Matthew Parris

Another voice | 25 October 2008

Wherever the civilised English gather to discuss the state we’re in, it is almost axiomatic to allow that we’re getting less refined. Discourse, public and private, is (we tell each other) getting cruder; wit is duller; our culture is dumbing down. A vulgarity and obviousness is gaining ground over the art of delicate suggestion. Nowhere

The Spectator's Notes

The Spectator’s notes | 25 October 2008

But why did Nathaniel Rothschild write to the Times? Yes, he was genuinely annoyed that George Osborne had relayed Peter Mandelson’s disobliging remarks about Gordon Brown to the Sunday Times. The then Mr Mandelson was Mr Rothschild’s guest, as was Mr Osborne. Mr Osborne betrayed hospitality and strained an old friendship. That might have made

Any other business

Shares that go up as banks go down

‘Whenever there’s a catastrophe on Wall Street, our business just gets better — because our products become more collectable.’ So says Bob Kerstein, founder of Virginia-based, the world’s largest buyer and seller of historic bonds and share certificates. The recent blizzard of insurance and investment banking failures has brought Kerstein particularly brisk business. ‘Our

Scotland counts the cost of its financial Culloden

Number 35, St Andrew Square in the heart of Edinburgh’s New Town has no name plate or corporate signage. It is an anonymous executive office used by Sir Fred Goodwin, Royal Bank of Scotland’s now-departing chief executive, for discreet meetings away from the bank’s out-of-town campus headquarters at Gogarburn. From its elegant Georgian first- floor

Banks too risky? Try flying saucers

Kim Schlunke would like you to buy a flying saucer. No, honestly, he’s got a video of it on his mobile, showing one buzzing round his lab in Perth, Australia. See it fly! See it hover! See it land delicately on its little legs! It looks, in other words, like a special effect of the

And another thing | 25 October 2008

In times of anxiety, I always turn to Jane Austen’s novels for tranquil distraction. Not that Jane was unfamiliar with financial crises and banking failures. On the contrary: she knew all about them from personal experience. As a young girl she seems to have regarded bankers as rather glamorous figures. In Lady Susan, written when