14 DECEMBER 1996

Page 8


The Spectator

M r John Major, the Prime Minister, insisted that he would not decide a policy on Britain joining a single European cur- rency until after the election. In the mean- time the...

Page 9


The Spectator

Mr Clarke has always been reckless; the PM has failed to prevent him from becoming a wrecker BRUCE ANDERSON T he most absurd comment in the recent European degringolade was...

Page 10


The Spectator

BARRY HUMPHRIES P lease hold the line while we try to connect you. The number you are calling knows you are waiting.' This bright lady's voice often assails me through the tele-...

Page 11


The Spectator

If you really want to punish the Tories, here is the way to do it MATTHEW PARRIS A the years of Conservative govern- ment roll by, a private urge grips me with growing...

Page 12


The Spectator

John Gummer says what the Christmas story means to him: awesome proof that God not only exists, but once existed on this earth AS an undergraduate at Cambridge, I first found...

Page 13

The Blair

The Spectator

Michael Heath

Page 14


The Spectator

Opposition to Labour on tax, rejection of single currency. Important interview by Simon Sebag Montefiore INTERVIEW the Spice Girls, I thought. But the Spice Girls are...

Page 18


The Spectator

At the height of the party season, Ewa Lewis on the rights and wrongs of thank-you letters IT IS SAD that letter-writing is a dying art and future history is on computer...

Page 20


The Spectator

By A.L. Kennedy LOVE WOULD have been something else. Something more. More lovely or maybe more ugly. More convincing, any- way. Definitely more convincing. Given time, even a...

Page 24


The Spectator

. . . Jonathan Cecil laments that there is none of this in today's variety show style of pantomime ACTORS traditionally say they became stage-struck from the moment they saw...

Page 26


The Spectator

E.C. Hodgkin recalls London's last prewar Christmas. And Andrew Gimson describes Berlin's E. C. Hodgkin writes: IT FELT much more like the first Christ- mas of war than the last...

Page 32


The Spectator

By Jane Gardam ON THE MORNING of Christmas Eve my sister's husband died. I live in Paris. She lives in Herne Bay. She telephoned me at once, and at once 1 said that I would...

Page 34

Mind your language

The Spectator

I DO not want to trespass on Dr Dal- rymple's patch (indeed I'd run a mile to avoid it), but I've just come across a new book of prison slang which shows how dreadful prison is...

Page 35


The Spectator

Plus one thin politician. Bruce Anderson and Alan Watkins on the food, and more especially the drink, at a famous London restaurant Bruce Anderson writes: MIDWINTER is the...

Page 40


The Spectator

Peter Jones on the odd or painful means by which the ancients procreated. But at least they knew what children were for GREEKS and Romans placed enormous importance on having...

Page 42


The Spectator

Christmas numbers Here is a list of poets: Hilaire Belloc; Richard Crashaw; John Donne; Robert Herrick; Rudyard Kipling; Henry W. Longfellow; William McGonagall; Harold Monro;...

Page 46

The Spectator

Page 47

The Spectator

Page 48


The Spectator

That daft office memo can win you champagne let's hear it for bowls, planted, personal CHRISTOPHER FILDES I t is two thousand years since Caesar Augustus sent out the first...

Page 49

The Spectator

Page 50

Sir: The only surprising thing about Paul Johnson's article is

The Spectator

that you did not distance your excellent magazine from the views expressed, which will have given offence to many — perhaps the majority — of your readers. Of course it was...

LETTERS Welcome the outsider

The Spectator

Sir: William Oddie ('IVly time at homoerotic college', 7 December) recalls his unhappy time at theological college. He should con- sider how upsetting, even traumatic, count-...

Matters of fact and fiction

The Spectator

Sir: James Srodes (`The spy of the century', 23 November) is not one to let facts inter- fere with his fancies of history, especially facts showing that Alger Hiss was falsely...

Stick to the rules

The Spectator

Sir: Most of your outraged correspondents have missed the crucial point that Paul Johnson is making about the Church of England (And another thing, 23 Novem- ber). It doesn't...

Page 54

Defrauded by Detmar

The Spectator

Sir: Simon Blow's distressing account of his father's descent into alcoholic dementia (The Duke who killed my father', 7 December) attempts to pin the blame on Bendor...

Wild allegations

The Spectator

Sir: As a native Jerseyman, I was surprised that you should publish such a wildly inac- curate article by Artemis Cooper (Invasion of the sun gods', 30 November). Presumably...

Page 57

The Spectator

Page 58

The Spectator

Page 59


The Spectator

The year in books Philip Hensher T he experience of looking back over a year in books is rather an embarrassing one for the average book reviewer. The titles of books long...

