16 DECEMBER 2006

Page 5

Evil at a holy time

The Spectator

T he juxtaposition of the sacred and the unholy is always shocking. This week, as we attend carol services, decorate our trees and prepare for Christmas with a levity of spirit,...

Page 9


The Spectator

TAMZIN LIGHTWATER MONDAY Now I know why they call it the unhappiness agenda. Am suicidal. I never want to have anything to do with ‘social justice’ again. I shouldn’t have even...

Page 11


The Spectator

DAVID FURNISH L ast week, after years of the best possible intentions, I finally managed to make my virgin visit down under to sunny Sydney. With Elton fully ensconced in a...

Page 12

IDS has made the family a frontline issue again, but John Hutton is ready to fight back

The Spectator

I ain Duncan Smith must have dreamed about the moment he would stun the Blair government into silence. Derision was the government’s main response to his interventions when he...

Page 14


The Spectator

CHARLES MOORE F or most of my life I have disliked the run-up to the British Christmas, on religious grounds. Advent is intended to be like Lent, a time of abstinence. Your...

Page 16

Who are we? We are what the English Bible has made us

The Spectator

Christmas reminds us how deeply Christian our society is and yet how quirkily tolerant of other faiths, of difference and contradiction. This, says Rod Liddle , is the historic...

Page 18

The West is in denial about its religious roots

The Spectator

While other religions — especially Islam — celebrate their resilience, writes Jonathan Clark , Christianity has become muffled by secular embarrassment and cultural confusion C...

Page 20

In praise of Perspex pyramids and their winners

The Spectator

Boris Johnson says that we should not sneer at awards ceremonies which help struggling trade publications survive financially and spread joy to those who pick up the gongs H as...

Page 24

The slow conversion of a Masai worrier

The Spectator

Rachel Johnson was not convinced at first by the vogue for footwear based on the physique of African tribespeople A t first I was not convinced. Not at all. As I trudged my...

Page 26

Here’s what to do in 2007, Mr President

The Spectator

Irwin Stelzer suggests an agenda for the year ahead to George Bush: stand by Iraq, stop China’s theft of intellectual property, oppose Russia’s entry to the WTO — and help Blair...

Page 28

My parish church in the Eternal City

The Spectator

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor pays homage in this Christmas meditation to Santa Maria sopra Minerva, a glorious architectural fusion of ancient beauty and timeless faith O ne...

Page 30

Give all you can — but make sure it is small

The Spectator

Last year, John Humphrys set up a trust to help small charities. A little bridge costing only a few thousand pounds, he writes, makes a greater difference than the speech of a...

Page 32

At last, it looks like Hain will be found out

The Spectator

The Northern Ireland Secretary has cynically put his own interests and those of Blair and Brown before the needs of Ulster and its people, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards T here are...

Page 34

British banks make me glad to be South African

The Spectator

Hell is waiting in a call queue for a NatWest telephonist, writes Rian Malan , whose branch is still in Notting Hill. There are advantages to living in a backward country Cape...

Page 38

‘The voters feel that no one is on their side’

The Spectator

This year’s Threadneedle/ Spectator Campaigner of the Year talks to Fraser Nelson about his bid for the Labour deputy leadership and his mission to fend off the BNP J on Cruddas...

Page 40

Ireland’s laureate of Christmas lives on

The Spectator

Fergal Keane remembers Patrick Kavanagh, who died in 1967 and was a friend of his father’s. His festive verses recalled the frosted poverty and resilient joy of old rural...

Page 42

The real Brussels elite: the keepers of the sprout

The Spectator

David Rennie gains access to the Belgian ‘Brotherhood’ of sprout-farmers, and unravels the secrets that lie behind the cultivation and cooking of this most festive of vegetables...

Page 44


The Spectator

JOAN COLLINS H aving toured all over the East Coast of North America for the past four and a half months, I am more than a touch jetlagged, but incredibly impressed with the...

Page 45

Mind your language

The Spectator

A word hound from Leeds has sent me a basketful of unconsidered truffles. ‘Are you aware of the increasing use of the word über ,’ asks Mr Donald Adams, ‘with or without the...

Page 46


The Spectator

PRUE LEITH T he opening scene in Allison Pearson’s I Don’t Know How She Does It has our heroine distressing supermarket mince pies with a rolling pin in the hope that other...

Page 47

Natale Christi hilare et faustum annum novum!

The Spectator

J ournalists are paid to be thought-provoking, but something very odd comes over them when they unfold their thoughts on the subject of Latin. Neal Ascherson, for example, once...

Page 48

Dawkins vs God

The Spectator

From R.F. Clements Sir: Richard Dawkins might be convinced of the existence of God (‘A man who believes in Darwin as fervently as he hates God’, December 9) by ‘a large-scale...

