15 DECEMBER 2007

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Unto us a Child is Born The awesome mystery of Chr

The Spectator

Unto us a Child is Born The awesome mystery of Christmas is contained in the dual nature of the infant Jesus: the knowledge of His almighty power, juxtaposed with the spectacle...

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TAMZIN LIGHTWAirlaial 1 j...;

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JANUARY 2007 As we await the coming of the Force of Darkness, work begins on election posters featuring Gordon as Darth Vader. Tory coffers bulging in preparation for the...

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EMILY MAITLIS Last night I came face to face with a pair of Victoria Beckham's old white jeans. To be fair, it wasn't just me and the jeans. It was more of a charity auction do...

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Now Gordon Brown has been found out, the Tories should think twice about copying him

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FRASER NELSON Gordon Brown's detractors have long argued that he deserves to be ranked not among Scotland's economic geniuses but alongside its most notorious confidence...

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CHARLES MOORE Since our parish newsletter does not

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CHARLES MOORE Since our parish newsletter does not have a wide circulation, I feel I am justified in plagiarising an article in the latest issue by its nature correspondent (my...

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TINA BROWN 1 've always loved the Christmas (or rather Hulliday) season in New York because it's so unapologetically, materialistically over the top. You want tinsel? No tinsel...

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God's role in politics is not to underwrite bad ideas

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Rod Liddle casts a seasonal eye over the connection between religion and politics — prompted by Tony Blair's departure from office — and concludes that the Almighty's name...

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Christian virtue: a man in the prime of his second act

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Christian Slater talks to Matthew d'Ancona about his role in Swimming With Sharks, life on set with Anthony Hopkins and his ambition to perfect his acting craft The night before...

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In Umbria the truth of the Nativity was revealed to me

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Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor recalls his travels in Italy as a student priest and the poetic vision of the birth of Christ in its humble setting offered by St Francis of...

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Old Ireland lives on in a frozen Christmas swim

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Fergal Keane weighs up the pros and cons of a glacial dip at Ardmore and celebrates the old-fashioned spirit of rural community and stubborn eccentricity that the swim embodies...

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Do you believe in the Virgin Birth?

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Christmas is not just about shopping and flirting, eating and drinking, anger and remorse. It is also about the Incarnation. But how many people believe in the Christian story...

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of God. But I believe that Jesus Christ is truly God, and truly man; that his Incarnation was through the divine intervention of the Holy Spirit; that God himself is his Father;...

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How, as Mayor, I would help our brave troops

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Boris Johnson is appalled by the indifference towards veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Whatever our views, we should honour those who have performed their duty Even if the...

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Republicans must heed the voters to beat Hillary

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John O'Sullivan looks ahead to a gloriously unpredictable US presidential race and assesses the prospects of the Republican contenders lining up to thwart Hillary Clinton...

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JOAN COLLINS 1 n Los Angeles last month we were wined and dined and mulligan-souped up to our eyeballs. Los Angelenos love entertaining their visitors and even though I've lived...

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The Liverpool that I loved has gone for ever

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Beryl Bainbridge reflects on the fate of her home town in 2008 when it will be the 'European Capital of Culture' — and longs for the lost world of the Mersey of her childhood...

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I'm like a nervous schoolgirl with my stuntman

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Steven Berkoff on the relationship between an actor and his stunt double — and the trouble he got into when filming a scene that forced him to face his own fear of heights The...

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An American conservative who loves the Constitution

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Christopher Caldwell on the impact of Ron Paul, the antiwar congressman running for the Republican nomination and finding unexpected support on the web Washington ARepublican...

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How To Be Topp: Ding-dong Farely Merlly For Xmas

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A Christmas reading from Molesworth's 'How To Be Topp: A guide to Sukcess for tiny pupils, including all there is to kno about SPACE'. By Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle Xmas...

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In Poland you can't get hold of a Polish plumber

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Anne Applebaum says that the exodus of workers to Britain and Ireland means that Poland is now relying on Ukrainian labour. And the Ukrainians? They're relying on the...

