17 FEBRUARY 2001

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T he International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium published the draft sequence

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of the human genome of which President William Clinton, when it was announced last year, said: 'Today we are learning the language in which God created life': the report...

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T hey are said to be the sweetest four words in the language, for anyone involved with punditry or politics. We told you so. We told you so, We in this magazine have argued...

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The long reign of bog-standard may be drawing to a close

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BRUCE ANDERSON I t was a typical Blairite manoeuvre. Move into traditional Tory ground with policies and slogans designed to appeal to the suburbs, while taking the Labour core...

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I t is strange to see your family enacted on television from an old book about them, written half a century ago. I suppose the royal family and politicians such as Bush and...

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A class war is being waged against our children, says Philip Hensher, as the government presides over a system of education that bans Shakespeare and neglects foreign...

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The French and German Ambassadors — Daniel Bernard and Hans - Friedrich Von Ploetz — on the roots of British illiteracy BRITONS don't speak foreign languages. This isn't...

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Julian Manyon on the Russian leader's war against the independent television station NTV Moscow PRESIDENT Vladimir Putin claims that his favourite television programme is...

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Charles Wheeler discovers that American conservatives are turning against the death penalty FRANK HARGROVE, a pillar of the conservative majority in Virginia's state...

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Mind your language

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'MAMA,' said Veronica, and she only ever says it when she means to be provoking, 'why did the prostitutes live in huts on Derwentwater?' 'Wuh?' I replied suspiciously. It...


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Radek Sikorski explains why, as a Polish Thatcherite, he believes in ever closer European Union 'WE went into the war for Poland.' said a member of Britain's shadow Cabinet....

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Ancient & modern

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THE Holy See is considering whether to nominate a patron saint of computer programmers and the Internet, and a splendid choice he is too — St Isidore of Seville (c. AD...


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Damian Thompson says that the new cardinal has made some bad mistakes, but he can still be a strong leader SOMETHING has always puzzled me about Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the...

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Lloyd Evans embarks on a hopeless search for himself among the babes at Antidote IT's great to get in touch with your feelings, but what if they don't return your calls?...

Second opinion

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I AM a great admirer of Karl Marx. It took talent and learning to understand so little of the human heart. Even so, he undoubtedly had his flashes of insight. For example, only...

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Nostalgia for upper-class ladies of the Art Deco generation

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PAUL JOHNSON O h, those prewar, upper-class ladies, with their malicious wit and hearts of gold, or at least platinum! How I miss them! Three in particular — two as friends,...

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Sked and Tory spin

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From Mr Christopher Booker Sir: Dr Alan Sked has written yet another venomous piece on the UK Independence party (`Sceptics who betray Britain', 10 February), which four years...

Vicious Vichyite

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From Mr Roty O'Keeffe Sir: It offends against all decency for you to publish a letter (from one M. Armand Laferrere of Paris, 10 February) which refers to Charles Maurras only...

Staying alive in Israel

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From Mr Ofir Haiviy Sir: I have to disagree with Bruce Anderson's claim (Politics, 10 February) that 'Israel will never enjoy a secure peace until the Palestinians have a state...

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Death of a saint

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From Mr David Lloyd-Edwards Sir: The significance of the allegory on your front cover and 'Downing Street's day of shame' (3 February) should not be underestimated. St Sebastian...

Teenage tipsters

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From Mr Paul Callan Sir: Some Etonians were quick off the mark when trying to capitalise on Prince William's presence at the school (Media studies, 10 February). While...

Our £10 feast

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From Mr Michael Bray Sir: When we read restaurant reviews in your columns, we are amazed at the high prices quoted in London and elsewhere. We have just had an invitation to...

Gordon's five tests

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Mr Joe C. Dwek, CBE Sir: Tim Congdon is a highly respected and eminent economist whose work is always taken seriously, so, when he writes (Isn't it time to scrap the pound?', 3...

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A national police force is being assembled, and newspapers are looking the other way

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STEPHEN GLOVER W hen people say that this government has a tyrant's heart I usually take it with a pinch of salt. Surely Tony Blair and nice Jack Straw and that strange Geoff...

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Do not go topless into the conference chamber, unless you are breast-feeding

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FRANK JOHNSON M r Gerald Howarth, Conservative member for military Aldershot, this week did something unusual, possibly brave, and perhaps foolhardy. He became the first...

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Crystal calls in from the year 2003 with a line on the famous five tests

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I t was kind of Ed Balls at the Treasury to introduce me to his smarter sister Crystal, who is now my futurological correspondent. She reports from the year 2003, when the...

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The dead hand of detail

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David Pryce-Jones LIFE STUDIES: PROFILES FROM THE NEW YORKER edited by David Remniek Random House Inc, £18.45, pp. 480, ISBN 0375 503 552 h e New Yorker has published profiles...

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The house of God, explored and explained

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Digby Anderson THE GEOMETRY OF LOVE: SPACE, TIME, MYSTERY AND MEANING IN AN ORDINARY CHURCH by Margaret Visser Viking, f18.99, pp. 323 W hat do you see when you look inside a...

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Staying on in Tarry Easty

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Richard West THE YEARS OF BLOOM: JAMES JOYCE IN TRIESTE, 1904-1920 by John McCourt The LiInput Press, £25, pp. 306, ISBN] 901866 45 9, obtainable from Central Books 0208 525...

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Life under enchantment

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John Michell THE MAGICAL UNIVERSE by Stephen Wilson Hambledon & London. £20, pp. 546 A visitor to a farmhouse noticed a horseshoe nailed over the door. 'You're not...

