16 NOVEMBER 2002

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M r Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, in a speech at

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the Lord Mayor's Banquet, said that 'hardly a day goes by without some new piece of intelligence coming via our security services about a threat to UK interests': This is a new...

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T urkey has for centuries been a convenient European metaphor for all that is evil, but in truth there is very little that Turkey stands historically accused of which Europe has...

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W hatever critics might say about Martin Anus's Kobra the Dread, his recent book on Stalin's atrocities, he was certainly right when he pointed out that people are generally...

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Mr Blair looks nice and talks Tory, but is presiding over a vast increase in state power

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ANDREW GIMSON T o watch Tony Blair at the Lord Mayor's Banquet on Monday night was to be reminded that nobody is better at delivering a certain kind of speech. The actual...

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Rod Liddle says the Queen has reason to weep. So does lain Duncan Smith. The values of the late Princess are imperilling both the monarchy and the Tory party CAUGHT on camera...

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Mind your language

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MR lain Duncan Smith, with his calm, Japanese face, introduced an American note into his 'unite or die' speech last week. He quoted Benjamin Franklin (1706-90), or almost did,...


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Simon Heifer says there is only one way to end the bitching and queening WHEN, earlier this year, The Spectator revealed the extent of the influence and the modus operandi of...

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Robert Baker says the threat of most bio-ten-or is exaggerated . . . apart from smallpox DON'T PANIC! The enemy has anthrax, plague, botulism, poison gas, dirty bombs and...

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Ancient & modern

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HOW delightfully Roman the Tory party seems at the moment! One would hardly know a 'party' exists at all. Despite Michael Portillo's recent assertion that no democratic system...


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Mick Hume says that the arguments against a war with Iraq are even more pathetic than those for it EXACTLY which planet is Donald Rumsfeld on? The question occurred to me...

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Mary Kenny on the girl rebels such as Madonna and Melanie Phillips who turned into Mothers of Morality I WAS glad to read that Madonna, the singer, had delivered herself of a...

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Daniel Kruger says Labour wants to implement Tory health reforms — but Gordon Brown stands in the way IT might not seem much of a name to conjure with. Henry Willink was the...

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Banned wagon

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EVERYBODY likes the idea of saving endangered species, but it is notable how the zeal with which Western governments will defend them seems to grow in proportion to the distance...

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Those who knock Israel are motivated by malice and ignorance, says Douglas Davis LAST week's unambiguous Republican victory in the US mid-term elections, followed swiftly by...

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Rachel Johnson says students are receiving bogus degrees, because dons are too frightened to hurt their feelings IN an obituary of Antony Andrewes, Wykeham professor of...

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In the last five years half a million AB readers have deserted the broadsheets. Why?

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STEPHEN GLOVER T here is one person in the world whom I would love to meet. Or maybe two. I am thinking of the propagandist who writes the monthly front-page 'brief in the...

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Distressed gentlefolk and daisy chains are the City's cause for concern

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CHRISTOPHER FILDES S pare a copper. The Friends of Friendless Shares, a City charity to which so many of us make involuntary contributions, has a new cause on its hands:...

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An epithalamium to celebrate the marriage of poetry and voice

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PAUL JOHNSON I f more poetry were read aloud, and read well, more people would read it for themselves. Verse and voice go together, are complementary, each bringing out...

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Tax-collector Ken

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From Mr John Kennedy Sir: Kate Chisholm ('Road wage', 9 November) is right that the congestion charge will make matters worse, but then it was never intended to make London less...

Modernise the message

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From Mr Malcolm Gooderham Sir: Re. Nick Herbert's article (Conservative cowards'. 9 November). To describe modernising conservatism as being about ditching a belief in the free...

Balkan muddle

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From Nebojsa Malic Sir: Stephen Schwartz's latest article (From Belgrade to Baghdad', 2 November) is chock-full of acrimony but skimps on anything approaching facts. All through...

Critical barrier

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From Valentine Guinness Sir: Congratulations to Toby Young (Is it curtains for the theatre?'. 9 November) for his excellent piece on the state of theatre in this country. I was...

