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. 284, No. 8965, 2000

Abused by Elizabeth
The telephone call from Elizabeth Hurley was brief and to the point. 'Toby,' she said, 'you're a complete scumbag, d'you hear me? A complete and utter scumbag.' Here was an interesting situation. Usually, it was beautiful young actresses who got threatening...
Accent on Change
Exhibitions 1 Summer Exhibition (Royal Academy, till 7 August) The RA Summer Exhibition is with us once again, still phenomenally popular with the general public despite the relentless mockery and disparagement of the nation's art critics. This is the...
Adding to the Gaiety of the Nation
AARON COPLAND by Howard Pollack Faber, L30, pp. 704 The United States of America produced some of the 20th century's most important composers, ranging from the recondite cult figure of Charles Ives to the immensely popular George Gershwin, and Aaron...
A Good Time Out
The Tempest (Shakespeare's Globe) Albert Speer (National) Notre Dame de Paris (Dominion) Dolly West's Kitchen (Old Vic) The Shakespeare Globe grows in stature and confidence by the summer season, but it is not a theatre in the sense of Stratford or the...
A Linguist of Many Parts
GEORGE MOORE, 1852-1933 by Adrian Frazier Yale, L29.95, pp. 604 George Moore was a brilliant and important writer who slips through the net. He should be up there with Wilde, Yeats and Shaw in the pantheon of Irish-born writers of the late 19th and early...
Alpha for the Chinese World
WAITING by Ha Jin Heinemann, 10, pp. 308 Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shu Yu. Together they had appeared at the courthouse in Wujia Town many times, but she had always changed her mind at the last moment when the...
Ancient & Modern
NEWSPAPERS and the radio have recently been full of Minimus - the little mouse (mini-mus) of the new primary school Latin course, Minimus - and Maximus, hero of the film Gladiator. This week, therefore, Minimus. The ancients used animals for food, hunting,...
A Rare Treat
There are some interpretations, especially on the operatic stage, which seem so evidently to say the last word on a role, and, if the performer is subtle enough, on the relationship of that role to the others in the work concerned, that much to the frustration...
A Toast for Tea
Because I like my weekend TV viewing to be as intellectually undemanding as possible, I can't pretend I was delighted when my father-in-law rang up on Sunday and suggested I watch some boring new series about the Industrial Revolution. I suppose I could...
Banned Wagon
TEENAGE rebellion is widely accepted as a natural stage in the evolution of the individual. But then again it might simply be a reaction to the authoritarianism of those who run modern education. The proposed ban on musical chairs, put forward last week...
Bowled Over
THE links between sex and sport have been explored only tentatively: a pity, because it is a wonderfully rich field for wild speculation, Freudian or Darwinian. The verb 'to score' has a fine, if unsubtle, double meaning. There is also the Lovelace Explanation:...
'Clap Your Hands!' Says Peter Pan as the Alien Geese Meet Their Doom
There was a morning, earlier this month, when all nature conspired to delight the eye, and I walked into Kensington Gardens to relish it. The sun radiated golden beams from an ultramarine sky and made the endless vistas of trees glitter and sparkle in...
Dear Mary
Q. Since my dog was run over I feel self-conscious going for a country walk on my own. What should I do? C.H., Wick, Pershore, Worcestershire A. Always carry a couple of stamped envelopes in your hand as though heading for a post box. Or take a tip from...
Diamonds Are for Everyone
IN so many ways, Sierra Leone makes an unlikely hell-hole. Fifteen minutes' drive from the centre of Freetown, the British military have set up their checkpoints along one of the most beautiful corniches on earth. The marines and the aid workers go down...
Diary
The 20th of May saw the long-awaited, much talked about, highly competitive, vertically social-climbing, potentially embarrassing and unashamedly fund-raising annual summer ball at my son's school. Having never before had the courage to enter this social...
Diminishing Opportunities
By the time you read this I will be in the swamps of the Okavango Delta in Botswana. Betting opportumries mere seem to be limited to which crocodile moves fastest off the bank if you dangle your leg outside the dugout canoe and whether the hump ahead...
