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. 289, No. 9082, 2002

Absconding from Perfection
LIGHT YEARS by James Salter Harvill, L10.99, pp. 308, ISBN 1860466540 Another novel, another marriage, another marital breakdown - but this is slightly different. Lurking behind what has become a convention, almost a requirement, is something rather...
A Man and a Month
BOOKS written by sportsmen about their careers are usually, in the words of Brian Glanville, that brilliant chronicler of football, no more than `disingenuous ghosted pap'. You could never accuse Brian of writing pap. He was fearless in his denunciation...
Ancient & Modern
AS the USA considers its impending assault on Iraq, von Rumsfeld would do well to ponder Thucydides' Melian debate. Athens was at war with Sparta, and in 416 Bc decided to attack the island of Melos, which was populated by colonists from Sparta but,...
A Second Passage to India
THE FAR CRY by Emma Smith Persephone, fla pp. 344, ISBN 1903155231 In September 1946 a 23-year-old Englishwoman sailed for India in one of the first passenger liners to be reconverted from a trooper. She spent the following Cold Weather as the dogsbody...
A Set of Linked Doodles
REFLECTIONS AND SHADOWS by Saul Steinberg, with Aldo Buzzi Penguin, L9.99, pp. 100, ISBN 0713995858 The niceties of Saul Steinberg's cartoon drawings are doodle-related. Figures begin at the nose, become elaborately hatted and shod and strut like clockwork...
Banned Wagon
CHILDREN at one primary school, it was recently revealed, have been banned from making daisy chains, on the grounds that they might catch germs if they start poking around in the grass. Needless to say, hopscotch, football, climbing and just about every...
Battle of Two Divas
Concert performances of opera have become a regular feature of the Edinburgh Festival, and it's often hard to say that one regrets the lack of staging, especially when the standard of singing and playing is on the level that it was this year. The first...
Burying the Truth
The return of a new series of Document, on Radio Four (Thursdays), is always to be welcomed, largely for the way it sheds some light on how poorly governed we've been in the past. Last week's programme, The Bone Harvest, was no exception. The piece of...
Diary
The workers teem over the building site that suddenly appeared on the overgrown river-bed which my holiday cottage overlooks. They like to get an early start before the merciless Andalusian sun starts roasting their leathery hides. A couple of hours...
Dinosaur or Bird?
BONES OF CONTENTION by Paul Chambers John Murray, L17.99, pp. 270, ISBN 0719560543 By the middle of the 19th century the science of natural history was heading for collision with the biblical account of creation. Lyell's Principles of Geology, published...
Double Trouble
Low life Last bank holiday Monday we took a case of ice-cold La Piazza Bianco Tenuta Casalbaio 2001, purchased from the Spectator Wine Club, to Newton Abbot races. Simon Hoggart wasn't joking. The wine was indeed as `delectable, fragrant, fruit-- filled,...
Doves and Hawks
High life Last week in Gstaad was magical. The weather was perfect, the air fresh and clean, the mountains glistening in the background, the sounds of Mozart and Beethoven echoing in the valley below as the Yehudi Menuhin Festival went into its last...
Emotional Struggles
We all have our perspectives. In Sweden for CNN last week, I found that the locals have been enjoying the hottest summer since records began. But for the good-- humoured Prime Minister Goran Persson, needing a high turnout in his election to be sure...
Food
IT's been a quiet summer here at Dross Publications Inc., largely because the editorial team have proved themselves lazy and useless (BEYOND BELIEF!), and I would sack them all, was going to sack them all, but then remembered that I am the editorial...
Go Home, Englishman
DURING a wet week in August, on a windswept plateau above the little cathedral city of St David's, at the south-western tip of Wales, they dismantled the paraphernalia of one of Europe's greatest cultural festivals - stowing the immense portable pavilion,...
It May Seen Difficult to Believe, but the Media Have Shown Some Restraint in Their Coverage of Soham
The very name of Soham induces a strange mixture of disgust, boredom and pity. I return to it with reluctance. But we have to consider the conduct of the media, and in particular the criticisms made about the press by the Cambridgeshire coroner, David...
Just Bromley
ON a Saturday afternoon in September 1962 a small boy cycled ten miles into a seaside town on the Lancashire coast to buy a book. It had been two whole years since the last William and he'd had William's Treasure Trove on order for weeks, and today was...
Labour's Betrayal of Zimbabwe
THIS autumn Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of Africa, is on the verge of manmade famine. Soon refugees will be pouring out over the borders, above all into neighbouring South Africa. According to the United Nations six million people half the population...
Letters
Fathers on trial Sir: It has been two years since my wife left me, after 14 years of marriage, taking my two daughters with her to set up home with a man she'd had a month-long affair with. Since then I have read many articles about family courts and...
Nothing Is 'Sustainable'
When it comes to doing his bit to save the planet, no one has a right to feel more smug this week than President Bush. No amount of power showers will lift his personal carbon consumption to the level of the 105 world leaders who, unlike him, will be...
