17 DECEMBER 2005

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The audit of war

The Spectator

F ollowing the example of progressive local authorities, this magazine will not, on this page this year, be celebrating Christmas but an alternative festival of light in which...

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PORTRAIT OF THE YEAR JANUARY Mr Ken Macdonald, the Director

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of Public Prosecutions, said it was all right to kill burglars ‘honestly and instinctively’. Iraq held elections. Abu Musab al-Zarkawi, the alQa’eda leader in Iraq, said, ‘We...

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I f I die I hope it won’t be in Melbourne.

The Spectator

The chief obituarist of a Melbourne morning paper takes a dim view of me, and since the London Daily Telegraph pioneered the custom of pissing on the recently deceased, the...

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Cameron’s strength is that he does not throw his weight about

The Spectator

T he most unexpected characteristic so far of the Cameron leadership of the Conservative party is caution. Westminster had been braced for some kind of spectacular announcement,...

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T his year the Daily Telegraph has decided not to produce

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its annual Christmas cards by Matt. I complained when I heard this, because we usually send them and I feel that it must always be a pleasure for the recipients to get a joke...

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O come, all ye faithless

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There is nothing like Christmas for bringing out ill-natured rationalism, says Mark Steyn . But the fact is that Christianity is a far more rational thing than Eutopian...

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Your countryside needs you

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Roger Scruton says that it’s time for rural residents to protect the land they love by clubbing together and buying it I f you look at an electoral map of England, you will...

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Can anything stop Hillary?

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Yes, says Tina Brown . Another sex scandal involving her husband could seriously damage Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House I t may have been lost in all the news about...

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The awkward squad

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Mary Wakefield goes with Iain Duncan Smith to meet the social entrepreneurs who have devoted their lives to the most vulnerable sections of society A n excited twitter filled...

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God Bless America, but not George Bush

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Geoffrey Wheatcroft fell in love with the United States 40 years ago, and the affair continues — even though he detests the present administration F orty years on! One day last...

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Let’s not forget the weirdos and halfwits

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It’s very nice that the Tories want to make more room for women, says Rod Liddle , but where will that leave the sexually deviant morons? I was a member of the Socialist...

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The people who shun us

The Spectator

John Hemming on how the great explorer Sydney Possuelo tracks down the hidden tribes of the Amazon jungle I have just spent a week in Amazonia with Sydney Possuelo, the man I...

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Life, liberty and the pursuit of terrorists

The Spectator

Charles Clarke tells Alasdair Palmer that the most important freedom of all is the freedom to walk the streets without being blown up ‘W hen it comes to the British courts,’...

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Welcome to Doughty Street

The Spectator

Boris Johnson takes his successor on a guided tour of the Spectator offices I t is an eternal and reassuring fact of human nature that when an editor announces that he is...

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War of the worlds

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Caroline Moore finds the atheism of Philip Pullman more violently propagandist than the Christianity of C.S. Lewis T he long-awaited premiere of The Lion, The Witch and The...

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C.S. Lewis on the one thing Jesus is not

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G od sent the human race what I call good dreams: I mean those queer stories scattered all through the heathen religions about a god who dies and comes to life again and, by his...

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The Great White Hyena

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Rian Malan on the Boer whose racy tabloid has challenged South African pieties by championing such traditional values as witchcraft Cape Town ‘T his is a goer,’ declares Deon...

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Where’s the catch?

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The waters around Manhattan are teeming with fish, but the Fulton Fish Market has just closed — and that, says Harry Mount , is a crying shame New York I f fishwives are good...

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Apathy rules

The Spectator

From the Rt Hon. Lord Tebbit Sir: Peter Oborne’s article ‘The Triumph of Tradition’ (10 December) is badly mistaken in its electoral analysis. New Labour has never had and...

Schools for scandal

The Spectator

From Anne Everest-Phillips Sir: I was most interested to read Andy McSmith’s rather naive column, in which he asked ‘Why do my Labour friends send their children to private...

Hat tricks

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From David Gelber Sir: While the classic trilby may certainly serve as a symbol of respect, it can also act as a powerful article of insult (‘Use your head’, 10 December). To...