The wonderful world of four wheels

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Brian Sewell THE BEAULIEU ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF THE AUTOMOBILE edited by Nick Georgano The Stationery Office, £195, (two volumes) I f Emily Dodge, who once kissed me like a...

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Free verse and charisma

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Miranda France THE SAME SEA by Amos Oz, translated from the Hebrew by Nicholas de Lange in collaboration with the author Chatto, £15.99, pp. 201 T his is a novel written in...

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Running out of steam in the middle of China

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Jonathan Mirsky SOMETHING LIKE A HOUSE by Sid Smith Picador, ,f12.99, pp. 216 T his is a quirky but good little novel, marred halfway through by the author's violation of a...

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Serving both cod and salmon

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Charlotte Jo11 DEATH IN HOLY ORDERS by P. D. James Faber, £17.99, pp. 387 h e first time I encountered A. N. Wilson at a literary party we had a mild spat about the relative...

A stiff, bristling upper lip

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Alan Judd KITCHENER by John Pollock Constable, £20, pp. 598 K itchener's was surely one of the four Great Political Moustaches of the 20th century. In Britain it is at least...

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vanishing vision

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Paul Binding THE PAIN TREE AND OTHER STORIES by Charles Wilkinson London Magazine Editions. £12.50, pp. 198 hat is the matter with Brian?' his wife is asked. 'No one drinks...

A selection of recent paperbacks

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Fiction: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by David Eggers, Picador, £6.99 Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates, 4th Estate, £7.99 Mr Phillips by John Lanchester. Faber,...

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Chicago's hand of destruction

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Selina Mills on the social and aesthetic costs of pulling down old buildings I n 1955, in the midst of a massive building boom in America, an essay by Lewis Mumford appeared in...

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Give & Take

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(Victoria & Albert, Serpentine Gallery, till 1 April) Trip into the unknown Martin Gaylord A s a general rule, if there is one curatorial device calculated to make me feel...

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Isambard Kingdom Brunel (Design Museum, Shad Thames, SE1, till 25 February)

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Hero for our time Gavin Stamp T he Design Museum has surely never looked more coolly elegant. A row of fat red columns runs down the centre of the exhibition space, dividing...

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Rewriting history

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Stuart Nicholson L ast month the 19-hour television documentary Jazz was screened on American PBS. It was the final part of filmmaker Ken Burns's trilogy on American life that...

The Cunning Little Vixen (Coliseum) Tosca (Royal Opera House)

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Must try harder Michael Tanner M ost opera goers, it is salutary for a critic to remember, don't see the opening performance of a new production, they see later performances...

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Japes (Theatre Royal Haymarket) Mouth to Mouth (Royal Court) Feelgood (Hampstead)

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Pleasure and pain Patrick Carnegy I n the run-up to the opening of Simon Gray's Tapes there's been a lot of noise, some of it coming from Gray himself, about his alcoholism,...

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Hannibal (18, selected cinemas)

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Grisly showdown Mark Steyn T here is an old rule of sitcoms that you should never liberate them from the constraints of their setting: whenever Cheers ventured too far from...

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Out and about

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Ursula Buchan I t is one of the sourer ironies of gardening life that we have the most time to do things in the garden when there is least to do. This relatively hard winter,...

Dire situation

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James Delingpole I once found myself talking to this quasilegendary hack who has covered many of the big events of the last 50 years and met a good many of the world's most...

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So many books . . .

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Michael Vestey atones of the State on Radio Four (Sundays) has been quite an entertaining series, even though its discussion format sometimes gives it the air of being a...

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Newbury murk

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Robin Oakley A Senator unexpectedly defeated in a recent American election called together his aides the next morning. 'Gentlemen,' he declared, 'we all know there is no such...

Royal return

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Taki T h Rougemont e good news is that the male heirs of the royal House of Savoy will be allowed to return to Italy. (The royals of the weaker sex were always welcome.) The...

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Valentine treats

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Toby Young T owards the end of last week, Caroline started dropping hints. 'Darling, don't you ever think our relationship is getting a bit stale?' she asked. 'Er, I dunno.'...

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Get a move on

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Leanda de Lisle T he countdown to the Countryside Alliance's March for Liberty and Livelihood has begun. Plans are afoot for it to be led by children of parents whose jobs and...

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The stuff of scandal

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Petronella Wyatt A _n hour before arrival in Malaysia they hand you a visitors' card, It says in huge red letters: 'Drugs trafficking or possession is punishable by the death...

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I'VE INVITED three women friends out for dinner, so We

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can play Sex and the City. I don't know, do Spectator readers watch Sex and the City? I suspect not. I suspect, with Spectator readers, it's World At War or A Secret History...

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• Profits of gloom

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Simon Barnes IF you ever feel overwhelmed by a sense of the futility of human existence, go to visit a football club on the verge of bankruptcy. That will change your mood of...

Q. I have an account with a reputable butcher. Last

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week I gave a dinner party. Owing to crippling back pain, I used the butcher's delivery service. I asked for two mediumsized chickens, cut up in pieces, and goat's cheese for...

Q. Wandering around Peter Jones the other day, I was

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dismayed to find that a simple, plain white, 100 per cent cotton, king-sized duvet cover costs £53. Knowing how little the raw ingredients would cost — if only one knew where...

Q. What does one do (or say) when a work

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colleague seems to sneeze almost every day, but sees no need to use a handkerchief? The offer of a tissue is refused with a cheery, 'No, it's OK, it's only hay fever.' M.D., by...