19 FEBRUARY 2000

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Working round the clock, 24 hours a day . . . M r Peter Mandelson, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, suspended the Northern Ireland Assembly because the Irish...

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Sheep may not safely graze; but Labour can, for the moment BRUCE ANDERSON There have been recent signs that Tony Blair's luck is not immortal. But poor Mr Hague seems unable...

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PETER McKAY F riends who have met him say that the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, is good company in private life. He likes a drink and is fond of gossip. In appearance, he's a...

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When you can't eat a curry without having a euro forced down your throat BORIS JOHNSON T here I was, pootling down Gray's Inn Road on my bicycle, brooding, as usual, on...

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Matthew Parris identifies the dead dogma and self-serving euphemisms of right-wing PC ARE you politically sound? Are you sound on field sports, sound on the countryside,...

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David Blair says the last white Rhodesian leader can't contain his pleasure at his rival's defeat Harare RETIRED African dictators are a pitiful bunch. Those who escape...

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Andrew Gimson says that the former Chancellor's achievements were greater — and his conduct worse — than his enemies realise Berlin THE time has come to say a word in defence...

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Lloyd Evans meets Crown Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia and finds him to be a solid company chap IT'S been a quiet New Year in the Balka- ns, hasn't it? Arkan, the playboy...

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Second opinion

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THERE once was a Society for the Sup- pression of Mendacity, but those who believe in Original Sin rather than in the Perfectibility of Man will not be sur- prised to learn that...

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As the campaign hots up, Mark Steyn reflects on the mystery of a world in which insiders suddenly become outsiders New Hampshire EVERY morning, round about ten, the phone...

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Mind your language

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VERONICA is always sending e-mails to her schoolfriends and, no doubt, to other unsavoury cyber-pals, too. She never sends one tome, but her style is probably as loose and...

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Justin Marozzi finds that the Dome's progenitors are suddenly overwhelmed by modesty WHERE are you then, all you politicians and business leaders who have spent a bil- lion...

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Michael Heath


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SiOn Simon explains how the Prime Minister misread the public's attitude to Section 28 THE Prime Minister is a fine figure of a man, and an enthusiastically heterosexual one,...

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Banned wagon

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A weekly survey of the things our rulers want to prohibit THERE are some rules which, however hard you try to look at them, leave you standing like an exasperated toddler: `But...

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Don't worry about the chain gang of great writers clanking into oblivion PAUL JOHNSON M embers of the chattering classes, asked recently to nominate their 'novel of the 20th...

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The Republican cell at the heart of the Guardian STEPHEN GLOVER T he Daily Telegraph, as everyone knows, is more Unionist than many Unionists, cer- tainly more so than David...

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From Professor Richard Swinburne Sir: In your article last week

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I was quoted as saying, in answer to the question 'What do you believe?', 'Well, of course it's all a game . . . what I actually believe is irrelevant.' The implication of the...

Betty Boothroyd

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From Mr William Cash Sir: I would like to correct any possible mis- understanding over my article (12 Febru- ary). I did not intend to suggest that the Speaker, the Rt Hon....


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We dons do care From Professor Henry Mayr-Harting Sir: The authors of your article 'It's time to scrap the Millennium Don' (12 February) invite contributions to the discussion....

From Lady Braybrooke Sir: I was interested to read in

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the article by William Cash that Lady Walston's parrot was given to repeating the phrase 'To hell with the Pope'. When I met this bird in the early Sixties, all I can remember...

Greene's salad days

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From Dr Paul Hetherington Sir: Just after reading Mark Steyn's review of the film The End of the Affair (Arts, 12 February) I came across a short essay by Graham Greene that...

Burchill's vile bile

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From Maria Niall Sir: This letter is to express my amazement at your choice of Diary writer in the form of Julie Burchill. Her attack (12 February) on the Catholic Church was...

From Mr Walter Hooper Sir: I am a Catholic and

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I am spitting mad. Why have you allowed Julie Burchill to insult the Catholic Church in such a mean and ignorant fashion? I have been a sub- scriber for many years and yours is...

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Minorities' Mafias

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From Mr T.H. Hughes-Davies Sir: At first I thought Matthew Parris's neighbour was referring to Roman Catholics (Another voice, 12 February), but she might equally have meant...

