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. 9128, 2003

A One-Man Dad's Army
THE OUTCASTS' OUTCAST: A BIOGRAPHY OF LORD LONGFORD. by Peter Stanford. Sutton Publishing, L20.00, pp. 512. ISBN 0750932481It isn't good manners for somebody to criticise a great-uncle after his death, but I know from first-hand experience that my great-uncle,...
Captain Yossarian Rides Again
CATCH AS CATCH CAN. by Joseph Heller. Scribner, L10.99, pp. 333. ISBN 0743239784CLOSING TIME. by Joseph Heller. Scribner, L7.99, pp. 464. ISBN 0743239806Fortune granted Joseph Heller's generation, raised during the Depression, not only service in a war...
Classics with Spliff
In 1971, my public school, Charterhouse, was a weird mixture of Goodbye Mr Chips and San Francisco during the Summer of Love. Boys still dressed up as soldiers in the corps and were bawled at by a particularly malevolent physics master who once removed...
Courtiers and Communists
STALIN: THE COURT OF THE RED TSAR. by Simon Sebag Montefiore. Weidenfeld & Nicholson, L25.00, pp. 693. ISBN 1842127268Courts can be a tool for understanding the present as well as the past. The behaviour patterns of courts and courtiers are often...
Diary
An eagerly anticipated lunch-date with our sainted proprietor's wife. A la page as always, Barbara wanted to try the restaurant above Mourad Mazouz's blindingly chic nightclub Sketch in Conduit Street. The Lecture Room notoriously costs about a million...
Elf Warning
ParisDuring the past ten years, 34 out of the 128 Cabinet ministers to have served in the French government have been indicted, mostly for financial crimes. President Chirac himself has had to rig up an immunity law to protect him from charges that he...
For the Union Dead
COLLECTED POEMS. by Robert Lowell, edited by Frank Bidart and David Gewanter. Faber and Faber, L40.00, pp. 1,186. ISBN 0571163408When I die,' Robert Lowell told me, three days before he did die, in 1977, at the age of 60, 'Elizabeth's shares will rise...
Garrulous Strauss
Die schweigsame FrauGarsingtonL'ArlesianaHolland ParkDie schweigsame Frau is one of Richard Strauss's harmless later operas, agreeable in that it has no pretensions to be dealing with any serious issue, or really any issue at all. Adapted by Stefan Zweig...
Halcyon Days
St TrapezMy father died on 14 July, 1989, in an obvious if somewhat self-defeating gesture against the 200-year celebration of the French Revolution. I always think of my dad on the infamous day which is France's national holiday, especially when I'm...
Iraqi Common Sense
We all know what we think. Week in, week out, we hear what the British view of the war in Iraq is, and the polls tell us that we are becoming ever more sceptical. We know what the Americans think. We know what the French think of it all (not a lot)....
Letters
Power to the regionsFrom Mr Tom Langdon-DaviesSir: Leo McKinstry ('Regions of the damned', 12 July) has an excellent way with anti-government invective.But let's get real, Leo. Toryism of the kind you so eloquently present has been decisively rejected...
Moments of Truth
British opposition to the corrida stems, in large measure, from an 18th-century mistranslation. The rendering of 'corrida dc toros' as 'bullfight' - rather than the literal 'bull running' - suggests to the Anglo-Saxon that he is watching a competition....
More Respected Than Admired
JOSHUA REYNOLDS. by Ian McIntyre. Penguin/Allen Lane, L30, pp. 606. ISBN 0713993294At the Italian seaside last week I flicked through the hotel's copy of a translation of Gombrich's Story of Art. The publisher had reproduced Reynolds's portrait of his...
More Than Heaven
Mount Kenya, at altitudeAmong my many defects is the inability ever to be satisfied. We have two children and I want more. I have 29 cattle and I want a lot more. I live in the most beautiful part of Kenya and I covet other people's big ranches. I walk...
Mr Rushbridger Has No More Right to Be Cross Than Any Other Middle-Class Malefactor
Last week the Press Complaints Commission delivered two judgments which, taken together, seem highly perplexing. It exonerated the News of the World for paying L10,000 to a convicted criminal who was implicated in the alleged plot to kidnap Victoria...
My Secrets Garden
It was those trips to the Balkans that started it. As we hard-core Europhobcs know, one of the main joys of leaving EU Europe is that the food tastes incomparably better wherever the writ of Brussels does not extend. Although the hard-skinned, white-membraned...
'Never Let the Truth Get in the Way.'
Mark Glazebrook went to Slovenia to look at Damien Hirst's first exhibition of drawingsNot very many 'Brits', as Slovenes tend to call us, know the northern part of former Yugoslavia; but the graphic work of a number of British artists has made an impact...
Novel Approach
I feel a bit bad mentioning my novel again so soon after last week's uber plug, but being as the programme I'm reviewing is about novels 'Im not sure I can help it. Besides, there are some things I wanted to say about the book's genesis which I had intended...
Pastoral Musings
Ian Hamilton Finlay: Idylls and InterventionsVictoria Miro Gallery, 16 Wharf Road, London N1 until 2 AugustThe artist Ian Hamilton Finlay (born 1925) is a poet, philosopher and gardener. Since 1966 he has lived at Stonypath in Lanarkshire, in the Southern...
Proper Tories Will Have Reason to Mourn the Departure of Tony Blair
We shall miss him when he is gone. It has become the fashion, both at Westminster and in what used to be known as Fleet Street, to assume that Tony Blair has entered the twilight of his premiership. One of the most promising of the younger Labour back-benchers,...
Railtrack's Show Trial
The families of the four people were killed in the Hatfield rail crash are reported to be 'jubilant' that a total of six managers from Railtrack and Balfour Beatty are to be charged with manslaughter. They are also said to be quite pleased that Railtrack...
Roman Research
The Italians are an easy-going lot as a rule. Except when it comes to domestic matters. I do not refer to politics, of course, but to matters pertaining to the household. When my parents owned a house outside Pisa, they employed a cook called Amelia...
The Horror! the Horror!
THE ZANZIBAR CHEST: A MEMOIR OF LOVE AND WAR. by Aidan Hartley. HarperCollins, L20.00, pp. 449. ISBN 0002570599I have to declare an interest. In the late 1980s, I travelled with the author of this book. After university we went to run the bulls in Pamplona...
The Spectator's Note
It is not often you hear those few, magical little words: 'I had that Lord Irvine of Lairg in the back of me cab, once.' But such was the experience the other day of a friend of the Vole, as he eased himself into the back scat of one of Harold's Taxis...
The Voice of Baghdad
Baghdad is on a knife edge. Three in four of its residents say the city is now more dangerous than when Saddam Hussein was in power. Two in three fear being attacked in the street. Most think that we went to war to grab Iraq's oil and/or to help Israel....
Torquay Trauma
When I got back from Pamplona I hadn't slept in a bed or washed my hair for a week. There was a red stain around my neck where my sweat had mixed with the dye in my St Fermin neckerchief. I was badly sunburned. There was a suppurating graze on my shoulder...
Tricks of the Trade
Aspiring MPs - as well as their prospective constituents - should listen to a weekly four-part series on Radio Four, Brandreth Rules, part of the consistently excellent The Westminster Hour (Sundays) in which Gyles Brandreth, an entertaining writer and...
Who Is the 16th Least Influential Person in Britain?
The Dally Mirror this week put us all in its debt by publishing a list of the 100 least influential people in Britain. Many of us are tired of those lists of the 100 richest, or most influential, or most powerful.So many of them are people of whom we...
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