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. 8943, 2000

A Deadly Serious Joker Still at Large
PETER SIMPLE'S CENTURY by Michael Wharton The Claridge Press, L12.95, pp. 168 Peter Simple's column is a dangerous substance. My father introduced me to it in 1959 - as a way of irritating my (then) liberal mother - and I was immediately hooked. Here...
Ancient & Modern
AS we keenly finger our tickets in trembling anticipation of our visit to the Dome, standing as it does for everything that is best about New Millennium Britain (Image! Design!), it is difficult not to pity the poor old ancients, who did not have a clue...
Banned Wagon
Beginning today: a weekly survey of the things our rulers want to prohibit IT is all very well banning a pastime such as hunting, but what when the activity or object within your sights is something which most citizens consider essential for day-to-day...
Belles and Bores
According to an article in the latest edition of Tatler, the dinner party is dead. Also in the same edition of Tatler was a picture of me and Lady Thatcher at a party with a caption asking which one was 'the belle of the book launch?' Well, I would have...
Century of Discovery
1900: Will motion pictures be a 19th-century novelty, forgotten in the 20th? It looks that way. Despite the improved projection quality arising from the invention of the three-bladed shutter, and despite the Spanish-American War - the first movie war...
Complicated Relationships
Opera North's new production of Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream continues the season's policy of extreme economy, indeed the company must now have spent almost one tenth as much on four productions as the Royal Opera has on cancelling one. Lack of...
Coward Matters
Theatre Cavalcade (Glasgow Citizens) Honk the Ugly Duckling (National) Battle Royal (National) The best of all New Year's Eves came a little early this year: at the financially embattled Glasgow Citizens, Philip Prowse ended the 20th century with a characteristically...
Dear Mary
Q. My husband and I are enjoying making new friends in the small country town where we recently bought a weekend house. Unfortunately, several of these friends of whom we are fond have ghastly children who are as feral as the raccoons in our woods. Local...
Diary
After a most convivial dinner with very dear friends - beef on the bone followed by chocolate sponge on the bone, then a little bone on the bone to suck with coffee - our host invited each of us to pick the single word that, in our opinion, might best...
Did Six Million Die for This?
THE Holocaust dominated the moral imagination of the 20th century. Before the rise of Hitler, anti-Semitism was a parochial concern of the Jews; after the war it was everyone's concern, and everyone regarded it with horror. The cause of anti-Semitism...
Families to Go
NOW that we have entered the new millennium we begin to see a little more clearly what the Cold War, and before it the Enlightenment, was really all about: not the extension of human freedom in its nobler aspects, but the indefinite extension of consumer...
First, the Good News
There is nothing for it. The wassail is over. The human race has no choice but to get up, clutch its aching temples and begin the slow climb up the ladder of the new millennium towards a future lost in the clouds. Is there anything comforting we can...
Flogging a Dead Cow
NEW years are traditionally times for amnesties. But not this one. For New Labour, the party which effaced its own history, is ensuring that this year we will be forced to relive the past. A series of reenactments, with none of the charm but all the...
For Better or for Worse
For better or for worse M. R. D. Foot TWENTIETH CENTURY: A HISTORY OF THE WORLD, 1901 TO THE PRESENT by J. M. Roberts Allen Lane, L20, pp. 906 The literate inhabitants of today's world have much more information at their disposal about-the world we live...
Hush, Rocket
CONVENTIONAL wisdom dictates that, after the food, the most important key to a successful restaurant is the location; or 'location, location, location', as property developers like to say. You can knock up the perfect lobster ravioli but the punters...
Letters
Blinkered zealotry From Mr David Radlett Sir: 'Blair bottles out' (11 December)? That statement surely fits more appropriately Mark Littlewood. He grizzles about the reality of power politics, blaming it for his departure from the organisation Britain...
Letters in the Attic
FIRST FRIENDS by Ronald Blythe Viking, 25, pp. 156 Donald Blythe aroused a good deal of interest and approval by his first success, Akenfield, a careful social study of class distinctions in a Suffolk village, notable if only for the way it described...
Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics
THE INQUISITION by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh Viking, 16 99, pp. 318 It used to be said that the Devil had all the good tunes and there have been times when a Christian, reading Hume, Voltaire, Gibbon or Nietszche, felt bound to agree. They scoffed...
Listen to the Whisper of the Trees in a Year of Not Worrying
This is a special new year and I ought to have an iron-hard resolution to improve myself during it. But what? I gave up smoking and drinking long ago. I eat little meat and would dispense with it entirely, but to do so would cause trouble - to others,...
Making Foreigners of Us All
New Hampshire DISGUSTING, isn't it? Someone holding a prominent position in British public life, yet also taking a government job in Belize? It's outrageous. No, not Michael Ashcroft, but Her Majesty The Queen, who in her own dubious bit of moonlighting...
