18 NOVEMBER 2006

Page 5

To govern is not to legislate

The Spectator

W hen Her Majesty The Queen delivered her first speech to mark the opening of Parliament after the election of Tony Blair, she said, ‘My government intends to govern for the...

Page 9

I n tandem with Asa Briggs, I am speaking at the

The Spectator

Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center atop Boston University. This is a truly remarkable institution, yet, even in Boston, Mass., surprisingly few people know about it....

Page 10

The Blair–Bush dilemma: is a nuclear Iran an acceptable price for a stable Iraq?

The Spectator

T ony Blair’s speech at the Guildhall adroitly placed him ahead of the news. By reiterating his support for dialogue with Iran and Syria on the same day that George W. Bush...

Page 11

T he current row about how Oxford University should be governed

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illustrates two problems of our culture. The first is about how institutions work. The modernisers want organisations to work more purposefully, and they are right. But the...

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MONDAY Fab write-ups of our top secret meeting with unions. (Another great U-turn!) Of course, what we couldn’t reveal is how embarrassing it was when they told Dave how...

Page 14

Fiasco Royale: how the ineptitude of Labour betrayed the real Bond

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Fraser Nelson reveals the mounting fury within the intelligence community at ministers’ failure to set in place a serious framework for smashing Islamic terrorism. Too little...

Page 16

Politics and nursery rhymes don’t mix

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Christopher Howse says that the children’s minister’s plans for a policy on nursery rhymes are misguided — these ancient poems are immune to the bland categories of...

Page 18

Mind your language

The Spectator

In the lovely long summer I started suffering from ‘deckchair hamstring’ provoked by the edge of the frame. I have not seen it described anywhere, and it is my diagnosis...

Meet the funniest man on the planet

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Melissa Kite is awestruck by Karl Pilkington, superstar sidekick to Ricky Gervais, who tells her that the disappearing cod are just hiding and that we should be proud of pygmies...

Page 20

A Kiwi conservative with a message for Dave

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Allister Heath talks to Don Brash, leader of New Zealand’s National party, and finds him much more robust than Cameron on tax cuts, welfare and the environment I f you were to...

Page 22

It is J.S. Bach who should claim

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royalties for ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ Rod Liddle reflects on the Procol Harum case and the stunning pretentiousness of 1970s pop groups that ripped off classical music with...

Page 24

A law that could make ‘stalkers’ of us all

The Spectator

Tessa Mayes says that the crime of harassment is not being prevented by legislation which enables the police to issue warnings to people when they have simply had a quarrel ‘S...

Page 28

Saddam’s ‘parody’ of a trial

The Spectator

From Sir Jonah Walker-Smith Sir: When I read the title to Alasdair Palmer’s article, ‘Saddam’s trial shouldn’t be fair’ (11 November), I assumed that it was written...

Different conclusions

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From Sebastian Calvo Sir: Reading Christopher Caldwell’s analysis of the recent American elections (‘We have lost the war’, 11 November) makes me wonder what exactly...

Outrageous invention

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From Jonathan Headland Sir: J.G. Cluff’s letter (11 November) on The Spectator ’s perceived support for Bush and Blair reinvents history outrageously when he writes,...

Resignation issues

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From Guy Millard Sir: I am always a great admirer of Frank Johnson’s column in The Spectator , but on this occasion (Shared opinion, 11 November) I should add a correction to...

Page 30

Subtle champion

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From J. Davis Sir: Charlie Boss’s article on the reforms of government in Oxford University is dominated by a major misconception (‘Is Oxford about to get rid of its...

Too much Botha

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From Reinier Botha Sir: P.W. Botha’s death prompts me to record that for many of us P.W. Botha was an embarrassment, as was his foreign minister Pik Botha. There was only one...

The gardens we deserve

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From Anne Wareham Sir: Do the crowds which love Tate Modern really ‘have the breath squeezed out of them’ (Arts, 11 November) contemplating English gardens? Does the...

Juvenile untouchables

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From Nick Wootton Sir: As an Independent Custody Visitor (formerly ‘Lay Visitor’), I can attest to the accuracy of Jeremy Clarke’s article (‘I’ve been arrested for...

Not compiling

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From Tom Johnson Sir: I read Sandy Balfour’s review of the A-Z of Crosswords by Jonathan Crowther in last week’s edition of The Spectator with interest. I am sure that...

Page 32

Why is it so hard for Christian ‘moderates’ to defend their views with passion?

The Spectator

A t the beginning of this week I was telephoned by the Stephen Nolan programme which runs from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Sunday nights on BBC Radio Five Live, and asked if I would...

