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The Spectator

October 20, 2007

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Previous Issues

The Week

The Week

De quoi avez-vous peur, Gordon?

17 October 2007

Let us step aside for a moment from the political posturing and horse-trading at the Lisbon EU summit and go back to the beginning. On 20 April 2004, Tony Blair… Read more

Diary

Diary

Jane Moore

17 October 2007

Christmas is coming. In fact, clock the mince pies on sale in M&S or the ruddy selection boxes in just about every store except Millets, and you could be forgiven… Read more

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The Week

Nick Clegg or Chris Huhne: no one can change the Lib Dems’ failure to find a niche

17 October 2007

The past week has seen history repeating itself, skipping the tragedy and moving straight to farce. Two weeks ago a Scottish MP, tipped from his first days in the Commons… Read more

The Week

Notting Hill Nobody

17 October 2007

Sunday Bonjour, mes amis! Am in Paris for Compassionate Conservative hen weekend! All the girls from the office are here giving Abby from Dave’s team a Right-Of-Centre-Yet-Modern send-off. Staying in… Read more

Letters

Letters

17 October 2007

Promises, promises Sir: Fraser Nelson (Politics, 6 October) suggests that the approach that won David Cameron the leadership in 2005 was conveyed in messages like ‘social responsibility’ and ‘general wellbeing’.… Read more

The Week

Global warning

17 October 2007

People have only to talk for a short time for it to become obvious that the greatest of human rights is not freedom of opinion, but freedom from opinion. It… Read more

Features

Once again, Europe threatens to devour another British PM

17 October 2007

In British politics, the Europe question always comes to embody the problems that a Prime Minister faces. So Gordon Brown will fly back from Lisbon with a treaty that emphasises… Read more

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Listen to Adam Smith: inheritance tax is good

17 October 2007

Politics trumps economics. That’s the best summary of the Tory and Labour competition to pander to those who until now have been threatened with paying to the Treasury a portion… Read more

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Brick Lane’s queen strikes gold on the silver screen

17 October 2007

Four years ago I published a book set in the East End, about a troubled young woman who lives and works in the vibrant multiethnic community of Bethnal Green. It… Read more

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The Muslims’ letter to the Pope is not all it seems

17 October 2007

The Muslims’ letter to the Pope is not all it seems At first sight the letter from 138 prominent Muslim scholars and imams to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian… Read more

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What has this ‘genocide’ to do with Congress?

17 October 2007

Istanbul Two elderly shoe-shiners were shouting with rage outside my local in Istanbul. The subject was America, and they ranted on and on — first about the disaster in Iraq,… Read more

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The auditor general and Saudi arms deals

To date there have been no indications of ministerial disquiet with Sir John Bourn, Britain’s comptroller and auditor general. Ministers speak of him in glowing terms, insisting that he is… Read more

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Why living near my old friend Michael Gove can seriously damage your health

17 October 2007

People living within a 25-mile radius of Michael Gove, MP, are more likely to die of cirrhosis of the liver and alcohol-related tumours than anywhere else in the country. There… Read more

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Hammer’s Dracula is now a beloved British institution

17 October 2007

Hammer’s 1958 Dracula is being re-released To some, the spectacle of heaving bosoms, goblets and hideous bloodshot eyes might simply signify an average night out in Boujis. For the rest… Read more

Columnists

Spectators notes

The Spectator’s notes

17 October 2007

There is much complaint that ‘ageism’ has toppled Sir Menzies Campbell. In theory, one must deplore prejudice against advancing years. Political leadership should come after accumulating decades of wisdom, rather… Read more

Hugo Rifkind

By the time they stop being mad, politicians are the right age for the House

17 October 2007

This is a column about the reform of the House of Lords. I have a hunch it might not look like one, probably until pretty much the end, but that… Read more

You can admire a roguish old pagan without approving of him

17 October 2007

Recently I managed to get hold of a copy of Alone by Norman Douglas. This series of essays about Italian towns at the time of the first world war was… Read more

Northern Rock: a day to remember

17 October 2007

It was not an iceberg that caused the crash of Northern Rock and fortunately there was no loss of life; but it will be remembered, like the sinking of the… Read more

‘Emotions are key. It’s not just about sandwiches’

17 October 2007

A tiny door marked ‘Pret a Manger Academy’ in the back wall of Victoria station leads up two narrow flights of metal stairs to a warm, colourful room where rock… Read more

Darling must scrap his tax attack on entrepreneurs

17 October 2007

Gordon Brown can’t stop himself from meddling, even with his own good ideas. Soon after he moved into No 11 Downing Street, he introduced one of the best pro-growth capital… Read more

Vander-Weyer-NEW

Piggy in the middle between the grain speculators and the supermarkets

17 October 2007

The concentrated aroma of — how shall I put it — deep piggy doo-doo that wafts through your car window as you motor up the A1 through North Yorkshire is,… Read more

Vander-Weyer-NEW

Why can’t British builders be more like the Poles?

