17 JANUARY 1998

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M r Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, mooted a new plan for the government of Northern Ireland while he was on a trip to Japan. It would involve a 'Council of the Isles' with...

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The Spectator, 56 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LL Telephone: 0171-405 1706; Fax 0171-242 0603 THE LOTTERY MISUSED T his Sunday's collection at the Church of St Peter the...

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I have been suffering from a filthy cold since well before Christmas and it's all the government's fault. Frank Dobson's, to be precise, and he is, dammit, in charge of the...

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Peace is tantalisingly close, but 25 years too late BRUCE ANDERSON F or the past generation, the news from Ulster has been mired in gloom. It seemed as if hope arose— if...

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The country where the 1990s hit the 1950s MATTHEW PARRIS S ee Massawa by night, if you can. If you can, see Massawa only by night. Heat and darkness are a heady mix. The warm...

Classifieds — pages 52, 53 and 54

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Sion Simon reveals the extent of the Chancellor's co-operation with a biography of himself which is hostile to Mr Blair `HOW refreshing that it should be Gordon, not Charlie,...

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Mind your language

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`YOU'LL know this,' said my husband in a challenging tone of voice. 'Kursaal. A kursaal. There's one in Southend. What's it mean? Is it Dutch?' I did not know, and thought it...

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Bruce Anderson hears William Hague denounce the government over the Dome, and avoid backing Archer for mayor WILLIAM Hague thinks that the govern- ment is making a mess of the...

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Alice Thomson on the fate awaiting Scottish landowners at the hands of a devolved Parliament NEW Year's Eve at a ceilidh in the High- lands. On the dance floor a few men wear-...


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Michael Heath

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Robert Rhodes James recalls dinner with a former prime minister who awaited a call which never came IT WAS one of the great sadnesses of my life that just as I had got to know...

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Europe shouldn't be smug about Asia's financial troubles, says Francis Pike. It could meet the same fate I WAS recently commiserating with one of my Asian colleagues who had...

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Kim Fletcher finds that Australia is no longer the happy-go-lucky land of the free, but a priggish nanny state MY three-year-old daughter and I were minding our own business...

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Ferdinand Mount remembers John Wells IN HIS wise and charming history of the House of Lords (his last book, published only three months before he died on 11 January, at the age...

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Snooping, spying, sneaking and hating: an everyday Guardian saga PAUL JOHNSON I n late mediaeval Europe, spiteful people revenged themselves on enemies or people they envied...

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Roller coaster

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I AM a steam traction man myself, but I had to admire the Rolls-Royces and Bent- leys parked at Towcester while their owners plotted to bid for Rolls-Royce Motors. They think...


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Here's a new threat to Lloyd's endangered species market forces will force their way in CHRISTOPHER FILDES T he members of Lloyd's of London are retiring, hurt. Their numbers...

Unsafe, unsteady

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STORES of value in Asia continue to leak. The latest is Peregrine, Hong Kong's investment bank, which has been run over by an Indonesian taxi company called Steady Safe. There...

Dassault course

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HOW exciting the life of a financial jour- nalist must be, if you work in Paris. You are just thinking about lunch when a Mirage jet screams overhead, you dive beneath your...

Paper money

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IT is worth remembering at such times that troubles and recoveries come round in cir- cles. Not so long ago, Indonesia suddenly found itself knee-deep in forged rupiah notes....

Terminal error

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EUROPE'S presidency has strange side- effects. Last time round John Major had an enormous table made, so that at his Edin- burgh summit everybody could sit round it, thus...

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Sir: Mr MacKenzie's requests for more police co-operation with the

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press find an anticipated answer in Stephen Glover's piece, (Media studies, 6 December), 'You too could be pictured and named in con- nection with heinous crimes — while inno-...

LETTERS Well informed

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Sir: In the Diary of 3 January, Simon Sebag Montefiore ridicules a recent British ambassador to the Soviet Union for failing to foresee the end of the Union. It does not seem to...

Sir: Kelvin MacKenzie has discovered that crime is being covered

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up as a result of self- interest. He may also be interested to know that many of the more horrible crimes today remain unreported, presumably in the public interest but more...