Page 61

Losing patience with the poor

The Spectator

John Mortimer THE AMUSEMENT OF THE PEOPLE AND OTHER PAPERS: DICKENS' JOURNALISM, VOLUME II, 1834-51 edited by Michael Slater Dent, £25, pp. 408 h is collection of Dickens'...

Page 62

Telegrams and tranquillity

The Spectator

Frances Partridge DEAR WRITER. . . DEAR ACTRESS: THE LOVE LETTERS OF OLGA KNIPPER AND ANTON CHEKHOV edited by John Benedetti Methuen, £18.99, pp. 292 h e distinctive genius of...

Page 63

Swallowing the pills with the jam

The Spectator

Claudia Fitzherbert CHARLO 1 YONGE by Alethea Hayter Northcote House, £7.99, pp. 81 C harlotte M. Yonge, the Victorian novelist prolific even by the standards of her age, has...

Page 65

Bear and child, Soviet-style

The Spectator

John Bayley THE FOUNDATION PIT by Andrey Platonov Harvill, 114.99, pp. 192 F ew really good novels get written about 'important' subjects. Why should they? 'The free novel', as...

Page 66

A dandy at Waterloo

The Spectator

Byron Rogers ONE LEG by the Marquess of Anglesey Leo Cooper, £25, pp. 446 I t seems he may not have said at Water- loo, 'By God, sir, I've lost my leg.' So the Duke of...

Page 67

Axes and teeth being ground

The Spectator

Thomas Blaikie A VICIOUS CIRCLE by Amanda Craig Fourth Estate, £15.99, pp. 367 A t last! At last! For six months now the literary world has tremulously awaited Amanda Craig's...

Page 68

The hunting of the quark

The Spectator

Michael Bywater EINSTEIN: A LIFE by Denis Brian John Wiley, £18.99, pp. 509 I f you did well at school, you got into the scholarship year, and then they told you secrets,...

Page 69

Creatures of a brave new world

The Spectator

Philip Glazebrook THE DRAKE MANUSCRIPT IN THE PIERPOINT MORGAN LIBRARY introduced by Verlyn Klinkenborg Deutsch, £39.95, pp. 272 T his surprising and beautiful book pre- sents...

Page 70

A rich mine of mistakes

The Spectator

Alan Watkins THE OXFORD DICTIONARY OF POLITICAL QUOTATIONS edited by Antony Jay OUP, £15.99, pp. 515 h ough Sir Antony contributes an intro- duction to this book, in which he...

Page 71

Miscast for the lead

The Spectator

Alastair Forbes ANTHONY EDEN by David Dutton Arnold, 120, pp. 576 L ess than a third of the way into this fine book's long but well-documented slog the author (whose first...

Page 73

Three men on a sofa

The Spectator

Deborah Devonshire I ONCE MET edited by Richard Ingrams Oldie, £5.99, pp. 96 T he Oldie's 'I Once Met' is a game of Consequences full of unexpected twists and turns. If only...

Page 74

A choice of recent thrillers

The Spectator

Harriet Waugh E lizabeth Ironside's The Accomplice (Hodder & Stoughton, £16.99) is her third novel. Her first, A Very Private Entoprise, showed real promise; her second, Death...

Page 75

Christmas art books

The Spectator

David Ekserdjian I n the year of the Macmillan Dictionary of Art (£5,700 come the New Year), it might seem hard to get excited about anything else, but actually there is a...

Page 76

Children's books for Christmas

The Spectator

Juliet Townsend h e writers of picture books for children always have the problem of keeping a bal- ance between the text and the illustrations. It is curious that almost every...

Page 78


The Spectator

Singing in jubilation Michael Marshall meditates on the music and mystery of Christmas T here was 'no room in the inn', you will recall. But then 'accommodating' the infi- nite...

Page 80


The Spectator

Howard Hodgkin (Hayward Gallery, till 23 February 1997) Colour conundrum Martin Gaylord W alking into the lower rooms of the Hayward Gallery just now is an exhilarating...

Page 82

Soap-opera culture

The Spectator

Giannandrea Poesio on what is wrong with some of today's narrative ballets D uring the second half of the 18th century, ballet masters and dance theorists such as Franz...

Page 84

Cliché corner

The Spectator

Leslie Geddes-Brown on design ideas done to death over the decades I n the Forties, every suburban semi was supposed to have a flight of three pottery ducks on its sitting-room...

Page 85

Outrageous steps

The Spectator

Michael Church on the surprise success of an unusual Swan Lake L ondon theatre is a parochial affair, which periodically gets a much-needed shove. This may come via a new art...

Page 86


The Spectator

Die Walkiire (Royal Opera House) Novelty value Michael Tanner N ever can Placido Domingo have made a more ignominious entrance than in the performance of Die Walkiire mounted...

