31 JANUARY 2004

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T he government narrowly carried the second reading of the Higher

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Education Bill, which makes provision for universities to charge British students an extra £3,000 a year. The vote was 316-311, with 72 Labour MPs voting against the government...

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Bring back Gilligan 0 n Tuesday, 24 September 2002 Tony Blair stood up in the House of Commons and waved a dossier. 'The threat of Saddam and weapons of mass destruction is not...

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I feel a bit like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

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Having been sucked into a tornado and deposited for almost ten years in a technicolour world of high political and personal drama in the wake of my other half, Alastair...

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Trivia is all well and good, but a few facts wouldn't harm the broadsheets

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A s I write. I have in front of me pa g e three of last Monday's Daily Telegraph. The headline is 'Outlook steamy as celebrities land in the j un g le'. One lar g e photo g raph...

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The question that just won't go away:

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is Sunday this week or next week? ,v , . ery occasionally in the life of a nation comes the need for a short period of dictatorship. Not for major reform: democracy can easily...

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The great whitewash

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Rod Liddle says that Lord Hutton gave the government the benefit of the doubt, sometimes to the point of appearing either hopelessly naive or a visitor from a kinder, gentler...

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Mind your language

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The Australian language is being subverted by Americanisms, I hear from Mr Peter Bell, of Brookvale, NSW. One which bugs him is a small word that he has also noticed in The...

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A disaster for British public life

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Peter Oborne says that Lord Hutton has produced an unbalanced report that will do great harm to his reputation —1 t could not have been more perfect, in its ghastly way. For...

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Fee choice

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Blair has made a mess of the top-up Bill, says Freddie Sayers. It's now up to the Tories to revolutionise our universities on market principles I think I once knew how Tony...

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Cheer up: things can only get worse

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If you have ever agonised over the Second Law of Thermodynamics, stop now. Peter Atkins says it's really quite simple, and nothing to worry about ot knowing the Second Law of...

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The Americans just don't get it

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Tony Blair is a hero in the United States, but, says Robin Harris, he has done potentially disastrous damage to Anglo—American relations Iv ho will be found to explain to the...

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Ancient & modern

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lain Duncan Smith, ex-leader of the Tory party, is evidently in a state of some depression at his humiliating rejection. Ancient philosophy must spring to his aid. Greek and...

Straight and narrow

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Leo McKinstry says that in its often admirable determination to help gays and lesbians, local goverment is creating a new problem: heterophobia A s I waded through page after...

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I like to have a little nap in the afternoon, though I rarely have the opportunity to do so. I have reached the stage in life, though, when I rather regret waking up; I don't...

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Self abuse

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Lloyd Evans believes that the lesson of Will Self's success — which he envies — is that it is better to be a 'writer' than to write well I t's happened again. The other day I...

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How 'None of the Above' won

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Mark Steyn says that New Hampshire picked the uninspiring John Kerry because he was the least unelectable of the contenders New Hampshire 1 love New Hampshire!' I forget which...

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Poles apart

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From Andrzej Wilski Sir: It is heartwarming to read the magnificent Taki's praises of my countrymen's historical struggles and my beloved Zakopane (High life, 24 January) but...

Wrong to sack Tonge

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From Cllr Chris Lenton Sir: The sacking of Dr Jenny Tonge shows that Charles Kennedy has no understanding of the concept of free speech — surely a central tenet of liberalism....

Hear it for scientists

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From Dr W. Reed Sir: Paul Johnson's amusing article (And another thing, 17 January), stripped of its condescending bigotry, makes three points worth comment. First, that our...


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From James Butler Sir: The letter from Dr Bleddwyn Jones (24 January) reminds me that shortly after the 1964 election Harold Wilson was interviewed on This Week. I was the...

Lay off the Welsh

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From Eirlys Cooper Sir: Well done, Stuart Reid. It raises my spirits to see the courage displayed by such writers in an age of political correctness (Diary, 24 January)....

More music, less noise

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From Sally Alderson Sir: Bravo, Stephen Pettitt — I couldn't agree more about showmen pianists (Arts, 17 January). I watched both Lang Lang and Kissin lead the Verbier Festival...

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Front-line feminists

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From Irene Coates Sir: In your edition of 17 January there is a patently ridiculous article by Ross Clark CV is for victory — and for vagina'). Whatever is the female version of...

From Peter Toynbee Sir: I hold no brief for Ms

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Hendessi, but must protest at Ross Clark's comments. To say that 'many women's pressure groups were vociferous in their opposition to war in Iraq, and by implication would...

English explosions

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From Philip Hensher Sir: Is Mr le Vay entirely confident, in criticising Lynne Truss, that he understands how English works (Letters, 24 January)? He objects to her use of the...

