11 MAY 2002

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T he man who dressed up as a monkey at Hartlepool football games was elected mayor of the town; Mr Ray Mallon, a controversial policeman once nicknamed Robocop, was elected...

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The Spectator, 56 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LL Telephone: 020-7405 1706; Fax 020-7242 0603 HOW FAR CAN YOU GO? S ome of Ann Winterton's best friends, no doubt, are...

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I had hoped to be in Umbria for Easter, but the apartment that I have bought there for occasional visits wasn't ready, and the gas wasn't connected. Apart from observing the...

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Now Tony Blair begins his final mission: to shackle the media

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PETER °BORNE N ever has Labour stood so high, or the Tories so low, as they do this weekend. To gain just 250 seats in the local election results was a catastrophe for the...

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It was their body and the River Police weren't going to let anyone else take it

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MATTHEW PARRIS J ournalists are encouraged to look for recency or topicality in our stories; but the corpse of which I write was not found by me 'last night', police are not...

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Melanie Phillips on how Pim Fortuyn and others hijacked liberal values and provoked a Muslim backlash against liberalism itself AT first blush, the murdered Dutch maverick Pim...

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Peter Hitchens on how the law is being used to curb free speech — and thought LIKE the canaries in coalmines that fell from their perches at the earliest whiff of poison gas,...

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Ancient & modern

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THERE are some problems that can be solved just by throwing money at them (e.g., an overdraft) but there is no indication that the NHS is one of those. Since socialists,...


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With his customary brio, Kelvin MacKenzie, former editor of the Sun, berates the Tory party for its lack of policies I WAS in the Cinnamon Club the other day. Despite its...

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Julian Manyon watches Britain's finest in action as, back at base, the media circus continues

Bagram IT was lights out in our tent. Specialist 'Woody',

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the callow young soldier assigned to mind us, had finally fallen asleep, his copy of Shotgun News slipping from his hand. Woody reads Shotgun for its small ads: 'Beretta...

Second opinion

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AS we all know, mankind's most precious gift is liberty, but when, exactly, is a man free? I recall the days when, as a mere stripling, I had nothing, not a penny to my name,...

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Neil Clark on the wider agenda of those who claim that the A6 murderer was innocent TWENTY years after its inception, Channel 4 finally did last week what it was established...

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Ian Birrell says that making excuses for the NHS will seriously damage our health DURING the phoney war before the last general election I attended a lunch with William Hague....

Mind your language

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'WELL, what the bloody hell is the man meant to say?' exclaimed my husband from behind his newspaper. A good question, possibly, certainly a sincere one, judging by the heat of...

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Robert Gore-Langton talks to China's Toilet Tsar about a new cultural revolution Beijing MOST people have a lavatory-from-hell story. Mine was in a village outside Ulan Bator...

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A rhapsody on puddings that would not have disgraced Belshazzar's chef

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PAUL JOHNSON L ast month I enjoyed a remarkable pudding served at the princely dinner that Lord and Lady Carrington gave in the Banqueting House to mark their diamond wedding....

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Teenagers are dehumanised

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From Mr John Papworth Sir: Perhaps Phil Craig (`Reign of terror', 4 May) is being a trifle glib in his assessment of male teenage hooliganism. The biggest difference that I can...

From Mr Edward Brandler

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Sir: Phil Craig's experience will be depressingly familiar to many commuters. I, too, confronted three youths who were being similarly boorish on a Friday-evening train from...

I say when I go

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From Mr Oliver Letwin, MP Sir: In her very readable and otherwise accurate article about me last week CA tough moderate', 4 May), Petronella Wyatt reported that the burglar I...

Diabolical tobacco ads

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From Mr Guy Be/lairs Sir: Your leading article (4 May) on tobacco misses a vital ethical distinction. As John Stuart Mill pointed out, anyone has the right to do something...

From Mr Victor Black

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Sir: Your excellent editorial on the banning of tobacco advertising quotes government figures suggesting that a ban would save 3.000 lives a year. As the number killed on the...

