19 JULY 1997

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The Spectator

Aids of consent T he government paved the way for low- ering the age for consent to homosexual acts to 16 and for raising the age for legally buying cigarettes to 18; ministers...

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The Spectator, 56 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LL Telephone: 0171-405

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1706; Fax 0171-242 0603 ROYAL COMPANY S o, a very royal person, victim of a trou- bled and troublesome former spouse, arranges to be photographed hobnobbing with a figure at...

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Focusing the 5,000: Mr Blair believes that he can work miracles BRUCE ANDERSON Nicotine is dangerous to health. It is also powerfully addictive. So there are good grounds for...

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ANDREW ROBERTS I was not wholly convinced by my preview of BBC 2's excellent documentary Who Really Killed Aung San?, to be shown this Sunday at 7.15 p.m. Despite a good deal of...

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That William Pitt would never have made a William Hague PETRONELLA WYATT rding to supporters of William Hague, we have another Pitt the Younger on our hands. But could William...

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Clare Colvin on how there is hardly any hiding place from the latest telephones BRITISH TELECOM has sent me a list of the ten numbers which I call most often, under the...

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WE NEED female heroes because the men are not up to it any more. Films are now the dominant element in our popular culture. The male heroics of stars such as Tom Cruise and...

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Mind your language

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HUGH Kenner, writing in last week's Time's Literary Supplement, offers as his own contribution to a translators' par- lour game a version of a poem by Clement Marot (1496-1544)....

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Michael Heath


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Kelvin MacKenzie says Mr Hague must learn from Mr Major's experience with the tabloids WHEN the history of John Major's leader- ship of the Tory party is written, I believe I...

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Mark Archer denies that The Spectator restaurant reviewer is to blame for international starvation JOANNA Ritchie, writer of a Spectator readers' letter last week, was...

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Douglas Johnson on a famous Resistance couple who perhaps didn't resist all the time Paris HISTORIANS can be killers. Not so much when they exploit hindsight so as to...

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Don't let it worry you, Cherie, if the media pulls your hair PAUL JOHNSON I had intended to return to the Rus- bridger affair this week, but the morals of the Guardian, dodgy...

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What money can buy

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THE OFT calls for a new kind of personal pension — 'the best that money can buy'. Such a thing has already been invented, and is called a money-purchase pension scheme....


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Three new blades, two new handles it's all change in the palace that was ICI's CHRISTOPHER FILDES I have been told that the authentic crick- et bat once used by W.G. Grace is...

Leavers weepers

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I AM prompted to wonder how many peo- ple who joined ICI at the beginning of their working lives are now retiring on full pen- sion. ICI is a good provider and they must have...

Sorry, wrong numbers

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BRITISH Telecom is more surprised than I am. Harassed by regulators and menaced by chancellors, it was in a hurry to part with its money before the rats got at it. So last year...

Trojan horses

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AS FOR British finance, one line from the announcement tells the story: 'ICI is being advised by Goldman Sachs'. In the days, not far distant, when S.G. Warburg advised more...

Sweet Thames, run softly

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I LIKE the way that Thames Water keeps faith with its shareholders. Gordon Brown may dip into its profits, John Prescott twid- dles its taps and some professional con- sumers...

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Stinking rich

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Sir: It was heartening to read Joanna Ritchie's letter (12 July) complaining about David Fingleton's account of his lavish din- ners in Paris. However, I fear that she lets you...

Sir: I heartily agree with Paul Johnson's view expressed in

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'The new barons ruling Britain' (5 July). The country has indeed been done a disservice by the gross flailing of Jonathan Aitken. I'm reminded yet again of the relentless,...


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No redress Sir: The allegation that Ian Greer acted as a conduit for bribes from Mr Al Fayed to Messrs Neil Hamilton and Tim Smith to get them to ask questions in Parliament...

Sir: I do not believe Mr Jonathan Aitken and his

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wife and daughter knowingly swore false affidavits about the payment of his bill at the Paris Ritz. It is easy for busy people to get into a muddle about travelling and the...

Sir: You already have two jokers in your pack of

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regular contributors, which was just as much as I could stomach. When Pere- grine Worsthome joined you, I thought I could not stand another one. However, I was agreeably...

Sir: Poor Paul Johnson! How is he going to reconcile

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his vehement contempt for Mr Al Fayed with his spaniel-like devotion to Princess Diana now that the two of them have gone off on holiday together? Richard Tracey Le Grand...

