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. 8988, 2000

Al Gore Fought a Good Campaign but George Bush Deserved to Win
If you spend $3 billion on electioneering, you are entitled to some entertainment but what a performance. It was the Presidential race in which all the cliches came true. `Too close to call'; `Down to the wire'. It was far more exciting than that. No...
All's Well That Ends Well
THE CLOUD OF DUST by Charlie Boxer Cape, L10, pp. 153 This, Charlie Boxer's first book, is a refreshingly old-fashioned and unfashionable novella about love. Both in style the author's fondness for the exclamation for example - and sentiment, it looks...
Ancient & Modern
LAST week the 'Platos' - annual prizes for the country's best teachers were awarded. Plato (429-347 BC) would have deeply disapproved. The point is that the 'Plato' judges showed virtually no interest in what was being taught. They were interested only...
As Safe as the Banks of England
THE DEATH OF GENTLEMANLY CAPITALISM by Philip Augar Penguin, 220, pp. 1139 Philip Augar's title is misleading. In his account of developments in the City over the past 20 years he naturally deals with the rise of the Porsche-owning yob and the disappearance...
A Ticklish Subject
LAUGHTER: A SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATION by Robert R. Provine Faber, L12.99, pp. 258 The smile broadens, the mouth opens and strange sounds come out, more primitive than language. They can be arranged in a crescendo of onomatopoeia - huh huh, tee-hee, titter,...
Bad Weather? Nothing to the Time When England Was the Land of Fogs
People grumble about the wind and the wet but forget that, until quite recently, the English in general, and Londoners especially, were cursed by that far more dangerous and common scourge, fog. November was the favourite month for what Dickens called...
Banned Wagon
IN the language of modern government there are few words as menacing as 'care'. It is invariably a euphemism for something which results in exactly the opposite. Just as the Care in the Community Act ended with thousands of mentally ill patients being...
By George, He Did It!
WHAT a night. The low point came at 10 p.m., when I was pushing my way through a crowded bar in Manchester, New Hampshire, and passed a TV set tuned to CBS. I'd been keeping my spirits up with a group of Republicans who'd been devising various strategies...
Capital Myths
Country life We had a rector blessing the hounds at the opening meet last week. He said a prayer he'd got from a priest from Tipperary. It asked God that the enjoyment of the hunt `be for our good and your glory'. Then he showered the pack, the horses...
Careless Talk
Cinema Bedazzled (12, selected cinemas) Another crass, obvious, expensive, effects-driven, determinedly routine opening sequence gets under way, and suddenly you're brought up short by the credits: `Story By Peter Cook & Dudley Moore'. Huh? What...
Caught Out
THERE are two questions that come to mind when considering the ever-widening ripples of the cricket bribery scandal. The first is: where is it all going to end? And the second is: when is it all going to start? Another rogues' gallery of suspects has...
Ceaseless Activity
The first obstacle to enjoying Leoncavallo's La boheme is naturally the unignorable presence of Puccini's sentimental masterpiece. The second is the miserable quality of most of the opera itself, which little in the new production at the Coliseum disguises....
Commando Leader in Politics
THE ASHDOWN DIARIES, VOLUME I, 1988-1997 by Paddy Ashdown Allen Lane, L20, pp. 638 Naive, they call him. Well, if Sir Paddy Ashdown is naive, naivety is clearly no obstacle to extraordinary political achievement. Consider what he has done. By 1976 he...
Dear Mary
YOUR PROBLEMS SOLVED Q. A friend of mine gets flu every year at about this time, yet persistently refuses to have a flu jab, saying he is too busy to go to the doctor. Since the flu usually results in his missing about two weeks' worth of work and feeling...
Definitely Not a Fool
THE RISE AND FALL OF NAPOLEON BONAPARTE VOLUME I: THE RISE by Robert Asprey Little, Brown and Co, L25, pp. 580 Naoleon Bonaparte has too often been the victim of biographical and historical exuberance. He has too often been treated either as a demigod...
Diary
Thatched cottages stand up pretty well to the exigencies of global warming, even after 300 years. Mine was built (as most were) long, low and narrow, and at a proper distance from the nearest flood-plain or water-meadow. It faces east, so its back is...
Disregard for Convention
If the bookies' favourite, the Walsall New Art Gallery, had won the RIBA Stirling Prize for Architecture last Saturday night, I would have had difficulty following up the article I wrote on it last year. As it was, a Cri outsider came in as the winner...
Driven to Distraction
When I see the queues at petrol stations, those poor automatons, prisoners of the car, hunched over in miserable servitude to the god fuel, I laugh inwardly. No, I laugh outwardly. I throw my head back and roar. Not from some vicious kind of schadenfreude,...
Easy Mixers
THE first time I saw a cocktail was in a grainy version of the film The Thin Man with the fiber-urbane William Powell. Powell, as private detective Nick Charles, was standing at a slippery-shiny chrome bar and telling the man behind it how to mix drinks....
England's Gifts to Jew Hatred
THERE is never an inappropriate time to reflect on anti-Semitism; but crises in the Middle East invariably provoke, among Jews, anxieties about the balance of media coverage. Given some of the reporting, this is entirely understandable. Time and again,...