Immigrants then and now

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From Mr Michael Gasson Sir: Philip Hensher, in his review of The Hitler Emigres (Books, 27 April), asserts that immigration of a foreign culture eventually enriches our own. In...

I'm no Zanu-PF crony

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From Mr John A. Bredenkamp Sir: I am writing to express my concern about your recent article (`The cowardly whites who help Mugabe', 13 April) that includes a number of...

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Your article appears to suggest that I am a silent

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— and cowardly — white collaborator who has somehow been responsible in part for keeping President Robert Mugabe in power. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am a...


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From Major Ai Stringer Sir: Like Mr Brady (Letters, 27 April) I served in Germany during the latter stages of the Cold War. In the British Army of the Rhine we were aware of...

Kazi Kama-Sutra

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From Mr Paul Carlin Sir: Re: 'Smart arses' (4 May). In 1970, as a guard commander detached from the pleasures of Buller Barracks, Aldershot to ensure the safety and security of...

Jargon for jailbirds

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From Mr Richard Owsley Sir: Theodore Dalrymple's columns usually fill me with despair, but there was a shaft of light in his 27 April offering. He describes the 'argot of...

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It's pretty rum when Mr Murdoch can plausibly be represented as a cultural improvement

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STEPHEN GLOVER R eaders who feel guilty because they are not interested in the government's draft Communications Bill need not reproach themselves. It will make a difference to...

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There's more to good business than laws or codes or wheezes from big swinging bankers

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CHRISTOPHER FILDES W arren Buffett became chairman of Salomon Brothers by accident. The big swinging bankers there (evoked by Michael Lewis in Liar's Poker) had tried to swing...

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What makes us who we are

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Philip Hensher PATRIOTS: NATIONAL IDENTITY IN BRITAIN, 1940-2000 by Richard Weight Macmillan, £25, pp. 826, ISBN 0333734629 N ational identity is not really natural and...

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Sex, drugs and rocking with laughter

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Justin Marozzi IN SEARCH OF KING SOLOMON'S MINES by Tahir Shah John Murray, £17.99, pp. 233, ISBN 0719563240 W hen I asked Sir Wilfred Thesiger if he would be kind enough to...

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Stardust and shavings

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Anthony Howard PEOPLE'S WITNESS: THE JOURNALIST IN MODERN POLITICS by Fred Inglis Yale, £18.95, pp. 416, ISBN 0300093276 T he dust jacket of this slightly sprawling, untidy...

Retreat into fame

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Penelope Hobhouse RAGE FOR ROCK GARDENING by Nicola Shulman Faber, £9.99, pp. 112, ISBN 1904095216 M ost gardeners know something about Reginald Farrer, the great rock garden...

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Not funny or painful enough

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John de Falbe WHO'S SORRY NOW? by Howard Jacobson Cape, £16.99, pp. 326, ISBN 0224062867 A a seasoned reader of books in the bath. I know that if pages start crinkling after...

The perils of interference

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Hugh Lawson-Tancred NARROW ROADS OF GENE LAND: VOLUME TWO, THE EVOLUTION OF SEX collected papers of W. D. Hamilton OUP, £50, pp. 928, ISBN 0198503369 I f all those who must be...

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One angry man

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Brian Masters JUSTICE: CRIMES, TRIALS AND PUNISHMENTS by Dominick Dunne Time Warner, £8.99, pp 535, ISBN 0751532606 D orninick Dunne is an angry man. He has sat through so...

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Stylishly but consistently wrong

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Anne Applebaum THE LAST EMPIRE by Gore Vidal Abacus, 170.99, pp. 316, ISBN 0349115281 T o describe this book as badly timed is an understatement. It isn't just badly timed, it...

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Trying too hard

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D. J. Taylor THE WHITE FAMILY by Maggie Gee Saqi Books, 111.95, pp. 416, ISBN 0863563805 M ysteriously — for these things are rarely foreseeable — the figurative strain that...

Understanding the half understood

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Teresa Waugh SUBMERGED by A. L. Barker Virago, £16.99, pp.239, ISBN 1860499279 W hat can there be left to say about a collection of short stories such as A. L. Barker's...