Lowering the tone

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Sir: I enjoy my Spectator and I am not going to cancel my subscription; I am not at all politically correct and I really don't give a LETTERS damn. But are you keeping an eye...

Fair cop

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Sir: Any of your readers who follow the news will no doubt be surprised by Kelvin MacKenzie's claim that I have 'gagged the press' (`The great Condon cover-up', 10 January). Not...

Effective opposition

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Sir: To assert, as you did in your leader (10 January), that any increase in government funds for the opposition parties would be used well by the Conservatives and would be...

Chippy chappie

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Sir: Count Tolstoy has prudently aban- doned his attempted defence of James II and the 'Bloody Assizes' (Letters, 10 Jan- uary). If he will now consult the best authorities —...

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Blame Stalin

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Sir: Paul Johnson is not quite fair to Eric Hobsbawm (And another thing, 10 Jan- uary). There is just a grain of truth in Hobs- bawm's contention that Britain owes its welfare...

Unhappy families

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Sir: If Sion Simon is a woman, then I can understand her expressed doubts about the superiority of a dual over a single- parent family: most women journalists take that view...

Sir: Your 10 January issue's column, 'High life', though bearing

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the byline, 'raid' appears to have been written by the come- dian, Mr Bernard Manning. Perhaps you could reinstate the column Tow life' and invite his colleague, Mr Roy 'Chubby'...

Holy of holies

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Sir: Daniel Pipes's warning against accept- ing Jerusalem as being as sacred to Muslims as it is to Jews (Not so holy city', 22 November) has only just reached Cairo, but is...

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So this is how serious the Sindie now is STEPHEN GLOVER N eal Ascherson is perhaps the most distinguished left-wing columnist of his generation. He has spent the greater part...

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Bringing the roof down Philip Hensher BROADWAY BABIES SAY GOODNIGHT: MUSICALS THEN AND NOW by Mark Steyn Faber, f20, pp. 250 here's a good game to be had thinking up the least...


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12 Months 6 Months UK U £93.00 U £47.00 Europe (airmail) ❑ £104.00 U £52.00 USA Airspeed U US$151 17 US$76 Rest ofl Airmail Cr £115.00 0 £58.00 World r Airspeed ......

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The Snow of yesteryear

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Nigel Spivey THE CAMBRIDGE QUINTET by John L. Casti Little, Brown, £16.99, pp. 182 T hat some few scientists possess divulga- tive ambitions is cause for gratitude. That most...

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A woman of some importance

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Raymond Carr FANNY TROLLOPE by Pamela Neville-Sington Viking, £20, pp. 432 F rom prime ministers down, we are all Trollopians now. This is a modem fashion. A Trollope addict...

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Looking tragedy in the face

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Anita Brookner THE COLLECTED STORIES by Grace Paley Virago, £9.99, pp. 400 G race Paley was born in New York in 1922, the child of Russian Jewish immi- grant parents. Incomers...

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An excess of success

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David Ekserdjian BERNINI: GENIUS OF THE BAROQUE by Charles Avery Thames & Hudson, .£45, pp. 288 T here is an apocryphal story told about a don who was asked what his field...

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A view from an aeroplane

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Amit Chaudhuri THREE HORSEMEN OF THE NEW APOCALYPSE by Nirad C. Chaudhuri OUP, £10.99, pp. 137 N irad C. Chaudhuri, three years older than this century, reached his 100th year...

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Someone had blundered

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Richard Lamb O ne of the great horrors of the second world war occurred in Austria in the spring of 1945: 70,000 Cossacks and Yugoslays were sent back to Stalin and Tito after...

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Getting even with a genius

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Patrick Skene Catling MRS EINSTEIN by Anna McGrail Doubleday, .E15.99, pp. 333 A nna McGrail's second novel (her first was called Blood Sisters) is an ingeniously speculative...


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In Robert Rhodes James's review of Carol Mather's When the Grass Stops Growing (10 January) reference was made to 'the German breakthrough in December 1945' in the Ardennes....

