The Spectator

December 15, 2007



How, as Mayor, I would help our brave troops

Boris Johnson is appalled by the indifference towards veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Whatever our views, we should honour those who have performed their duty


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

What's so good about these indigestible birds?


Christmas notebook

Barry Humphries on battling BT and Australia's new Prime Minister



The Spectator's short story for the holidays


An American conservative who loves the Constitution

Christopher Caldwell on the impact of Ron Paul, the anti-war congressman running for the Republican nomination and finding unexpected support on the web


I’m like a nervous schoolgirl with my stuntman

The actor's stunt double makes him feel like a schoolgirl


The Liverpool that I loved has gone for ever

Merseyside memories in the European Capital of culture


A star at Christmas

Joan Collins's Festive Notebook


Do you believe in the Virgin Birth?

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.


Old Ireland lives on in a frozen Christmas swim

Old Ireland lives on in an Ardmore village custom


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

How those in power take the Almighty's name in vain


New York Diary

Tina Brown on why New York Christmases are bigger and bolder than celebrations elsewhere and why Barack Obama is the political toast of the holiday season.

The Week

The Week

Unto us a Child is Born

The Spectator on what parents owe their children


Diary of a Notting Hill nobody

Tamzin's look-back at a tipsy-turvy year for Project Cameron



Emily Maitlis on the Christmas Party circuit

The Week

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

The Potemkin Chancellor might be found out now that he is Prime Minister


Any other business

Is there an alternative to nationalising Northern Rock?

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 the best options were closed off by inaction back in September.

The Spectator's Notes

The Spectator’s notes

Charles Moore on the nature of the season

Any other business

The lord on the board and the gilded rogue

Martin Vander Weyer draws lessons for company directors from the morality tale of a long-forgotten City scandal which blighted the life of a celebrated Edwardian grandee

Any other business

This party’s well and truly over

Christopher Fildes looks back on a turbulent year in the markets and recalls some immutable laws of banking

Any other business

In Tianjin

The pace of change in China

Any other business

In Budapest

In Budapest it is still who you know, not what you know, that counts.

Any other business

In New Orleans

How the Big East is recovering post-Katrina.


The Great Iraq Debate

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, Rory Stewart and Lt Peter Hegseth.

Full audio of the debate is available here.

Any other business

Will the property market cause the next savings disaster?

‘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 so big there – his logo is on office block after office block – that he would be instantly identifiable.



A Christmas Song

A Christmas Song Why is the baby crying On this, his special day, When we have brought him lovely gifts…



Kit Wright


A choice of art books

Literary critics of a certain stripe may have been exulting over the death of the author for decades, but happily, in the world of art publishing, monographic studies of the careers and works of individual artists are still alive and kicking. Indeed, almost half of my festive selections fall into that category this year.


Children’s books for Christmas

The best presents to give this Christmas


Cinema, Music, Theatre

Clemency Suggests

It seems bizarre to me that book shopping at this time of year should be about negotiating your way through…


Flemish tour de force

Martin Gayford on the virtuoso naturalism of the majestic Portinari Altarpiece


Carnival of crassness

Stephen Bayley on why he despises December’s tawdry and sentimental retail landscape


Victorian virtues

The fight has gone out of Victorian- bashing as a pastime.


Smoke signals

Henrietta Bredin tracks the smokers and drug abusers in the operatic canon


Subverting Wagner

Parsifal, Royal Opera House


Night of disaster

The Wedding, 15, Key Cities


Scholastic mystery

Doubt: A Parable, Tricycle; Sweet William, Arcola; Othello, Donmar


Embracing Grainger

The 20th century's most maverick musician


World winner

How the BBC World Service plans to celebrate its 75th birthday.



The Impossible Quiz–Answers

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

Dear Mary

Your problems solved

Once again Mary has invited some of her favourite Persons of Distinction to submit queries for her Christmas consideration.


The Christmas Quiz

They said it In 2007, who said: 1. ‘All I could make out in their language were the words “Mr…



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 bridge players can be brusque and impatient — hence the massive drive by bridge organisations worldwide to raise standards of behaviour — but I think this has been somewhat overdone.



Two unclued lights give the title of a 51 for 1 by an unclued light, the 54 of whose 49 is celebrated this month. Two other unclued lights form a quotation from the 51. In clues in italics, subsidiary indications omit reference to parts of answers.


Christmas quiz: the answers

They said it 1. Able Seaman Arthur Batchelor, after being released by the Iranians. 2. Lord Turnbull (of Gordon Brown’s…


Condensing Jane

In Competition No. 2524 you were invited to condense a Jane Austen novel into a limerick.

Mind your language

Mind your language

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 castigated.


Speeding questions

Speed cameras might be causing deaths not preventing them


Botanical exactitude

Flowers in Christian art

The turf

Speaking out

Trainer Charlie Mann on the racing world

High life

Joining the hypocrites

Taki on his wedding plans

Real life

Right of passage

Why lunch rage is now a problem

Slow life

The price is right

Alex James prepares for Christmas.

Wild life

Down Mexico way

Aidan Hartley heads to the US-Mexico border

Low life

On the buses

Jeremy Clarke on the youth of today



This will be the last issue of The Spectator before the annual tournament starts at Hastings. This dates back to 1895 and is the longest-running major tournament in the world. My own favourite game from my many appearances at Hastings was against Tony Miles.