Man of the 21st Century
IT is time to make an early nomination for the sports personality of the century, so here is my vote for the greatest athlete of the 21st century. Getting ahead of the game is never a bad idea, and I have no hesitation in naming Steve Redgrave. Redgrave...
Mind Your Language
I WAS just cutting off the muddier parts of some leeks on an old copy of the Daily Telegraph when my eye was caught by the headline 'Eucharist is "reduced to a sliced Hovis loaf ". It was all about a debate in the General Synod last November concerning...
Odyssey Backwards in Time
MY CENTURY by Ginter Grass Faber, L16.99, pp. 280 The first post-Nobel work of a Literature Laureate is always subject to particularly fierce interrogation by the critics. The book is scrutinised through the lens of the prize: is this new offering up...
Out of It
It must be hard work looking after a minimalist home - never forgetting to hide away the paperback you've just put down, keeping every surface spotless. But they come into their own this week. While most rural families face spending hours, if not days,...
Parlour Game
Looking back over the century has been a pleasant enough pastime in the holiday period but I particularly enjoyed the Boxing Day edition of Radio Four's The Westminster Hour, the Sunday night political programme presented by Andrew Rawnsley. There have...
Portrait of the Year
JANUARY. Miss Dawn Primarolo was made Paymaster General in place of Lord Robinson, who had lent L373,000 to the departed Mr Peter Mandelson. The euro was adopted by the European Union, excepting Britain. President Bill Clinton of the United States proved...
Prize-Winning Novels from France
This year in France there was an almost palpable falling off of interest in the novel, typified by the mismanaged early announcement, six days before the official date, of the Prix Goncourt, an announcement made to a single journalist, instead of the...
Russian Radicalism
Exhibitions Amazons of the Avant-Garde (Royal Academy, till 6 February) Exhibition planners have a large responsibility to the gallery-going public which they do not always honour. In any century, there will be scores of exhibitions devoted to the work...
Some Consolation
By the time you read this I'll be holed up in a chalet in Val-d'Isere with a beautiful, 25-year-old girl. If you think this disqualifies me from writing a column called 'No life', you're dead wrong. The girl in question is my ex-girlfriend and she only...
Special Rubbish
I couldn't get hold of the preview tapes for David Copperfield, unfortunately, so I can't tell you whether it was up there with Wives and Daughters. Probably just as well, though, because I'm feeling all spaced-out and cold-ridden at the moment and I'm...
Striking Gold
What was the last great object sold at the end of the millennium? A l7th-century silver-gilt marriage cup in the form of a near life-size Moor's head, crowned with a plumed headdress set with rock crystal. This unusually sculptural piece of virtuoso...
Talking 'Bout Regeneration
Talking 'bout regeneration Bevis Hillier REGENERATION: THE STORY OF THE DOME by Adam Nicolson HarperCollins, 19.99, pp. 255 THE MILLENNIUM DOME by Elizabeth Wilhide HarperCollins Illustrated, D9.99, pp. 192 SORRY MENISCUS: EXCURSIONS TO THE MILLENNIUM...
Thanks for the Memories
Gstaad This is as good as it gets. It's the year 2000, I'm up in the Swiss Alps, and I'm writing my first column in the new century. Mind you, if someone had told me that I'd still be around and writing for the Speccie in the year 2000, 1 would have...
The Case for the Prosecution Will Win the Trial of the Century
If the human race does survive, historians will probably spend a significant part of the next millennium discussing conflicting audits of the 20th century; there is little likelihood that the disagreements will subside into a consensus. The 20th century's...
The Great Divide
In terms of art in London, the big news of the new century is, of course, the splitting of the Tate Gallery. Like some primitive, single-celled creature intent on procreation, the Tate has slowly divided itself into two separate organisms, named - after...
The Underground Provides the Most Marvellous Subjects for Art
I wish I could draw. Only draw. I have no ambition to command the palette or master the secrets of composition, no ambition to understand art. I am interested in faces. Only faces. Bodies are much alike, divided into the obvious categories of male and...
The View from the Year 3000
From a private journal, January 3000 I CANNOT reflect without bitterness on the millennium that has just ended. No period in history ever began with such high hopes and ended in such despair. We started by using technology and mathematics to sweep away...
Winning Trio
Technology freaks, professional partygoers and knitters of baby clothes within the prime ministerial circle may be focusing on the millennial year ahead. Closing my betting book for 1999 with a mournful sigh for what might have been and a remembrance...
You Can't Win on the Right, William
WILLIAM HAGUE has had a tough time recently. I know how he feels. He must ignore the setbacks and plough on. The Tory tribe is tough and resilient. It recovers quickly. That is why - despite massive defeats in 1906 and 1945 - this has been a Conservative...
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