15 APRIL 2000

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'What do you mean oi needs "permission for change of use"?' M r William Hague, the leader of the opposition, said that 'bogus' asylum-seekers in London were costing taxpayers...

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SPECTAT THE OR The Spectator, 56 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LL

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Telephone: 0171-405 1706; Fax 0171-242 0603 M.Y.O.B. he government's antics over the past month have resembled a particularly spirited edition of Esther Rantzen's erstwhile...

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DAVID HARE W hy is the universal wisdom always wrong? At the moment you can't walk in the street without someone telling you that were it not for the feebleness of the official...

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Mr Hague cannot escape from liberal banalities and the cant of caring BRUCE ANDERSON O n the basis of Tuesday's newspapers, there was an obvious conclusion to be drawn. The...

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One rule for Bois de Boulogne, another for Belize BORIS JOHNSON M uch as one hesitates to remind the reader of the Ashcroft business, some news has swum into my ken, which...

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Despite the possibilities and threats of artificial intelligence, human beings will always top the earthly hierarchy, says Frank Johnson ALL this is all very well, but what...

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Banned wagon

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A weekly survey of the things our rulers want to prohibit ONE of the benefits of state health provision, from the government's point of view, is that it provides an opportunity...

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SiOn Simon on the odd squeamishness that afflicts the male sex when contemplating a vital function Miss Twye was soaping her breasts in the bath When she heard behind her a...

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Michael Duffy on how Australians are feeding their moral vanity by embracing falsehoods about the brutal treatment of Aborigines New South Wales, Australia THE transnational...

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Croatia 's new government is purging the opposition with the blessing of the EU and the USA, observes John Laughland ACCORDING to one of those mournful little jokes which used...

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Germany's newly irreverent press is giving politicians freedom to question slavish Euro-enthusiasm, says Andrew Gimson EVEN at a time of strange stories out of Germany it was a...

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American conservatives got their values mixed up by opposing the

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return of Elian MY CUBA RIGHT OR WRONG Gonzalez to his father, says Mark Steyn New Hampshire WITH any luck, by early next week Juan Miguel Gonzalez will have taken custody of...

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Lucy Kellaway is not convinced of the virtues of middle-class England's new favourite night out TONIGHT, somewhere near you, they will be doing it: eight or ten consenting...

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SpecialBookOffer f. ÷ 4 ) To order these or any other books from The Spectator Bookshop: SPBW CALL 0870 155 7288 FAX 0871 155 7225 or POST to The Spectator Bookshop, 24 Seward...

Mind your language

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'IDIOT,' said my husband, but he wasn't speaking to me. Someone had just used the word deconstruct on the wireless when it was clear, even to my husband, that the wireless voice...

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Queen Victoria and 'those four-footed friends no bribe can buy' PAUL JOHNSON A rk account of the recent excavations of the royal zoo at the Tower of London suggests that...

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From A.N. Binder Sir: Annabel Barber (`Beyond their Wen', 1

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April) mentions Napoleon and the metric system. Actually, Napoleon thought little of decimalisation. In his St Helena memoirs he wrote: Le nouveau systeme de poids et mesures...

From Mrs P.N. Bellingan Sir: Here in Zimbabwe the right

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to roam has gone mad. The worst thing about all this farm invasion (over 600 farms now) is that it is illegal. The judiciary declared against it, yet the police dare not enforce...


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Motoring Special Issue 20 May 2000 Mini or Maserati. Take advantage of our in-depth and informed editorial. To advertise your new or used cars. Call Spectator Classified on...

Paying for England's follies

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From Dr Winifred M Ewing, MSP Sir: William Hague (`Give England the vote', 1 April) is right. Devolution has been bad news for the English and much worse is on the way....

LETTERS The pseudo-countrymen

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From Annabel Barber Sir: No, I don't think the posthumous voice of Wiffiam Cobbett is being jammed (Letters, 8 April). I think Ross Clark's attractive deter- mination not to be...

Big-hearted Annan

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From Lord Thomas of Swynnerton Sir: I have only just seen Paul Johnson's article about Noel Annan (And another thing, 25 March). In the good old days of England, to whose...

From Mr Randhir Singh Bains Sir: I am shocked at

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William Hague's state- ment that his party wants devolution to suc- ceed. This is tantamount to accepting the principle of federalism and, consequently, the break-up of the...

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Shoes v. Seneca

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From Mr David Watkins Sir: It is disappointing that no reviewer of Alain de Botton's The Consolations of Phi- losophy (Books, 1 April) has quoted Lord Macaulay's apposite...

