Page 7

After Conway, heed Coulson

The Spectator

H ere are some brute facts: the Conservative party still has fewer seats than Michael Foot won in the 1983 general election. To win an overall majority in the House of Commons,...

Page 10


The Spectator

MONDAY Dave says we are absolutely not withdrawing the whip from poor Mr Conway. If we do such a thing, where will it end? Which MP hasn’t at some point given their son a...

Page 11

A s publication of my new novel, My Favourite Wife , draws

The Spectator

closer, Fred Kindall steps up the training. You need to be a fit man to publish a novel these days. ‘It’s good to be alive,’ Fred exults, as I lie on the floor of his gym...

Page 12

If Gordon wins next time, the Derek Conway case will be one of the reasons

The Spectator

Y ears from now, when the downfall of Peter Hain has been reduced to a Trivial Pursuit question standing between players and a yellow wedge, the name of Derek Conway will still...

Page 13

T he appointment of a Permanent Secretary at No. 10 Downing

The Spectator

Street shows that the office of Prime Minister is swelling fit to burst. Everyone says that the man with the new post, Jeremy Heywood, is excellent. Nothing is known against him...

Page 14

Will Obama face McCain? We’ll know after Super Tuesday

The Spectator

James Forsyth says that the Republican nomination is all but settled, and McCain has achieved a stunning comeback. If the Democrats want the White House, they must pick Obama as...

Page 16

Two old stagers find vigour in Brief Lives

The Spectator

Tim Walker talks to the theatrical veterans Roy Dotrice and Patrick Garland about their long-awaited return to the work of John Aubrey I n a soulless, drafty rehearsal hall just...

Page 18

The wages of beauty are loneliness

The Spectator

Marianne Macdonald says that the crazy bounty nature bestows on gorgeous women can be a curse: a recipe for low confidence and solitary distrust I am always struck, interviewing...

Ancient & modern

The Spectator

Last time we saw that the currently fashionable buzz-word ‘change’ was anathema to the Romans, because they looked for stability and permanence, and change implied failure....

Page 20

Forty years on from Tet: how the US won Vietnam

The Spectator

Stanley Johnson returns to Vietnam four decades after the offensive that shattered American confidence in the war — but reflects that the US went on to win the cultural battle...

Page 22

No better way to turn 70 than in the Darjeeling hills

The Spectator

Christopher Booker launches his eighth decade in India with a spot of street cricket, a return to his mother’s birthplace and a salute to a country reclaiming its historical...

Page 24

I am angrier with the government about the smoking ban than the Iraq war

The Spectator

Rod Liddle says that the ban exemplifies all that is wrong with Labour: nannying piety, control freakery and an endless capacity for lies. What’s more, it’s put him to...

T here is no building so hideous that it is beyond

The Spectator

the powers of any modern architect worth his salt to design something even worse. This important truth of the science of aesthetics was borne out recently when I visited Paris...

Page 25


The Spectator

We’re delighted to announce the winner of our fiendishly difficult general knowledge game, published in the Christmas edition of The Spectator. Our congratulations and a case...

Page 26

Phoney war

The Spectator

Sir: I was sorry to see that Con Coughlin (‘Agent Brown’s new plan to smash terror’, 26 January) has now joined the likes of poor William Shawcross on the pottier side of...

Tax return

The Spectator

Sir: Anthony J. Burnet makes two interesting points in his comment on my ‘Economics of Mr Brown’ (Letters, 26 January). The first is that my questioning of the proposed new...

Target practice

The Spectator

Sir: Pauline Holroyd’s experience regarding choice in NHS referrals (Letters, 19 January) becomes even more frustrating when government targets interfere. I was referred in...

Wing and a prayer

The Spectator

Sir: Atatürk banned the call to prayer in Arabic throughout Turkey as long ago as 1932 (The Spectator’s Notes, 12 January). He decreed that it could henceforth only be in...

Top tip

The Spectator

Sir: I was reminded by Martin Vander Weyer’s footnote of Hugh Massingberd’s huge appetite and of his extraordinary generosity (Any other business, 26 January). Hugh and I...

Mind the gaps

The Spectator

Sir: Matthew Parris’s article on the ‘surprising gaps’ the English language has in its vocabulary (Another voice, 19 January), reminds me of all the times I have asked...

Page 28

After much deliberation, I have come to the conclusion that life does not exist

The Spectator

T his January Prometheus paid our era a call. Scientists (it was reported at the end of the month) have ‘announced the creation of a synthetic chromosome, knocking down one of...

Page 29

Shakespeare, Neo-Platonism and Princess Diana

The Spectator

T he litigation about the death of Princess Diana drags on, to the confusion of most of us, the satisfaction of none, and I imagine to the great distress of her two sons. And...

Page 30

Why it’s raining dividends in Wales

The Spectator

Neil Collins meets Nigel Annett, who runs Welsh Water — a unique utility company which operates without shareholders and distributes profits back to its customers I t does...

Page 31

The disappearing bezzle

The Spectator

Christopher Fildes M y friend Herbie from the Last National Bank of Boot Hill understood about rogue traders. When another hapless bank owned up to losses ‘due to...

Page 32

Farewell to Asia’s greatest kleptocrat

The Spectator

Eric Ellis says the death of Indonesia’s former dictator may spur attempts to recover the loot accumulated by his family T he strangest moment of the elongated théâtre de...

Page 34

The vile behaviour of the press

The Spectator

Peter Oborne F LAT E ARTH N Ews by Nick Davies Chatto, £17.99, pp. 408, ISBN 9780701181451 ✆ £14.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T his book exposes newspapers to the...