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BARRY HUMPHRIES The trouble with living in London is that apoplexy is always just around the corner. A few weeks ago my telephone developed a funny sub-aqueous rustling noise...

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Mind your language

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Those who indulge in the 'infuriating genteelism' of saying Christmas lunch must be castigated, a reader from Leicester, Mr Clifford Dunkley, tells me. Castigate them, do. But...

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The reason we drink is that we think it's naughty

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Binge-drinking is a reflex reponse to daft puritanism, says Celia Walden. We need to retrain the British psyche to see alcohol as a pleasure rather than a source of sin As we...

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It is will, not greed, that makes you write a bestseller

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Tony Parsons says that blockbusters are written by people who give their heart and soul to something they believe in utterly: if you try to write just for the money, you won't...

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My goose was cooked— and it wasn't very good

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Theodore Dalrymple explores the mystical appeal of goose at Christmas — better for sure than turkey, but greasy, indigestible and certain to leave lead weights on your thighs...

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Watching Lost and Heroes has compelled me to confront great philosophical issues

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It's best to be upfront about this. Pretty soon, I'm going to use words like 'downloading' and 'uploading'. I'm going to use the word 'peer' and I'm not going to mean people...

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Rejoice but remember: the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom

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To open a newspaper today is to enter a world of such horror, cruelty, vulgarity and corruption that one cannot imagine why almighty God does not decide, here and now, to put an...

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The lord on the board and the gilded rogue

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Martin Vander Weyer draws lessons for company directors from the morality tale of a long-forgotten City scandal which blighted the life of a celebrated Edwardian grandee The...

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Monopoly: the dangers of playing Gordon Brown's special edition

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Ross Clark There is one thing I have never understood about the property developers of 1930s Atlantic City. How come — at least to judge from the game they inspired, Monopoly...

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This party's well and truly over

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Christopher Fildes looks back on a turbulent year in the markets and recalls some immutable laws of banking The old ones are the best, so allow me to remind you of Sibley's Law....

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Global markets: Afghan banks, Chinese bicycles and post-Katrina babywear

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HERM perhaps the best way to view Corporate Afghanistan — there's a term you don't often hear — is to regard it as a never-ending spigot draining sovereign wealth funds into...

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The Apple of desire

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The new iPhone is hot, writes Alex Bilmes, but it is not the only gizmo in town ne might be forgiven, amid the considerable hoopla, for thinking that there is only one new...

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More than mere cash...

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Cashmere has always had inimitable cachet, writes Charlotte Metcalf Cashmere entered my consciousness when I learned that my cousin's skin was too sensitive to bear anything but...

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Lucky godchildren!

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Christmas is when godparents come into their own, says Raffaella Barker Life has its fairytale moments, and second only to the swooning kiss with the knight in shining armour...

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by William Boyd London is the first city of humiliation: London does it better than anywhere else. I should know, its latest victim. First my divorce — you would think, what...

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When the sun finally set Margaret MacMillan THE RA

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When the sun finally set Margaret MacMillan THE RAJ QUARTET 1: THE JEWEL IN THE CROWN, A DIVISION OF THE SPOILS by Paul Scott, introduced by Hilary Spurling Everyman, £14.99,...

A Christmas Song

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Why is the baby crying On this, his special day, When we have brought him lovely gifts And laid them on the hay? He's crying for the people Who greet this day with dread...

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From Charles Lamb to `netiquette'

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John Gross AT LARGE AND AT SMALL by Anne Fadiman Allen Lane, £12.99, pp. 220, ISBN 9781846140433 Afew years ago the American author Anne Fadiman scored a hit with Ex Libris, an...


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A steelmill town, a ridge of pine, The taste of snow upon the tongue, Meant all the world was black and white At Christmastime when he was young. In softened angle, muted line,...

