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The Spectator

December 15, 2007

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The Week

The Week

Unto us a Child is Born

12 December 2007

The awesome mystery of Christmas is contained in the dual nature of the infant Jesus: the knowledge of His almighty power, juxtaposed with the spectacle of His absolute vulnerability in… Read more

Diary

Diary

Tamzin Lightwater

12 December 2007

JANUARY 2007 As we await the coming of the Force of Darkness, work begins on election posters featuring Gordon as Darth Vader. Tory coffers bulging in preparation for the fight,… Read more

Diary

Diary

Emily Maitlis

12 December 2007

Last night I came face to face with a pair of Victoria Beckham’s old white jeans. To be fair, it wasn’t just me and the jeans. It was more of… Read more

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The Week

Now Gordon Brown has been found out, the Tories should think twice about copying him

12 December 2007

Gordon Brown’s detractors have long argued that he deserves to be ranked not among Scotland’s economic geniuses but alongside its most notorious confidence tricksters. His great achievement as Chancellor was… Read more

Features

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How, as Mayor, I would help our brave troops

13 December 2007

Even if the story is exaggerated, the underlying psychology is convincing. It is reliably reported that last month a woman in her thirties was doing her daily laps of the… Read more

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My goose was cooked — and it wasn’t very good

12 December 2007

Unlike Wagner’s music, which is better than it sounds, roast goose is less good than it sounds. For a reason that I have not been able quite to fathom, it… Read more

It is will, not greed, that makes you write a bestseller

12 December 2007

When Ernest Hemingway met Harold Robbins, the grand old man of American literature asked the alpha male of the bestseller list why he wrote. ‘Wealth,’ said Harold Robbins. ‘And I… Read more

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The reason we drink is that we think it’s naughty

12 December 2007

As we become ever more steeped in Protestant guilt over the next week or so, each additional glass of wine swelling the self-loathing, redemption is in sight. New Year’s Day… Read more

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Christmas notebook

12 December 2007

The trouble with living in London is that apoplexy is always just around the corner. A few weeks ago my telephone developed a funny sub-aqueous rustling noise sufficient to drown… Read more

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In Poland you can’t get hold of a Polish plumber

12 December 2007

Warsaw ‘Hmm, let me see,’ said Tomasz the painter, rubbing his temples. He was trying to think of a plumber who could install a new bathroom shower. ‘Well, there’s Jacek… Read more

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Humiliation

12 December 2007

London is the first city of humiliation: London does it better than anywhere else. I should know, its latest victim. First my divorce — you would think, what with war… Read more

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How To Be Topp: Ding-dong Farely Merily For Xmas

Xmas all grown ups sa is the season for the kiddies but this do not prevent them from taking a tot or 2 from the bot and having, it may… Read more

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An American conservative who loves the Constitution

12 December 2007

A Republican debate in Florida in late November marked this electoral season’s debut of Adolf Hitler, that reliable presence in American presidential campaigns. The Arizona senator John McCain, struggling to… Read more

I’m like a nervous schoolgirl with my stuntman

12 December 2007

The stunt double does all the hard stuff that you the actor either cannot do or should not do lest you injure yourself, and are out of the movie. I… Read more

The Liverpool that I loved has gone for ever

12 December 2007

In June of 2003 Tessa Jowell, the then culture secretary, announced that in 2008 Liverpool would become the European Capital of Culture. The city beat five other hopefuls — Bristol,… Read more

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A star at Christmas

12 December 2007

In Los Angeles last month we were wined and dined and mulligan-souped up to our eyeballs. Los Angelenos love entertaining their visitors and even though I’ve lived on and off… Read more

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Republicans must heed the voters to beat Hillary

12 December 2007

Washington After almost a year of the candidates manoeuvring for position in the national and state polls, one aspect of the 2008 presidential election campaign remains as constant as the… Read more

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Do you believe in the Virgin Birth?

