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. 278, No. 8795, 1997

A Daughter of the Revolution
Barbara Trapido EVERY SECRET THING by Gillian Slovo Little, Brown, f16.99, pp. 282 A reader's heart will go out to Gillian Slovo, whose face stares from the photograph, an intense, beautiful composite of her two extraordinary, heroic and inevitably fallible...
Age Concerned
A thirtysomething girlfriend of mine who works in a fashionable profession and lives in fashionable Notting Hill Gate is in a bit of a state. Her 25-year-old underling is making her feel old. Still, she thinks she has the answer. `We must become more...
Ancient & Modern
A TEACHER at a Catholic school, Shairon Rodgers (and she certainly does), has had three children by three different fathers (an ex-husband, a fellow teacher and a former pupil). She is astonished to have been asked to leave. 'I have a right to a personal...
A Touch of Genius
OP. NON CIT. by Alan Isler Cape, 1299, pp. 215 Despite the world of fiction being so incestuously cramped, coincidences are more common than plagiarism in it. The last novel I reviewed in these pages, Caryl Phillips's The Nature of Blood, deals with...
Bang for Bucks
I have just heard the most precise and graphic new expression about businessmen who sponsor the arts and I plan on using it at every possible opportunity. It is American, it is self explanatory, I think it may be a little rude but I am sure the robust...
Bunched in Belgium
Monday evening flight into Antwerp swathed in its river mists; straight in by cab to the bright lights of the Bourla, a heavily handsome late 18th-century theatre saved a few years ago from the demolisher's ball, just in time for the first event of my...
But Wisdom Lingers
Alain de Botton ECHOES OF AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY by Naguib Mahfouz Doubleday, 14.99, pp. 118 This is an autobiography only in the loosest sense. We don't hear where the author was born, what his childhood was like or, as Holden Caulfield would say, `all that...
Comings and Goings
Jockeys and trainers are not always in harmony. One Epsom trainer has been known to complain, `If brains were a virus jockeys would be the healthiest people in the country.' And jockey-trainer partnerships do break up. Sometimes it is owner pressure....
Damaging Times
Ever since the smoking police came to power I have been waiting with great apprehension for the same army of bigots to persecute not only drinkers themselves but to start lying about what they now call passive drinking. I can't even drink any more myself...
Dealers versus the Auctioneers
So, everyone has had lots of fun vilifying Sotheby's. Cartoonists have shown them as upper-class spivs, commentators have produced dire warnings of the end of the auction trade as we know it, politicians have thundered about tomb plundering and all the...
Diary
Recent speeches by Gordon Brown suggest we may be in for some kind of incomes policy. I do hope not. We tend to forget nowadays that for a whole decade, 1964-74, we lived under an incomes policy of one sort or another, though Edward Heath briefly thought...
Don't Let Europe Ruin It
IF THERE is any topic on which we need to go back to basics, it is Europe. As we approach the next millennium, what happens on the subject of Europe is the most fundamental issue facing this country. We need to concentrate on the basics because in European...
'Don't Overdo It, George'
`ROY Hattersley! God Almighty, he's a born loser!' said George, pouring me a cup of tea. (Mr Hattersley, reviewing for the Daily Express this month's South Bank Show, devoted to Gilbert and George, had concluded that such air-time was unjustified `unless...
Down with Accessibility!
My attention was caught the other week by a paragraph in Russell Davies's radio review column in the Sunday Telegraph. He was rightly praising the excellent 45-minute Radio Three feature about the impresario and recording producer Walter Legge, who 50...
Far Too Cool
To be honest, I preferred John Travolta when he was washed up and reduced to doing those talking dog pictures. At least back then, unlike the pooches, he was kept on a tight leash. In Michael, he's out of control. I don't mean manic cameradevouring exhibitionism:...
Feast of Colour
The art of Gillian Ayres (born 1930) resists tidiness, it's not well-mannered, but it's brimful of life. The imagery is intensely personal, organic more than geometric, vibrant in colour, cascading with energy. It's like the emptying-out of some vast...
Happy Loser
Gstaad his is the time of year when social pandemonium takes over in Gstaad and its environs. The GreenGo turns into a war of attrition between those trying to approach the bar and those already entrenched there. The dance floor resembles Vimy Ridge....
How to Settle the Scots, the Welsh and the Lords in One Senatorial Stroke
The Labour Party has now been in existence almost a century and has formed five governments. All have been failures and all for the same reasons: an unrealistic approach to the handling of public finance and a failure to contain spending. At long last...
If Mr Blair Wants a Subject for a Hinterland, I Suggest Politics
A book has come my way quite out of the run of the dreary mail shots a political journalist tends to receive. A Wandering Voice: A Diary of Birdsong is written by Michael Waterhouse, with a foreword by Norman Lamont. Though you may know Mr Lamont was...
I Have a Problem
Seeing Opera North's Falstaff in Norwich made me anxious. Nothing to do with Norwich, even though the poor attendance at the Theatre Royal must have caused worried frowns elsewhere; and probably not much to do with Opera North. It's mainly that I have...
Imperative Cooking: The Labour Threat
HOW will Imperative Cooks fare under a possible Labour government? Badly. The socialists are already committed to a supernannying body called a Food Standards Agency. They will also have a minister for public health, probably Kevin Barron. He has already...