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More marks on paper

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Victoria Glendinning THE WRITER'S BRUSH by Donald Friedman Mid-List Press (www.midlist.mg1 www.amazon.co.uk), distributed by Random House, £25, pp. 457, ISBN 9780922811762 £20...

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A Puzzle in Four Seasons

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Look at us. It must be Christmas. Our heads are bowed, the lamp close. We could be cracking a code or a body, so intent are we tonight on Spring, whose large foreground of wild...

A Yorkshire Christmas Eve

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His nearby town wore annual evening-dress, cheap jewellery of lights, white fur and bright drapes of Santa red which might impress late shoppers on this final trading-night,...

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Perfecting the art of rudeness

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Roger Lewis FAWLTY TOWERS by Graham McCann Hodder & Stoughton, £18.99, pp. 336, ISBN 9780340898116 © £15.19 (plus a.xx p&p) 0870 429 6655 Everyone will have met Basil and...

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Sunlight on stucco

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Rachel Johnson NOTTING HILL by Derry Moore Frances Lincoln, £14.99, pp. 127, ISBN 9780711227392 © £11.99 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 This affordably handsome book...

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A choice of art books

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David Ekserdjian Literary critics of a certain stripe may have been exulting over the death of the author for decades, but happily, in the world of art publishing, monographic...

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Children's books for Christmas

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Juliet Townsend part of the charm of giving books to children at Christmas is that they are so easy to wrap. After an evening spent wrestling with a variety of soft toys with...

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A gathering of ghosts

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Patrick Marnham FIRE IN THE BLOOD by Irene Nemirovsky, translated by Sandra Smith Chatto, £12.99, pp. 153, ISBN 9780701181833 £1039(plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 Fire in the...

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How to min a country

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Robert Salisbury MUGABE: POWER, PLUNDER AND THE STRUGGLE FOR ZIMBABWE by Martin Meredith Public Affairs! The Perseus Books Group, £8.99, pp. 272, ISBN 97891586485580 THE DAY...

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Conservative iconoclasts required

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Peregrine Worst horne IN PRAISE OF PREJUDICE: THE NECESSITY OF PRECONCEIVED IDEAS by Theodore Dalrymple Encounter Books, The Oxford Publicity Partnership Ltd, 5 Victoria House,...

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The full-blown country-house look

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Deborah Devonshire JOHN FOWLER: PRINCE OF DECORATORS by Martin Wood Frances Lincoln, £35, pp. 208, ISBN 9780711227118 © £28 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 1 t is not given...

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A master of self-invention

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Anthony Blond HAROLD ROBBINS: THE MAN WHO INVENTED SEX by Andrew Wilson Bloomsbury, £16.99, pp. 312, ISBN 9780747592655 © £13.59 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 When I...

Gary Dexter

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AMAZONS (1980) by Don DeLillo Who is Cleo Birdwell?' begins the flyleaf text of this book. 'The simple answer is that she's a New York Ranger, a schoolteacher's daughter from...

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Flemish tour de force

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Martin Gaylord on the virtuoso naturalism of the majestic Portinari Altarpiece Some years ago I was walking through the closed galleries of the Uffizi with a group of...

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Carnival of crassness

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Stephen Bayley on why he despises December's tawdry and sentimental retail landscape C4hristmas balls. This is a season to be forced into jollity. And one of mixed messages,...

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Victorian virtues

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Matthew Dennison rr he fight has gone out of Victorian1 bashing as a pastime. The high moral aims and low double standards of so much 19th-century culture, characterised by...

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Smoke signals

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Henrietta Bredin tracks the smokers and drug abusers in the operatic canon The indulgences of Christmas in the forms of food and drink are fairly well represented in the...

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A look ahead to 2008 Andrew Lambirth t the Nationa

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A look ahead to 2008 Andrew Lambirth t the National Gallery the year starts with a show of Pompeo Batoni's stylish portraits of 18th-century Grand Tourists in Italy (20 February...

