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. 8997, 2001

Ambridge Addiction
Radio About 15 years ago while doing a stint at BBC television news I was summoned to the newsdesk and asked, apologetically, if I would mind covering a story for which no one else was available. It meant travelling to Newbury to interview members of...
Ancient & Modern
EMAIL is causing all sorts of problems for business employees who 'misuse' it. This raises many questions about the meaning of the term 'misuse' - particularly who defines it - and where 'privacy' comes into the equation. The lack of regular and effective...
Banned Wagon
WHEN the Prime Minister suggested last summer that drunkards might be marched to the nearest cashpoint and made to pay an on-the-spot fine, he was quickly persuaded to back down - not least because one of the policy's first victims would have been his...
Bring Back Prefects
In Tom Brown's Schooldays East, Tom's pal, says: 'Why, yes, you see then the strongest and best fellows were in the sixth, and the fifth form fellows were afraid of them, and they kept good order; but now our sixth form fellows are too small, and the...
Broadway 2001
Theatre Sheridan Morley reviews the new shows on the block A year ago at this time, there was only one straight play running on the whole of the Great White Way. Currently there are half a dozen, with many more to come before the Tony awards in June,...
Clothes Maketh Musicians
I recently went to a symphony concert which featured two female vocal soloists. Our party consisted of some professional musicians on the one hand, mixed with prominent representatives of the great and the good on the other. Conversation turned to how...
Creative Contribution
Exhibitions The Ben Uri Story (Phillips, till 25 January) Creative contribution Is there a distinctly Jewish art? This question has never met with a straightforward answer, either in biblical or more modern terms, and it hangs over the impressive and...
Daydream Believer
So Michael Knighton has left Carlisle United and, with Carlisle, football - at least for now. Football is the lesser game without him. It has lost one of the great loony chairmen of all time, perhaps the greatest player of fantasy football there has...
Dear Mary
Q. I face an intolerable dilemma and wonder if you can help. My spirits soared when friends invited me to fly out on their private plane and join them on their yacht for a tenday cruise through some of the most sublime waters of the world. As soon as...
Diary
According to one of those studies, British women are among the weightiest in Europe. I refer not to the size of their brains, but to that of their bums. Only the Greeks are fatter than we are. This report has been compiled by Eurostat, the EU's office...
Fear of Extinction
In my last column of the year past, I ventured into dangerous territory by asking why two of the most powerful countries of the 19th and 20th centuries have legislated their way to their own extinction. It was about race, and how whites in this century...
Firm Hand on the Tiller
Firm hand on the tiller MAESTRO: GREENSPAN'S FED AND THE AMERICAN BOOM by Bob Woodward Simon & Schuster, L17.99, pp. 270 Alan Greenspan has been Chairman of the US Federal Reserve Board for 13 years, a period in which he has overseen the longest...
How Now Brown Cow
Television 'Rather norrrrtily.' said Graham Norton, his vowels hopelessly twisted, possibly clockwise, and thus in the opposite direction to Loyd Grossman's, 'we also gave you the chance to v-oh -- te for the top five number ones you lurve to hate!'...
In Sword of Honour Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction; More Painful Too
I enjoy Evelyn Waugh's novels too much to watch television adaptations. No one, not even Jane Austen, had more skill in getting details exactly right, or took more trouble to achieve the verisimilitude which enables you to lose yourself in the truth...
Italian Lessons
POLITICS William Hague has a problem. The man is just far too reasonable. The Tories' new posters - `You paid the tax, so where are the teachers/trains/policemen?' - are impressive, and may well connect with the public mood. But at the press conference...
It Is Fair and Humane to Try to Protect James Bulger's Killers
What do we feel about anonymity for criminals? Obviously it is a bad thing. All of us must live with the consequences of our actions. A murderer who is given a new identity is largely shielded from those consequences. With a new name and passport he...
It's No Coincidence - a Fortune Has Been Lost So Someone Must Have Lost It
CITY AND SUBURBAN Goldfinger said it: `Mr Bond, once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, but the third time is enemy action.' He could say as much to Mr Greenspan. One morning the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board is relaxing in his bath when...
Letters
An unpaid spy From Mr Oleg Gordievsky Sir: It is easy to answer Chapman Pincher's question about money (Letters, 6 January) because I have done so in my numerous interviews and my books, particularly the recent Next Stop Execution. It is a pity that...
Life on the Ocean Wave
CAPTAIN MARRYAT: SEAMAN, WRITER AND ADVENTURER by Tom Pocock Chatham, L19.95, pp. 208 It is not surprising that, since the popular novel emerged as a genre at just the time that Britain established herself as the world's dominant naval power, a writer...
Lightening the January Gloom
SPECTATOR WINE CLUB JUSTERINI & BROOKS will be a familiar name to many readers, if only through acquaintance with their excellent pale whisky, J&B Rare. Based in London's St James's Street, they have been wine merchants since 1749. The purchasing...
Light Shone on the Heart of Darkness
THIS HOUSE HAS FALLEN: NIGERIA IN CRISIS by Karl Maier Allen Lane, L20, pp. 309 Karl Maier has been writing about Africa with authority and insight for the past two decades, and here he turns his eye on the ever-recurring collapse and changing shape...