A party postponed

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From Mr David Nicholls Sir: In the 'special issue' of 1 April, among the many articles lauding England and all things English there appeared references to the fact that...

Sheilas in shock

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From Mr Richard Burnett Sir: When I read the article 'Mongrel b*st*rds (1 April) I couldn't help wondering about the immobility of the ladies pictured beneath Sir Leslie...

Haig's pyrrhic victories

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From Mr Clive Wright Sir: In his review of My Father's Son: the Memoirs of Earl Haig (Books, S April), Philip Warner writes that the first Earl Haig won the battles of the Somme...

Patriotic games

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From Mr Marcus Pitcaith4) Sir: Edward Heathcoat Amory (Patriot games', 8 April) will have to live with the fact that, in the cases of the Scottish War of Independence and the...

A tax on enterprise

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From Manuella Phillips Sir: In your article 'Labour loves the fat cats' (8 April) you mention an 'arcane change to National Insurance rules last year which made it much more...

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A lot of people got Mugabe wrong in 1980 (and they're still doing so) STEPHEN GLOVER I should be very interested to hear from Mr Benn how he justifies this celebration of a...

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The Barclays branch at Little Pottering reopens with a visit from Sir Topham Hatt CHRISTOPHER FILDES A ter the branch line, the branch bank. We say that we loved them but we...

The fatwah strikes

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THE trouble with Barclays is not in the branches but at the head office. I have long maintained that there is a fatwah on this bulbous monster in the Moorish taste, known to its...

Ken's word, Ken's bond

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KEN Livingstone says that the Internation- al Monetary Fund is still appalling and the IMF could say the same of him. A cynical prime minister (not that we have one) might have...

Aunt Hattie's legacy

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GORDON Brown is living the Antiques Roadshow dream. This begins with an ugly old pot in the hall, which used to belong to Aunt Hattie, no beauty herself. It has been used to...

Appearance money

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IT'S a dog's life, being a non-executive director. Chairmen keep holding meetings on Wednesdays, which mucks up both weekends. Worse still, all these codes — Cadbury, Greenbury,...

Chancellors' luck

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HE has certainly been luckier than a previ- ous chancellor who, less than a decade ago, was increasing the National Debt by a bil- lion pounds every week. By way of bolster- ing...

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W hat's for dinner?' Laurent said last Thursday, coming in and sniffing dubi- ously at the vast array of copper pans steaming away on the stove. 'Boiled half a calf s head,...

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The first recorder

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of vox pop. Philip Ziegler THE MOST OFFENDING SOUL ALIVE: TOM HARRISSON AND HIS REMARKABLE LIFE by Judith M. Heimann Curzon, £35,116.99„ pp. 468 I n 1945, says Judith...

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The writer's fruit

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William Boyd ORANGES by John McPhee Penguin Classics, £6.99, pp. 149 E ery morning of the year — well, almost every morning of the year — I select four oranges, which have been...

The high ridges of knowledge

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John Fowles NABOKOV'S BU ITERFLIES edited by Brian Boyd and Robert Michael Pye Allen Lane, £25, pp. 760 I was, some time ago, asked to contribute to a book on Vladimir Nabokov...

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A free lance in every sense

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David Pryce-Jones SELECTED LE 1 I ERS OF REBECCA WEST edited by Bonnie Kinn Scott Yale, £22.50, pp. 544 R ebecca West treated the English lan- guage as though it were some sort...

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Finding truth at two extremes

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Francis Wyndham S omehow in the boom years the boom was always lowered on me,' said the Ameri- can writer Dawn Powell, looking back in irony on her career. She could easily...

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The people of the Hebrews with palms before them went

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Jane Gardam THE CHANGING FACES OF JESUS by Geza Vermes Allen Lane, £18.99, pp. 272 G eza Vermes, mighty scholar, transla- tor into English of the Dead Sea Scrolls, has at 75...

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Going straight at it

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A. N. Wilson MARCEL PROUST by William C. Carter Yale, £22.50, pp. 946 T oweringly great as Proust is, he is the most flawed of all the giants of literary his- tory. His first...

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When I am old and gay and full of sleep

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Penelope Fitzgerald RAVELSTEIN by Saul Bellow Viking £16.99, pp. 254 O ld age, on the whole, is not a time to be recommended, but very old novelists are allowed to write about...

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I know what it is to be a subject

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Doris Lessing saying that I believe biographies should be written after the favoured one's death. At once followed indignation and letters that verged on the threatening. My...

