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. 285, No. 8990, 2000

A Fatal Female Friendship
MY SISTER, VICTORIA by Charlotte Moore Penguin, L5.99, pp. 376 This is one of those terrible stories of female friendship that leave this reader almost ashamed of being a woman. If there is such a thing as an equal friendship between women, this is not...
Ancient & Modern
FARMERS are not the only ones to complain mightily about the amount of bureaucratic red tape that entangles their operations. It was ever thus, to judge by records surviving from 14thcentury Bc Greece. These ancient records were written in a script we...
A Pagoda of Skulls
THERE has been a nice symmetry in their schedules. While President Clinton has been in Vietnam, President Jiang Zemin of China has been visiting Cambodia. As I landed last Saturday morning at Phnom Penh's Pochentong airport, workmen were erecting huge...
A Question of Breeding
The key moment in Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (TV) this week came when Judith Keppel, described as a `gardener from Fulham', in fact a cousin of Camilla Parker Bowles, faced the million-pound question. She needed to know to which English king Eleanor...
A Refining Moment
AND so even sport can become so rarefied, so elegant, so precious, that it becomes refined out of existence. That was made clear by a bizarre Sunday evening I spent watching poker on Sky television. It doesn't sound like great television. It was the...
Are These the Real Reasons Why Sir Walter Ralegh Is to Be Removed from the Pedestal?
It is characteristic of New Labour. which hates our history and its glories, and anything which redounds to the credit of England, that they are removing the statue of Sir Walter Ralegh, one of our greatest heroes, to make way for a gruesome prosopoglyph...
Ascot Treats
If you could have bottled and sold what trainer Sheila Williams was giving out in the winner's enclosure at Ascot on Saturday you would have your fortune made. Eighty-year-olds, given a whiff of what she was on, would have been dumping their Zimmer frames...
A Selection of Recent Thrillers
Henning Mankell is a Swedish thriller writer whose Kurt Wallander books bear a strong resemblance to Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo's Martin Beck stories. In other words, stand by for a series of police procedural page-turners with a left-wing take on Swedish...
Banned Wagon
MOTORISTS driving on the busy A38 into Birmingham this week were treated to the sight of the large, illuminated head of Damian Vernon projected on to the side of the West Midlands police headquarters along with the words, `Wanted in connection with robbery'....
Capital Crimes
`IT is hoped that this investigation will do for the prison service what the Macpherson inquiry did for the police,' announced the Radio Four News last week, reporting on the launch of a study by the Commission for Racial Equality into racism in Britain's...
Clap Trap
Wild life 'There are only three kinds of men in Africa,' my old Dad used to say. `Those who have got the clap, or have had the clap, or are going to get the clap.' In my case, I earned my spurs not in Africa but at Oxford after attending a fancy dress...
Conflation of Opposites
There are certain artists - just as interesting if not more so than the others who are out of tune with their times. One such was Lorenzo Lotto, never happy within the skin of a classicising Italian Renaissance artist. Another, closer to our own day,...
Copland Celebration
The Aaron Copland Centenary (he was born on 14 November 1900) seems a contradiction in all but bookkeeping terms that music of such permanently effervescent euphoria, ever fresh, tingling, lifeenhancing should be encased in a monumental tombstone, taking...
Dear Mary
Q. May I pass on a money-saving tip to mothers of small children? As every mother knows, there is no point going to a great deal of trouble with birthday tea parties, since the children eat only the cocktail sausages, the drinks are knocked over and...
Diary
The other day I took my daughter, who likes dancing, to see the film Billy Elliot, which is about dancing. My daughter is ten, the film is a certificate 15, so presumably I was committing some modest offence. The man selling the tickets asked how old...
Directing from the Wings
LADIES OF INFLUENCE by A. Susan Williams Allen Lane/Penguin, L18.99, pp. 240 A book of undemanding pen-portraits is a rash endeavour. Hester Chapman used to produce them regularly, and the late A. L. Rowse condescended to offer one when he had a weekend...
Fighting Words of Wisdom
Fighting words of wisdom THE DICTIONARY OF MILITARY QUOTATIONS edited by Peter G. Tsouras Greenhill Books, 29.95, pp. 574 In his memorable introduction to the first edition of that indispensable work of reference The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations,...
