1 APRIL 2006

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The task the Israelis have set us

The Spectator

T he performance in the Israeli elections of Kadima, the new centrist party founded by Ariel Sharon, is almost as remarkable as the survival of the state of Israel itself in the...

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T UESDAY : Television Society Awards. Grosvenor, Park Lane. Wore little white

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dress, big black bow, quite low neckline. Tripped over own handbag on way into hotel. Awkward frock moment. Think I got away with it. Not sure anyone noticed.

W EDNESDAY : Calls for more rainbows and fewer shark attacks in

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Lambeth. The council has come up with a New Inishativ, nicknamed — by me — Operation Crayon. They have asked the under-fives — by way of a letter home from nursery — to...

T HURSDAY : Pondering the need for a male sexual revolution. The

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National Center for Men (yes, only America would have one) suggests the time has come for a Roe v. Wade-type landmark ruling which would give men ‘the freedom to enjoy...

F RIDAY : Last day at BBC London. A strange umbilical cord

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to cut, this one. Do they think I’m a control freak? I only mention, as they have asked what I’d like in my leaving video and who I would like them to take off rota to make...

S ATURDAY : The Met Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, has walked into

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trouble again. This time for a £34,000 bonus that detractors say he doesn’t deserve. ‘It would be wonderful if all of us could expect to receive a bonus for embarrassing...

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Guess what? Blair has given Brown another date for his departure

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S hortly before setting off on his Australian and Far Eastern tour, Tony Blair had a long discussion with Gordon Brown about the succession. The Chancellor was extremely clear....

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D avid Cameron’s bold entry into the debate about housing this

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week reminds one of how strange it is that housing has spent such a long time in the second division of politics. For post-1945 Labour, council housing was the key to getting...

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By Tamzin Lightwater MONDAY Orders from Dave. We must seize back the agenda, get everyone off sleaze. Problem is, DD wants to get stuck in and keeps ringing to set us on to...

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The long road from Alabama to Blackburn

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Irwin Stelzer says that Condoleezza Rice’s trip to Britain reflects Tony Blair’s high standing in America and Bush’s need to keep him on side P otholes. America’s...

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What I learned about Condi over lunch

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Character, not ideology, is the key to understanding this remarkable politician, says Anne Applebaum , who has seen the US Secretary of State’s cool charm up close A long time...

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Blair really thinks he is the Wizard of Oz

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Matthew Norman says that the Prime Minister’s fixation with Australia is a badly neglected aspect of his flawed psychology W ith the clanging of the bell getting louder by the...

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A-Day for dummies

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Ross Clark says that the Chancellor’s simplified new pensions deal is not only confusing, but deceptive. The only people who will benefit from it are the accountants N ext...

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The Rahman case shows yet again that Islam, not extremism, is the problem

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In the Muslim world, an apostate can escape death only by claiming lunacy, writes Rod Liddle : where is the ‘moderacy’ in that? I t’s not the singer; it’s the song....

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Ancient & modern

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Though the Prime Minister did not recently claim that God had told him to invade Iraq, merely raising the issue of the relationship between politics and belief in an...

The Tory that Blair thinks is underrated

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Liam Fox tells Fraser Nelson that David Cameron has given him the freedom to develop the Thatcherite ideas that have impressed even the Prime Minister L iam Fox could have been...

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The shock is that Italy’s elections really matter

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Carla Powell says that Berlusconi’s real crime is his failure to turn Italy into a modern state — and that the likely outcome of this electoral contest will be further...

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Where’s the (organic) beef, Dave?

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Anne McElvoy says that Cameron’s reluctance to speak precisely about his plans is annoying even those who want him to succeed A well-regarded member of the Cameron cosa nostra...

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Lovely girls on the townhouse’s staircase it’s how The Spectator works best

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A health warning greeted me: ‘LIBEL. Mr Christopher Fildes and Mr Auberon Waugh have today joined the staff of The Spectator . As from today, The Spectator is no longer...

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Terminal disease

The Spectator

From The Duke of Devonshire Sir: I cannot let Allister Heath’s throwaway ‘putting to one side the legendary rudeness of US immigration officials’ (‘300,000 Frenchmen...

Grassroots taken for granted

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From Beryl M. Goldsmith, OBE Sir: Charles Moore, perceptive as ever, is right (The Spectator’s Notes, 25 March). The Conservative party in recent years has been far too...

Use aid as a weapon

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From Laurence Kelvin Sir: According to Irwin Stelzer, it would be in the long-term interest of the Palestinians if aid were reduced and eventually cut off altogether (‘The...

How high was Mary?

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From Lady Antonia Fraser Sir: We cannot know for sure the height of Mary Queen of Scots unless her skeleton were to be exhumed from its wonderful white marble tomb in...