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Alan Pryce-Jones 1908-2000

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Patrick Leigh Fermor A lan Pryce-Jones died in the United States on 2 January, aged 92. He made a distinguished and enlivening contribution to English letters and his friends...

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0 ver the largest room in the Art Nou- veau

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exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum there beetles a complete Parisian Metro station entrance by Hector Guimard. To beetle — that is, to hang threateningly, of fate,...

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Theatre 1

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The Rivals (Swan Theatre, Stratford) Carnival of language Patrick Carnegy T he Irish genius who tangled with 'the compositor of the farce of dustiny' is noth- ing if not heir...

Theatre 2

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The Graduate (Gielgud) Cressida (Albery) Period pieces Sheridan Morley H ere's to precisely who, Mrs Robin- son? Hollywood movies have a habit of going horribly wrong on the...

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Sublime Bach Michael Tanner T here is an odd traffic going on these days between opera and non-operatic music. Some of the most enjoyable experi- ences of opera I have had in...

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Ashton Programme (Birmingham Royal Ballet) Triple Bill (Nederland Dans Theatre2, Sadler's Wells) Think again thannandrea Poesio T o revive ballets that have long been out of...


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Mission to Mars (PG, selected cinemas) Product placement Mark Steyn rian DePalma's Mission to Mars is set in the near future — 2020. So what 2020 vision has the director...

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Oh, Emma Simon Hoggart adame Bovary on BBC 2 was one of the finest costume dramas I have ever seen. The acting, the adaptation and the camera- work were of the highest...

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Problem product Alan Judd M otoring correspondents commonly slosh out advice like dirty water at the bot- tom of the bucket after they've washed their Bugattis, but it's still...


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Civil approach Michael Vestey T he first of the two-part The Whitehall Village on Radio Four last week (Tuesday) was a gentle stroll through the Civil Ser- vice, what it does...

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The turf

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Serious pressure Robin Oakley T his year it was not just me against the bookies for the Grand National. It was me against the road-sweeper. Sam Prakash, local newsagent,...

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No life

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What a racket Jeremy Clarke T o be invited to an all-night rave in a nightclub at the age of 43 is some kind of an honour I suppose, and I tried to rise to the occasion for my...

High life

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Dangerous comedy Taki Michael's success with beautiful women has not diminished When he came cruising with me on my boat in Greece he brought over a Californian number who...

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Country life

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Putting the boot on Leanda de Lisle L ook, darling,' I said, pointing at the corpses of three or four Colombian guerril- las then showing on the television screen, 'they died...

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Singular life

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Scientific tangle Petronella Wyatt I t is 8.55 a.m. You have just staggered from your bed, showered, shrugged on your clothes and are ready for a vital appoint- ment — 40...

High enough

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Andrew Robson THE PRE-EMPTIVE trump raise gets more and more popular, especially in response to an overcall. North's jump to 3 on this week's deal prevented East-West from even...

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THERE is a common misconception that Venice is a good

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place to eat. It is not, at least not by Italian standards. Its two most famous restaurants, Harry's Bar and Da Fiore, are overrated and overpriced; mid- dle-rankers such as Da...

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Rd beg

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The LI [61-nate Islay Malt. CHESS Special Ks Raymond Keene WITH the announcement of his world title defence in London in October of this year against Vladimir Kramnik,...


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) — _Y` A fr i cr', Class hatred Jaspistos IN COMPETITION NO. 2131 you were given the first two lines of a free-verse poem by D.H. Lawrence and invited to add 14 lines to...

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A first prize of £30 and a bottle of Graham's award-winning, Late- Bottled Vintage Port for the first correct solution opened on 1 May, with two runners-up prizes of £20 (or,...

Solution to 1456: Gale warning

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BITAIMIM D condi nRUnnmmai li/LU O IlilEMIIIN M IMO DADLER RBRBROidrIANS MIRO T PI m irldrIri c n filliflelrlil E C LI 1151 In a R H ' T ri C El tin I 1111 A eritirld A...

No.2134: Early form

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You are invited to supply a report, cover- ing several activities, from a conventional English school on a famous or infamous historical figure who couldn't possibly have been...

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THUMP. Mac the postman gently lobs the Jiffybag through the back door. I unwrap it and there is it is, standing all but a full hand at the wither in its daffodil livery: Wisden...


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Q. With the endless circumlocution and con- fusion about confessing to the previous use of narcotics, how can 31-year-old dullards such as myself admit to never having touched...