20 JANUARY 2001

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T he Conservative leader, William Hague, said he would let the

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Americans place radar for its anti-ballistic missile system in Britain. The government, which has yet to make up its mind on the issue, accused him of 'blundering about,...

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ust when they said the e-commerce boom was over, the weird and wonderful possibilities of the Internet have reasserted themselves. Thanks to a Californian-based website — the...

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A n I alone (apart, of course, from Ffion) in thinking

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that William Hague's looks have improved — that he is now, indeed, not half bad-looking? It is well known that many people, women as well as men, improve in appearance after...

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Bush is home and dry but the street-fighting will continue

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BRUCE ANDERSON T he unofficial Florida recount has turned into an unexpected inaugural present for George W. Bush. It seems that the new President did carry the state after...

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Girls are doing better than boys in exams, but that does not mean that they are brighter, says Madsen Pine. What has happened is that exams have been feminised — and so has...

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Richard Ingrams says that Auberon Waugh, who died this week, will outlive his more solemn contemporaries The Spectator was responsible for my becoming friends with Bron Waugh...

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Badgers are beautiful

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Auberon Waugh tend that it is sweet or cuddly. Although its white-striped face and stubby tail (which covers a stink gland of enormous power, used, apparently. for the purpose...

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Petroneila Wyatt talks to Richard Burge, head of the Countryside Alliance, and finds that he has never been on a horse I AM waiting in the lobby of Claridge's for Richard...

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Banned wagon

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A weekly survey of the things our rulers want to prohibit THE explosion of a letter-bomb at a fish and chip shop in North Wales last week has brought to light the next target...

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Ross Clark will shed no tears for the metric martyrs in their defence of a system that helped destroy the British car industg BY THE time you read this, Britain may very well...

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Mind your language

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YOU readers do get about. The Brian Crozier, who was indeed the man that wrote to me (2 December) about whom (which he now wants abolished), has come back to Finchley from...


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David Lovibond, a former persistent suitor, says the harassment laws are a threat to blameless lovers IN Richmal Crompton's William the Conqueror, William Brown, Ginger, Henry...

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Second opinion

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I RARELY have occasion to travel by train, but the irritations caused by the patent inability of the British to run any public services properly are, to some extent, mitigated...

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Ancient & modern

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LAST week in The Spectator, Anthony Gottlieb defended modern philosophers from attacks by dim journalists. At least ancient philosophers could have defended themselves by...

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London's new Chambers of Horror and three success stories

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PAUL JOHNSON T hat iniquitous tax on the poor to finance the pleasures of the rich, the National Lottery, has produced unprecedented expenditure in the world of public...

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Labour pain

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From Mr Kevin Peacock Sir: I wish to congratulate Andrew Duncan on an excellent article (*Why I no longer love Tony', 13 January). I'm a young professional from a working-class...

From Mr Howard Gray Sir: Andrew Duncan's article on IR35

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is not correct with regard to the building trade. He says that carpenters 'possessing their own chisels' are self-employed in the eyes of the Inland Revenue — not so. When the...

Rotten borough brothers

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From Mr Alistair Cooke, ORE

Sir: 'Where is Ivelchester, which returned the Hon. Lionel Talmash

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and the Hon. Felix Talmash? And who were they?' These abstruse elements of the history of the unreformed Parliament puzzled Geoffrey Wheatcroft when he came across them in an...

Translating Homer

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From Mr Peter Jones Sir: Professor Sir Hugh Lloyd-Jones (Emeritus Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford) raises a typically fascinating question when he asks (Letters, 13 January)...

A tongue for Europe

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From Victoria Elliott Sir: I was surprised when reading Peter Jones's column (Ancient and modern, 6 January) that he did not mention an obvious candidate for a common European...

PG quips

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From Mr Robert McCnen Sir: I have been commissioned by Penguin Books and the Trustees of the Estate to write a new life of P.G. Wodehouse. I should be very interested to hear...

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Whatever the revisionists may say, I say that Joan Collins's cleavage saw us through the Cold War

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FRANK JOHNSON M iss Joan Collins is now about two years older than Churchill was when he first became prime minister. I think I can claim to be the first person to notice this....

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The Sun wears its heart on the Right but

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it will back Labour at the election STEPHEN GLOVER T here is much rejoicing on the Left that Tony Blair has finally given up on the Sun and the Daily Mail. His recent remark...

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The Compromised Land

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Raymond Carr ONE PALESTINE COMPLETE by Tom Segev Little, Brown, £25, pp. 612 T om Segev is a practising Israeli journalist who holds a PhD in history from Boston University. He...

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Wounded at Wembley

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D. J. Taylor HALF IN LOVE by Justin Cartwright Sceptre, £14.99, pp. 309 J ustin Cartwright specialises in what might be called cross-cultural connections. Look At It This Way...

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Moods and dooms

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Angela Huth THE BAY OF ANGELS by Anita Brookner Viking, i16.99, pp. 217 o r fans of Anita Brookner, a new novel is an event of pleasurable expectation. We know her language...

