17 NOVEMBER 2007

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The whole truth, please

The Spectator

The Prime Minister's speech on foreign policy at the Mansion House this week was a classic instance of reassurance rhetoric: his intention to soothe Atlanticists on both sides...

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The Spectator

NORMAN STONE Istanbul Ihad a medical in Ankara not long ago. The doctor was a good sort, looked over her spectacles and read out the list: blood pressure all right, weight OK,...

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Here's a Tory split on Europe you won't have heard about

The Spectator

liver Letwin's enemies thought they had seen the last of him at Blackpool. His idea of laying out a policy smorgasbord had almost sunk the party, they argued. Yes, there were...

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The Spectator Notes

The Spectator

CHARLES MOORE politicians find it impossible to say they are against Freedom of Information because it sounds as though they must be hiding something if they do so. But the way...

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Diary of a Notting Hill Nobody

The Spectator

By Tamzin Lightwater MONDAY This Aitken business is all v confusing. Has led to heated debates about some extremely oddsounding things that happened ten years ago. I thought Mr...

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Wake up: Britain is being demolished under our very noses

The Spectator

Simon Thurley says that, almost by stealth, the nation's built landscape is being transformed on a scale not seen since the postwar period. Our town and city centres are being...

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New York comes to London • in a nursery queue

The Spectator

Only in New York, they say: not so, reports Amelia Torode. From all-night queues for nursery places to doggy fancy-dress parties, Manhattan's strangest practices are arriving...

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An audience with the wise woman of Whitehall

The Spectator

In her first major interview, Janet Paraskeva, the First Civil Service Commissioner, talks to Matthew d'Ancona about the big constitutional changes coming to Whitehall you may...

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I have earned the right to shout at my television

The Spectator

Bryan Forbes, the great British film-maker, is mad as hell and he's not going to take it any more: today's television is rubbish, especially the brainless music My wife tells me...

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The Sunni side of Tikrit: progress in Iraq

The Spectator

Paul Wood says that things are moving in the right direction in the Sunni heartland, Saddam's old stronghold, where the Coalition is the best protection against Shiite death...

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If a rat can cook, can anyone be a writer now?

The Spectator

Rachel Johnson is troubled by the growing necessity of writing pro bono and says that, if everyone is a 'citizen journalist', there is no need to pay professional hacks So this...

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The 'Foxy Knoxy' case has stirred a deep prurience about women and murder

The Spectator

Rod Liddle says that this horrific killing has gripped the British psyche because it involves allegedly transgressive sexual behaviour by an attractive woman 1 t was true in...

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How labour unrest nearly lost us the Battle of Britain

The Spectator

Leo McKins try reveals the workforce militancy and indiscipline at the Spitfire factory at Castle Bromwich which almost scuppered production of the legendary fighter The nation...

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Lord of works

The Spectator

Sir: Your profile of Lord Malloch-Brown was grossly unfair (Labour's lord of the perks', 10 November). I have known him since 1979 when, at the age of 26, he built and ran the...

Powell's racism

The Spectator

Sir: Rod Liddle implies (Don't mention Enoch' 10 November) that Enoch Powell's 1968 speech was not racist, and that his comments were taken out of context. This is a case of...

Brought to book

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Sir: Paul Barker's account of the recent AGM of the London Library is a distorted version of both the temper of the meeting and of the discussion (The Stalinists have taken over...

Second Adam

The Spectator

Sir: I agree with Charles Moore that the sense of Newman's 'Praise to the Holiest in the Height' is not 'impenetrable'. Yet it does seem to be open to more than one...

DeLay response

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Sir: I nearly fell out of my chair when I read Douglas Murray's egregrious whitewash of Tom DeLay (A thoughtful man at the eye of the storm', 10 November). Murray suggests that...

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If Dave were a plumber, he'd launch a policy review on your broken boiler

The Spectator

HUGO RIFKIND 1 f he was a plumber, though, what manner of plumber would David Cameron be? The Tory leader, summoned via the Yellow Pages to fa a problem with your boiler. You...