Fame and Fortune
Time was when the Tate Gallery ignored the existence of the avant-garde. It took a campaign by the artists Henry Moore and Ben Nicholson to persuade the trustees to buy their first Picasso in 1933, and even then the gallery opted for the tamest example...
Fighting on the Beaches
THE STRAITS OF WAR: GALLIPOLI REMEMBERED introduced by Martin Gilbert Sutton, L20, pp. 200 A SOLDIER'S LIFE: GENERAL SIR IAN HAMILTON, 1853-1947 by John Lee Macmillan, L25, pp. 292 The Anglo-French naval attack on the Dardanelles in March 1915 followed...
From Sarajevo to Chicago
THE QUESTION OF BRUNO by Aleksandar Hemon Picador, L12.99, pp. 230 With the publication of Zadie Smith's White Teeth, and now The Question of Bruno by Aleksandar Hemon, it seems that hype is becoming excusable. A slim volume of mainly autobiographical...
Getting Back into Touch
THE SONG OF THE EARTH by Jonathan Bate Picador, L18, pp. 322 This book is an analysis of the progress of our disconnection from `nature', though there is no mention here of our own creation myth, no Eden, no Fall. When, it is asked, did our alienation...
Getting One's Priorities Right
What is more important, your garden or your children? Should we have gone to the Chelsea Flower Show last week, or held my eldest son's right hand while his left was being operated on? I telephoned the boy to find out how strongly he felt about having...
He Knows a Thing or Two
WHICH LIE DID I TELL? by William Goldman Bloomsbury, L16.99, pp. 490 I read this book in a heat-wave far up Hardangerfjord in Norway, where ten professionals, British and American, were trying to explain the principles and practice of screenwriting to...
Hello, Mr Chippy
'AS soon as you came in I thought "Tory MP", so I am afraid I wasn't going to give you the job,' an interviewer said to my wife recently, to her chagrin. It is not so much that Alice doesn't vote Conservative these days, as that we needed the money on...
Identity Crisis
Last week I promised you a world exclusive about Hillary Clinton and how she has a double life posing as a male writer for the Big Bagel Times. Well, I didn't manage it. After months of tracking down leads, I was convinced that Hillary the Bitch and...
In the Land of the Dead
Pyongyang ALEXANDER Potemkin is remembered as the man who pioneered what is known in his honour as `potemkinism': the art of duping visitors into false beliefs by rearranging physical reality. Organising Catherine the Great's Crimean tour of 1787, he...
I Rang the Chancellor and Asked Him to Explain Himself -- but He Was Watching Football
War is terrible. War is hell. War makes a man do unaccustomed things, lashing out to protect his children and his loved ones. And in the great class war of May 2000, launched by Labour with all the trickery and viciousness of Pearl Harbor, I have already...
Letters
Tale of two landlords From Mr Irwin M. Stelzer Sir: That such as Andrew Gimson ('A city of spies and speculators', 27 May), with his peculiar bundle of prejudices and his ability to confuse self-interest with good policy, should be your foreign editor...
Long Live Elitism
No words arouse the wrath of the mean-minded with greater certainty than the words 'elite' and 'elitist'. To the envious and the resentful they have connotations of conspiracy, unearned privilege, injustice and illicit self-enrichment, to the exclusion...
Mind Your Language
UNDUE socialist influence on AngloFrench relations has been detected by an ever-alert reader in Antibes. In his Oxford/Hachette French English Dictionary (L23.99) he found these examples: 'The greening of the Socialist party La prise de conscience ecologique...
On the Side of the Angels
BERTHS MORISOT: THE FIRST LADY OF IMPRESSIONISM by Margaret Shennan Sutton Publishing, 14.99, pp. 342 Few paintings by Berthe Morisot are widely familiar, the best known being `The Cradle' in the Musee d'Orsay, a depiction of watchful motherhood, and...
