31 MAY 2008

Page 3

The fumes of failure

The Spectator

‘W e have no plans not to implement our budget’: the double negative employed by Phil Woolas, the Environment Minister, on Tuesday’s Newsnight , and the familiar ‘no...

Page 7

I co-own a rather jolly children’s shop on Ebury Street and

The Spectator

my stock has recently expanded to include a Romanian tramp. I discovered him sleeping on my doorstep after returning to collect a laptop charger I’d left behind. As it was...

Page 8

Fix your departure date now, Gordon, and give your legacy a chance

The Spectator

I t is time for Gordon Brown to start contemplating leaving Downing Street. But he should only set a date well into the next decade. To get there he needs to consider now how he...

Page 9

Camp Bastion, Helmand province O utside the Joint Support Unit HQ

The Spectator

here stands a cross rising from a mound of cobbles. On each of the four sides of the mound is set a brass plate for the names of those British soldiers who have died in...

Page 10


The Spectator

By Tamzin Lightwater MONDAY Another superb by-election victory party at HQ with lashings of Pol Roger! The vibe v much: ‘Humility and workmanlike determination to get on with...

Page 12

‘Touch wood,’ Karzai said to me.

The Spectator

You hear it all the time From the President downwards, all Afghans know that the peace in Helmand is precarious. Fraser Nelson reports from a shattered land of corruption and...

Page 14

Obama and McCain offer a choice, not an echo

The Spectator

This presidential race will be the first real Right v. Left contest in a long time, says Irwin Stelzer . On free trade, healthcare, tax and pariah regimes, the two men are...

Page 16

Sorry, but apologies really are the work of the Devil

The Spectator

Saying ‘sorry’ is mostly wicked and usually irrelevant, says Anna Blundy . People should not be allowed to dump their inner shame so easily T here is no end, of course, to...

Ancient & modern

The Spectator

Hamid Karzai’s government is said to control a mere 30 per cent of Afghanistan. The rest is in the control of tribal leaders and the Taleban. As David Miliband says, we will...

Page 18

De Gaulle understood that only nations are real

The Spectator

Few may celebrate the half-century since Charles de Gaulle’s triumphs of 1958, says Robin Harris , but this realist genius understood that, in geopolitics, the nation-state...

Page 20

Who decided that all motorists were criminals?

The Spectator

Bryan Forbes sees in the persecution of drivers a terrible metaphor for England’s decline: ministers hide in limousines while the police waste their time on minor road...

Page 22

I have worked out how we can win the

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Eurovision Song Contest next year Rod Liddle watches the UK’s humiliation and concludes that the problem is not politics but music: most of these countries just don’t dig...

Page 24

Seek the reason why

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Sir: I greatly enjoyed Peter Jones’s excellent article on Ancient Roman globalisation (‘For real globalisation, look at Ancient Rome’, 24 May). I respectfully disagree...


The Spectator

Sir: Reading Matthew Parris’s account of his time in a Ryanair queue (Another Voice, 24 May) reminded me of a conversation I overheard some years ago as I was crossing London...

Lost plot

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Sir: While Marianne Macdonald’s article (‘Sex and the City is a myth’, 24 May) was an entertaining read, its central thesis — that the airbrushed on-screen portrayal of...

Hazy memories

The Spectator

Sir: Certainly many of the anachronisms in Foyle’s War were non-verbal (Letters, 24 May), perhaps the most glaring being the virtual absence from the screen of smouldering...

The test of society

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Sir: As I read your last editorial (‘Here’s what we call progress’, 24 May) and Rod Liddle’s piece (‘One day, abortions will appal us all’, 24 May) upon how future...

What’s funny?

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Sir: I suppose it’s just about possible to conceive of a name for a child more pretentious than Aeneas, the name Matthew Dennison gave his child (‘What’s in a name?’, 17...

Page 25

We should resist the globalisation of smells.

The Spectator

From London to Delhi, stench is truth E very Sunday night for the past couple of months, I have been going back in time. I have been in the early 1960s. Sharp suits, womanly...

Page 26

Things that get into print and make us shudder

The Spectator

H ard to remember an occasion when an author has aroused such unanimous distaste as Cherie Blair’s revelation that the birth of her son Leo was due to her unwillingness to...

Page 27

Unleash the Beastie. . .

The Spectator

Marcin Miller discovers some startlingly successful Ardbeg whisky and cheese combinations I slay is the home of peaty whisky and they don’t come any peatier, or any more...