Page 34

A wood is the one fixed point in a changing world

The Spectator

‘C an’t see the wood for the trees’ is an old saying and a true one, not only metaphorically but literally. Nature students often look carefully at trees and know a lot...

Page 36

The City’s new boom market: philanthropy

The Spectator

Simon Nixon says the new rich are eager to give billions away — but that their largesse is best used as ‘social risk capital’, not as a substitute for state welfare A s we...

Page 39

Borrow as much as you fancy — but at your own risk

The Spectator

I can’t get worked up about the news that mortgage lenders have loosened their lending criteria at a time when interest rates are rising: Abbey is now prepared to offer loans...

Page 40

The amazing freebie economy

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Allister Heath explains why so many goods and services are offered for nothing — and who ultimately pays for them I t was Robert Heinlein, the libertarian science-fiction...

Page 43

It’s surprising what you can buy from an ice-cream van in Scotland’s Manhattan

The Spectator

G laswegians are secretly proud of their new, four-lane bridge across the River Clyde, the first crossing to be built in over 30 years. Seen from either end, it looks like half...

Page 46

R UPERT C HRISTIANSEN Recently I’ve had the good fortune to review

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three works of magisterial scholarship in these pages — John Haffenden’s William Empson: Among the Mandarins (OUP, £30), Philip Gossett’s Divas and Scholars: Performing...


The Spectator

Mencken: The American Iconoclast: The Life and Times of the Bad Boy of Baltimore by Marion Rodgers (OUP, £19.99). There was never a journalist like H. L. Mencken (1880-1956)....

A NITA B ROOKNER The word ‘relevant’ seems to have slipped out

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of fashion for the moment but cannot entirely be avoided. I found that most of this year’s novels seemed old-fashioned, prelapsarian, as if written for a leisured age...

P. J. K AVANAGH Helena Drysdale’s Strangerland: A Family at War

The Spectator

(Picador, 14.99) stays in the mind because of its mixture of history with the personal, which makes the history live. Pre-Mutiny military life in India (the Sikh wars) and a...

Page 47

N ICHOLAS H ASLAM Edward St Aubin’s Mother’s Milk (Picador, £12.99) was

The Spectator

like gin to me, and a tonic too, and he should have won the Mann Booker. I absolutely loved Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins (LittleBrown, £18.99), Rupert Everett’s...

D IGBY A NDERSON The Sydney Horler Omnibus of Excitement by Sydney

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Horler (Hodder & Stoughton. Charity shop 50p). Arthur Mee’s Book of the Flag: Island and Empire by Arthur Mee (Hodder & Stoughton, 1941. Charity shop 60p, originally 12s 6d)....

Page 48

P HILIP H ENSHER Top of my list are two impressive lives

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of composers, or half-lives; the second volume of Stephen Walsh’s life of Stravinsky (Cape, £30), and the first volume of John Tyrrell’s life of Janacek (Faber, £60)....

D AVID C RANE I suspect it’s going to be another 99

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years before most people can face another word on Nelson, but for anyone looking the other way in October 2005 the paperback version of Tim Clayton’s and Phil Craig’s vivid...

J ANE G ARDAM My first favourite book this year is Nature’s

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Engraver: A Life of Thomas Bewick by Jenny Uglow (Faber, £20), a definitive biography with dozens of tiny, marvellous illustrations of Bewick; woodcuts reproduced with...

L LOYD E VANS Books of the year? Always a dilemma. Do

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you confess your true reading experience or do you pretend you’ve absorbed a sizeable fraction of the new stuff while maintaining your weekly quotas of Augustan poetry, German...

A NDREW T AYLOR If I had been a Booker judge, David

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Mitchell’s Black Swan Green (Sceptre, £16.99) would have been high on my shortlist: a stammering boy grows up in a Worcestershire village against the background of the...

R AYMOND C ARR The most stimulating history book I have read

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this year is Niall Ferguson’s The War of the World (Penguin, £25). Its subtitle, ‘History’s Age of Hatred’, indicates its subject: the inhumanity of man to man,...

Page 49

D. J. T AYLOR Two novels which went inexplicably missing from

The Spectator

the prize short-lists were Will Self’s The Book of Dave (Viking, £17.99) and Peter Vansittart’s Secret Protocols (Peter Owen, £18.50). Never having liked Self’s fiction...

C AROLINE M OOREHEAD Two very different books, one a novel, the

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other a history, but each one proof that good storytelling is a true art. Kate Grenville uses fiction in The Secret River (Canongate, £7.99) to recount the unhappy tale of...

F ERDINAND M OUNT After tracking down the Holy Grail in a

The Spectator

bank vault in Aberystwyth, it is hard to know what to do for an encore. But Byron Rogers has found the perfect elusive quarry in the poet R. S. Thomas, the Welsh poet who...