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Gene genie

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From Edward Frostick Sir: I find myself agreeing with Mary Midgley rather than Philip Hensher (‘A good book and the Good Book’, 25 March). If Richard Dawkins had not...

Limits of probation

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From Andrew Keyser Sir: Rod Liddle just adds to confusion by jumping on a bandwagon (‘What is the Home Office for?’, 25 March). He compares the murders of John Monckton and...

Unfair to my school

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From Maura Keady Sir: The staff here at John Burns Primary were deeply offended by Jane Kelly’s article (‘Out of tune’, 25 February). To comment that the children are of...

Why England swings low

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From Robert Low Sir: Frank Keating (Sport, 25 March) wonders why ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ caught on as the England rugby supporters’ anthem. It came about during the...

The colours of steam

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From John Hughes-Wilson Sir: Even Homer nods, or I fear that Paul Johnson’s memory has played him false. (And another thing, 25 March) As every anorak knows, the London North...

Jesus joked

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From Colin Broughton Sir: It may be true, as your correspondent writes, that there is no record of Christ having laughed (Letters, 25 March). There is, though, evidence that he...

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Be as bad as you like, but be sure to call an inquiry

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B y the weekend, the Conservatives had achieved the feat of making their own funding become just as much ‘the issue’ as Labour’s. The papers were full of sharp-looking...

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Well, and what have you been giving up for Lent?

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W ho keeps Lent now? Lenctentid was the AngloSaxon name for March, meaning spring tide, and as the 40-day fast fell almost entirely in March, it was called Lent, though in other...

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The train in Spain

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Christopher Howse goes in search of the perfect horchata D o not be ashamed to have your shoes shined, for it is the livelihood of a man quite as good as you, and in any case...

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The magic mountain

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Stuart Reid I arrive in Johannesburg with my usual baggage: fear. An old Africa hand has told me that I must keep my wits about me, especially on the road. No need to panic, he...

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A V OYAGE FROM C RETE TO L IBYA AND M ALTA ABOARD L E L EVANT 18th to 28th October 2006 T his year we have seen an unprecedented demand for our trips to Libya with all...

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Spice routes and stonework

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Robert Cowan I t is six hours now since we started out from Jodhpur and still the Ambassador is bouncing down this coccyx-cracking desert road with no end (or anything else) in...

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Eastern promise

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Neil Clark W hat are the first images which spring to your mind at the mention of the word ‘Bulgaria’? Female weightlifters? Dour, unsmiling locals? Sinister secret agents...

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An enchanted garden

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Lucy Vickery F ive minutes’ drive from the unremarkable Kent coastal road is the land that time forgot. An eerie silence hangs over an ocean of shingle dotted with beached...

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Visit little-known but lovely Ladronia

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The great thing about Ladronia is that no one has ever heard of it. This small East European state, which won independence after communism collapsed, is therefore a lovely...

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Ministry of fear

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Sam Leith E LIZABETH ’ S S PY M ASTER : F RANCIS W ALSINGHAM AND THE S ECRET W AR THAT S AVED ENGLAND by Robert Hutchinson Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £20, p. 416, ISBN...

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He knew he was right

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Tony Gould T HE M EDICAL D ETECTIVE : J OHN S NOW AND THE M YSTERY OF C HOLERA by Sandra Hempel Granta, £18.99, pp. 304, ISBN 9781862078420 ✆ £15.19 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870...

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Ventures into the Spanish past

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Raymond Carr W INTER IN M ADRID by C. J. Sansom Macmillan, £16.99, pp. 536, ISBN 1405005467 ✆ £13.59 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 S HANGHAI N IGHTS by Juan Marsé...

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Machiavelli at school

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Digby Durrant N ORTH by Brian Martin Macmillan New Writing, £12.99, pp. 247, ISBN 0230000002 ✆ £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 N orth, the eponymous sophisticated...

Trying times on Easy Street

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Martin Vander Weyer T HE C HALLENGE OF A FFLUENCE by Avner Offer OUP, £30, pp. 454, ISBN 0198208537 ✆ £24 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T he multibillionaire Warren...

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The class of ’82

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Charlotte Moore S END IN THE I DIOTS by Kamran Nazeer Bloomsbury, £12.99, pp. 240, ISBN 0747579105 ✆ £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 A ndré is a computer scientist....

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Scarcely on speaking terms any more

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Cressida Connolly CONVERSATION: A H ISTORY OF A D ECLINING A RT by Stephen Miller Yale, £15, pp. 368, ISBN 0300110308 ✆ £12 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T he ancient...