Fishy's Story
At the last church I joined (charismatic), the gulf between words and deeds was the widest, by a mile, of any church I've ever been to. Before everything fell apart, the strain on the vicar of serving as a high priest of God was so great that he lost...
Food
AS a food/restaurant critic (and as one of the best and most authoritative around, if I may presume to say so, which I most certainly do*), the question I am most often asked is, `How do you keep in shape?' Well, I did try jogging once, which was great,...
In Praise of Shopping
Shopping has been impinging a lot on mv consciousness recently. You might think, so what's new about that? Not much, only it is the idea of shopping that is at stake here. Shopping has acquired itself a bad name. What with Elton John's flower bill and...
Inspirational Explorer
Exhibitions 3 Shackleton: The Antarctic and Endurance (Dulwich College, till 25 February 2001) Inspirational explorer If ever there was a refreshing ikon for our era, the Polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton is it, Films are proliferating, of which George...
Jane Gardam
Jane Gardam I didn't feel rapture for any novel I have read this year but I can't get out of my head The Long Afternoon by Giles Waterfield (Headline Review, L14.99). Hardly a novel, somewhat amateur, it can't quite decide whether it is narrative or...
Kinnock: The Pound Is Bloody Doomed
NEIL KINNOCK greets me, as I had had a bet with myself that he would, with a spate of amiable 'bloodies'. No one uses the yeoman curse with such frequency or gusto as the vice-president of the European Commission. `It's been a bloody busy day, with such...
Letters
The other anti-Semitism From Mr William Dalrymple Sir: Anthony Julius (`England's gifts to Jew hatred', 11 November) suggests that newspaper criticism of Israel's murderous policies in the occupied West Bank is the result of a deeply engrained British...
Loyal and Unfaithful
PICASSO: THE COMMUNIST YEARS by Gertje R. Utley Yale, L35, pp. 268 DORA MAAR: WITH AND WITHOUT PICASSO by Mary Ann Caws Thames & Hudson, L24.95, pp. 224 When Pablo Picasso joined the French Communist party in the autumn of 1944, soon after the liberation...
Masterly Concoction
Dance Rambert Dance Company (Sadler's Wells Theatre) Ondine (Royal Ballet) It was about time a work by Mats Ek entered the repertoire of a British dance company. For the past 20 years, Swedish-- born Ek has been one of the most controversial and interesting...
Master of Spin
Robin Simon on the inflated reputation of Sir Joshua Reynolds The appearance of a massive catalogue raisonne of the works of Sir Joshua Reynolds proves that, so far as his art is concerned, the pen is still mightier than the brush. For much of his life...
Mind Your Language
AT convent school we were taught by the good nuns not to brood over lacrosse wounds or failures in examinations but to `offer them up' for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. I was strangely reminded of this entirely orthodox exploitation of the Communion of...
Mistress of Arts
You recall the overture from The Mikado followed by the entry of the Gentlemen from Japan singing, `Miya-- sama, miya-sama, o-uma no maeni, hira hira etc.' How clever, you thought, that in 1885 W. S. Gilbert could devise such a quaint imitation of Japanese....
My Prediction for 2004
New Hampshire ASK not for whom the chad hangs, it hangs for thee. In Palm Beach, Broward and Dade counties, chads are dropping to the floor faster than Monica, as Democratic officials hold their endlessly recounted ballots up to the light. The local...
Now and Then
H.V. MORTON'S collection of essays The Heart of London was published in 1925. Morton's London is compared with that of today: We walked down a long avenue packed with umbrellas. There must have been over twenty thousand of them!... Here and there you...
Parliamentarian of the Year: The Winners
THE 17th annual Highland Park/Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year awards, sponsored by Highland Park Single Malt Scotch Whisky and The Spectator, were presented by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine of Lairg, the guest of honour at the awards presentation...
Partial and Personal
CHANGING STAGES by Richard Eyre and Nicholas Wright Bloomsbury, L30, pp. 400 THUNDER IN THE AIR by Brian Masters Oberon Books, L19.99, pp. 215 Richard Eyre and Nicholas Wright reckon that `making television programmes about the theatre is as quaint a...
