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A fair tax

The Spectator

I t is tempting to sympathise with the hoary mob of farmers and hauliers, collectively known as the Fuel Lobby, who as we go to press are threatening to blockade motorways and...

Page 4

PORTRAIT OF THE WEEK A s the price of petrol rose

The Spectator

above £1 per litre, a group of protesters calling itself the Fuel Lobby threatened to blockade motorways and oil refineries in protest against fuel duty. Many petrol stations...

Page 5

T he New Labour assault on John Humphrys was inevitable, not

The Spectator

because he is a Tory (I have no reason to suppose he is) but because he defies Labour’s Gestapo, being always scrupulously fair. He interviewed me last week in a debate with the...

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What’s cricket and what’s not: the secret sporting history of Tony Blair

The Spectator

I used to play for the same cricket club as Tony Blair, though not at the same time. It was called the Cricket Pistols, named after the punk rock band which is still indelibly...

Page 7

W hen a disaster or a war happens, very large estimates

The Spectator

of the number of dead quickly emerge in the media. These tend to be propagated by two groups — those seeking money to deal with the problem, and those wanting to blame somebody...

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Fear in the community

The Spectator

Ross Clark reveals that the government has a hidden programme for mass closure of local hospitals T he local people who turned out to see Princess Helen Louise open the new wing...

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Why do we tolerate intolerance?

The Spectator

Rod Liddle on how the government’s fear of offending Muslims promotes homophobia and anti-Semitism R ed Cross officials have been meeting in Switzerland to decide upon a new...

Page 11

Mind your language

The Spectator

More on treacle, thanks to Mr Christopher Couchman of Bath, who sends a lovely recipe for Venice treacle, taken from the English Dispensatory of John Quincy (who died in 1722)....

There is no cure for the UN

The Spectator

Mark Steyn says the transnational body is both corrupt and institutionally anti-American — but there is no point in trying to reform it K ofi Annan is the very embodiment of...

Page 13

Just say no to Ken

The Spectator

Bruce Anderson says that Kenneth Clarke has the qualities of a leader — but not of the Tory party T he aged eagle has stretched his wings. For once, Ken Clarke is trying. During...

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Return of the Troubles

The Spectator

Kevin Myers says that no one should be surprised by the loyalist riots in Belfast, and no one should hold out hope for Northern Ireland Kildare W riting about Northern Ireland...

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Disability allowances

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Leo McKinstry reports that even crack addicts can now claim to be disabled, and sue for compensation if they are sacked A n insidious paradox lies at the heart of the modern...

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First, put the public finances in order — that’s where Clarkeonomics started

The Spectator

H is party hoped that Kenneth Clarke as Chancellor would deliver the elusive ‘feelgood factor’ that would somehow win them the election. When would it come through? ‘2 May...

Page 18

Pro-God, anti-religion

The Spectator

From Mira Bar-Hillel Sir: Theo Hobson makes some interesting points in his article about ‘literary atheism’ (‘Writing God off’, 10 September) but his case is fatally flawed by...

Mira Bar-Hillel London SW19

The Spectator

From John Bunting Sir: Why do atheists always define themselves in terms of what they don’t believe? Just for once, it would be nice to hear one of them say, for example, ‘I...

A licence for mayhem

The Spectator

From Bernie Reeves Sir: Rod Liddle (‘The joy of stigma’, 3 September) is correct to point out what happens when lobbying groups force the mentally ill back into society. In...

Eupeptic Cowling

The Spectator

From Bruce Anderson Sir: Although Maurice Cowling took a low view of the human condition, he was a eupeptic pessimist. His brains were never in his bile duct. He was as...

Masters of their fate

The Spectator

From David Mayger Sir: As a long-term admirer of Aidan Hartley’s work — particularly his recent Zanzibar Chest — I was surprised and disappointed when he attributed the source...

Page 19

Bad cop idea

The Spectator

From David Williams Sir: No doubt you were disappointed that following your support for David Cameron (Diary, 3 September) his first policy announcement was mayor-appointed...

For and against Clarke

The Spectator

From Darrell Goodliffe Sir: I am that rarest of breeds, a left-wing reader of your publication. To my mind a Conservative party under the stewardship of Kenneth Clarke...

Richard Devonald-Lewis Sir: If the Conservative party wishes to win

The Spectator

the next election, it has to win back all the defectors like me who voted Ukip last time. I was a Tory candidate in the 1970 and February 1974 elections. If Ken Clarke is...

