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. 8961, 2000

A Climate of Fear and Suspicion
A climate of fear and suspicion Anthony Howard JOSEPH McCARTHY by Arthur Herman Simon & Schuster, L17.99, pp. 404 Forty years ago, as a young Harkness Fellow in the USA, I made my way to Appleton, Wisconsin, to visit the grave of Senator Joe McCarthy,...
A Far Cry from Hangover Square
IMPROMPTU IN MORIBUNDIA by Patrick Hamilton Trent Editions, L6.99, pp. 193 When Patrick Hamilton died in 1962 at the age of 58, it was seven years since this once highly successful novelist and dramatist had produced any new work. Significantly, one...
All Things to All Men
This is going to be one of those columns where I hardly talk about TV at all because, to be perfectly honest, I haven't had time to watch any. Partly it's that bastard new house of mine (aka The Dust Bowl, or The Toilet), partly it's endless childcare,...
Ancient & Modern
LINGUISTS have discovered that babies babble in the same patterns of sound that occur in hypothetical 'proto-words' (constructed by using linguistic laws to infer what the earliest words must have sounded like if they were to generate the words we use...
At Least Edward Heath Has Never Been Afraid to Add to the Misery of the Nation
One of the papers reported the other day that Sir Edward Heath will leave the Commons at the next election. At the time of writing, the report remains unconfirmed. We must hope that it is untrue. At this critical juncture in our island story, the nation...
Bad Trip through Gangland
Bad trip through gangland Philip MacCann LAYER CAKE by J. J. Connolly Duck Editions, L9.99, pp. 309 'Anyone who get webbed up in the brown get seriously dropped on cos it's a known fact that they'll bubble you up when they're chucking.' Such is the `bollockspeak'...
Banned Wagon
OF all the horrors in this world, the doorstep, you might imagine, would rate pretty low on the list. But not so. Under Section M of the building regulations, doorsteps are now illegal. If Nash were putting up his terraces in Regent's Park today, he...
City of Dreadful Light
City of dreadful light Michael Moorcock PERDIDO STREET STATION by China Mieville Macmillan, 16.99, pp. 710 Imaginative fiction which refused to rationalise its flights of fantasy as dreams, visions or scientific speculation used to be called simply 'fantasy'....
Congratulations to the Express for Holding on to So Many Tory Readers
Just over a hundred years ago, on 24 April 1900, the first edition of the Daily Express was published. Within 19 years it had been acquired by Max Aitken, later Lord Beaverbrook. Under his ownership it became the most successful title in the world. Only...
Dear Mary
Q. The priest in Cape Town who is troubled by mobile phones during worship might first suggest making a congregation directory, by which means he can get all the mobile-phone numbers. Second, he could form a prayer group whose task is to phone the mobiles...
Diary
I have spent the past week in one of the last unspoiled places in the Caribbean. We were 50 miles off the south coast of Cuba, fishing and diving with only egrets, pelicans and the occasional salt-water crocodile for company. Not a telephone rang, not...
Down with the Dons
It looks like the end for Wimbledon - the football club rather than the tennis tournament - and I feel quite unnecessarily sad. Unless their apparent free-fall turns out to be a dramatic bungee jump, they will tumble end over end from the Premiership,...
Drastic Solutions
It would be nice to have a few extra policemen in the countryside. However, it would take a Swat team outside every farmhouse to protect people from burglary. The most that extra policemen could achieve in this area would be some shortening in response...
First Call on the Tudors
It is no criticism of the new Ondaatje Wing at the National Portrait Gallery, which opened this week, to say that one of its most stunning features is the view from the restaurant windows. It is rather a sign of the brilliant success of the project in...
French Connection
French connection Angela Summerfield Our local authority art collections are peculiarly well suited to staging exhibitions such as this, thanks to regional collectors like John Maddocks of Bradford, and the prescient purchasing activities of art gallery...
