New Statesman (1996)

Articles from Vol. 133, No. 4718, December 13

A Crib for a Bed: Trafalgar Square Will Be the Scene of a Heretical New Nativity. Richard Cork Explains
Old masters devoted major parts of their careers to painting the nativity or the adoration of the Magi, but most contemporary artists shy away from Christmas themes. True, they are encouraged to tackle the festive season by Tate Britain. Each December,...
Against Family Values: Christian Evangelicals Have Got Jesus Christ All Wrong, Argues Terry Eagleton
The most lethal book on the planet at present is not the Koran, but the Bible. Christian evangelicals have faith that the world will soon come to an end. What they don't see is that it might come to an end because of their faith. Enlightened liberals,...
A War President Stands at the Ready: In His End-of-Year Diary, Our US Editor Andrew Stephen Notes a Growing Bush Personality Cult, the Plight of Art Lovers and a Campaign against Kofi Annan
This will be the 16th consecutive Christmas and New Year I have spent in the United States. I will listen to the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge on Christmas Eve--and to the bidding prayer for "the poor and the helpless,...
Beware a Girl Who Calls Herself Kimberly: New Labour Should Not Have Dropped Old Class Prejudices against Rich People with Fancy Names. Then Blunkett and Mandelson Might Have Managed to Stay out of Trouble
In Very Good, Jeeves, Bertie Wooster's behaviour is so odd that his Aunt Dahlia has no choice but to suspect him of being in love, a fact he confirms. [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] "I do indeed love." "Who is she?" "A Miss Pendlebury. Christian...
Calendars: Priests to Die For
Cherie has one. Ann Widdecombe has one. Stephen Fry has one, as does Julian Clary. Madonna's was returned by the postal service, unopened. "I sent some as gifts to people who were Catholic, or who I thought might see the sly humour in it, or both,"...
Charlie Whelan Says ... Don't Believe It: "Punters Back Blunkett"
It took a while, but eventually one of Rupert Murdoch's rags came up with an opinion poll on "Nannygate". And guess what? It revealed that the voters back David Blunkett, the Home Secretary. [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] The problem for the Times is...
Christmas Lights: The Polluters of Acacia Avenue
In the New Year, Danny Meikle, a 57-year-old retired builder, will get an electricity bill [pounds sterling]4,000 steeper than normal. His Christmas decorations--1.2 million light bulbs, a 45ft glowing Santa and singalong nativity scene--are visible...
Community Spirit: Churches Fill Up at Christmas, but That Doesn't Stop the Rot. Simon Jenkins Has a Plan
How many readers will this Christmas dress their offspring a little more smartly than usual and walk them self-consciously to the local church for the annual visit? Just for the carols, they will say, or to help the school, or for that nice new vicar....
Competition: Win Vouchers to Spend at Any TESCO Store
Competition No 3859 Set by Harry Barker, 22 November You were asked to justify the description of Julius Caesar's death as "the most untimely murder since the world began", or think of an alternative. Report by Ms de Meaner Wow: the numbers...
Competition: Xmas Crossword Special by Otterden
Across clues relate to part of a well-known pairing; the other part of the pairing is to be entered in the diagram. Down clues are normal [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Across 1 Is in following Douglas (4) 3 Carpenter cuts back roof shapes after...
Diary: It Struck Me-After a Girlfriend of Mine Was Held at Knifepoint While Being Stripped of Her Valuables-That a Metal Leg Might Come in Handy at Full Force in the Gonads of a Mugger
"A dog is for life," the advert proclaims, "not just for Christmas." How about a dog's fur--or even a cat's? Because that is exactly what thousands of Brits will be buying their loved ones this Christmas, and almost none of them will realise ... ...
Don't Eat in the Living Room: From the Time of Day You Open Your Presents to the Wreath You Hang, Everything You Do during Christmas Betrays Your Social Status
At Christmas people reveal their homes, their best clothes, their personal aesthetics--and their class. When I was a boy we had a green, tinsel Christmas tree on a plastic base. Every year it came down from the loft--not, sadly, the attic--wrapped...
Duchamp and His Urinal: He Was Just Taking the Piss
Nothing seems to expose the cleavage between progressives and conservatives better than opinions on modern art. While the left is likely to lavish praise on the latest Turner Prize winner for his or her "challenging" and "thought-provoking" message,...
Fast-Tracked Visas: Exotic Dancers Rock a Minister
David Blunkett is not the only politician in trouble over fast-tracked entry visas. Indeed, his problems over the Filipina nanny of his lover Kimberly Quinn look bland against the scandal that has engulfed Canada's immigration minister, Judy Sgro....
Festivals of Austerity: Muslims Fast and Hindus Walk. Only Christians Gorge Themselves, Writes Ziauddin Sardar
I blame the three wise men. These guys from the east came bearing gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh, stuff fit for a king. They established a tradition of giving presents at Christmas. As a result, children have been turned into surrogate princes...
