17 FEBRUARY 1996

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The IRA spells it out T he Irish Republican Army set off a bomb outside South Quay light railway sta- tion on the Isle of Dogs in London; two people were killed and 43 were...

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'Great hatred, little room': another act of the ancient and unending Irish drama BRUCE ANDERSON W ith the exception — one hopes — of the intelligence services, no one knows...

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DAVID STARKEY I t's now exactly a year since I began pre- senting a Saturday phone-in on Talk Radio. 'Phone-ins are armpit radio,' I was warned by David Sexton, interviewing me...

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The IRA believes that hitting the City weakens British resolve. Martin Vander Weyer says money is tougher than that Though it is a sad reflec- tion on modern life, a full-...

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Mind your language

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OUR kindly editor mentioned the other day that a reader had written to take him to task (where else?) for allowing media to get into the paper as a singular noun. Oh dear, I...

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Nicholas Farrell finds Dockland and City workers in defiant mood after the South Quay bombing AS IT happens, barmaid Mary, from Dublin, was on duty in the City Pride pub a...

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Michael Heath


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For Somerset House, new life; for St George's Hall, new light; Jacob Rothschild wants ideas for the profits from the nation's new pastime IN A LITTLE over a year, the...

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If symptoms

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persist. . . EVIDENCE is accumulating that a propensity to crime is hereditary, and entire academic volumes are now devot- ed to the genetics of light-fingeredness. A fierce...

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The Joan Collins case marks the end of a literal); era. Critic Anthony Looch looks back on its greatest works THE SIGHT of the incomparable Joan Collins — 'our Joanie' — being...

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Profile: Sir Richard Scott, rider of horses, bicycles and Tories NEARLY 40 years ago, a young man who had recently arrived from South Africa went hunting with the Whaddon...

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Cezanne's shemales, the Brickies and a Royal Academy meeting PAUL JOHNSON T he unanimity of critical and editorial opinion about the ridiculous Cezanne exhibition at the Tate...

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Rubens Ricuperates! It just goes to show that you can't keep a good boondoggler down CHRISTOPHER FILDES I should never have taken my eye off Rubens Ricupero. He caught it...

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LETTERS Italia! oh Italia!

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Sir: I am sorry that Petronella Wyatt finds that the Italian male does not come up to scratch (Furthermore, 10 February), but she doesn't cast her net very wide: the annual...

Sir: I read Petronella Wyatt's article on Italy with interest.

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Another distressing thing about Italy is that it is no longer a beautiful country. Its once beautiful land- scape has largely been destroyed by indus- trial and commercial...

Sir: Miss Petronella Wyatt is right about Italians. They are,

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for the most part, a bunch of knaves and poltroons. The late Galeazzo Ciano derisively described his own country as an Italietta. And yet, politics aside, look how bravely he...

A sign of life

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Sir: Actually I do have an excuse. Alan Cochrane (`England's Scotch myth', 10 February) ticks me off for perpetuating the tired old myth that the Scots have a superi- or...

Sir: With regard to Petronella Wyatt's piece, I am prepared

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to offer a cash prize of /250 to any reader who can write me a sat- isfactory summary of her thesis. Alexander Waugh 2 Souldern Road, London W14

Sir: Petronella Wyatt states categorically that the Italians are not

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descended from the Romans, but from their 'slaves or from a ragbag of barbarian invaders'. I accept that women are generally best placed to speak authoritatively about who...

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Phoenix from the ashes

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Sir: Having been in Venice at the time of the Fenice fire, I read Rupert Chris- tiansen's piece with some interest (Arts, 10 February). I am not sure, though, of his conspiracy...

Sir: I was intrigued to read that until the mid

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Fifties French women washed only their feet in their bidets. I first encountered the bidet many years ago in Germany. Curious but naïve, I asked my hostess if that was what she...

Sex and logic

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Sir: The French are well known, especially by themselves, for logic and clear thought. This makes it the more surprising that such eminent representatives of that nation as...

Sir: Your 'French reader', Frederic Di Guisto, is not well

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informed — bidet is defined in the 1762 edition of the Diction- naire de ?Academie as (I translate word for word) 'a low oblong basin designed for inti- mate ablutions'. This...

Middle-class punch

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Sir: It is very sad that Auberon Waugh should again leave his column in The Spec- tator (Another voice, 10 February), what- ever the reason. However, in writing about the...

Only agreeing

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Sir: The hours we spent hanging around back stage at This is Your Life seem to have had dire effects on my colleague, David Starkey (Diary, 10 February). By the end of the...

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I have my doubts as to whether this Labour lord is the right man for the Express STEPHEN GLOVER T here is a sense of excitement at the Daily Express, where the new editor,...

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Banning cigarette ads won't stop anyone smoking PETRONELLA WYATT THE LIBERAL Democrat MP, Mr Simon Hughes, recently sponsored a Private Member's Bill to ban cigarette...

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A princess surrounded by enemies Philip Hensher AN UNCOMMON WOMAN by Hannah Pakula Weidenfeld, £20, pp. 700 T he word tragedy should not be used lightly about historical...

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Your pearl in your foul oyster

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Michael Levey ITALY: THE UNFINISHED REVOLUTION by Matt Frei Sinclair-Stevenson, £20, pp. 290 R equired reading for every intelligent visitor to Italy, and for intelligent...

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Vagueness and winking

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Michael Hulse CHILDREN OF DARKNESS AND LIGHT by Nicholas Mosley Secker, £15.99, pp. 241 T wards the end of her life, Agatha Christie wrote one or two sublimely befuddling and...