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More clues

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Sir: Andrew Roberts records that a tabloid newspaper has been unable to smoke out Alice von Schlieffen from her published address. However, correspondence addressed to her at 57...

Who's talking?

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Sir: I was intrigued by Mr Ronald Spark's criticism (Letters, 12 July) of the alleged deterioration in the political, moral and journalistic standards of the Guardian under the...

Old jokes

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Sir: Nicholas Farrell reports (The LCJ says a few words', 12 July) that the Lord Chief Justice after his speech to a dinner of solici- tors, barristers and stipendiary...

Mr Wood's departure

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Sir: Stephen Glover repeats the serious charge that I 'cooked up' with Lord Hollick the departure of Nick Wood from the Daily Express, because of Mr Wood's political views. Mr...

Sir: Your correspondents are beginning to doubt the identity of

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Alice von Schlieffen. After only a little thought it has become apparent to me that David Damant and Alice von Schlieffen are the same person. Mr Damant writes the Alice von...

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Why I'd rather not switch off with this professor STEPHEN GLOVER M. state of mind this past week has been considerably disturbed by my having read The Silencing of Society by...

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One Tory policy which Mr Blair should abandon PEREGRINE WORSTHORNE T he Romans, it was said, created a desert and called it Peace, and it is begin- ning to look as if...

Classifieds — pages 51 and 54

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The hall of fame Bevis Hillier THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY by Charles Saumarez Smith NPG, £25, f17.50, pp 237 I t is a sweet relief to be able to open a book on one of our...

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Clerihew Corner

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Usually Mr Attlee Expressed himself woefully flatly. It was only when someone had to be sacked That he rose to the merely matter-of-fact. James Michie

0 Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou, Romeo?

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Piers Paul Read THE FILE: A PERSONAL HISTORY by Timothy Garton Ash HarperCollins, L12.99, pp. 226 S everal British writers have sought inspiration in Berlin. When I lived there...

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A shameless charmer

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Noel Annan DUNCAN GRANT by Frances Spalding Chatto, £25, pp. 570 THERE'S THE LIGHTHOUSE: A BIOGRAPHY OF ADRIAN STEPHEN by Jean MacGibbon James & James, £10, pp. 187 W ith...

Under New Management

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THE SPECTATOR BOOKSHOP A choice of over 1,000 books - including those reviewed in this issue TO ORDER TELEPHONE: 0541 557288 or FACSIMILE: 0541 557225 E-mail:...

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Neither ancient nor modern

The Spectator

P. J. Kavanagh ABIDE WITH ME: THE WORLD OF VICTORIAN HYMNS by Ian Bradley SCM Press, £.30, pp. 299 A t Laurie Lee's Gloucestershire funer- al last month the first hymn was 'The...

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Flashman and fisticuffs

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James Teacher BLACK AJAX by George MacDonald Fraser HarperCollins, £16.99, pp. 248 M acDonald Fraser's meticulous editing of the Flashman papers (rediscov- ered in Ashby,...

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The road to devaluation

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Edmund Dell THE WILSON YEARS, 1964-69 by Alec Cairncross The Historians' Press, £30, pp. 380 S ir Alec Cairncross, who has written extensively on postwar economic history, has...

A tease of the first order

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Anita Brookner THE WEIGHT OF WATER by Anita Shreve Little, Brown, f15.99, pp. 246 D uring the night of 5 March 1873 two women, Norwegian immigrants, were murdered on the...

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Here comes my 19th nervous breakdown

The Spectator

Tom Hiney BREAKING HEARTS by Simon Gray Faber, £5.99, pp. 96 I would possibly be more comfortable in high-heels, spikey, clicking high-heels, red high-heels. Be more...

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SUBSCRIBE TODAY SUBSCRIPTION RATES 1 Year 6 months UK £93 £47 Europe £104 £52 USA (2nd class) $151 $76 USA (1st class) $175 $88 Rest of World (2nd) £107 £54 Rest of World...

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Goodbye to all that T hree of us started work on the same day, 1 September 1988: Richard Eyre at the National Theatre, Nicholas Serota at the Tate and I at the Royal Opera...

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Camille Pissarro in Venezuela (Bolivar Hall, Venezuelan Embassy, 58 Grafton Way, London Wl, till 8 August; City Art Centre, Edinburgh, 14 August-4 October) Camille Pissarro in...