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Toys that are too good for children and only for the rich

The Spectator

rayer books are the toys of age,' wrote Pope. Maybe so. But it's surprising how many old people — grown-ups — like children's toys as well. This Christmas West End shops have...

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The debt crisis is far from over

The Spectator

Jonathan Ruffer argues that investors and depositors who were gulled into thinking mortgage-backed paper was riskless will not readily return to fund another boom There is a lot...

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Darling is out of his depth

The Spectator

Allister Heath For a man who has been Chancellor of the Exchequer for just over four months, Alistair Darling has certainly made some powerful enemies. In fact, it's hard to...

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INVESTMENT The price of valour and the value of money

The Spectator

Joanna Pitman discovers the investment merits of military medals and rare — but not fake — coins ur gallant armed forces who face the daily horrors of Iraq and Afghanistan are...

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Let's not go to Angola: a glimpse of the costs and benefits of prison reform

The Spectator

MARTIN VANDER WEYER 1 s prison reform an economic issue, as well as a moral and social one? Well, if it's uppermost in my mind and this column, then it must be — and it holds...

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Deborah Devonshire

The Spectator

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (Profile Books, £9.99) is small, short, cheap and perfect. It is a gem among the dross, without a wasted word. It conjures a picture so...

Ferdinand Mount

The Spectator

This year I have been mostly reading novels about American estate agents. You might not think this would be a popular subject, but in the kingdom of the restless the realtor is...

Francis King

The Spectator

In his Skin Lane (Serpent's Tail, £10.99) Neil Bartlett shows eerie skill in his evocation of a small, secret pocket of the City of London devoted to the skin trade way back in...

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Rupert Christiansen

The Spectator

David Kynaston's Austerity Britain: 1945-1951 (Bloomsbury, £25) is one of the most vividly imagined, brilliantly researched and hugely entertaining books of social history I...

Jonathan Mirsky

The Spectator

Grand Cancd Great River: The Travel Daily of a Twelfth-Century Chinese Poet, translated with a commentary by Philip Watson (Frances Lincoln Ltd, £20). A beautifully written and...

Piers Paul Read

The Spectator

Engleby by Sebastian Faulks (Hutchinson, £17.99), a risky but in my view wholly successful departure for this author of mellifluous, well-crafted novels — witty, intelligent,...

Allan Massie

The Spectator

I haven't read a better new novel this year than Clara's Tale by Pierre Peju (Harvill Secker, £12.99). Excellently translated by Euan Cameron, this is a meditation on the...

Anita Brookner

The Spectator

Death of the novel — again. This conclusion was reached after reading the ramshackle performances of J. M. Coetzee (Diary of a Bad Year, Harvill Secker, £16.99), Michael...

P. J. Kavanagh

The Spectator

A poetry highlight of the year was a new Collected Poems of Louis MacNeice (Faber, £30, edited by Peter McDonald). The previous Collected (1966), by E. R. Dodds, MacNeice's...

Philip Ziegler

The Spectator

Rosemary Hill's God's Architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain (Allen Lane, £30) is an informed and scholarly study of a great architect, a wide-ranging conspectus...

William Leith

The Spectator

This year, I felt galvanised and excited by Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book The Black Swan (Allen Lane, £20). Taleb, whose background is in finance, believes that, in the modern...

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Sebastian Smee

The Spectator

I read, on a friend's recommendation, V. S. Naipaul's The Enigma of Arrival (Picador, £8.99) this year. Strange, thwarted, entrancing book. It calls itself a novel, but it reads...

Sam Leith

The Spectator

Nicola Barker's visionary epic, Darkmans (Fourth Estate, £14.99), is a really strange and lively and unsettling book that at first I hated, then loved, and now can't get out of...

Philip Hen sher

The Spectator

The book I loved best all year was Daljit Nagra's wonderfully inflected collection of poems, Look, We Have Coming to Dover! (Faber, £6.99). When I had finished it, half the book...

Justin Cartwright

The Spectator

Graham Greene, A Life in Letters by Richard Greene (Little, Brown, £20). At a time when British fiction is stuttering, this is a very good moment to look back on the life and...