Food: The Feast of St Catherine, Virgin Martyr, Will Induce Any Spinster to Marry
The end of November brings the feast of St Catherine, the virgin martyr who was broken on the wheel (hence the firework), miraculously revived, and then beheaded. This season marks the time for moving shrubs, taking heel cuttings. Every year, Yvette...
Foul Play: Even When Badly Written, the Beautiful Game's Literary Outpourings Hold a Sleazy Fascination
About ten years ago, together with Jonathan Coe and James Wood, I took part in one of those "Whither the novel?" discussions that are a regular feature of the London literary scene. This variant took place at a bookshop in Hampstead and included a...
Gifts: Why You Need an Office Voodoo Kit
In his classic anthropological study The Gift (1925), Marcel Mauss showed that the ritual of gift-giving in tribal societies is rarely motivated by selfless good will. Rather, it is a tangled web of mutual obligation, duty and status-seeking. His insights...
Give and Thou Shalt Create Havoc: A Man Hands out Gold Coins, Another Throws around Yen Bills. Giving Things Away Has Become the Ultimate Act of Subversion, Argues Matt Salusbury
Fundraisers used to rattle a tin; today, we are more likely to encounter organised gangs of "charity muggers" intent on signing us up for tax-deductible direct debit giving. Old-style, spur-of-the-moment donations are no longer considered effective...
Have You the Taxpayer Been Railroaded?
POPULAR MISCONCEPTIONS OF RAIL * Rail is sustainable. * Rail is far safer than road. * London's rail commuters could get there no other way. * Rail is environmentally kind--using far less fuel than road transport. * Rail beats road for...
Heroes and Villains: The Boundaries of Buck-Chasing Hollywood Have Been Redefined
For some, it was the year in which Bill Murray was robbed of an Oscar for his turn in Lost in Translation, while his co-star Scarlett Johansson lent a touch of Hollywood glamour to the British Academy Film Awards. For others, it was a battle between...
He's Behind You! Michael Coveney Gets in Festive Mood with Britain's Queen of Comedy
What is it about pantomime that gets everyone going? Ian McKellen has been agonising about the problems of a knight playing a dame--he is Widow Twankey in Aladdin at the Old Vic this Christmas. It must be hard if you are an actor rather than a personality....
Hospitals: Danger on the Wards
"Don't leave him alone in hospital, he'll starve," the residential home manager warned when my grandfather landed in an NHS ward. Surrounded by clucking relatives ministering food and drink, he was fine. What if he had been on his own? Everybody...
I Knew Him as a Child: Now He Is Committed to Armed Revolutionary Struggle
Last month, Clive Lancelot Small, a Muslim who goes by the name Olive Enyahooma-El, and who also carries the lifelong alias "Fire Small", was extradited from Trinidad and Tobago to the United States. He faces charges of conspiring to possess 60 AK-47...
In Search of the Good Life: Running Away Is Not the Answer. If We Want Our Lives to Improve, We Must Stop Thinking about Ourselves and Rekindle Our Community Spirit. Natalie Brierley Reports
Quality of life starts at home, claimed Reverend Nims Obunge, chief executive of the Peace Alliance, a national crime reduction charity. From the outset of the latest round table on the theme of community justice, Obunge was clear that a better life...
Just Imagine: Rachel Halliburton Finds Children Are Able to Sit Still for Six Hours and Beg for More
Philip Pullman, author of the trilogy His Dark Materials, is accustomed to upsetting hardline Christians. In an interview last month, he said George W Bush would make a perfect villain for the Milton-inspired vision conjured up in his work. "Bush has...
Kosovo-The Site of a Genocide That Never Was-Is Now a Violent "Free Market" in Drugs and Prostitution. What Does This Tell Us about the Likely Outcome of the Iraq War?
Muted by the evidence of the Anglo-American catastrophe in Iraq, the "humanitarian" war party ought to be called to account for its forgotten crusade in Kosovo, the model for Blair's "onward march of liberation". Just as Iraq is being torn apart by...
O Come, All Ye Faithless: Hymns-And Carols-Could Save the Church of England from Demise
By the time you read this the Yuletide television adverts may be starting to grate. Which blameless carols have the likes of Woolworths and Dixons chosen for their hard-sell commercials this year? Will it be "O Come, All Ye Faithful", complete with...
Rise and Fall of a Doughnut: The Diet Police Don't like It, but It's Still in Favour with Young Democrats
Andrew Marr had one, but, unlike Rosie O'Donnell, didn't enjoy it. Cynthia Nixon and Renee Zellweger both had theirs. So did the G8 leaders at this year's summit on Sea Island, Georgia. In London, you are nobody now unless you are leaving Knightsbridge...
Rude Awakening: Attacks from Critics, Missed Press Nights, Harrowing Shows
My first year as a theatre critic began inauspiciously. I was invited to the Critics' Circle Drama Awards and asked to say a few words. I mouthed some harmless platitudes about how theatre had been, since the days of Queen Elizabeth I, a bastion of...
Say Thanks to America: Immigrants to the US Accept That, If You Make It Big, You Have to Give Back
I am a fairly recent emigrant to the United States, married to an American and about to give birth to an American. I have navigated various frustrations and obstructions in my journey towards becoming a Green Card holder, and will no doubt encounter...
