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. 290, No. 9083, 2002

America's Duty
Saddam Hussein is a dangerous and evil man, and the world would be a better and safer place if he were removed from power. A killer from early adolescence, he is brutal and psychopathic even by the high standards of inhumanity prevailing in his region....
Ancient & Modern
THE media have been collectively tut-- tutting over the mindless mob that gathered to abuse a woman held on bail over the Soham murders. Nothing new there: the Roman historian Tacitus (AD 56-120) long ago pointed out how satisfying it was to submerge...
An Ending but Not a Conclusion
With A Whistling Woman, A.S. Byatt concludes one of the grandest and most ambitious fictional projects anyone has undertaken since the war. This fourth and final novel in a sequence begun with The Virgin in the Garden and continued in Still Life and...
Bush Is Leading US to Tragedy
`NO, no,' says the Saudi ambassador, `this is how you do it. You cannot lift your arm above the shoulder, and you must do it sideways.' He moves alongside, a big man with a faint resemblance to Leon Brittan, and makes a thwacking motion. Meet Ghazi Algosaibi,...
Crystal B*lls
AFTER 11 September, New Yorkers started going to church again. Grace Church on Broadway resounded with the voices of hundreds of hip thirty-somethings, and the carved wooden pews of St Thomas's on Fifth Avenue were crammed with middleaged couples with...
Diary
This being the first anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, I feel that prudence requires anyone writing a Diary in The Spectator - which has become the principal launching-pad for Mark Steyn's state-of-the-art verbal missiles - to use...
Grimly Comic Menace
PORNO by Irvine Welsh Cape, L10, pp. 484, ISBN 022406181X Porno is billed as `the sequel to Trainspotting', which immediately is a worrying sign, like the blow-up doll that stares out from the front cover. Why is Irvine Welsh returning to the territory...
Imbalance and Bile
There is something about George W. Bush that almost unhinges his political opponents. Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan aroused similar hatred, not just for their policies but for their firm refusal, like Bush, to behave as those left of centre would...
In a Dither
It's a ludicrously hot day and I don't really want to be writing a TV review at all; I want to spend the afternoon swimming, possibly appeasing my Protestant work ethic by squeezing in about half an hour on the high-concept screenplay which will one...
Intriguing Priorities
Sometimes a smaller exhibition can be more revealing than a big one. Ben Nicholson got the full Tate retrospective treatment almost a decade ago on the occasion of his centenary, but in some ways I found that the little exhibition currently at Kettle's...
I Thought It Was a Nuclear Bomb
IF you have lived in New York for some time, you will know that the days in early September are often the most beautiful of the year. The tropical heat and fogs of August give way to the brightness and clear skies of early fall. In New York after Labor...
It's Not the Yanks Who Are Dumb
'I AM 25, a graduate who has travelled extensively after university and a Labour voter. To people of my type, across Europe and the English-speaking world, Americans are a laughing-stock, known mainly for their vacuous culture and profound ignorance....
Letters
Wales for the Welsh From Mr Nicholas Bennett Sir: Despite Jan Morris's attempt to disguise her view that the Englishman should not buy a home in Wales (Go home, Englishman', 31 August) as cultural patriotism, one has only to substitute 'English' with...
Literary Intercourse
A Christian acquaintance sends me a typed newsletter once a month. She lives `by faith' (no job) and at the end of her newsletters always invites me to contribute to her ministry either with my prayers or with a cheque. This month she praised God for...
Living Dangerously
The fashion folk are upon us again. The other day I was reading a list of so-called must-have fashion items in one of the newspapers. These included a Matthew Williamson evening dress, costing over L1,000 and resembling a tea towel. Other indispensables...
On Songs and off Form
SPECTATOR SPORT EARLIER this year, during a conversation in Munich with John Tomlinson, the great bass, who was appearing in that city's famous opera house, we wondered whether it was more difficult to master an art like his, singing, or a sporting one,...
Passing On
Wild life As the anniversary of you-know-what comes up I have been reading about the Mad Mullah of British Somaliland. He was inspired by Wahabism and on the eve of rebelling he wrote, `Do you not see that the Infidels have destroyed our religion and...