Geoffrey Wheatcroft

The Spectator

This was a vintage year for history books, none better than David Kynaston's Austerity Britain: 1945-1951 (Bloomsbury, £25), a cracking read with powerful resonances for those...

Digby Durrant

The Spectator

Fathers and Sons by Alexander Waugh (Headline, £8.99) about his extraordinary forebears starting with the Brute, his greatgreat-grandfather, who always carried a whip with an...

David Gilmour

The Spectator

The most enjoyable book I have read this year is Vic Gatrell's City of Laughter (Atlantic Books, £35), a work which is as boisterous as its subject — sex and satire in...

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Marcus Berkmann

The Spectator

The book I have bought most copies of this year is Tom Hodgkinson's How To Be Free (Penguin paperback, £7.99). Hodgkinson is only in his late thirties, but already he is tired...

Martin Vander Weyer

The Spectator

Mavericks of the money world fascinate me, but the books I want to read by and about them are often left aside while I tackle duller tomes for duty. So here's a couple of years'...

Love from Snoop or Poj

The Spectator

Alan Strachan THE LETTERS OF NOEL COWARD edited by Barry Day Bloomsbury, £25, pp. 800, ISBN 9780713685787 £20 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 Noel Coward owned always that luck...

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The conquering hero as show-off

The Spectator

Frederic Raphael THE ROMAN TRIUMPH by Mary Beard Belknap Harvard, £14.40, pp. 448, ISBN 9780674026131 £15.95 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 How should ancient Roman history be...

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Why does Tintin never have sex?

The Spectator

Sebastian Horsley THE ADVENTURES OF HERGE by Michael Farr John Murray, £20, pp. 125, ISBN 9780719567995 £16 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 Ihad two great childhood heroes: Marc...

Traced to an underground car park

The Spectator

Clare Asquith THE LODGER: SHAKESPEARE ON SILVER STREET by Charles Nicholl Allen Lane, £20, pp. 400, ISBN 9780713998900 £16 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 Nine years ago Park...

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Balance and counterbalance

The Spectator

Ben Wilson THREE VICTORIES AND A DEFEAT: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE FIRST BRITISH EMPIRE 1714-1783 by Brendan Simms Allen Lane, £30, pp. 800, ISBN 9780713994261 © £24 (plus £2.45...

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A choice of quirky books

The Spectator

Bevis Hillier The humorist Paul Jennings wrote for Punch when it was still funny — that is, up to and including the editorship of the late Alan Coren. Jennings also wrote such...

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Settling old scores

The Spectator

Peter Oborne BEHIND THE SHADES: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY by Duncan Fletcher Simon & Schuster, E18.99, pp. 400, ISBN 9780743275590 £15.19 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 English cricket...

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The mad emperor and his cannon

The Spectator

Byron Rogers THE BAREFOOT EMPEROR: AN ETHIOPIAN TRAGEDY by Philip Marsden HaiperPress, £17,99, pp. 432, ISBN 9780007173457 © £1439 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 Iapproached...

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Gary Dexter

The Spectator

GUIDE TO RAILWAY SAFETY (1991) by Roald Dahl The slender book above was the last thing Roald Dahl ever wrote, and was published posthumously by the British Railways Board. It is...

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A preoccupation with the negligible

The Spectator

Jonathan Miller, in reflective mood, talks to Henrietta Bredin about his work on stage Jonathan Miller possesses the great gift of making those with a lesser intellect than his...

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Museum in miniature

The Spectator

Andrew Lambirth An American's Passion for British Art: Paul Mellon's Legacy Royal Academy, until 27 Januar), 2008 Supported by the Bank of New York Mellon Daul Mellon (1907-99)...

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Inspired and not-so-inspired

The Spectator

Michael Tanner The Fortunes of King Croesus; Madama Butterfly Opera North Reinhard Keiser is not a name that triggers many associations in most opera lovers' minds, even the...

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Lines of beauty

The Spectator

Alan Powers The Beauty of Holiness: G.F. Bodley (1827-1907) and his circle V&A, until 17 Feb/vary 2008 The date of George Frederick Bodley's death (1907) offers a partial...

