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. 288, No. 9052, 2002

Adrift in Japan
Adrift in Japan Francis King MR FOREIGNER by Matthew Kneale Weidenfeld, 10, pp. 155, ISBN 0297828991 Like the Booker, the Whitbread has produced some controversial and occasionally even bizarre winners. But when Matthew Kneale's English Passengers became...
Ancient & Modern
SO Ivan Massow (chairman of the Institute of Contemporary Arts) thinks conceptual art is rubbish. Oh dear. According to Pliny the Elder (who died investigating the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79), one of the finest paintings in Rome was nothing but a...
A Romantic Novel without the Throbbing Manhood
A romantic novel without the throbbing manhood Leanda de Lisle GIRL FROM THE SOUTH by Joanna Trollope Bloomsbury, 16.99, pp. 311, ISBN 0747557993 I had some idea that Girl from the South might be an aga saga. As an aga owner, I was intrigued, but as...
A Tragical-Comical Masterpiece
A tragical-comical masterpiece Bruno Kavanagh ZENO'S CONSCIENCE by Italo Svevo, translated by William Weaver Everyman, L12.99, pp. 437, ISBN 0375413308 At a dinner in Milan last year, I was asked to name my `favourite novel'. Ever-- conscious of the...
Banned Wagon
THE life of a backbench MP is not a greatly challenging one - judging from the early day motions that they table. Having been elected to defend democracy and freedom, many are happy to while away the hours congratulating their local football team on...
Betraying Bach
Memories is not just the title of a famous song from one of the West End's long-running shows, it is also the name of the Royal Ballet's new triple bill. Don't expect dancing felines, though, for there aren't any here. All that the new triple bill has...
Cancel the Guilt Trip
YOU would need a heart of stone not to have been moved by the little Aids-ridden choristers. We sat under a mango tree, before a dancing-space of packed red earth, and what a preposterous delegation we were. There was Mr Rod Liddle, the big white chief...
Creatures of the Cultural Cringe
WHAT should they know of Western civilisation who only Tipton know? Tipton is the town in which two of the young Britons of Pakistani descent, Asif Iqbal and Shafiq Rasul, who are held in Guantanamo as suspected members of al-Qa'eda, grew up. By common...
Decline and Fall
IT is a truth universally acknowledged in sport that you've either got it or you ain't - the 'it' in question being the ability to win. This is quite separate from being good with a ball, or running frightfully fast, or whatever. This mysterious gift,...
Diary
I'm a sentimental sort. At public readings I perform a poignant haiku inspired by the place I live. 'Hackney - where the schoolkids and the council tax get higher every year.' (And yes, it has got 17 syllables, to save you the trouble of counting.) This...
Dwelling on Woe
I am not supposed to write about Florida. Last time I did so, the locals were unfriendly. This is because I said that Florida was a great place to live if you were rich, white, single and over 71. I am not sure why this should have been so offensive...
Expensive and Unpleasant
In view of the current climate in the West End, the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, has agreed to purchase a million pounds' worth of box-office tickets, which will be distributed free to city employees, schools, colleges and old people's homes: additionally,...
Female Putsch
Since being elected vice-chairman of our Lurcher, Terrier and Ferret club a year ago, I haven't attended a single monthly meeting. Last week, however, I made the effort to attend the AGM, in order to resign from the committee. This is mainly because...
From Geometry to Nature
From geometry to nature Penelope Hobhouse CHARLES BRIDGEMAN AND THE ENGLISH LANDSCAPE by Peter Willis Elysium Press, 5 Fenwick Close, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 2LE, Tel: 0191 281 0684, 135, pp. 249 +247 plates, ISBN 0904712044 This very handsome...
Greek Travesty
SO the great plan has finally been executed: the first NHS patients have been shipped to mainland Europe for eye repairs and replacement joints, paid for by taxpayers' hard-earned cash. These lucky ducks are enjoying the fruits of a properly funded,...
Hanging Up His Snow-Shoes
Hanging up his snow-shoes Sara Wheeler THE BECKONING SILENCE by Joe Simpson Cape, L17.99, pp. 292, ISBN 0224061801 The Beckoning Silence is the fifth in Joe Simpson's cycle of mountaineering books. Here, finally, the doubt that has been gathering like...
In Praise of the Health Service
THE immense virtues of the National Health Service were almost entirely ignored during the grubby argument about the 94-year-old woman who may or may not have been treated as well as she should have been. I do not mean that the NHS is perfect, or that...
In the End It Will Be America V. the Rest of the World. Whose Side Will You Be On?
Journalists are rather like fleas. We bed ourselves down on the furry rump of something much larger than ourselves, and there we feed. We may irritate the pooch, but we are essentially dependent upon it, and in the end our livelihood and that of our...
