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. 291, No. 9107, 2003

A Land Unfit for Heroes
THINGS have to come a pretty pass, eh, when an institution as self-consciously august as the University of Oxford has to headhunt a perjuring philanderer to be its next chancellor; even if the felon happens to be the President of the United States (there...
Ancient & Modern
GIVEN the contempt in which most of our elected politicians are held, there is something even more than usually comic about the protestations of Robin Cook and others that only an elected House of Lords will carry any credibility `in a modem democracy'....
A Palely Loitering Revenant
A palely loitering revenant THE INVENTION OF DOCTOR CAKE by Andrew Motion Faber, L12.99 pp. 142, ISBN 0571216315 'Reviewers,' laments the Dr Cake of Andrew Motion's title, 'they are devils. Devils. I have seen good men, good authors, broken by their...
A Soft Tread and a Sure Touch
THE COLLECTED STORIES OF ANGELA HUTH by Angela Huth Little, Brown, L17.99, pp. 360, ISBN 0316724599 Short stories are best read one a night just before you go to sleep, and this collection by Angela Huth, which brings together work from the last 30 years,...
Balancing the Ticket
`THE Tories' extinction is not inevitable. But nor is their continued survival as a major party guaranteed.' So said the Labour party chairman, John Reid, in a guilefully solicitous speech before Christmas. He was absolutely right. And right, too, to...
Birds of a Feather
Low life Goodness it was cold here last week. I was sitting by the fire reading an old newspaper when a robin flew past and alighted on a framed sepia photograph of my grandfather. My grandfather loved birds: he kept quails and finches mostly, and once...
Blair Would Have Been Wiser to Rely on Blind Trust Than to Have Issued That Dossier
ANOTHER VOICE No popular impression is more precious to those who govern than the impression on the part of the governed that more is known than can be divulged. William Whitelaw understood this better than most. When I was a callow young Tory MP in...
Bum Ego Trip
Bum ego trip Michael Glover RUNNING WITH SCISSORS by Augusten Burroughs Atlantic Books, L14.99, pp. 304, ISBN 1843541505 'Our lives are one endless stretch of misery punctuated by processed fast foods and the occasional crisis or amusing curiosity,'...
Capital Losses
Singular life I am one of those smug people who can say that they are delighted by Mr Livingstone's congestion charge. This is because I don't drive in London, never did and have little intention of doing so. Not so much from frustration born out of...
Carole Must Have Known Her Film Would Damage Tony - So Why Is She Still Cherie's Best Friend?
MEDIA STUDIES In the media age, life is a soap opera. For a time we are obsessed with a particular storyline. Then it is resolved, we move on to the next story, new characters are introduced, and the old characters on whose every word we once hung are...
Continuous Pleasure
Opera Rigoletto; Khovanshchina (English National Opera) Falstaff (Royal Opera House) Jonathan Miller's production of Rigoletto, a sensation though never a scandal in its time, is now 21 years old, and has lasted, in fact, nearly as long as Wieland Wagner's...
Cult Viewing
Television Cult television is tricky. It's very private, personal, not always to be shared, like telling a friend that you really like dressing up in rubber underwear. (I don't, but I'm sure you see my point.) You have to approach things discreetly....
Hands off Northern Cyprus
A TRIP to Northern Cyprus is a trip to the 1970s. While the Greek South of the island - home to the Russian Mafia and to the ecstasy-induced raves of Ayia Napa seethes in corrupt prosperity, the Turkish North indulges in the gentler delights of crazy...
Hothouse of Hate
IF ignorance was the state of man in the Garden of Eden, then the much hyped `Eden Project' in Cornwall is living up to its name. The Eden Project is a none too impressive botanical garden that advertises itself as an educational project and a `stage...
In Need of Counselling
Olden but golden It's all right, don't panic, this isn't going to be a piece about the symphonies of Mahler. Last month I admitted that `Olden but golden' was a column in crisis, and that though my brief is to write about the popular music of the past...
In Search of Himself and a City
In search of himself and a city HERMIT IN PARIS by Italo Calvino, translated by Martin McLaughlin Cape, L16 99, pp. 255, ISBN 0224061321 Every writer is the author of two autobiographies: the gathered pages ot his published books and his scattered everyday...
Inspiring Strangeness
Exhibitions Max Beckmann (Tate Modern, till 5 May) Undoubtedly Max Beckman (1884-- 1950) is one of Germany's greatest 20th-- century painters, part allegorical satirist in the tradition of Hieronymous Bosch, part Expressionist in the spiky vigorous manner...
It Is Necessarily So
AFTER next Thursday's Enthronement service in Canterbury Cathedral, Rowan Williams will finally take his seat as the 104th Archbishop in succession to St Augustine. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-- O'Connor will be attending, as will representatives of the patriarchs...
Keep the Faith
The turf Politics and racing can be a good mix, I was reminded not long ago when meeting the former Tory MP for Montgomery, Delwyn Williams, on the bus from Cheltenham racecourse to the station. Delwyn, like many Tories in his day, had not been matched...
Letters
Return of the appeasers From Lt Col. Alexander Twickel Sir: There are three very compelling reasons why Conrad Black (`Britain is right to stick by America', 15 February) is right to say that Britain should support George W. Bush's policy concerning...