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Convinced by Silja Michael Tanner T he Makropulos Case has been one of Glyndebourne's greatest successes of recent years, and it is easy to see why: Anja Silja is the reason,...

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The Lost World (PG, selected cinemas) Carry on killing Mark Steyn A couple of months ago, a dog in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, attacked a neighbour's chicken. Under the town's...

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The Spectator

Grace Note (Old Vic) Summer Holiday (Labatt's Apollo, Hammersmith) Assassins (New End) Missing in Action (Jermyn Street Theatre) Domestic trouble Sheridan Morley 0 nce upon...

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The Spectator

More help, please Ursula Buchan W hen we were courting, my husband made a particular point of listening to Gar- deners' Question Time so, as he saw it, we would have something...

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The Spectator

Grab a ticket Giannandrea Poesio T hose serious ballet-goers who are tired of the current dance scene and seek desperately that special something should not miss the Kirov...

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Good sports Simon Hoggart I sometimes wonder how well-known commentators would cope with other sports. The late Brian Johnson, for exam- ple, seemed to regard cricket as a...

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The art of propaganda Michael Vestey P sychological warfare was used with great success by the BBC in its broadcasts to Germany during the second world war. Sir Hugh Greene,...

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Not motoring

The Spectator

Get out your paint pots Gavin Stamp P rhaps I am beginning to change my mind. It seemed to me wrong at first to pri- vatise the actual railways, that is, to set up Railtrack...

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High life

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Gone walkabout Taki We walked along a small river, climbing gently towards Lauenen and the lake beyond: 130 paces per minute, fast enough to break into a heavy sweat. After...

The turf

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Crucial confidence Robin Oakley C omplaints do not always bring the anticipated result. When a couple of golfers missed their putts on the 18th green on one famous northern...

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Low life

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Don't take me away Jeffrey Bernard I am getting so weak and feeble that someone came up with the horrific idea last week that I should move into a nursing home. If there was...

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Country life

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Rallying the troops Leanda de Lisle T he British Field Sports Society offered me a VIP pass for the Countryside Rally last week and I cheekily asked whether my husband could...


The Spectator

La circonspection Andrew Robson BRIDGE continues to thrive in France. French bridge players have always been natural bidders and careful card players. Cover up the East West...

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SEEING in last week's Letters how con- cerned Ms Joanna

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Ritchie is about unnec- essary expenditure by The Spectator on my meals, it may relieve her to know that I was Invited, along with some 70 other fellow restaurant hacks and...

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Cheap, cheerful and Chilean Auberon Waugh W e decided to aim for a cheap offer this July and ended up with one of the cheapest ever (allowing for inflation) at an average of...


The Spectator

c/o Avery's of Bristol Orchard House, Southfield Road, Nailsea, Bristol BS19 1JD Tel: (01275) 811100 Fax: (01275) 811101 Price No. Value White 1. 633 Bonchalaz Blanc, NV...

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ISLE OF , 4 ,,, 9 , I ,,f,

The Spectator

ISLE OF iU RA SNUEYMISCOKH.AW COMPETITION Pat's poser Jaspistos IN COMPETITION NO. 1991 you were given a set of words and invited to incorpo- rate them in a plausible...


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IN-THE-STRAND CHESS SIMPSON'S IN-THE-STRAND Born again Raymond Keene NIGEL SHORT cannot have been happy that the latest Fide (World Chess Federa- tion) ranking list...

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No. 1994: The Lords commandments

The Spectator

In the same ironic spirit and octosyllabic rhymed couplets as Clough's 'The Latest Decalogue', you are invited to supply ten commandments for cricketers, including umpires....

CROSSWORD 1320: Falling down by Doc

The Spectator

A first prize of £30 and a bottle of Graham's Late Bottled Vintage 1991 Port for the first correct solution opened on 4 August, with two runners-up prizes of £20 (or, for UK...

Solution to 1317: Brumal

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121:1011:1 3 a RODE al o m in 111EPEIIIV L min AEI ei 0 ii y a, R E mo 0 ral:0nm u G n Thiamin D ElitiCIIME 63 Era n 1 wimnanorircia. ElrlEILIMEIr 1 11 11 13 LEEIllia...

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The Spectator

Defying death Simon Barnes MARCEL Proust's last words were, 'I feel like a cold beer,' words filled with the brac- ing banality of death. But it is the last words of another...


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Q. I am an avid drama student and I am taking the subject as a GCSE next year. However, my drama teacher is, to say the least, untalented in the arts of both acting and teaching...