From Roger Chesneau

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Sir: Mr le Vay, should that not be Brewer'ses at dawn? Or perhaps Brewerses'? Or is only one copy of the book to be used in the duel, to be split between the participants? And...

Enough sycophancy

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From Rodney Milne Sir: No doubt you thought it politic to publish that fawning article about Conrad and Barbara Black, erstwhile owners of The Spectator (`The ballad of Connie...

Our hemiocentenary

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From Tom Livingston Sir: While I am able to hazard a guess at the meaning of `hemiocentenary', as used by Geoffrey Wheatcroft ('End of the Etonians - , 17 January), it is hard...

Wonderful cones?

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From Sarah Leyland Sir: I am not normally a very sympathetic person, but I did feel sorry for Anthony Horowitz's poor children, doomed to play with traditional wooden tops and...

Foot trick

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From Professor Nigel Jones Sir: An amusing trick for bored readers: rotate your right foot in a clockwise direction, and then, while rotating, draw the number six in the air...

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Don't bet on the grand projet — Europe

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would be better off without it hat rumbling noise comes from the tomb of Jean Monnet. His project is cracking up. European union, half a century in the making, will remain a...

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Who would you prefer as PM Garnett or Bertrand Russell.

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S canning the newspapers, and absorbing with a mixture of incredulity and indignation the enormities they report, I conclude that what England lacks today is, quite simply,...

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There's no place like Rome

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Stuart Reid has no qualms about accepting a luxurious Italian freebie "1\T othing is more important to a journal1 ist than his integrity. The founders of the Independent were...

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The house that Jack built

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James Leith S hortly after the war, my Uncle Jack set up a conservation project at a time when the word ecology would have got you nothing more than a blank stare. Jack's chief...

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Shiny, happy people

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Victoria Lane S kiing in France can be a grim business. The French are horrible to you because there are too many English, and then there are all the bloody English talking...

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Holocaust of Vercors

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Michael McMahon I t is just before eight in the morning and puffs of fine mountain drizzle float on the breeze in and around Vassieux. Two dozen brown-and-white cows and a...

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To all in tents

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Sally Gimson B ut I don't want to go camping, you cry. 1-.1 The cold, the discomfort, the lack of luxury. Why camp when you can afford a decent hotel or one of those wonderful...

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The place to be

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Matthew Leeming Bamiyan Hotel This is the most beautiful valley in the 1 world. The mountains on the horizon have just turned white. When I was last here, in the spring, the...

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The sleep of reason

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Philip Hensher How MUMBO-JUMBO CONQUERED THE WORLD: A SHORT HISTORY OF MODERN DELUSIONS by Francis Wheen 4th Estate, £16.99, pp. 338, ISBN 0007140967 Li ke Francis Wheen's...

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Hide and seek

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Jane Gardam STEVENSON UNDER THE PALM TREES by Alberto Manguel Canongate, £7.99, pp. 105, ISBN 1841954497 T he constant command in the works of Alberto Manguel is 'look closer'....

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Quite the most delightful clergyman

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Allan Mallinson SIMON PHIPPS: A PORTRAIT collected by Caroline Gilmour and Patricia Wyndham Continuum, £14.99, pp. 150, ISBN 0826471382 S imon Phipps, says the cover of this...

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A smile, a figure, a flair

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Alan Judd THE BUGATTI QUEEN: IN SEARCH OF A MOTOR-RACING LEGEND by Miranda Seymour Simon & Schuster, £15.99, pp. 301, ISBN 0743231465 1 t's hard to find an exciting...

Moving swiftly on . . .

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Ian Garrick Mason A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE HUMAN RACE by Michael Cook Granta, £20, pp. 385, ISBN 1862076861 T itles that begin with the phrase A Brief History of ... are no doubt...

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Forward to the past

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Olivia Glazebrook THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE by Audrey Niffenegger Cape, £12.99, pp. 519, ISBN 0224071912 f time travel were possible, surely there'd be people from the future...

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Pioneer in a peculiar science

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Theodore Dalrymple DEATH'S ACRE: INSIDE THE LEGENDARY 'BODY FARM' by Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson Time Warner, £16.99, pp. 299, ISBN 0316725277 T he first distinguished person I...

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An innocent at large in dystopia

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Judith Flanders TRAIN by Pete Dexter Heinemann, .115.99, pp, 258, ISBN 0434012378 T urgency wrote, 'Whatever a man prays for, he prays for a miracle. Every prayer reduces...

Plumbing the depths

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Katie Grant A CLEAR CALLING by David Austin Cape, £14.99, pp. 141, ISBN 022406441X T he sea frightens me. It seems so cold and cruel, even when it looks warm and inviting. It...