Arts diary

The Spectator

Labour's double act John Parry T o put it in seasonal terms, if they were in pantomime together, they might be the Broker's men in Cinderella or the good and bad robbers in...

Page 87


The Spectator

All change Sheridan Morley I 've heard of fin de siècle, but this is get- ting ridiculous: never can I remember a time of so much change around the West End, whether...

Page 88


The Spectator

101 Dalmatians (U, selected cinemas) Surviving Picasso (15, selected cinemas) All bark and no bite Mark Steyn A year or two back, previewing Dis- ney's re-release of the...

Page 89


The Spectator

Novel designs Ursula Buchan W hen Mr Darcy dived into the lake at Pemberley, in the BBC series Pride and Prejudice last year, the nation (or that half of it which is female at...

Page 90

Pop music

The Spectator

Sorry, Phil Marcus Berkmann U nder the Christmas tree lurks a pack- age with your name on it. It is, you esti- mate, five and a half inches long, five inches wide and about a...

Page 91


The Spectator

Wish I weren't here James Delingpole I t was a toss-up this week between doing cartoons and travel. The former seemed a quite sexy, topical idea because the ineffa- bly...

Page 92


The Spectator

Dear Michael Michael Vestey m y postbag for the year has made me feel like Feedback on Radio Four. Some of the letters I have received about radio pro- grammes are full of...

Page 93


The Spectator

Peace in the offing Christian Hesketh A long last it looks as though the unseemly struggle between the RFU and the EPRUC (in theory only, Gentlemen v. Players) is mercifully...

Page 94


The Spectator

Crime corner Alan Judd T he first car I had stolen was my beloved Mark II Jaguar, left on a south London street for one night. The police said it would have been across the...

The turf

The Spectator

Go mitigate Robin Oakley W hen an American Senator's re-elec- tion campaign foundered hopelessly and he was cast into the electoral wilderness, he called his campaign team...

Page 95

High life

The Spectator

Stop the German-bashing Taki Which brings me to the point I wish to make on this our last free Christmas. The Spectator's editorial of 16 November called the first world war...

Page 96

Low life

The Spectator

Miserable Christmas Jeffrey Bernard I wonder what Christmas cards tell you about the sender. Nearly all my friends in racing predictably enough send cards print- ed by the...

Page 98

Country life

The Spectator

Shop horror, tree trauma Leanda de Lisle A ustralians rub papaya fat on sunburnt skin. In other parts of the world papaya flesh is prized for its contraceptive quali- ties....

Page 99


The Spectator

Long division Andrew Robson WHEN the opponents are very active in the bidding, you should not play for the suits to divide evenly. Drawing this infer- ence, declarer made the...

Page 100

Christmas delectables

The Spectator

LOALJPRIL THIS Christmas edition is coming out so early that I am in a complete muddle about my dear saints. Here we are in the middle of Advent which, according to Father...

Page 101

AT THE END of my first year as The Spec-

The Spectator

tator's restaurant critic it is heartening to report that cooking in Britain, not just in London, has massively improved in the past decade or so. We are no longer outclassed by...

Page 104


The Spectator

IN-THE-STRAND SIMPSON'S IN-THE-STRAND f elr. ) CHESS Capa the great Raymond Keene JOSE RAOUL Capablanca was world champion from 1921 to 1927, and was widely regarded as...


The Spectator

i j■llik .), MAE .LI SCOTCH , H1511 , MILE OF ShGlE Mktr KOKM .11W COMPETITION No room at Brown's Jaspistos IN COMPETITION NO. 1962 you were invited to write a poem, in...

Page 105

Solution to 1288: Waltz

The Spectator

The halves of CHOPSTICKS (9) suggested the other unclued lights. First prize: M.A.L. Wiley, Witney, Oxon. Runners-up: O.J. Smith, St Albans; Kathy Ward, London SW7.

Christmas Quiz: the answers

The Spectator

Christmas numbers I. William McGonagall 2. Richard Crashaw 3. Henry Vaughan 4. Harold Monro 5. Anne Ridler 6. Rudyard Kipling 7. John Donne 8. Robert Herrick 9. Henry Wadsworth...

Page 106


The Spectator

It's Christmas! by Dumpynose A firstprize of £120, three prizes of £30 and six further prizes of Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (Cassell, £20, paperback The £14.99)...

Page 110


The Spectator

A week full of joys Simon Barnes TO pursue the trade of sports hack requires a gradual acquisition of perspec- tive, along with a retention of the capacity to be amazed. It is...

Page 111


The Spectator

Dear Mary. . . Mary Killen has invited some of her favourite celebrities to submit some queries. From: Dame Diana Rigg London Q. I get invited to all sorts of occasions, not...