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. 292, No. 9122, 2003

A Fat Cat Writes: Away with This Girthist and Speciesist Bias in Boardrooms
It is a sad reflection on modern business life that the debate on corporate governance and boardroom pay should be conducted in terms of mindless prejudice (writes my feline correspondent, Mrs Jellicle). Every director who is allowed to curl up on a...
Ahead of His Time
Thomas Jones (1742-1803): An Artist RediscoveredIn his memoirs, the Welsh painter Thomas Jones (1742-1803) attributes the premature death of his fellow artist Nicholas Dall to 'Discontent & despair from the reflection that when all the houses in...
All over the Place
LOOTby Nadine GordimerBloomsbury, L16.99, pp. 240,ISBN 07747564973Nadine Gordimer's lazily allusive and unkempt prose style makes most of the stories in her new collection, Loot, a pleasureless slog. This is Gordimer's tenth collection of short stories;...
Ancient & Modern
Nearly 75 per cent of university lecturers think the current intake of students is the worst they can remember. Plato may help us decide what 'worst' means; and an important conclusion follows.In his Euthydemus, Plato portrays two clever-clogs sophists,...
A Nest of Vipers
THE HEAT OF THE KITCHENby Bernard DonoughuePolitico's, L25, pp. 392,ISBN 1842750518GLIMMERS OF TWILIGHTby Joe HainesPolitico's, L20, pp. 216,ISBN 1842750712Donoughue and Haines were the David and Jonathan of Harold Wilson's kitchen cabinet, swifter than...
A Week to Remember
Is there anywhere more beautiful in May than England? And can anybody recall a more glorious week than the one we have just enjoyed? The answer to the first question is: of course not. Those who wobble a bit over the second are lucky souls indeed, for...
Banned Wagon: Global
'Fair trade' coffee has become as much a staple of the middle-class kitchen as organic carrots and free-range eggs. But, for the fair-trade lobby, voluntary gestures are not enough. They are lobbying the US government, with some signs of success, to...
Beyond Boswell
All I knew about Corsica before going there last week for a touring holiday was that it is a French possession, that Napoleon hailed from there and that James Boswell visited there once. Exactly where Corsica was in the Mediterranean sea, I was uncertain...
Blood and Sand
CHOPIN'S FUNERALby Benita EislerLittle, Brown, L16.99, pp. 231,ISBN 0316860212Among those whom in adolescence I wanted to be when I grew up was Chopin. His music seemed very close to sex and the misery of not having it. His etudes were a brown study,...
Diary
Long before there was any public outcry that Tony Blair had 'lied' about weapons of mass destruction, intelligence sources were worried and some, privately, said so. Perhaps these are the people that John Reid calls 'rogue elements', but their complaints...
Disobeying Orders
Tristan and IsoldeColiseumTristan und Isolde at Glyndebourne was followed five evenings later by Tristan and Isolde at the Coliseum, the first revival of David Alden's 1996 production, with an almost entirely new cast. Comparisons are inevitable, especially...
Events, Dear Boy, Events
SOWING THE WINDby John KeayJohn Murray, L25, pp. 448, ISBN 0719555883As everybody knows, as soon as you start to talk to any eltizen of any Middle Eastern country about any aspect of their current situation, the discussion quickly turns to historical...
For Better Not Worse
I'd rather jack/Than Fleetwood Mac,' sang two dippy girls in the heady summer of 1988, thus cocking a snook at all the sorry old people who still occasionally played Rumours. These days no one remembers what 'jack' meant, but the same sorry old people...
Free Jaffrey Archer Now
Jeffrey Archer, the disgraced peer, should be let out of prison as soon as he would be if he were Joe Bloggs, the disgraced dustman. In July 2001 Archer was given a four-year sentence for perjury and perverting the course of justice, so in a few weeks'...
From Gin Craze to Twin Krays
LONDON'S UNDERWORLDby Fergus LinnaneRobson Books, L16.95, pp. 288,ISBN 186105548XIn this jolly history of London crime, Fergus Linnane fathoms the city's underbelly of lurkers, crack-dealers and other chancers. There's no short-age of gangland cuties...
Gluons, Bosons and Quarks
A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHINGby Bill BrysonDoubleday, L20, pp. 515, ISBN 0385408188This modestly titled book, Bill Bryson tells us at its outset, is 'a quest to understand everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the rise of civilisation'....
How De Gaulle Defeated the Vichyite Tendency in the United States
Last week was the week when plenty of Britons, though not their government, seemed to place themselves on guard against M. Giscard's constitution. It was appropriate, then, that it was also the 60th anniversary of one of the greatest among the many crises...
Humbling Experience
If anyone believes that the EU can impose cultural and political homogeneity, they should come to Madrid for the festival of St Isidore. Twenty-nine corridas, on the trot, from 10 May to 7 June!Lest any animalists should believe the fiesta is running...
I Am a Tory to My Toes
It is modestly flattering to find one's views the subject of occasional comment by contributors to The Spectator. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is the latest to have a run at it ('A question of loyalty', 31 May). Perhaps I could assist future exegesis by setting...
I'm Sorry, They Haven't a Clue
When I tuned in to Fi Glover's morning programme on BBC Radio Five Live last Wednesday I thought for a moment I was listening to a British spokeswoman for the EU. In fact, it turned out to be the Brussels correspondent of the Daily Mirror, Lorraine Davidson,...
Is Saddam in Russia?
