15 JUNE 2002

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D owning Street dropped its complaint to the Press Complaints Commission

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against The Spectator, the London Evening Standard and the Mail on Sunday over stories that aides to Mr Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, sought a more prominent role for him at...

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T he scalp of Dr Crippen was famously won in 1910 by the then newfangled invention, wireless telegraphy. As the poisoner attempted to make his escape to America aboard the SS...

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F ootball rather passed me by as a child. I went to a prep school where the Germany/Saudi Arabia goal difference was a normal Saturday afternoon's result, and I was never good...

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It is time for Alastair Campbell to go

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STEPHEN GLOVER verybody seems to know why the government has withdrawn its complaint to the Press Complaints Commission about articles that appeared during April in this...

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What is the best treatment for the sad MPs who persist in abusing our children?

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FRANK JOHNSON N ewspapers reported this week that the all-party parliamentary committee on human rights questioned, in a committee room, six children, aged ten to 16, on the...

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Peter Oborne says that the secret evidence of Black Rod foiled Downing Street's attempt to gag The Spectator Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell must be praying that the report...

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I should say at this point that I have never

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met or talked to Black Rod or, so far as I am aware, any members of his office. There are menacing signs that Greenslade — whether operating on his own behalf or at the...

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He fell for the boss's daughter during a political row, but Eric Iorio is finding Marine Le Pen hard work. Philip Delves Broughton reports Paris COHABITING with Jean Marie Le...

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The people of Ulster are being abandoned, says Andrew Gimson, and the peace process may be about to go up in flames Belfast THE Protestants are losing Belfast. Previously...

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Ancient & modern

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IN contradiction to the linear theory of time — i.e., that the universe started with a Big Bang about 15 million years ago — two leading cosmologists have proposed that the...

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Bush is doing badly on the domestic front, says Mark Steyn. He should realise that his is a war presidency or it is nothing New Hampshire THE political season is starting up....

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There may be trouble ahead, says Tim Congdon, but this time the house-price boom needn't end in bust LIKE the best soap operas, the rise in British house prices never ends....

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Mind your language

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A READER, Mr Clifford Dunkley, writes in to comment on the word goylelgowl (1 June), which I had discussed in the sense of 'mountain pass' or 'throat'. He notes that in...


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Middle England's favourite pizza chain knows how to provide nice toilet facilities, but is it a rip-off? Deborah Ross investigates WELCOME, everyone, to this first-ever report...

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In the chatter of the magpie there is a moral tale of our times

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PAUL JOHNSON M any attempts have been made to encapsulate our times — the Age of Anxiety, the Mendacious Age, and so on. I call it the Age of the Magpie. These birds are...

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Too many yes-men

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From Mr Frederick Forsyth Sir: Andrew Gimson ('Germany isn't working'. 8 June) is, as ever, perceptive in all matters concerning Germany, but in lamenting the death of...

Stalin's unique vileness

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From Mr Stephen Schwartz Sir: Although I agreed with most of Geoffrey Wheatcroft's double review of Christopher Hitchens's Orwell's Victory and Ronald Radosh, Mary R. Habeck...

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Painful pageants

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From Mr Timothy O'Sullivan Sir: The pop concert at Buckingham Palace was certainly grotesque, as Stephen Glover says (Media studies, 8 June), but then so was its 'classical'...

When nine was enough

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From Mr Mathew Lu Sir: Daniel Hannan (`Stop the superstate', 8 June) wrote, The US Constitution did not come into force until each of the 13 member states had ratified it...

Fly safely with Steyn

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From Captain Vincent Czaplyski Sir: Please, please tell me whether there's a way Mark Steyn could be nominated to replace Norman Mineta as US transportation secretary, or...

Para normal

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From Mr Julian Spilsbuty Sir: Does Sion Simon ('Ingerland expects. . ',8 June) really think that Paras 'applaud' at military funerals? He should get out more. Julian Spilsbuty...

Don't be mean

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From Mr James Methuen-Campbell Sir: I consider Selina Hastings's negative review of my Denton Welch book (Books, 1 June) a trifle mean. She compares it unfavourably with Michael...

Smoke signal

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From Mr Neville Beale Sir: Admiral Beaufort's wind scale ('An admirable admiral', Books, 8 June) was still of real use to Royal Air Force navigators on long-range meteorological...

The suspecting bank

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From Mr Peter Raebum-Ward Sir: Barclays Bank have just telephoned me regarding my 16-year-old son's account. Although I have banked with them for more than 40 years, my...

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Mirror, mirror, on the wall

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W hen I received my proof copy of Rosamond Lehmann from this magazine, it was already well-thumbed. This, for a reviewer, is always actively cheering, for it is the infallible...

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A Jewish broth of a girl

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Zenga Longmore HOME FIRES by Shivaun Woolfson Atlantic Books. £16.99, pp. 264, ISBN 1903809495 S oon', I kept thinking as I flipped the pages of Shivaun Woolfson's book,...

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Three in search of civilisation

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Fatema Ahmed THE DREAM OF SCIPIO by fain Pears Cape,I17.99, pp. 393, ISBN 0224060163 l ain Pears's acclaimed historical thriller, An Instance of the Fingetpost, was set in the...

