20 MAY 2006

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Crime and Mr Cameron

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T ony Blair said last week that the criminal justice system is ‘still the public service most distant from what reasonable people want’. After nine years in office, this was...

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T he embattled Prime Minister is not the only one being

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dogged by Blairite woes. I ran into his namesake Lionel, my friend of 50 years, in Sloane Square. He is still deeply upset about the theft of his beloved pooch, nabbed while his...

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John Reid may not be able to beat Gordon Brown: but he can rattle him

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S ince he was first outmanoeuvred over the Labour party leadership in 1994 Gordon Brown has pursued a strategy as simple as it is ruthless: he identifies his most likely...

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T he worst thing about being conservative is that it is

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so bad for the character. This is because conservative political predictions are far more often correct than left-wing ones since they are grounded in pessimism about what...

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Apparently the interviews for the A-list of candidates were horrendous. Three of Poppy’s friends, Bunty, Polly and Suzie, went before the panel and said it was like Pop Idol ....

TUESDAY As part of internal greening measures, have persuaded parents

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to buy me a new car. Julian, my over-attentive environment spokesman boss, who drives a Jaguar XJS, thinks I could be in trouble if I persist with my Range Rover Vogue. Daddy...


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Dave is going on Desert Island Discs , so we all have to decide what songs he likes best. Steve is doing a second focus group now. The first group’s suggestions were all...

THURSDAY Julian and I have meeting with Dave and I

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grasp nettle. To get noticed I must show that I am Woman of Substance, not trivial office eye-candy. So I ask when we are going to bring out some actual environment policies...

FRIDAY J is furious because I uttered the p word.

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‘We don’t talk about policy, you silly Sloane!’ he shouts, not very inclusively. He says green issues are ‘parked’ and anyway global warming is rubbish because...

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‘Everything we think about the wars on terror is wrong’

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Four years ago Philip Bobbitt won international acclaim for his book ‘The Shield of Achilles’. Now, he tells Matthew d’Ancona , we must start from scratch if we are to...

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Every Tory leader needs a William

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William Hague tells Fraser Nelson that the Tory party has changed completely since he led it — and that the best advice he has given David Cameron is dietary W illiam Hague...

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Ancient & modern

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We are hardly out of a long winter and already parts of the country are celebrating the traditional Festival of the Summer Water-Shortage, in which the god Hôspipês and his...

A Cold War card index is Romania’s best hope

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David Rennie visits the secret archive of the dreaded Securitate, and hears how its full disclosure will bring much pain, but also a chance of final escape from a terrible past...

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A big thank you to Guy Goma: the wrong man in the right place

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Rod Liddle salutes the Congolese man interviewed by mistake on the BBC, who revealed an uncomfortable truth about the way the media works T his year’s most compulsive...

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Was this the day McCain won the White House?

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If Paris is worth a Mass, then the Presidency is worth a prayer: Alec Russell watches John McCain patch up his differences with the Christian Right and their leader, Jerry...

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Go on: buy a tomato plant, not a frock

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Jemima Lewis explores the wellsprings of happiness and finds that true contentment lies in a 99p packet of seeds as well as the perfect pair of shoes M y fiancé is engrossed in...

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Blair’s cowardly invasion

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From J.G. Cluff Sir: In your leading article (13 May) you list a litany of Mr Blair’s failures without mentioning the Iraq war. How can you leave out his dismal role in...

From Glynn Downton

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Sir: I would not wish to belittle Sir Cliff Richard’s compassion in apparently recognising that Tony Blair was suffering as a result of his decision about the Iraq war (‘It...

Grand old salesman

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From Andrew Roberts Sir: I wonder whether Paul Johnson is right to say that the modern practice of selling peerages for cash began under Lord Salisbury (And another thing, 13...

Hell is Europeans

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From David Mayger Sir: What is this to-ing and fro-ing among your correspondents about Americans with or without passports? Yes, there are more things to do and see here than...

Selwyn the scapegoat

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From D.R. Thorpe Sir: In his review of 1956: Power Defied by Peter Unwin (Books, 13 May) Douglas Hurd wrote that Selwyn Lloyd, the foreign secretary during the Suez Crisis,...

Reid the Red

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From Jonathan Mirsky Sir: When I heard Mr Blair warning what would happen if he stood down at the wrong moment, it sounded familiar. Then I recalled that the Prime Minister’s...