Gift of a taxman

The Spectator

From Ian Blair Sir: Theodore Dalrymple is right to think that the Dobermann dog was the creation of a 19th-century German tax collector (Second opinion, 3 September). Louis...

Truth, not spite

The Spectator

From Graham Lord Sir: In his Diary (10 September) Trevor Grove describes my new biography of his chum Sir John Mortimer as ‘somewhat spiteful’, by which obviously he means...

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Barefoot in the jungle, I did my bit for the Rest of the World

The Spectator

N oël Coward was right about mad dogs, Englishmen and the midday sun. How it was that I found myself playing in my first football match since leaving school four decades ago, at...

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I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore

The Spectator

T o someone of my age, who has seen the world and now wants only repose and beauty, Lake Como is the perfect place. I do not know how many times I have visited it in the last...

Page 22

Losing the plot

The Spectator

Ross Clark says that John Prescott’s housing policy is wasteful and dangerous T here is a rather fetching neovernacular housing estate down my way whose builders have gone out...

Page 23

Aphrodite’s turf

The Spectator

Gerald Cadogan I f you want a house in Cyprus, think a thousand times before you put your money in the Turkish North, even if it is the most beautiful part of the whole East...

Page 24

Don’t panic

The Spectator

Rebecca Jed A burglar alarm company rang this morning. My friend’s alarm had gone off. Could I, their keyholder, go over and let the police in? ‘Not really,’ I said, as I do...

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Boom, then bust

The Spectator

Karen Robinson H ere’s a diverting after-dinner game. Take a map of the world, shut your eyes and stick a pin in it. If it lands on a country where there is not at least one...

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Hot property

The Spectator

Greenwich has that elusive characteristic aspired to by devotees of the self-help manual: a well-rounded personality. Resisting the temptation to wallow in a glorious past...

Page 27

O n the very first page of Peter Ackroyd’s biography, you

The Spectator

learn something strange and interesting about the first few moments of Shakespeare’s life: ‘A small portion of butter and honey was usually placed in the baby’s mouth. It was...

The everlasting guessing game

The Spectator

Sam Leith S HAKESPEARE : T HE B IOGRAPHY by Peter Ackroyd Chatto, £25, pp. 560, ISBN 1856197263 ✆ £20 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 800 6655 SHADOWPLAY: T HE H IDDEN B ELIEFS AND C...

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The distaff side of death

The Spectator

Zenga Longmore C HIN U P , G IRLS !: A B OOK OF W OMEN ’ S O BITUARIES FROM THE D AILY T ELEGRAPH edited by Georgia Powell and Katherine Ramsay John Murray, £16.99, pp. 362,...

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Trapped in a shaming role

The Spectator

William Brett D ANCING IN THE D ARK by Caryl Phillips Secker, £12.99, pp. 214, ISBN 0436205831 ✆ £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 R acial shame looms large in this...

The badlands of Bohemia

The Spectator

Olivia Glazebrook I N THE F OLD by Rachel Cusk Faber, £10.99, pp. 224, ISBN 0571228135 ✆ £8.79 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 L ike many a good novel before it, In the Fold...

Page 30

Peace under the Iron Mountain

The Spectator

Victoria Glendinning MEMOIR by John McGahern Faber, £16.99, pp. 272, ISBN 0571228100 ✆ £13.59 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 W hen he was little, John McGahern’s mother took...

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How to avoid eating dog

The Spectator

James Hughes-Onslow P HAIC T AN : S UNSTROKE ON A SHOESTRING by Santo Cilautro, Tom Gleisner and Rob Sitch Quadrille, £8.99, pp. 252, ISBN 184400239X ✆ £7.19 (plus £2.45 p&p)...

Holding the East in fee

The Spectator

Charles Allen S AHIB : T HE B RITISH S OLDIER IN I NDIA , 1750-1914 by Richard Holmes HarperCollins, £20, pp. 506, ISBN X0007137532 ✆ £16 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 N...

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A small, bespectacled hero

The Spectator

David Gilmour T HE S IEGE OF V ENICE by Jonathan Keates Chatto, £20, pp. 495, ISBN 0701166371 ✆ £16 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 U nited Italy was reluctant to honour...