The mystery of the face cream

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Katie Grant STILL HERE by Linda Grant Little, Brown, £16.99, pp, 373, ISBN 0316869958 S till Here is an extremely busy book. One of the attractions as well as one of the flaws...

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Douglas Johnson EXTREMITIES: PAINTING EMPIRE IN POSTREVOLUTIONARY FRANCE by Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby Yale, £50, pp. 393, ISBN 0300088876 O n 3 June 1793 Robespierre addressed his...

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Before the meeting of the twain

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David Crane THE MAKING OF THE POETS: BYRON AND SHELLEY IN THEIR TIME by Ian Gilmour Chatto, £20, pp. 402, ISBN 0701171103 I t seems almost impossible to like both Byron and...

The giant of the north

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John Vincent THEODORE REX by Edmund Morris HatperCollins, £25, pp. 772, ISBN 0002177080 A tnerican presidents are mostly a drab lot. The presidents between Lincoln and 1900...

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Mad about flowers

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Jane Gardam THE COMPLEAT NATURALIST: THE LIFE OF LINNAEUS by Wilfrid Blunt Frances Lincoln. £25, pp. 264, ISBN 0711218412 T his is a revised and updated edition of the...

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Would you buy a used car?

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Peter Kilfoyle THE BLAIR REVOLUTION REVISITED by Peter Mandelson Politico's, £9.99, pp. 268, ISBN 1842750399 S ix years ago, when many of us still naively regarded New Labour...

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Ancestral voices prophesying war

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Piers Paul Read THE SHADE OF SWORDS: JIHAD AND THE CONFLICT BETWEEN ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY by M. J. Akbar Rout/edge, £16.99, pp. 320, ISBN 0415284708 T he Shade of Swords is a...

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Beware: stagnation ahead

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Stephen Pettitt believes opera houses should include less-known work among the old favourites I don't know what it is. I know very well that, mostly, the opera houses try. Each...

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Parry's puzzles

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Alan Powers A recent MORI poll revealed that only 12 per cent of a random sample in Britain were correctly able to name a living architect. Apart from the further 4 per cent...

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Great sport

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Mark Steyn A dapting Spider-Man isn't like adapting Jane Austen, where you can chop characters and stick in lesbian scenes to your heart's content. Mess with a comic-book...

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Food for thought

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Michael Tanner C osi fan tune is the opera of Mozart's which enjoys highest esteem at present, at any rate among critics who have seen all the most popular ones countless...

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What a cracker!

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Toby Young I was hoping to write my first ever review from the other side of the footlights this week. About three months ago Julie Burchill asked me if I'd be prepared to make...

Football overload

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Michael Vestey \When a reviewer in the Radio Times suggested recently that listeners might wish to escape from coverage of the Queen's Golden Jubilee it seemed to me that he...

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Ten reasons to watch

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James Delingpole A ter the first episode of Six Feet Under (Channel 4 Monday; E4 Wednesday) I felt so deliriously happy that I found myself dancing a little jig round the room,...

Lows and highs

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Robin Oakley N ewmarket trainer Michael Jarvis had entered the winner's enclosure after a Derby once before, in 1966, as the stable lad escorting that year's winner...

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God's best berry

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Simon Courtauld I f gooseberries are so named (according to one, not wholly convincing, account) because they were traditionally eaten in summer with a young goose, what about...

Take two F words

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Alan Judd B ig Cats have been on my mind recently. Not only the svelte and beautiful Jaguar XKR that came to visit, but the company itself. Is it in danger? If it is, it's not...

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Cracking up

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Taki T hree oiks ruined it for me on Concorde coming over. Modern-day travel is bad enough as it is, but to pay through the nose and then have to sit and listen to swine who...

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Cat wars

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Jeremy Clarke F or his birthday, I got my landlord a carrier-bag full of lion dung. I'd heard a programme on Radio Four about how to keep cats out of your garden. This chap was...

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A thing of beauty

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Neil Collins M ajor John Parry was the countryman's countryman. In 1941, having been declared unfit to go and biff the Bosch, he was posted to Lockerbie to teach others how,...

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Going places

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Petronella Wyatt I should like to begin this column by refuting — impolitely of course — the claims of the lady who wrote in last week saying that the tale I told of an...

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Bad guys come last

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Michael Henderson IT could not possibly have turned out better. England caned Argentina in Sapporo and then Lennox Lewis humiliated Mike Tyson, the self-confessed `baddest man...

Q. My husband needs to be in London for his

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work at least two nights of every week, so we have bought a flat there. I often come up and stay with him, but equally often I can't because I have children and things to...

A. All is fair in love and war, and it

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is important that you sustain your marriage. You must therefore take the following, deceitful steps. Next time you go to London, make a point of having your new neighbour to...

Q. May I remind readers of an old-fashioned but practical

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way of dealing with the problem of minor spills and splashes on a table where one is pouring drinks? A linen napkin laid out on the relevant area acts as an aesthetically...

A. Thank you for taking time in your busy schedule to send in this tip.

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Mary Killen If you have a problem, write to Dear Mary, c10 56 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LL.