When a judge prejudges

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From John Laughland Sir: Geoffrey Robertson pontificates on how only an international court can give Saddam Hussein a fair trial (‘Saddam must get real justice’, 3 December),...

Lay off the woodcock

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From Peter O. Behan Sir: Charles Moore may be a keen fowler, but he is no romantic to boast of shooting woodcock (The Spectator’s Notes, 10 December). These birds are said to...

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Don’t be surprised if neither the Blairs nor the Camerons can make it to dinner

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O ne of the two weekend polls putting Mr Cameron’s Conservatives ahead of Labour also had a majority preferring to have dinner with Mr and Mrs Cameron than with Mr and Mrs...

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Labour’s red tape turns running a small business into a pantomime

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I t’s pantomime season here in Helmsley — Jack and the Beanstalk , seats available at all prices — but this year I’m not the dame. The ladies in charge said they wanted a...

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Time for St George to start slaying dragons again

The Spectator

T he most striking work in the spine-tingling show at the National Gallery, ‘Rubens: A Master in the Making’, is the enormous painting of St George slaying the Dragon (Prado)....

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I was never really a Bill Clinton fan — it could

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have something to do with the fact that the late French director, Louis Malle, called me a raunchy moralist. Yes, I confess, that’s exactly what I am, and I do feel that the...

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Don’t even ask

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Minette Marrin ‘S ay seebong-seebong, say see bong-seebong ,’ sang the Filipino band in their white tuxedos, swaying cheerfully from side to side. ‘ Si bon, si bon, ’...

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The Spectator

PRUE LEITH W e are sadly unambitious about festive cooking. It’s not that we are too busy for elaborate feasts, or that Waitrose has taken over Christmas. It’s that we’ve...

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site seeing David Dimbleby L ANDMARKS OF B RITAIN : T HE F IVE H UNDRED P LACES T HAT M ADE OUR H ISTORY by Clive Aslet Hodder & Stoughton, £30, pp. 547, ISBN 0340735104 ✆...

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By guess and by God

The Spectator

Alexander Waugh W HO ’ S W HO IN THE A GE OF J ESUS by Geza Vermes Penguin, £25, pp. 286, ISBN 0140551568 ✆ £20 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 I t takes pluck to write about...

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The making of a merry myth

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Nicholas Harman S ANTA : A L IFE by Jeremy Seal Picador, £14.99, pp. 292, ISBN 0330419366 ✆ £11.99 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 S anta can still be a useful adjunct to the...

House-to house battling

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Deborah Devonshire N ANCY L ANCASTER : E NGLISH C OUNTRY H OUSE STYLE by Martin Wood Frances Lincoln, £35, pp. 200, ISBN 0711224293 ✆ £28 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 O f all...

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The character who refused to die

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Simon Baker T HE N EW A NNOTATED S HERLOCK H OLMES , V OLUME III: T HE N OVELS by Arthur Conan Doyle, edited by Leslie Klinger Norton, £30, pp. 907, ISBN 039305800X ✆ £25 (plus...

Smut from the Warden of Wadham

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Bevis Hillier N EW B ATS IN O LD B ELFRIES OR S OME L OOSE T ILES by Maurice Bowra Robert Dugdale, 16 Norham Road, Oxford, OX2 6SF, £17.50, pp. 167, ISBN 0946976112 L ike Sir...

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Heroes who looked, saw and thought

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Emma Tennant T HE N AMING OF N AMES by Anna Pavord Bloomsbury, £30, pp. 471, ISBN 0747579520 ✆ £24 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 I imagine that most people, if asked who was...

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A great ‘campaign’ socialist

The Spectator

Patrick Marnham M Y F RIEND F OOTY : A M EMOIR OF P AUL F OOT by Richard Ingrams Pressdram/ Private Eye Productions, £9.99, pp. 124, ISBN 1901784428 ✆ £7.99 (plus £2.45 p&p)...

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A bumper crop of Bondage

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Candia McWilliam H ere is part of an Evening Standard review of Goldfinger , written when it was first published in 1959 under the untentative title ‘The Richest Man in the...