Mood Swings
Music A hundred years ago this week (22 February), after some six years of hapless delusion in a Vienna asylum, Hugo Wolf died. He'd been born 43 years before, to grow up into that neurasthenic culture later explored by Freud. As a student he was close...
No Profit, No Cure
Modern-day wizards in the laboratories of the world's pharmaceutical companies should take a day off from tending their test tubes and concoct a new word for 'profit'. It is needed because the existing word has been demonised to the point at which Western...
Not Eating or Cheating
Not eating or cheating 'A WONDERFUL LITTLE GIRL': THE TRUE STORY OF SARAH JACOB, THE WELSH FASTING GIRL by Sian Busby Short Books, L9.99, pp. 160, ISBN 1904095437 She was like a bride, they said, festooned in ribbons and bows, a large crucifix resting...
Old Hat
Dance Eifman Ballet Theatre of St Petersburgh (Sadler's Wells) There are different genres of what we normally refer to as Russian ballet. There is the Imperial Russian ballet, a category that includes titles which have more or less survived from the...
One Man's Prime Numbers
One man's prime numbers Marcus Berkmann 31 SONGS by Nick Hornby Viking/ Penguin, L12.99, pp. 208, ISBN 0670914266 When you are a bestselling novelist you get to do things your way. So this isn't 32 Songs, which would at least be a power of two, or even...
Perfect Timing
High life After several disappointingly warm winters in a row, the doomsayers had all but dismissed skiing as a future sport -- except at the North Pole, that is. Well, as always, the doomsayers had it wrong, 2003 turning out to be a vintage year for...
Problem Predators
Wild life Every time I see or hear lion on the farm, I feel immensely privileged to be on Kenya's Laikipia plateau where such things can happen. But at the same time I wonder if the predators are going to hit the livestock bomas, in which case they might...
Radiance in Suburbia
HELIGOLAND by Shena Mackay Cape, 15.99, pp. 199, ISBN 0224059343 Shena Mackay has had a difficult and unconventional career, and it has taken a long time for most readers to register what a powerful and original novelist she is. Several things have counted,...
Restaurants
I'M having my four-year-old niece for the weekend, which is nice, as she hasn't stayed for a while, probably because of what happened last time, when she announced, 'I know a naughty word.' Oh good, I said. Do tell. `I'm not allowed to say it because...
Right Deed, Wrong Reason
Johannesburg 'I SOMETIMES think,' said John Arlott, that great broadcaster and man of the world, 'that we take sport too seriously, and life not seriously enough.' How heartily Arlott would have approved, therefore, of the remarkable gesture that two...
Second Opinion
OUR problem is simple: we don't know how to live. That is why modern Britain is such a torment - on the eye, on the ear, even on the nose. You can't go vent far, after all, without catching a whiff of the repellent feed upon which so many of the British...
Seminal Event?
Radio I hope those marching in Britain last Saturday to object to war against Saddam Hussein and his ruling Ba'ath party listened to Broadcasting House on Radio Four on Sunday morning. The programme would, I am sure, have made them feel less certain...
Slipping through the Safety Net
If a French national museum wishes to buy a work of art at auction, it simply exercises its `right of pre-emption'. Substituting itself for the final bidder, which is what this means, is less fair than it sounds - word invariably gets out about the museum's...
Social Tensions
Theatre A Night in November (Tricycle) A Midsummer Night's Dream (Watermill, Newbury) How To Behave (Hampstead) Toby Young is having a baby. Promoted by an embryo, I'm here to lend my assistance every other week. First, let me declare my aversion to...
Spectator Wine Club
THIS month the wine club starts an experiment. Our new offer comes from a longtime friend of The Spectator, John Armit Wines of Notting Hill, London. Amanda Skinner, who runs the show there, suggested an open evening for readers to try the wines in the...
The Boy Who Saw Too Much and Too Little
I'M NOT SCARED by Niccolo Ammaniti Canongate, L12, pp. 200, ISBN 1841952974 Aleady a bestseller in the many countries where it has been published, I'm Not Scared was described to me as a modern version of The Go-Between. After struggling through the...
The Russian Language Front
SECRET CLASSROOMS: AN UNTOLD STORY OF THE COLD WAR by Geoffrey Elliott and Harold Shukman St Ermin's Press, L18.99, pp. 246, ISBN 1903608090 During the war against Hitler, secret services recruited on the old boy net: there was no other way of being...
The Sky Is Falling - It's a Tax on Growth to Pay for Foxy Loxy's Dinner
When Chicken Licken was hit on the head by an acorn, she complained to her friends Henny Penny and Goosey Loosey that the sky was falling, and they told her: `Sue the bastards!' So they all went off to see Foxy Loxy the lawyer, who invited them into...
The Stuart We Fail to Remember
The Stuart we fail to remember Jane Ridley ARBELLA: ENGLAND'S LOST QUEEN by Sarah Gristwood Bantam, L20, pp. 450, ISBN 0593048881 In 1066 and All That there is a spoof exam question: 'How can you be so numb and vague about Arbella Stuart?' All the same,...
This Week Iain Duncan Smith Finally Turned His Back on the Media/political Class
POLITICS There are many symptoms of contemporary decline from the healthy and robust democratic politics of the mid-20th century. They include the death of public oratory, the rise of the leadership cult and the use of mass-advertising techniques to...
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