Lush Living and Strict Writing
THE RAYMOND CHANDLER PAPERS: SELECTED LETTERS AND NON-FICTION, 1909-1959 edited by Tom Hiney and Frank MacShane Hamish Hamilton, L20, pp. 267 At the height of his fame, with Humphrey Bogart acting in films of his books, Hitchcock asking him to write...
Mind Your Language
SOMEONE asked me a question at a party the other day, much as people tell my husband their symptoms in lieu of small talk. The someone in my case was Mr Kim Fletcher, formerly the editor of the Independent on Sunday and now Mr Conrad Black's helpmate...
Old Dogs and Sea Lords
No life On Saturday we made the most of the incandescent sunshine by going out for a walk and staying out all day. There was me, my 11-year-old son Mark, who visits at weekends, and Mark's nine-year-old halfbrother, Dan. It was a joint venture of the...
On the Trail of Bellini and the Etruscans
ARTS When I lived over a brothel in Verona, I met the assistant restorer of one of the great North American museums, who was staying in a camper-van outside the front door. I mentioned Giovanni Bellini's `Madonna and Child' in his museum: `My boss painted...
Portrait of the Week
Mr Tony Blair, on a visit to Bristol by train (which was only 11 minutes late), said that economic stability was a great consideration, and someone threw tomatoes at him, one of which spattered his coat. Mr Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, backed...
Remembering Steven Runciman
It was on 12 September 1934, in Sofia, that Steven and I first met. He was 31 and I was 19, and I was trudging across Europe, heading for Constantinople. Having a drink in the Bulgaria Hotel, I found myself talking to my bar-neighbour, who was the dead...
Rocket Relaunched
We have been cutting wild chives by the river here since before Christmas. They were under water again last week, but don't seem to have suffered at all. Nor does the rocket - just about the only thing still surviving in my vegetable patch - which has...
Shoving His Awe In
BOOKS CASPAR DAVID FRIEDRICH by Werner Hofmann Thames & Hudson, L39.95, pp. 304 In some ways, German romanticism is very different from what we like best about works of art, and its most characteristic and individual products are apt to seem extremely...
S Is for Scumbag
SO here we are. The Clinton administration is finally reaching, in the preferred formulation of the Starr report, `completion'. In his political life, as in his sexual adventures, Bill Clinton is doing all he can to avoid that happy state. But whatever...
The Case against MacPherson
FOR the liberal Left the Macpherson report is a sacred text, and its author, Sir William Macpherson of Cluny, is their favourite establishment (i.e. old-style, tweed-suit establishment) man. Macpherson venerators are natural subscribers to the Guardian...
The Hunting of the Shauq
The hunting of the shauq Charles Allen THE GREAT HEDGE OF INDIA by Roy Moxham Constable, L14.99, pp. 207 This is the intriguing story of what is known in India as a shauq - an obsession or magnificent folly. Five years ago Roy Moxham, a conservator at...
The Reluctant Outlaw
The reluctant outlaw John de Falbe TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG by Peter Carey Faber, L17.99, pp. 354 I stayed up all night to read Oscar and Lucinda. None of Peter Carey's subsequent books has disappointed me, and True History of the Kelly Gang has...
The Slippery Slope
I don't know how many others were like me at Lingfield for the all-weather racing on Saturday because the jumping meetings at Sandown and Huntingdon had failed to survive the weather. But I doubt if many of them will be rushing back. I like a bet when...
Topical Fish
SUPPOSE you were given the opportunity to pelt, say, Mr John Prescott with both eggs and impunity, which would you prefer: battery or free-range eggs? `Silly question. Shut up, just pass us the eggs, as many and as quickly as possible and as stale and...
Turn Again, Scottish Tories
FOR Scottish Tories the general election of May 1997 offered no consolation prizes. Not a single Conservative was elected to Westminster. Nobody. It was left to the delightfully pugnacious Michael Forsyth to put a wry smile on a few brave faces. Arriving...
Whatever the Polls Say, Tory Optimism Is Not Yet an Oxymoron
POLITICS William Hague has a problem. The man is just far too reasonable. The Tories' new posters - `You paid the tax, so where are the teachers/trains/policemen?' - are impressive, and may well connect with the public mood. But at the press conference...
What People Want, and What They Will Get, Is All the News That's Unfit to Print
ANOTHER VOICE Of the many knock-down arguments against Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss's attempt this week to provide lifelong anonymity for the killers of James Bulger, the overwhelming one is that on which even newspapermen who oppose the ban will be least...
Why I No Longer Love Tony
I USED to be a Blairite believer. There, I've said it. I travelled with Blair and his guilt-ridden, middle-class gang and believed that the rights of the individual should be compromised to serve the needs of the group. I still possess a northern accent,...
Why We Need Philosophers
'THE point of philosophy,' Bertrand Russell mischievously wrote in 1935, 'is to start with something so simple as to seem not worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it.' He was no fool. He realised that, in order...
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