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A Buddhist bows out

The Spectator

Michael Henderson ne of the most gilded careers in our post-war musical life ends next week when Robert Tear sings in public for the last time. At least he thinks it will be the...

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Pistols pack a punch

The Spectator

Matthew d'Ancona Anyone in the building under 40?' asks Johnny Rotten. Yes, I am (just): and, by the looks of things, about 20 others among 3,000-odd punters at the Brixton...

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A small jewel Deborah Ross Brick Lane 15, Nationwi

The Spectator

A small jewel Deborah Ross Brick Lane 15, Nationwide Well, it's not as good as Monica Ali's book. I'm not convinced it does the book justice. I didn't think it captures the...

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Sweet sounds of the Seventies

The Spectator

Charles Spencer Is there a more irritating figure in British public life than Richard Branson? The beard, the cuddly sweaters, the toothy grin, the self-advertisement, the...

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Conquests and coffins

The Spectator

Patrick Camegy Henry V Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon ne of the few certainties aboutHemy Vis that every performance is apolitical act, or will certainly be read as...

Hopeless propaganda

The Spectator

Lloyd Evans The Arsonists Royal Court The Giant Hampstead The Bicycle Men King's Head Strange happenings in theatreland. Three London playhouses have taken it into their heads...

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Hijacked by the people

The Spectator

Kate Chisholm rr he blogosphere is threatening to take over the airwaves and even the great Eddie Mair is feeling ruffled. Last Saturday, half an hour of PM, his five o'clock...

Blown away by Napoleon

The Spectator

James Delingpole For much of the summer my brother Dick spends his weekends either as a skirmisher with the 69eme Voltigeurs in Napoleon's Grande Armee or — depending on which...

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Mellow weedlessness

The Spectator

Ursula Buchan rr he party is almost over. One of the best autumns for many years is coming to an end, the leaves finally seared off the trees by stormy weather. Even people who...

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Confessions of a tyreophile

The Spectator

Alan Judd At Oxford I had a clerical friend, a mature postgraduate and student of 19th-century evangelism, who developed a temporary but consuming passion for car tyres. Unlike...

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Mailer and me

The Spectator

Taki New York Three months before the Americans I committed their greatest foreign policy blunder ever, I had gone up to Cape Cod to interview Norman Mailer. Towards the end of...

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Paying through the teeth

The Spectator

Jeremy Clarke T 'm in agony. Toothache. Upper left molar. The pain is shooting up the side of my face and stabbing through my left eye socket. On the plus side, the world is...

Women's ways

The Spectator

Melissa Kite illy really. Although it seemed like a good idea at the time. A girls' poker evening. I forgot that trying to persuade a group of women to do anything involving a...

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Cuban revolution

The Spectator

Neil Clark says cigar smokers are leading the fight for smoker's rights For British lovers of La Diva Nicotina, 1 July 2007 was a black day indeed. The government's draconian...

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Rock on

The Spectator

Diamonds are Oscar Humphries's best friends Buying jewellery is, along with the rubbery smell of hot water bottles and getting upgraded on aeroplanes, one of life's great...

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Extra special

The Spectator

Forte Village is a near-perfect family activity venue, says James Delingpole k re akfast and dinner are pincluded but for God's sake watch out for the extras,' said a friend...

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I have become precisely the kind of wine bore that I used to humiliate at dinner parties

The Spectator

/cannot remember when I became a wine bore. It could have been when Majestic opened a branch in Shepherd's Bush — or it might stem from the first time I saw Sideways. Perhaps it...

Mind your language

The Spectator

Hansard does not show that, when the acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, Dr Vincent Cable (as he likes to be called, having a doctorate of philosophy from the University of...

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Your Problems Solved

The Spectator

Dear Maly Q. A dinner-party guest rang me three hours before the dinner for ten I was giving as a thank-you to her and her husband to say that as soon as she arrived at my flat,...

Counting the cost

The Spectator

FRANK KEATING The to-and-fro of the 2012 Olympic Games's accounting transparency (or otherwise) continues to be what old sportswriters used to call 'a ding-dong contest'. The...