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. 281, No. 8889/8890, 1998

A Choice of Cookery Books
I have had some new bookcases installed so that people can use the spare bed and the sofa again - such a relief and so quickly done by the nice carpenter working on the luxury apartments being converted opposite us. Also, I don't have to use the ironing-board...
All over in the Blink of an Eye
I HAVEN'T got the space here to write a full seven-volume roman fleuve on the tendency of time to open and shut like a telescope, and besides, I have a notion that it's been done before. But it's odd how often it happens, in sport, in life - every year,...
An Editor Who Could Say No
A MAN OF HIS WORD: THE LIFE OF ALASTAIR HETHERINGTON edited by Kenneth Roy Carrick Publishing, f9.95, pp. 189 From time to time, in the late 1960s and the early 1970s, Alastair Hetherington and I would meet, almost always in the same circumstances. The...
A Study in Failure
A study in failure Bruce Anderson LIKE THE ROMAN: THE LIFE OF ENOCH POWELL by Simon Heffer Weidenfeld, 25, pp. 976 In one respect, this book is a considerable achievement. Simon Heffer has encompassed a great mass of material; in future, anyone who wants...
A Very Trivial Pursuit
DEMPSTER'S PEOPLE by Nigel Dempster HarperCollins, 19.99, pp. 278 Benny and Emmy Lou, I can now reveal, were poodles who belonged to Professor Gordon Hamilton-Arley, a neighbour of Hugh and Antonia Fraser in Campden Hill Square. I say 'belonged' because...
Buy My Book or I'll Kill You
I WRITE from Muncie, Indiana at the end of Magna Cum Murder, an annual gathering of fans and writers of mysteries (American for crime novels). Beside me is a pile of relevant debris: the baseball cap with bloodstained motif that I wore for a panel discussion...
By All Means Criticise
SCOTLAND is, I'm told, 'cool'. This comes as rather a surprise, but it seems to be the case. Edinburgh, abandoning her generations-old impersonation of a maiden aunt, is hailed as one of the most exciting cities in Europe. Visitors flock here, especially...
Charm School
Nell Blaine: Paintings and Watercolours 1975-1996 (Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York, till 30 December) The big news in New York at the moment is the huge Jackson Pollock retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. But the good news lies elsewhere. Pollock,...
Christmas Classics
You can tell you're getting old by how far back into the dead hours of the British Christmas television schedules your favourite movies are relegated. Not so long ago, primetime on Christmas Day meant White Christmas, The Sound of Music or It's a Wonderful...
Christmas in Another Bethlehem
Nicholas Farrell on an Italian town where most people are still fascists Predappio, Italy THE LITTLE town of Predappio in the Apennine foothills of the Romagna, where the fascist dictator Mussolini was born, is the fascist Bethlehem. The fascist crib...
Come off It, George
The minister in charge of betting matters at the Home Office, George Howarth, is a capable politician and a nice man with it. He can normally be relied upon to defend his wicket sensibly and he knows the pleasure of scoring with a five-Saturday Yankee...
Dear Mary
From Frances Partridge, London SW]. Q. At the age of 98 I have become very light in weight. There are some very powerful winds around the streets of Belgravia. Frequently I find myself being blown off my feet. A friend recently came across me `hanging...
Diary
Given the fondness for details about Mary, Joseph, baby, ox, ass, manger etc., the lessons that the Book of Common Prayer appoints for Christmas Day are interestingly, austerely theological. The Gospel is John's famous `In the beginning was the Word...
Discos for a Song
I sense a discovery coming on. Not the double helix sort but the one with the capital D. They look like ice-cream vans with windows and they are to the middle classes what green wellies were to the - well, the middle classes. As with the ubiquitous welly,...
Double Standards
Christmas is here and while millions celebrate the birth of Christ by spending quiet and restful holidays at home, giving thanks for their blessings and being kind to their fellow men, others -- black of heart, odious, hypocritical, sneering and cowardly...
Enigmatic Genius
Of the theatrical anniversaries that fall this year, the centenaries of Brecht and Lorca have predictably overshadowed the 50th anniversary of the death of Antonin Artaud. The Marseilles-born sometime Surrealist (and anti-Surrealist) is unquestionably...
Freeloading for Europe
FORGET Oblivion, Alton Towers' new, vertical extravaganza. For the last 12 months the best white-knuckle ride in town has been the European, owned by the Barclay brothers, last edition published on Monday 14 December. I should know. I joined last January...
Here Comes the City and Suburban Calendar of Copper-Bottomed Reasons for Not Doing Things
It seems to come earlier every year. Like some autumnal cuckoo, it makes itself heard as the leaves turn and the first pheasants hang upside down from the rafters of Leadenhall Market. This is the triumphant cry of someone with a copper-bottomed excuse...
Home to Vukovar
`YOUR WIFE'S pregnant?' `Yes, Colonel.' `Go, then. Don't hang around. Go.' The colonel spoke as if he had not on all previous occasions refused the application. He turned back to face the Danube, and with gloved hands raised his binoculars. The woods...
