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. 291, No. 9103, 2003

All Is Not Lost
Gstaad These are quiet days and nights here, the noisy mobile telephone brigades having left immediately after the New Year. It is a sign of the times, the mobile telephone, that is. One used to be able to tell where a person came from by their manners,...
Ancient & Modern
EVERY week professionals such as teachers and doctors express their desire to get out of their jobs. Why? Because they have lost their independence. Greeks and Romans would have richly sympathised. When Cicero was discussing the problems of old age,...
A View from the Squint
A view from the squint LIGHT YEARS by Augustus Young London Magazine Editions, L25, pp. 312, ISBN 0904388913 This is a most unusual book. It might be thought we could do without another account of an Irish childhood and a wet-- behind-the-ears arrival...
Banned Wagon: Global
A weekly survey of world restrictions on freedom and free trade THE world of environmental science begins to resemble the Catholic Church before the Reformation. Anyone who challenges its grim orthodoxies can expect the latter-day equivalent of the Spanish...
Bosoms, Football and Money
Bosoms, football and money THE DARK HEART OF ITALY: TRAVELS THROUGH TIME AND SPACE ACROSS ITALY by Tobias Jones Faber, L16.99, pp. 288, ISBN 0571205828 Italy, Carlo Levi once famously wrote, is like an artichoke: you peel away a layer of leaves, only...
British Hacks May Be Disgusting but We Keep the Politicians on Their Toes
A very high-minded European recently complained to me about British newspapers. Why are they all so awful, he asked? Even the so-called serious ones look like comics, with their pictures of footballers and halfnaked actresses on the masthead. As for...
Charmed by Students
'Workshops', piously fetishised in recent decades, have never been my idea of fun. Too often there's a sense of implicit condescension; and even when in the hands of someone with a real idea of what can be achieved, something a tiny bit risible remains...
Classic Dilemma
This is a column in crisis. My brief is to write about the popular music of the past half century, and during recent weeks I have hardly listened to any. Something strange, and rather alarming, has happened. I've become hooked on classics. The power...
Classics in the Classroom
There comes a time when all professors of literature think of writing a book like this. Elaine Showalter has been professing it for 40 years, and after such a long and varied career what could be more apposite or timely than to share the wisdom of such...
Diary
I spent Tuesday evening watching Ashley, a 15-year-old blonde girl from Oklahoma, flirt with a British boy called PJ. `Wanna see some photos of meT asked Ashley. PJ grinned. 'I think you'll like them, they're hot,' said Ashley, and winked. A boy called...
Fonda Memories
LADY Victoria Hervey - who once achieved fame of a kind as the Sun's top toff totty - calls it `the chic little island of Formentera'. You could call Formentera, which lies just to the south of Ibiza, many things - laid back (in a simpatico sort of way),...
Gain Work Experience as a Non-Executive Director and Watch the Engine Seize Up
Lord Carrington--it was the kind of thing that happened to him - was asked to become a director of Rio Tinto-Zinc, one of the world's two biggest mining companies. This, as he says in his memoirs, was an opportunity to learn about the mining industry....
Hockney's Controversial Experiment
The last David Hockney show at Annely Juda Fine Art was in the summer of 1997. It was a large show of oils on canvas with the alliterative and rhyming title Flowers, Faces and Spaces. In one prominent, large painting called 'Sunflowers' no fewer than...
How the Government Endangers British Lives
SEVERAL hundred years ago, the British brought mass death to foreign lands. They crossed the Atlantic, sneezed on the native Americans and watched them die of the common cold. Now the tables have turned. We live in fear of foreigners bringing death to...
I Am Not in Principle against Killing People, but Talk of the 'Right to Die' Is Humbug
Sometimes one's creed points logically where one is intuitively reluctant to go. The flesh is willing but the spirit is weak. Item: we should not give money to women begging with babies as this only encourages them. Item: this is a beggar and she is...
