the Ulster Volunteer Force and the Ulster Defence Association fought; two men, one a UDA member, were shot dead in a car outside a bookmakers, and rival...
Power and Glory
Rougemont Talk about underestimating the public's taste. We were expecting about 75 people to join us for dinner and hear Lady Thatcher's speech, and we ended up with more than 250 and had to shut the doors to keep people out. While the scrum was going...
Pride and Prejudice in Edinburgh
It is a city of contrasts, in height and in character - both `Auld Reekie' and `The Modern Athens' - although perhaps the best description of Edinburgh is that given by that artist of the sublime, James Pryde, when he called it `the most romantic city...
Purple Power
THE Rt Revd and Rt Hon. the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, is a man of daunting certainty. It is as if `perhaps' and `maybe' were not in his vocabulary. He speaks in fully formed paragraphs, studded with word-perfect quotations from poets, philosophers...
Rumour Machines
Back when I used to spend more time swarming about London, one of the pleasures of metropolitan life was floating a rumour - anything would do: for example, Boris Johnson and Bruce Anderson are having a torrid affair - and then seeing how long it took...
Secret Means Secret
It would be surprising indeed if the allegations of bungling and incompetence that Mr Shayler made against his former employers, M15, were not justified in the sense of being accurate: for bungling and incompetence are the very essence of the modern...
Seeing and Believing
Seeing and believing Mary Keen THE ARTIST AND THE GARDEN by Roy Strong Yale, L29.95, pp. 288 Garden history comes of age this year. In 1979 Roy Strong and John Harris curated `The Garden', an exhibition at the V & A. In the same year, John Harris's...
Seeing the Light
For members of the Northern Lighthouse Board, the Edinburgh Festival offers nothing like the drama on the Orkney island of Eday in which they find themselves cast in the role of villain. The small population of this wild and remote place are in open...
Shostakovich Horrors
The frenzy of performances marking the 25th anniversary of Shostakovich's death reminds me how awkward it is to be in a minority. The dissident doesn't want to be perverse. He wants to enjoy the comfort of shared convictions rather than the vulnerability...
Stars in Their Eyes
Pal Joey (Minerva, Chichester) Charlie Sexboots (Man in the Moon, Chelsea) At a time when most traditional West End managers seem to be abandoning their usual stamping-ground to lurk around the mean streets off Sunset Boulevard like elderly pimps, trying...
Surreal Showman
In 1938 in London there took place one of the most intriguing encounters of the century - so piquant, in fact, that it is surprising that nobody has written a play about it. After repeated attempts, Salvador Dali finally met Sigmund Freud. So excited...
Thanks, Little Brother
Apart from a terrible falling-out with some friends of mine which I can't tell you about because it's too awful, my life has been bizarrely free of suicidal despair and self-hatred of late. Perhaps this is because I've just spent two weeks on holiday;...
The Anatomy of Abuse
EROTIC INNOCENCE by James R. Kincaid Duke University Press, L16.95, pp. 368 When I was a boy 40-odd years ago, grown-up journalists exercised their grownup imaginations with reports of children being `interfered with'. They never explained what the interference...
The Heroes of September
IF you live anywhere near London, try to take a walk across one of the great bridges around 7 September. Late afternoon would be a good time. Look east, half-- close your eyes and imagine how it was 60 years ago. Or maybe, if you're over 70, remember....
The New Apartheid
WHEN Thabo Mbeki opened South Africa's parliament earlier this year, there was no doubting his theme. Reading out a private email (which his intelligence service had apparently intercepted) sent by a white engineering executive, Mbeki dwelt at length...
The Peace Process Is Still the Best Deal in Town, but It Is Not Safe with New Labour
The Ulster Protestant paramilitaries labour under a number of related disadvantages. To the extent that they could claim to be defending the rights of a democratic majority, their case is less ignoble than the IRA's. But except in the immediate aftermath...
The Pen Was Mightier Than the Brush
THE IMMORTAL DINNER by Penelope Hughes-Hallett Viking 14.99, pp. 352 Sometimes the world, seems to play a dreadful, cruel joke on one of its denizens. It is difficult to see the Regency painter Benjamin Haydon as anything but the victim of a particularly...
Tories: Don't Be Slaves to the Free Market
AS Pope Pius XI once remarked, capitalism and communism are united in their satanic optimism. For a Tory like myself, it is profoundly dispiriting to find the British Conservative party gripped by the same disease. The Tory tradition has been supplanted...
Waste of Time
ALONG with the Guardian, the bottle bank is one of the great symbols of English middle-class guilt. You have only to stand in a supermarket carpark on a Saturday morning to see mothers, fathers and their kids carefully dropping the hardware of last week's...
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