Page 28

How bad government caused the food crisis

The Spectator

Julian Morris argues that recent shortages and price rises of staple food in Asia and Latin America have been caused as much by parasitical politicians as by poor harvests O n...

Page 29

When Labour ministers say ‘we’re listening’, this is what they really mean — and it’s frightening

The Spectator

L ast week the Labour government revealed its plans to create a national cyber-database to hold details of every phone call, text, email and visit to the internet, as part of...

Page 30

Can Lord Bell’s PR skills combat the aroma of communism and cabbage?

The Spectator

M insk is not a mecca for entrepreneurs or foreign investors, but it seems that the perpetual leader of Belarus, Aleksander Lukashenko, has decided to change that. The kolkhoz...

Page 31

How to get the best exchange rate

The Spectator

When transferring money overseas, don’t think you will get the best exchange rate from your high street bank. There is an alternative and it will save you money. Changing and...

Porto Paradise

The Spectator

‘Watch out for sellers asking crazy prices’ – Alex Hopkins was warned by friends when looking for property in Portugal. His search centred on the Douro Valley near to...

Page 32

The hammer of the Scots

The Spectator

Magnus Linklater T HE I NVENTION OF S COTLAND by Hugh Trevor-Roper, edited by Jeremy J. Carter Yale, £18.99, pp. 282, ISBN 9780300136869 ✆ £15.19 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429...

Page 34

Wisdom from beyond the grave

The Spectator

Ian Sansom A RMAGGEDON IN R ETROSPECT A ND O THER N EW AND U NPUBLISHED W RITING ON W AR AND P EACE by Kurt Vonnegut Cape, £16.99, pp. 232, ISBN 9780224085397 ✆ £13.59...

Page 36

Fighting Gerry on two fronts

The Spectator

Leo McKinstry A G OOD W AR by Patrick Bishop Hodder & Stoughton, £12.99, pp.392, ISBN 9780340951705 ✆ £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T he Battle of Britain and the...

Nothing ever new out of Africa

The Spectator

Anthony Daniels D INNER WITH M UGABE : T HE U NTOLD S TORY OF A F REEDOM F IGHTER WHO B ECAME A T ERRORIST by Heidi Holland Penguin, £17.99, pp. 250, ISBN 9780143025573 ✆...

Page 37

Might is always right

The Spectator

Robert Stewart a h ISTory of p olITIcal T rIalS from c harleS I To S addam h USSeIn by John Laughland Peter Lang, £12.99, pp. 315, ISBN 9781906165000 ✆ £10.39 (plus £2.45...

Page 38

Giving the boy a bad review

The Spectator

William Brett T HE I NFORMERS by Juan Gabriel Vásquez Bloomsbury, £16.99, pp. 338, ISBN 9780747592570 ✆ £13.59 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 D o we carry the sins of our...

Cold Harbor

The Spectator

On the night before the Battle of Cold Harbor in 1864, many of the Federal soldiers wrote their names on slips of paper they pinned to their backs so their families could be...

Page 39

Triumph of the polymaths

The Spectator

Philip Ziegler T HE P HOENIX by Leo Hollis Weidenfeld, £20, pp. 389, ISBN 9780297850779 ✆ £16 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 L ONDON L IGHTS by James Hamilton John Murray,...

Page 40

The lark and the economist

The Spectator

Mirabel Cecil B LOOMSBURY B ALLERINA by Judith Macrell Weidenfeld, £25, pp. 476, ISBN 978 0297849087 ✆ £20 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 J udith Mackrell describes her...

Page 42

The circle of a lonely psychiatrist

The Spectator

Honor Clerk T HE S ORROWS OF AN A MERICAN by Siri Hustvedt Sceptre, £16.99, pp. 306, ISBN 9780340897065 ✆ £13.59 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 B orn into a second...

A dying fall

The Spectator

Judith Flanders T HE C ELLIST OF S ARAJEVO by Steven Galloway Atlantic, £12.99, pp. 278, ISBN 9781843547396 ✆ £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 M any novels about war...

Page 43

Forward to the past

The Spectator

James Forsyth T HE R ETURN OF H ISTORY AND THE E ND OF D REAMS by Robert Kagan Atlantic, £12.99, pp. 105, ISBN 9781843548119 ✆ £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 W hen...

Two sides of the dark continent

The Spectator

Anthony Sattin T HE E YE OF THE L EOPARD by Henning Mankell Harvill Secker, £12.99, pp. 315, ISBN 9781843430490 ✆ £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T HE M IRACLE AT S...