From Steven Sidley

The Spectator

Sir: I believe that Rod Liddle has overlooked the most powerful weaponry of the Dawkinsian approach. A faithor beliefbased system brooks no counter-argument, no matter how...

From Guy E.S. Herbert

The Spectator

Sir: Terror certainly seems to have worked on Melanie Phillips (‘A terror so great we forgot it at once’, 9 December). So desperate is she that we take the Islamist maniacs at...

Help for CF sufferers

The Spectator

From Janet R. Jacques Sir: It was hard for me when Gordon Brown revealed that his son Fraser had been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, because my son, too, has CF; and because...

Questing time

The Spectator

From James Young Sir: Rereading Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop recently, I noticed that William Boot’s immortal intro ‘Feather-footed through the splashy fen passes the questing vole’...

Page 50

In San Pedro, I learned that the name Pinochet could stop a conversation

The Spectator

T he last time I was in Chile it was the anniversary of the accession to power of General Augusto Pinochet. I had been unaware of the holiday. My companions and I had walked...

Page 52

The significance of the order: ‘All hands on deck!’

The Spectator

A friend of mine recently sustained terrible injuries to his hand when his shotgun blew up. Such accidents fill me with horror, not least because they remind me how important...

Page 53

Spearheading the transition to a low carbon economy

The Spectator

‘Companies are beginning to address the risks and opportunities of climate change. We don’t have to explain why it matters any more.’ Michael Rea, Carbon Trust Director of...

Page 54

‘Low carbon energy is an investment sector that has come of age.’ Jonathan Bryers, Carbon Trust Investments

The Spectator

Low carbon technologies are attracting more and more investment for a range of reasons. It’s a feel-good alternative to traditional investment sectors — but the low carbon case...

Page 55

‘Academia has a key role to play in transferring energy-saving

The Spectator

ideas from the laboratory to the market place.’ Tom Delay, Chief Executive, the Carbon Trust The need for new technologies to create a low carbon economy was a key theme of Sir...

Page 56

‘It’s about turning ideas into reality, creating a path to

The Spectator

commercialisation.’ Dr Garry Staunton, Head of the Carbon Trust’s Applied Research team The potential for solar power may not be obvious during Britain’s short December days,...

Page 57

Table talk

The Spectator

by Peter Ackroyd T he three of us were sitting around a table in the parlour of a small public house. The pub had an old-fashioned appearance, one of those strange survivals...

Page 60


The Spectator

Will 2007 repeat the madness of 1987? Richard Northedge looks back on a year in which it was all too easy to separate fools from their money — and wonders whether we’re heading...

Page 62

Multinationals bring festive cheer

The Spectator

Allister Heath H ere’s a provocative thought for Christmas. Instead of buying your nearest and dearest one of those charity goat-for-Africa cards, it would make far more...

Page 64

Plafonniers and station platforms

The Spectator

Joanna Pitman suggests some his’n’hers Christmas gifts that offer the added advantage of holding their value C hristmas is almost upon us and you still haven’t sorted out that...

Page 65

High-risk investing: the Christian defence

The Spectator

Judi Bevan meets Philip Richards, who believes faith, charity and making serious money can go hand-in-hand P hilip Richards is an extreme investor. His willingness to bet...

Page 66

A seasonal mission to Istanbul’s faithful, including those who worship Tony Blair

The Spectator

T hink of this as a two-for-one Christmas special, a City Life column gift-wrapped inside Any Other Business. The city is Istanbul, where I am on a mission — in the steps of...

Page 67

Before we became respectable

The Spectator

Claire Tomalin C ITY OF L AUGHTER : S EX AND S ATIRE IN EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY LONDON by Vic Gatrell Atlantic Books, £30, pp. 697, ISBN 1843543214 ✆ £24 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429...

Page 68

Lecter falling flat

The Spectator

Philip Hensher H ANNIBAL R ISING by Thomas Harris Heinemann, £17.99, pp. 336, ISBN 0434014087 ✆ £14.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 H annibal Lecter is, surely, a fictional...

Page 69

Adages and articles

The Spectator

Bevis Hillier A S T HEY S AY IN Z ANZIBAR : P ROVERBIAL W ISDOM FROM A ROUND THE W ORLD by David Crystal Collins, £17.99, pp. 717, ISBN 000721202X ✆ £14.39 (plus £2.45 p&p)...

Page 70

A meditation

The Spectator

I ’m at Washington airport on a book tour. My escort, an agreeable man whom I have encountered on several previous occasions, says farewell and then asks, ‘Are you still...

