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. 284, No. 8968, 2000

Aldeburgh Pickings
First inspection of this year's Aldeburgh Festival brochure seemed to threaten outright banality: the Borodin quartet commencing a two-year plan interembracing the complete oeuvre for the medium by Beethoven and Shostakovich; a Faure subtheme apparently...
All Canadians Are Guilty
EVEN IN a litigious society, it's important to know whom to sue. If you take McDonald's to court, you may get away with it, as did that gal who hit 'em for a gazillion dollars because she'd been scalded when she spilt her coffee into her lap while driving...
A True Londoner
The post-centennial fascination with Noel Coward (and I have to declare the usual interest as a trustee of his Estate) is surely that, just when you think you have him cornered, he comes at you from some altogether different part of the stage. When his...
A Truly Beastly Hero
BEN, IN THE WORLD by Doris Lessing Flamingo, 16.99, pp. 178 Twelve years ago, Doris Lessing published a cautionary tale about a kind, liberal couple with a large house, four wellloved children, friends and holidays galore. Into this happy home is born...
Banned Wagon
FEW of us have not at one time or another, when faced with some minor irritation, cried out in frustration, `Why isn't there a law against it?' Our lawmakers, we hope, will always take a more considered view, balancing liberty against the elimination...
Battle Hymns of the Invaders
IT is not the drink that's the problem; it's what the drink leads to. And as night follows day, heavy drinking leads to singing and it is the singing that leads to trouble. That is the reason for the trouble in Belgium: the relationship between the England...
Beware the Fundamentalists
IMAGINE that you are a committed European federalist. What single item would you most want to see included in the next EU Treaty? A common tax policy? A European army? A police force? All these matters are on the agenda. But there is one prize greater...
Boots Beneficence
Imminent arrival in certain cities is announced by the sight of a great architectural landmark. At Durham, of course, it is the distant view of the cathedral, as it is at York when travelling south. And at Nottingham, coming north from St Pancras, it...
Casting a Cold Eye
BEN NICHOLSON: THE VICIOUS CIRCLES OF HIS LIFE AND ART by Sarah Jane Checkland John Murray, 25, pp. 486 The preface and acknowledgments to this first biography of Ben Nicholson, who died in 1982, include a scarcely veiled attack on the painter's family...
Caught Out
How I was looking forward to it: the first of a new Test series against the West Indies; the sun was actually shining for once and the trees in the valley below had turned blue in the heat haze. The intention was to listen to Test Match Special on Radio...
Cornish Loathing
Cornwall is the poorest county in the British Isles. This is because the Cornish of which I am one quarter - loathe everything except sloth. They heartily dislike the English, whom they regard as foreigners, even more than the Welsh do, or the Scots....
Dear Mary
Q. During the reception following a fashionable wedding near Godalming last week I was fallen on with great enthusiasm by a man who seemed to know me very well, or at least to know everything about me. He introduced me to a number of other guests as...
Diary
It is probably nobody's fault but my own that I was born and brought up in a world of gentle innocence, but, England's Euro 2000 victory against Germany notwithstanding, it has been a terrible time for sport. I spent much of last week reeling from the...
Engaging Events
A hell of a week, starting with the bash at Conrad and Barbara Black's summer party for gentlemen hacks, writers, royals, politicians and domestic and overseas jetsetters. Then Royal Ascot, where Robert Sangster on Tuesday and Wafic and Rosemary Said...
Euro 2000 Is Wim's Idea of a Beautiful Game but the Brits Play by Different Rules
Britain faces exclusion today as the bars and restaurants of Brussels clean up after the week of disorder which has left an indelible mark on Euro 2000. `They are spoiling our beautiful game,' says white-haired, loquacious Dutch grandfather Wim Duisenberg....
Fwankly Disappointed
IT'S all right, it's all right, says Roy Jenkins, wreathed in smiles as he stands on the landing and watches me puff up to his Notting Hill flat. `One of the advantages of your being late,' he says, handing me some champagne, `is that I have now written...
How You Can Tell That These Hooligans Aren't Up to Conducting a Serious Foreign Policy
The most interesting remark so far about these present tumults was that of the Home Secretary. Mr Straw had incurred hostile criticism for being unable, despite all his promises to the Continental powers, to prevent our hooligans from invading the Low...
Irresistible Lure
A recent survey of trainers by the Racing Post found them pretty disillusioned with the racing game. It is not an easy life. First, the horses you handle are not the robust animals they look from a Saturday afternoon armchair. They are frighteningly...
Joining the Facts to the Fiction
THE LETTERS OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE edited by Margaret Smith OUP, L65, pp. 650 'It is only now and then that I wish for a wider world than Haworth,' Charlotte Bronte wrote to her publisher and confidant, W. S. Williams. The inner strife of this complicated...
Letters
Mutinous Contemptibles From Mr Julian Putkowski Sir: I must object to John Hughes-Wilson's splenetic denunciation of the ulterior motives of virtually everyone who attended the `Unquiet Graves' conference (`The new contemptibles', 3 June). In my essentially...
