12 JULY 2003

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tiny Blair insisted that weapons of mass destruction will still

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be found in Iraq, even though none has been discovered yet. A committee of MPs acquitted Mr Blair's righthand man, Alastair Campbell. of 'sexing up' a dossier about such weapons...

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Should Scots rule England?

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The interests of Englishmen are not threatened with impunity: and the danger of molesting them does not disclose itself till the threat has been uttered, and their enmity has...

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I am summoned to No. 10 for a one-onone with the

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Prime Minister. These 'landscape chats', as his spin doctors call them, are, of course, strictly off the record. But I don't think I am breaking a confidence in revealing that,...

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The case for war was good — don't let Blair's dishonesty spoil it

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A public school housemaster once described the difficulties, and amusements, of explaining the principles of school justice to illbehaved youths. A boy would arrive in his...

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1 w ith Silvio Berlusconi very much the man of the moment, thanks to his

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unparalleled gift for knowing when to lighten a tense diplomatic moment with a bit of repartee, it's perhaps time to return to check on the progress of his libel case against...

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Without belief, can we go on cursing our enemies or blessing our friends?

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as the power to curse lost its meaning for modern man? Might we, in losing it, lose something precious: the power to bless? I was made to think about this last week, in...

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Girls just want to have funds

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The government would like to outlaw pyramid selling. Why? Rachel Royce has joined Hearts, the girls-only investment scheme, and finds it good, clean — and profitable — fun -I...

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You don't look

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Buddhist More Jews than ever are converting to Buddhism. Mary Wakefield finds out why they make the leap of faith T here is a joke in the Jewish community about a typical...

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Ancient & modern

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Last week this column began publishing Alexander Demandt's list of the 210 reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire (from Der Falls Rom, 1984). The list is now completed, and a...

Hail, Galloway!

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Lloyd Evans mixes with the nerds (and their boils, limps and tics) to watch the last of the red-hot socialists strut their stuff I spent last weekend trying to become a...

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The truth about Campbell and me

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Kimberly Fortier talks to Robin Cook about war and peace — and that day at Heathrow D on't you just love the two Robin Cooks? There's the philandering habitué of the turf, the...

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Banned wagon: global

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A weekly survey of world restrictions on freedom and free trade What would it take for the Guardian to argue that mineworkers are a baleful influence on otherwise peaceful...

Like father, like son?

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Clyde Prestowit4 a former Reagan aide, says that Bush could lose the next election if the fighting in Iraq continues and the WMD remain undiscovered F or a moment in early May....

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Regions of the damned

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Whether we like it or not, says Leo McKinstry, regional government is already here — and it is expensive, absurd and undemocratic E xpanding bureaucracy is the hallmark of the...

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I returned recently from a fortnight's break abroad — well-earned, even if I say so myself who shouldn't. To my great surprise, I discovered that my influence on the affairs of...

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Ravishing blondes did not queue up to become Mrs Einstein

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T he head of technology at Microsoft, the world's biggest software firm, is one David Vaskevitch. It is likely that he knows more about the immediate future of our lives, in so...

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Blame the bureaucrats

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From Dr Michael Lynch Sir: Forgive me if I have taken Andrew Gimson's piece on traffic wardens too seriously (let's hear it for the traffic wardens', 5 July), but how can he...

Powerless memories

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From Celia Haddon Sir: I well remember going to work in cold dark offices lit by candles because of the power cuts ('Whistling in the dark', by Simon Nixon, 5 July). There was a...

Wanted: Russian gas

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From Richard de Lacy QC Sir: I read Andrew Gilligan's article on President Putin (`Putin's not for trusting', 28 June) on the day on which the Institute of Civil Engineers...

Assessing the Duce

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From Brigadier A.L. Mallinson Sir: Professor Charmley, in his review of Nicholas Farrell's Mussolini (Books, 28 June), refers to the author's claim that Anthony Eden et al. were...

Referendum claim

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From Mr Edward McMillan-Scott Sir: Dan Hannan is mistaken when he claims to have been the first to propose an EU referendum (Letters, 5 July). In fact, I first proposed it in a...

Lenin on the loo

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From Father Benedict Kiely Sir: Dr Vera M. Dailey Lederman (Letters, 7 June) tells us that Trevor Phillips (head of the Campaign for Racial Equality) owns a bust of Lenin, which...

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At least the government can still rely on

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the dumbed-down Times for support lyv hen Robert Thomson was made editor of the Times some 18 months ago he let it be known that he intended to take his paper upmarket. There...

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\ew warning to mariners: pay salvage or I'll make sure your ship sinks

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C aptains whose ships were in trouble would always be wary of letting a self-proclaimed rescuer clamber aboard and claim salvage. How much worse if the rescuer threatened that,...

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If Alastair Campbell is still there at the next election, Labour will lose

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H ere's what Tessa Jowell, the Culture Secretary, told the BBC's Peter Sissons during her interview with him on Sunday morning. She's talking about the Gilligan affair, this...

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Load of old garlic and onions

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Philip Hensher SARTRE: THE PHILOSOPHER OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY by Bernard-Henri Levy Polity Press, £17.96, pp. 544 ISBN 074563009X Q ne had heard rumours from afar of the...