Ideal Trio
Royal Ballet Triple Bill (Royal Opera House) Although his work might not be everybody's favourite, Jiri KyliAn remains one of the most eminent and significant figures of European modern ballet. His formulae, which have mesmerised international audience...
In America We Trust
20:21 VISION: TWENTIETH-- CENTURY LESSONS FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY by Bill Emmott Allen Lane/ Penguin, L20, pp. 327, ISBN 071399519X Bill Emmott, the editor of the Economist and author of The Sun Also Sets which accurately predicted the decline of...
Inflaming Hearts
Opera Orfeo; Greek (Barbican) Monteverdi's Orfeo is an intensely moralistic work. Although La Musica launches it by telling us, and showing us, how `now with noble anger, now with love' she can inflame the coldest hearts, there are warnings about the...
Learning the Hard Way
Learning the hard way I'LL TAKE YOU THERE by Joyce Carol Oates Fourth Estate, L10.99, pp. 290, ISBN 0007146442 Joyce Carol Oates is a prolific, even prolix writer, with more than 50 novels and short-story collections to her name. Yet she writes wonderfully...
Let It Be
On the death last year of Labour MP Frank Allaun one obituarist recalled Frank's story of the young man who returned from the first world war trenches full of zeal to change the world. He marched into the backyard of the family's terraced home in Salford...
Letters
Starvation as a weapon From Mr Horace Buxton Sir: Peter Oborne ('Living in a state of fear', 11 January) has not grasped the importance of white farmers, and the catastrophe that their eviction is. 'There is still a tendency,' he writes, 'to attribute...
Liberate the Lords
It is probably some time since even the keenest student of politics focused on the future of the House of Lords. Most people will remember that day the hereditary peers were expelled from the red benches, amid the horrible glee of Baroness Jay and others....
Lost, Stolen or Strayed
Lost, stolen or strayed MISSING MASTERPIECES by Gert-Rudolf Flick Merrell, L40, pp. 344, ISBN 1858941970 This is a strange, tantalising book of unintentional poetry; it is rather like a book plucked from the shelves of one of Jorge Luis Borges' impossible...
Lunatic Asylum Policy
I DON'T know what Mrs Sadako Ogata is doing these days, or where she is. Part of me, the nice part, hopes she's happy and prospering. But another part, the paranoid part, worries that she may have been put in charge of a nuclear power station or maybe...
Mixed Blessing
WHEN Emmy Myerson was born in June 1991, everyone celebrated. Those 'weird, regular kicks', which began when her mother was seven months pregnant, had been brushed off as 'perfectly normal' by the doctors. Even if they had been investigated, there probably...
Morton in the Marshes
Old England IN 1924, feverish, depressed and in Palestine, far from his native land, the travel writer H.V. Morton found himself overwhelmed by a sudden wave of home-sickness in which ... there rose up in my mind the picture of a village street at dusk...
Nancy to the Rescue
TRYING to arrest tyrants like Robert Mugabe is a tiring, stressful business. Even I need a break. So I headed for Palm Springs, California, to indulge my passion for mountain hiking. Palm Springs is no ordinary desert resort. A mere half a mile from...
Onanist Heaven
NO ONE back home has ever heard of the Romagna where I live. 'It's between Bologna and Florence,' I say. 'It's like Tuscany without the British.' If I remain, as I usually do, in my Apennine village, I am spared the sound of English families discussing...
Pride and Preservation
A PAIR of lionesses were ambling through the grass; three cubs were scampering around them. A delightful spectacle, but this was the African bush, not Disneyland. The lionesses were not going for a stroll. It was many hours since their last meal, so...
Self-Taught Great
Radio Julian Bream was rightly described by Humphrey Burton on Radio Three last week as one of our greatest living musicians and a clear successor to Segovia. The classical guitarist and lutanist is 70 in July, and to celebrate his birthday and achievements,...