Prescott impressed

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From Sir Jeremy Beecham

Sir: Rod Liddle was right to be critical of the

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press coverage of John Prescott’s affair (‘Bogus morality’, 6 May) but wrong to dismiss his contribution to the government and the Labour party. While Mr Prescott ruefully...


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E ngraved – or die-stamped – printing, in which the text is printed from a copper die and raised from the paper, is the best type of printing there is. From shops in Bond...

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If we can’t use the bus, why can’t we use each other’s cars?

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S o there I was last Monday at 12.20, standing outside All Saints Church in Elton, in the Peak District of Derbyshire where I live, with a small suitcase, on my way to London....

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A man need not be a Byron to get by

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I t is a curious fact, well attested by history, that a downright ugly man need never despair of attracting women, even pretty ones. The recent uproar over John Prescott and his...

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Capital gains from the super-rich George Trefgarne says fortunes such as that of the steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal are the rocket fuel that is boosting London’s financial...

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Is this the peak of the bull market?

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Jonathan Davis says it is always difficult to call the top of a share price boom — but professional investors know the signals to watch C onventional wisdom in the investment...

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Why Manhattan is full of bargains

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Allister Heath There we were, hopelessly lost in the New York subway. The clock was ticking; we were supposed to meet some friends for lunch and there was no option but to...

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You’re hired — so long as you swear like they do on telly, and you don’t smoke

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M any of my friends were hooked on the latest series of The Apprentice — even our usually infallible tele vision critic James Delingpole, who told me that he loved it...

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Odd odds and ends

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Philip Hensher T HE L OST O RWELL edited by Peter Davison Timewell Press, £18.99, pp. 224, ISBN 1857252144 T hin scrapings from the bottom of the Orwell archives, this volume;...

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Delivering the goods

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D. J. Taylor S IR A LF by Leo McKinstry HarperCollins, £18.99, pp. 528, ISBN 0007193785 ✆ £15.19 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T he funniest episode in Leo McKinstry’s...

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Beauties and eyesores

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Lloyd Evans T HE A RCHITECTURE OF HAPPINESS by Alain de Botton Hamish Hamilton, £17.99, pp. 280, ISBN 9780241142486 ✆ £14.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T o call him a...

Solving a confidence crisis

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Olivia Glazebrook 13 W AYS OF L OOKING AT THE NOVEL by Jane Smiley Faber, £16.99, pp. 591, ISBN 0571231101 ✆ £13.59 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 W hen I saw this...

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When the kissing stopped and the killing began

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Andrew Taylor T ABATHA ’ S C ODE by Matthew d’Ancona Alma Books, £18.99, pp. 325, ISBN 9781846880124 A s a genre, perhaps the most important question that the thriller...

The double life of a people

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Richard Beeston M IRRORS OF THE U NSEEN : J OURNEYS IN I RAN by Jason Elliot Picador, £16.99, pp. 416, ISBN 033048656X ✆ £13.59 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T he crowd...

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Chewing it over

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Elfreda Pownall F OOD FOR T HOUGHT by Simon Courtauld Think Books, £9.99, pp. 176, ISBN 1845250206 T HE S AVVY S HOPPER by Rose Prince Fourth Estate, £7.99, pp. 452, ISBN...

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A rather unBritish achievement

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Frank Johnson T HE R OYAL B ALLET : 75 Y EARS by Zoe Anderson Faber, £20, pp. 329, ISBN 0571227953 ✆ £16 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 W ho would have thought that the...

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Who done it in Boston?

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Peter J. M. Wayne A D EATH IN B ELMONT by Sebastian Junger 4th Estate, £14.99, pp. 265, ISBN 0007200056 ✆ £11.99 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 I ’m so glad I came to...

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Welcome, little strangers

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Caroline Moore D IGGING TO A MERICA by Anne Tyler Chatto, £16.99, pp. 277, ISBN 070118034X ✆ £13.59 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 E very time I pick up the latest novel...

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The fate of the Running Man

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E velyn Waugh told Ann Fleming that ‘Tony Powell’s latest volume [ Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant ] is a sad disappointment — only three pages of Widmerpool’. That was...

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Spreading the word

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Neil MacGregor on how an exhibition underlines the purpose and aims of the British Museum In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Read...