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Peacock by name and nature

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Keith Baxter KENNETH TYNAN: A LIFE by Dominic Shellard Yale. £25, pp. 399, ISBN 030009919 1 t is not Dominic Shellard's fault that to the outside world Kenneth Tynan is now...

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The non-stop theatre of Downing Street

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Alan Judd 30 DAYS: A MONTH AT THE HEART OF BLAIR'S WAR by Peter Stothard HarperCollins, £8.99, pp. 244 ISBN 0007173210 O n 10 March, with the war against Iraq about to start,...

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Constructing a conspiracy

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Jonathan Keates STALIN'S LAST CRIME: THE DOCTORS' PLOT by Jonathan Brent and Vladimir P. Naumov John Murray, £20, pp. 399, ISBN 0719554489 p olitical wisdom, always more potent...

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Watching panties dry

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Diana Hendry MISSING by Karin Alvtegen, translated by Anna Paterson Canongate, £9.99, pp. 256, ISBN 184195408X m issing has already had considerable success. The winner of the...

Hell in Hull

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Digby Durrant CRADLE SONG by Robert Edric Doubleday, £12.99, pp. 469. ISBN 0385605749 R obert Edric returns to his old stamping ground Hull for his new book, but unlike his...

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Right up with the best of them

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Francis King THE Bo Y WHO TAUGHT THE BEEKEEPER TO READ by Susan Hill Chatto, £10.99. pp. 216 ISBN 0701175966 T his collection of nine stories, less than 50,000 words in length,...

Books on tape

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Robert Cooper L isteners will enjoy Sam Dastor's splendid reading of A Passage to India far more than Dr. Aziz would relish a return visit. Clearly Dastor is the Voice of...

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When less is more

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Nicholas Fearn NOWHERE MAN by Aleksandar Hemon Picador. £15.99, pp. 242, ISBN 0330393499 A leksandar Hemon was stranded in the USA when the siege of Sarajevo began on the day...

Going on being useful

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A family with a failing

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Charlotte Moore TURN AGAIN HOME by Carol Birch Virago, i'17.99, pp. 405 ISBN l860449724 his is a novel about little people. 'Wasn't that the family motto? ... Don't strive, We...

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Shared wit of Whistler and Wilde

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Sarah Walden on how the friendship between the painter and the playwright turned sour Oscar's play (I was there on Saturday) strikes me as a mixture that will run. .. though...

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Infectious spontaneity

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Andrew Lambirth Kirchner: Expressionism and the City Royal Academy until 21 September - El rnst-Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938) is Lone of the leading figures of German...

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Normality invaded

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Mark Steyn The In-Laws 12A, selected cinemas M ost of us have one or two unspeakably awful relatives, but we've had our entire lives to get used to them. And most of us...

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Why do we do it?

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Peter Phillips T he silence which can obtain in a Japanese concert hall is unlike even the deafening silences in nature. Nothing moves. No personality, or the possibility of a...

Papageno reigns

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Michael Tanner Die Zauberfliite; Semele Royal Opera House Die Zauberfliite Royal College of Music T his is the end of a season of Zaubeffloten, varying takes on Mozart's last...

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An actor writes . . .

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Lloyd Evans The Provoked Wife Southwark Playhouse Hobson's Choice Young Vic and touring I was an actor once. The general view within the profession was that I brought...

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Power and might

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Michael Vestey O ne is so used to the instinctive, built-in leftish bias of the BBC that one hardly notices it much of the time. On Sunday morning, though, even I, inured to it...

Twinkle-eyed Humphrys

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Simon Hoggart M astermind (BBC2) is back, with John Humphrys sitting in the chair once occupied by Magnus Magnusson. The radio version never worked because this is a visual...

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How to catch crabs

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Simon Courtauld I t was Celia Johnson, when she was able to get away from the West End theatre and walk along the north Cornish coast, who taught me how to catch crabs. Using a...

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Seasonal warriors

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Robin Oakley W hat a pity, in a way, that Luca Cumani does horses and that Silvio Berlusconi does politics. A week that began with the thin-skinned Italian prime minister...

Good manners

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Taki friend of mine who wishes to remain ameless told me a story too good to resist. Paul Johnson, Andrew Roberts, Robin Birley, Charlie Glass and myself were in Harry's Bar...

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Running wild

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Jeremy Clarke I 'm doing 170 kilometres an hour along the motorway from Barcelona to Pamplona. I pass a sign telling me I am now entering Navarre, and passing from Aragon to...

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Hot spot

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Petronella Wyatt I t was extremely difficult to get a flight to Budapest last weekend. I had promised my friends the Karolyis, who have been a feature of this column, that I...

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Fans for a fortnight

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MICHAEL HENDERSON A bright young star won the men's final at Wimbledon. Roger Federer has long been regarded as the most talented player among the younger, post-Sampras...

Q. On doctor's orders, I've recently had to lay off

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some of my favourite foods — bread, shepherd's pie, spaghetti carbonara, etc. Would it be polite to refuse a dinner invitation, when I know that the food served won't agree with...

Q. Last weekend I escorted my 17-year-old god-daughter to a

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performance of The Barber of Seville performed by Opera Project in the grounds of Doddington Place in Kent. The object was to raise funds for the Kent Association for the Blind,...

Q. My wife and I were disappointed not to be

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invited to our friends' wedding, as we had spent a lot of quality time with them over the past 18 months or so: holiday, shooting, meals out, golf, etc. Also, the bride had rung...