Hush, Hush, Here He Comes!
Jane Gardam NO GO THE BOGEYMAN by Marina Warner Chatto, 25, pp. 435 Where to begin in this hugely learned, beautifully produced book on the subject of fear? It has the peculiar knowledge of Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, the relish of dear old Aubrey's...
I Hereby Announce a U-Turn
HERE is a speech many Americans are dearly hoping to hear from your Prime Minister. But let me first declare an interest. As an American, I have a deep, abiding self-interest in a healthy, strong United Kingdom. In this century the Germans and Italians...
I'm Not Sure Dear Old Max Would Want to Face This New Challenge
I said I would write about the Independent this week but it is Christmas and I'm not sure I have the heart. Besides, there is news of a possible rival to the London Evening Standard. This is a story that touches on our old friend Max Hastings. For as...
Journey into the Unknown
In 1892, we learn from Hilary Spurling's new biography, Henri Matisse met his father in Lille. It was a difficult encounter; like so many parents, M. Matisse was unhappy about his son's plans to become a painter. But for young Henri there was a positive...
Keep off the Blood-Sucking
One of the (many) atrocities I had to endure at grammar school was the socalled `good-will letter', a list of positive resolutions for the new year to be written to parents before the Christmas break. I associate it with another torture I had to put...
Keep on Listening
It is easy to forget sometimes, or take for granted, the high quality of so much of BBC Radio, despite the debilitating rescheduling of programmes and the technical hitches that have occurred this year, in particular to Radio Four. News and current affairs...
L'etat C'est Moi
Moi: The Making of an African Statesman will bring little credit to its author and not a great deal more to its subject. Anyone who has even a reasonable knowledge of Kenya's recent history will detect that Morton has attempted to rewrite and redefine...
Letters
Spanish inquisitor Sir: Your recent, one-sided articles on Pinochet by Bruce Anderson, John Hickman, Paul Johnson and Taki make sickening reading. Pinochet was only head of state because he murdered Chile's legitimate government, he only has immunity...
Life Isn't Fair
Even on Christmas Day my children are less than keen to go to church. `Why do we have to go?' they whine through a mouthful of sweets and chocolates. `To say thank you to God for being such lucky little boys' is my usual response. To be fair, children...
Lost and Found Department
A certain brouhaha has surrounded the publication of this book since the editor's September article in Guardian Weekend. `For some 60 years', the by-line read, 'a short story by Evelyn Waugh has been lost.' Lost? Well, not really. Ann Pasternak Slater...
Lunch with an Old Raascal
IT WAS while I was completing my biography of Lord Randolph Churchill in 1958 that I had the idea of writing one of his great friend, political opponent and memorialist, Lord Rosebery. I wrote to his son, who replied, somewhat bleakly, that the task...
Made of the Same Stuff as the Stars
If, like me, your knowledge of Charles Lindbergh is confined to his having flown non-stop across the Atlantic in 1927 - a feat later to become second in importance to the kidnapping and subsequent tragic death of his baby son - this book will come as...
Material Benefits
When people look back on the 20th century one thing they will surely notice is the secularisation of sacred works of art. It will be hard to miss, since it has been one of the most dramatic aspects of modern life: when else has so much of such importance...
Mind Your Language
TIME for midnight Mass (why, by the way, do the Protestants welcome this `dangerous deceit' of a word, Mass, only in a yoke with 'midnight'?) and my husband is bad-tempered because all the parking places are filled with people who only come at Christmas,...
Musical Chairs
Musicals are famously not written but rewritten, and the history of Broadway is littered with the sagas of shows that only just made it; Away We Go almost closed in Boston until they retitled it Oklahoma!, and even then one critic wrote `no showgirls,...
My Beneficent Naivety
Gosh I'm cross this week. So cross, in fact, that I'm not sure I'm going to write about television ever again. It turns out that almost everyone involved in television is a corrupt, evil, big, smelly liar who doesn't give a fig for the viewing public....
Peace (and Power) on Earth
It may be bleak midwinter in the northern hemisphere, but the threat of that more final chill, a nuclear winter, has for the moment receded. There are continuing conflicts: India and Pakistan, North and South Korea, Israel and the Arab world, Iraq and...
Please, Don't Ask Me
One of the greatest irritations of being an opera critic -- aside from the hell of attending performances and reviewing them - is that nobody outside the business has any small talk related to your line of work. Dining out consequently becomes enormously...
Plum Duff and Duff Plums
On a recent television programme, a man seeking his roots in Irish archives came across a record of a swindle by which, it was alleged, used tea-leaves had been dried out and resold as tea. It is quite likely that no such scam ever took place; but, if...
Power Play
The other day I received a parcel in the post. It was one of those brown nobbly parcels with indentations resembling those of a sand-dune. Out from one of these indentations fell with a clackety-clack a tin badge. The badge had inscribed upon it, `Law...
