18 DECEMBER 1999

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The Spectator

M John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for the Envi- ronment, Transport and the Regions, relin- quished day-to-day direction of transport matters to...

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The Tory party has a hole in its bucket but all is not lost BRUCE ANDERSON I t is the best pantomime in London. Tim Collins's mother is a remarkable Widow Twankey, and as for...

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BARRY HUMPHRIES M New York y friend Taki, who so generously reviewed the opening night of Dame Edna on Broadway, nevertheless missed a good story. During the intermission, two...

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At the turn of the millennium, England's fate is to conquer or be conquered BORIS JOHNSON S pooky! I have just been struck by a weird symmetry in British history. Once every...

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WE Deedes says that the millennium is a good time to give thanks and praise for the Church of England LOTS of jolly plans are hatching to mark the end of this century and...

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PetroneIla Wyatt goes in search of a suspected Rwandan mass murderer in south London I AM standing on a street in Lewisham, south London. A dull greyness, tempered by the...

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Julian Manyon on the efforts of orthodox rabbis to cancel Christmas and New Year celebrations Jerusalem MOST Spectator readers may be about to enter the third millennium on a...

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Hezza's xenophobic assault on the Eurosceptic press continues STEPHEN GLOVER All these thoughts passed through my mind the other evening as I watched Michael Heseltine defend...

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Michael McMahon on how American evangelicals are turning the lights low and consulting sex manuals ALL over America this Christmas, evan- gelical Christian couples will be...

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Anne Sebba interviews Genevieve de Gaulle, resistance fightet; concentration camp survivor and champion of the poor HEADING north through Paris's Luxem- bourg Gardens, past Yves...

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The destruction of Orthodox churches is part of a campaign to expunge Serb culture in Kosovo, says John Laughland Kosovo BY a happy millennial coincidence, the holy Muslim...

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Mind your language

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A VERY extraordinary thing has come from a reader, Cynthia Broughton, of Torquay. I mean, I find it extraordinary because I did not know it before. Per- haps it is familiar to...

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Ursula Buchan is forcibly struck by a Cumbrian hunt's powerful and unselfconscious connection with the land and the past WE have seen the golden eagles and red squirrels, the...

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Peregrine Worsthorne dreads the festive season of over-indulgence, excess and gluttony IN spite of my sense of what is expected of a grandfather, I don't look forward to...

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Second opinion

The Spectator

I WALKED into a prisoner's cell the other day and found the following state- ments inscribed on the wall, in a material that looked uncommonly like blood: I AM Al THE CENTRE OF...

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Max Hastings celebrates the centenaly of C. S. Forester, a great storyteller wrongly overlooked by literary critics 'IT was not long after dawn that Captain Hornblower came up...

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Michael Heath

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Lord Snooty may be dead, but Dennis the Menace is still chortling FRANCIS WHEEN T his is the way the Nineties end: exactly as the Fifties did. Cliff Richard is the top- permost...

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The Spectator

We humans should realise that sheep are not so silly as they seem PAUL JOHNSON H earing a Christmas carol about shep- herds watching by night set me thinking about sheep. It is...

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Still counting in Kosovo From Dr Noel Malcolm Sir: John Laughland's letter (11 December) is a desperate attempt to salvage something from the ruins of his argument. Readers who...

From Tara McCormack

The Spectator

Sir: Noel Malcolm ('Yes, there were mass killings', 4 December) is a man so little able to tolerate opinions that differ from his own that he will not remain in any organi-...

From Professor Rafu G.C. Thomas Sir: Noel Malcolm's response to

The Spectator

John Laughland on the Kosovo body-count rests strictly on the hearsay evidence of Albani- ans. As far as I can see, Dr Malcolm rou- tinely hobnobs with Croats, Bosnian Mus- lims...

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Blue belle

The Spectator

From Mr Peter Hollier Sir: Petronella Wyatt (Singular life, 4 December) tells us that the only attractive female candidate in the last general elec- tion was Elizabeth Noel. Is...

Grubby Grub Street

The Spectator

From Mr ES. Turner Sir: Stephen Glover (Media studies, 4 December) reflects on the increasing power of journalists, engaged in the political pro- cess 'in their own right:...

