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Jaw-jaw M r Tony Blair. the Prime Minister, lent his support

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to President George Bush of the United States in preparing for war against Iraq. Mr Blair flew to Camp David in Maryland for a three-hour meeting with Mr Bush to agree their...

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C hildren, to judge by school exam results, just keep on getting cleverer. But in the inexorable rise of official literary and numeracy levels, there is sure to be a little...

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I can't imagine why people claim to enjoy camping. Before the trip — a six-week overland slog through southern Africa — I joked with friends about how impractical and ill-suited...

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In the past the unions have turned on Labour prime ministers. They are winding up to do so again

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PETER OBORNE F Blackpool or the last 20 years the annual TUC conference has occupied a subsidiary role in the political season. During 18 years of Tory government, the unions...

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I hate football so much these days that I can hardly bear to report it

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MICHAEL HENDERSON T he message was brief and the writer got straight to the point. 'I'd just like you to know that you are a fucken cocksucker,' it read, 'and that your article...

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Simon Heifer will personally flout the hunting ban, and other countiy folk have more radical plans to combat Mr Blair EARLIER this summer I was discussing with a pillar of...

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Andrew Gimson watches the wily Gerhard Schroeder outwit the stolid Bavarian challenger Berlin GEORGE BUSH has yet to defeat Saddam Hussein, but he may already have rescued...

Mind your language

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NEWS from Almaty, a great thrill. A nice reader who seems to work for the Tashkent region of the International Committee of the Red Cross sends me an advertisement from an...

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IT is the tenth anniversary of Black Wednesday, 16 September 1992, and, across the nation, there will be diverse commemoration of that astonishing moment when the pound crashed...

. . . and he got it right

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City and Suburban, 13 October 1990 . We have embarked on an attempt to rig the biggest market of all, the foreign exchanges. We must then try to make our economy fit our...

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Julian Manyon searches Afghanistan for Osama bin Laden and finds seething Islamic rancour Afghanistan I KNEW I was hot on the trail of Osama bin Laden when I saw a splendid...

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Ancient & modern

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IT is, apparently, a problem for many males that when they retire they feel dissatisfied because 'society' does not value them any more. It is hard to see what 'society' as such...

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Banned wagon

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A weekly survey of the things our rulers want to prohibit CARE-HOME owners, as has previously been reported in this magazine, are being driven out of business by pedantic...


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Simon Reeve on the first Arab terrorist massacre outside the Middle East SHORTLY after 4 a.m. on 5 September 1972, eight heavily armed terrorists from Black September, a...

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Second opinion

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CERTAIN lines resonate in the mind forever, not necessarily because they are among the greatest ever written. When first I heard Gertrude's despairing cri de coeur, '0 Hamlet!...

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Bruce Anderson on the new plan: a lightly anned force backed by air power IT IS easy to clarify any proposed military venture by asking five simple monosyllabic questions:...

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Peter Ainsworth is not convinced that Saddam poses a threat to the United Kingdom EXPRESSING reservations about an attack on Iraq is a risky business. As assorted bishops have...

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The ERM taught us no end of a lesson, so what a pity that some people never learn

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CHRISTOPHER FILDES I t seemed a good idea at the time to so many people. The Treasury wanted it, the Foreign Office pined for it, the Governor of the Bank of England had been...

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Did G.K. Chesterton keep his mistress in our prime street?

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PAUL JOHNSON A the end of our quiet little street in Bayswater stands a charming cottagey house with hollyhocks and other old-fashioned flowers in its front garden. It has been...

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My stand against Mugabe

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From Dr Denis Mac,Sharte Sir: I was surprised to read Peter Oborne's denunciation of the government's handling of Zimbabwe (Labour's betrayal of Zimbabwe', 30 August). In the...

Our anger at the Europukes

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From Mr John King Sir: Neil Clark's article (It's not the Yanks who are dumb', 7 September) was interesting, well balanced and timely. Over the past few months there has been a...

From Mr Herb Greer Sir: One year on my anger

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is still intact. If anything it is stronger. But my deepest cold rage is reserved not for those who carried out the attacks. or even for their supporters in the Middle East, but...

Debit side of democracy

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From Mr Michael Gasson Sir: Ghazi Algosaibi (`Bush is leading us to tragedy', 7 September) is right to doubt the benefits of a democratic system of government. It leads to many...

