12/02/2011
12 Feb 2011

12 February 2011

12 Feb 2011

12 February 2011

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Features
Ross ClarkRoss Clark
Councils of despair

Local authorities are slashing vital services, but keeping extravagant offices and salaries – and handing blame back to David CameronWe are, of course, all in this together. It is just that an awful lot of people feel that they are rather further in it than anyone else, and believe that while they are drowning in the deep end they can see David Cameron happily splashing about in his Gucci shorts in the shallows.

Councils of despair
Lloyd Evans
Family trees

How Rachel Johnson became the voice of Britain’s forestsClueless, aimless, rudderless, directionless. Labour’s disarray has left the task of holding the government to account in the hands of volunteers and publicity-seekers. The result is pop-up opposition, scrutiny by happening. Groups of protestors coalesce around a famous figurehead and raise merry hell until the coalition gives them what they want.

Family trees
David Tang
Hong Kong Notebook

I have an aunt who is a 90-year-old Chinese Catholic nun. Until last year she was confined to a wheelchair, badly arthritic, and totally blind, but then a miraculous operation gave her back sight in one eye. Last week, to celebrate the Chinese New Year, she bravely travelled from her home in Wicklow to Hong Kong — which she left 20 years ago and thought she would never see again. Her visit was a surprise for her sister, my 83-year-old mother, and so our traditional family dinner on New Year’s eve was an emotional affair.

Hong Kong Notebook
Theodore Dalrymple
The Disneyfication of death

Why are children’s graves now littered with toys?Is a graveyard a public amenity or an arena of self-expression? An Essex council recently ordered grieving families to remove ‘decorations’ from the tombs of their dead children. ‘One councillor claimed that it looked like Poundland,’ said Anne Lee, who was asked to remove the wind chimes from her daughter’s grave. ‘But we think they’re beautiful.’ Is a council a better judge of what is right and fitting in funerary monuments than at least some of the citizenry? Municipal cemeteries are among the many achievements of our Victorian forefathers.

The Disneyfication of death
Victoria Lane
In the beginning was the crossword

On Thursday evening, a stream of distinguished visitors poured through the doors of 22 Old Queen Street. These were the readers who had applied and been picked to attend a party to celebrate the publication of the 2,000th Spectator crossword. Tom Johnson, aka Doc, crossword editor, presided over a roomful of dons, doctors, vicars and at least one astrophysicist — ‘the country’s finest crossword minds’, as Spectator editor Fraser Nelson put it.

In the beginning was the crossword
Naomi Oleary
Mother of the revolution

The Egyptian feminist Nawal El Saadawi, 80, has joined the struggle that she has dreamed of since she was a childCairo The atmosphere in Tahrir Square is festive. The protestors, in their bid to force President Hosni Mubarak to resign, have set up a tent city, sleeping out in the square so that it cannot be taken. Doctors are running makeshift hospitals with donated medical supplies and blankets. Casual traders hawk everything from Egyptian flags to socks.

Mother of the revolution
Rod Liddle
The liberal consensus only prevails because if you challenge it you lose your job

Which do you prefer as a leisure pursuit — taking ecstasy or riding on a horse? I have done both and am slightly inclined towards the former, although not by much.Which do you prefer as a leisure pursuit — taking ecstasy or riding on a horse? I have done both and am slightly inclined towards the former, although not by much. Ecstasy rendered me an immobilised sap with a rictus grin and a vocabulary of about 19 words — like a slightly sinister CBeebies presenter who had not been adequately CRB checked.

The liberal consensus only prevails because  if you challenge it you lose your job
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