Karla's theme

The Spectator

From Colonel Mikhail Lyubimov Sir: I am very grateful to Graham Lord for his kind review of my modest 'Karla' (Books, 4 December). You might be interested to hear that I...

From Mr Ian Aitken Sir: Would somebody at your office

The Spectator

please chuck a bucket of cold water over your 'Media studies' columnist. He is clearly in an extremely fevered state and badly needs cooling down. The idea that a few grumpy...

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Parody of Paul

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From Mary L. Dugan Sir: Diabolically clever of you, following Craig Brown's article ('Cherie Blair ate my words', 27 November) with another by him 'A woman's life-history is...

Benefit of absence

The Spectator

From Mr Ray Botha Sir: Sir Albert Robinson (Letters, 4 Decem- ber) clearly did not understand the gist of Andrew Kenny's article. He seems to be trying to claim that the credit...

Subtler than you think

The Spectator

From Lord Garel-Jones Sir: Your vision of brave little Blighty, rep- resented by Stephen Byers, batting for Britain in Seattle (Leader, 4 December), is a seductive one. I fear,...

Poor tyke Dobson

The Spectator

From Mr John R. Chapman Sir: I was amazed to read Si6n Simon's remark suggesting Frank Dobson as the Greatest Living Yorkshireman (Restau- rants, 11 December). I presume he...

Lack of choler

The Spectator

From Mr Graham Binns Sir: Ruth Guilding is entitled to her percep- tion of the proceedings of the British Muse- um colloquium (Arts, 11 December) but I take issue with her when...

'Mythic' meals

The Spectator

From Mr Jeremy Taylor Sir: I had just killed a persistent Canary fly with my subscribed copy of the latest Spec- tator when something on page 81 attracted my immediate...

Despond of Slough

The Spectator

From Mr Richard Marsh Sir: Urbane (OE): 'having the manners, refinement, or polish regarded as charac- teristic of a town'. Not an Old Etonian defi- nition, but Oxford English...

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There's a future in Europe for Hong Kong West, says Crystal, who's Ed's smarter sister CHRISTOPHER FILDES I am pleased to announce a timely addi- tion to my staff. I had been...

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By Tim Parks MARTHA said, `I'm just going into town.' 'On your own?' 'Yes, if you don't mind.' 'But how can I work then? Somebody'll have to look after the kids.' 'Right....

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Triumphant comedies of failure Philip Hensher M ichael Frayn's Headlong didn't win the Booker prize this year, and no one can have been surprised, only rueful. The odds are...

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Spoiled for

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choice Minette Marrin HILLARY'S CHOICE by Gail Sheehy Simon & Schuster, £18.99, pp. 480 T here must be many people who feel that they have long since heard more than enough...

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A luminous home of waters

The Spectator

Bruce Boucher VENETIAN COLOUR by Paul Hills Yale, 135, pp. 247 V enice and colour are virtually synony- mous and have been since the Middle Ages. It is not only the endurance...

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Homeland in the mind

The Spectator

Raymond Carr BREAD OF EXILE by Dimitri Obolensky Harvill, £20, pp. 245 T his book divides into two parts. The first contains the hitherto unpublished rec- ollections of Sir...

At the end of the day

The Spectator

Brian Masters THE JOURNALS OF WOODROW WYATT, VOLUME II edited by Sarah Curtis Macmillan £25, pp. 743 T his is essentially a collection of repeat- ed conversations, jotted down...

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Don't lock the coffin, Dr Louis

The Spectator

Jan Morris THE OXFORD HISTORY OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE, VOLUMES I-V editor-in-chief William Roger Louis OUP, £30 each, except Volume Vat £35 T he passion has faded, the pride is...

Lost bird of the wilderness

The Spectator

Evelyn Jo11 GYRFALCON by Emma Ford John Murray, £65, pp. 190 E mma Ford, who confesses that she is bewitched by the gyr, has written a paean about this the largest of all...