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Moors' reign in Spain

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From Mr David Watkins Sir: Mark Steyn (`The triumph of American values'. 7 September) predicts that in a few decades Holland will be a predominantly Muslim country. Though it's...

Saddam's nuclear revenge

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From Mr Gordon King Sir: Regarding your leading article ('America's duty', 7 September), allow me to describe one possible nightmare scenario resulting from an American invasion...

From Sir Keny St Johnston

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Sir: In recent weeks, stirring words have been uttered around the world about war with Iraq, both for and against. Most recently, a hawk has conjured up memories of a robust...

Kyoto's useless targets

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From Mrs Elizabeth Morley Sir: No doubt Andrew Kenny (`The green Gestapo', 7 September) meant the remark, 'Wind is strictly for the coons (and some backward country folk in...

Pith columnist

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From Audrey Flanagan Sir: When Mary Wakefield has won as wide a following and as many columnist and interviewing awards as Lynda LeePotter has, she may be in a position to...

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Ukraine is not dead yet it thrives on vodka, black bread and pig fat

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NIATTHEW PAR RIS W e had not expected a border post. This was not a border. Way over the other side of a high pass through the Carpathian Mountains lay Romania, but this small...

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The heart of the master

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Andrew Robinson THE WRITER AND THE WORD: ESSAYS by V. S. Naipaul Picador, £16.99, pp. 517, ISBN 0330487205 THE HUMOUR AND THE PITY: ESSAYS ON V. S. NAIPAUL edited by Amitava...

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When inner and outer reality collide

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P. J. Kavanagh COLERIDGE'S NOTEBOOKS: A SELECTION edited by Seamus Perry OUP, £19.99, pp. 264, ISBN 0198712014 C oleridge's Notebooks have been a companion during most of my...

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Nearly the scoop of the century

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Harry Mount ZANZIBAR by Giles Foden Faber, .04.99, pp. 390, ISBN 0571205127 T he ideal publication date for this novel would have been 12 September last year. How the...

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He is cheap, he is pure, he is capable — and he isn't doomed

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Juliet Townsend THE MAGISTRATE'S TALE by Trevor Grove Bloomsbury, 114.99, pp. 286, ISBN 0747560552 I n any discussion about the English judicial system with foreigners, they...

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Unblinking, even for a second

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Frederic Raphael PLATFORM by Michel Houllebecq Heinemann, £12.99, pp. 320, ISBN 04340098X S ome novels are something; others are about something. If fiction is an art, then the...

Secrets that remain unyielded

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Jane Gardam THE WRECK OF THE ABERGAVENNY by Alethea Hayter Macmillan. £14.99, pp. 240. ISBN 0333989171 E ver since 1965 Alethea Hayter has been placing a very sharp...

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A new lease of life

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Teresa Waugh THE SEVEN SISTERS by Margaret Drabble Viking, £16.99, pp. 307, ISBN 0670913359 T he heroine of Margaret Drabble's new novel is on first sight pretty depressing,...

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As sharp as cut tin

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D. J. Taylor BEHINDLINGS by Nicola Barker Flamingo, 110.99, pp. 535, ISBN 0007135254 I n fiction, as in other branches of the creative arts, reputation is all, or nearly all....

Raw skin over bone

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Magnus Linklater STONE VOICES: THE SEARCH FOR SCOTLAND by Neal Ascherson Granta, 116.99, pp. 240, ISBN 1862075247 A t the Edinburgh Book Festival this year, Dr David Starkey,...

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Kidnapped, duped and disappointed

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Hilary Mantel BALTHASAR'S ODYSSEY by Amin Maalouf, translated by Barbara Bray Harvill, f16.99, pp. 391, ISBN 1860469922 W e are approaching 1666, 'The Year of the Beast', the...

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How the master of landscape was transformed

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Christopher Woodward GAINSBOROUGH IN BATH by Susan Sloman Yale, £35, pp. 266, ISBN 0300097115 I n 1760s Bath, the promenade from the Pump Room to the tree-lined Walks of Orange...

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Deceiving only those who want to believe

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Nicholas Harman THE POET AND THE MURDERER by Simon Worrall Fourth Estate, 115.99, pp. 320, ISBN 1841155861 F orgery ranked with murder as a capital crime well into the 19th...

The River Gods

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The rivers of the London Clay Run, hidden from the light of day, In cutting, culvert, pipe and drain Below the overburdened plain. They dive beneath the office blocks To reach...