White man in Kenya

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From Mr Patrick Gilbert-Hopkins Sir: As a white citizen of Kenya, I read Aidan Hartley's comments (Wild life. 5 October) on the lack of white engagement in the country's...

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Temerarious judgment

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From The Hon. Gerard Noel Sir: I read with interest His Honour Malcolm Potter's letter (9 November) regarding my review of A Moral Reckoning (Books, 2 November). His uncritical...

Lloyd George and Major

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From Mr Jack Johnstone Sir: I enjoyed Charles Kennedy's review (Books, 9 November) of the late John Grigg's latest volume on Lloyd George. However, his reading of the incident...

Outwitting Stalin

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From Mr Robert Davies Sir: Harry Eyres (Arts, 9 November) has not got his Stalin story quite right. Stalin was indeed delighted by Maria Yudina's performance of a Mozart...

Not one for the pot

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From Mr Christopher Booker Sir: It seems that in my article (Killer peak', 2 November) about nearly climbing Kilimanjaro I was misinformed in claiming that my ancestor Bishop...

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The royal problem may have more to do with showers than with mysterious powers

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FRANK JOHNSON have not checked the exact wording, but Mr Paul Burrell quoted the Queen as having warned him: 'There are forces at work in this country of which we have no...

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Rupert Christiansen

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How embarrassing. The authors of the four books I have most relished this year — Nicola Shulman's elegant monograph A Rage for Rock Gardening (Short Books, £9.99), Virginia...

Anita Brookner

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Nothing has pleased me much this year, although the desire to read a well-made book is if anything sharper than ever. Exception is made for The Little Friend by Donna Tartt...

Jonathan Sumption

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This has been a year of completing some long-running multi-volume works, filling gaps that have stood for years like missing teeth on my shelves. The 12th volume of the Pilgrim...

Digby Anderson

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This year I have experimented with buying books not directly for their author, topic or literary merit but by colour. Green books have turned out to be a great success. One...

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Robert Macfarlane

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Three books, all non-fiction, particularly impressed me this year. William Fiennes's beautiful travelogue The Snow Geese (Picador, £14.99) went some way towards closing the gap...

P. J. Kavanagh

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Journals, honest self-examinations day by day, observations of internal and external weathers, can be fascinating. Philip Toynbee's two, Part of a Journey and End of a Journey,...

M. R. D. Foot

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Saul David's The Indian Mutiny (Viking. £20) is a rarity: a sound history book without a dull page in it. He torpedoes the leftwing myth that it was an Indian movement of...

Francis King

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This year brought a number of good works of fiction. It also brought one great one. Andrei Makine's A Life's Music (Sceptre, £12.99) is no more than 106 pages long; but...

John Mortimer

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The Booker shortlist for the year 1847-48 could have included Dombey and Son, Wuthering Heights and Vanity Fair. The Communist Manifesto might have been entered for Whitbread....

Christopher Howse

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A great treat was Discovering Aquinas by Aidan Nichols (Darton, Longman & Todd, £12.95). Aquinas, perhaps the cleverest man who ever lived, has not been well served by some of...

Philip Hensher

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The fiction I enjoyed most this year was Claire Messud's masterly The Hunters (Picador, £12.99), an astonishing display of technical virtuosity and revealed feeling, and A. L....

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D. J . Taylor

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Three biographies I particularly enjoyed were Ann Thwaite's subtly wrought Glimpses of the Wonderful: Philip Henry Gosse 1810-1878 (Faber, £25), Hilary Spurling's partial but...

Bevis Hillier

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A book which didn't get many reviews, perhaps because it was spin-off from a television series, was John Sutherland's Reading the Decades: Fifty Years of the Nation's...

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Killingly funny revenge

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Philip Hensher MY LIFE AS ME by Barry Humphries Penguin/Michael Joseph, £16.99, pp. 374, ISBN 0718145410 A n odd hut indisputable fact about Barry Humphries emerges from the...

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So near and yet so far from the target

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Alan Coren NUMBER TEN by Sue Townsend Penguin, 05.99, pp. 324, ISBN 071814368X H igh on the teetering list of all the things that, down the long arches of the hacking years,...

