12 DECEMBER 1998

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The Spectator

Welcome to the age of digital television T he Conservatives continued in disarray after Mr William Hague, the party leader, sacked Lord Cranborne as leader in the Lords. The...

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The Spectator, 56 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LL Telephone: 0171-405 1706; Fax 0171-242 0603 THE TORIES' SELFISH GENE T he present generation of Conservative politicians do...

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SARAH SANDS T e British retail trade is puzzled by the paucity of Christmas shoppers. I know the answer. They are all in New York where I have just been. Fifth Avenue looked...

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The Tories are gubu-smacked and their cup runneth over BRUCE ANDERSON A fter one striking outbreak of confu- sion during Charlie Haughey's premiership, an Irish government...

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When the subject is Mr Hague, left-wingers and snobs unite STEPHEN GLOVER P oor Tories. Poor William Hague. I freely admit that in another publication I was recently critical...

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Peter Oborne on a Tory institution whose influence in the Hague-Cranbome conflict has so far been unnoticed FEW GROUPS of politicians have been envied, distrusted and even...

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Andrew Roberts on how Robert Cranbome has carried on the family business THE CURSE of the House of Cecil has struck yet again. No fewer than six times this century a Cecil has...

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Mind your language

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Everybody loved Ronnie Knox clever, funny and a bit hard-done-by. So I expected to read a little book I had come across by him with nods of agree- ment. Not so. It is called On...

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Robert Jackson says the Prime Minister's Project can be explained by a dead Marxist theoretician IN THE 1960s one of the names to be con- jured with among student radicals was...

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THE RECENT U-turn by the government in its bumbling attempts to reform the House of Lords begins to sound like a Gilbert and Sullivan opera. We have the words, all we need is...

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New Hampshire At this season, American TV networks would broadcast specials like The Perry Como Christmas Show with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing 'The Little Drummer Boy'....


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Michael Heath

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Max Cotton on what it is like to travel for two months with Sir Edward Heath IN THE MIDDLE of October I was strug- gling along the main road outside the Palace of Westminster...

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Sion Simon talks to one of New Labour's least known but most influential figures TO BE described by Ken Livingstone as `Labour's Sinister Mr Big' is an accolade to which few...

Second opinion

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LIFE is a struggle between irony and dis- gust. When I tire of one I fly to the other. I am thus in a state of constant vacillation. It is difficult even now to say which of...

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Alistair Home is present as something alarming happens to the Paris-London train Aboard Eurostar I AM sitting aboard Eurostar No. 9047, bound from Paris to Waterloo, sipping my...

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Shiva Naipaul was one of the most gifted and accomplished writers of our time. After his death in 1985 at the age of 40, The Spectator established an annual prize in his memory....

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A taxing party for the big-figure birthday of William Pitt the Younger's bad idea CHRISTOPHER FILDES I do not seem to have been invited to the two hundredth birthday...

Viennese harmonics

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NOW competition and choice face the threat of a taxing monopoly spread across Europe. If the Prime Minister was looking forward to his weekend in old Vienna, he will be disap-...

So tall a man

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SITTING BACK in his bronze chair out- side the Royal Exchange, the bronze figure of George Peabody commemorates the founder of the Morgan banks as a philan- thropist and...

. . . and Westminster

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THE KEEGAN of the class war will want to know what happened in the House of Lords committee room where, last week, William Hague confronted his recalcitrant nobility. The...

War in the City . . .

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BRITISH class warfare awaits its John Keegan, who could now take his pick between the Conservatives and Barclays Bank and tell us what happens in battle. It is still at the...

Left-footed striker

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FOOTBALL and the stock market play by different rules, but between them they have at least revived that moribund art form, the annual general meeting. In Glasgow, the Celtic...

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Let us have more fountains to raise our parched spirits! PAUL JOHNSON I have been painting a lot of fountains recently and the experience has revivified my passion for this...

Classifieds — pages 67 and 70

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Sir: On the evening when Michael Vestey puts me in

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the Newsnight studio telling Jere- my Paxman to drop a grovelling note to Peter Mandelson, I was actually at home. I watched Newsnight and did not talk to any- one about it...

LETTERS A sorry tale

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Sir: If Michael Vestey had bothered to ask me, he might have written a more accurate piece than the farrago he produced last week (`You may be experiencing some interference', 5...