Page 35

A very vicious circle

The Spectator

Jervoise Andreyev T HE S ECRET H ISTORY OF THE W AR ON C ANCER by Devra Davis Basic Books, £16.99, pp. 505, ISBN 9780465015665 ✆ £13.59 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T...

Page 36

Daring to defy the myth

The Spectator

Justin Cartwright W EIMAR G ERMANY : P ROMISE AND T RAGEDY by Eric D. Weitz Princeton, £17.95, pp. 425, ISBN 9780691016955 ✆ £14.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 W eimar...

Page 37

Champagne on dirty floorboards

The Spectator

Jane Rye L UCIAN F REUD by William Feaver Rizzoli, £65, pp. 487, ISBN9780847829521 L ucian Freud describes his paintings as largely autobiographical, which seems to imply some...

Page 38

Spartans did it wearing cloaks

The Spectator

Jonathan Keates T HE G REEKS AND G REEK L OVE by James Davidson Weidenfeld, £30, pp. 634, ISBN 97802978199 ✆ £24 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 H owever loaded or coded,...

Page 39

A return to the grand themes

The Spectator

Raymond Carr P ENULTIMATE A DVENTURES WITH B RITANNIA : P ERSONALITIES , P OLITICS AND C ULTURE IN B RITAIN by Wm. Roger Louis I.B. Tauris, £35, pp. 320, ISBN 9781845116934 B...

Page 40

Pulp fiction for the intelligent

The Spectator

S. E. G. Hopkin T HE M ETATEMPORAL DETECTIVE by Michael Moorcock Prometheus Books, £17.99, pp. 327, ISBN 9781591025962 T he late Alan Coren once called a collection of...

We Being Ghosts

The Spectator

Too many of my friends are dead, and others wrecked By various diseases of the intellect Or failing body. How am I still upright? And even I sleep half the day, cough half the...

Page 41

Unthinking dogmatism

The Spectator

James MacMillan explains why he hates the assumption that he is a liberal left-winger I n my travels I see myself frequently described in foreign media as a ‘leftwing and...

Page 42

Italian treats

The Spectator

Andrew Lambirth A Decade of Discovery Estorick Collection, 39a Canonbury Square, London N1, until 6 April T his year, as the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art...

Page 44

What a monster

The Spectator

Deborah Ross Cloverfield 15, Nationwide C loverfield is tiresome, dumb and horrid, and just in case you didn’t get that I’ll say it again: this film is tiresome, dumb and...

Teletubby approach

The Spectator

Lloyd Evans The President’s Holiday Hampstead The Sea Haymarket The Vertical Hour Royal Court T here’s no such thing as a great script idea. Ideas are equally good or bad,...

Page 46

Truffling around

The Spectator

Marcus Berkmann W here do you find your music? Yes, I know, you go to the CD rack and there it is. Or, if you are as obsessed as some of us, you go into almost any room in the...

Page 47

Britten surprises

The Spectator

Michael Tanner Peter Grimes Opera North O f all Britten’s operas Peter Grimes is the one I have seen most often, and it remains not only the one that I find it hardest to...

Page 48

Reasons for hope

The Spectator

Kate Chisholm ‘ P akistan is a dysfunctional state,’ said the writer Martin Amis in a debate about ideologies and ideologues in our post-9/11 world on Start the Week...

Cult viewing

The Spectator

Simon Hoggart ‘S hut up and drink the Kool-Aid’ is an American slang phrase — tart, cynical and funny — used for telling people to get on with something they must do...

Page 49

Gross greed

The Spectator

Taki Gstaad T he fat cats were all over Davos last week, greedy bankers, self-important bosses of publicly owned multinationals, craven hedge funders and shameless...

Page 50

Love and loss

The Spectator

Jeremy Clarke T om proudly showed me a video clip on his mobile phone of his latest girlfriend doing a striptease. Confident girl. The tattoos must have cost a fortune. ‘So...

Page 51

Crime and nourishment

The Spectator

Melissa Kite D espite efforts not to be superstitious, I am much obsessed by the idea of disaster seepage. That is to say, when one thing goes wrong, a hundred others usually...

Food to go

The Spectator

Richard Sennett I n the midst of an author tour for a new book, I am confronting both the worst evils of fast food and some surprising exceptions. Writers today cannot simply...

Page 53

The art of life

The Spectator

Gap-year students, try Italy, not Vietnam, says Charlotte Metcalf A wise friend once said that you only regret what you don’t do. Until I met John Hall and Nick Ross, I had...

Page 54

Very Moorish

The Spectator

Gibraltar has a colourful past, discovers John Torode B ritish as the Rock of Gibraltar.’ That was how an aged relative used to describe iconic objects — traditional London...

Page 62

The disturbing thing about fairy stories is that the father is always a useless weed

The Spectator

A s a father of three small children, I find myself constantly baffled by what is known in our household as ‘the boredom paradox’. Why is it that my four-year-old daughter...

Mind your language

The Spectator

A reader, whose letter I have put somewhere safe, asks me whether I cannot blast the misuse of broker as a verb. Indeed I should love to blast away, if it would stay still in...

Page 63

L ike this journal’s esteemed High Life commentator, I too have

The Spectator

been spending too much time watching the last fortnight’s Australian Tennis Open from Melbourne — but unlike my colleague I found it an absolute revelation, with potentially...

Q. I wonder if you can give me some advice.

The Spectator

My parents have agreed I can have 20 people to a party in our house in Balham. I am 16 but very responsible so they agreed to go out between 7 p.m. and 11 when the party is...

Q. I have had the same cleaner for 20 years.

The Spectator

She comes three mornings a week and is very efficient. In the past, I was always on the school run for two of the three hours that she is in the house for, so we didn’t see...