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. 288, No. 9064, 2002

A Friend Difficult to Recognise
SUNBATHING IN THE RAIN: A CHEERFUL BOOK ABOUT DEPRESSION by Gwyneth Lewis Flamingo, 14.99, pp. 245, ISBN 0007120613 Every serious episode of depression', writes Gwyneth Lewis, is a murder mystery', and it is as a detective sleuthing for clues that she...
After the Fall of the Wall
THE OLIGARCHS: WEALTH AND POWER IN THE NEW RUSSIA by David E. Hoffman Public Affairs Books, L19.99, pp. 567, ISBN 1903985269 Up to a point, the life story of Alexander Smolensky reads like a morally uplifting, even spiritually enriching rags-to-riches...
Ancient & Modern
ISRAEL blitzes Palestinian territory while America tries to get a stranglehold on al-Qa'eda's mountain hideouts. Both can claim 'victory', but an enemy must (in a sense) agree that it has been defeated before real victory has been gained - as Hannibal...
An Unusual, Undiminished Hero
An unusual, undiminished hero H. JONES V. C. by John Wilsey, with an introdui by John Keegan Hutchinson, L18.99, pp. 308, ISBN 0091793556 The 1982 war in the Falklands represented a gross failure both of British government policy and high military command....
Beyond the Pale
I was watching The Forsyte Saga on Sunday. Only for the rape scene, mind you. It was billed in the newspapers as a sensational piece of sexual violence but all you got was some head banging of the sort which you could have seen at any old rock concert...
Class Act
Television Some television programmers work, some don't. Some make you long for the next episode, others make you decide that would be a good night to go to the pub, or catalogue your matchbook collection. Some get people talking and linger in the memory;...
Diary
Recently, owing to the sudden and serious illness of a beloved friend, I've been pondering the difference between contemplating dying at a mature age and facing death before one's time. Premature death must surely be the more annoying, bringing up such...
Embracing Fatalism
Wild life Laikipia Meanwhile, back at the ranch, it's been torrid. A leopard disembowelled 18 ducks. Elephants ravaged the vegetable garden. Hector, the terrier, was blinded by a spitting cobra before I bludgeoned the serpent to death. One of the lions...
Food
OK, a confession. This is unusual for me, I admit, as I'm not into confessions. As a rule, I always try to lie my way out of trouble. Me? Smoking again? Don't be absurd. It's just that I've changed my shampoo to Timotei Fag, created in Laboratoire Nicotinier...
Fragile Harmony
Low life For a home multigym I use a scaffolding pole filled with concrete. Doing bicep-curls with it one day, I accidentally knocked a hole in the living-room wall with the end. Later on, I broke an Ikea glass lampshade with my hand while pulling on...
Friend of the Earth
IT is one final indignity, many will feel, which the monarchy can ill afford. First, the 'Squidgy' tapes, then the heir to the throne announcing to the world that he would like to be reincarnated as a tampon. Divorces; speeding tickets; the Queen manhandled...
Gordon's Business Toadies
BY common consent, smokers and childless Middle Englanders had a bad Budget. But no one had a worse day on 17 April than Digby Jones, the affable director-general of the Confederation of British Industry. The fact that Mr Jones instantly forfeited 2,500...
Great News
High life New York Happiness is returning to the Bagel after a Southampton, Long Island, weekend of tennis and shooting, and receiving a telephone call from Sebastian Taylor in St Tropez announcing Jean-Marie Le Pen's great victory. Happiness is also...
Intriguing Patterns
Adrian Berg (born 1929) is one of our most distinguished landscape painters, reinventing the appearance of the parks and gardens of Britain in such a way as to reveal secret harmonies of design and pattern, both natural and man-made. Actually, Berg interprets...
Leave London by Train after Work on Thursday and Be in Barcelona for Coffee the Next Morning
ANOTHER VOICE I have found a secret railway. Northern Spain knows it is possible to travel by train from Barcelona up into the Catalan Pyrenees. Southern France knows it is possible to travel by train from Toulouse up into the Hautes-Pyrenees. What few...
Letters
Revisionist bandwagon From His Excellency Stanislaw Komorowski Sir: I do not accept Andrew Alexander's thesis that the Cold War was the fault of Poland (`The Soviet threat was bogus', 20 April). I was astonished to learn that the freedom and independence...
Making Connections
Music Sometimes exactly, mainly loosely, music has always been associated down the ages with colour, movement, visual imagery. Its mainstream course since the dawn of Romanticism right through into Modernism has been, amongst much else, to make such...