12 December 2007

The Spectator asked a select group including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Charles Moore, AC Grayling, Jonathan Aitken and Christopher Hitchens if they believed in the Virgin Birth.… Read more

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Old Ireland lives on in a frozen Christmas swim

12 December 2007

On Christmas morning the entire village will gather on the beach at the end of the main street. I think the ‘main’ is probably superfluous here. There is really only… Read more

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In Umbria the truth of the Nativity was revealed to me

One of the perks of studying for the priesthood in Rome was the gita, an Italian word meaning ‘holiday’ or ‘trip’. We students rarely returned home in our seven-year stint… Read more

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Christian virtue: a man in the prime of his second act

12 December 2007

The night before I meet Christian Slater I am lazily channel-surfing and, a little spookily, on comes True Romance, the 1993 Tarantino-scripted love story and gangster movie that cemented the… Read more

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God’s role in politics is not to underwrite bad ideas

12 December 2007

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews XI 1 Ah yes; things not seen. A little while ago this country had… Read more

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New York Diary

12 December 2007

I’ve always loved the Christmas (or rather Hulliday) season in New York because it’s so unapologetically, materialistically over the top. You want tinsel? No tinsel is fatter and furrier than… Read more

Columnists

Vander-Weyer-NEW

Is there an alternative to nationalising Northern Rock?

18 December 2007

Tuesday’s announcement that the Treasury will guarantee lending from other banks to Northern Rock is last ditch bid to avoid having to nationalise the bank. But in truth, most of… Read more

Spectators notes

The Spectator’s notes

12 December 2007

Since our parish newsletter does not have a wide circulation, I feel I am justified in plagiarising an article in the latest issue by its nature correspondent (my wife). She… Read more

Hugo Rifkind

Watching Lost and Heroes has compelled me to confront great philosophical issues

12 December 2007

It’s best to be upfront about this. Pretty soon, I’m going to use words like ‘downloading’ and ‘uploading’. I’m going to use the word ‘peer’ and I’m not going to… Read more

Rejoice but remember: the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom

12 December 2007

To open a newspaper today is to enter a world of such horror, cruelty, vulgarity and corruption that one cannot imagine why almighty God does not decide, here and now,… Read more

Vander-Weyer-NEW

The lord on the board and the gilded rogue

12 December 2007

The last Lord Ribblesdale, who died in 1925, is remembered chiefly as the subject of a remarkable portrait, known as ‘The Ancestor’, by John Singer Sargent. For those who enjoy… Read more

Monopoly: the dangers of playing Gordon Brown’s special edition

12 December 2007

There is one thing I have never understood about the property developers of 1930s Atlantic City. How come — at least to judge from the game they inspired, Monopoly —… Read more

This party’s well and truly over

12 December 2007

The old ones are the best, so allow me to remind you of Sibley’s Law. Giving capital to a bank (said that worldly banker, Nicholas Sibley) is like giving a… Read more

City Life: Kabul

12 December 2007

In Kabul Perhaps the best way to view Corporate Afghanistan — there’s a term you don’t often hear — is to regard it as a never-ending spigot draining sovereign wealth… Read more

In Tianjin

12 December 2007

The Wangdingdi market on the outskirts of this fast-growing port city in north-east China is an extraordinary sight. It might be the world’s largest bicycle market; it’s certainly the loudest.… Read more

In Budapest

12 December 2007

Budapest is the only city I know where Gresham’s Law takes pride of place. On the Pest side of the Danube opposite the Iron Bridge, in a niche on the… Read more

In New Orleans

12 December 2007

As New Orleans continues its slow slog towards recovery from Hurricane Katrina, the first signs of new life in still-devastated neighbourhoods have often been the markets. It’s fitting that the… Read more

The Great Iraq Debate

12 December 2007

Lloyd Evans, The Spectator’s theatre critic, reviews last night’s Spectator / Intelligence Squared debate on the future of Iraq which featured Tony Benn, William Shawcross, Sir Christopher Meyer, Ali Allawi,… Read more

Vander-Weyer-NEW

Will the property market cause the next savings disaster?

11 December 2007

‘How’s business?’ I asked the Mr Big of commercial property in a city somewhere north of Watford Gap last week. I won’t say which city, because this Mr Big is… Read more

Books

A Christmas Song

11 December 2007

A Christmas Song Why is the baby crying On this, his special day, When we have brought him lovely gifts And laid them on the hay? He’s crying for the… Read more

When the sun finally set

11 December 2007

I first read the Raj Quartet in the early 1970s, when Paul Scott’s decision to set his novels in the dying days of the British Raj in India seemed an… Read more

Metal

11 December 2007

Metal A steelmill town, a ridge of pine, The taste of snow upon the tongue, Meant all the world was black and white At Christmastime when he was young. In… Read more

From Charles Lamb to ‘netiquette’

11 December 2007

A few years ago the American author Anne Fadiman scored a hit with Ex Libris, an amiable miscellany of book-talk touching lightly on such topics as the quirks of proof-reading… Read more