17 October 2007

Over the past 20 years or so, I have found myself almost continuously on the client side of building contracts, large and small, domestic, corporate and charitable, in four different… Read more

Books

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A late and furious flowering

17 October 2007

Sceptical readers will immediately wonder whether 14 years of any composer’s life really deserve over 1,000 pages of biographical examination. The second volume of John Tyrell’s Janacek certainly goes into… Read more

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King of the lurid spectacle

17 October 2007

What a strange, gifted little martinet he was, this celluloid Nixon who demanded that his every word, no matter how trite or banal, was preserved exactly by his ‘field secretary’… Read more

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The great misleader

17 October 2007

In my intermittent career as an expert witness, I have observed that the most eminent men make the worst witnesses. Speaking from the lonely heights of their professional pre-eminence, they… Read more

Homage to Sebald

17 October 2007

Despite its pun, Waterlog is not quite a catalogue of an exhibition; rather it documents, expands — and in some cases might seem to seek to justify — the contents… Read more

A legend in his lifetime

17 October 2007

There is a brand of Toscano cigars called Garibaldi. Until given a new design recently, the packet proclaimed him as ‘the hero of two worlds’ as well as a devoted… Read more

Belfast to Edinburgh

17 October 2007

Belfast to Edinburgh For Michael and Edna Longley At the beginning of descent I see Wind-turbines cast their giant, spinning arms. The Southern Uplands send out false alarms, Semaphore shadows,… Read more

The windfalls after the storm

17 October 2007

By the time The Shock Doctrine lands on your desk, it’s hard not to feel suspicious. Seven years after her bestselling No Logo, Naomi Klein’s latest book promises to expose… Read more

Going through the motions

17 October 2007

If book reviews in The Spectator were, God forbid, ‘starred’, this self-styled biography of James Bond would merit just two stars out of five. The rationale behind so mediocre a… Read more

The Cure

17 October 2007

The Cure (After Yannis Ritsos) Although the fever had left him months before, he kept to his bed: the invalid, his room a swelter of sweat and booze and that… Read more

Not the place it used to be

17 October 2007

Roy Foster’s new book has its origins in the Wiles Lectures delivered at Queen’s University Belfast in May 2004. This is a distinguished lecture series initiated in 1954 by Herbert… Read more

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All together now

17 October 2007

In my English school our hymns were mostly in Latin which, despite years of instruction, rendered them sufficiently opaque to be appropriate. What few hymns we sang in English seemed… Read more

Prodigious from the word go

17 October 2007

There is a wonderful set of medieval wall tiles from Tring Abbey in the British Museum depicting the legendary infancy of a particularly mutinous and unappealing Jesus. A charitable interpretation… Read more

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Falling foul of fashion

17 October 2007

J. B. Priestley described the forgotten interwar novelist Dorothy Whipple as the Jane Austen of the 20th century. Posterity has balked at this assessment — as indeed, within Whipple’s lifetime,… Read more

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The importance of being earnest

17 October 2007

Michael Billington is the Val Doonican of theatre criticism. He’s been at it since the days of black and white telly and he shows no sign of giving up. Starting… Read more

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Keeping it green and pleasant

17 October 2007

John Watkins is Head of English Heritage’s Gardens and Landscape Team. Tom Wright was for 25 years Senior Lecturer in Landscape Management at Wye College. They are two professionals who… Read more

The Godfather of the Steppes

17 October 2007

First published in 1836, this novella shows Alexander Pushkin’s mastery of almost any form. The following year — after a miraculously productive short period — he died in a duel… Read more

Yard sale

17 October 2007

Yard Sale Oh, but it is incalculable — this side yard full of her things laid out on folding tables ranged along a chain link fence. Her Tupperware cake saver… Read more

The golden writer

17 October 2007

Doris Lessing was last week awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Philip Hensher traces the career of ‘one of the greatest novelists in English’. Doris Lessing’s Nobel win came as… Read more

The Head

17 October 2007

The Head would like to see us. Now, Inside: before the day is done. But we are having too much fun Out here. We will not listen now, Now smoke… Read more

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Surprising literary ventures

17 October 2007

John Cage was the composer of 4’33”, the piano performance piece that consists of 4 minutes and 33 seconds of complete silence — except for the mutterings of the audience… Read more

Arts

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Packing a punch

17 October 2007

It’s a good month for the Great War. At the National Theatre this week a new play by Michael Morpurgo tells the story of the war seen through the eyes… Read more

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Restless mind

17 October 2007

For once a major blockbuster exhibition at the Tate justifies its size: the imaginative world of Louise Bourgeois is so potent and all-encompassing that a show of more than 200… Read more