Going, Going, Then Gone
It was with fascination and regret that I recently re-read my very first issue of the New Yorker, dated 21 February, 1925. Fascination, because so much of it is fresh, funny, and well written - not at all a curio. Regret, because it clearly stated its...
Hunger for the Headlines
Hunger for the headlines Andro Linklater GOING TO THE WARS by Max Hastings Macmillan, 20, pp. 400 In 1982, Max Hastings wrote an article for The Spectator from the Falklands confessing to the predicament he faced as a journalist attached to the South...
Imperial Sunset
Cinema The Last September (15, selected cinemas) Imperial sunset Mark Steyn I like practically anything with Deborah Warner and Fiona Shaw's names on it. I've had a soft spot for Miss Shaw ever since she told me I looked like Tom Selleck, with whom she...
Just the Job for Tarzan
SAD to say, the most sensible proposal for the future of Rover, among the many that have emerged in the past few days, is the suggestion that if all else fails BMW will sell Longbridge's Rover 25 and 45 assembly lines to the Tata industrial group of...
Letters
Beyond belief From Chris Tyler Sir: Margot Lawrence seems to have missed the point entirely in her article ('Head in the clouds', 22 April) in which she attempted to show '. . . how modern science corroborates the truth of the Ascension. . . '. The point...
Mind Your Language
VIVID memories of humane cattle-- slaughter have prompted a reader to plead for the spelling poll-axe, instead of the poleaxe that has appeared several times recently in The Spectator. 'When the animal's head was touching the floor,' we learn, 'the butcher...
Misplaced Faith
Opera The Greek Passion (Royal Opera House) La Gioconda (Opera North) Michael Tanner By the time he composed The Greek Passion, Martinu had written 12 operas, so he should have had some idea of what would work in the theatre. Evidently, from the painstaking...
Moments of Tooth
BEFORE Easter I took my two children to something called Oasis, a `lakeland holiday village' set in a Cumbrian pine forest with a giant Millennium Dome-like structure at its centre housing a `tropical beach', supermarket, tenpin bowling, Hard Rock Cafe...
No Innocent Trumpeter
TO THE ELEPHANT GRAVEYARD by Tarquin Hall John Murray, L16.99, pp. 260 Travel writing always aims to make the world interesting. It often does this by suppressing evidence of globalisation and exaggerating the difference of abroad. Alternatively it can...
No Swanking from Today's Anonymous Billionaires, Alas
Peregrine Worsthorne recently announced in these pages that, thanks to Conrad Black allocating share options to him, he has become a millionaire. But then millionaires are not what they used to be. Anyone who owns a house in the part of Notting Hill...
Not Entirely Passionate
The food photographer's art has gone too far. It is bad enough to have to look at artificially arranged colour combinations of ingredients which are often magnified beyond their actual size. But the height of absurdity was reached last month in a Sunday...
Nuts in May
MAY DAY 2000. As dawn broke across London, the wage slaves dozed in their Ikea bedrooms and the fat cats breakfasted on oysters and caviare - and all was well with the world. Or rather, all was rotten with the world. Global greed reigned supreme. London's...
Penelope Fitzgerald 1916-2000
I don't believe that I have ever seen anyone standing with such absolute stillness in a midsummer vegetable garden, not even touching, let alone eating, the ripening gooseberries, as my cousin Penelope Fitzgerald. It was in the mid-Thirties. She was...
Portrait of the Week
The London and Frankfurt stock exchanges are to merge under the name IX. Alchemy, the venture capital group, withdrew from negotiations to buy Rover from BMW. New negotiations began with the Phoenix Consortium, which intended to continue volume production...
Rebel in Spite Fo Himself
Rebel in spite of himself John Grigg FOURTH AMONG EQUALS by Bill Rodgers Politico's, L20, pp. 310 At the beginning of 1981 Bill Rodgers joined Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams and David Owen in leaving the Labour party and launching the SDP. They instantly...
