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. 282, No. 8900, 1999

A Cracking Day
When the alarm went off in my Bonn hotel room at 3.50 a.m. British time last Saturday there were two choices. On a day of few flights there was the sensible one: turn over, go back to sleep and catch a later plane. And there was the alternative: jump...
Ancient & Modern
AS the time approaches when the IRA and Ulster Unionists must work together in government in Northern Ireland, the weakness of voting as a means of taking decisions about violence becomes ever more apparent. What does a vote count for, when people with...
Awkward Questions
I doubt Sir William Macpherson would approve but when I think of China I tend to think of evil yellow hordes swarming across the Yalu River, the Cultural Revolution, the tiger penis trade, Tiananmen Square and laogai camps. What I don't think is: warm,...
Ballet and the Bard
The initial sight of Disney-style dancing fairies with iridescent wings twirling among an equally multicoloured horde of balletically tamed children might be slightly offputting, unless you revel in the sickening Christmas sugariness of The Nutcracker....
Best Thing Since
A critic's place is generally in the wrong; in this column last week I was suggesting that precious few really good new plays emerge from seasons dedicated to new writing, and here we have at least one exception to prove the rule. At the Royal Court...
Boringly, Glaringly Obvious
MARRIED ALIVE! by Julie Burchill Orion, 9.99, pp. 192 Love her or hate her ', they say about Julie Burchill, `you can't ignore her.' Which is patently untrue, since I've successfully ignored her for years. I mean I know who she is. I've dipped into her...
Braving It
Rougemont Countess de Lesseps is the beautiful American-born wife of my buddy Alex de Lesseps, descendant of the man who connected the Red Sea with the Mediterranean and made it possible for perfidious Albion to secure her trade routes to India. Lu Ann...
Cheep, Cheep, Canary? the Bottomless Dock Comes Asking for Another L2 1/2 Billion
I would just as soon it sank, but the investment bankers in Canary Wharf are trying to float it. They hope that investors will put up L2/2 billion for shares in their offices down in Finanzplatz Dockland. I would say that quite enough money, public and...
Dear Mary
Q. Occasionally I am queuing at a cash desk behind a woman and the cashier says, `Are you with this lady?' In a sense I think that it's not their business as I shall obviously present or not present some goods to pay for, but what would be the best answer?...
Defending a Carefee Extravagance
Why do we hate the Dome? What went wrong? If ever there was a project that deserved our praise and admiration it was Tiddlywink-upon-Thames. On paper it looked so promising: the young would applaud its vitality, the old its respect for history and tradition;...
Diary
Mossel Bay There's a pleasant pavilion restaurant on the beach at Mossel Bay. Since ostriches are farmed in this part of South Africa, it is not surprising to find ostrich on the menu. What was intriguing was the dish listed below it. For a few pence...
Food
ONE of the cooks who had the greatest influence on me in my girlhood was not a cook at all, or even a real person. She was Lady Addle, that wonderful fictional character of the Forties, a distressed noblewoman struggling against the austerities of the...
From Bras to Briefcases
Who's afraid of Germaine Greer? I am, for starters. The Whole Woman makes repeated pre-emptive swipes at younger female journalists half her age in years and rather less in crossness. Her hits are at least as frequent as her misses, and even the latter...
Grow Old Gracefully
Once generation gaps formed ahead of you; now they form just behind. My latest is the discovery that only the very elderly and infirm (30-plus) watch Top Of The Pops 2 on Saturday afternoons. I had always assumed that this ragbag of old clips from shows...
Ignorance, Then Bliss
DUCHESS OF CORK STREET by Lillian Browse Giles de la Mare, fl 7.99, pp. 190 Although born in London, Lillian Browse, aged three, together with her mother and elder brother, moved to South Africa to join her father who trained racehorses, without much...
Just Say No
It was encouraging to hear Lord Owen on Today on Monday morning articulating the thoughts of millions on the opposition to the single currency. Owen, of course, is heading a group that is taking on the government in the run-up to the referendum, whenever...
Less Is More
English Touring Opera began their spring tour as usual at the Cambridge Arts Theatre last week, and showed themselves to be in vigorous, committed and uninhibited form. If they manage to keep the two productions that they mounted as fresh as this, then...
Letters
Hero, not traitor Sir: Jonathan Jay Pollard worked as a civilian employee for US Naval Intelligence and not, as James Srodes says ('A traitor for Israel', 20 February), as 'a librarian at the Pentagon'. Pollard discovered that intelligence which was...
Major Lamont Problem for Hague
IT is no secret that John Major and Norman Lamont do not get on. They can, indeed, hardly bear being in the same room together. The two men, once the closest of friends, have not enjoyed anything resembling a cordial conversation since the day Major...
Making a Mouthful of a Nutshell
THE FACE by Daniel McNeill Hamish Hamilton, 16.99, pp. 374 On and off I wonder whether the last people to read books are their publishers. `The portrait of myself on the jacket of this book may not quite be me,' states the Harvard lawyer McNeill on page...
Mediaeval Fantasy
It is rare to find outstanding objects on the art market; it is almost unheard of to find them for sale, recognised and properly catalogued, at a provincial auction house. But last week, there one was, gleaming in the pale Suffolk sunshine at Vost's...
Mind Your Language
'I suppose you'd call yourself Baroness Wordsworth of the Lakes,' said my husband in one of his facetious attempts. He was only doing it because we had people there. We had been talking about this sudden rash of 'Baronesses'. I think it was when Mrs...
Mr Blair Has Been Rash about Europe. No Reason Why Mr Hague Should Be Too
William Hague has been offered one last chance to avert the split in the Conservative party now looming. He is unlikely to take it. The Prime Minister has made a quite uncharacteristic error of judgment: he has been brave. Earlier than he needed to,...