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Grace under pressure

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David Crane R OBERT F ALCON S COTT , JOURNALS: S COTT ’ S L AST E XPEDITION edited by Max Jones OUP, £14.99, pp. 529, ISBN 0192803336 ✆ £11.99 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 O...

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A dog by the name of Flower

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Richard Dorment T HE H OUSE OF T EKELDEN by Denys Dawnay, with a foreword by David Hockney and an introduction by Lucinda Lambton Bloomsbury, £12.99, pp. 62, ISBN 0747580413 ✆...

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View from the engine room

The Spectator

Frank Johnson T HE G UY L IDDELL D IARIES , V OLUME I, 1939-42, V OLUME II, 1942-45 edited by Nigel West Routledge, £25 each, pp. 344, pp. 304, ISBN 0415352134, 0415352150 ✆...

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Christmas round-up

The Spectator

Andrew Lambirth takes a trip round the galleries and finds much to enjoy A Christmas spirit hovers over Art of the Middle Ages at Sam Fogg (15d Clifford Street, W1, until 12...

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I’ll drink to that

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Henrietta Bredin L ast Christmas I found myself greatly intrigued by how often opera plots incorporate meals and what sort of food the characters on stage might be tucking...

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Festive spirit

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Stephen Pettitt E ach year the same thing happens. Each year we’re expected to suspend for a month the exercise of sound musical judgment as we’re engulfed, willingly or...

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Musical battleground

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David Jennings I magine, if you will, the goody-two-shoes strains of Cliff Richard’s ‘Summer Holiday’ spliced with an old blues murder ballad. The rhythm and the backing are...

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Closet passion

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Ursula Buchan I have been in denial for years, I realise that now. I refused to believe that I was a grower of cacti and succulents until one dreary afternoon in early December...

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Sense of wonder

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Mark Steyn The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe PG, selected cinemas I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to my little girl a few months back,...

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Irresistibly moving

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Michael Tanner Billy Budd Coliseum E nglish National Opera’s production of Billy Budd originated in Wales seven years ago, and is also shared with Opera Australia. Neil...

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All in the mind

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Lloyd Evans On Ego Soho Jack and the Beanstalk Hackney Empire Ubu the King The Pit O n Ego is a lecture that turns into a nightmare. An amiable young neurologist, Alex, strolls...

Swyving and swynking

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Patrick Carnegy The Canterbury Tales Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon Great Expectations Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-uponAvon S omewhere or other Aldous Huxley...

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Magical touch

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Giannandrea Poesio The Nutcracker Royal Ballet O h joy, oh bliss, it is Nutcracker season again! Hordes of overdressed and overexcited children invade our theatres, much to the...

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Smooth operator

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Michael Vestey U ntil I heard Politically Charged this week on Radio Four, part of The Westminster Hour (Sunday, repeated Wednesday), I’d forgotten that the sleek, smug,...

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Christmas appeal

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James Delingpole M y TV column the other week was really quite good, I thought. So good in fact that for a brief moment I imagined there might be some point to my miserable...

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Carpe piscem

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Simon Courtauld W here are the pike, the char, the carp of yesteryear? Still in English lakes and rivers, but they are not to be found in the English kitchen. Pike, then called...

Confessions of an anorak

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Alan Judd A m I an anorak? An uncomfortable thought, like discovering that some feature you had never noticed in yourself — your Adam’s apple, perhaps, or your ears — is what...

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Clash of values

The Spectator

Taki L iberal columnists, especially in London, New York and Los Angeles, can’t quite grasp why some Christians get upset about people saying ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of ‘Happy...

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Guiding light

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Jeremy Clarke A special-needs bloke comes to our gym sometimes. He can’t speak, and he’s deaf, I think, and he doesn’t walk too well, but the disciplined intensity of his...

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Who needs politics?

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Aidan Hartley Nairobi

I wore a suit in Nairobi yesterday. My lawyer told me

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to do it. ‘In this town, nobody will take you seriously any more unless you’re smart,’ he said. A suit is pretty much an annual event for me — shorts and Bata safari boots are...

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Ringing in the changes

The Spectator

FRANK KEATING T he vast postbag which daily bombards this corner from you kind readers (as Grub Street’s penny-a-liners used to begin) is, if truth be told, an occasional and...