Page 44

A fortnight ago Sam Leith, reviewing Neil Powell’s book on the Amises, father and son, wrote:

The Spectator

Powell is insistent — and for all I know dead right, but that’s hardly the point — that Kingsley was a sufferer from depression. Of the last sentence of The Anti-Death...

Page 45

Drama at the opera

The Spectator

Stephen Pettitt celebrates the new wave of masterful British productions S amuel Johnson famously defined opera in his A Dictionary of the English Language as ‘an exotic and...

Page 46

Collaborating with chaos

The Spectator

Andrew Lambirth talks to the artist John Hoyland about his life and work J ohn Hoyland dislikes being called ‘one of Britain’s leading abstract painters’. He thinks...

Page 48

Don’t forget Franck

The Spectator

Robin Holloway O nce so sure in the pantheon, esteemed by composers and critical taste, beloved by players and audiences, César Franck appears nowadays to be almost...

Page 50

Parisian decadence

The Spectator

Lloyd Evans Marguerite Haymarket The Good Soul of Szechuan Young Vic Under Milk Wood Tricycle T his ought to be a hit. The Les Mis team are back in the West End with another...

Page 52

Perfect package

The Spectator

Deborah Ross Sex and the City 15, Nationwide I do know that not everyone gets Sex and the City. Bubbles, for example, does not get Sex and the City . ‘I don’t know what...

Out of sympathy

The Spectator

Michael Tanner L’incoronazione di Poppea Glyndebourne Der Rosenkavalier English National Opera M onteverdi’s last opera L’incoronazione di Poppea was the first opera I...

Page 54

Space odyssey

The Spectator

Kate Chisholm T he light pollution at Chequers can’t be that bad in semi-rural Bucks, so perhaps someone should suggest to our troubled PM that next time he has a weekend off...

Page 56

Whitehouse effect

The Spectator

James Delingpole ‘S tupid old bat.’ That’s what my father always used to say when Mary Whitehouse appeared on the screen, and the older I grew the more I agreed with him....

Page 57

Irish spoilsports

The Spectator

Robin Oakley T he Irish show enough enthusiasm for the ‘jumping Olympics’ at Cheltenham in March. Horses, trainers and punters come over in their hordes. For this year’s...

Page 58

Accidental empires

The Spectator

Taki ‘I s democracy on the march or is it in retreat?’ screams a headline in the Washington Times . The question was put to Condoleezza Rice last week, and I must say, for...

Page 59

Homer’s cure

The Spectator

Jeremy Clarke T his morning, when I woke up, I reached out and pressed the button on my bedside radio and the first word that came out of it was the word ‘tolerance’. The...

Page 60

Conduct becoming

The Spectator

Alex James T hat’s a lot of violins, I thought. Then I realised they were violas. The violins were to the left, smaller. Always smaller than I expect, violins — maybe...

Page 61


The Spectator

T he Loire produces wonderful wines for summer. Perhaps it’s holidays in July and August, driving from château to château, past the slow reaches of the river and green...

Page 62

Mazed and confused

The Spectator

Sinclair McKay gets lost in a labyrinth I s it possible for a Sat-Nav-coddled generation really to appreciate the aesthetic pleasure of a hedge maze? After all, if there is one...

Page 63

Guiding lights

The Spectator

Charlotte Metcalf goes on a glorious tour of Venice S ummer is here (well, just) and with it a national sprouting of good intentions, as people dust off the dreary remnants of...

Page 70

My other life as a killer on the run with my lover comes to an end in Tennessee

The Spectator

I n order to tell you the following story I’m going to have to make an embarrassing admission: I LexisNexis myself every day. That is to say, I plug my own name into...

Mind your language

The Spectator

I was interested by a note on the website of Queens’ College, Cambridge, because the use of the apostrophe in English is governed by such simple rules that it is hard to see...

Page 71

‘ L inda works miracles in the kitchen while Trevor is ubiquitous

The Spectator

with the cup that cheers.’ This sentence has haunted me for 15 years. It’s from a parody of the typical reader’s review in The Good Food Guide , probably by Craig Brown. I...

Q. Later this summer my boyfriend and I are flying

The Spectator

out to the Aegean. Our hostess emailed to say we can get a lift from the airport with another couple who are coming for the same week on the same flight and who have already...

Q. A friend with a house in London which he

The Spectator

only uses sporadically had me to stay the night but left before I did the next morning. I sat down on a chair in his drawing room and went straight through it. I have been...