Tyrolean fairy tales

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From Mr Claus von Biilow Sir: John Laughland argues persuasively that the EU's attack on JOrg Haider is 'fur- ther evidence of its socialist globalism' Mow the Left has won the...

Tanner the panner

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From Mr A.N. Wilson Sir: One can only conclude that Michael Tanner saw a different production of La Clemenza di Tito (Arts, 5 February) from the sublime performances in the...

Vegetable rights

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From Mr Richard Tracey Sir: Justin Marozzi (`Organic rhubarb', 5 February) says nothing about the rights of vegetables that Samuel Butler did not say in Erewhon, published in...

Archie's achievement

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From Mr Alistair B. Cooke Sir: John Redwood was indeed remorseless in pursuing the issues raised by Lord Simon's appointment as a minister (Politics, 5 February). Archie Norman,...

Sapphic suggestion

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From Diana Chapman Sir: Reading Petronella Wyatt's column last week (Singular life, 12 February) one might think that homosexuality was confined to the male sex. It seems that...

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It should be a hanging offence but the Mirror's editor might find the rule hard to enforce CHRISTOPHER FILDES I wonder how my former colleague would get on at the Daily...

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The quest for Rola Frederic Raphael BALTHUS: A BIOGRAPHY by Norman Fox Weber Weedenfeld, BO, pp. 644 BALTHUS: CATALOGUE RAISONNE OF THE COMPLETE WORKS by Jean Clair and...

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Myths in modern dress

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Vicki Weissman DAYS LIKE TODAY by Rachel Ingalls Faber, £12.99, pp. 289 B eware the book with an explanation. Like one of those build-yourself-a-dressing- table kits, it will...

A zany postcard from the Devon coast

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Philip MacCann FIVE MILES FROM OUTER HOPE by Nicola Barker Faber, £9.99, pp. 191 I t's 1981. On an island off Devon a middle-class family are stuck inexplicably in a...

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The Great Game replayed

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Roger Howard TALIBAN by Ahmed Rashid I. B. Tauris paperback original, £12.95, pp. 274 B eing a remote, poverty-stricken and largely barren land, it is at first sight sur-...

Long live the weeds and the wilderness

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Michael Glover WILD FRUITS by Henry David Thoreau Norton, £22, pp. 410 T his is a marvellous, old-fashioned tale of patient, years-long scholarly endeavour, a story of good...

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People say that life's the thing, but he prefers reading

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Philip Glazebrook REFLECTIONS ON BLUE WATER by Alan Ross £18, pp. 245 T he reader of Alan Ross's Reflections on Blue Water will learn much of many books as they turn up in the...

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Tigers and cubs

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Jonathan Mirsky THE YEARS OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY: ASIA — FROM FINANCIAL CRISIS TO THE NEW MILLENNIUM by Stephen Vines Orion Business, £18.99, pp. 288 A last, a double kick in...

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Short shark shocks

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James Delingpole WILD SHORE: LIFE AND DEATH WITH NICARAGUA'S LAST SHARK-HUNTERS by Edward Marriott Picador, £16.99, pp. 368 O ne of the many terrible things about sharks is...

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Patriotism without a country

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Rodney Leach A DIET OF BRUSSELS: THE CHANGING FACE OF EUROPE by Leon Brittan Little, Brown, £18.99, pp. 288 W ritten in the dire tones of the cor- porate memoir (`sadly, on...

Rooks and castles

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D. J. Taylor VACT ALCHEMIES: THE LIFE AND WORK OF MERVYN PEAKE by G. Peter Winnington Peter Owen, £18.95, pp. 263 I gnoring for a moment all the fashion- able French theorising...

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A highly sensitive artist in crime

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William Scammell WAINEWRIGHT THE POISONER by Andrew Motion Faber, £20, pp. 305 F or this spiritual voluptuary, with the greedy senses, soft coat and tiger heart, painted and...

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The unquiet American

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Selina Hastings THE THIRD WOMAN: THE SECRET PASSION THAT INSPIRED THE END OF THE AFFAIR by William Cash Little, Brown, £14.99, pp. 336 i n June 1948 Graham Greene sent a letter...