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The full treatment

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Tom Rosenthal BERLIOZ, IA Voix Du ROMANTISME edited by Catherine Massip and Cecile Reynaud Bibliotheque Nationale de France! Fayard, 45 Euros, pp. 264, ISBN 2213616973 THE...

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Avery errant knight

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Piers Paul Read SNOWLEG by Nicholas Shakespeare Harvill, £16.99, pp. 386, ISBN 1843431580 N icholas Shakespeare is one of the few contemporary British novelists who...

The heat of the day

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Robert Cooper THE GO-BETWEEN by L. P. Hartley, read by Edward Petherbridge Cover to Cover, £26.99, 9 hours 39 minutes F ew novels can stimulate memories of sweltering summers...

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Designs for living

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Why are so many housing developments complete rubbish? Alan Powers investigates s I open the October 2003 'Cladding' supplement of the weekly magazine Building Design, my eye is...

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Rare purity of spirit

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Andrew Lambirth Constantin Brancusi: The Essence of Things Tate Modern, until 23 May C onstantin Brancusi (1876-1957) is a founding father of Modernism who somehow gets...

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Unheroic Australian

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Laura Gascoigne Fred Williams An Australian Vision: Etchings, Drawings and Gouaches British Museum, until 25 April ( - 1 n e way of disliking Australian art,' k_lwrote the...

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A model politician

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William Kuhn T he Bodleian Library has mounted an exhibition to mark the bicentenary of the birth of Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, in December 2004. The...

Slim tale

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Michael Tanner Les Arts Florissants; La Descente d'Orphee aux Enfers Barbican Les Contes d'Hoffmann Royal Opera House The Bartered Bride Opera North, Leeds I es 300 years...

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Geeks and psychos

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Mark Steyn Elephant 15, selected cinemas T hat small percentage of Britons, Europeans, Australians, Canadians, etc., who haven't gone goo-goo for Michael Moore's crockumentary...

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A couple of misfits

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Toby Young The Taming of the Shrew; The Tamer Tamed Queens Journey's End Comedy W hy is it that Shakespeare, above all playwrights, is constantly harnessed to the holy cows of...

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Mystery ingredient

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Stuart Nicholson T here was a time in the late 1980s and 1990s when highly touted young jazz musicians were appearing like mayflies in permanent hatch. The big recording...

Tough work

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Simon Hoggart T Traced home on Monday to catch the first part of I'm a Celebrity .. . Get Me Out of Here (ITV) just in time to see Jordan, a 'model' with silicone-stuffed...

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Campbell's war

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Michael Vestey W ho is Alastair Campbell, the real Alastair Campbell that is? A rather nasty piece of work judging by a programme about him produced for Radio Five Live by...

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Retired hurt

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Charles Moore J Tarn kneeling as I write, not in prayer, but because it is the least painful way of working the computer. A few days ago, I woke up and found that it hurt to...

Two to watch

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Robin Oakley Deering into the glass tank in an Athens I restaurant the other night I had to look twice before confirming that the parrotfish propelling himself lugubriously...

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Crime thought

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Taki T uc Ferry, no relation to Lucy or Bryan, Linsists I cannot wear my Christian cross and go near a French school. Luc Ferry says many silly things, including that Jewish...

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Sunday Punch

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Jeremy Clarke J ohnson's Standard Swahili–English Dictionaty lists a tree called the Gaagaa Paka tree. `Gaagaa' is a verb, meaning 'to roll from side to side, turn restlessly as...

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M y brother has been nagging me for ages to try

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a restaurant near his office in town. In the end, I caved in, largely because I know from my childhood that when thwarted he will either wee on you while you are in the bath or...

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1 t is a mystery to me why some people

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stop drinking wine after New Year, sometimes for a few days, occasionally for a whole month. Most don't even feel better. They report headaches and sore throats. Others find...

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A Classified View

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Cadiz and Puerto de Santa Maria Alyson Hunter writes: I f you look at your left palm. Cadiz is situated on your thumb, a peninsula into the surging Atlantic, and Puerto de...

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Tim's missing gene

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MICHAEL HENDERSON W hat on earth can be done about Tim Henman? How can this gifted tennis player, the most gifted this country has produced for at least three decades, banish...

Q. My wife and I have been invited to the

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50th birthday party of a not particularly close friend. The party is to be held in a local sports centre, although we have been asked to wear black tie and evening dress....

Q. I run a shooting syndicate in the Borders where

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established practice allows friends and neighbours with working dogs to pick up behind the guns. I was told that a dog belonging to a lady who is an assiduous picker-up had...