Seriously Good
What makes an album last? What makes it great? If the latest poll in Q magazine is anything to go by, it helps if it's made by a man, or a collection of men; it helps if it is broadly defined as 'rock' rather than 'pop'; and it certainly helps if it...
Sowing Confusion
Radio It was quite a shock hearing Nick Clarke asking Stephen Byers on the World at One what it had to do with him and the government which company bought Rover at Longbridge. It's not a question you hear put very often on BBC radio, in fact hardly at...
Tales from the Souk
My back was jammed against the pink, sand-encrusted wall of the souk. He was grasping my arm so hard that it had caused a nervous reaction in my left shoulder which hit a window with mechanical regularity. He was screaming in my ear, `You make me so...
The Buck Stops Here
As the runners set off in this year's Scottish Grand National former jockey Jamie Osborne was not bounding off with half a ton of horse underneath him to negotiate the four miles. Instead, at that precise moment, he was engaged in pushing a trolley round...
The Way All Horse-Lovers Want the World to Be
The way all horse-lovers want the world to be Katie Grant MISS CHANCE by Simon Barnes HarperCollins, 16.99, pp. 280 You can take the boy out of the Pony Club but you cannot take the Pony Club out of the boy. Simon Barnes's previous novel, Rogue Lion...
The West Arms Hotel, Llangollen
SO poor James Delingpole who, in his TV column a couple of weeks ago, said he'd been feeling pretty messed up and disillusioned about everything and that he hadn't touched his novel for two months now and that everything he writes is rubbish. Well, I...
Three Men in a Boat
New York Wow, what a weekend! Let us start with the White House correspondents dinner at the Washington Hilton ballroom for 2,000 schmucks. That was the first invitation I turned down. The sight of Bill Clinton is bad enough on TV; in the flesh, being...
Tricky Survivor
Theatre Mother Courage (New Ambassadors) Macbeth (Young Vic) Burning Issues (Hampstead) Nancy Meckler's great strength as a director is to give us the close-up where usually we get the long-shot: her Shared Experience company, always strapped for cash...
Viking Leader Raps Hague
COME on, Hague! says the Prime Minister. Call yourself a right-winger. Call yourself a free marketeer. There may be Europeans who think that William Hague is an extremist. Maybe it is fashionable to sniff at him in Brussels and Islington, and to call...
We Are All Guilty
This magazine is guilty. The crime is condescension to the British people. We have no excuse. Just before the Millennium Dome was opened, we were told that the marquee de Sad was to be full of amazing gizmos, and video games, and gigantic androgynous...
We Seek Him Here, We Seek Him There
MOZART: A CULTURAL BIOGRAPHY by Robert W. Gutman Secker, L25, pp. 839 If Mozartean scholarship has survived the bicentennial celebrations of 1991 rather than collapsing in exhaustion, as one might have expected, one reason has been the need to wrestle...
What News from Ekaterinburg?
THE demise of any institution one knows well is always sad. Institutions are, after all, the threads that link us to the past. Fortunately, though, my sense of loss at the passing of Flemings, the merchant bank where I worked for three years and which...
Why I Am Proud to Be a Subject of the Queen
NEEDLESS to say, there were no star-spangled hats, no hot dogs and hamburgers, no crowds of emotional spectators, no judges making patriotic speeches. Nor, in fact, were there any ceremonies of any kind: I became a British subject - or I think I became...
Will Apathy Help Mr Blair, or Will It Sink Him?
There is no truth in the rumours that the government is now moving into pre-election mode. That happened during the early hours of 2 May 1997. For the past three years, Mr Blair and his ministers have been refighting the last election, in the hope of...
Winning Way
Well, I did it. On 21 April I proposed to my girlfriend. As regular readers of this column will know, I moved back from New York at the end of January to live with Caroline on a three-month 'trial basis'. At the beginning of April - three weeks before...
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