15 FEBRUARY 2003

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T housands prepared to march to Hyde Park in London to demonstrate opposition to war against Iraq; they included Mr Charles Kennedy, the leader of the Liberal Democrat party....

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T he government has a thing about the mediaeval period. Charles Clarke complains that universities 'have governance systems that stretch back to mediaeval times'. David Blunkett...

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MINETTE MARRIN I f diaries are all about name-dropping and indiscretion, and they usually are, perhaps I should say that I had lunch on Tuesday with the Prime Minister at No....

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No backwoods, octogenarian, crypto-fascist Tory is more obscurantist than Lord Irvine ROD LIDDLE A. 'cording to Gordon Brown at the weekend, Derry Irvine was so aghast at the...

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VICTORY FOR SADDAM Lloyd Evans had an open mind until he joined the peace movement and met Bianca Jagger I'M bursting with excitement. I can hardly get the words down fast...

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Ancient & modern

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WHETHER war against Iraq is justified or not, hardly a day goes by without someone condemning it because (a) the enemy will be crushingly defeated and (b) the West will seize...

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Conrad Black says that Tony Blair is acting in the national interest by being George W Bush's principal ally THE President of the United States said on the evening of 11...

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Mind your language

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I AM excited by a letter from Kensington, but before that let me notice a fear ful symmetry between Martin Bashir's interview with Michael Jackson and the advertisements that...


The Spectator

Jonathan Maitland says that the popularity of Scrabble is at an all-time high WHAT is the greatest board game in the world? It's a tough one. Chess, with its infinite variety,...

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Banned wagon: global

The Spectator

A weekly survey of world restrictions on freedom and free trade JAMES TOOLEY recently wrote in these pages of the success of private schools in Africa and India, which in the...

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Phil Craig marched against cruise missiles, but now believes that Bush will be vindicated WE were there for peace. We were there to confront the American cowboy warmonger. We...

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Matthew Leeming visits an Afghan death row and finds the inmates surprisingly cheerful WALKING down the Panjshir Valley with my guide Tayub, I was followed by a long skein of...

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From wild boar piglets to the dray horse's battering sandal PAUL JOHNSON W hich is the most striking representation of an animal in art? I ask this after having been ravished...

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If only more prominent people dared to be pompous FRANK JOHNSON I n common with millions of other Irvineists up and down the country, I sometimes wonder whether we, as a...

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Racing uncertainties

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From Dr Andrew D. Lawson Sir: The inability to discuss racial difference without being pilloried as a racist is well illustrated by Rod Liddle's article on black athletes...

The ludicrous UN

The Spectator

From Mr Oleg Gordievsky Sir: Analysis of the 20th century's history makes me entirely agree with Mark Steyn's conclusions ('Let's quit the UN', 8 February). The UN's foundation...

Capo Berlusconi

The Spectator

From Mr Ronald Harrison Sir: Count Capponi (Letters, 8 February) typifies the reaction of so many Italians when confronted with home truths — they prefer not to believe them and...

No coward

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From Mr Kenneth Beecham Sir: Much as one despises Hitler for the misery he inflicted, Andrew Roberts (Books, 8 February) is surely at fault in describing Adolf as a coward....

Chuff Daddy

The Spectator

From F. Gxynplaine MacIniyre Sir: Andrew Lambirth (Arts, 1 February) has speculated as to the meaning of the railway engine in Giorgio de Chirico's paintings. It is true that...

Iraq's French connection

The Spectator

From Mr Alasdair Ogilvy Sir: Your correspondent Dr Metzger (Letters, 8 February) is one of the Old Europeans whom The Simpsons refers to as 'surrender monkeys'. His pessimistic...

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Why Tony's not for turning

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From Mr Ron West Sir: Matthew Parris's brilliant suggestion (Another voice. 8 February) about Tony Blair leading the Tories occurred to me many months ago when I read a...

Phial bodies

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From Mr Walter Kennedy Sir: At a crucial presentation at the UN, Colin Powell produced a phial of look-alike anthrax and described the harm done by an equivalent amount in the...

TB is controllable

The Spectator

From Mr Paul Sornmelfeld and Dr Peter Davies Sir: Your cover story by Anthony Browne ('How the government endangers British lives', 25 January) was deeply depressing and...

Mugabe's monsterings

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From Mr George Fleet Sir: Please could I beg you to keep up your coverage of the troubles in Zimbabwe? In the past week two single and elderly women have been harassed in their...

Wanted: Oakeshottiana

The Spectator

From Dr Robert Grant Sir: As the official biographer of the philosopher Michael Oakeshott (1901-90), I should be most grateful for any information or reminiscences your readers...

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Charge and counter-charge Ken puts a spoke in the wheel of Gavyn Arthur's coach CHRISTOPHER FILDES L ord Mayor Gavyn Arthur has to keep his golden coach in the Museum of...

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British editors are in a quandary: can they back the war if their readers don't? STEPHEN GLOVER W ar is traditionally good for newspapers. Of course, if newsprint is rationed...

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Articles of faith

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Robert Macfarlane A DEVIL'S CHAPLAIN by Richard Dawkins Weidenfeld, £16.99, pp. 264, ISBN 0297829734 R ichard Dawkins loves fighting. More precisely, he loves winning. To be...

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She fashioned her future

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Nicky Haslam DIANA VREELAND by Eleanor Dwight HamerCollins Inc/Morrow, £30, pp. 320, ISBN 0688167381 Jr udging by her own ideals of beauty and drama. Diana Dalziel's arrival in...

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Why is a birch-tree like a melon?