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No room at the top

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Philip Ziegler FRIENDS AND RIVALS: CROSLAND, JENKINS AND HEALEY by Giles Radice Little, Brown, £20, pp. 376, ISBN 0316855472 I n the years following the second world war, Tony...

A bleak kind of optimism

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Fatema Ahmed THE WHORE'S CHILD by Richard Russo Chatto, £10.99, pp. 225, ISBN 0701173300 A fter several acclaimed novels, including last year's Pulitzer prize-winning Empire...

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Alien reading matter

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Byron Rogers THE COMPANY by Robert Littell Pan Macmillan, £16.99, pp. 894, ISBN 0333746996 I f you want to know what living in a parallel universe is like, buy this novel about...

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An unstoppable combination

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Michael Henderson applauds Simon Rattle's debut as Berlin Philharmonic's music director T he only true realist,' said Fellini, 'is the visionary.' As if to prove the great...

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Missing pictures Martin Gayford on how our cash-strapped galleries cannot afford to buy works of art I f you go to the great Tate Britain exhibition of Lucian Freud's work and...

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Pop music

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Outrageous behaviour Marcus Berkmann I was in a record shop the other day, in my usual ceaseless search for wrongly marked-down new CDs and other accidental bargains, when a...

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Chorus of approval

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Michael Kennedy on the festivals in Bayreuth and Salzburg B ayreuth and Salzburg are nobody's favourite festivals at the moment, despite being pleasant towns to visit. The...

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Ariadne auf Naxos (The Royal Opera House) The Threepenny Opera (Lyric. Hammersmith) Terrific beginning Michael Tanner T he Royal Opera's new season has got off to a terrific...

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Signs (12A, selected cinemas) Deft manipulation Mark Steyn S igns is a pun. On the one hand, the title refers to the portents of something strange and terrifying in the...


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Damsels in Distress (Duchess) The Road to Ruin (Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond) Washed up in Wapping Patrick Camegy F or a veteran of such theatrical marathons as...

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Holy week Peter Phillips T he Edington Festival of Music Within the Liturgy is a rare event from a number of points of view. I don't know of any other festival which presents...


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Tackily watchable Simon Hoggart W hy was I'm A Celebrity — Get Me Out Of Here (ITV) so magnificently, appallingly, supremely, tackily watchable? Why did I tape it every night?...

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Popular birthday Michael Vestey C lassic FM has been celebrating its tenth birthday, its first broadcasts starting on 7 September 1992. The station deserves to be...

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Fuel of the future Alan Judd L cad Replacement Petrol (LRP), the drink for cars that dislike unleaded, is being gradually withdrawn because of declining demand. Many older...

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The turf

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Bad bout of seconditis Robin Oakley J ourneying to Dublin for Leopardstown's Irish Champion Stakes was a gamble. Last season's contest had produced the race of the year, with...

High life

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Inspiration on the dunes Taki A Southampton, Long Island h, what a pleasure to be on the beach without the great unwashed. Southampton is idyllic once the masses are gone, and...

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Low life

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Breathing is everything J eremy Clarke J ust six of us signed up for the threemonth intensive Astanga yoga course. (Astanga yoga is a sort of sweaty yoga, in which you change...

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Singular life

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Driven to shame Petronella Wyatt I am feeling ashamed. The other day I went with my nieces to see The Importance of Being Earnest, with Colin Firth and Rupert Everett. Don't...

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WELL phew, the school holidays are over at last. I

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mean, can you think of a more chilling request than 'Mummy, will you play with me?' You give birth, right, which is no small thing in itself, plays havoc with your hairdo and...

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Frankly the best

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Michael Henderson A KNOWN bell tolled for the last time this week when Frank Keating said farewell to the Guardian. It caught the paper on the hop because they had expected him...

Q. A problem I often run into at school is

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that of the 'mystery offence'. For example, arriving in my form room at the start of this term, a very dear friend 'death-stared' me and refused to speak to me. On inquiry as to...

Q. A rnerkin, I recently learnt during a convivial evening,

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is an 18th-century word for a pubic wig for ladies. On what occasions, if any, is it correct for these to be worn? M. McM, by email A. A merkin is, indeed, a pubic wig, but...

Q. Although I am myself peculiarly averse to barbecues, my

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newly wed young wife and her young friends enjoy these culinary experiments. At this time of year, I find my patience more than usually tried by the prevalence of wasps in our...