So Difficult, So Painful: Penelope Bennett Spends Christmas Eve with the Homeless and Sees Their World Anew
It is 9.15pm, Christmas Eve 2003. I'm driving to Southwark where, in a warehouse, this year's Open Christmas is being held. I am to do the Christmas Eve night shift, 10pm-8.30am. South London's roads are almost deserted. I imagine the 800 or so Crisis...
So, What Would You Burn? When Fire Swept through an East London Warehouse in May, It Turned Art into Ash. Some Mourned the Losses, but Others Couldn't Hide Their Glee
Bonnie Greer Playwright I would set fire to the statue of Queen Vic outside Buck House. It makes the Mall look like a parade ground somewhere in the Austro-Hungarian empire. You half expect Franz Joseph to come riding out complete with plumed soldiers...
Stalin Would Have Loved It: 25 December Used to Be a Day like Any Other in Moscow. That Has All Changed
When I first moved to Russia ten years ago, I found myself going into the office on 25 December. Not because I was some sort of professional martyr, you understand, but because it was just another working day. I attempted to observe the occasion,...
The Author of the Bestselling Da Vinci Code Has Tapped into Our Post-9/11 Anxieties and Fear of Fundamentalism
The lists of books of the year are often as instructive for what is left out as for what our assorted literary celebrities choose to include in their pre-Christmas recommendations. We know from their recommendations this year that most of our cultural...
The Ecstasy of God's Dancers: Now More Than Ever the World Needs a Gentle, Tolerant Version of Islam. Sufism Is Exactly That, but It Faces Growing Hostility from Moneyed Saudi Fundamentalists. William Dalrymple Reports
Six years ago, in the autumn of 1998, I was sitting in a roadside tea shop surrounded by the desert landscape of Rajasthan, when I saw a succession of bicycle rickshaws appear over the horizon. There were five in all, and they were winding their way...
The Fan: If You Throw Yourself around, You Can Make Yourself Big-And World Class!
Another world-class column, from a world-class writer, in a world-class mag. Looking out of the window, it seems a world-class morning; I'll just finish my bowl of world-class muesli and go and have a world-class poo, hopefully. [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]...
The Long Goodbye: From Barry to Carrie, It's Been a Year of Farewells
Television never says goodbye now. Never more the national anthem, the test card and music. In some homes, the set is literally never turned off--and it used to be such a long nightly death, the picture reducing into a vanishing dot of light. How we...
The Minister for Europe on How the Euro ("That Damn Currency") Has Become a Fetish and How He Told Chirac Home Truths
Denis MacShane keeps the blue flag flying. The European Union flag stands resplendent alongside the Union Jack in his office. It provides his computer with its screensaver. He is the lone proselytiser in a government that dare not espouse the cause....
The Stupid Things They Say and Do: George W Bush Is Not the Only Person Who Made a Fool of Himself in 2004. Our Contributors Test Your Knowledge of the Year's Howlers
A reinterpretation of the New Testament; how the east celebrates religious festivals; a surprising new way to subvert capitalism; how your Christmas tree betrays your social status. All this and more in our seasonal section. Contributors include Terry...
'The US Is Suffering a Chronic Deficit of Legitimacy': The International Spread of Democracy Began in the 1970s but Came to an End in the 1990s. Why? Because with the Cold War over, America's Moral Mission Is No Longer So Clear
In 1940, faced with the threat of Hitler's Germany, Franklin D Roosevelt called on the United States to be "the great arsenal of democracy". The context has changed, but the evangelical spirit remains. Indeed, the agenda has been widened, particularly...
The World's First Multinational; Corporate Greed, the Ruination of Traditional Ways of Life, Share-Price Bubbles, Western Imperialism: All These Modern Complaints Were Made against the British East India Company in the 18th Century. Nick Robins Draws the Lessons
In The Discovery of India, the final and perhaps most profound part of his "prison trilogy", written in 1944 from Ahmednagar Fort, Jawaharlal Nehru described the effect of the East India Company on the country he would shortly rule. "The corruption,...
Why Women Hate Politics
No government ever came to power with more commitment to feminising politics than did new Labour in 1997. More than seven years on, Westminster and Whitehall are as masculine in spirit as they ever were and, as research reported this month shows, many...
Wine Club: The Red's Foxy Aftertaste Makes It Just Right for Anti-Hunting Politicians
Large-scale Christmas parties require cost-cutting measures, and Corney & Barrow is offering its three house wines at prices you can all afford. These are genuine bargains, and so easy to drink that you will be into the second bottle before you...
World View: How Valuable Is a Report about Fallujah by a Correspondent Who's Sitting in a Studio in London? to Find out, Read This Guide to International News on TV
Even intelligent, well-educated people think that I travel by magic carpet. "I saw you in Pakistan," they say, "but then you were in Turkey!" In fact, they didn't see me in Pakistan--they heard my voice over pictures of Pakistan. If you don't understand...