The Spectator

Emma Tennant THE BOTANICAL GARDEN VOLUME L TREES AND SHRUBS, VOLUME II: PERENNIALS AND ANNUALS by Roger Phillips and Marlyn Rix Macmillan, £50 each T his is the time of year...

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Homage to A. B. Roger

The Spectator

Robert Oakeshott BEYOND NAB END by William Woodruff Abacus, £6.99. pp. 312, ISBN 0349116229 Woodruff you have not come to Oxford to take examinations, you have come to learn....

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When Irish eyes were smiling

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Miranda France THE EMPRESS OF SOUTH AMERICA by Nigel Cawthorne Heinemann, 112.99, pp. 314, ISBN 0434008982 THE SHADOWS OF ELISA LYNCH by Sian Rees Review. £14.99, pp. 343,...

Looking and looking away

The Spectator

Andrew Gimson ON THE NATURAL HISTORY OF DESTRUCTION by W. G. Sebald Hamish Hamilton, £16.99, pp. 206, ISBN 0241141265 S ebald is perturbed by the almost complete failure of...

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Aspects of love

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Lloyd Evans THE HONEY GATHERERS: A BOOK OF LOVE POEMS edited by Maura Dooley Bloodaxe, 19.95, pp. 320, ISBN 1852243597 loodaxe, Britain's leading independent publisher of...

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A palpable hit

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Kevin Jackson PRETTY GIRL IN CRIMSON ROSE (8) by Sandy Balfour Atlantic Books. £1299, pp. 198, ISBN 1843540363 I f you happen to be one of those maddeningly quick-witted or...

Claws unsheathed in Fleet Street

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Simon Heifer PLAYING THE GAME by Sarah Sands Macmillan, 110.99, pp. 247, ISBN 0333905547 S ometimes I have lounged in other people's bathrooms and read a few pages of what I...

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Only slightly under the influence

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Felipe Fernandez-Armesto HOW RUSSIA SHAPED THE MODERN WORLD: FROM ART TO ANTISEMITISM, BALLET TO BOLSHEVISM by Steven G. Marks Princeton, £19.95, pp. 393. ISBN 0691096848 T he...

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Ringling's big top Baroque

The Spectator

Susan Moore on one of the great unsung art collections in America C a d'Zan? Even the most seasoned traveller looks puzzled. For this Venetian Gothic edifice — its name means...

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Arthur Rackham (Dulwich Picture Gallery, till 2 March)

The Spectator

King of Fairyland Laura Gascoigne T his year, two giants of modern British book illustration usher Dulwich Picture Gallery's programme in and out: Arthur Rackham (1867-1939)...

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Mies van der Rohe 1905-1938 (Whitechapel, till 2 March)

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Artist and visionary Mark Glazebrook W hen the Whitechapel mounted retrospectives of giants such as Pollock and Rothko in the late Fifties and Sixties, these painters seemed...

Sensual journey

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Alan Powers 'H ow do people get here?' asked one of the press corps who had come by coach from central London last week to a special viewing of the new Laban Centre at Deptford...

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Tosca; Idomeneo (Opera North, Lowry. Salford Quays)

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Subversive power Michael Tanner f the various kinds of bore I've dreaded becoming, especially as an opera reviewer, a Tosca-bore (for or against) seemed to be one of the least...

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A Passage to India (Riverside) Black Milk (Royal Court) Peer Gynt (Arcola) From elephant to rocks Toby Young I n his memoirs, the Broadway playwright S.N. Behrman claims that...

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The Hours (12A, selected cinemas) Acting sad Mark Steyn W ell, The Hours managed a Best Picture nomination, but come the big night it will lose to Chicago. Offered the choice...

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Money talked Michael Vestey I f everything in life is politics, as the former Archbishop Desmond Tutu declared emphatically on Radio Four last Saturday, then the world is...

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Final demand James Delingpole I do so hate those must-see Sunday/Monday TV dramas. You can't not watch the first part because what if it turns out to be really good and you're...


The Spectator

Up in America Charles Moore J et-lagged, 1 wake with the dawn, and think of Sir Thomas Browne's words about drowsiness and time difference: 'The huntsmen are up in America,...

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The turf

The Spectator

English talent Robin Oakley I t was definitely not my day at Newbury on Saturday. It is a bit of a giveaway when you are seen visiting the cash machine after the first four...

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Food for thought

The Spectator

For the rustics Simon Courtauld O ver the centuries, leeks have had a bad press. The Oxford Dictionary gives several references in literature to something 'not worth a leek',...

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No grit

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Alan Judd A few gusts of snow, enough to decorate the trees and sting your cheeks but not enough to settle on London's roads; it melted there. Then the clouds cleared, the...

High life

The Spectator

Superior living Taki w Paris hy do the French have to be so bloody-minded?' asked a Daily Telegraph headline last week. Well, sitting in Café Flore, sipping a very good white...

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Low life

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Woo Woos and woe Jeremy Clarke F or my birthday treat, we started off at a trendy cocktail bar in Covent Garden. We were there bang on opening time. Were we eating, said the...

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Petronella Wyatt I am not in the least bit surprised that the Americans are furious and bewildered by the churlish actions of France and Germany which are now threatening to...

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New life of Brian Michael Henderson Cape Town THE cricket World Cup, which is being staged in South Africa for the first time, got off to a flying start at Newlands, the...


The Spectator

Dear Mary. . . Q. I have a very dear friend who lives in increasingly bohemian circumstances in the country. He and his wife have repeatedly asked us to stay with them on one...