14 FEBRUARY 1998

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M r Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, went to Washington, where he called Presi- dent Bill Clinton of the United States `someone I can trust, someone I can rely on, someone I am...

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SPECT ME AT OR The Spectator, 56 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LL

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Telephone: 0171-405 1706; Fax 0171-242 0603 WHITHER WANGCHUK? T his week the Queen's former hair stylist lost his fight for compensation for unfair dismissal. During the case...

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The really surprising thing about Enoch Powell and Ted Heath BRUCE ANDERSON E noch Powell was the greatest parlia- mentarian of the post-war era. Of all mod- ern politicians,...

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ROBIN WIGHT I came back from New York to find Richard Branson's libel victory splashed across the front page of my Guardian. It took me back to May 1994 when I sat beside a fax...

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How guns muddle the thoughts of British Conservatives (like Tony Blair) MATTHEW PARRIS I ntriguing to me in a way in which the pros and cons of invading Iraq are not is an...

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Stephen Glover on why the government's chief spokesman spells long-term trouble for Mr Blair because other media will prove harder to bully than the BBC IT IS difficult to...

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Richard Ritchie was in a position to see aspects of the Powellian personality that the rest of the world missed ENOCH Powell's beliefs and personality were often misunderstood...

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Michael Heath

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Toby Young hires a focus group to perfect his dating technique New York SHOULD have felt like a rock star and instead I felt like crawling under a rock. I was sitting at the...

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Mind your language

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`THEY did sweet FA,' said Mr Boateng in the Commons of his predecessors in government. This has been widely reported. When Miss Speaker Boothroyd was asked by another mem- ber...

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Neil Collins employs the services of a marriage bureau, and describes his nights (or at least dinners) with Sandy, Becky, etc. THERE are curiously few of them in the back...

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Simon Hoggart on school league tables' unintended effect on the middle classes MRS THATCHER'S reforms always had side effects, usually unintended, and not all malign. We live...

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Dean Godson on an Iraqi capable of winning over American Jews to Saddam THE TASK of pleading Iraq's case before the bar of world opinion might daunt even a Carson or a...

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Homer nodding badly at Burlington House and cheering me up no end PAUL JOHNSON A fortnight ago I seemed to be painting brilliantly and produced fine landscapes. Then last...

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Bell push

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SBC WARBURG Dillon Read (apparently incorporating Christie's) is the investment banking arm of the Untied Bank of Switzerland, or will be as soon as the Swiss authOrities give...


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No painless cure for our inflationary bug there's a lot of it about CHRISTOPHER FILDES T he trade union leader was lying on his sickbed when his comrades sent a message to...

The Square Theme Park

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PRESCOTTS Bank in Cornhill was an 18th-century City survival. The Prescotts were long gone (to Hull?) and their bank was a branch of the National Westminster, but it kept its...

When you're in a hole . . .

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MY railway correspondent, I.K. Gricer, is blowing off steam. His latest proposal is to merge the Channel Tunnel rail link with the Jubilee line extension. Like that, he says, we...

. . . stop digging

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OVER at Railtrack, they have been read- ing the Gricer report (which I published a fortnight ago) and have taken it to heart. They agree that if they are to take this hole on...

Those who ask don't get

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AN encouraging note has gone out to the staff, past and present, of Harcourt Brace, the publishing house. They are being encour- aged to provide for their old age, because from...

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The comfort of Oz

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Sir: Michael Kaufman (Letters, 7 February) holds the romantic view of his country: `Australia has a small population which needs to be on constant alert in a very harsh...

The Welsh John

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Sir: Sian is merely a Welsh form of the pop- ular Christian name John (Shared opinion, 7 February). There is no T in the Welsh alphabet. `Si' is its substitute and is pro-...

The man for the job

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Sir: I was surprised by, and saddened to read, the misleading article by Joseph Fin- klestone, 'A woman scorned' (7 February). The election of a senior rabbi to West Lon- don...

Mother knew best

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Sir: Frank Johnson (Shared opinion, 7 February) claims to be baffled by the phrase 'She's no better than she ought to be.' If, as he says, his own mother was not troubled by...

High on honeydew

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Sir: David Welch in his lovely Diary piece (31 January) refers to the unfortunate exu- dation of aphids. This is properly known as honeydew, and has strange hallucinatory...

LETTERS BBC business

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Sir: Any business with a public policy dimen- sion will draw on skills also used in govern- ment (13BC launches new Labour channels', 7 February). Broadcasting is no exception....

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Finding it at home

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David Profumo SORT OF RICH by James Wilcox Fourth Estate, £6.99, pp. 282 T he comic regional novel is not exactly a mode in which British fiction currently abounds, and to...

the end, disappointingly little to say about the fiction. There

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are letters which the end, disappointingly little to say about the fiction. There are letters which defend his concept of fiction; others which by defending Henry James or...

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An unholy mess

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A. N. Wilson A GOLDEN BASIN FULL OF SCORPIONS: THE QUEST FOR MODERN JERUSALEM by Con Coughlin Little, Brown, .f18.99, pp. 336 T his excellent book has a misleading blurb which...


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Save L5 when you buy all 3 titles L21.97+ FREE P&P In his provocative new book, Mass Listeria, Theodore Dalrymple takes a scalpel to many of the current assumptions – and myths...

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Building up to a coral reef

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Patrick Skene Catling TIME WILL DARKEN IT by William Maxwell Harvill, £10.99, pp. 302 W illiam Maxwell edited New Yorker fiction for 40 years, most influentially, under Harold...