Inspiring Welsh Wrath
I HAVE the knack of upsetting the Welsh. Perhaps it is something I share with most other English people, or perhaps it is a special talent. I was in Wales last weekend, on what turned out to be an extraordinary weekend for Welsh sport, though I was there...
In the Front Line
He would seem to have undoubted ability, but is possibly suffering from a period in which theory looms larger than practice.' This statement by the Principal of the Architectural Association about his student Denys Lasdun, in 1936, reveals something...
Labour's Constitutional Reforms Would Lead to English Nationalism and Hanging
Last Tuesday evening, the PM and his advisers were still working on his speech for the constitutional debate later in the week. The aim was to combine a philosophical defence of the status quo, along the lines of Robert Cranborne's lecture at the party...
Letters
Lingering doubts Sir: Whatever the truth of the Hanratty case, it is not correct to say that the police officer who investigated the case now accepts that Hanratty was innocent (Letters, 15 February). Detective Chief Superintendent Robert Acott is reported...
Let Them Eat Cake
You know when you've taken so many drugs that all you can do is go, `Wow! This is incredible! At last I am privy to the hidden secrets of the universe!'? Perhaps not, but you'll get a pretty damned good idea just by sitting through Even Further Abroad...
Mind Your Language
MR TIMOTHY Birch, from Queensland, by way of a New Year's game (the post is slow from Noosa Heads) challenges me to define 13 words beginning with ch without recourse to a dictionary. They are chalaza, challah, champerty, chance medley, characin, charley...
Mr Nice Goes into the Air Force
In The Poisoned Crown, Hugh Kingsmill traces the idea of mass consciousness from its powerful embodiment in Byron and Napoleon through a century to those other two complementary figures, Chaplin and Hitler. By the same token one might note a similar...
Obituaries Grow Steadily Livelier
CANADA FROM AFAR: THE DAILY TELEGRAPH BOOK OF CANADIAN OBITUARIES edited by David Twiston Davies Dundurn Press, available from Telegraph Books Direct, tel. 01908 566 366, 9.95, pp. 270 Newspapers once published news; now television supplies instant awareness...
Paper Monster
Who now recalls Lambert LeRoux? The question is, I hope, purely rhetorical; 12 years ago, LeRoux was the demon newspaper proprietor of Brenton and Hare's Pravda, one of the greatest and most charismatic villains in all post-war British theatre and the...
Portrait of the Week
The Government won by 320 votes to 307 a vote on a debate forced by Labour on the future of Mr Douglas Hogg, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The nine Ulster Unionists abstained partly because Labour had annoyed them by not consulting...
Reich Bastards
PROFESSOR Norman Stone appears from time to time on German television, being one of the few Britons who can speak German, likes going there and has something other than the Teuto-worship of a Will Hutton or a Giles Radice to offer. During one almost...
Stumbling into Danger
THE WORLD AT NIGHT by Alan Furst HarperCollins, L16.99, pp. 257 This is Paris before and during the Nazi occupation, surprisingly neglected hitherto as a setting for the dilemmas of agents, double agents, trimming survivors A la Talleyrand, and even...
Swinging Both Ways
DO homosexuals have a better time than heterosexuals when they go out at night? Puzzling over this, I picked two nightclubs - one for men who like women, and one for men who like men - to see how romance (or should I call it lust?) fared for the two...
The Bad Boy, the Prostitute and the President
When Dick Morris -, Bill's Bad Boy as the New York Post called him at the time - had to steal away from Chicago on the very day that President Clinton was renominated last August, I vividly recall feeling that such a humiliation could not have happened...
The Captain and I Are under Starter's Orders to Gee Up the Old Nanny Goat
My racing correspondent Captain Threadneedle and I are reviewing our options. We had intended to bid for the Tote. Only days ago we were given the goahead by the Sunday Leaks division of the Labour Party. New Labour, said the leaksman, was going to need...
The Lady Doth Protest Too Much
There are some people who seem to be using the creative arts for such peculiar ends of their own - to sort the world out, to cure themselves of their problems and with such patchy results for their audiences that, really, it would have been kinder to...
The Unknown May Have Done Better Than Famous Andrew Neil, but He Could Still Do Much Better
John Witherow, editor of the Sunday Times, is by most accounts an agreeable fellow. He is also successful by the yardstick of circulation. Over the past six months, the paper has sold a weekly average of 1,332,094 copies, its best figure for 15 years....
Three's Company
Although the secret of a thriving ballet company is a varied, challenging repertoire, some traditionalists regard such an artistic policy as a threat to the stylistic identity of the company itself. In addition, new, unusual choreographic formulae --...
Tortured Jargon
The new Controller of Radio Four, James Boyle, is conducting a stringent review of all his programmes, with the implication that some might have to go. Whilst this can only fill listeners with foreboding, there is one thing he could do which might receive...
We'll Go No More A-Hunting
ON A misty day with the Essex foxhounds recently, outside a covert by Great Dunmow, I fell into conversation with the hunt chairman, 81-year-old Paul Dixey, as the hounds were drawing and our horses waited impatiently for action. From my right eye I...
Who Cares How Old We Are?
The launch of the latest Discovery mission has been greeted with enormous excitement. We may be on the verge of discovering new black holes and billions more galaxies. There is talk about the possibility of determining the age of the universe and even...
Your Best Interests at Heart
A nice cheap offer, averaging 4.62 a bottle on the mixed case. Whatever people say, many things have improved in this country over the last ten years, most noticeably the standards of food and wine. Every retailer has good wines at these prices. The...
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