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More marks on paper

11 December 2007

Life is not fair. Talents are not distributed equitably. The likelihood is that if you are good at one thing, you will be good at other things too. But there… Read more

A Yorkshire Christmas Eve

11 December 2007

A Yorkshire Christmas Eve His nearby town wore annual evening-dress, cheap jewellery of lights, white fur and bright drapes of Santa red which might impress late shoppers on this final… Read more

A Puzzle in Four Seasons

11 December 2007

A Puzzle in Four Seasons Look at us. It must be Christmas. Our heads are bowed, the lamp close. We could be cracking a code or a body, so intent… Read more

Perfecting the art of rudeness

11 December 2007

Everyone will have met Basil and Sybil Fawlty in real life — the would-be genteel types who, in running a provincial hotel, have condemned themselves to quite the wrong vocation,… Read more

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Sunlight on stucco

11 December 2007

This affordably handsome book confirms in my own partisan mind what a rich subject the area of Notting Hill in London is, and I can’t help approving of it for… Read more

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A choice of art books

11 December 2007

First, and by no means simply by virtue of its weight, is Judy Egerton’s George Stubbs, Painter: Catalogue Raisonné (Yale, £95), which effortlessly combines awesome scholarly authority with what in… Read more

Children’s books for Christmas

11 December 2007

Part of the charm of giving books to children at Christmas is that they are so easy to wrap. After an evening spent wrestling with a variety of soft toys… Read more

A gathering of ghosts

11 December 2007

Fire in the Blood is the second recently discovered and hitherto unpublished novel by the author of Suite Française, the two-volume work that was written shortly before French police arrested… Read more

How to ruin a country

11 December 2007

As Zimbabwe celebrated its independence in April 1980 President Nyerere of Tanzania had a piece of advice for Robert Mugabe: ‘You have inherited a jewel. Keep it that way.’ At… Read more

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Conservative iconoclasts required

11 December 2007

Having been a monarchist all my life, it was a bit embarrassing the other day to have to admit to a television interviewer that I could not remember the reasons… Read more

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The full-blown country-house look

11 December 2007

It is not given to many for their surname to be turned into an adjective immediately recognisable by a section of society. ‘Fowlerised’ meant a house transformed by John Fowler… Read more

A master of self-invention

11 December 2007

When I announced, in London in 1962, that I was going to publish The Carpetbaggers, Harold Robbins replied, ‘Everyone here has already read it.’ ‘Here’ was the Carlton Hotel, Cannes,… Read more

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Surprising literary ventures

11 December 2007

Who is Cleo Birdwell?’ begins the flyleaf text of this book. ‘The simple answer is that she’s a New York Ranger, a schoolteacher’s daughter from Badger, Ohio, who becomes the… Read more

Arts

Clemency Suggests

14 December 2007

It seems bizarre to me that book shopping at this time of year should be about negotiating your way through mountainous piles of ‘Things You Never Knew About…’ or ‘The… Read more

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Flemish tour de force

12 December 2007

Some years ago I was walking through the closed galleries of the Uffizi with a group of journalists, when we passed the Portinari Altarpiece. In those spaces, free for once… Read more

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Carnival of crassness

12 December 2007

Stephen Bayley on why he despises December’s tawdry and sentimental retail landscape Christmas balls. This is a season to be forced into jollity. And one of mixed messages, dark ambiguities.… Read more

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Victorian virtues

12 December 2007

The fight has gone out of Victorian- bashing as a pastime. The high moral aims and low double standards of so much 19th-century culture, characterised by unsmiling portentousness and once… Read more

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Smoke signals

12 December 2007

The indulgences of Christmas in the forms of food and drink are fairly well represented in the operatic canon but less socially acceptable indulgences, such as smoking and even drug… Read more

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A look ahead to 2008

12 December 2007

At the National Gallery the year starts with a show of Pompeo Batoni’s stylish portraits of 18th-century Grand Tourists in Italy (20 February to 18 May). The painter Alison Watt… Read more

Subverting Wagner

12 December 2007

Presumably Bernard Haitink took, or was administered, a huge overdose of Valium before he began conducting Parsifal at the Royal Opera last week. What else could explain this fairly experienced… Read more

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Night of disaster

12 December 2007

Honestly, Polish films. They come over here, open in cinemas — our cinemas; your local Odeon — and, if that weren’t enough, they are smart and they are funny and… Read more