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The bravura of the big store

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Stephen Gardiner WINDOWS: THE ART OF RETAIL DISPLAY by Mary Portas Thames & Hudson, £29.95, pp. 192 An ong a hundred or so professionals in the creative sphere, there may be no...

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Trollope on tape

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Peter Levi This is the last column that Peter Levi wrote for The Spectator before his death this month. T he first attractive thing about The Way We Live Now is its title...

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Mozart among murderers Rafael 'fades on playing in a string quartet at a young offenders' prison I sometimes find myself on a concert platform gazing into a chattering hall,...

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What you see is what you get

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Laura Gascoigne believes that there should be more honesty in the art world S eeing the artist Jack Vettriano recently described in the Scottish press as a stalker set me...

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Fosse (Prince of Wales) Swan Lake (Dominion) The Servant to Two Masters (Young Vic) A Lump in My Throat (Grace, Battersea) Routine Fosse Sheridan Morley T his is where I get...


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The Beach (15, selected cinemas Washed up in Thailand Mark Steyn T he story so far: last seen bobbing life- lessly in the North Atlantic next to a big iceberg, Leonardo...

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Health warning Ursula Buchan J ust when you thought it was safe to go back in the garden after the winter, I am here to tell you that it is not. In fact, you would be better...


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Coppelia (Royal Ballet) Hasty approach Giannandrea Poesio T here are silly ballets and there are bal- lets that can become silly if badly produced or performed. The 1870...

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Trouble at farm Michael Vestey I was rather slow off the mark with the now notorious episode of The Archers on Radio Four that delivered an impeccably bravura piece of...

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Smooth but rugged Alan Judd T he sun retreated across the still-frost- ed lawns beyond the french windows, cast a careless splash of gold across the tennis court, then dipped...


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Gorgeous and gay Simon Hoggart ueer As Folk (Channel 4) returned fj week, set in a Manchester which looked like a cross between Rio and the Upper East Side. It seems to be a...

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The turf

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Tactless questions Robin Oakley M y award for racing's public relations achievement of the week goes to jockey Richard Johnson. As the riders returned after the Mitsubishi...

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High life

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Eagle on top Taki Rougemont h ehe Royal Yacht Squadron sailed into town last weekend and went down to glori- ous defeat against the Eagle Club and the Gstaad Yacht Club in a...

No life

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Fired up Jeremy Clarke O ne thing I do have in common with the ladies of our residential home is that we all love a nice fire. A log fire unites us and lends significance to...

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Country life

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Injury count Leanda de Lisle W hat exactly is the Puppy Walkers Ball?' I asked Peter when he told me to put the event in my diary. `It's a party given by the hunt to thank...

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Singular life

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I screamed and I screamed . . . Petronella Wyatt I t has been one of those 'what fresh hell is this?' kind of weeks. Becoming the Samuel Goldwyn of the chocolate business was...


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Forced to win Andrew Robson THE United States has recently won the World Bridge Championships without ever touching a card or seeing their opponents or their partner. In case...

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MORE canals than Venice, more trees than Paris, more hills than Rome. Jewel of empire. Cradle of the British revolution that truly changed the world. Crib of the Cham- berlains...

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Rdbeq The Ultimate Islay Malt.

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Rdbeq www.ardbeg.com CHESS A raveugle Raymond Keene GEORGE KOLTANOWSKI does not rank among the great masters of the game, but he did carve out his particular niche by...


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Complete the jigsaw Jaspistos IN COMPETITION NO. 2123 you were asked to tell a story with a given first and last sentence. When I first became Jaspistos I set this form of...

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A first prize of £30 and a bottle of Graham's award-winning, Late- Bottled Vintage Port for the first correct solution opened on 6 March, with two runners-up prizes of £20 (or,...

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They can't believe it Simon Barnes ON discovering that I have lost an essential telephone number and that all manner of things will go wrong as a consequence, I sometimes...


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Dear Mary. . . Q. I recently invited a friend, who happens to be an ex-girlfriend of mine, for dinner. We met at my house for an aperitif and, Prior to setting off on the short...