Pinter Surprise
Theatre The Caretaker (Comedy) Peer Gynt (National) Macbeth (King's Head) Now here's a funny thing, and it happens rather surprisingly to be Harold Pinter's The Caretaker. In celebration of the dramatist's 70th birthday, and indeed the 40th birthday...
P. J. Kavanagh
This year the great excitement for me, bookwise, is that the American poet Peter Kane Dufault has at last found an English publisher - Looking in All Directions, (Worple Press, L10). I have been a fan for years and find my praise of him quoted on the...
Pop Graduates
Mainstays of the progressive `Downtown' Manhattan jazz scene for more years than they care to remember, the Jazz Passengers enjoy a joke more than your average jazz ensemble. Given they claim to be influenced as much by the Marx Brothers as Louis Armstrong...
Portrait of the Week
The government committed itself to providing at any time 12,500 troops, 72 combat aircraft and 18 warships to a proposed European Union force. Lady Thatcher said: 'I prefer Nato.' The public sector was found to be L11 billion in credit in the seven months...
Portraits on Parade
Exhibitions 1 Painting the Century (National Portrait Gallery, till 4 February) Portraiture is in trouble. Too few serious artists will undertake the risk of engaging with another person (perhaps the legacy of `I'm all right Jack, forget the rest'),...
Putting the Story Back in History
As a boy in Edinburgh Magnus Magnusson learned his Scottish history from Walter Scott's Tales of a Grandfather, itself originally written for Sir Walter's grandson, little Johnnie Lockhart. This was history as story, and is deeply unfashionable. Schoolchildren...
Season of Myths
MYTHS of old were often spun around an element of fact. Archaeologists removing the sediment of Cadbury Castle in Devon observed that this ancient hill-fort might indeed have been the site of Arthur's Camelot. Latter-day researchers, digging beneath...
Second Opinion
YOU shouldn't judge a book by its cover, perhaps, but you'd be a fool not to take any notice of the rings a girl wears. I am not talking about diamonds as big as the Ritz, you understand; I am referring instead to a new fashion among some girls of the...
Sing a Song of Freedom
Lima HE's gone. The only ethnic Japanese to have been president of another country has returned to the land of his fathers. For ten years, Alberto Fujimori seemed determined to stay in office at any cost, changing the constitution, dissolving congress...
Sometimes You've Just Got to Ignore Your Own Prejudices
It's always the same. It was the same when Dominic Lawson edited this magazine, the same when Frank Johnson was editor, and it has been the same with Boris. We, the judges of the Highland Park/Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year awards, gather before...
Stately Appeal
I was offended to read, years ago, that Mercedes estate cars were reckoned the best estates in the world. I thought I had the best - a Volvo - and for a while I made all the comparisons I could short of actually driving the competition, I read about...
Stimulating the Emotions
It's damn nice to be back in London and to run into what my friend Sir Les Patterson calls English ceiling inspectors. There were about five card-carrying pillow biters at San Lorenzo on my first night back, making it easy not to follow my doctor's orders....
Stop This Litany of Buzzwords
'If I hear the word "Access" one more time,' said ex-British Museum director Sir David Wilson at this year's Museum Association annual conference, 'I shall reach for my gun.' I have to say the same impulse grabbed me more than once over the course of...
Stuart Reid
The book that gave me most satisfaction was Dorothy Day A Radical Devotion by Robert Coles (Perseus Books, $16.50), which I found in the gift shop of an old church in Lower Manhattan. Dorothy Day - founder of the Catholic Worker Movement and patron saint...
Taffy and the Hun
OUR FIRST LEADER by Jan Morris Gomer, L5.95, pp. 136 I suppose it had to happen. With the first National Assembly shakily in place in Cardiff, a new form of fantasy fiction has emerged in Wales attempting to choreograph the next, presumably inevitable...
Ten Years on, Mr Major's Achievements Look More Impressive Than Ever
There is a problem about trying to assess Margaret Thatcher's place in history. She is not yet ready to become part of it. She still produces more adrenalin than she can consume, and has only just got used to the idea that she is no longer in Downing...
