10 FEBRUARY 1996

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The Spectator

STOP THIS HOSSOi 2 - I . ISS JED ON g f-1 ALF OF THE TORY PART Y T he Chief Inspector of Schools reported that 15,000 teachers were incompetent and should be sacked if they did...

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The Spectator

Ken Clarke may think that he is a no-nonsense bloke, but he is talking nonsense about welfare BRUCE ANDERSON K enneth Clarke is a paradoxical figure. Rarely bas a politician's...

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DAVID STARKEY I 'd been invited by my friend Edmund Hall, author of We Can't Even March Straight, to join him for lunch at Mezzo, Terence Conran's latest mega-eatery. I was to...

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Punch must be funny from cover to cover and that's a depressing thought AUBERON WAUGH I t should have been good news for the world of letters and for the bourgeois, edu-...

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Simon Hoggart says that most of the Westminster buzz has gone from the Commons to Millbank; that's where the television interviewers are THERE IS a crisis in the House of Com-...

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Michael Heath


The Spectator

Mark Lawson is probably the only person in Britain to have read the 'Clinton' novel; he finds it surprisingly pro the President BOTH WASHINGTON and London have started the new...

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Mind your language

The Spectator

A RATHER unpleasant flavour of the month is stalker — the sort of man who'd rape you as soon as look at you, but against whom the police are appar- ently powerless to act. This...

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The Spectator

Peter Jones says there's plenty of evidence that Carthage was as the ancients said it was; shame about Troy IN THIS season of planning holidays, none of the special travel...

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If symptoms persist.. .

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I HAVE recently returned from a trip to Argentina, and, as we know, Mrs Thatcher was the greatest reformer in the history of that great southern repub- lic. She had rather less...


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Akin Cochrane says John Mortimer's wrong about Scots education; but, unlike Magnus Linklatet; he has an excuse: he's English ONE OF the most interesting things about living on...

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Fifty years ago

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A NEUTRAL friend well placed to fol- low the trend of opinion in Germany gives me a depressing picture of the general frame of mind. Even what may be termed from an...

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Looking forward to the battle for God as the millennium looms PAUL JOHNSON 0 ne of the most fascinating aspects of history is not so much the things that hap- pen as the...

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Rolling back the frontiers of the public sector I'd make a start with ostriches CHRISTOPHER FILDES M inistries need ways of justifying their existence, so you will be pleased...

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Musical chairs

The Spectator

Sir: Congratulations to detective inspectors Warburton, Bujic and Wood on their light- fingered acquaintance with a shady old grove (Letters, 27 January). They have so organised...

Sir: The right of any 'scoundrelly MP to defame and

The Spectator

lie about a private citizen with- in the privileged chamber of the Commons and to get away with it' cited by Mr Joe Haines (Letters, 3 February) is an abuse that even a jumpy...

Sir: Lord Justice Croom-Johnson may not have followed the Salmon

The Spectator

principles in the Crown Agents' inquiry, but he did at least, unlike Scott, work with expert lay assessors. Sir Richard Scott, by contrast, dismissed the need for such assessors...

LETTERS English Inquisition

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Sir: Sir David Croom-Johnson's contention that Sir Richard Scott's inquiry was not `bound' by the principles of the 1966 Salmon inquiry which laid down guidelines for...

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Totally confused

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Sir: We found Mr Auberon Waugh's description of Alex Carlile as the 'right- wing' member for Montgomery baffling (Another voice, 27 January). As he was elected as a Liberal...

Of tea and bidets

The Spectator

Sir: I found the description of Jeffrey Bernard's last trip to Paris quite fascinating (Travel Special, 3 February). However, I still have doubts about the connection...

. . . not sweet

The Spectator

Sir: I have read and enjoyed The Spectator for very many years and look forward to it arriving by post each Thursday. I am no prude, but I think that the increasing use of the...

A right bore

The Spectator

Sir: Mr Bruce Anderson, (Politics, 27 Jan- uary) seems to think that all those who read The Spectator are as far to the right as those who read the American Spectator. Other-...

Short, but . . .

The Spectator

Sir: The article by Alan Cochrane on the religious rivalry between Celtic and Rangers (It'll no work', 20 January) reminded me of a joke I heard recently. Q. Why are there more...

No conception

The Spectator

Sir: Ian Hislop is clearly no biblical scholar (Television, 20 January). The sin of Onan was not masturbation. Onan, son of Judah, was required by the law of his time to marry...

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Who wants to read about Max, when old Charlie is trying to hang on to the Independent? STEPHEN GLOVER I was going at last to set pen to paper on the subject of Max Hastings,...

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The Italians aren't even macho any more PETRONELLA WYATT D uring Mussolini's occupation of Libya there was a joke going around London din- ner parties (I heard this from my...

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The Spectator

Not the best policy Richard Stern IN THE NAME OF THE LAW: THE COLLAPSE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE by David Rose Cape, £17.99, pp. 356 T he criminal justice system, as filtered to us...

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Co-respondents, then correspondents

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Sarah Bradford RICHARD ALDINGTON & H.D.: THE LATER YEARS edited by Caroline Zilboorg Manchester University Press, f40, pp. 271 R ichard Aldington and Hilda Doolittle (`H.D.')...

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As the bishop said to his giddy brat

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Victoria Glendinning THE SYNGE LETTERS: BISHOP EDWARD SYNGE TO HIS DAUGHTER ALICIA, ROSCOMMON TO DUBLIN 1746-1752 edited by Marie-Louise Legg Lilliput, .f35, pp. 530 C T ake a...

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The shock of the nude

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Vicki Woods FASHION AND PERVERSITY: A LIFE OF VIVIENNE WESTWOOD AND THE SIXTIES LAID BARE by Fred Vermorel Bloomsbury, £16.99, pp. 256 T his is a deeply shocking book; an out-...