Martell’s country weblogger explains...

The Spectator

Winter walks Hello! Welcome to my diary of the delicious and divine. The everyday and exciting. Take the weekend... Geoff has invited Lucy and John up to the cottage for the...

Page 50

H UGH M ASSINGBERD A. N. Wilson’s brilliant Betjeman (Hutchinson, £20) is

The Spectator

a joy to read, and reread — the perfect match of author and subject. The mix of Anglicanism and doubt, crushes and guilt, Hymns Ancient & Modern and music-hall, fun and fear...

A LLAN M ASSIE Like many I was amazed that Andrew O’Hagan’s

The Spectator

novel Be Near Me (Faber, £16.99) didn’t even make the Booker short-list. I thought it brilliant: a social study which was also a moving personal drama. It was so good I...

C HRISTOPHER H OWSE In Sir Ninian Comper (Spire Books, £29.95) Anthony

The Spectator

Symondson gives us a most satisfying study of the architect, with lovely photographs carefully chosen to explain his work, and a useful gazetteer by Stephen Bucknall for...

Z ENGA L ONGMORE It is a tragedy that an obscene hoax

The Spectator

almost obscured the radiance of Betjeman (Hutchinson, £20). A. N. Wilson is one of my favourite biographers. After smearing the butter of benevolence on his subjects he...

F RANCIS K ING My novel of the year is Christopher Hope’s

The Spectator

My Mother’s Lover (Atlantic Books, £14.99). Best described as the literary equivalent of a comic-strip history of the colonialism in Africa, it is like one of the great...

Page 51

A sharp-eyed, realistic royalist

The Spectator

Philip Ziegler K ING ’ S C OUNSELLOR : A BDICATION AND W AR , T HE D IARIES OF S IR A LAN LASCELLES edited by Duff Hart-Davis Weidenfeld, £25, pp. 462, ISBN 0297851551 ✆...

Page 52

Coping with closed regimes

The Spectator

William Skidelsky T HE J C URVE by Ian Bremmer Simon & Schuster, £17.99, pp. 306, ISBN 18004566798 ✆ £14.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 I an Bremmer, a political risk...

Page 53

Why it’s more than just a game

The Spectator

Ed Smith T HE M EANING OF S PORT by Simon Barnes Short Books, £16.99, pp. 336, ISBN 1904977456 ✆ £13.59 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 S imon Barnes, the brilliant writer...

Page 54

Far from Holy Fathers

The Spectator

Paul Johnson T HE R ENAISSANCE P OPES by Gerard Noel Constable, £25, pp. 403, ISBN 1845293436 ✆ £20 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 I t is curious that despite Spain’s...

Page 56

The poisoned olive branch

The Spectator

John Bercow C OMPLICITY WITH E VIL by Adam LeBor Yale, £17.99, pp. 326, ISBN 0300111711 ✆ £14.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 O n paper, Adam LeBor boasts excellent...

The pleasures of peripolitania

The Spectator

Alan Coren SEMI-DETACHED by Griff Rhys Jones Michael Joseph, £20, pp. 324, ISBN 0718146263 ✆ £16 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 W ere you to look up the word...


The Spectator

The Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize is awarded annually to the writer best able to describe a visit to a foreign place or people, in an essay of up to 3,000 words. The award will...

Page 58

Around the world in 80 years

The Spectator

Nicholas Haslam P OINT TO P OINT N AVIGATION by Gore Vidal Doubleday, £17.99, pp. 277, ISBN 0316027278 ✆ £14.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T wo summers ago at La...

Page 59

Back to the Appalachians

The Spectator

William Brett T HIRTEEN M OONS by Charles Frazier Sceptre, £17.99, pp. 422, ISBN 0340826614 ✆ £14.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 C old Mountain , Charles Frazier’s...

A greedy, randy idealist

The Spectator

Simon Heffer 142 S TRAND by Rosemary Ashton Chatto, £20, pp. 386, ISBN 070117370X ✆ £16 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 R osemary Ashton has rather cornered the market in...

Page 60

Worshipping at the shrines

The Spectator

Michael Henderson D OWN A P ATH OF W ONDER : M EMOIRS OF S TRAVINSKY , S CHOENBERG AND O THER C ULTURAL F IGURES by Robert Craft Naxos, £19.99, pp. 562, ISBN 9781843792178 ✆...

Page 62

Papa rises again

The Spectator

W e were in a Béarnais restaurant in Montmartre and a young Canadian novelist and short story writer, Bill Prendiville, was speaking admiringly about Hemingway. This was...