The Analyst Giveth and the Analyst Taketh Away
PROMISES, PROMISES: ESSAYS ON LITERATURE AND PSYCHOANALYSIS by Adam Phillips Faber, L10, pp. 376 Adam Phillips's range and knowledge are very impressive, extending from Hamlet to humour to anorexia. Some of the essays are reprints of book reviews, which...
The Debt We Owe Her
Until Margaret Thatcher arrived in Downing Street in 1979, it was common ground among the political classes that Britain was in irreversible decay. How far this country had fallen since the early part of the century, said the late Peter Jenkins and other...
The Final Showdown
As the fate of present-day Tibet, helpless in the Chinese grip, grows ever more tragic, so the legend of Old Tibet, the `Forbidden Land', the abode of ancient wisdom, ruled by a changeless hierarchy, grows ever more glamorous and beguiling for the miracle-starved...
The Higher the Fewer
WAGNER AND PHILOSOPHY by Bryan Magee Allen Lane, Penguin, L20, pp. 398 How one responds to this book depends very much on its highly distinctive tone. It is the writing of a man who has spent much of his life listening to Wagner's operas and reading...
The Jewish Question
ANTHONY Julius's article about English anti-Semitism in The Spectator of 11 November tells half a story extremely well. Few Jews, in any class, who have lived with the British do not have evidence of the overt malice or overt hostility which Jewishness...
The Muscles of Brussels
THE Daily Mail is furious; the Telegraph is appalled; Lady Thatcher has handbagged Tony Blair. The Conservative party, above all, is incandescent. The new Euro-army, they all clamour, will put the safety of Britain at risk; Tony Blair is playing with...
There Is Such a Thing as Society
THE muddle over Conservative policy on drugs, and the coming-out of the new touchy-feely, pink-pound Portillo, has reenergised the long-running tug-of-war between Tory permissives and social paternalists. The ascendancy of liberal (in the British, not...
Third Time Lucky
ENO's Italian season makes its gesture towards modernity with a triple bill, of which only one element is an opera, the other two being fabrications involving children doing handstands and moving balletically. The first half of the evening, brief but...
Too Many Chads
For us Presidential correspondents who carelessly signed on for Campaign 2000 unaware that it would run until 2003, there's nothing like a light, frothy, escapist movie to take your mind off manual recounts and county canvassing boards. Down in Florida,...
United in Greed
I can smell fruit on your breath,' Peter announced crossly as he stood over my desk. I get through a lot of apples when I'm working. But they haven't been fermenting in my stomach. I don't wander through the house like a drunken wasp. Since there is...
Unnerved by Ancestral Voices
Unnerved by ancestral voices TRIALS OF THE MONKEY: AN ACCIDENTAL MEMOIR by Matthew Chapman Duckworth, L14.99, pp. 337 This hugely entertaining book is something of a curiosity. It sets out to tell the story of the Scopes 'Monkey' trial of 1925 (subject...
We'll Miss You, Andrew
There are times when a BBC decision makes you want to find the nearest brick wall to bang your head against until the eyes pop out, the ears become mashed, the jaw and larynx are so lacerated that you are deprived of the power of speech and are rendered...
We Regret the Delay to the Modern Railway's Arrival. This Is Due to Second-Guessing
Before Gerald Corbett there was Gerand Fiennes. He was the railwayman who announced at King's Cross: `We regret the delay to the Yorkshire Pullman. It was due to bad management.' In the end his career, like Mr Corbett's, ran into the buffers, when his...
Western Tunnel Vision
WORLD HISTORY by Clive Ponting Chatto, L30, pp. 862 If history is written by the victors, then perhaps world history is written by the megalomaniacs. How else to explain the urge to capture in print the sum total of human endeavour? Still, for those...
Why the Government Is Going Bananas over the Eurosceptic Press
Imagine Tony Blair in Moscow earlier this week. He is swept around in limousines, flattered by Vladimir Putin, and generally treated as though he were leader of a very important country. And then his press secretary, Alastair Campbell, is faxed copies...
Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.