19 JANUARY 2002

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M r Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, admitted a scheme for

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Britain to share with Spain sovereignty over Gibraltar; but he promised the people of the colony would be able to vote on the change in a referendum. After Mr Peter Hain, the...

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I f there is one man who has reason to be grateful that Prince Harry was caught smoking cannabis in a Gloucestershire pub last summer, it is John Lewis, Head Master of Eton. Had...

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The unions say the Health Secretary has sold out so it's time to buy shares in Alan Milburn

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PETER OBORNE T ony Blair has noisily proclaimed New Labour's independence from the unions ever since his election as Labour leader in 1994. Like many New Labour claims, this...

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E arly January, when the Christmas decorations have frayed into being a dirty nuisance, is in general a very good time to get out of England. But I never understand why people...

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Did Prince Harry take cocaine? And did the Palace cut a deal to cover it up?

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STEPHEN GLOVER T he News of the World, as we all know, is a highly disreputable newspaper. On hearing that it had run a story about Prince Harry's drinking and cannabis habits,...

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Just who does the smiling, doe-eyed Tony Blair think he

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is? The Princess of Wales, that's who. Simon Heifer says that the Prime Minister is too busy playing to the international gallery to run the countiy A PRIME MINISTER will...

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' Virtuous intervention ' worked for the Tories in Bosnia, says Douglas Hurd, but New Labour is in danger of carrying the principle too far EVERY time the Prime Minister...

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Mind your language

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THE dear old editor forwards a tearstained email from Mr Hugo Eddis of Chelsea, who is worried about Veronica. After reading a sentence in a previous column (It's Veronica...

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John Hooper on Edmund Stoiber, the man chosen to stand against Schroeder, in what promises to be the roughest election in years Berlin ANYONE looking for a trend on the...

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Is there a link between frequent sex and prostate cancer? Robert Baker examines the evidence WHAT keeps you awake at night? Global terrorism? Money? Your children? Or do you...

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Ancient & modern

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THE term 'hero' these days is commonly used of large numbers of people: those engaged in dangerous work (soldiers, firemen), those engaged in demanding work (nurses, teachers)...

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Suzanne Lowry examines the English view of France as an arrogant, cowardly and, above all, anti-Semitic nation Paris SWASTIKAS daubed on walls, and windows broken at a...

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Banned wagon

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A weekly survey of the things our rulers want to prohibit THERE isn't believed to be a large Eskimo community in Britain, but any who reside here may find that they have an...

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What is a sad and angry Raphael stopping his friend doing?

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PAUL JOHNSON I n Paris last weekend I visited a small exhibition, at the Luxembourg Palace, devoted to what it called the 'grace and beauty of Raphael'. It was very dark and...

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I was in the back of a pick-up, in shorts, T-shirt and goggles, when the fear hit me

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MATTHEW PARRIS Y ou, like me, may have seen those video pictures of people free-fall jumping with parachutes. It looks like heaven. The idea is that you jump from the plane...

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An unjust war

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From Mr Stephen Plowden Sir: Peter HaM (`No Hain, no gain', 12 January) reproaches the 'pacifist opt-out Left' for 'not eating humble pie for how wrong they have been proved'...

Resilient rainbow nation

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From Mr Adam R. Fleming Sir: Andrew Kenny's recent article about South Africa ('Black people aren't animals', 29 December) made depressing reading. But it was ever thus. Since...

Naffness at the Abbey

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From Audrey Butler Sir: Jessica Douglas-Home (Tangs, but no thanks', 12 January) doesn't need to go to Romania to see an example of 'Dracula vandalisation'. Very soon she will...

Repackaging the past

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From Mr Peter Padfield Sir: Frank Johnson is right (Shared opinion', 12 January): my book, Hess, the Fiihrer's Disciple. makes no mention of Churchill's threat to arrest Lord...

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Dot Wordworth

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From Mr James Young Sir: Dot Wordsworth (Mind your language, 12 January) correctly prefers 'billiard ball' to 'billiards ball', and is supported by the Mikado (who prescribed...

Blair's bad taste

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From Mrs Katie Grant Sir: Charles Moore (Diary. 12 January) thinks that Tony Blair's words of sympathy to the Browns for the loss of their baby, while sounding 'surreal' in...

The battle for books

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From Mr Bob Duckett Sir: I bear no grudge that for £60 Mr Benedict King was able to acquire six volumes of Lord Byron's collected letters and journals at the expense of the...

From Ms Julia Lewis Sir: I'm surprised that Baroness Blackstone

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found my 'knockabout piece' misleading. All the facts about government policy came from her own Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Merton and Wandsworth councils told me...

Cruella Petronella

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From Sir Anthony Montague Browne Sir: I hope Petronella Wyatt is ignorant of the crueller aspects of the fur trade (Singular life, 12 January), for to be the author of the...

Americans first

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From Mr Michael L. Randall Sir: Anthony G. Phillips (Letters, 1 December) writes, 'Surely our morality does not deem the life of an Afghan peasant to be any less precious than...

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There's something in the air in Downing Street the PM has got Chancellor's Itch

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CHRISTOPHER FILDES I am afraid that Tony Blair has contracted Chancellor's Itch. He and his family have overflowed into 11 Downing Street, where it must be lurking in the...