Plucking at the Sighing Harp of Time
THE STORY OF LUCY GAULT by William Trevor Viking, L16.99, pp. 227, ISBN 0670913241 William Trevor is the voice of a civilised Anglo-Ireland capable of apologising for ancient privileges and extensive estates while discreetly lamenting their departure....
Puffing Away
New York I started smoking aged 13 at Lawrenceville school. Pall Mall's unfiltered, in a large red packet. It was illegal, but so was masturbation, which we were told by the wrestling coach was far worse. Six minutes of non-stop grappling was tough -...
Sandown Celebs
The turf Derek Thompson would, I suspect, like to have been Busby Berkeley or Cecil B. de Mille. In the unsaddling enclosure at Sandown on Saturday the Channel 4 commentator could not resist taking through their paces an assembled group of dancing girls...
Sardines Do a Brisk Trade in the High Street, So Long as No One Opens the Tins
One of the first laws of trade is that that there are two kinds of sardine. One is for eating, but the other kind is for buying and selling, so there is no need to open the tins and risk disappointment. Every so often, this perception sweeps through...
Sense and Sensitivity
Despite much talk of access, museums are being encouraged to hide artefacts away from 'inappropriate' public gaze. At the end of last year, an Internet news group for ethnographers in museums discussed the role they play in this. As one curator began,...
Shocked by Brecht
The Threepenny Opera (Lyric) Les Miserables (Palace) One of the surprising things about being a theatre critic is how many of the socalled masterpieces of the stage turn out to be damp squibs. Tartuffe, for instance, is about as sophisticated as Carry...
Sniggling with a Darning Needle
THE BOOK OF EELS by Tom Fort HarperCollins, L16.99, pp. 286, ISBN 000711592X I have always counted myself a loyal, even an enthusiastic eel fan. I seek them out and buy them whenever I can find them live: they deteriorate quickly and should be killed...
The Green Gestapo
Johannesburg WHEN an African arrives in Europe for the first time, he notices that there are no lions about. This is most unnatural and disturbing. Lions ranged through Europe for millions of years. Some ecological catastrophe must have wiped them all...
The Law of the Letter
ELLA MINNOW PEA: A NOVEL IN LETTERS by Mark Dunn Methuen, 9.99, pp. 203, ISBN 0413772470 'The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog': almost everyone knows that this is - or is anyway believed to be - one of the shortest sentences in the English language...
The Master of Reticence and Timelessness
ON A GRANDER SCALE: THE OUTSTANDING CAREER OF CHRISTOPHER WREN by Lisa Jardine HarperCollins, 25, pp. 624, ISBN 007107757 Jardine's book begins inside the Monument, built to Wren's design in 1673. Filming a Channel 4 documentary on the Great Fire, she...
There Are Lies, Damned Lies and Newspaper Circulation Figures
Newspapers, as we know, love truth. They castigate evasive politicians and track down dodgy businessmen. They deliver ringing lectures in their editorial columns when ministers do not come clean. And yet this love of truth has one blind spot. When newspapers...
There Is Litle Doubt That Dr Kissinger Possesses Opinions, but Is He Prepared to Use Them?
Dr Kissinger recently wrote an article on what should be done about Saddam. The liberal New York Times's front page reported that Dr Kissinger's article had come out against President's Bush's attacking Iraq. The conservative Wall Street Journal, and...
The Seven Railway Virgins and Supermac's Golden Seal
AND ANOTHER THING I have recently sampled long-distance rail travel in New Labour Britain. It is not as horrible as some claim, but it is crowded, slow, dirty and tedious. All the way to Euston my neighbour from Wigan talked on his mobile in a strong...
Wagner Excitement
Siegfried in Edinburgh is, musically speaking, a triumph in the making. There is nothing wrong with it that can't be put right in time, and much that is already magnificent. The single greatest cause of satisfaction is the playing of the orchestra of...
Will Brown Do to Blair What Macmillan Did to Eden at Suez?
POLITICS The greatest part of the Blair premiership has been notable for its sideways, crablike movements. Even on the occasions when the Prime Minister has been clear in his own mind about his destination, he has been opaque with the public at large...
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