Fens of Iniquity
SOON it will be winter, and the iron will enter the ground. Out on the Fens the wind is already a fist, a howling barbarian in from the sea to smash faces and sweep the beasts from the frozen land. Machines conspired at this wilderness: a cruel and forbidding...
France Say Non
`IT is a grave responsibility,' said President de Gaulle, `to realise that for the people of the entire world one incarnates la France.' But so far from feeling the gravity of this burden, those who incarnate France today seem to be having rather a good...
Insight into Ibsen
Theatre A Doll's House (New Ambassadors) Light (Almeida) The Tempest (Barbican Pit) Ibsen doesn't come much more powerful than this: A Doll's House was, back in the 1880s, the play that dragged the European theatre into a new and feminist world, as Nora...
Just Say Whoa
CHRISTMAS and drinking are bound together in a pre-Christian sort of way, an alliance dating from a period when people understood that, in the middle of a dark, cold winter, a good time doesn't just happen all by itself. Even in modern times alcohol...
Let's Get Private
BY the time this article goes to press, Gordon Brown will have delivered his preBudget statement and Michael Portillo will have delivered his attack on it. This predictable swordplay will not conceal the fact that intellectual rigor mortis has long set...
Letters
A French education From Mr Richard Tracey Sir: I read Rachel Johnson's article (`What we can learn from Europe', 28 October) with interest as my wife and I are educating our two boys, aged seven and five, in France. Even though they are in private Catholic...
Memories of a Beer Hunter
MY love affair with beer began in Fleet Street during the early 1930s. We didn't know about pot in those days, and took our relaxation in half-pints, usually of mild and bitter, in one of the numerous pubs that beckoned journalists in that region of...
Memo to the MoD (and New Labour): We Don't Live in a Police State
I first wrote about Tony Geraghty and Nigel Wylde on 6 March 1999, and have written about them several times since then. Readers may remember how at 6 a.m. on 3 December 1998, Ministry of Defence police raided Mr Geraghty's house in Herefordshire, removed...
Mind Your Language
MY husband claims to be learning Spanish, which will come in handy for all his jaunts to the peninsula paid for by drug companies. `Do you know the Spanish for ferret?' he asked yesterday. `It's huron,' he added quickly. What earthly good that will do...
Mists and Malts
Whisky galore ON a perfect, early spring day, I once visited the Labrot & Graham distillery, near Louisville in Kentucky. The well-weathered buildings - primaeval by American standards - are set among woods, beside a river. The whole atmosphere is...
More Than a Handful of Dust
THE AMBER SPYGLASS by Philip Pullman Scholastic Children's Books, L14.99, pp. 548 Northern Lights (1995) and The Subtle Knife (1997), the two volumes which precede this one in Philip Pullman's trilogy, are big books with big themes filled with people...
Move over, Tuscany
I'VE been on cooking courses in Amalfi and on art courses in Venice, I've eaten in most of the restaurants of Bologna, I've ogled the models in Milan and I stayed in Tuscan villas long before New Labour made it unfashionable. I've also read The Leopard...
Much Else to Declare
THE COMPLETE LETTERS OF OSCAR WILDE edited by Merlin Holland and Rupert Hart-Davis Fourth Estate, L35, pp. 1270 BOSIE: A BIOGRAPHY OF LORD ALFRED DOUGLAS by Douglas Murray Hodder & Stoughton, 20, pp. 374 TRULY WILDE: THE UNSETTLING STORY OF DOLLY...
Not Sorted
IN the brave new Britain of wall-to-wall gizmos it is reassuring to know that there is one place left in London that is still buzzing with Dickensian technology. It is called Mount Pleasant sorting office and is a world of pigeon-holes, hand trolleys...
Now and Then
H.V. MORTON'S collection of essays The Heart of London was published in 1925. In a new column, Morton's London is compared with that of today: I look up at the Cenotaph. A parcels delivery boy riding a tricycle van takes off his worn cap. An omnibus...
On the Edge of Self-Parody
Television On the edge of self-parody I know quite a few actors, and the great majority are amiable, thoughtful, often modest folk, though some have the slightly disconsolate air of someone who knows where his next meal is coming from, but isn't so sure...
Out and About
New York One more week in the Bagel, despite how dangerous to one's health the Bagel can be at this time of year. (There is nothing quite like autumn in New York, with parties galore and weather to die for.) By the time you read this it will all be over...
Portrait of the Week
More rain raised floodwaters throughout England for the third week in a row. More than 3,000 people had their houses flooded; York escaped complete submersion when the Ouse rose to within two inches of flood defences. Mr John Prescott, the deputy prime...
Rain of Terror
OUR future king is wrong. This week Prince Charles plunged his oar into the muddy waters of Britain's flood crisis and announced that he has `no doubt' that our misery results from mankind's `arrogant disregard' for the delicate balance of nature. The...
Remarkable Friendship
The prolific writer and columnist AX Wilson has forged a deep friendship with the boxer Mike Tyson. They spend hours, days even in each other's company discussing literature, philosophy, art and music as well as the finer points of pugilism. Despite...