The reign of King John

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Michael Vestey THE HARDER PATH by John Birt Time Warner Books, £20, pp. 511, ISBN 0316860190 W hen, in these pages, John Birt expresses wonderment at how the boy from Bootle...

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The gate lodge to the big house

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John McEwen IRELAND'S PAINTERS by Anne Crookshank and the Knight of Glin Yale, £40, pp. 365, ISBN 0300097654 T his book succeeds The Painters of Ireland, published in 1978,...

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Overdone and undercooked

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A. N. Wilson JOHN BETJEMAN, VOLUME II, NEW FAME, NEW LOVE by Bevis Hillier John Murray, £25, pp. 736, ISBN 0719550025 h is is a hopeless mishmash of a book. It is over 600...

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Servant of a theory

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John Keegan SUPREME COMMAND: SOLDIERS, STATESMEN AND LEADERSHIP IN WARTIME by Eliot A. Cohen The Free Press! Simon & Schuster, £17.99, pp. 288, ISBN 0743230493 D uring the Cuban...

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Beating the Wet Blanket

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Judith Keppel MILLIONAIRE MOMENTS: WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE — MY STORY by Chris Tarrant Time Warner Books, £7.99, pp. 358, ISBN 0316724564 I am not an avid television...

Jellicles, Gumbies and others

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Doris Lessing THE NINE EMOTIONAL LIVES OF CATS by Jeffrey Masson Cape, £16.99, pp. 264, ISBN 0345448820 h e cat books I like least generalise: All cats are proud ... selfish...

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The long, hopeful journey with many changes

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Gabriele Annan SLIPSTREAM: A MEMOIR by Elizabeth Jane Howard Macmillan, £20, pp. 493, ISBN 0333903498 A s a book reviewer for Queen magazine, Elizabeth Jane Howard worked on...

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Some very cross references

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Byron Rogers BREWER'S ROGUES, VILLAINS AND ECCENTRICS by William Donaldson Cassell, £20, pp. 672, ISBN 0304357286 M r William Donaldson, the most subversive and mischievous...

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Who wore the royal trousers?

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Philip Mansel THE FALL OF THE FRENCH MONARCHY by Munro Price Pan Macmillan, £20, pp, 448, ISBN 0333901932 R evolutions no longer seem so inevitable, nor the overthrown...

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Skeletons of mermaids . . .

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Patrick Skene Caning CABINETS OF CURIOSITIES by Patrick Mauries Thames & Hudson, £39.95, pp. 256, ISBN 050510911 P rivate collections of miscellaneous oddities, valuable works...

. . . and truncheons and snowdrops

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Mary Keen ADVENTURES OF A COLLECTOR by Alistair McAlpine Allen & Unwin, .E9.99, pp. 248, ISBN 1865087866 A listair McAlpine, one-time treasurer of the Tory party, is not a...

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A damned dark dozen

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Sam Phipps INDELIBLE ACTS by A. L. Kennedy Cape. £12. (19, pp. 212. ISBN 022406259X I ndelible Acts is A. L. Kennedy's first book of fiction since Everything You Need, which...

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The return of Kurtz's horror

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Alan Wall DOG DAYS by Jeffrey Lee Bantam, £10.99, pp. 316, ISBN 0593050452 M arlow, the narrator of much of Conrad's Heart of Darkness, called it the fascination of the...

Simple, spray-painted slogans

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Martin Vander Weyer FENCES AND WINDOWS by Naomi Klein Flamingo. £8.99, pp. 267, ISBN 0007150474 A n awful lot has happened since the Canadian journalist Naomi Klein shot to...

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Heroes, villains and bugbears

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Helen Osborne FLIRTATION. SEDUCTION, BETRAYAL by Nigel Farndale Constable, £14.99, pp. 391, ISBN 0747560803 U nlike most journalistic cobble jobs, this collection of Nigel...