The wolves who cry wolf

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James Lefanu MASS LISTERIA by Theodore Dalrymple Deutsch, £8.99, pp. 157 here was a time not so long ago when medicine dealt in reliable knowledge. The Queen Mother's hip...

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King's gambit declined

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Parviz C. Radji THE PRIEST AND THE KING by Desmond Harney I. B. Tauris, £24.50, pp. 205 H istory abounds in instances where omnipotent kings have rid themselves of meddlesome...

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Running out of breath

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James Simmons HEADED FOR THE BLUES by Josef Skvorecky Faber, £9.99, pp. 280 T his is a memoir plus ten stories writ- ten in English by the author who now lives in Toronto. I...

Clerihew Corner

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Be careful not to confuse Laurie Lee With his namesake Robert E., Who of the two played the more Significant part in a civil war. James Michie

Something nasty in the woodshed

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Paul Sussman FATHER AND SON by Larry Brown Anchor, £6.99, pp. 381 I f Cormac McCarthy had ever scripted an episode of The Waltons, and David Lynch directed it, the end product...

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Poles together and apart

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Andro Linklater SHTETL by Eva Hoffman Secker, £16.99, pp. 269 L aziness can kill. When a peasant in the market-place of Bransk, a small town in Poland 100 miles from the...

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Principle and practice Gavin Stamp on how the aims of the Prince of Wales's Institute of Architecture are being undermined T he Prince of Wales's Institute of Architecture was...

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Cosi fan tutte (Scottish Opera, Glasgow) Xerxes (English National Opera) Riot of irrelevancies Michael Tanner C osi fan tutte is the favourite Mozart opera of the moment,...

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Francis Bacon: The Human Body (Hayward Gallery, till 5 April) Surprise faults and virtues Martin Gayford A ked who he thought was the greatest French poet, Andre Gide...

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At the mercy of the public Peter Phillips T he steady advance in popularity of Mahler and Bruckner has been one of the features of the musical landscape in recent years....

Spontaneous reactions

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Michael Scott on his recent visits to the Metropolitan Opera in New York F rom the moment of arrival in New York I felt as if I'd had a jab. Although the population is similar...

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Lakeboat (Lyric Hammersmith Studio) Blue Window (Old Red Lion) Sabina (Bush) Conversation piece Sheridan Morley bound the London fringe, an unusu- ally strong week for the...

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Rich and rare Susan Moore I t was not much of a dilemma. Faced with the choice of going to New York to cover the Old Master sales or to America's most famous watering-hole to...

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The right feeling

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Alan Powers takes an architectural pilgrimage to Stratford to see a new cinema F or Spectator readers, I imagine that a visit to Stratford-on-Avon means a visit to the theatre...


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The doctor's fault Michael Vestey I have been brooding on the Paymaster General's shoes. Geoffrey Robinson is, I know, a figure of fun, a politician who can- not open his...

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Gawping at babes James Delingpole 0 ne of the disadvantages of having to write your television column a week before the programmes actually come out is that you can never be...

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Should I keep it? Alan Judd S omething surprising happened last week: the VW Passat estate developed a fault. It is a 1993 1.6 turbo diesel and had achieved 55,000 miles...


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Quality kicks Christian Hesketh F or some of us, spring comes with the start of the Five Nations Rugby Champi- onship, and this year the scene has been enlivened by the...

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The turf

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Plain infuriating Robin Oakley W estminster's favourite story this week is the one about the opinion poll in which, allegedly, 900 American women were asked if they would...

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High life

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Old-fashioned manners Taki Gstaad Balthasar Klossowski de Rola, better known as Balthus, is by far the greatest liv- ing painter. Last week I drove the ten or so miles to...

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Country life

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Rural outcasts Leanda de Lisle I wonder what recent immigrants to Britain make of the way country people are being treated here? In schools a great deal of emphasis is placed...


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Breathless Andrew Robson YOU may not approve of the bidding of Todd Carmichael (North) and Joel Wooldridge (South) on this week's hand. Todd is 23 years old and Joel just 18,...

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BASICALLY, there are two kinds of coun- try eating in

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Britain: the country house hotel and the rural pub with a restaurant. Both types indulge in varying degrees of elegance, sometimes pretension, and this, as much as the quality...

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THE beginning of February: partridge- and pheasant-shooting ends, but salmon

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sea fishing begins. It is the feast of St Bridget of Ireland when barmbrack is eaten, followed by Candlemas Day or the Feast of the Purification and salmon rod fishing. The...

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Treble tanka Jaspistos IN COMPETITION NO. 2020 you were invited to supply a treble `tanka' entitled either 'Finders Keepers' or 'Blind Date'. 2020 — the year in which...


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Shared honours Raymond Keene LAST WEEK I published the crosstable of the top tournament at Wijk aan Zee in Holland, where first prize was shared by the Indian grandmaster...

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Solution to 1346: Across

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1 v awiro4 Brio OM inn EMI in IIVIIIIA 1 '6 l H EMI 0 LrI10 1 1 R Fr T Mae L E 15 R 0 'IEEE' 0 °Daimon Mrin 1311 rl II El S A M 7 N dal In L. I P E 1511 L A n...

No. 2023: Governessy verse

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`Face the driver, raise your hand, / You will find he'll understand.' During the war Nanny State covered the place with such rhymes, intended to promote good citizen- like...


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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 2 March, with two runners-up prizes of £20 (or, for UK solvers, the latest...

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Winter follies Simon Barnes AS THE Winter Olympic Games turn into their second week, it is time I made a con- fession. I quite like them. Sport dwells all the time on the cusp...


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Dear Mary. . Q. Despite 30 years of experience as a senior diplomat, I was recently confronted with a social dilemma to which I could think of no solution. Please tell me what...