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Bones of contention

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Martin Gayford A ll over the world, scholarly folk look to Neil MacGregor — who writes opposite — to hold the line. If the British Museum gave in and sent the Elgin Marbles...

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Lighten our darkness

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Andrew Lambirth L ately I have adopted Word from Wormingford by Ronald Blythe as a bedside book. Composed of weekly bulletins from a Suffolk village, it combines observations...

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Lest we forget

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Mark Glazebrook The Last Witness. The War Landscape of the Ypres Salient Cloth Hall, Ypres, until 19 November V isitors to the once devastated but now completely reconstructed...

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Talent to amuse

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Laura Gascoigne Rex Whistler: The Triumph of Fancy Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, until 3 September T he restaurant at Tate Britain is famous for two things — its wine list...

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Portrait power

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Peter Black T ate Liverpool is the first venue for a memorial exhibition of the painter Marie-Louise von Motesiczky (born Vienna 1906, died London 1996). Motesiczky was from a...

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Worthy farewell

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Michael Tanner Cyrano de Bergerac Royal Opera House F ranco Alfano’s Cyrano de Bergerac may not be a masterpiece, though I would claim that it is a first-rate second-rate...

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High fives

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Giannandrea Poesio Bare Bones: The 5 Man Show Linbury Theatre, ROH2 T here is no doubt that BareBones’ The 5 Man Show will stay vividly in the memory of any dance-goer —...

Page 59

Holy smoke

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Olivia Glazebrook The Da Vinci Code 12A, selected cinemas Once in a Lifetime No certificate, selected cinemas S o it’s here at last, the big hitter: The Da Vinci Code . Ron...

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Following Chekhov

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Lloyd Evans Enemies Almeida Breakfast with Jonny Wilkinson Menier Coriolanus Globe W hen he wrote Enemies , Gorky was in love. The object of his desire was the artistry of...

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Walking on eggshells

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Simon Hoggart I went to train in Manchester a year or so after the Moors murders, and they continued to hang over the city like an oldfashioned smog, sickening and inescapable....

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Honest John

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Michael Vestey A lthough writing a biography of John Osborne can’t be the most difficult task as Osborne left voluminous and laceratingly honest diaries, as well as the two...

Always around

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Simon Courtauld T here never seems to be any shortage of pigeons. Whether feeding in a field of corn or rape by day or coming into woodland at dusk, they are always around....

Page 63

Ten To Follow

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Robin Oakley W e all have our rituals. Swans and ducks migrate, the ones that aren’t riddled with H5N1 anyway. At an appropriate season, starlets and cameramen cluster in...

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Tales of the city

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Taki W hy is it that every time I leave New York I die a little? I know it sounds corny, but I do. I suppose it’s because it was that first great magic city I came upon after...

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In search of Ted Hughes

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Jeremy Clarke G iven all the hoo-hah surrounding Prince Charles’s decision to allow a granite stone memorial to be placed in a secret and remote spot on Dartmoor in memory of...

Anything but average

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James Delingpole Mike Peyton is the author of the brilliant memoir An Average War — though in truth his war was anything but. In October 1940 he joined his family regiment...

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Long night

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Susanna Gross T he pleasures of bridge are inexhaustible; every hand seems to present a new challenge. I never willingly stop playing — it’s always a case of dragging...

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Beauty is locked in a battle with bling

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But the hardest minerals on earth soften all who see them, says Chloe Fox T he Ancient Greeks believed diamonds to be the tears of the gods. The Romans thought that they were...

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It’s a wristy business

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Andrew Roberts on the ultimate male status symbol B ritish gentlemen do not wear jewellery. A small unobtrusive gold family signet ring on the little finger of the left hand,...

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Unconvinced she’s earned it

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Rachel Johnson has an epiphany in Jamaica I t is one of life’s more tolerable ironies that friends behave much more manfully when asked to cope with failure and misery than...

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Painting Cardiff carmine

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FRANK KEATING F or football’s partisans, a string of cup finals have been fraying nerves, stirring spirits, salting wounds and jerking tear ducts. Now it is rugby’s turn....


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Dear Mary Q. We have lived in a very nice, civilised square in south London for nearly 20 years. It’s surprisingly private and everyone gets on well. One of our neighbours is...

Q. I would welcome your advice on a problem which

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arose over an invitation to dinner. Wishing to advance our acquaintanceship with a couple we had met at a cocktail party, I rang them up and, in order to avoid (so I thought)...