14 JANUARY 2006

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T he Prime Minister is right about one thing: ‘The liberty of the law-abiding citizen to be safe from fear comes first.’ It is indeed the first duty of the state to ensure...

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PORTRAIT OF THE WEEK M r Charles Kennedy, the leader of

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the Liberal Democrats, called a press conference and said, ‘Over the past 18 months, I’ve been coming to terms with, and seeking to cope with, a drinking problem.... I’ve...

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S ky like the inside of a saucepan and a mean little drizzle stinging your face, garden sunk deep in midwinter gloom, except for the winter-flowering cherry trees with small,...

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PETER OBORNE It wasn’t the booze: Cameron did for Kennedy, and now Blair is the target A myth is beginning to be constructed around the events of the last week at...

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CHARLES MOORE T his column’s theory that, postdevolution, it is harder for Scottish MPs to lead a British political party seems to be taking some time to come true. Sir...

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Why did he do it?

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Ross Clark says that by rejecting selection David Cameron has abandoned Tory principles and betrayed the bright children of the poor W hile David Cameron was at a Basildon...

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Mind your language

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I am not much comforted by those notices in railway stations and shopping centres reading, ‘Caution: slippery when wet.’ A variant is, ‘Slippery in conditions of ice or...

There’s no alternative to Bush

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Mark Steyn says that the President will continue to run rings around his detractors, and the Democrats will lose the mid-term elections J ust because Ted Kennedy is busy working...

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There is no worldwide terrorist conspiracy

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John Major says that war alone will not defeat terrorism. We must address the underlying grievances, and reject knee-jerk responses I f the world is to succeed in combating...

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Lawless in Gaza

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Douglas Davis says that Ariel Sharon’s wisest decision was his last one — to pull out of the anarchic terrorist hothouse of Gaza A s the dominating presence of Ariel Sharon...

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Why Dawkins is wrong about God

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TV’s Richard Dawkins believes that faith is an infectious disease which spreads intolerance and conflict. In fact, says Roger Scruton , it is our principal source of love and...

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Ancient & modern

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It is fascinating watching the ancient patrimonial system of appointment at work, and there are few better opportunities to see it in action than when a man like David Cameron,...

The dangers of ‘satanic optimism’

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Andrew Gimson believes that pessimists have a much less dangerous approach to the human predicament than optimists D avid Cameron, Polly Toynbee and Paul Johnson make a...

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ROD LIDDLE There’s a long trail a-winding — and it’s an insult to the licence-payer D id you manage to catch the BBC’s new drama series Life On Mars this last week?...

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Our successful railways

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From Adrian Lyons Sir: Your leading article (7 January) suggested that railway operators are a cartel bent on exploiting their customers, but this is grossly unfair. Fares have...

How to live

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From Professor Robin Jacoby Sir: As a psychiatrist who has written reports in more than 30 homicide cases, I can wholeheartedly confirm Theodore Dalrymple’s thesis that the...

Misplaced generosity

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From Philip Pullman Sir: David Watkins (Letters, 7 January) invents an opinion that C.S. Lewis might have held about my books, if he’d been able to read them, and then...

Alligator hunt

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From Pamela de Putron Sir: Dot Wordsworth will be pleased to know that the term ‘alligator pear’, the English substitution for the Aztec word ‘ahuacatl’ and Spanish...

Dactylic delights

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From John Rattray Sir: Further to Grey Gowrie’s review (Books, 31 December), while the ‘Higgledy Piggledy’ form of comic verse may be of recent invention, the double...

Missing the buses

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From Terry Muzzell Sir: On the Buses may well have been an ‘appalling, witless comedy’ (‘Celebrity squares’, 7 January), but did Rod Liddle ever watch it? The part of...

Wanted, subsidised housing

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From Shaun Spiers Sir: Simon Nixon has got it wrong. Scrapping the Green Belt and covering it in new homes won’t solve the nation’s housing problems (‘No bubble, no...

From Frances Spurrier

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Sir: Many people who struggle with deprivation do not commit murder. But it is not only those who inhabit dark hallways who have forgotten how to live. In our society divorce is...

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MARTIN VANDER WEYER Who will be man enough to stand up for big business against Cameron and Brown? E veryone seems to be concocting their own shortlists for the most desirable...

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MATTHEW PARRIS What makes George Galloway strut and fret his stuff? W e each of us remember where we were when news reached us that George Galloway MP was to enter the...

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PAUL JOHNSON What happened to all that ‘ivy never sere’? P eople have mixed feelings about ivy ( Hedera helix ). It is believed to do unhurried damage to buildings while...

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The most charitable interpretation

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David Caute T HE C OLD W AR by John Lewis Gaddis Allen Lane, £20, pp. 400, ISBN 0713999128 ✆ £16 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 L ate November 1950: United Nations forces...

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Conundrums that will not go away

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Mary Furness PHILOSOPHY: T HE L ATEST A NSWERS TO THE O LDEST Q UESTIONS by Nicholas Fearn Atlantic, £17.99, pp. 304, ISBN 1843540665 ✆ £14.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429...

Hellish motorway experience

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Robert Cooper L istening to Jim Norton reading The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man on this outstanding recording is a first-class way of either revisiting James Joyce’s...