The Fox and the Poet

The Spectator

Please tell me please. How chancy is it For a young fox to meet a hungry poet? A poet! It's time you were properly versed. Of all our enemies the poet is the worst. Worst! I...

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The survivor and the future

The Spectator

John Cornwell THE SIXTH EXTINCTION: BIODIVERSITY AND ITS SURVIVAL by Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin Weidenfeld, £18.99, pp. 288 O ne of the great themes that loom over most...

A family and the past

The Spectator

Nicholas Harman ANCESTRAL PASSIONS by Virginia Morell Simon & Schuster, £20, pp. 638 T he index lists 27 Leakeys, the Leakey Foundation for Research Related to Man's Origin,...

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The strife is fierce, the warfare long

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Andro Linklater JERUSALEM: THE ENDLESS CRUSADE by Andrew Sinclair Century, f17.99, pp. 295 A nyone who seeks evidence of the power of religion need only look towards Jerusalem,...

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The convict and the farmer

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Peter J. M. Wayne INVISIBLE CRYING TREE: THE TRUE STORY OF AN EXTRAORDINARY FRIENDSHIP by Tom Shannon and Christopher Morgan Doubleday, £9.99, pp. 198 F or a lifer to be moved...

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My name is

The Spectator

Might-have- been . . . Andrew Barrow THE LITTLE BOOK by David Hughes Hutchinson, £9.99, pp. 186 T his handy, pocket-sized autobiograph- ical novel begins with the author...

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How different from us

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Hilary Mantel THE BICKERSTETH DIARIES: 1914-1918 edited by John Bickersteth, with an introduction by John Terraine Leo Cooper, £21, pp. 332 O n television recently, that...

Snow Folk

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Today's different. We rise to fluffy trees, branches penstroked in— and a garden beyond itself. Seat felted, greenhouse lagged. Some cloud's been breaking extra bread,...

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Poor wicked Venice More questions should be asked about the origin of the fire at La Fenice, says Rupert Christiansen T he press coverage of the destruction of Venice's opera...

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New ways to court the public

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Leslie Geddes-Brown discovers what museums can offer in this year of lifelong learning Y ou may not be aware of it — I cer- tainly wasn't — but 1996 is the European Year of...

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Exhibitions 1

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Blood, Sea and Ice: Three English Explorers (National Maritime Museum, Greenwich until 30 June) Voyages into the unknown Martin Vander Weyer I n Tahiti I once ordered wine...

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Exhibitions 2

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Rose Mead 1868-1946 (Manor House Museum, Bury St Edmunds till 31 March) Helen Saunders 1885 - 1963 (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford till 3 March; Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield, from 16...

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Sleeping Beauty (Royal Opera House) Born under a tricky star Giannandrea Poesio T hose of us who watch the BBC 2 series The House know that the current Royal Ballet...

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Desperado (18, selected cinemas) Gloopy purée Mark Steyn I f you want to know why pop culture is doomed, go see Desperado. It brings together the three hippest, hottest, hap-...

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The Fields of Ambrosia (Aldwych) Stanley (National/Cottesloe) Les Enfants du Paradis (Barbican) Morally bankrupt Sheridan Morley J ust suppose you have been sent a set of...

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The Spectator

The fee or not the fee ... Michael Vestey I mes Past, Times Future, a six-part series running on Radio Four, has some high-quality chatter, accidental humour and some flashes...


The Spectator

Political ignoramus James Delingpole I f I were to script the first episode of a soap opera set in the House of Commons, it would probably go something like this: after...

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The Spectator

Fantasy flying Alan Judd L ast year I confessed that, although an automotive snail, I am prey to aeronautical fantasies when driving on motorways. As the perspective narrows...

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The Spectator

Name dropping Robin Oakley R acing has got itself in a fine old ker- fuffle over the issue of sponsorship. Indeed, the row had generated enough air to have saved a couple of...

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High life

The Spectator

Patriotic times Taki Gstaad ong his usual pearls, Godfrey Smith writing in the Sunday Times last week men- tioned that during the blazing Battle of Britain summer cab drivers...

Low life

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Hands-on approach Jeffrey Bernard I can't understand why anyone should possibly want to be Home Help which does, after all, involve not only waiting on people and shopping for...

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The Spectator

BRIDGE Sporting talent Andrew Robson QUITE a number of top sportsmen are bridge players. Many cricketers including Mike Gatting and John Emburey know how to spend those long...

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Give me excess of it

The Spectator

LefoLiot.._ WE HAVE a very early Lent this year. Ash Wednesday is just around the corner on the 21st, so until then let us make merry before the fast commences; pity we don't...

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The Spectator

i A ill6 ,,,Jvcrxortwxww, thi 1 1SL E OF j li URA I II COMPETITION Fall from Grace Jaspistos IN COMPETITION NO. 1918 you were invited to write a poem lamenting the...


The Spectator

IN-THE-STRAND SIMPSON'S IN-THE-STRAND CHESS In steppe Raymond Keene I AM OF 1EN asked the question, why were the Soviet Russians so overwhelming- ly successful at chess,...

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The Spectator

A first prize of £25 and a bottle of Graham's Late Bottled Vintage 1989 Port for the first correct solution opened on 26 February, with two runners-up prizes of £15 (or, for UK...

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The Spectator

The poorer the better Simon Barnes THERE ARE people who think that rugby, or even cricket, is the national game of South Africa. But they are wrong. The national game of South...


The Spectator

Dear Mary. . . Q. Last weekend a neighbour in our village called out the fire brigade to attend to a chimney fire in his house. To my astonish- ment the fellow started to...