Set Universities Free
THE government has got itself into a serious mess in its approach to higher education. A dozen years ago 16 per cent of young people went to universities, which already included ex-polytechnics. That percentage has risen sharply to more than a third,...
Shame about the Kids
Family holidays THE video finally flickers to life and a shot of my father-in-law's nose is followed by a tiled terrace, steps down to a turquoise swimming pool and green fields beyond. In the distance, blue-grey hills meet bright blue sky. This was...
Shocked and Shaken
Low life I'm sleeping with a 104-year-old woman. Yep, 104, going on 105. Have been for the last fortnight, too, since she fell between bed and commode in the night. The fall knocked the stuffing out of her. In particular, it took away the strength in...
Simply Stupid
A BROKEN man came home last week on a slow boat from China. Paul Gascoigne still thinks there is some football left in him. Perhaps his rejection in the Far East will persuade him that his playing days are behind him, and he will now resolve to get on...
Spectator Wine Club
A YEAR ago Lay & Wheeler furnished us with the biggest-selling wine the club has ever offered under this aegis. A vast amount of the Chateau Musar 1995 was ordered, and Hugo Rose of L&W had a frantic few weeks locating extra supplies. This year...
Spreading Sweetness and Light
LIVES OF THE MIND: THE USE AND ABUSE OF INTELLIGENCE FROM HEGEL TO WOODHOUSE by Roger Kimball Ivan R. Dee, $28.95, pp. 375, ISBN 1566634792 I read the first pages of this book with increasing trepidation and a terrible feeling that I would soon be sinking...
Tatar Source
Tamerlane IN THE 14th century, Timur the Lame led a nomad army against the whole settled world. He plundered from the Ganges to the Dardanelles, but the heartland of his empire lay between two great rivers north of Afghanistan, the Amu Dar'ya and Syr...
The Lure of the Jungle
THE PIANO TUNER by Daniel Mason Picador, L14.99, pp. 356, ISBN 0330492675 This is a curious story. In 1886, a year after the final British conquest of Upper Burma, a piano-tuner, Edgar Drake, is requested by the War Office to travel to the Shan States...
The Naked Truth
WOULD you like 'a framed 16 x 20 inch nude portrait' of yourself? The picture would be 'in black and white or tinted blue' and would be taken 'in the privacy of your own home (with a chaperone in attendance)' by a photographer who would bring a 'portable...
The Paraguayan Way
AT THE TOMB OF THE INFLATABLE PIG by John Gimlette Hutchinson, L14.99, pp. 363, ISBN 009179-4331 John Gimlette and I both won this magazine's Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize (awarded for unconventional travel writing) and we both got book deals as a result....
The Triumph of Outrage
The triumph of outrage Raymond Carr PICASSO'S WAR by Russell Martin Scribner, L18.99, pp. 274, ISBN 0525946802 In this book Russell Martin seeks to explain to the common reader how Picasso's largest canvas, measuring 11' 6" high and 25' 8" long, came...
The Usual Soho Suspects
RESTLESS LIVES: THE BOHEMIAN WORLD OF RODRIGO AND ELINOR MOYNIHAN by John Moynihan Sansom & Co., L24.99, pp. 280, ISBN 1900178443 When John Moynihan was three and living with his painter parents in a flat off Primrose Hill he used to be terrified...
Tunes of Vanishing Glory
Tunes of vanishing glory THE RADETZKY MARCH by Joseph Roth, translated by Michael Hofmann Granta, L14.99, pp. 363, ISBN 1862075131 Just as Gustav Mahler wove a bugle fanfare into his symphonies, so Joseph Roth wove martial music into his novels. In Roth's...
Why Labour Has Signed a Non-Aggression Pact with the Tories over Sleaze
The announcement that Michael Trend, Tory MP for Windsor and formerly chief leader-writer of the Daily Telegraph, is to step down was slipped out late on Tuesday afternoon. The news made no more than a couple of paragraphs in one or two of the morning...
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