Sir: Roy Roebuck's lengthy letter can be summed up in

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five words: Wigg didn't tell him everything. Galling that must be, but Wigg was always secretive. However, I'm glad he asserts that Wigg didn't probe the sexual peccadilloes of...


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Sir: On the question of whether Wilson framed Wigg by inducing the police to arrest him on a false charge of kerb-crawling, I must reiterate that Lord Wigg told me many times...

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The bottom line

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Sir: I appeal to your American contributor Mark Steyn, whose witty articles I much enjoy, to refrain from bowdlerising the English language by using the word 'ass' for the...

Guardian of sobriety

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Sir: Peregrine Worsthorne (`As I was say- ing', 21 November), in reminiscing about his days on the Daily Telegraph in the 1960s, contrasts the characteristic writing and...

Without prejudice

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Sir: You must have been hurt by Robin Wight's unwarranted slur (Letters, 2 8 November). He wrote that biased journal - ism is 'most unlike' The Spectator. Were that the case you...

No thank you

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Sir: Karen Robinson stopped short of telling the full story of her party (`No return to sender', 28 November). What I want to know is, did she receive any thank-you letters,...

Russian roulette

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Sir: If I read Richard Lamb right (Letters, 21 November), he thinks that Chamberlain should have gambled the future of Britain upon a single-line railway from Romania to...

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The art of the impossible Philip Hensher THE PENGUIN BOOK OF ART WRITING edited by Martin Gayford and Karen Wright Viking £25, pp. 620 I am told that Van Gogh's letters...

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SPECTATOR BOOKSHOP Tel: 0541 557 288

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A choice of humorous books

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Richard Ingrams H umorous writing for the printed medium is a dying art. My feeling is con- firmed by reading Now That Funny (Methuen, £12.99), a collection of inter- views by...

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The truth about mummies and sewers

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Evelyn Joll LEONARDO'S NEPHEW: ESSAYS ON ART AND ARTISTS by James Fenton Viking f20, pp. 284 A ll but two of these 15 essays, which range from Egyptian mummies to gasper Johns,...

His soul goes marching on

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Michael Carlson LET THE TRUMPET SOUND: A LIFE OF MARTIN LUTHER KING by Stephen B. Oates Canongate, £12.99, pp. 560 T his year marks the 30th anniversary of the assassination of...

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Here's to you, Mrs Robinson — yet again

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C. D. C. Armstrong MARY ROBINSON: THE AUTHORISED BIOGRAPHY by Olivia O'Leary and Helen Burke Hodder, f17.99, f6.99, pp. 326 T he flow of books about Mary Robin- son, until last...


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When we had no bananas

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Nicholas Harman A NIGHTINGALE SANG IN FERNHURST ROAD by Christopher Matthew John Murray, £12.99, pp. 176 I f any male in your family is filling in his pension forms this year,...

Making the angels weep

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David Nokes UNHOLY PURSUITS: THE WAYWARD PARSONS OF GRUB STREET by E. S. Turner The Book Guild, £15.95, pp. 224 E . S. Turner likes to be known by these initials, though in...

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Christmas art books

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David Ekserdjian A rt historians do not normally adorn the front page of the Times in the line of duty. Anthony Blunt managed it, but that had nothing to do with his day job....

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Arriving from nowhere, leaving for somewhere

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Tahir Shah AMONG THE MOUNTAINS by Wilfred Thesiger HarperCollins, £24.99, pp. 250 I n his classic travel book A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush, Eric Newby tells of how he and his...

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How to make friends and influence people

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Alfred Sherman SO YOU WANT TO BE A LOBBYIST? THE INSIDE STORY OF THE POLITICAL LOBBYING INDUSTRY by Corinne Souza Politico's, £15, pp. 272 A t first sight, it is a good idea...


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(52 issues) 12 Months 6 Months (26 issues) UK 0 £97.00 0 £49.00 Europe 0 £109.00 0 £55.00 USA 0 US$161 0 US$82 Australia U Aus$225 O Aus$113 Rest of World 0 f119.00 0 £60.00...

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Recent poetry on tape

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Peter Levi T his review is an amalgam of tapes that seemed interesting or irritating but really are fit only for an omnium-gatherum. The first case is that of ancient reissues...

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DIARY 1999 £14 Plain £15 Initialled The Spectator 1999 Diary, bound in soft red goatskin leather, is now available. Laid out with a whole week to view, Monday to Sunday, the...