Not Shooting the Pianist
THE PIANIST by Wladyslaw Szpilman Gollancz, 1299, pp. 224 For a Jew to survive the Warsaw ghetto was amazing. For a German officer to feel agonised and ashamed of his country and his countrymen as their cruelty and madness destroyed human beings as if...
Opposite Attractions
Do yourself a favour and get over to the Barbican this weekend: even if you're in Scotland, on the lam from the cops, handcuffed to a woman who doesn't trust you, hop on an express train to St Pancras and come on down. Alfred Hitchcock's The Thirty-Nine...
Out of Step
Looking around the countryside what do I see? Women reading magazines in the middle of the afternoon while their husbands toil at their desks. Germaine Greer has written a whole new book on how Western women are being oppressed by men, but that's not...
Persecution Mania
New Hampshire `ARE you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist party?' What's so wrong with asking that question? And what's so wrong with answering it? Elia Kazan did: he had once been a member of the Communist party, and he named a few...
Portrait of the Week
The government tried to distance itself from two controversial recommendations of the report by Sir William Macpherson into the murder of Stephen Lawrence: the possibility of retrial for anyone acquitted of a crime, and the criminalisation of racist...
Post-Imperial Preference
WE had eight players. They had 11 and were naturally eager to start straight away. I was stalling, playing for time, waiting for the US cavalry to appear on the skyline. And after a while they did. 'Ah,' I said. `Here comes our captain with the opening...
Restaurant: The Fat Duck and Chez Bruce
THE beginning of the year is a nerve-racking time for British restaurateurs. The new Michelin Guide appears at the end of January to gratify their aspirations, or confirm their fears, and this year's 26th UK edition was no exception. Among the high-profile...
Something Happened
What went wrong with John Everett Millais? More or less from the day he died the question has been asked. It is still mulled over today -- except, that is, in the catalogue to the current exhibition Millais at the National Portrait Gallery. The various...
The Coming Mandarin Wars
IF Mr Blair has any illusions left about the consequences of fragmenting Britain's government, his officials do not. Inside Whitehall civil servants privately predict that internal rows over devolution will overshadow not just the coming year but a Blairite...
The London Globe
THE great trading cities have always been global in their reach. We talk, rightly, of the Athenian Empire, the Roman Empire, the Venetian Empire, the Byzantine Empire, but refer to our own historic world power as the British Empire. It would be more...
The Reality of an Avalanche
VERY many years ago, on my way to ski at Zurs for the first time, I was warned by an old Tyrolean, a veteran skier, to avoid the Vorarlberg. The mountains, he said, had the wrong configuration, convex where they should be concave, and therefore heavy...
The Search for Sir John
The hunt for John Franklin was one of the great early Victorian obsessions, inflaming public opinion on both sides of the Atlantic, giving rise to a mound of books and articles and bringing a raft of supplementary tragedies in its wake. Sir John, who...
The Treaty Keynes Killed
The 1919 Treaty of Versailles is still generally regarded as a disaster and a crime, though in academic circles revisionism has been gaining ground for at least 30 years. Why have the academics so far failed to change ordinary opinion? The main reason...
The Turn of the Cavalry
A CLOSE RUN THING by Allan Mallinson Transworld/Bantam, 15.99, pp. 336 There is obviously a real appetite for series of books celebrating the heroic feats of the armies of the Napoleonic wars. We see this in the huge popularity of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin...
The Worst-Behaved Man of His Time
AT his funeral last Friday, a recurring theme among the mourners was that much of Bruce's behaviour was an 'act', and that in reality he was a cardigan-wearing, pipesmoking home body who loved gardening and the company of his family. Probably true but,...
Time for Vengeance
Just as we British have always earned much of our living on the high seas, some of our bolder spirits have traditionally taken their recreation in remote and dangerous places. Much of the finest travel writing is of British origin, as were many explorers,...
Vampires and Barbara Cartland
BYROMANIA: PORTRAITS OF THE ARTIST IN NINETEENTH- AND TWENTIETH-CENTURY LITERATURE edited by Frances Wilson Macmillan Press, 42.50, pp. 234 lose your Byron and open your Goethe,' that miserable old renegade Thomas Carlyle once demanded and just occasionally...
What about Lord Walker et Al?
JOHN Redwood is right to demand the facts about the Maxwell robberies (`What about Lord Donoughue et al?, 27 February). The whole affair still stinks of big scandals, little scandals, oddities and the inexplicable, including the fact that the Department...
Where's Freedom of Information If This Journalist Is Charged Next Thursday?
In times of peace we supposedly do not have censorship in this country. We have the D-Notice Committee - the Defence, Press and Advisory Committee. A newly appointed editor will receive a visit from a kindly old chap, usually a retired rearadmiral, who...
Why Mr Hague Has Lost Me
SHORTLY after he became Conservative party leader, William Hague promised us a 'fresh' style of Conservatism. Such promises tend to be made by all new party leaders, so Hague's own declaration aroused no great interest. However, during a series of interviews...
Why, Surprisingly, Blairites Don't Agree That Mr Cook Is a Write-Off
Most Westminster insiders believe that the Macpherson report was leaked by a junior minister at the Home Office, who was hoping to force Sir Paul Condon out of office. But Mr Blair decided to protect Sir Paul, so the leak miscarried, and the suspected...
Will Genetic Engineering Produce a Master Race and a Servile Multitude?
We are entering the third millennium in a fine ethical mess. Science is advancing at such a rate, especially in biotechnology, that the labs are ahead of the professional bodies, let alone the legislators and especially the thinkers, who ought to be...
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.