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Exploring branch lines

The Spectator

Oliver Rackham SILVA: THE TREE IN BRITAIN by Archie Miles Ebury Press, .f30, pp. 400 G o into a picture gallery, choose a landscape painting at random, and ask yourself, 'What...

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Pursued across Europe by ghosts and unease

The Spectator

Anita Brookner VERTIGO by W. G. Sebald, translated by Michael Hulse £12, pp. 262 A fine array of symptoms is on offer in Vertigo, the first volume of what would become a...

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Alpha or gamma for behaviour

The Spectator

Timothy Mo OUT OF PLACE by Edward Said Granta, £25, pp. 400 E dward Said, once dubbed 'the Profes- sor of Terrorism', has been among the most visible proponents of the...

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Thoroughly modern George Michael Moorcock

The Spectator

THE AMAZING VICTORIAN by Mervyn Jones Constable, £20, pp. 311 G eorge Meredith's contemporaries considered him the 19th century's leading literary innovator. His Celtic comic...

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A puzzlingly private man

The Spectator

Julian Mitchell WORLD ENOUGH AND TIME: THE LIFE OF ANDREW MARVELL by Nicholas Murray Little, Brown, £20, pp. 294 A mong the French and Latin secre- taries of Oliver Cromwell...

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A rather dry oasis

The Spectator

David Hare CONVERSATIONS WITH WILDER by Cameron Crowe Faber, £20, pp. 373 D avid Hare: So, tell me, Cameron, this is — what? — a magnificently illustrated book of interviews,...

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Somewhat surprising, somewhat surprised

The Spectator

P. J. Kavanagh DIARY 1847-1889 by William Allingham Open Gate Press, 112.95, pp. 404 41 864. March. Farringford. One day T., J. and myself on the shore, throwing peb- bles...

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War but not quite Waugh

The Spectator

Katie Grant PRIVATE ANGELO by Eric Linklater Canongate Classics, £5.99, pp. 262 THE DARK OF SUMMER by Eric Linklater Canongate Classics, £5.99, pp. 238 S ome may consider it...

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Making the Grade

The Spectator

Jonathan Cecil IT SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME by Michael Grade Macmillan, £20, pp. 432 I n 1973, when young Michael Grade became head of Light Entertainment at London...

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A view from New York

The Spectator

Diane Peck THE ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL ELOISE, ELOISE IN PARIS, ELOISE AT CHRISTMASTIME, ELOISE IN MOSCOW by Kay Thompson, with drawings by Hilary Knight S ometime in the past few...

Unerring bad taste Anne Chisholm

The Spectator

SCANDAL by Amanda Platell Piatkus, £5.99, pp. 297 I t might perhaps be assumed that some- one with a track record like Amanda Platen's, an Australian who has edited the Sunday...

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Proust on tape

The Spectator

Peter Levi C over to Cover have now produced the first 32 tapes of Proust, read by John Rowe, who is brilliant; if a little too fast at times, he keeps you going through any...

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Glittering like beautiful fishes

The Spectator

Arthur Benson, son of an archbishop and brother of the novelist E. F. Benson, wrote many books and a diary of some five million words. He also kept two notebooks from which!. A....

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In memory of Iris Murdoch

The Spectator

A. N. Wilson The following is an edited extract from a talk recently delivered to the Royal Society of Literature T here is a memorable preface to Balzac's La Peau de Chagrin...

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Meeting the Madonna and Child Martin Gayford meditates on the emotional impact of Caravaggio's painting I n a shadowy doorway, a woman holds a naked child. Though it is rather...

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From bad to worse

The Spectator

Rupert Christiansen on some terrible experiences in the opera house F or some aficionados, the annual autumn pilgrimage to Wexford's Opera Festival is a trip to Cytherea,...

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Hard to imagine

The Spectator

Michael Henderson disagrees with George Michael about John Lennon's song R ound about now, as Santa loads up his sleigh, the papers tend to get het up about the one really...

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Well above herself

The Spectator

Charles Osborne recalls his public clash with Maria Callas T he publication of two more books about Maria Callas has reminded me of the occasion on which I clashed publicly with...