Prime Minister without a Past
`CONSTITUTIONAL reform' is the watchword of the government. It is overdue, we are told, and urgent. Why it is so urgent is not quite clear. Our constitution is admittedly ancient-we used to make a virtue of that. In general terms we date it from 1688,...
Putting the Case
Opening a case means telling a story clearly and in a way which holds the jury's interest, a novelist's talent. Cross-examination is as exciting and risky as bull-fighting: the advocate either moves in for the kill or gets tossed into the air with his...
Restaurant: Le Manoir Aux Quat' Saisons / L'Orlotan
LIFE will certainly be comfortable at chefpatron Raymond Blanc's Manoir this Christmas. During the course of the year he has added another eight suites and bedrooms to the 20 that his 15th-century manor house already offered, and they have been designed...
Robert Cranborne Is Sand in Both Leaders' Shoes
The most bizarre coalition in modern British politics was also the shortest-lived. Lord Cranborne may have compared himself to an ill-trained gundog, and he is a kinsman of Arthur Balfour's, but it was always hard to imagine him as Mr Blair's poodle....
Surviving the Rigours of Pantoland
This is a terrible time of year for all those who take the W.C. Fields view that anyone who hates children and animals can't be all bad. The pantomime season is in full swing and theatres everywhere have been taken over by raucous children and, perhaps...
Taking Diabolical Liberties
THE GREAT UNFROCKED: TWO THOUSAND YEARS OF CHURCH SCANDALS by Matthew Parris with Nick Angel Robson, 17.95, pp. 266 So on Boxing Day you settle down with this kindly meant present, a new book by the amusing columnist Matthew Parris, full of juicy scandals...
The Blairs
Predappio, Italy THE LITTLE town of Predappio in the Apennine foothills of the Romagna, where the fascist dictator Mussolini was born, is the fascist Bethlehem. The fascist crib is the little house where the birth took place above the forge of his father,...
The Burden of the Song
The burden of the song Rupert Christiansen MARIA CALLAS by Stelios Galatopoulos Fourth Estate, 25, pp. 563 KIRI: HER UNSUNG STORY by Garry Jenkins and Stephen d' Antal HarperCollins, 17.99, pp. 411 MY GOLDEN AGE OF SINGING by Frieda Hempel Amadeus Press,...
The Capacity for Response
William Rees-Mogg THE CRISIS OF GLOBAL CAPITALISM by George Soros Little, Brown, 17.99 pp. 245 George Soros belongs to a very small group, that of highly successful speculators. He has made some $5 billion for himself, and even larger amounts for his...
The Doctor of Bray
YOU DON'T have to be a toff to be a traitor. The cagoule-wearing classes can turn their coats as deftly as any Cecil. Lord Cranborne may have been seduced by the Blairites with an appeal to his vanity, a sly nod to his principles and the prospect of...
The Golden Road from Bengal to Berkeley Square
What British schoolboy's imagination today is filled with the names of Clive's two victories at Arcot and Plassey? To me, as a schoolboy in the 1920s, and to my classmates, Clive was a national hero, his exploits served up to us in Boy's Own Paper style...
The Power in the Land That's Too Far Up, and Should Come Down
'We invite people like that to tea but not to dinner,' remarked Lady Chetwode of John Betjeman. Her daughter wanted to marry him and did. Behind every successful man stands an astonished mother-in-law and it may be that if Lady Chetwode had realised...
The Secret of Rudolph's Red Nose
CAN REINDEER FLY? by Roger Highfield Metro, 12.99, pp. 294 Some years ago there was a television series on Welsh history which my mother watched, having become convinced that in the course of his excitable delivery the presenter's false teeth would at...
The Year of Lies and Viagra
New Hampshire I CAN'T remember the last time I went into my general store and the television up above the coffee-warmers wasn't relaying yet another round of scandal punditry. Across the breakfast cereals and the tampons and the ammunition drifts the...
Two Ladies Lost in the Mist
A PRIVATE LIFE OF HENRY JAMES by Lyndall Gordon Chatto, 20, pp. 500 Lyndall Gordon has had the peculiar idea of writing a life of Henry James arranged around two friendships of which almost nothing is known. Mary (Minny) Temple was a cousin of James's,...
What Jews and Christians Have in Common at This Time of Year
At this season, I think of the Christchild and that manger in Bethlehem, as is only natural. But I also think of the Jews, and their relationship with the messianic birth, and the whole tragic history of JudaoChristian relations. I love the Jewish people,...
What the Father of History Would Have Made of This Story
The Athenian Thucydides (c. 460-400 BC) set an important intellectual precedent by being the first historian to explain the past as the product of purely natural forces, free of intervention from gods. He would consequently have had considerable doubts...
Where's the Fizz?
Opera The Bartered Bride (Sadler's Wells) La Traviata (Coliseum) Writing in the Royal Opera's magazine Opera House Francesca Zambello, who directs the new production at Sadler's Wells, states: 'I wanted to do something that would really be a "Christmas...
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.