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Genteelly clearing the decks

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Jonathan Keates BENJAMIN BRITTEN'S OPERAS by Michael Wilcox Absolute Press, £6.99, pp. 96 A ll works of art, no matter how long ago they were created or how fragmentary our...

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A blunt hatchet job

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Nicholas Henderson NO REGRETS: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MARIETTA TREE C ommenting on Caroline Seebohm's first biography, The Life and Times of Conde Nast, Marietta Tree described...

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A wintry tale

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Francis King L ike Yeats's Byzantium, Britain is no country for old men (or women). Nowhere is this more obvious than in the sphere of the novel. Writers of non-fiction —...

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Disposable attitude to aesthetics Stephen Bayley explains his doomed relationship with the Minister without Portfolio ASSOCIATED PRESS, London. A SWAT team working for the...

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A miserable time of year

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Michael Tanner deplores the lack of opera and serious music during the holidays W hat does an opera critic — or to be more accurate and modest, an opera reviewer — do when...

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Boogie Nights (18, selected cinemas) Sex and sentimentality Mark Steyn T he last hardcore porn movie I paid any close attention to was about 15 years ago at a stag night. At...

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Classics and celebs Michael Vestey A a collector and connoisseur of unin- tentional humour I am thrilled with my lat- est discovery. Classic FM had the brilliant idea of...

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Happiness is muddiness Alan Judd I enjoy the elements, and so on a blustery afternoon of squall and tempest I set out with dog, stick and Land-Rover Defender to a hilly wooded...


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Am I jealous? James Delmgpole W hen I was christened — not during the actual ceremony, obviously, but at the reception afterwards — my father forced a swig of champagne...

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The turf

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Irish hopes Robin Oakley T hrough five soggy days of holiday in the Cotswolds I was left reflecting that, if it stays as wet as it has been, it could be an Irish year at...

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High life

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Laughs and lovers Taki Casanova seduced Marina Morosini, a nun, by letter. He proposed to a Neapoli- tan beauty but backed off when he was informed she was his daughter. Ouch!...

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Country life

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A cry in the dark Leanda de Lisle T errible screams interrupted the after- dinner conversation we were enjoying with my parents and my sister. It was difficult to tell where...


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Well placed Andrew Robson WITHOUT West's take-out double of 1+, there would be no way North-South could bid to (or want to bid to) 6+. As it was North, Jeremy Reiss, was able...

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1 11 10111 11 111 1 1 11 1 1

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- TELEVISION viewers may recall the Bar- claycard commercial in which Rowan Atkinson wanders out of a Moroccan souk with a newly purchased carpet over his shoulder, unaware...

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Patchwork quilt Jaspistos THE MACALL AN • ii IN COMPETITION NO. 2016 you were asked for an odd, rhyming poem consisting of single lines belonging to poems by well- known...


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Golden oldie Raymond Keene CONTRARY to my prediction, Anatoly Karpov (aged 46) has won the Fide cham- pionship at Lausanne in Switzerland. My prognostication favoured...

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The solution and winners of the Christmas 'Anagram Double' crossword

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appear on page 54.

No. 2019: A meal with a magician

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This is a chapter heading in J.B.S. Haldane's My Friend Mr Leakey. You are invited to write a description of such an occasion (maximum 150 words). Entries to `Competition No....

CROSSWORD 1345: One-man show by Columba

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A first prize of £30 and a bottle of Graham's Late Bottled Vintage 1991 Port for the first correct solution opened on 2 February, with two runners-up prizes of £20 (or, for UK...

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Solution to Christmas Crossword 'Anagram Double' by Doc

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Grid A I A S 2 A V I 0 4 U 2 13 W H 0 7 1 S 1.1t1. AD IN B EPERDUE 51i E L L I R I N E ES II 111111.7 . 1 T R c F• 2 ZN E T NTROMTHElLPEE...

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The last of the amateurs Simon Barnes NEWS that Will Carling, the former Eng- land rugby union captain, has retired has split the nation. Half of them think it is rather sad...


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Dear Mary. . . Q. Can you please advise on the proper form to follow when one is having a haircut and a member of the royal family (relative- ly minor on the occasion I have in...