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Growing up the hard way

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Theo Richmond AWAKENING LIVES: AUTOBIOGRAPHIES OF JEWISH YOUTH IN POLAND BEFORE THE HOLOCAUST edited by Jeffrey Shandler Yale. 125, pp. 437, ISBN 00300092776 Y ou don't have to...

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Where's the quality control?

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Stephen Pettitt finds disappointingly low critical standards on the Internet A time there was, not so long ago, when the Internet was going to be mankind's most glorious...

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Manet Velazquez (Musee d'Orsay, till 5 January)

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Confusing collection Nicholas Powell W hen this show opened recently at the Musee d'Orsay it had them queuing round the block. Very quickly, however, word got round that the...

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Richard Parker Bonington: Young and Romantic (Nottingham Castle, till 2 February)

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Who is RPB? Laura Gascoigne I t is not right in a young man to assume great dash — great completion — without study or pains,' complained Constable in a letter of 1830. '...

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The Electrification of the Soviet Union (Linbury Studio, Royal Opera House) Xerxes (Coliseum) All change Michael Tanner I t's no news that, difficult as it may be to get an...

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Moody markets

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Susan Moore I t did not take long for the two fantastical prices of the London summer season to shake the golden apple tree. In July, the previously unknown Rubens of the...

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Bowling for Columbine (15, selected cinemas)

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One man's vision Mark Steyn B °Kling for Columbine is the latest documentary from Michael Moore, the leftwing multi-millionaire provocateur in his usual cunning disguise as an...

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The Price (Tricycle) Mappa Mundi (Cottesloe) Arcadia (Salisbury Playhouse)

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Masterful Miller Toby Young M any people consider The Price Arthur Miller's best play and after seeing the production at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn it's hard to disagree....

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Gripping indictment

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James Delingpole T he first time I ever saw the New Labour machine in action was during last year's election campaign at a Millbank press conference. It filled me with a...

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Beguiling voices

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Michael Vestey I don't listen regularly to Pick of the Week on Radio Four but a fortnight ago I was a captive audience in the sense that I was lying weakly in a hospital bed...

Exmoor mobilised

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Charles Moore W e had a good opening meet in the Vale of Tears Hunt (VT). We ran hard, killed two and a half brace, and our MP fell off. He had quite rightly decided to prevent...

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Racing traditions

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Robin Oakley M rs Oakley having decided unaccountably that she preferred a day being massaged, wrapped in seaweed derivatives and sipping cool white wine on the hotel terrace...

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Hot property

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Simon Courtauld I dug up the horseradish on the last day of October and, as in past years, my wife and I cleaned and scraped the roots before putting them in the freezer. We...

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Mercedes power

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Alan Judd T he Mercedes E-Class is possibly the world's most aspired-to saloon, so a new model is therefore not to be missed. I had the petrol E 320 V6 on test. Having driven...

Animal behaviour

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Taki ZNew York oomorphism, the representation of human beings as animals, is not an exact science, but it does come in handy at times. Don't these royal butlers and courtiers...

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Musn't grumble

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Jeremy Clarke I ye got a new car. Well, a new old one. Ford Orion GLS injection. G reg. Hardly any rust. Driven previously by a nervous nun, according to Trevor, who sold it to...

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Tragic syndrome

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Petronella Wyatt T he most damaging allegation in this whole farce of the Paul Burrell trial is the by now fabled 'rape' tape recorded by Diana, Princess of Wales, at the...

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Beckham? Give me Beckenbauer

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Michael Henderson Sydney THERE are many delights in spending a few weeks in Australia during the English winter, and one of them is getting away from the BBC, a great...

Q. During lunch at the house of some friends of

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my parents. I was put between two boys from Bryanston who talked across me through each course as though I didn't exist. I did not take their rudeness personally — in fact. I...

Q. This week I am due to attend a theatrical

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performance in a small, semi-private theatre in London's West End. I happen to know that most of the audience will be of a certain social rank: e.g., people who are interested...

Q. May I pass on a tip to readers who

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arc short of money but perhaps looking for an all-purpose, sheer black top of the type now so fashionable but usually retailing for about £200 or £300 from a named designer? In...