Money Down the Drain
The polls show that the majority of Tory voters approve of Gordon Brown's tax increases to pay for improvements to the National Health Service. The Tory party should ignore the polls, and attack both increases in tax and expenditure. It should do so...
My Battle for Britain
Kabul I MUST confess that one of my many failings is a fiery temper, though on this occasion I would plead some extenuating circumstances. I had just returned to Bagram from a brief attempt to rest in the battered and filthy Kabul Intercontinental. There,...
Nice Bloke, No Balls
THERE was a certain logic in Gordon Brown's appointment of the former NatWest boss Derek Wanless to inquire into the future of the NHS. The bank and the health service both fell into the category of 'once great British institutions'; both faced management...
Opening the Box
PANDORA by Jilly Cooper Bantam Press, L17.99, pp. 552, ISBN 0593046978 The last time I reviewed a Jilly Cooper novel in The Spectator my mother commented plaintively that my article had been entirely about oral sex. In my defence I pointed out that I...
Parisian Novice
The turf It was the perfect spring morning in Paris. The rabbits on the Porte Maillot roundabout were safely back in their burrows. The sun was shining. Long-aproned waiters were washing down the pavements outside their brasseries, taxi-drivers were...
Passing Exams the Hardest Way
FROM THE LAND OF GREEN GHOSTS by Pascal Khoo Thwe HarperCollins, L17.99, pp. 304, ISBN 0007116810 In the autumn of 1991, a new undergraduate entered the Gate of Humility in Caius College, Cambridge, to read English -- 'intensely anxious', and afraid,...
Queen's Fancy
SO FAR Jubilee Year has been wretched for Her Majesty the Queen. There have been the deaths, within six weeks of one another, of her mother and her only sister. Life must at times have seemed utterly bleak. In the last few days there has been one ray...
Remarkable Sculptural Presence
The Royal Academy has redeemed itself. Its main exhibition at the moment, Paris: Capital of the Arts, is one of the worst in concept and execution that I have seen in a major institution in recent years. It has the effect of making the subject seem less...
Second Opinion
THE Americans have a theory that to allow small crimes to go unremarked and unpunished is to invite bigger crimes. Needless to say, Britons of intellectual disposition despise this theory: first, because it is American; second, because it does not address...
Spectator Wine Club
AS a young man in London, living in a damp garret in King's Cross, I used to go to Laytons, a musty yet sweet-smelling wine store under the station arches, where, in the days before Bordeaux prices had become ludicrous, a young man in a damp garret could...
Strangers on a Rainy Day
THE HITLER EMIGRES by Daniel Snowman Chatto, L20, pp. 466, ISBN 0701168803 This is a wonderful, inspiring story; and perhaps the best way to convey the gigantic cultural enrichment which this country enjoyed as a consequence of Hitler's expulsions and...
The Enemy Within
THE Vikings finished raiding us in about 1016. It was felt at the time that they'd had enough of strapping on those silly horn helmets that Norwegians wear at World Cup tournaments, and turned to higher things, such as saunas. Perhaps they regretted...
The Real Estate Game
PROPERTY IT IS surprising that these days there are no sites on a Monopoly board further west than Park Lane; indeed, some of the locations are positively old-fashioned: Strand, Fleet Street and Northumberland Avenue are more familiar to students of...
The Victim - of His Imagination
A LIFE IN PIECES by Blake Eskin Aurum Press, 116 99, pp. 245, ISBN 1854107623 I met Binjamin Wilkomirski once, in the spring of 1997. He had flown into London from his home in Switzerland to receive that year's Jewish Quarterly non-fiction award for...
This Dark World
IT's a funny business, going blind. Not literally, of course. Or at least it's funny peculiar, rather than funny ha-ha. Perhaps the old school would call it rum. To be clear: it is interesting, but does not make me laugh. I am not speaking metaphorically....
Who Is the Chancellor?
Radio By now, of course, the full implications of the Budget will have sunk in and we'll have a clear idea of how much worse off we will be this year. What we won't know is: who is Gordon Brown? This man with the somewhat alarming personality, once described...
Who Is the More Trustworthy: Alastair Campbell or Black Rod?
MEDIA STUDIES Tony Blair is taking the London Evening Standard, the Mail on Sunday and The Spectator to the Press Complaints Commission after all three publications refused to retract their stories that the Prime Minister sought to inflate his role in...
'Why Does Everybody Hate Me?
IF there is calm in the eye of the storm, it was certainly to be found at Jean-Marie Le Pen's sumptuous villa in Saint-Cloud, Paris, on Tuesday afternoon. In the world outside, the international media reverberated with an orgiastic denunciation of the...
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