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The long arm of

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technolog y Andrew Taylor S UPPER WITH THE C RIPPENS by David James Smith Orion, £18.99, pp. 344, ISBN 0752867423 ✆ £15.19 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 A ccording to...

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A brilliant autopsy on a dead regime

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Francis King T HE S UCCESSOR by Ismail Kadare Canongate, £9.99, pp. 207, ISBN 1841957631 ✆ £7.99 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 A lthough writers in languages of lesser...

Cleverly out of step

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Chris Patten B ALLIOL C OLLEGE : A H ISTORY by John Jones OUP, £65, pp. 392, ISBN 0199201811 I n his second, revised edition of a history of Balliol College, John Jones —...

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The return of the colonel

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Iain Sinclair T HE V ENGEANCE OF R OME by Michael Moorcock Cape, £17.99, pp. 620, ISBN 0224031198 ✆ £14.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T his is a great Homeric return....

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Giving three cheers for Plato

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P. J. Kavanagh C ONFESSIONS OF A R ADICAL TRADITIONALIST by John Michell Dominion, Waterbury Center, Vermont, £20, pp. 352, ISBN 0971204446 T his author believes in God (the...

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England’s 16th-century Stalin

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Jonathan Sumption T HE K ING ’ S R EFORMATION : H ENRY VIII AND THE R EMAKING OF THE E NGLISH C HURCH by G. W. Bernard Yale, £29.95, pp. 672, ISBN 0300109083 ✆ £23.95...

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But mad

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north north-west Charles Duff L ORD M ALQUIST AND M R M OON by Tom Stoppard Faber, £7.99, pp. 208, ISBN 0571227236 V £6.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 I n 1966, a proud...

A selection of recent paperbacks

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Non-fiction : Mind the Gap by Ferdinand Mount (Short Books, £8.99) Louis XVIII by Philip Mansel (John Murray, £10.99) The Road to Katmandu by Patrick Marnham (Tauris Parke...

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Man of distinction Andrew Lambirth on the great talent of a 17th-century gentleman amateur painter T he name of Bacon in the 17th century inevitably suggests Sir Francis,...

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That elusive something Laura Gascoigne The Art of White The Lowry, until 17 April T here’s a central chapter in Moby Dick where the narrator Ishmael traces his fascination...

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Pop music

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Dreaded question Marcus Berkmann T he Christmas party season has finally passed, and we are all tending our wounds. Most of mine seem to be selfinflicted, the engrained habits...


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Pleasure count Michael Tanner Hansel and Gretel Opera North The Bartered Bride Royal Opera House H umperdinck’s minor masterpiece Hansel and Gretel is one of those operas...

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Sally into the obscure Lloyd Evans The Bells Rosemary Branch Thomas More Trafalgar Studios A mile from my home lies the Rosemary Branch, an obscure but well-regarded pub...

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Feast for the eyes Giannandrea Poesio The Sleeping Beauty English National Ballet, Coliseum K enneth MacMillan, the father of 20thcentury dramatic ballet, is not the kind of...


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Bleak portrait Mark Steyn Brokeback Mountain 15, selected cinemas ‘ ou know I ain’t queer,’ Ennis Del Y Mar says to Jack Twist. ‘Me neither,’ says Jack. Then they...

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Elders and betters Ursula Buchan W hen I was a very young gardener, few things made me more impatient than the conservatism of older ones. Conservatism seemed to be calcified...

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One god further Simon Hoggart ‘ y ou don’t sound very excited about it,’ i said a morose, off-screen interviewer to Jeremy Paxman, at the start of Who Do You Think You...


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Abuse and censorship Michael Vestey T he distaste for torture and abuse of prisoners or detainees has never been shared by everyone in this country, though on the whole...

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The turf

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Help or hindrance? Robin Oakley T here are different ways of being helpful as my son discovered not long ago filming in Africa. The local paper was running an Aids campaign...

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High life

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Pandora’s box Taki Gstaad O n the evening that Charles Kennedy resigned, Barry and Lizzie Humphries came to dinner. My German cook Alexander made a special cake for Dame...

Low life

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Walking wounded Jeremy Clarke O n the second day of the New Year, I rose, dressed, arranged myself on my crutches and hobbled down the road to the station. It was wonderful to...

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Blind spots Susanna Gross L ast week I was marvelling at how Espen Erichsen remembers hands long after I’ve forgotten them. It turns out I should have said the same thing...

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Match of the century Raymond Keene

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Post Botvinnik, chess began to be seen as a metaphor for the Cold War, as the new champions from the USSR, Petrosian and Spassky, faced up to the growing menace of the American...

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Cup tied FRANK KEATING A fter the Lord Mayor’s show.... It is back to the humdrum for football today following last week’s allembracing showstoppers in the FA Cup. Two or...

Q. I belong to a small reading group in the

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village in which I live and have always enjoyed our meetings. Recently, however, one member of the group took it upon herself to invite a new neighbour to join us. We wanted to...

Q. Since the Routemaster bus was withdrawn I have had

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to travel to work in one of the new mobile prisons. I work in Hanover Square, off Oxford Street, which means I am often trapped inside the bus as it sits in gridlocked traffic...