Opera's Unsung Heroes
Translating, often referred to as an unsung art, is quite literally the opposite when undertaken for the purposes of singing itself. A number of British opera companies give performances of operas in English translation, and Chandos Records produce an...
Regret, Guilt and Exhilaration
Miranda Seymour HIGH SEASON IN NICE by Robert Kanigel Little, Brown, L17.99, pp. 316, ISBN 0316854956 EDITH WHARTON'S FRENCH RIVIERA by Philippe Collas and Eric Villedary Flammarion, L22.50, pp. 149, ISBN 2080107224 London, even in normal years, is rained...
Resplendent Staples
Notwithstanding the much-touted Spanish Theme, this year's Fronts have so far been most remarkable for memorable performances of some resplendent staples of the chorus-and-orchestra repertoire, including its two biggest-ever mammoths, Mahler's Eighth...
Say No to the Nay-Sayers
GENERALS are often accused of preparing for the next war by planning to refight the last one. The same charge could now be levelled at retired US Secretaries of State and National Security Advisers. James Baker and Brent Scowcroft have both expressed...
Second Opinion
IT has long been known that, along with an inability to learn from experience, the desire to take medicine is what distinguishes man from the animals. This desire, indeed, is what kept the enterprise of medicine as a profession afloat during the many...
She Must Be Joking
LYNDA LEE-POTTER was grinning like a lizard in the top left-hand corner of her page in the Daily Mail last Wednesday. Below her photograph was the headline `Only one penalty for such evil'. The evil was paedophilia; the penalty was death. As I read on...
Spectator Wine Club
IT is always a joy to go to Adnams on the Suffolk coast. The company, which has long made superb beers, is now a successful wine merchant too, and if you're lucky enough to be in Southwold you can visit its handsomely refurbished shop and enjoy its tastings,...
Surprising Relationships
A few minutes into Play Without Words, the latest production to open at the Lyttelton, I thought I'd come to the wrong part of the National Theatre by mistake. 'This isn't a play,' I thought, as I watched various dancers glide around the stage accompanied...
Swagger, Colour and Dash
THE VICTORIANS by A. N. Wilson Hutchinson, L (English pound)25, pp. 724, ISBN 0091794218 AN. Wilson claims that he can imagine nothing more agreeable than the life of a country parson, `born in the 1830s with the genetic inheritance of strong teeth'....
Tangles and Ties of Strength and Sentiment
THE RISE AND FALL OF A NATIONAL STRATEGY, 1945-1963 by Alan S. Milward Whitehall History Publishing/Frank Cass, L65, pp.512, ISBN 0714651117 Alan Milward defies the proverbial saying that those who dive deeper come up muddier. This is the first volume...
Team Spirit
David Liddiment did well to resign when he did. Otherwise he may well have been tarred and feathered for I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! (ITV), the tackiest, tattiest, cheapest old cobblers his channel has offered us in a long time. Yes, it's...
The Beautiful and the Damned
Gabriele Annan GETTING PERSONAL: A BIOGRAPHER'S MEMOIR by Brian Masters Constable, 16.99, pp. 288, ISBN 1841195502 When one of his serial live-in lovers left him, Brian Masters 'stumbled with the ghastly impact of it, ricocheted against the wall, collapsed...
The Conservatives Have Hardly Ever Had It So Good
Pessimism among Conservative candidates, extending to anguished doubt about their deficiencies as public speakers and their general ability to stay the course, is nothing new. As Chips Channon asked himself in his diary for 20 February 1934: Am I wise...
The Waste Land
THE American victory over the Taleban and the subsequent arrival of peace-keepers and aid-workers have done little to heal Afghanistan's wounds. After more than 20 years of war - first against the Soviets, then among themselves Afghans remain a destitute...
This Side of Greatness
FIERCER THAN TIGERS: THE LIFE AND WORKS OF REX WARNER by Stephen E. Tabachnick Michigan State University Press, L30.99, pp. 522, ISBN 087013552X If Kafka had never existed, critics might now be using the word Warneresque, instead of Kafkaesque, to describe...
To Call It 'Rape' Is to Debauch the Language
In Manchester, a friend at university there tells me, a new word has entered smart parlance among the young. The word is 'raped'. The expression is moderately strong, and casual. It is a way of saying that one has in some way been done over, done for,...
We Should Lay Wreaths and Pour Libations on the Tomb of the Unknown Shareholder
Armistice Day comes at last to Marconi, where the shareholders have, in effect, been wiped out. All that remains is to honour their sacrifice, and I have a proposal to make. When the Stock Exchange moves to St Paul's and its dreary tower is pulled down,...
Wicked Words
There are tmms; are there not, when it would be good to drop in, suitably disguised, on your enemies in order the better to observe and revenge yourself upon them. This, in a nutshell, is the plot of John Marston's The Malcontent, first given in 1603,...
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