In Moscow on 19 March a press conference was held at the headquarters of the Interfax news agency announcing the results of a Muslim/Christian peacemaking trip to Baghdad, which had taken place over the previous few days. Among the returning dignitaries...
Jolly Serious Work
AN INSPECTOR RECALLSby Derek SherbornThe Book Guild, L16.95, pp. 300, ISBN 1857766536Back in the early 1980s I set off with my lamented friend Patrick Montague-Smith, the learned genealogist, who shared my enthusiasm for lesser-known family seats, on...
Letters
Axed by the BBCFrom Janet DaleySir: What an extraordinary tangle of contradictions the BBC has generated about its coverage on the night of the local elections! Matthew Parris (Another voice, 31 May) appears to have been told by somebody that I, as the...
Mingling with the Mighty
There I was standing in a room with the word 'Service' painted on the door, in the Gellert hotel in Budapest. I was attempting to iron a pair of trousers for the first night of Phantom of the Opera, which was to be the biggest stage production Hungary...
Pursued by the Furies
THE CALLIGRAPHERby Edward DocxFourth Estate, L10.99, pp. 353, ISBN 1841155438Two men stand reading a handscripted copy of Donne's poem, 'The Legacy'. Eventually one speaks: 'I know you can get a long way up your own arse but even so that poem there is...
Radical Moves
Nederland Dans Theater 2Sadler's Wells TheatreThose who love Jiri Kylian for his distinctively fluid choreography might find 27'52" a little shocking. The 2002 creation shows a radical departure from the formulae that have made Kylian internationally...
Real Merits
The Summer ExhibitionRoyal Academy of Arts until 10 AugustThe season is with us again, and it's time to wander down to Burlington House for that great bazaar of contemporary and traditional art, the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition. This is the 235th...
Speculating into the Void
COSMOPOLISby Don DeLilloPicador, L16.99, pp. 209, ISBN 0330412760Though Don DeLillo published his first novel in 1971, it was during the 1980s with such books as the effervescent and grimly comic campus novel White Noise (1985) and the breath-takingly...
The Best of British
BRICK LANEby Monica AliDoubleday, L12.99, pp. 413, ISBN 038560484XTHE VOICESby Susan ElderkinFourth Estate, L16.99, pp. 323, ISBN 1841152013If you are suspicious of lists and publishers' marketing ploys, then you may feel wary of both these novels. Susan...
The Biggest Bang in the World
KRAKATOA: THE DAY THE WORLD EXPLODED, AUGUST 27, 1883 by Simon Winchester Viking, L16.99, pp. 408, ISBN 0066212855How irritating, I thought after completing this splendid volume, that I never took Simon Winchester up on his suggestion of a hike up Mayon...
The Government Is Addicted to Persecuting Fat Slobs Who Smoke
I am writing this article at my dining-room table. To my left is a bottle of cut-price Bulgarian Soave, to my right, stacked neatly in their three smart black packets, 60 cigarettes of the Raffles brand. I very much doubt that I will get through all...
The Great Pretender
Later this summer, on 2 August, Tony Blair's government will reach its most significant mile-stone yet. It will become the longest-serving Labour government in history, surpassing the record of six years and three months held by Clem Attlee between July...
The Noble Feat of Nike
Nike. It means victory. It also means a type of expensive gym shoe. In the minds of the anti-globalisation movement, it stands for both at once. Nike stands for the victory of a Western footwear company over the poor and dispossessed. Spongy, smelly,...
The NoW Is Bad News, but the Police Were Just as Bad in the Posh 'Kidnap' Case
Almost everyone dislikes the News of the World, including many of its readers. It is coarse, intrusive, hypocritical and sanctimonious. It frequently puts itself above or outside the law - perhaps most famously when it so whipped up public hysteria over...
The Spectator's Notes
Further to my mention of the Deputy Prime Minister's new-found enthusiasm for croquet, a kindly reader, Charles Hastings, directs me to the account of another Prescottian sporting distinction. In his excellent new biography of Anthony Eden, D.R. Thorpe...
They've Worn Well
So - Luciano Berio (1925-2003) - they called you 'Lucky Luciano' 'Rossini of the avant-garde', - another light out, the 'gaiety of the nations' depleted, no more sequenzas, no more wheeler-dealing; sadly I never met you; friends who did say you were...
Too Heavy-Handed
I've had to give up on The Forsyte Saga, I'm afraid. I stuck it out through the whole of the first series, which I rather enjoyed. But in the new one I find myself curiously reluctant to give a toss what happens to anyone, least of all the intensely...
Travel Warnings Are Bad for Business
Nairobi About four months ago I was invited as Kenya's new foreign minister to give a talk on the aims and goals of the new Kenyan government at Chatham House. My speech was an upbeat assessment of our future following one of the most peaceful and democratic...
Truth Twisters
New YorkI remember well a conversation I had with Gianni Agnelli in the winter of 1963 about John Profumo and lying: 'Poor man,' said the charismatic Fiat chairman-to-be, 'such disgrace for so ugly a tart.' Both of us at the time took it for granted...
Under the Influence
HRH the Prince of Wales's two charities bearing his name rightly enjoy wide approval. Yet their work and the distinction between them is less than clear. The Prince's Foundation, a remarkably influential minnow, its turnover around L3 million, promotes...
Why I Quit Teaching
I was on holiday when I read about my resignation as headmaster of St Edmund's. 'Head quits over Labour policies' read the headline. It came as quite a surprise. I knew I had resigned, but didn't think anyone would be interested. Then the story was mentioned...
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