It's Bonkers
The oddest television drama of the week was the new Oxo ad. Boyfriend is leaving the family kitchen, says on the way out how much he wishes he could stay for that terrific Oxo meal. Daughter asks mother what she thinks. `He was a polite young suck-butt,'...
King of His Jungle
King of his jungle of his jungle Jonathan Sumption NO ORDINARY MAN by Dominic Carman Granta, L20, pp. 617, ISBN 1862074445 The libel boom of the late 20th century is over now. But it was one of the phenomena of modern Britain while it lasted. Year after...
Lady Violet Powell
Snow fell on the Chantry, and on a small area of the Somerset levels immediately around it, on 4 April 2000, the day Anthony Powell's ashes were consigned from a rowing boat to the still waters of the lake below his house. Friends gathered on the banks...
Letters
Blame the Taleban From Mr Phillip Hardy Sir: It appears to me that Stephen Glover (like that peculiar Matthew Parris, who seems to want Britain to `sit out' or `hang back' from everything) is getting perilously close to saying that the USA is responsible...
Losing Our Religion
FOR those of us who care about the Church of England, the eruption of media interest in the next Archbishop of Canterbury is deeply depressing. Public discourse about religion is so half-hearted and weak, so lazy and confused, that it feels slightly...
Pursuing Different Goals
Pursuing different goals Edward Vaizey THE MEN FROM THE BOYS by Philip Collins HarperCollins, L14.99, pp. 320, ISBN 0007126174 Philip Collins is a clever young man. From a working-class background, growing up in Bury, he has been a Cambridge don and...
Republicans in Retreat
When the 50th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's accession to the throne passes quietly next Wednesday, the loudest noise is likely to be the continued squabbling over preparations for the official celebrations in the summer. So determined is the republican...
Restaurants
THANK you so, so much for all your letters of encouragement and support which, after my last column complaining that this job was beginning to pall rather, would have flooded in if only any of you had bothered to write any. Still, I sent one to myself,...
Shaken and Stirred
When you come to think of it, the territorial zones of the London museums are as arbitrary and higgledy-piggledy as any other grand old British arrangement - the street-map, say, or the constitution, or weights and measures. Old Master prints and drawings,...
Stir Up the Zeal of Women
'PETROGRAD. Mon. 16th 1917: People cheered & cheered. Wildest excitement. Rushed off & fetched ladders to take down the Eagles off various public buildings.' So wrote Elsie Bowerman in the diary she kept while working as a volunteer in Russia...
The Last Governor?
HIS house on the moors of Cornwall beckons to Sir Edward George. By the summer of next year he will have spent four decades in the Bank of England, the last of them in his parlour, looking out across a lawn which represents a triumph of horticulture...
The Nearly Man
The nearly man Alan Watkins KINNOCK: THE BIOGRAPHY by Martin Westlake and Ian St John Little, Brown, .05, pp. 768, ISBN 0316848719 'This book weighs too much,' Lord Beaverbrook complained of Harmsworth's Life of Northcliffe. The same might be said of...
The Next Best Thing
A heavy cold, uncertainty at the hour of commitment to the road whether the wet might prevent racing at Cheltenham and the need to minister to Mrs Oakley, fresh home from hospital in Dublin, forced me to do my racing last week couch-potato style. Even...
The Press Continues to Mollycoddle Lord Wakeham-In Spite of His Links with Enron
The press is full of fascinating disclosures about Labour's links with Enron and - following my colleague Peter Oborne's brilliant piece last week - with the accounting firm Arthur Andersen. But you have to look very hard to find any critical comments...
There Has Been a Paradigm Shift in Politics, but Only the LibDems Seem to Understand the New Rules
Political journalists no longer possess the tools to report events at Westminster. The laws of politics have changed. But journalists try to carry on as if everything were as it was. We are like Newtonian physicists trying to explain away a nuclear explosion,...
The Servants Have It
You have to be terribly careful with Robert Altman films. Some (Nashville, Short Cuts) are marvellous. One or two (A Wedding) are barely comprehensible. And some - Popeye and Pret-d-Porter come instantly to mind here - are so fatuous and self-regarding...
Uninspired Mozart
There is dispiritingly little to say about Covent Garden's new production of Don Giovanni, except that it is not a disgrace, as the recent productions at Glyndebourne and the Coliseum certainly were. It seems, among the unquestionably great Mozart operas,...
Warhol's Indiscretions
Rougemont I got to like Andy Warhol a lot, but only after his death. Reading about him in the Sunday Telegraph in connection with the Tate Modern upcoming exhibition brought back a lot of memories. Mostly of Studio54, the ghastly smell of poppers and...
Young Excellence
I was sitting in my local pub, the Benett Arms, one lunchtime last week when a nice old chap came in and announced that he'd just been listening to Jimmy Young on Radio Two and the results of a poll of listeners about the treatment of Taleban and al-Qa'eda...
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