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Subverting Wagner Michael Tanner

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Parsifal Royal Opera House presumably Bernard Haitink took, or was administered, a huge overdose of Valium before he began conducting Parsifal at the Royal Opera last week. What...

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Night of disaster

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Deborah Ross The Wedding 15, Key Cities Honestly, Polish films. They come over here, open in cinemas — our cinemas; your local Odeon — and, if that weren't enough, they are...

Scholastic mystery Lloyd Evans

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Doubt: A Parable Tricycle Sweet William Arcola Othello Donmar Doubt: A Parable is a small intriguing play set in a New York Catholic school. When a 12-year-old boy is caught...

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Embracing Grainger

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Robin Holloway What can it be, this squat semicircular structure nestled inconspicuous yet peculiar amid the faculties and offices along the leafy university stretch of Royal...

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World winner

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Kate Chisholm eventy-five years ago this coming Thursday the 'Empire Service' was born, just in time for George V to announce its arrival in his very first Christmas broadcast...

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Seasonal shortcomings

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James Delingpole orry, you're not getting your Christmas present this year. Yes, I know what you want: one of those columns where I avoid TV altogether and just rant madly about...

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Botanical exactitude

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Ursula Buchan As I spend much of my life in a flower bed, bottom up, I rarely consciously make the connection between the flowers that I grow in my garden and their more...

Speeding questions

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Alan Judd G When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?' John Maynard Keynes retorted to a critic. A pity he's not here to ask the same question of the...

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Speaking out

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Robin Oakley Upper Lambourn trainer Charlie Mann, who was forcibly retired as a jockey in 1989 by breaking his neck after riding around 150 winners, lists his hobby as 'having...

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On the buses

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Jeremy Clarke There was a bus shelter, but it had no sides and the icy wind was blowing the rain horizontally at us. We huddled together, all eyes on the bus-driver. A...

Joining the hypocrites

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Taki It is that time of year again. The time for peace and goodwill to all men. Mind you, goodwill towards all men is getting harder by the minute, what with those psychopathic...

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Down Mexico way

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Aidan Hartley Nogales, Mexico fter the purgatory of Arizona, I was so happy to cross the Mexico frontier I could have French-kissed the filthy streets. It was just like home in...

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Right of passage

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Melissa Kite Irealise that I have for some time been approaching my life with all the flexibility of an Orangeman. Every day I march my traditional route to a well-known...

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The price is right

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Alex James The Christmas tree is big enough for the children to climb. The small ones could get lost inside somewhere. Every year that guy gets it exactly right. His expertise...

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Christmas takes time

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Rachel Simhon says that home-made is the new luxury ne of the reasons that Christmas gets such a bad press these days is that — against all reason — the more affluent we...

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Revenge of the power suit

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Politicians now know they must look the part, says Dylan Jones Two thousand and seven will be remembered as the year when power dressing returned with a vengeance. It was the...

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y life as an aspiring clubman

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Oscar Humphries dreams of long lunches at the Garrick 1 f I had a Who's Who entry, it would state that I am a member of the Grouch° Club. This membership was given to me by my...

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New found land

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Neil Collins considers buying a holiday home in Canada So along comes another of those Lim bonus things Ten a penny, so to speak, in the City nowadays, and the real challenge is...

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What's to do in Auckland?

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Lots, actually, says Jonathan Ray They call Auckland the City of Sails: City of Gales more like. Having boarded the plane in Christchurch in brilliant sunshine, we were told by...

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What your Christmas card says about you (and it's not usually very nice)

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TOBY YOUNG When a person does something to remind you of their superior status, I often wonder whether he or she is fully in control of what they're doing. Namedroppers, for...

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Dear Maly Once again Mary has invited some of her favourite Persons of Distinction to submit queries for her Christmas consideration. From Edward McMillan-Scott, European...

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Thanks for having me

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FRANK Kr TimeMy good father was a fellow of unlikely parts. A cityborn London Irishman who worked all his life in farming, his twin obsessions were the Catholic Church and the...