11 JANUARY 2003

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T he aircraft-carrier Ark Royal set sail for the Gulf and

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1,500 reservists were called up. Mr Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, said in a speech to a conference of more than 100 British ambassadors that Britain should remain the closest...

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D avid Blunkett has once again shown his unfailing instinct for making a bad situation worse, His declaration, after the shooting dead of two young women in Birmingham, that the...

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WSydney hen I first came to Australia in the 1980s the national sense of humour was less developed than now. Scarcely had I settled in my taxi at Perth airport than my driver...

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Why conservationists should thank God for the motor car

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ROD LIDDLE I t is the almost unchallenged assumption of our time that we are destroying the environment and, as a result, every day rendering extinct thousand upon thousand of...

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Just who are They, and what are They up to?

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MATTHEW PARRIS T hey asked me how I knew/My true love was true. . . . Or so the song goes. But who were they, and why did they ask anyway? They don't appear very sympathetic...

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Peter °borne has just returned from Zimbabwe, where Robert Mugabe is clinging on to power by starving and terrorising his own people THERE has been a row during the last...

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Tim Luckhurst says that the BBC is exercising thought-control over the extent of legitimate debate ANGUS ROXBURGH, Europe correspondent of the BBC, has published a book called...

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Damian Thompson believes that The Rt Revd Richard Chartres has some questions to answer THE Bishop of London, The Rt Revd Richard Chartres, does not much care for journalists,...

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Mind your language

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'THESE yours?' asked my husband with his back to me, his head ostrichised in a cardboard box and a sheaf of envelopes in his upraised hand. They were, indeed, a bundle of...

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Ancient & modern

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MRS Samira Ahmed, an ex-university professor in Sudan, has launched a sexstrike in an attempt to end the 19 years of (un)civil war that have torn the country apart. The...


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India is wild: Boris Johnson on a dangerous encounter at a traditional family wedding Tamil Nadu THE morning before she sustained her injuries I was on the beach having lunch...

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Mark Steyn dismisses European sneering, but says that Bush must act soon to avert disaster New Hampshire WHAT's up with North Korea? Your guess is as good as mine and probably...

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Banned wagon: global

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A weekly survey of world restrictions on freedom and free trade TO partake in a consumer boycott has become so de rigueur that it is time Banned Wagon had its own campaign....

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Frank Johnson on his debt to one of the dominant politicians of the age MANY of us cannot get enough of these reminiscences from the lunchers of Roy Jenkins. You know the sort...

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Wanted: ingenious artists and designers to give a new zest to life

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PAUL JOHNSON I don't think much of the new Rolls-Royce car — as a work of art, that is. It is a long time since the design of a new car has excited me, as the Jaguars used to...

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Milking the Africans

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From Mr Mike Brady Sir: Contrary to your suggestion in your leading article 'Milk and sympathy' (28 December 2002), Baby Milk Action is not ignoring orphans and the infants of...

From Mr Matthew Leeming Sir: Three cheers for your leading

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article on Nestle. Yet it is not the WHO that has proscribed pictures of babies on tins of baby milk, but market forces. Ten years ago, in the Sudan, a German anthropologist...

Hit, and miss

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From Mr Miles Hudson Sir: Rod Liddle's article ('Why not kill • Saddam and spare Iraq?', 4 January) poses the crucial question about assassination — would it help? My book...

Subbing Winston

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From Mr Richard McNeill Sir: May I add a name to those mentioned by Andrew Roberts (The secret of Churchill's gold', 28 December 2002) as being benefactors of Winston Churchill...

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From Mr Peter Janisch Sir: Andrew Roberts has demonstrated most

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effectively that politicians can only be judged by the standards of their times. The game of 'what if', played in terms of today's norms, may be amusing — but it is also...

An ill-tempered rant

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From Mr Eric Taylor Sir: I suppose I am a kind of counterpart to Herb Greer (Letters, 28 December 2002), since I am a Brit living in the US. I can assure him there are many...

Pogroms? What pogroms?

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From Count Nikolai Tolstoy Sir: Among the historical 'facts' upon which Mr Farrel Lifson (Letters, 28 December 2002) relies in his summary account of the foundation of Israel is...

From Mr Anthony Pilling Sir: Andrew Gimson's interview (`The last

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trade union hero', 28 December 2002) with Jack Jones was a fine example of why Labour and socialism can never work in the long term. It is all about pulling down the successful...

From Mr John Hare Sir: In 1999, while searching for

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wild Bac trian camels near the Arjin mountains that border the northern escarpment of Tibet, I was bitten by a Kazakh herdsman's Tibetan mastiff on the calf of my left leg. That...

The book what I wrote

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From Mr Sheridan Morley Sir: A critic should never complain of criticism, and Kate Grimond (Books, 4 January) is of course at liberty to find my memoirs (Asking for Trouble,...

Set in his sexist ways

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From Sian Vallis-Davies Sir: Is there perhaps a connection between David Lovibond's perception of professional women as 'girlies in skirts' (`Rock of ageism', 4 January) and...

Out of step

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From Mrs Indira Ondhia Sir: I would like to correct Boris Johnson on his description of the Bhangra Dance (Diary, 4 January). You lower your hands to waist-level and pretend to...

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Congratulations, Sir Peter, but is it wise for journalists to accept baubles?

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STEPHEN GLOVER S hould journalists accept honours? The question is prompted by last week's news that my old friend Peter Stothard has been made a knight, and my old colleague...