Scholastic mystery

12 December 2007

Doubt: A Parable is a small intriguing play set in a New York Catholic school. When a 12-year-old boy is caught getting smashed on altar wine, the fanatical head teacher,… Read more

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Embracing Grainger

12 December 2007

What can it be, this squat semicircular structure nestled inconspicuous yet peculiar amid the faculties and offices along the leafy university stretch of Royal Parade, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia? Looks like… Read more

World winner

12 December 2007

Seventy-five years ago this coming Thursday the ‘Empire Service’ was born, just in time for George V to announce its arrival in his very first Christmas broadcast to the nation.… Read more

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Seasonal shortcomings

12 December 2007

Sorry, you’re not getting your Christmas present this year. Yes, I know what you want: one of those columns where I avoid TV altogether and just rant madly about myself… Read more

Life

Diversions

The Impossible Quiz–Answers

2 January 2008

The answers can be viewed here . The questions can be viewed here.

Investigation

Competition

The Impossible Quiz

12 December 2007

asc

Toby Young

Status anxiety

What your Christmas card says about you (and it’s not usually very nice)

12 December 2007

When a person does something to remind you of their superior status, I often wonder whether he or she is fully in control of what they’re doing. Name-droppers, for instance,… Read more

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Dear Mary

12 December 2007

From Edward McMillan-Scott, European Parliament vice-president Q. The problem of the universal greeting has become an obsession. As you may imagine, the European Parliament is a meeting place for people… Read more

Diversions

The Christmas Quiz

12 December 2007

They said it In 2007, who said: 1. ‘All I could make out in their language were the words “Mr Bean”. They were laughing at me . . . making… Read more

Diversions

Bridge

12 December 2007

Icame across a news item in a newspaper the other day about bad manners at the bridge table leading to a decline in the game’s popularity. Well, it’s true that… Read more

Diversions

Crossword

12 December 2007

http://www.spectator.co.uk/crossword/2007-12-15.pdf

Diversions

Christmas quiz: the answers

12 December 2007

They said it 1. Able Seaman Arthur Batchelor, after being released by the Iranians. 2. Lord Turnbull (of Gordon Brown’s behaviour at the Treasury). 3. Gordon Brown (launching his Labour… Read more

Diversions

Condensing Jane

12 December 2007

In Competition No. 2524 you were invited to condense a Jane Austen novel into a limerick. You rose admirably to the challenge, and, as befits a competition based on the… Read more

Mind Your Language

Mind your language

Mind your language

12 December 2007

Those who indulge in the ‘infuriating genteelism’ of saying Christmas lunch must be castigated, a reader from Leicester, Mr Clifford Dunkley, tells me. Castigate them, do. But they won’t stay… Read more

Motoring

Speeding questions

12 December 2007

‘When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?’ John Maynard Keynes retorted to a critic. A pity he’s not here to ask the same question… Read more

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Gardening

Botanical exactitude

12 December 2007

As I spend much of my life in a flower bed, bottom up, I rarely consciously make the connection between the flowers that I grow in my garden and their… Read more

TheTurf

The turf

Speaking out

12 December 2007

Upper Lambourn trainer Charlie Mann, who was forcibly retired as a jockey in 1989 by breaking his neck after riding around 150 winners, lists his hobby as ‘having fun’. His… Read more

High life

High life

Joining the hypocrites

12 December 2007

It is that time of year again. The time for peace and goodwill to all men. Mind you, goodwill towards all men is getting harder by the minute, what with… Read more

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Real life

Right of passage

12 December 2007

I realise that I have for some time been approaching my life with all the flexibility of an Orangeman. Every day I march my traditional route to a well-known sandwich… Read more

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Slow life

The price is right

12 December 2007

The Christmas tree is big enough for the children to climb. The small ones could get lost inside somewhere. Every year that guy gets it exactly right. His expertise is… Read more

Wild life

Wild life

Down Mexico way

12 December 2007

Nogales, Mexico After the purgatory of Arizona, I was so happy to cross the Mexico frontier I could have French-kissed the filthy streets. It was just like home in Africa.… Read more

Low life

Low life

On the buses

12 December 2007

There was a bus shelter, but it had no sides and the icy wind was blowing the rain horizontally at us. We huddled together, all eyes on the bus-driver. A… Read more

Diversions

Chess

12 December 2007

http://www.spectator.co.uk/chess/2007-07-28.pdf