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A new man out of Africa

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Barbara Trapido IMAGININGS OF SAND by Andre Brink Secker, £15.99, pp. 351 h is novel is both a documentary on the last days of apartheid and a family saga presented as...


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Sand is at the door, Its progress through the keyhole slow: I raise both hands to hold it back before Sand inches, grain by grain, along the hallway floor: Among the slippers,...

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Carried Away

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You wonder when you will ever write anything you can be pleased with again. Being quite pleased on and off with things you have written at various times. Then the woman you love...

Let me go, lover

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Patrick Skene Catling REVENANCE by Terence Blacker Bloomsbury, £15.99, pp. 248 E xpert thanatology is only a heartbea away. In the meantime, before revelatio death is a...

Through English eyes

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Philip Glazebrook ANDERSON'S TRAVEL COMPANION by Sarah Anderson Scolar Press, £39.50, pp. 552 F or anyone who knows the Travel Bookshop in Blenheim Crescent, where a wide...

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A long and happy (?) life

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Mark Amory IN REVERSE by Cynthia Aked M& N, 3 Lion Chambers, John William Street, Huddersfield, HD1 lES, £10, pp. 303 'Think of "naked" and take away the "n" ' advises Cynthia...

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The last years were the worst

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Paul Foot MAXWELL: THE FINAL VERDICT by Tom Bower HarperCollins, f16.99, pp. 478 W y did the Maxwells get off? The question is still being asked all over the country with a...

A Starling in the Top Room

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I haven't been up here for days. There's bird-shit on the typewriter: dried mud and white spat all over my papers. On the carpet between the chair-legs it's laid out like an...

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A wild call and a clear call

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W ell before his death in 1967 John Masefield was starting to take his place among the Great Unread, that gallery of authors whose tumble into complete oblivion is more...

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Exhibition Cezanne (Tate Galleiyill 28 April) Tranquillity born of anxiety Edward Lucie-Smith on Cezanne's uneasy genius T he Cezanne exhibition now at the Tate has...

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Save St Jerome

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A painting by Diirer is coming up for sale. Martin Bailey says it must be saved for the nation ne of the last Dflrer oil paintings in private hands anywhere in the world is in...

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Tristan and Isolde (English National Opera) Of love and death Robin Holloway E NO's new production of Tristan and Isolde provides a tonic for a house that surely needs one....

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Royal Ballet's Quadruple Bill (Royal Opera House) Sexual mores Giannandrea Poesio C horeographic revivals are often prob- lematic and risky. Despite complex issues such as...

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Pop music

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It's wicked Marcus Berkmann A h, the joys of youth. The other day I was talking to an Official Young Person (wide-eyed, slightly legless, prone to saying 'like' every third...


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Othello (12, selected cinemas) Bed of Roses (PG, selected cinemas) High school Shakespeare Mark Steyn I was thinking of that Irving Berlin song, 'I love a Piano' — the one...

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The Changing Room (Duke of York's) Valley Song (Royal Court) Sweet Panic (Hampstead) Boys will be boys Sheridan Morley W hen I was a small boy (everything in life is...

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Switching off Ian Hislop B eing in Spain for a lot of this week rather restricted my viewing of English television. The IRA bomb at Canary Wharf was promptly covered by Sky...

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An irascible parson Michael Vestey are all familiar with the cretinous clergy, they're on the front pages or Thought For The Day on Radio Four with their support for Third...

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The turf

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National types Robin Oakley P ublication of the weights for this year's Grand National just after the death of the 1978 winner, Lucius, prompted the thought: is there such a...

Not motoring

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Come back, Speer Gavin Stamp This time, a month ago, everything was so very different that I became disorientat- ed. The Potsdamer Platz seemed to be a huge hole in the ground...

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High life

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Missing Larry Taki T Gstaad he snow has finally come to Gstaad, Stalingrad-like, and old Bernese Oberland hands like yours truly haven't seen anything like it in 20 years or...

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Low life

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Joan's advances Jeffrey Bernard I was a little put out last week when a short piece that I wrote for the Daily Mail was spiked. I didn't so much mind my effort ending up in...


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BRIDGE Huge hands Andrew Robson IT NEVER ceases to amaze me how often the most powerful hands turn sour. Look at South's hand below, from a deal played nearly 40 years ago...

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READER, I lied to you. I should be writing about

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L'Odeon as promised, but I got way- laid — and not by another restaurant but by a pub. Pub food, for all the devotion paid it by British Tourist Authority guides, is something...

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J S,1,1t VW flOW1 VHISIll

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URA ISLE OF lb SISLLE 4 , 41 SCOTCH also RA COMPETITION Annus miserabilis Jaspistos IN COMPETITION NO. 1919 you were invited to compose a letter to a poor friend from a...


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IN-THE-STRAND SIMPSON'S IN-THE-STRAND Life, Jim Raymond Keene IN AN EARLY episode of Star Trek, 'Devil in the Dark', Captain Kirk, Spock and McCoy encounter the Horta, a...

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CROSSWORD 1248: Out of danger by Doc

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A first prize of £25 and a bottle of Graham's Late Bottled Vintage 1989 Port for the first correct solution opened on 4 March, with two runners-up prizes of £15 (or, for UK...

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Bowels and boredom Simon Barnes A BOMB in Colombo and the Australians and the West Indians refuse to play a match there in the World Cup, happy to forfeit their points rather...


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Dear Mary. . . Q. In my work as a television journalist, I often interview eminent or well-known peo- ple. Occasionally, circumstances dictate that these interviews have to be...