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The Spectator

Benvenuto Cellini (Barbican) Amazed anew Michael Tanner L stening to one of the superb concert performances of Berlioz's first opera, Ben- venuto Cellini, at the Barbican...


The Spectator

The Iron Giant (selected cinemas, U) Cold War paranoia James Bowman L e Iron Giant, directed by Brad Bird, is an animated adaptation of Ted Hughes's fable which recruits it...

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The Lady in the Van (Queens) The way we live now Sheridan Morley W e have, in the nick of time, a Play of the Year: Alan Bennett's The Lady in the Van (at the Queens) is a...

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Slave to fashion Susan Moore W hat a difference a name makes. Not the name of the artist, in this case, but that of the owner. Last week saw Sotheby's take the first but, as...


The Spectator

Celebration of International Choreography (Royal Opera House) New beginnings Giannandrea Poem T wo weeks ago, the Royal Opera House's opening celebration gala showed that the...

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Take two Martins Simon Hoggart S ex 'n' Death (BBC 2), Guy Jenkin's satire on the television industry, seemed an excellent programme to mark the end of the year. The Martins...

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Many thanks Michael Vestey S everal people I know have fled abroad for Christmas and the New Year to avoid what they believe will be excessive millen- nium hysteria. I think,...


The Spectator

Business sense Alan Judd And all for £3,750 (or about half a mil- lion euros), the cost of a boardroom lunch in Bavaria. As regular readers of this col- umn may recall, none...

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Food for thought

The Spectator

Its infinite variety Simon Courtauld I have on my shelves — I'm not sure why I bought it, unless for its title — a book called L'Heredite chez la Betterave CuWI*. It was...

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The turf

The Spectator

Bookies' scourge Robin Oakley J ournalists are cynical fellows. My romantic notions of Scandinavia will never be quite the same after a fellow hack had insisted at the...

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No life

The Spectator

Somewhat humiliated Jeremy Clark O Sinaia n top of the mountain the snow was too deep for hiking, so I had three glasses of hot punch in the café and came back down. At the...

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High life

The Spectator

Christmas present. . . Taki Last week, browsing through The Speccie's letters to the editor, I came across a mention of that delightful song by Alan Jay Lerner, 'How Could You...

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Country life

The Spectator

. Christmas past Leanda de Lisle I t's the last Christmas of the millennium and, grateful though I am to be alive, being in early middle age is vaguely depressing. While I'm...

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Singular life

The Spectator

Complications of life PetroneIla Wyatt L ast week I had lunch with a doctor friend. We were talking about this and that when very casually he made some remark to the effect...


The Spectator

Exceptional Andrew Robson IT WOULD have been most exciting to have lived through the early years of bridge — the Thirties and Forties — in which many techniques of card play...

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Set by Christopher Howse Wrong numbers This year 1. Where were there calls for population control when the number of apes reached 250? 2. Name the gas-supply company that...

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JUMBO CROSSWORD The present day, by Dumpynose

The Spectator

A first prize of £100, three prizes 0f25 and six further prizes of Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (millennium edition) will be awarded for the first correct solution...

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Poetic ellipse Jaspistos IN COMPETITION NO. 2115 you were invited to write an 'Ode to a Rugby Ball'. While you were tinkering with your odes indoors, the newly appointed bard...

Centurion I

The Spectator

Raymond Keene AS the end of the millennium approaches I have decided to utilise this historic moment to pick out the two players of the century that is about to end and of its...

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Christmas Quiz: the answers

The Spectator

Wrong numbers 1. Gibraltar. 2. Centrica. Queues outside the Passport Office in London. 4. A whirlwind. 5. Jeffrey Archer (over Steven Norris). 6. Martin Pipe. 7. The...

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Peter Barnes IN my childhood, London was an English city; now it is a cosmopolitan one. Each year 150,000 new immigrants swell a city whose inhabitants speak a babel Of differ-...

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One thousand years of magnitude Simon Barnes IT has been my custom in this annually doubled space to summarise the past sport- ing year. However, this being a year of...

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Dear Mary. . . As a Christmas treat Mary has once again invited some of her favourite celebrities to share their intimate anxieties with readers. From the Duke of Devonshire,...