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Pathos of the expatriate

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David Crane T HE M ATCH by Romesh Gunesekera Bloomsbury, £14.99, pp. 308, ISBN 0747578583 ✆ £11.99 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 I don’t know if it is still there, but...

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Memories of loss

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John de Falbe T HE O THER S IDE OF Y OU by Salley Vickers Fourth Estate, £14.99, pp. 292,? ISBN 0007165447 V £11.99 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T he first short chapter...

La trahison des clercs

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Jonathan Mirsky A BSENT M INDS : I NTELLECTUALS IN B RITAIN by Stefan Collini OUP, £25, pp. 526, ISBN 0199291055 V £20 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 D uring China’s...

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The everlasting bonfire

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Ian Ker H ELL AND O THER D ESTINATIONS : A N OVELIST ’ S R EFLECTIONS ON T HIS W ORLD AND THE N EXT by Piers Paul Read Darton, Longman & Todd, £12.95, pp. 247, ISBN...

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Slash and burn

The Spectator

Philippa Stockley F ASHION AND F ICTION : D RESS IN A RT AND L ITERATURE IN S TUART E NGLAND by Aileen Ribero Yale, £40, pp.352, ISBN 0300109997 ‘A ship is sooner rigged by...

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Looking for a sense of direction

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Christopher Wood on the malaise affecting the Getty Museum in Los Angeles T he Getty is under siege. As the richest museum in the world, it is bound to attract more than its...

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Spiritual journey

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Andrew Lambirth Michelangelo Drawings: Closer to the Master British Museum until 25 June Sponsored by BP T here has been a certain amount of controversy about this exhibition,...

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Searching for the saint

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Russell Chamberlin I n February 1939 excavators preparing the tomb of the late Pius XI encountered the remains of a pagan necropolis under the basilica of St Peter’s in Rome...

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Stark vision

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Michael Tanner Jenufa; Tosca English Touring Opera, Cambridge E nglish Touring Opera’s spring tour reached Cambridge the week after the undergraduates left for the Easter...

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Perfect parody

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Giannandrea Poesio Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo Peacock Theatre mavin khoo Dance Linbury Theatre G ood parody is an act of love; cheap caricature is not. Indeed, love...

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England, my England

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Toby Young The Old Country Trafalgar Studios The Best of Friends Hampstead One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Garrick T he Old Country , an Alan Bennett play that dates back to...

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Shamed and horrified

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Olivia Glazebrook Shooting Dogs 15, selected cinemas The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada 15, selected cinemas H aving made a waspish comment about John Hurt’s acting a...

Lessons from abroad

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Ursula Buchan B ritish gardeners are often accused of being parochial, and we rarely make much attempt to defend ourselves against the charge. We think it is probably true but...

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by Robin Oakley F or four centuries Newmarket has been the home and the heartbeat of Flat racing in Britain. Earlier, Boadicea is believed to have practised her chariot...

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First-night nerves

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Peter Phillips However, that has been happening of late. A number of British contemporary designers, influenced by the New Naturalism movement, are using plants to create...

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The new Butskellism

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Michael Vestey S o, after all these years, we’re back to Butskellism, that anodyne blend of Rab Butler’s centrist Conservatism and Hugh Gaitskell’s right-of-centre...

High life

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Modern manners Taki I n an age of corporate looting, insider trading, commercial gouging and crass commercialism, it is well to ask why we are picking on Didier Drogba for...

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Train strain

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Jeremy Clarke T here’s something about travelling on a night-sleeper train; something glamorous, thrilling, something faintly aphrodisiac that elevates the mood. Standing at...

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A s I write, the arctic winds have died down but a heavy, soaking drizzle has replaced the cold. So there could be no better time to have a mini-bar selection of wines to...

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T he thing is, you just cannot beat a truly great

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steak. I think if I knew that my next meal would be my last, I would ask for a truly great steak. I know this is unfair on the pig. The pig gives us so much: pork, ham,...

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FRANK KEATING ‘A re you ready ... ’ The winds skim and frisk like a well-thrown flat pebble across the chop and chill of the mucky water. So do two slim, sleek boats...


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Dear Mary Q. I look after 60 little girls at a boarding prep school. We have an ongoing struggle with headlice and nits. Combing these pestilential creatures out of long hair...

Q. A friend of mine, a pacifist, has recently returned

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from Iraq where he was being held hostage by kidnappers. My friend spent months tied up and blindfolded at the mercy of murderous Iraqi nutters before being rescued by the SAS...

Q. My brother, aged 11, got his first mobile for

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Christmas. He was so proud of it that he carried it everywhere. Unfortunately he had it in his shorts pocket when he went swimming at Lamu. My mother rang the insurers and they...