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Fight or flight? I have the business solution book yourself into Dundictatin Park

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CHRISTOPHER FILDES W e need to get the year off on the right foot with a suitable business idea, and I have come up with a corker. I shall open a retirement home for dictators....

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Sorting out the under-forties

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Philip Hensher THE GRANTA BEST OF YOUNG BRITISH NOVELISTS, 2003 h e nervousness among the groovy juveniles of literary London was palpable even two years ago. It must have been...

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Traditional but far from square

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Anita Brookner THE EASTER PARADE by Richard Yates Methuen, £10, pp. 226, ISBN 0413772020 A fter Houellebecq, after Franzen few novels measure up, and while waiting for the...

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Dominion over palm and pine

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Jonathan Sumption EMPIRE by Niall Ferguson Penguin/Allen Lane, £25, pp. 392, ISBN 0713996153 C N ow a major Channel Four series,' warns the dust jacket of Niall Ferguson's...

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Sex and the Sandinistas

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Miranda France THE COUNTRY UNDER MY SKIN by Gioconda Belli Bloomsbury, 08.99, pp. 380. ISBN 07475 54722 A nyone who's learned how to juggle motherhood and a career might...

To fame by leaps and bounds

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Keith Baxter DANCER by Colum McCann Weidenfeld, £12.99, pp. 291, ISBN 1897580290 H ere is an astonishing book. It is a biography of Rudolph Nureyev written as a piece of...

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The third man

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John Jolliffe DOUGLAS JERROLD, 1803-1857 by Michael Slater Duckworth, £25, pp. 340, ISBN 0715628240 I n the 1840s and 50s, Douglas Jerrold, Dickens and Thackeray were the...

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An early lead lost

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Geoffrey Owen HOSIERY AND KNITWEAR: FOUR CENTURIES OF SMALLSCALE INDUSTRY IN BRITAIN, 1589-2000 by Stanley Chapman OUP, 1:55, pp. 328, ISBN 0199255679 I n 1926 Simon Marks,...

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Nothing in common but banditry

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Anthony Daniels TALK OF THE DEVIL: ENCOUNTERS WITH SEVEN DICTATORS by Riccardo Orizio Secker, £15.99, pp. 200, ISBN 0436209993 R esearching a book on Guatemala, I looked up...

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Not waving but dumbing downing

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Vanessa Curtis is aghast at the improbable role-casting for The Hours and Ted and Sylvia V irginia Woolf was unsparing in her derogatory remarks about Americans. Even her friend...

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Verve and vitality

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Michael Tanner 0 dd that La Traviata should have become a Christmas opera, the operatic equivalent, in fact, of The Nutcracker, to run in tandem with it until people feel it's...

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Something unique

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Tanya Harrod T his is the story of two visionaries. Billy Butlin needs no introduction but John Hinde is more obscure. Camera buffs will know him as one of the pioneers of...

Quality counts

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Peter Phillips T here have been a number of evenings recently which have tapered slowly and pleasantly towards an armchair, a liqueur, gentle conversation with stragglers, and...

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Topping the pops

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Stuart Nicholson I t was interesting to hear ways in which wearing a baseball cap could be interpreted as discourteous debated on BBC Radio Four's Today programme recently....

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Bravely blooming

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Ursula Buchan 0 h. no. It's the hellebore season again, and I am not quite up to it. Studying and cultivating these plants undermines my confidence. It's not that I don't love...

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Welcome back

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Simon Hoggart T wo old reliables have returned. Frasier (Channel 4) is supposed to get less funny with each series, then it turns out it's actually better. As it happens, the...

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As good as it gets

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Simon Courtauld I n her autobiographical Confessions and Impressions, the novelist and travel writer Ethel Mannin, writing about the Saturday evening market in Lavender Hill...

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Lucky Lambourn

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Robin Oakley M New Year resolution — to back faster horses — proved a little wobbly at the start. I am no great student of form on the all-weather tracks, but with the...

Thoughts on thuggery

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Taki I Gstaad t seems almost obscene to be sitting in bucolic Gstaad rubbing it in, but boy, oh boy, was Enoch — God rest his soul — ever right! Now there's a man who was...

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A silver lining

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Jeremy Clarke I n this column a few weeks ago I described going to a reunion of my old primary school class, held in a country pub. On Boxing Day, I get a call on my mobile...

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Please don't blame Roy

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Petronella Wyatt R oy Jenkins was my father's oldest friend. They first met when they were both at Oxford. When, afterwards, they both decided to go into politics, my father...

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The turn of the Shrews

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Michael Henderson 'THE romance of the FA Cup'. How often have we heard that old chestnut? Alternatively, people talk of the competition's 'magic' or 'glory', as though it were...

Q. Friends of mine have parents who moved to this

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neck of the woods three years ago. The parents bought a property with a tiny garden and consequently very much wanted to find an allotment. An elderly lady living in a stately...

Q. With reference to your 'Celebrity Problem' from Michael Ancram

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regarding Mr Straw's spinelessness over Zimbabwe, might I suggest that the dispossessed farmers have missed an opportunity? What is to stop them from organising a squatting...

Q. I have a VAT inspection looming in my own

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home. Despite my best efforts, I am not sure my books are in order. How should I best ingratiate myself with the inspector? S. W, London W11 A. Why not take a tip from one VAT...