Page 72

That old Bethlehem story

The Spectator

Christopher Howse T HE N ATIVITY : H ISTORY AND L EGEND by Geza Vermes Penguin, £7.99, pp. 177, ISBN 0141024462 ✆ £6.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 I f you tell people there...

Page 73

Who said what and when

The Spectator

Marcus Berkmann T HE Y ALE B OOK OF Q UOTATIONS edited by Fred R. Shapiro Yale, £29.95, pp. 1068, ISBN 0300107986 ✆ £24 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T HE T IMES Q UOTATIONS...

Page 74

Swiss master of madness

The Spectator

Alberto Manguel S ELECTED W RITINGS by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, translated by Joel Agee University of Chicago Press, Volume I: Plays edited by Kenneth J. Northcott £22.50, pp....

Status Quo Vadis

The Spectator

As any good poem is always ending, The fence looks best when it first needs mending. Weathered, it hints it will fall to pieces One day, not yet, but the chance increases With...

Page 77

The Senior Service to the rescue

The Spectator

William Waldegrave B REAKING THE C HAINS : T HE R OYAL N AVY ’ S W AR ON W HITE S LAVERY by Tom Pocock Chatham, £19.99, pp. 216, ISBN 1861762755 ✆ £15.99 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870...

Page 78

Economy and wit

The Spectator

Miles Kington T here is a drawing by Sempé of the Tour de France which is so brilliant that when Geoffrey Wheatcroft first saw it, he just knew he had to have it on the front...

Page 79

The straight man and the courtier

The Spectator

Jane Ridley T HE L ION AND THE U NICORN by Richard Aldous Hutchinson, £20, pp. 368, ISBN 9780091799564 T HE C ORRESPONDENCE B ETWEEN M R D ISRAELI AND M RS B RYDGES W ILLIAMS ,...

Page 80

Lashings of homely detail

The Spectator

William Feaver N ORMAN R OCKWELL by Richard Halpern Chicago University Press, £18.50, pp. 188, ISBN 0226314405 ✆ £14.80 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 N orman Rockwell’s the...

Page 81

Purifying the dialect of the tribe

The Spectator

Geoffrey Wheatcroft W hen the library of V. S. Pritchett was sold off after his death some years ago, I bought a few books as a mark of homage, among them H. W. Fowler’s A...


The Spectator

Happy the jackdaws surrounded by their playmate Boisterous wind with which they wrestle and roll, Diving against it, wings closed; gripped and thrown Many ways, open-winged,...

Page 83

Glimpses of Leonard Woolf

The Spectator

Richard Shone T he large garden at Monk’s House, Rodmell, in Sussex, bounded on one side by the village street, and on the other by gently sloping ground towards the River...

Page 84

O rwell thought that Mark Twain’s picture of life on the

The Spectator

Mississippi showed ‘how human beings behave when they are not frightened of the sack’ and so are free to develop their personalities Something similar might be said of the rural...

Page 85

Singing in exultation

The Spectator

E very Christmas, I face the problem of choosing an official card. The National Gallery Company sends through the range of choice some time in June, when it all seems far off. I...

Page 86

Rooms and rituals

The Spectator

Andrew Lambirth At Home in Renaissance Italy V&A, until 7 January 2007 Cézanne in Britain National Gallery, until 7 January 2007 A nother major show at the V&A, this time...

Page 88

Chorus of disapproval

The Spectator

Toby Young is bowing out after five years as theatre critic I n the five years that I’ve been The Spectator ’s drama critic, one of the nicest afternoons I’ve spent was in the...

Page 90

Christmas cheer

The Spectator

Henrietta Bredin searches through some operas to help get her into a festive mood P uccini’s Bohemians really knew how to have a good time at Christmas. Huddled in a freezing...

Page 92

Screen savers

The Spectator

Olivia Glazebrook recommends the best DVDs to watch over Christmas ... T here is a strange kind of amnesia that overtakes me in certain shops: bookshops, DVD shops, CD shops. I...

Page 93

On the couch

The Spectator

... while Lucy Beresford reveals what your favourite film says about you Y es, it’s that time of year again. Living rooms up and down the country will reverberate to the sound...

Page 95

How comic is it?

The Spectator

Michael Tanner L’Incoronazione di Poppea Royal College of Music Carmen Royal Opera House M onteverdi’s last opera, L’Incoronazione di Poppea , is an excellent choice for one of...

Page 96

A gift for rhetoric

The Spectator

Lloyd Evans The Critic Pentameters Dick Whittington Barbican Six Dance Lessons In Six Weeks Theatre Royal, Haymarket I t’s always puzzled me that so few theatre critics are...

Page 97

Winning ways

The Spectator

Deborah Ross Esma’s Secret 15, Curzon Soho and key cities T his Bosnian film about the devastating emotional consequences of war has all the things you might expect from a...