Pornography ain't what it used to be

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Byron Rogers THE EROTIC REVIEW BEDSIDE COMPANION edited by Rowan Pelling Headline, £10, pp. 222 READERS' WIVES SPECIAL NO 28 edited by Ross Gilfillan Fiesta, £2.95 P...

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Nice customs curtsey to . . .

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Herb Greer THE LANGUAGE OF JOURNALISM: VOLUME I by Melvin J. Lasky Transaction, £29.50, pp. 478 M elvin J. Lasky belongs to an American generation that was well schooled in...

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The question of preferring blondes

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Nicholas Fearn THE EMOTIONS by Peter Goldie OUP, £25, pp. 241 S cientists have had a lot to say about our emotional lives recently, but philosophers have largely remained...

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Zero degree murder

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Harry Mount THE ADVERSARY by Emmanuel Carri're Bloomsbury, i'14.99, pp. 183 I f ever there was a gripping cautionary tale of a small sin snowballing into a huge one, this is...

White knights galloping to the rescue too late

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John Vincent SEPARATE WAYS: THE HEART OF EUROPE by Peter Shore Duckworth, £18.99. pp. 244 h e Eurosceptics need a Burke. Perhaps in Peter Shore they have found one. Few are...

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All gloom and doom

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Norman Lebrecht mourns the demise of the classical music business T he trouble with being labelled a prophet of doom is that, unlike politicians, you are expected to deliver...

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The Genius of Rome 1592-1623 (Royal Academy, till 16 April)

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Giants of the eternal city Martin Gayford A rebirth of art, of course, did not only occur at the Renaissance. Such events are recurrent in Western culture, and indeed in other...

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Sir Alfred Munnings: An English Idyll (Sotheby's, till 25 January)

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The butt of modernists Robin Simon M unnings has been a dirty word among the bien pensants of modernism for so long that it is almost incredible to find, in central London at...

Spinning into Butter (Royal Court) High Spirits (Bridewth)

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Too even-handed Sheridan Morley A though Rebecca Gilman's new Spinning into Butter has been widely acclaimed in America recently, it is perhaps a little foolhardy of her...

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Falstaff (Royal Opera House)

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Dominant males Michael Tanner T echnical problems' prevented my seeing Falstaff when it served as the opening production of the refurbished Royal Opera House 13 months ago. I...

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Quietly enjoyable

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Ursula Buchan I feel as if I have been crawling through a desert, lips parched, eyes blinded, when, suddenly and unexpectedly, I have stumbled across an oasis. At last I have...

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Swan Lake (English National Ballet)

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The thrill of the old Giannandrea Poesio I do not remember when I last saw a Western ballet company perform in a 'straightforward' production of Swan Lake in which the old...

Showing off

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James Delingpole G od, I am so crap. It turned out that in the week when I said there was nothing on worth reviewing that there was absolutely tons of stuff I could have done,...

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The living dead

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Michael Vestey W aking to the clock radio, I drowsily hear on Today that a bore has been shot on the Kent/Sussex border. This satisfying news makes me think of a few who might...

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Cheering them on

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Robin Oakley T hank you, sir, my confidence was just beginning to go,' said the busker on the path to Ascot station as I dropped a very small contribution into his hat. After...

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This is an outrage

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Taki A Rougemont couple of years or so ago I received a letter from a Lord Harris of High Cross, a man I had never met, or ever heard of for that matter. It had to do with the...

What's in a name?

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Toby Young U ntil last week, I thought I'd persuaded my fiancee of the merits of a traditional church wedding. On 21 July, as she walks down the aisle on her father's arm, the...

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The loss of leisure

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Leanda de Lisle I t's a lean time of year in the countryside. At least it's lean for the wildlife. Outside the grass isn't growing and the trees are bare. Inside the fatted...

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Singing for my supper

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Petronella Wyatt T he builders are supposed to start work on the inside of my house next month. Last November they finished the underpinning, with the result that the house...

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Deborah Ross

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TRULY, I am a disgrace. A total disgrace, even. I mean, there I was, pottering about, getting on with nothing in particular, when I suddenly thought, 'Hang on, isn't today the...

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Hunting for Tiger

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Simon Barnes MORE or less everything that I write in this column is based on the premise that sport does not build character. Sport reveals character. So, having watched Tiger...

Q. I work in a popular bookshop. A famous writer

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often calls in but does not seem particularly friendly when I try to discuss my own writing with him. I have two unpublished novels. This man has now become so patronising...

Q. I recently went skiing with a group of friends.

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One of them was someone I have known and liked for years, so, as we were both single, we were put together in a twinbedded room in the chalet. Everything was fine until about...

Q. During the month of December 2000 the stamps on

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many of the letters and cards we received were not franked. Whether this is because of yet another computer problem or old-fashioned incompetence at the GPO, I do not know, As...