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Paradise lost in Kashmir

The Spectator

Francis King S HALIMAR THE C LOWN by Salman Rushdie Cape, £17.99, pp. 416, ISBN 0224061615 ✆ £14.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 800 6655 T his novel starts near the end of its story....

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French connection

The Spectator

Andrew Lambirth assesses the first exhibition to unite Nelson and Napoleon M uch trumpeted as the first exhibition to explore together the lives of Horatio Nelson and Napoleon...

Page 35

Restoration drama

The Spectator

Sarah Walden R ecently I received a disobliging letter from a trustee of the National Gallery. The author, a peer of the realm, upbraided me for publishing correspondence...

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True colours

The Spectator

Mark Steyn The Umbrellas of Cherbourg PG, National Film Theatre I f you’re within reach of the National Film Theatre this week, treat yourself to the digitally restored...

Page 37

Yorkshire grit

The Spectator

Toby Young Harvest Royal Court A Few Good Men Theatre Royal Haymarket Medium Rare Bush Hall T he second half of Harvest , Richard Bean’s new play about four generations of a...

Page 38

Tale of the unexpected

The Spectator

Michael Tanner Dom Sébastien Royal Opera T he Royal Opera’s new season began with a nice big surprise: Donizetti’s last opera, Dom Sébastien, roi de Portugal , written for...

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Jarring note

The Spectator

Peter Phillips I t has not been an entirely straightforward Proms season for Nicholas Kenyon and his team. They missed the effects of the first London bombings, but not of the...

Climate change

The Spectator

Ursula Buchan A ll my working life, I have been adapting to climate change. As an apprentice in a garden near Antwerp in the summer of 1976, I spent the early mornings and...

Page 40

Give rats a chance

The Spectator

Michael Vestey I n common with most people, I can’t say I like rats. Do they deserve to be demonised, though? I suppose their diseasecarrying capability means they do. Daily...

Page 41

Chillier view

The Spectator

Simon Hoggart A publisher has just reprinted, in time for its centenary, H.E. Marshall’s Our Island Story (Galore Park, £19.99), which in its day was the immensely successful...

Page 42

Shark ascending

The Spectator

Simon Courtauld T he first barracuda to be caught in British waters was landed at Newlyn, Cornwall four years ago. This summer giant fin whales have been spotted off the...

Page 43

Donny style

The Spectator

Robin Oakley ‘A German joke,’ a former British ambassador once told me, ‘is no laughing matter.’ The Germans take their elections seriously, too. It has been no easy matter, in...

Page 44

Eco lesson

The Spectator

Taki St Tropez I don’t know what I hate more, SUVs or SUV owners, but at least I don’t make a habit of insulting the latter. This is reserved for Hummer slobs, men who are...

Not in the mood

The Spectator

Jeremy Clarke I ask the new landlord of the Bald Hind, who’s manning the bar on his own tonight, for a pint of Stella. He’s in his mid-fifties and wearing a clean, ironed...

Page 45


The Spectator

Susanna Gross T he Buenos Aires scandal of 1965 has never been satisfactorily resolved. Terence Reese and Boris Schapiro were found guilty of cheating (by using finger signals)...

Page 46

G lade is the new daytime restaurant at Sketch. It’s called

The Spectator

Glade because the interior design is meant to evoke a forest rather than, say, those awful air-fresheners used by lower-income types because they cannot afford fresh flowers...

Page 49

Hail to the coach!

The Spectator

FRANK KEATING T he Ashes cricket series was unimaginably compelling from first day to last. At Lord’s on 21 July England began their challenge by bowling out the world champion...


The Spectator

Dear Mary Q. I sympathise with B.M.F. (20 August). At a recent Proms concert, a superb performance of ‘Gerontius’ was ruined by a middle-aged woman continually fanning herself...

Q. Some months ago we invited friends to a concert.

The Spectator

We did not expect them to pay for the tickets and they (perfectly properly) did not offer to do so. They plainly enjoyed the evening and promised a ‘return match’. Recently they...

Q. Your correspondent is embarrassed by his pyjama trousers gaping

The Spectator

at breakfast in mixed company. Have you ever heard of the old fashioned nightshirt as worn by Ebenezer Scrooge in Dickens’s Christmas Carol ? It can be bought in brushed cotton...

Q. My lady-wife and I have planned to spend our

The Spectator

autumn years among the literary groups beside Aldeburgh’s pebbly beach but worry that your advice for the male literati to wear ladies’ pyjamas for breakfast there may tempt...