Page 64

Hotchpotch of unshapely grottoes

The Spectator

T he luvvies are in uproar. Just listen to the din. ‘Horrified,’ says Dame Judi Dench. ‘Disgraceful,’ spits Sir Peter Hall. Equity’s spokesman is officially...

Page 65

Glories of paint

The Spectator

Andrew Lambirth Critic’s Choice The Art Shop, 8 Cross Street, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, until 23 December T his is an example of the kind of exhibition which flourished...

Page 67

Fear of failure

The Spectator

Roderick Conway Morris Michelangelo and Architectural Drawing Palazzo Barbaran da Porto, Vicenza, until 10 December; Casa Buonarroti, Florence, 15 December–19 March T he...

Page 68

In praise of Haitink

The Spectator

Michael Henderson T here was a unique event in Amsterdam last week, and the musiclovers who heard it felt a special glow. Bernard Haitink returned to the Concertgebouw, the...

Page 69

Culture craze

The Spectator

Robert Turnbull on how the Chinese are set to dominate the world of piano-playing T he Chinese city of Shenzhen is vying with its rival Shanghai for cultural and economic...

Page 70

Stirred but not shaken

The Spectator

Michael Tanner Queen of Spades Royal Opera The Long Christmas Dinner; A Dinner Engagement Guildhall School of Music and Drama T chaikovsky was interested in states of mind, but...

Page 71

Wayward approach

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Lloyd Evans Two Graves Arts Accidental Death of an Anarchist Hackney Empire The End of Reality The Pit A lways recommended is the Arts Theatre, one of the West End’s...

Page 72

00 heaven

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Deborah Ross Casino Royale 12A, nationwide I ’m sorry, but I’ve never liked a Bond film or even understood why everyone loves and anticipates them so. All that sameness....

Page 73

Genuine knowledge

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Simon Hoggart N ew Hall women always struck male Cambridge undergraduates as being a bit otherworldly, living in their weirdly designed college where the staircases had...

Page 74

Country shenanigans

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Kate Chisholm P hew! It was a close shave, a very close shave, but we can all breathe a sigh of relief. She did the right thing. Ruth held back from Temptation and kept true to...

Page 75

Golden age

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Robin Oakley I n a Cary Grant film in which she effectively played herself, Mae West declared, ‘When I’m good I’m very good, but when I’m bad I’m better.’ Exotic...

Page 76

Feeling pain

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Taki New York M y love for Ashley Judd has gone the way of Iraq. Remember a couple of years ago, when a friend of mine offered to take me backstage to meet her and I got cold...

Page 77

Shared history

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Jeremy Clarke D uring the war, our village was one of a cluster of four coastal villages that Churchill loaned to the Americans to practise on prior to the D-Day landings. The...

Page 78

The bad and the ugly

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Aidan Hartley Mogadishu W e have ten heavily armed bodyguards in Mogadishu, where a bloke called Robin and I are covering the Islamic revolution. Our escort protects us from...

Page 80

Prize possessions

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Roy Hattersley I t would cost £470 to hang a new gate in my garden wall. The passage of time, the reason why I need a replacement, is also the cause of the excessive cost. The...

Page 82

Thoroughly modern marriages

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Jemima Sissons says that weddings and wedding lists are not what they were W hen my friend Luke was invited to a wedding this summer, he received some rather unusual directions:...

Page 84

Bridging the gap

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Victoria Hislop says bridge is much more than a game for the old and staid I have friends who keep their bridgeplaying secret. In case anyone should be prying into their...

Page 86

Shop and ride

The Spectator

Matthew d’Ancona says there’s more to Disneyland now than rollercoasters T he first article I ever wrote for The Spectator , some years ago, was a cinephile’s defence of...

Page 90

Posh nosh, and plenty of it!

The Spectator

W e’ve got Dickens to thank for turning us into a nation of annual binge eaters. It was when Ebenezer Scrooge made amends by ordering the fattest turkey in town to send to...

Page 95

Sixty-six and all that

The Spectator

FRANK KEATING A perennial sucker for feature films with sporting references, I suppose I’ll drag myself to Sixty Six , in spite of the verdict by the Spec ’s Deborah Ross...


The Spectator

Q. For over 23 years I have rented a beat on a South Ayrshire river. For the last six years the proprietor’s wife has cooked for my party, and her food is delicious. Since the...

Q. I met a man at a dinner party and

The Spectator

we arranged that I would take him to a gallery opening to which I had been invited a few days later. He suggested that he would take me out to dinner in a rather expensive...

Q. A friend of mine has recently bought 200 acres

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in Somerset. He has described this to me as an ‘estate’. Am I correct in thinking that my friend has delusions of grandeur? O.G., London SW8 A. It is widely agreed that for...