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Blighted vision of the future Ralph Koltai believes a great opportunity was missed in the rebuilding of Sadler's Wells A i adventurous, excellent professional brief to...

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Exhibitions 1

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Undying passion Martin Gayford visits Boston and is not corrupted by the masterpieces he finds there Y ou would be a valuable Acquisition to the Art, and one of the first...

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Exhibitions 2

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New Art Centre Sculpture Park (Roche Court, East Winterslow, Nr Salisbury, open 11-4 daily) At peace with nature John Spurling B uilt in 1804 for Lord Nelson, but never lived...

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Give art a chance

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T he English are often derided for their lack of visual awareness. It is said that we are predominantly a literary nation, our sen- sibilities untuned to painting and sculpture,...

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Theatre 2

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The King and I (Battersea Arts Centre) Killing Rasputin (Bridewell) The Snow Palace (Tricycle) Attack on chauvinism Sheridan Morley A Oklahoma! continues to make its Royal...

Theatre 1

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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford) Magical journey Patrick Carnegy T he RSC must have known it was on to a winner when Peter...

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Russian torment Michael Tanner I was unable to get to the first two nights of the ENO's new Boris Godunov, with the result that the press office was unable, in its turn, to...

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The Mask of Zorro (PG, select cinemas) A surfeit of Dons Mark Steyn M ost of us have a hazy grasp on Zorro, save that he's the gay blade swishing about 19th-century...

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Cult figures Robin Holloway T he Barbican Centre has in these more and more exiguous times become a beacon of enterprise and adventure. Nestled between a cycle of endless...

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Earthly immortality Ursula Buchan W e came upon the place quite by chance. We were staying in the Lake Dis- trict and had planned to walk up Me11- break, one of the finest of...


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Don't know, don't care Michael Vestey W hen people complain of informa- tion overload I know what they mean, par- ticularly as I have just gone on to the Internet pondering...

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Currying favour Edward Heathcoat Amory W hen my grandfather, General Sir Archie Nye, was appointed governor of Madras after the war, he left a grey and austere post-war...

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The turf

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Worthy winner Robin Oakley n St Malo last weekend for an Anglo- French summit I was reminded, as I watched the end of the loo roll in my hotel bathroom disappear irretrievably...

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High life

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Proud to be a Bagelite Taki ne more week in the Bagel and then. it's cuckoo clock time. The good news is that, as I write, there's more snow in Gstaad than there was in...

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Country life

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Hunt-balled out Leanda de Lisle I lay in bed after I came back from the Quorn Tercentenary ball and wrote this column in my head. It was a good column, I think. Unfortunately,...


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Bid boldly Andrew Robson TO anyone who claims that women play bridge too timidly, I report the following deal from the final of the 1998 World Championship Women's Teams,...

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o By Jennifer Paterson ADVENT is with us, the joyful anticipation of the birth of the Christ child, so what does 'cool Britain' do to herald this great occasion? It lights up...

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PUBS NEAR OXFORD THE FIRST job I had was in a pub. I was 14 and nicknamed Morning Glory. My best friend was called Evening Star. The pub was on the Thames, and prided itself on...

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Sorry about that Jaspistos IN COMPETITION NO. 2063 you were invited to imagine that our next Poet Laureate obeys a royal request for a poem apologising for the British...


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Chessmen behaving badly Raymond Keene I PROMISED readers my analysis of what went wrong for the highly favoured British Chess Federation team at the Kalmykia Olympiad. As you...

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No. 2066: Lunar spines

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I set this competition nearly 20 years ago and it's time for a repeat. You are invited to write a poem by Dr Spooner. Maximum 12 lines. Entries to 'Competition No. 2066' by...

Solution to 1389: Like lightning

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ilillninn MEW Re 11 I 111.1111121 el 0 la ea all u 113111013 ciacinkjEfia ralE N E INV In A A 1 en T rielninIMID I;AF a n R d , r. im 33iN iu aierlialgielnEliel 1 DrioriEnr...


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A first prize of £30 and a bottle of Graham's Six Grapes Port for the first correct solution opened on 4 January, with two runners- up prizes of £20 (or, for UK solvers, the...

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Small change Simon Barnes THERE was one thing my mother hated more than change, a thing awful enough in all conscience. This was a subcategory of change which was to her...


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Q. I am baffled by certain English customs and hope that you will be able to enlighten me. My husband and I were posted to Lon- don after having lived in Peking, Paris, Jerus-...