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Potent advocate of peace

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Peter Mandelson MOMENTUM by Mo Mowlam Hodder, #20, pp. 398, ISBN 0340793945 W hatever happens to me during the rest of my career I hope I never give in to the temptation to...

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Criss-crossing ideas and influences

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Martin Gaylord on the Tate's astonishing new exhibition, Matisse Picasso T he late David Sylvester once told me that in the great artistic race between Matisse and Picasso —...

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Slackers (15, selected cinemas)

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Baring all Mark Steyn I haven't given a thought to Mamie Van Doren since ... Well, actually, I've never given a thought to Mamie Van Doren, but, if I had, it wouldn't have...

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Vincent in Brixton (Cottesloe) Bedroom Farce (Aldwych) Shockheaded Peter (Albery)

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Artistic licence Toby Young T here's something oddly literal about Vincent in Brixton, a new play about the brief period Van Gogh spent living in SW9 in the 1870s. The first...

Guitar power

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Marcus Berkmann G uitars: everyone comes back to them in the end. Even an old rockophobe like me, who feels uncomfortable in the same room as a leather jacket, cannot deny the...

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Only connect

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Peter Phillips P eople who travel a lot are known to become sad people. The very bustle of it all may sound glamorous, until the arrangements go wrong; and then one discovers...

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Batting for the home team

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Sheridan Morley on the success of the British on Broadway T his week's announcement of the 2002 Broadway Tony Awards (winners will be known on 2 June) makes it look like...

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Romeo and Juliet (Royal Opera House)

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Careless approach Giannandrea Poesio T he artistic genius of Kenneth MacMillan will be celebrated with a series of events, starting in October with an international dance...

Lulu (English National Opera)

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On the edge Michael Tanner E NO's new production of Berg's Lulu is an unequivocal triumph, even if not an unqualified one. The team of Paul Daniel, Richard Jones the...

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Falklands legacy

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Michael Vestey F or me the most impressive of BBC radio's programmes marking the 20th anniversary of the Falklands war was Michael Nicholson's six-part series, Falk land...

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It's grim up north

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Simon Hoggart R etro television is suddenly popular, at least with television executives, We have had The Forsyte Saga, University Challenge, Bill & Ben, Paul Merton as Tony...

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Hot prospects

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Robin Oakley Y outh and fashion are starting to edge into memory lane. When the warm-up band for the 69-year-old Jacques Chirac played at his Sunday night rally in the Place de...

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Taking sides

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Taki XNew York -ray Bagelites who lunch are in a tizzy over Pauline Pitt's fax to a New York Post gossip columnist accusing Al Taubman of being 'a pig who never does the right...

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Feast of football

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Jeremy Clarke I 'm round at Dave's apartment watching the tapes of Channel 4's documentary Football's Fight Club. There's Dave, me and the maid sat on the sofa in front of...

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In the dog-house

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Petronella Wyatt I t recently emerged that the government is thinking of bringing in legislation to protect dogs. I wish to point out at once that I am not an animal rights...

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SO, to the Admiralty restaurant, Oliver Peyton's latest eatery, situated

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in historic Somerset House — Smart enough for you? Far enough from Crouch End for you? — for our friend Louise's 40th birthday dinner. This is quite a swish place, I know, but...

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The beautiful, bestial game

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Michael Henderson IT's only May and yet Charlie Spencer, fearless theatre critic, self-confessed 'unrepentant rocker' and contributor to this magazine, is in mid-summer form....

Q.I recently tried to pay a visit to an old

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lady with whom I was quite friendly over many years but had not seen since 1998, on which occasion she was being looked after by a rather surly home-help. When I telephoned to...

Q. On our return from a social gathering recently, my

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partner and I noted that we both had been impressed by the rejuvenated appearance of a close woman friend, me by her features and he by her fuller figure. Also, we had...

Q. I am organising a village party to celebrate the

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Queen's Jubilee but am unable to find a supplier of bunting who has not already exhausted his stock. Can you help, Mary? R.S., Huish, Wiltshire A. Bunting suppliers were not...