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. 286, No. 9015, 2001

Ancient & Modern
THE People's Peers have been appointed and there is not a People to be seen anywhere: knights and professors almost to a person, without even the slightest suggestion of a hairdresser. The chairman of the selection panel's justification for the signal...
An Honest Reactionary
CONFESSIONS OF AN ORIGINAL SINNER by John Lukacs Saint Augustine's Press Inc, L19, pp. 344, ISBN 1890318124 John Lukacs expresses a hope that purchasers of this book will be misled by the title. They may well be. From internal evidence, he was never...
A Parody of Justice
THE TRIAL OF HENRY KISSINGER by Christopher Hitchens Verso, L13, pp. 170, ISBN 1859846319 This is not really a book at all. It is a malicious polemic from a notorious pamphleteer. Having relentlessly supported the communist side in the Cold War, Christopher...
A Portrait Talks Back
SPEAK YOU ALSO by Paul Steinberg, translated by Linda Coverdale with Bill Ford Allen Lane/ Penguin L9.99, pp. 176, ISBN 0713995408 Like Philip Roth in The Counterlife or Woody Allen in Deconstructing Harry, but with more qualms, Primo Levi was acutely...
A Precious Collection of Debris
7 REECE MEWS: FRANCIS BACON'S STUDIO Photographs by Perry Ogden, Foreword by John Edwards Thames & Hudson, L14.95, pp. 120, ISBN 0500510342 John Edwards, Francis Bacon's heir, donated Bacon's South Kensington studio, the whole room and all its contents,...
Boy Wonder
THE world, it seemed, had despaired of Michael Owen. At the age of 20, he was an old man, past his prime, his gilded youth a distant memory. He was hag-ridden by selfdoubt, set about by worries, living in constant fear that his body was falling apart....
Cheeky Bidding
Two or three years ago (actually, in 1975 - but time is what it feels) Dartford District Council advertised its mayoral limousine, a 1967 Daimler Majestic Major. I was a so-called mature student at the time, living off a grant (we had them then) and...
Chelsea's Small Guys
Chelsea Flower Show is not completely and utterly unlike a General Election campaign. (No, I mean it.) In at least two significant respects, the events are quite similar. The frenetic build-up lasts about four weeks in both cases, though there will have...
Come and Get Me, Officer
THE windows have lately been opened for summer, and in come the sounds of the city. Loudest among them is the police siren. Scarcely an hour seems to pass in my part of south London without one of these camp, hysterical shrieks wailing by. Still, most...
Danger Just Round the Corner
LONDON BONE by Michael Moorcock Scribner, L9.99, pp. 246, ISBN 0684861429 Michael Moorcock's new collection of short stories shows that you should never trust polished surfaces. His characters speak reassuringly, often directly to the reader. As a rule...
Destiny Rides Again
Destiny rides again Philip Hensher REAPING THE WHIRLWIND: THE TALIBAN MOVEMENT IN AFGHANISTAN by Michael Griffin Pluto Press, 19.99, pp. 312, ISBN 0745312748 AFGHANISTAN by Chris Steele-Perkins Westzone, L30, pp. 127, ISBN 190339113 X As they say: be...
Diary
A couple of weeks ago I had lunch in the boardroom of the New Statesman, at the invitation of Cristina Odone. Despite the chairman, Geoffrey Robinson, having stated at the beginning that everything discussed was under Chatham House rules, an item appeared...
Dutch Decency and Dignity
SOME DAY TOMORROW by Nicholas Freeling Arcadia Books, L11.99, pp. 204, ISBN1900850354 The mantle of Simenon seems to have been inherited by Nicolas Freeling, whose 35-odd titles are quite unjustifiably out of print. His Inspector Van der Valk - less...
Exuberantly Inventive
Opera Paradise Moscow (Opera North) From Morning to Midnight (English National Opera) Al satire is a failure, if its point is to make the objects of its scorn change their attitudes and behaviour, and the worse those objects are, the more marked the...
Fear and Loathing in India
New Delhi AS professional star-gazers will doubtless have foreseen, Indian students are in for a rare treat. Their education authorities have just authorised 24 universities to set up departments offering undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in astrology:...
Festival of Film and Fantasty
Selina Mills, a Cannes debutante, revels in the excitement The festival is an apolitical no-man's land, a microcosm of what the world would be like if people could contact each other directly and speak the same language. Jean Cocteau Cannes Last week,...
Forza Silvio
IN awarding the coalition headed by the media magnate Silvio Berlusconi with a comfortable majority in both houses of the Italian parliament last Sunday, the Italian electorate is enjoying what one might call an Alan Clark moment. Living dangerously,...
Grief and Grievance
THE HATED WIFE: CARRIE KIPLING 1862-1939 by Adam Nicolson Short Books, L4.99, pp. 94, ISBN 0571208355 Poor Carrie Kipling has not been kindly treated by posterity. Bossy, possessive, critical and self-pitying, her character is not an attractive one,...
Half-Truths and Evasions
Once they'd mastered it politicians congratulated themselves on their skills at evading questions in interviews; perhaps they still do. What they don't seem to realise is that this is rebounding on them whenever they appear on radio or television. They're...
Heroes at Their Best and Worst
THE FLAME OF FREEDOM by David Brewer John Murray, L:5, pp. 393, ISBN 0719554470 There can be few more dispiriting conflicts than the Greek war of independence. I suppose that the cruelty and factionalism that characterised it are endemic to every Balkan...
