Page 5

Riders on the storm

The Spectator

I t is one of the peculiarities of a recession that it cannot officially be acknowledged until, often, it is already history. This week, we learned that the economy shrunk 0.5...

Page 9

Monrovia, Liberia A ny kerfuffle is an interesting kerfuffle when you’ve

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been staring at the carpet in Brussels airport for two hours — and this one has some promising ingredients. Through the glass wall separating our departure gate from the outside...

Page 10

George ‘Three Jobs’ Osborne should focus his energies on a new tax-cutting message

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A nanosecond is easily measured in Westminster as the time between a politician’s hearing of a colleague’s impending resignation and wondering ‘What’s in it for me?’ It takes...

Page 11

W hat would happen if you or I or telephoned an

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old man we did not know and left a message on his answering machine saying that one of us had ‘f—–ed’ his grand-daughter? What would happen if we then left three more messages,...

Page 13


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MONDAY Yikes! Memo from Jed in California marked ‘Urgent and F***ing Desperate’. It’s v. bad news. It seems the brand is recontaminated. Lord A’s latest focus group asked people...

Page 14

Obama is on course for victory. But he isn’t ready for the White House

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Although McCain could still theoretically win, the Democrat candidate looks set for glory, says Christopher Caldwell . But Obama has even less to say about the economic crisis...

Page 16

Brown has come full circle since 1988

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Tom Bower , the Prime Minister’s biographer, says that Gordon’s reinvention as the socialist who can save capitalism is just the latest in a series of convenient masks he has...

Page 18

Sarko’s voodoo doll hissy fit tells you everything

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The French President’s strop is more eloquent than any policy or speech, says Celia Walden. He is a pint-sized de Gaulle regularly made to look a fool by his wife T he truth,...

Page 20

Ancient & modern

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Last time we saw that the Romans did not have anything like a banking system i.e. a machinery for creating credit through various negotiable instruments. What they did have was...

Probably the biggest financial crisis of all time

The Spectator

Martin Vander Weyer pours a whisky, sits back and observes chaos theory at work in the global markets: it could all end in Mad Max anarchy A t this juncture, my best...

Page 22

The real lesson is: the public don’t like Jonathan Ross or Russell Brand

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Rod Liddle says that the row over their radio ‘prank’ has exposed the fact that these two smug, overpaid performers aren’t really that popular. There are no fans to defend them...

Page 24

A quantum of respect for the forgotten master

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Sinclair McKay hails the pioneering novels of William Le Queux, true inventor of the modern spy novel, whose thrillers prefigured the Bond books by more than half a century D...

Page 26

T he grandson of the King told my wife and me

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at dinner that we were ‘the only two tourists in Kabul’! In fact, we nearly did not arrive because on the eve of our flight, the aid-worker Gayle Williams was shot dead by the...

Page 28

Poorer each day

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Sir: Patrick Macaskie (‘The market needs short-sellers’, 25 October) is indeed correct in suggesting that the problems caused by excessive borrowing could be solved by a round...

Name that city

The Spectator

Sir: I don’t know how many Indians A.A. Gill (‘Oh, Kolkata!’, 18 October) spoke to before levelling patronising scorn at those Brits who still insist on calling the former...

Can India help us now?

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Sir: May I pass on my congratulations to India for its recent success against Australia in the Second Test and its recent successful rocket launch as it embarks on its first...

Shares not alike

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Sir: Tim Congdon (‘Keynesianism still isn’t the answer’, 25 October) doesn’t fully understand the possibilities that preference shares can offer, which is a pity because his...

Meaning of the Act

The Spectator

Sir: In an otherwise well-balanced piece (Liddle Britain, 25 October) Rod Liddle says ‘The intention behind David Steel’s [Abortion] Bill of 1967 was to prevent the maiming of...

Negative nonsense

The Spectator

Sir: What is all this ‘negative growth’ nonsense about? Growth is something positive, or increasing, so how is it that we now have this bizarre phenomenon? It is as absurd as a...

Page 30

What were Gladstone and Disraeli laughing about? Too rude to tell

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V .S. Naipaul, that clever and often wise man, once laid down: ‘One always writes comedy at the moment of deepest hysteria.’ Well, where’s the comedy now? There is certainly...

Page 32

The real BBC scandal is that John Prescott has been allowed to talk about class

The Spectator

O bviously, the senior powers at the BBC should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. What a cock-up. What a failure of leadership. What a grubby betrayal of Reithian values. Is...

Page 34

Chasing dragons: the Chinese army takes up art collecting

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Elliot Wilson profiles Poly Group, a company controlled by the Chinese military which uses arms-sales profits to buy back artworks that have been illicitly flogged off abroad I...

Page 36

The great downhill bicycle ride

The Spectator

Allister Heath A little over a year ago, when it was already obvious to virtually everybody that the boom was over, the City’s Panglossian crowd came up with one last,...

Page 38

Is that a new boom on the far horizon?