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The future that didn't work

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Raymond Carr COMMUNISM by Richard Pipes Weidenfeld, £14.99, pp. 180, ISBN 0297646885 the survival of communism in Russia until the 1990s that needs to be explained. Pipes's...

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The battle that has never ended

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Michael Rose THE ROAD TO VERDUN by Ian Ousby Cape, £17.99, pp. 269, ISBN 0224059904 G iven the many excellent books already written about the battle of Verdun, and also the...

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The Gods of the Market

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Jonathan Guinness BOO HOO by Ernst Matmsten and others Random House, £17.99, pp. 396, ISBN 0712672397 T his book is about a dream which turned to dust, Cinderella's coach...

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The curse of the gab

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Sam Phipps THAT THEY MAY FACE THE RISING SUN by John McGahern Faber, £16.99, pp. 298, ISBN 0571212166 h e garrulousness of the Irish can be a wonderful thing. Or it can drive...

Dreams of empire

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Alan Wall BLOOD AND KIN: AN EMPIRE SAGA by Andrew Sinclair Sinclair-Stevenson, £17.99, pp. 822, ISBN 095404763X T his book is nothing if not ambitious. Its 822 pages take us...

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The case for not burning dodos

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Charles Saumarez Smith TREASURES ON EARTH: MUSEUMS, COLLECTIONS AND PARADOXES by Keith Thomson Faber, £12.99, pp. 114, ISBN 0571212956 P rofessor Keith Thomson, the Director of...

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Mission not accomplished

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Alan Judd SOE IN THE LOW COUNTRIES by M. R. D. Foot St Ennin's Press, £25, pp. 553, ISBN 190360804X I n the second world war the Special Operations Executive (SOE) was...

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Can you forgive her?

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David Nokes THE KINDNESS OF SISTERS by David Crane HarperCollins. £19.99, pp. 286, ISBN 0002570521 T his book, like steak-and-kidney pudding, must be consumed with...

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The end of a way of life

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Starlight Express has closed after 18 years. Peter Phillips on its sung and unsung heroes T he demise of Starlight Express is indeed the end of an era, or at least part of an...

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Sandra Blow (Tate St Ives. till 10 March)

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Back to basics Laura Gascoigne I n modern life progress is only made by slamming doors on the immediate past, so it's natural, though still rather surprising, that Modernism...

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Paul Klee: The Nature of Creation (Hayward Gallery. till 1 April)

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Ramshackle look Martin Gaylord T welve years ago I spent a long and convivial afternoon in the New York apartment of the late critic Clement Greenberg. Over several hours a...

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Black Hawk Down (12, selected cinemas)

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Heroic times Mark Steyn T here's no fat in Black Hawk Down. Everything's lean: lean actors, lean plot, lean script. Here's Tom Sizemore, a colonel in charge of a small convoy...

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Beguiling rubbish

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Simon Hoggart N owadays, I hear, people talk a lot about 'good bad television', which means TV that's carefully made with expensive production values, but which is actually...

The Turn of the Screw; Tosca (Royal Opera House)

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Diminished depths Michael Tanner I n his Preface to the New York edition of The Turn of the Screw, Henry James writes 'it is a piece of ingenuity pure and simple, of cold...

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Diplomacy's human side

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Michael Vestey O ne of the more interesting, and yet often hidden, aspects of foreign affairs is how politicians get on with those they're negotiating with, not just at the...

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Purple and popular

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Simon Courtauld I can't imagine why I used to think that aubergines came from Australia: it may have had to do with some subliminal childhood association of aubergines with...

Future stars

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Robin Oakley I t was one of those days that smelt of wet labrador. The grey damp hung in the air over Swinley Bottom, the churned turf sucked at your shoes as you strode over...

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Facts of life

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Taki H Rougemont ere are a few truths about Cecil Parkinson from someone who knows him and likes him very much. He not only has provided very good financial care for his...

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Man behaving badly

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Jeremy Clarke I t's good to be back at karate training again. In the six months since I've been away, we've got a new karate sensei (teacher). He's a sixth Dan. He came down...

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Deborah Ross

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TRULY, this restaurant-critic business is beginning to pall quite substantially. I thought it would be all glitzy openings and instant tables at the by and award nominations and...

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Blackmail in the valleys!

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Simon Barnes A FORTNIGHT ago Cardiff City beat Leeds United in the FA Cup amid turbulent scenes of bottle-throwing, coin-throwing and a massed pitch invasion. Now we know whose...

Q. Re shooting sticks. I, too, have felt ill at

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ease when shooting with female guns and unsure as to whether to rise from my stick. I am grateful for your advice last week, but it would set my mind fully at rest were I to...

Q. With reference to the misguided guests who left the

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shoot early (4 January), readers may be familiar with the famous shooting poem 'A Father's Advice' whose final couplet reports. 'All the pheasants ever bred/Won't repay for one...

Q. I find myself on the horns of a dilemma.

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My wife and I were staying with a friend two weeks before his wedding day. He had very kindly invited us because his country house is very near where another mutual friend of...