If You Want to Vote for the Forces of Moderation, Forget the Lib Dems
An ideological confidence trick looks like being successfully pulled off on 7 June. The Liberal Democrats should make a substantial showing, and on a false prospectus. Some two-score Liberal Democrat MPs may be returned by voters convinced that Labour...
It's Criminal
The Spectator, 56 Doughty Street, London WCIN 2LL Telephone: 020-7405 1706; Fax 020-7242 0603 The root cause of crime is the decision to commit it; and the decision to commit it is profoundly influenced first by the chances of being caught, and second...
Keeping the Faith
Looking for a long-odds shot, my racing friends kept asking me at Lingfield: `Have the Tories got any chance?' An American colleague, sometime after my 10th live contribution on CNN the day the election was called, was more specific. `Just what is it...
Letters
Why I raided the bank From Mr Wolfgang Petritsch Sir: John Laughland's factual errors (`UN tyranny in Bosnia', 5 May) wouldn't be so bad if he had put the raid I ordered on Hercegovacka Banka in its proper context. Yes, heavily armed Nato peacekeepers...
Lost in Space
Theatre 2 Twelfth Night (Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford) The Lieutenant of Inishmore (The Other Place, Stratford) After the past year's run of nine histories, rounded off with a coolly analytic Hamlet, the prospect of an RSC Twelfth Night seemed...
Love and Loss
Settling my popcorn onto my lap a few nights ago, I assumed that Amores Perros (Love's a Bitch) would be a saga of lovelorn Latin types coloured by Marquez-style magic realism. Ten minutes later I was excited, horrified, gripped and proved utterly wrong....
Mind Your Language
IN awarding the coalition headed by the media magnate Silvio Berlusconi with a comfortable majority in both houses of the Italian parliament last Sunday, the Italian electorate is enjoying what one might call an Alan Clark moment. Living dangerously,...
Mr Blair Is Offering Us a Significantly More Expensive Version of the Same
Sooner or later, all governments and all prime ministers grow oppressed by the intractability of events. When he takes office, every PM must feel heady with power. He has hundreds of billions of pounds to spend, hundreds of thousands of civil servants...
Not a Very Merry Monarch
IN THE LION'S COURT: POWER, AMBITION AND SUDDEN DEATH IN THE COURT OF HENRY VIII by Derek Wilson Hutchinson, L20, pp. 590, ISBN 0091801184590 It is hard to be indifferent to Henry VIII. The man was too loud for that. A century and a half ago, when people...
Question Time
'If you're going to sit in the sun again, Uncle Jack, make sure you put a hat on,' says Alison the care assistant. `Bugger hats,' says Uncle Jack and he goes and sits out in the front garden all afternoon without one. He sits with his eyes closed and...
Scrub Graffiti
I am often surprised to see how much it takes to get businessmen out of bed in the mornings. Sir Peter Bonfield, for one: without his daily cocktail of incentives he would just roll over. Most of us are motivated to work by the direct connection between...
Snob Hits
Theatre 1 Art (Wyndhams) Blue/Orange (Duchess) It was the screenwriter William Goldman who 30 or so years ago first identified, in what is still far and away the best book ever written about the business of Broadway (The Season, Limelight Editions, L16.50),...
Sorry State of Affairs
New York Lack in the Bagel again, facing the petty indignities and unspeakable griefs of modern-day travel with graceful aplomb and devil-may-care courage. Just kidding, of course. First-class transatlantic planes - at least on SwissAir - now provide...
The L20bn Tory Tax-Cut Sensation Proved One Thing: The Tactical Superiority of New Labour
It couldn't last, of course. Sooner or later the Tories were bound to come crashing to earth. The whole world now believes the party has a secret tax-cutting agenda which would involve slashing public expenditure. Oliver Letwin, the shadow cabinet member...
The Song Which Had Everything
STRANGE FRUIT by David Margolick Payback Press, :L9.99, pp. 162, ISBN 1841951137 Tucked into the back flap of this lightweight paperback is a single of Billie holiday singing `Strange Fruit', a signature tune which everyone assumed she wrote. Inspired...
Too Rich to Care
MIDDLE-CLASS treason threatens to sink the Tories. It is among the executive homes and the gated estates, where two or three cars are gathered on the same driveway, that you will find the abstainers, the Liberal Democrats, the tactical voters and, incredibly,...
Tory Trials
There is only one real issue in this General Election. That is: is William Hague the most unattractive Tory leader ever? This is the matter that the people of Britain are going to the polls to decide once and for all. Poor Mr Hague. He must be the first...
We're Getting Much Verse
WE cried out in the desert and lo! the call was answered. Eight months ago The Spectator revived its interest in poetry and invited readers to disprove the widespread rumours that the lyricist's craft has died. `Bung us your verses,' we asked. And blimey,...
What a Dish
Nigella Bites II (Channel 4) isn't a cookery programme; it's a hymn of love to Nigella Lawson disguised as a cookery programme. It is also one of the most extraordinary shows I've ever seen. It moves so fast, and there are so many cuts, that you leave...
Why Europe Can't Be a Democracy
LIKE the poor, the weak euro is with us always. It is no longer headline news, but it is still weak. Wim Duisenberg, the wiryhaired president of the European Central Bank, at least for the moment, keeps repeating that the dismal languishing performance...
Yo-Ho-Ho and a Social Revolution
HUNTING PIRATE HEAVEN by Kevin Rushby Constable, L16.99, pp. 304, ISBN 0094800103 Pirates evoke a handful of enduring images: Errol Flynn in tights and bandanna, careering across the quarter-deck, cutlass in hand, as the dashing Captain Blood; Long John...
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