Populism Can Mean Better Policies -- and More Votes
High-minded persons who care about political morality will not enjoy the next tew months. Between now and the election, there is going to be a lot of populism. William Hague started it, whereupon Labour denounced him, for about five minutes. But this...
Portrait of the Week
The Northern Ireland Executive was resurrected, with Mr Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein once more as education minister, after the man who is now once again First Minister, Mr David Trimble, the leader of the Ulster Unionists, succeeded in securing 53...
Restaurants
SO, off to the Ivy.... Ha, ha! Ho, ho! Caught you out there, didn't I? You thought I was going to get straight down to it. No mad preamble. No slagging off Vanessa Feltz. No update on the not smoking. I'll just go to a restaurant, write something thrillingly...
Sibling Rivalries
It's strange, almost eerie how often this column seems to return to the subject of Oasis, although the Gallagher brothers' capacity to generate headlines has long exceeded their ability to make serviceable records. The latest development in this fascinating...
Small Is Beautiful
On a flight to Bilbao a few years ago for a weekend conference, I was seated next to Sir Jeremy Isaacs, then general director of the Royal Opera House. Having introduced myself, I was slightly taken aback by his first words. `Aha,' he exclaimed, `broad...
The Animal Protection Racket
I'M standing in the middle of Auschwitz trying to stifle a contemptuous yawn. Ahead of me I can see rows of sinister sheds protected by high steel fences and bales of viciouslooking razor wire. Within these anonymous units, so I'm told, unspeakable horrors...
The Day of the Poodle
IF he stood in for Carol Vorderman on the next celebrity edition of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?, Charles Kennedy claims that he would be no better than the rest of us at remembering 'obscure Liberal facts'. So I put the current Liberal Democrat leader...
The Italian Book of War Heroes
NO doubt you all had a good laugh in Britain at the news that a unit of crack Italian troops due to take part in a Nato exercise `invaded' the wrong country. So did I, here in Italy. Their charter plane should have touched down in Kristiansand, Norway,...
The New Comtemptibles
TOM Stones is angry. Before the 1997 election he was wooed, courted and, with winks and nods, allowed to believe that his demands would be met if Labour were elected. Now he says that Tony Blair deceived him when, through subordinates, he allowed him...
There Is Only One Person in Britain to Touch Miss Hurley -- and That Is Mr Blair
Ariving from central London to Henley-on-Thames over the Bank Holiday weekend, we were delighted to discover on the way there that there is a village named Hurley. I mused: about time they named a village after her. Appropriately, there was a suspicion...
The Thinking Man's President
FIRST PERSON by Vladimir Putin Hutchinson, L9.99, pp. 219 This is a well crafted book, calculated at perfect pitch to appeal to several Russian and ex-Soviet moods. It is the result of six informal interviews, interspersed with the comments of family...
Three into One Doesn't Go
THE BATTLE FOR GOD: FUNDAMENTALISM IN JUDAISM, CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM by Karen Armstrong HarperColllins, L19.99, pp. 442 This rather indigestible book contains a large number of facts. Some are relevant to its theme. Some are interesting. Some are accurate....
University Challenge
It's time I threw in my ten cents worth over the Laura Spence business. First of all, if I hadn't got into Oxford I would probably be too embarrassed to say so. It certainly wouldn't occur to me to blame the selection panel for discrimination. Hey-ho...
Western Country Blues
LETTERS FROM WALES edited by Joan Abse Seren, L14.95, pp. 336 Wales was a bit of a shock. If you went in with an army it was much like England today is to touring cricket sides, a useful place to boost your averages. `After one conflict,' writes an anonymous...
What a Whopper
I didn't listen to the radio much last week as I spent every day salmon fishing on the Tay. I went to Scotland with the best intentions, taking a radio with me, but it seemed absurd to lug it down to the fishing huts, disturbing the majestic peace of...
Writing for Pleasure
ABC David Kindersley, a life of letters (Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, till 25 June; Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Bretton Hall, 14 July-28 Au ust) The lettercutter David Kindersley was an inspiration to many people, inside and beyond his own particular art....
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