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Richard Northedge identifies the signals that will tell us when the property slump has passed its lowest point T he real economy has taken only the first step towards recession...

Page 40

In a city of extremes, skyscrapers and teenagers grow taller as shares plunge

The Spectator

M oderation has never been popular in Shanghai. Over the years the city has been home to many types of excess, from opium and sing-song girls to Red Guards. At the moment the...

Page 42

A world too wide

The Spectator

Lloyd Evans S OUL OF THE A GE by Jonathan Bate Penguin, £25, pp. 500, ISBN 97806870914821 ✆ £20 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 E very new biographer of Shakespeare walks splat...

Page 43

Life among the dead

The Spectator

S. E. G. Hopkin T HE G RAVEYARD B OOK by Neil Gaiman Bloomsbury, £12.99, pp. 312, ISBN 97890747596837 ‘T here was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.’ The Graveyard...

Page 44

The quarrels of brothers

The Spectator

Philip Ziegler M ASTERS AND C OMMANDERS by Andrew Roberts Allen Lane, £25, pp. 720, ISBN 9780713999693 ✆ £20 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 B EHIND C LOSED D OORS by Laurence...

Page 46

The coven reconvenes

The Spectator

Justin Cartwright T HE W IDOWS OF E ASTWICK by John Updike Penguin, £18.99, pp. 308, ISBN 9780241144275 ✆ £15.19 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T he Witches of Eastwick was...

Page 47

A master of drab grotesques

The Spectator

D. J. Taylor C RAVEN H OUSE by Patrick Hamilton Black Spring Press, £9.95, pp. 272 ISBN 9780948238406 V £7.95(plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 P a t r i c k Hamilton (d. 1962) was...

Hope and Glory

The Spectator

John de Falbe HOME by Marilynne Robinson Virago, £16.99, pp. 336, ISBN 9781844085491 V £13.59 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 M a r i l y n n e Robinson’s magnificent previous...

Page 49

They do things differently there

The Spectator

Patrick Marnham A FRICA : A LTERED S TATES , O RDINARY M IRACLES by Richard Dowden Portobello, £25, pp. 576, ISBN 9781846271540 ✆ £20 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 O ut of...

Page 52

A question of judgment

The Spectator

Alan Judd A W HISPERED N AME by William Brodrick Little, Brown, £16.99, pp. 352, ISBN9780316731546 ✆ £13.59 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T his is the third of William B r o d...

Page 53

Wit and brio

The Spectator

Oliver Gilmour T HOMAS B EECHAM : A N O BSESSION WITH M USIC by John Lucas Boydell & Brewer, £25, pp. 384, ISBN 9781843834021 Damn awful thing, what! [ The Ring ] — Barbarian...

Page 55

Live and let die

The Spectator

Victoria Glendinning D EATH BL THE A uTHoR : H oW D.H. L AWRENCE D IED AND W AS R EMEMBERED by David Ellis OUP, £20, pp. 273, ISBN 9780199546657 ✆ £16 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429...

Page 56

This is America

The Spectator

Michael Carlson HOMICIDE by David Simon Canongate, £12.99, pp. 656, ISBN 9781847673114 ✆ £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 D EATH D YED B LONDE by Stanley Reynolds Quartet,...

Page 57

A dark and desolate world

The Spectator

Edward Norman D OSTOEVSKY : L ANGUAGE , F AITH AND F ICTION by Rowan Williams Continuum, £16.99, pp. 290, ISBN 9781847064237 ✆ £13.59 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 W hile the...

Page 58

In the footsteps of Herodotus

The Spectator

Jason Goodwin T HE M AN WHO I NVENTED H ISTORY by Justin Marozzi John Murray, £25, pp. 333 ISBN 9780719567117 ✆ £20 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 W hen Kristin Scott Thomas...

Page 59

The everlasting man

The Spectator

C hesterton refuses to go away. You may think he should have done so. Orwell tried to show him the door: Chesterton was a writer of considerable talent who chose to suppress...

Page 60

Playing a public enemy

The Spectator

Toby Jones, Karl Rove in the film W , explains his character’s relationship with President Bush C ondoleezza Rice’s teeth lie discarded beside her bottle of water. Colin...

Page 62

Portrait of the artists

The Spectator

Andrew Lambirth Renaissance Faces: Van Eyck to Titian National Gallery until 18 January 2009 Sponsored by AXA W hen people think of the Renaissance, it’s to Italy that their...

Page 64

Distinctive vision

The Spectator

Matthew Dennison Holman Hunt and the Pre-Raphaelite Vision Manchester Art Gallery, until 11 January 2009 N eedlepoint nose-dived during the 19th century. This came about, like...

Page 66

Rossini rarity

The Spectator

Michael Tanner Matilde di Shabran Royal Opera House Aida English National Opera Iolanta Royal Festival Hall M atilde di Shabran is one of Rossini’s least performed operas, and...