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Subversive narrative

17 October 2007

Paula Rego had a retrospective at Tate Liverpool a decade ago and a big show in her native Portugal, where she is properly regarded as the country’s greatest living artist,… Read more

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Less is more

17 October 2007

Theatre: Shadowlands; Cat’s-Paw; Glengarry Glen Ross Repressed Brits are on parade in Shadowlands. Author C.S. Lewis is portrayed as an emotional cripple who can’t bring himself to articulate his love… Read more

Familiar fantasy

17 October 2007

OK, here we have a fantasy film and I absolutely hate fantasy films. They bore me to hell and back, plus what if one day I don’t actually make it… Read more

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Indigestible fare

17 October 2007

It isn’t often that we get the chance to see a semi-opera, of which Purcell and Dryden’s King Arthur is a paradigm. And after seeing a competent production in Bury… Read more

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Blurred boundaries

17 October 2007

Dance: Giselle — on love and other difficulties; Shaker As the blurb at the back of the programme says, it is well known that ‘Dance Umbrella celebrates and champions contemporary… Read more

Competitive edge

17 October 2007

Amid all the fuss about cuts at the BBC and how this will affect programme output, I can’t help thinking, why the outrage? For years, there have been dark rumblings… Read more

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Pointless bickering

17 October 2007

The thing I want to talk about this week is random and unnecessary tension-generation because it ruins almost every TV programme I watch and, once I’ve explained it, I like… Read more

Life

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Life

Live and let let

17 October 2007

When you tell people, they recoil as though jabbed with a lavatory brush. ‘You mean you still actually pay rent?’ is, in middle-class terms, a question akin to: ‘You mean… Read more

Life

Losing our heritage

17 October 2007

Surely, I said, the RAF cannot have bombed them all. No, she said: it was the ‘economic miracle’ which had done for them. Wealthy West Germans had spent the 1960s… Read more

Life

Invest in Budapest

17 October 2007

On a crisp, clear autumn day in Budapest the sun streamed in through tall windows on to the splendid parquet floor of an elegant flat on the east bank of… Read more

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Life

Prime time

17 October 2007

‘London House Prices Set to Crash! The Capital’s Property Boom Finally Ends! London Housing Bubble Pops!’ As the reality of the US sub-prime property story leaks across the Atlantic, headline… Read more

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Life

Flippin’ amazing

17 October 2007

Here is the scientific formula for calculating London’s top property prices: think of a figure, double it, add a few noughts, and voila! — or should I say nazdarovie, of… Read more

Life

Property porn

17 October 2007

I need help. I’ve got an addiction. It’s reading property magazines and newspaper supplements and watching property programmes on television. I’m not looking for a new flat or house to… Read more

Diversions

Crossword

17 October 2007

http://www.spectator.co.uk/crossword/2007-10-20.pdf

Diversions

Pseuds’ corner

17 October 2007

Who has not stared blankly at a bewildering installation and wondered what the blazes it was all about? Given that ideas are so fundamental to this sort of art, what… Read more

Diversions

Chess

17 October 2007

Why does Fidé, the world chess federation, insist on drug tests for chessplayers? Earlier this year I discussed this problem in the abstract, but after the recently concluded world championship in Mexico… Read more

Toby Young

Status anxiety

I know nothing about rugby, but Jonny Wilkinson is still my favourite quarterback

17 October 2007

‘You’re joking, right?’ The person on the other end of the phone was Grub Smith, a sports-loving friend of mine who I was hoping might get me out of a… Read more

Mind Your Language

Mind your language

Mind your language

17 October 2007

When the postal strike was in full spate we heard quite a bit about ‘Spanish practices’, or at least we did sometimes. On one morning the BBC referred to ‘Spanish… Read more

Spectator sport

Spectator sport

Down under and out

17 October 2007

By nice fluke, there has been a heady clash of cultures over the past few days, with comparisons anything but invidious. The intriguing bundle of important international football matches has… Read more

Dear Mary

Dear Mary

17 October 2007

Q. I recently prayed to St Jude, the patron saint of lost causes, in the cause of a friend who was desperately ill. My prayers were answered. I have been… Read more

Diversions

Bridge

17 October 2007

I know I said last week that I was rooting for the US team (which included my friend Zia Mahmood) in this year’s bridge world championships, but that didn’t stop… Read more

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High life

Control freaks

17 October 2007

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is as gruesome a fellow as they come. Mind you, he’s not as bad as Governor Eliot Spitzer, but then not every public official is… Read more

Low life

Low life

All in the mind

17 October 2007

The only light came from a reading lamp pointing at the centre of the room. The background music was whale song and randomly plucked harp strings. The room was the… Read more

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Life

Bad trip

17 October 2007

Your ordeal starts innocuously enough. ‘Welcome aboard the south east trains service to London Waterloo. This train will be calling at…’ You settle back in your seat and for a… Read more