Page 98

For portly old hippies

The Spectator

Marcus Berkmann I have been listening a lot to David Gilmour’s album, On An Island (EMI). We must now call him David, as he is a portly gent of a certain age who will probably...

The young ones

The Spectator

Kate Chisholm I wonder whether Tony (‘Education, education, education’) Blair or any of his cohorts in the Education Department were listening to the BBC World Service’s School...

Page 99

Powerful but grim

The Spectator

Simon Hoggart T his being the Spectator ’s bumper Christmas issue, we asked the television companies for a few seasonal preview discs. There wasn’t much ‘ho, ho, ho!’ about any...

Page 100

Winter reading

The Spectator

Robin Oakley W hile you don’t have to be a masochist to be a jump jockey it surely helps. You can expect a fall, on average, every 13 rides and it is the only profession in...

Page 101

Dig it

The Spectator

Alan Judd T he car manufacturer of the year has to be JCB. I’ve long wanted one, of course, and it’s not hard to find them in the local classifieds. What is hard, for we...

Page 102

War against Christmas

The Spectator

Taki New York ‘T he United States is 85 per cent Christian, which means it is more Christian than India is Hindu and Israel is Jewish. Moreover, 96 per cent of Americans...

When the wind blows

The Spectator

Jeremy Clarke I t must be very dispiriting to be born into this world and find that you are an intensively reared hen. But maybe, if a representative of the human race...

Page 103

Inside story

The Spectator

Aidan Hartley Kibera Court No. 2 N ormally, I would bribe a traffic policeman, but very occasionally it feels good to hit back against the system. ‘Go ahead. Book me,’ I said....

Page 104

Infectious joy

The Spectator

Roy Hattersley T he bad news was broken to us by the parish magazine. Christmas Eve is a Sunday this year. So the vicar, who presides over three parishes and must spread...

Page 106

Seasonally affected dressing

The Spectator

Susan Boyd can’t find anything to wear this Christmas! C an I be the only woman who has a serious aversion to formal evening dress? The moment the invitation arrives I wish I...

Page 108

Men behaving beautifully

The Spectator

Lindy Woodhead on the biggest thing to hit male marketing for 100 years I t doesn’t surprise me to learn that David Cameron sports a sparkling set of buffed possibly even...

Page 109

A very secret Santa

The Spectator

Mark Palmer does his Christmas shopping at the Travelling Souk ‘I ’ve already spent £500 and I don’t even like shopping,’ says Jane Scott. ‘But I suppose that’s half the point...

Page 110

Getting into the swing

The Spectator

Rachel Johnson attempts to play her husband at his own game A fter 15 years of pleading from husband, I finally gave in. ‘You’ve got terrific hand-eye-ball coordination,’ he...

Page 112

Finally facing my Waterloo

The Spectator

Nick Foulkes goes to battle in Brussels V isiting battlefields is a dreary business. I remember once accompanying Clive Aslet on part of his tour of British landmarks for his...

Page 115

The number my5teries

The Spectator

Marcus du Sautoy , Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University, has devised a set of five Christmas puzzles especially for Spectator readers. Go on — test yourself! T he...

Page 120

The number my5teries solutions

The Spectator

Puzzle 1: the curious incident of the never-ending numbers There are 78 presents in total. Mathematicians are lazy at heart so we like quick ways to calculate things. So here is...

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The Spectator

Dear Mary Once again Mary has invited some of her favourite achievers to submit personal queries for her attention. From Lord Marland Q. There are two restaurants in London...

From Jessica Gorst-Williams Q. I very much enjoy my job

The Spectator

as financial products consumer champion on a national newspaper. However, friends (whom I have not seen for a while), strangers and acquaintances of acquaintances often ring up...

From Bruce Buck Q. Through no fault of my own,

The Spectator

I have found myself in the enviable position of being chairman of Chelsea Football Club. As you might expect, a number of politicians, rock stars, titans of business and other...

From Liza Campbell Q. As a divorcee I have alternate

The Spectator

holidays with my children. I usually start panicking in early September about the Christmases when I am without them. I find it hard to be the sad guest in friends’ homes, and...

From Edward Fox Q. I belong to what is known

The Spectator

in the tabloid press as a ‘theatrical dynasty’, although visually my family puts one more in mind of a herd of buffalo. At this time of year when the family is together we are...

From Julian Barrow Q. As an artist I am often

The Spectator

annoyed when, at one of my private views, someone comes up to me almost in tears saying that the painting she particularly wanted to buy has already got a red dot on it and that...

Page 130

Oh, the Wags; oh, the Ashes!

The Spectator

A shes to ashes. Oh, England our England! First the football, then the rugby ... and now the prettiest balloon of them all has been well and truly pricked so soon after its...