Restaurants
GOLLY, I love this time of year, don't you? First, Hallowe'en, the marvellous pagan festival of Turning Off All The Lights And Pretending You Are Not In, then Bonfire Night, with its hateful big bangs and all, this year, on top of another looming petrol...
Rites of the North-West Passage
Among the peripheral skills useful to young naval officers during the first half of the 19th century were pencil and watercolour sketching. Before photography and satellite surveillance, this was necessary for intelligence and hydrography: recording...
Rome's Glories Revealed
Rome's glories revealed Selina Mills didn't believe that the city would clean itself up in time for 2000. She was wrong On the seventh level of Dante's Inferno, not so far from the profligates, the hypocrites and the evil counsellors, the Sowers of Discord...
Sawdust and Olde Bagges
IT'S a tough one. I'm lying in my garret in Hackney pondering a knotty question. For ten years I've worked and thrived in the East End's concrete jungle, but how should I mark this important personal anniversary? A cocktail party for my friends, perhaps?...
Second Opinion
THE value of human life is, of course, incalculable, and no mere monetary figure can be placed upon it. Certain parts of the human anatomy are not quite so sacrosanct, however, as I discovered recently while visiting prison. My patient had what I have...
Secrets and Secretaries
DIGNIFIED AND EFFICIENT by Charles Douglas-Home, completed by Saul Kelly Claridge, L25, pp. 242 SHADOWS OF A PRINCESS by P. D. Jephson HarperCollins, L17.99, pp. 392 Charles Douglas-Home, during the last years of his tragically truncated life, combined...
Sense of Euphoria
Exhibitions Impressionism: Painting Quickly in France:1860-1890 (National Gallery, till 28 January 2001) Now I grant you, many people's reaction to the news that there is yet another big Impressionist show in town may well be, `Oh, no, not again.' We...
Terrier Terror
Our late chairman's favourite terrier was an all-white Jack Russell he used for badger digging. He always spoke fondly of Nelson, describing him as a 'hard' dog. By this I think he meant that Nelson preferred to fight his badgers rather than simply to...
The Barbour Brigade
A fortnight dousing oneself in the windy rhetoric of a US presidential election campaign brings on a severe bout of reporters' dyspepsia. I felt as the incomparable H.L. Mencken did about Warren G. Harding's inaugural address: `It reminded me of a string...
The First Great Englishman
CHAUCER 1340-1400 by Richard West Constable, L20, pp. 294 According to a recent ICM survey, there are sadly only 20 per cent of the population who know that Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales. So the appropriateness of this book, timed to coincide with...
The Last Game Left
The last game left Andrew Gimson A MAD WORLD, MY MASTERS by John Simpson Macmillan, L20, pp. 421 This random collection of anecdotes is drawn from John Simpson's far-flung travels as a television news reporter. So says the author in his introduction....
The Morality of the Omelette
SNAIL EGGS AND SAMPHIRE by Derek Cooper Macmillan, L16.99, pp. 422 IS THERE A NUTMEG IN THE HOUSE? by Elizabeth David Michael Joseph, L20, pp. 322 HOW TO BE A DOMESTIC GODDESS by Nigella Lawson Chatto, L25, pp. 374 Derek Cooper is a ruminator who ponders...
The Naked Truth
AT a hostel for the homeless in Plymouth I once stayed at, there was a sign in the gents' that said, `Please do not throw cigarette ends into the urinal as it makes them soggy and difficult to light.' I remember reading this sign and taking it entirely...
Time to Do Good by Stealth to the Stock Exchange - Don't Call Us, We'll Call You
The City has its own equivalent of a royal command. This is a telephone call from the Bank of England to set up a meeting with the Governor, who says, `There's something we want you to do for us.' So Ian Hay Davison heard the call to clean up Lloyd's...
Tony the Lonely
It seems likely that Tony and Cherie went to bed on Tuesday night, in common with most other observers in this country, after Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois had all 'declared' for Al Gore. One imagines that there was a friskiness about them...
Vivid Blooms with European Roots
DEREK WALCOTT: A CARIBBEAN LIFE by Bruce King OUP, L30, pp. 688 When Derek Walcott, the subject of this doorstep of a biography, won the 1992 Nobel Prize for Literature, one guessed that he was being honoured not merely for what he had written but also...
Web Venom
Web venom A friend of mine, suffering one night recently from insomnia, found himself wandering around the Internet chat sites. In course of time he stumbled upon one entitled Early Music List: apparently the formula with this site, as with every other...
What a Load of Old Rubbish Tells Us about Ourselves
How much is a bar of soap? 30p? 40p? 60p? It depends on the quality, but I think we can say with assurance that the value of one of those slivers too small to be of much use, but left disfiguring the soap dish, lies between half a penny and three pence....
Where's the Fizz?
Dance Don Quixote: Universal Ballet (Sadler's Wells) Serious balletomanes, dance academics and all those who do not accept that ballet can be pure entertainment are not likely to enjoy Don Quixote. Unlike other popular creations by Marius Petipa, such...
Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.