Madonna and Child
Possibly The Next Best Thing lives up to its title if you schedule it immediately after colorectal surgery. But for the rest of us it's about as worst as it gets. Its 107 minutes include just one true moment. The remaining 106 are entirely artificial,...
Mating on Thin Ice
ONLY PRETENDING by Sophia Watson Holder, (16.99, pp. 309 What a refreshing read Only Pretending makes. How thrilling to find a modern female novelist who is not drearily preoccupied with finding Mr Right. Penny, the well-heeled heroine, is already lumbered...
Minding One's Peace and Qs
ONLY YESTERDAY by S. Y. Agnon Princeton University Press, L22, pp. 674 THE SILENCE OF HEAVEN: AGNON'S FEAR OF GOD by Amos Oz Princeton University Press, L18.95, pp. 208 Early Zionists were an odd assortment of idealists, revolutionaries and misfits....
Mr Putin's KGB Past May Not Be a Problem
A lot of Russians now fear that the KGB is back in control. When Vladimir Putin took office, he retained a lot of Boris Yeltsin's associates - the so-called `family' - though the jesters and drinking companions are being eased out of power. But Mr Putin...
Museum Distractions
I've been in Spain a lot recently, for the bullfighting. As you may or may not know, they do quite a bit of it over there. But, as most right-thinking people are vehemently opposed to the idea of men in tight trousers torturing highly bred animals to...
Not Very Clever
Why can't we pass? Why on earth are English footballers incapable of playing in the manner of our Continental rivals? You don't have to be interested in football. You need not know anything about the game. But a six-year-old child observing the two games...
On the Move
The life of the gardening writer is one of almost constant and unadulterated pleasure. Almost, but not quite. The greenfly in the ointment is that I have not managed to visit every garden open to the public in the country, nor am I ever likely to. This...
Over Here but Overdue
THE DOUGHBOYS by Gary Mead The Penguin Press, L20, pp. 494 It is not at all clear why Gary Mead chose to write this book. For ten years he was a reporter with the Financial Times, and he has written an illustrated guide to South Africa. But this seems...
Portrait of the Week
Fifty-eight Chinese people (including four women) were found dead, suffocated in a sealed lorry at Dover; two men survived. Mr Tony Blair, in Portugal for a European Union meeting, insisted that the Cabinet shared one opinion on Britain's adoption of...
Scenting Danger
The phoney war is over. With the publicanon of the Burns report and the announcement of a government bill on hunting with hounds, the long-awaited battle has begun. The message from the Countryside Alliance was positively Churchillian in tone: `As of...
Seedy Side Up
THE LAST LAMPLIGHTER: A SOHO EDUCATION by Stephen Fothergill London Magazine Editions, L (English pound)10, pp. 144 Quentin Crisp once described the author of this book as Mr Fothergill the Silent. In Philip O'Connor's Memoirs of a Public Baby, he appears...
Splendid Artistic Reasons Why the Austrians Should Tell the EU to Get Lost
The cold-shouldering of Austria by the other EU governments since the Haider affair seems to me childish but also sinister. It implies that electorates in EU states are permitted to vote only within certain limits, that they must `converge', to use a...
Stand Up and Be Counted
A LITTLE while ago the world's media blinked hard when it heard that the South African press was to be the subject of an inquisition by the Human Rights Commission into `racism in the media'. The fact is that white racism is, if only for reasons of prudence,...
Tales for Our Time
Those chilling euphemisms of the 1990s - `ethnic cleansing' and `collateral damage' - are lies pedalled as truth. They stop us feeling what we ought to feel: about the systematic and murderous hounding out of one race from its home by another; about...
The Amis Phenomenon
Never before have a father and son achieved literary eminence comparable with that of the Amises. Last month two books were published, Kingsley's Letters and Martin's Experience, which told us a great deal about both of them, generated an unprecedented...
The Good Cook
FOR a place teeming with diplomats, royalty and hacks, Kensington High Street is not overburdened with good eating places. It is just like any other high street - the usual branches of the usual chains between the usual shops. No wonder residents of...
The Market Shall Make You Free
IT is hard to think of a more threatening word in the political lexicon than `globalisation'. There are still a few proponents of the Third Way, including both Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, who use the phrase to prove how modem they are. But more often...
Vichy Business
'FranFais, Frangaises - vous avez la memoire courte': Marshal Philippe Petain, radio broadcast to the French people. ON 22 June, 1940, after the most shattering defeat in France's history, the venerable Marshal Petain was wheeled out to sign an armistice...
Voices from the Past
This week I went to the annual tug-of-- war between the Lords and the Commons, won for the 13th time in a row by the peers. The commentator was David Coleman. His first appearance, wearing a sort of straw pork-pie hat, was charming enough. But the voice!...
Why the Queen of New York Would Be Better off without Blair's Bauble
Tina Brown, the magazine editor, may be Britain's most famous export to America. Normally the 'Queen of New York' cannot sneeze without it being reported in the British press. So it is very odd that our newspapers made so little of the award Ms Brown...
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