Page 68

Lead us not into temptation

The Spectator

Lloyd Evans Blowing Whistles Leicester Square Theatre Faces in the Crowd Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, Royal Court O h, what a gay play. The exhibitionist bravado of gay culture,...

Page 70

Timely resprouting

The Spectator

Marcus Berkmann N o one quite believes it, but the new Guns N’ Roses album is finally coming out. Axl Rose has been working on it for 17 years, demonstrating, as rarely before,...

Page 71

Cold comfort

The Spectator

Deborah Ross Quantum of Solace 12A, Nationwide Q uantum of Solace is the latest James Bond movie, which I thought I would make clear from the start. These films arrive with...

Page 72

Dickens delivers

The Spectator

James Delingpole A bout 25 years ago, during a particularly bad acid trip, I had my soul stolen by Mister Migarette, an evil glowing man with a huge hat, like the mad hatter’s,...

Page 74

Powerful prose

The Spectator

Kate Chisholm T o the British Academy last week for a heartening prizewinning ceremony. No gongs, no red carpet, no dangerous stilettos on this occasion — not even a fabulous...

Dazzler Darryll

The Spectator

Robin Oakley L ast year’s Flat jockeys’ championship was a classic, an intriguing all-out battle to the last week of the season, with Seb Sanders and Jamie Spencer sharing the...

Page 75

Classic decline

The Spectator

Taki New York A merica’s diminished intellectualism has made this interminable election period as boring as a Nat Rothschild Corfu party for respectable folk. Part of the...

Page 76

A rude awakening

The Spectator

Jeremy Clarke T he help-yourself breakfast buffet was a single, waxed carton of orange juice (made from concentrate), and a stack of small upturned glasses. I filled one of...

Page 77

Deals on wheels

The Spectator

Alex James B eing driven is one of the great luxuries. It’s right up there with breakfast in bed, silence, sunshine, new socks and vast expanses of marble. It’s elevating. It’s...

Page 78

SPECTATOR MINI-BAR OFFER T he Spectator wine club laughs in the

The Spectator

face of recession. Not only do we intend go on drinking through the dark times, we insist on continuing to drink well. Thanks this week to Wheeler Cellars, off shoot of the...

Page 80

Hope floats

The Spectator

Sarah Standing THE MALDIVES I think I’m probably guilty of suffering from terminal ‘holiday hope’. Holiday hope is basically just the denial of reality. It’s the self-held...

Page 81

Great shakes

The Spectator

Sinclair McKay MARTINIS F or years, I wondered how James Bond could be bothered with the stuff. After all, there he was, after a long day filled with car chases, trollops and...

Page 82

Clubs are trumps

The Spectator

Matthew d’Ancona PRIVATE CLUBS T here may be trouble ahead (as Irving Berlin warned) — but what use is sitting alone in your room (as Liza Minnelli added)? I am on the 33rd...

Page 84

Wicker’s world

The Spectator

Charlotte Metcalf HAMPERS I f you have ever received a hamper, you will be familiar with that delicious quiver of anticipation as you unbuckle the creaking wicker lid to see...

Page 85

Simply divan

The Spectator

James Waldron BEDS I blame my back problems on a particularly recalcitrant Austro-Hungarian-Revivalstyle wardrobe. I single-handedly tackled the monstrosity while working at...

Page 86

It’s all in the wrist

The Spectator

James Sherwood CUFF-LINKS P rivate Eye didn’t need to caption the pictures of a gaunt, pinched Peter Mandelson — bittersweet smile playing about his pursed lips — as his...

Page 94

I suspect Nat Rothschild was acting as a lone gunman, not as part of a conspiracy

The Spectator

I am surprised by how ready my journalistic colleagues have been to accept Nat Rothschild’s public explanation of why he behaved as he did. According to him — and his anonymous...

Mind your language

The Spectator

‘I hate jokes,’ said my husband affably, and added: ‘Hwumph!’ The latter was an oral marker as he heaved his body from his armchair to the sideboard where the contents of the...

Page 95

A n amazing piece of financial analysis has been circulating by

The Spectator

email recently. If you had purchased $1,000 worth of AIG stock a year ago, you would have $44.34 left. With Wachovia, you would have had $54.74 left of the original $1,000....

your problEMs solvEd

The Spectator

Dear Mary Q. As a parent of boys, one can use the word ‘willie’ or ‘winkie’, but as a parent of a little girl, I have been at a loss to know how to refer to the female...

Q. I am loath to introduce energy-saving light bulbs in

The Spectator

our historic house, as they are so unattractive. But given that it seems inevitable and one will have to, is there a preferred brand that one should look out for, Mary? Name...

Q. I am on holiday in the tropics and a

The Spectator

member of the group who has no swimming trunks is parading in M&S black boxerstyle Y-fronts. I am worried because our host is due to arrive today and might regard this attire as...

Q. I have a female cousin who is a doctor

The Spectator

(Dr). Her husband is a solicitor (Mr). Could you advise me on what is the correct form of addressing them on an envelope? V.H., Bingham, Nottingham A. Joint forms of address...