21 DECEMBER 1991

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The Spectator

• ill • • • • Milliate • t7 • • The Spectator, 56 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LL Telephone: 071-405 1706; Telex 27124; Fax 071-242 0603 Libtaty e•lbeera• 4100,000#• •...


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12 Months 6 Months UK 0 £71.00 0 £35.50 Europe (airmail) El £82.00 0 £41.00 USA Airspeed CI US$110 0 US$55.00 Rest of Airmail 0 £98.00 0 £49.00 World Airspeed CI £82.00 0...

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`This is not the IRA, John, this is us.' J ohn Major predicted in June that the recession was beginning to lift. The annual rate of inflation fell from 9 per cent in Jan- uary...

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Time to adopt the Bah! Humbug! approach to political philosophy SIMON HEFFER t this season it is proper to think of those less fortunate than ourselves, so let us imagine the...

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0 ur leading article this week draws some parallels between the the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the disintegration of Robert Maxwell's empire. Another one...

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Enter a new American hero singing the Nunc Dimittis AUBERON WAUGH I was prepared to believe every word of William Kennedy Smith's testimony in his own defence at the West Palm...

Christmas Quiz p60-61

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Anne McElvoy finds it hard to know which is worse — Serbian brutality or Croatian stupidity Zagreb THE grandmothers of eastern Croatia are an incongruous sight, trapped in the...

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Anne Applebaum believes that the final wave of Jewish emigration from Eastern Europe is bad news for the Middle East Lvov `SOVDEP,' said Ilyusha. 'Or you can also say,...

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Michael Heath

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after communism's death, it's not easy being a Polish landowner Dwor Chobielin, Poland THIS WILL be our first Christmas at Cho- bielin. The manor house itself is still a...

One hundred years ago

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IT WOULD seem that in London and its neighbourhood at all events, the old notion that a hard frost generally implies a clear, bright sky, is in a fair way to be dismissed...

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Theodore Dalrymple deplores doctors who stop us from over-indulging IN THE absence of a belief in the afterlife, staying alive a little longer assumes tran- scendent...

Correction: In last week's issue, the last line of William

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Oddie's article, 'Never ever on a Sunday', was missing. The sentence should have read: 'It would also be good if the Keep Sunday Special Campaign . . . finally came clean: about...

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Tony Samstag on the scramble to exploit a Nordic myth Oslo A MEASURE of the importance of the Father Christmas industry in these lati- tudes is that the Nordic Council has held...

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Rodney Leach, an old financial adversary of Robert Maxwell, rolls back the years TWENTY-TWO years ago, when I was engaged in public combat with Robert Maxwell, something...

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Michael Bloch laments the demise of Turkish cigarettes I AM NOT a regular smoker; that is to say, I may smoke an occasional cigarette just as I occasionally eat asparagus or...

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by PD. JAMES A crime for Christmas: Part One ONE of the minor hazards of being a best- selling crime novelist is the ubiquitous question, 'And have you ever been person- ally...

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End of Part One. The concluding part will appear in

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the next issue of The Spectator, on sale from January 2, 1992.

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Hugo Vickers meets Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, who will be 90 on Christmas Day PRINCESS ALICE, Duchess of Glouces- ter, will be 90 on Christmas Day. She is the...

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A short story by WILLIAM TREVOR 'HOW nice all this is!' Rose's mother cried, with dishes on the way to the dinner table Rose had laid. 'What weather, Mr Bouver- ie, don't you...

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A cautionary tale by Vicki Woods concerning Arthur, the Moroccan tortoise I FIND it an endearing national character- istic of the British that in the small things the rule of...

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James Buchan discovers an extraordinary 18th-century account of adventure, disaster, survival and infamy Aspy Bay AT Cape North, a village on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia,...

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One hundred years ago

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MR FRANCIS Darwin, the son of the great naturalist, has been investigating the effect on insectivorous plants of supplying them with, and withholding from them, animal food. "He...

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Sandra Barwick investigates the fashionable allure of witchcraft particularly in suburbia COMMERCIALISM has not yet quite overtaken the traditional celebrations of the season....

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It's always Christmas in the supermarket PAUL JOHNSON S ociology magazines like to scrutinise supermarkets to unearth left-wing points. I read an article in one of them...

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No room, no money

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HOUSELESS at Christmas, no room, as at first — a surge of seasonal compassion comes from ministers confronted with the consequences of their actions, and anxious to find someone...

Searching question

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MY PARTING thought for the year comes from Cross Street Chapel in Manchester. A noticeboard outside the chapel would call the scurrying merchants to higher things, telling them...

Gold for the wise . . .

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MY NOTION for the New Year is one which the fund managers will think eccen- tric. On behalf of the Friends of Friendless Investment, I invite your support for gold. There are...

Don't spare that tree

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I SUPPOSE we can be grateful not to have a Mistletoe Commission. Instead we have the nation's largest landowner sustained at the public expense to grow far too many Christmas...


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Goodwill to men in the City is subject to seasonal fluctuations CHRISTOPHER FILDES G oodwill in the City is proclaimed not by angels but by auditors. You can find it in...

. . . and a silver plating

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IF GOLD is cheap, silver should be cheap- er still. The price is where it was in the mid 1970s, and I was cheered to find, when cost- ing out the new dinner service for Downing...

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LETTERS A beautiful life

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Sir: For a short time in 1932 I was Assistant Editor of your paper. At one point I was asked to investigate drunkenness at Eton (my old school), but failed to perform the task...

Fine distinctions

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Sir: Your article of 7 December (`The ears of a Croatian colonel') stated that the response of the EEC to the situation in Yugoslavia is a bitter joke. And an old one, too....

Have we met?

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Sir: I fear that the 'Greatest Greek since Aristotle' may rightly be offended by Auberon Waugh's suggestion (Another voice, 7 December) that I once introduced him as a hotelier....

Dead Common

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Sir: Having'1followed the adventures of The Outlaw' with the liveliest enjoyment, I was stunned to discover that Michael Common wears aftershave. I can assure him this will not...


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Sir: The Spectator is brilliant, well written and the whole layout of the publication is first class.As an avid reader for many years I look forward to every issue. I then delve...

Sir: I don't quite see why your rather sneer- ing

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piece says that Charles Williams has failed to live up to his early promise. Your reason seems to be that he is a socialist and not a Tory. His achievements: Head of School...

Don't bank on it

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Sir: According to the Sunday Telegraph (1 December) 'pro-European feeling is espe- cially strong among banks'. They would `feel' thus, wouldn't they? However, their record in...

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Set by Christopher Howse Queen's English Match the definitions to the words 1. A roughened bar, on which a ring is grat- ed, used instead of a knocker or door-bell. 2. A...

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I n the Manifesto of the Communist Party, a now forgotten

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pamphlet published in German in London in February, 1948, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels attempted to portray the tremendous revolutionary force of capitalism: The bourgeoisie...

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Reducing all that's made

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Jonathon Porritt G reen Design is a title likely to trigger a wide variety of preconceptions. Some may instantly be tempted to write it off as another worthy tract advocating...

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Wrapping Up Warm

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Warmth was an art When I challenged the cold To a jumping start At ten years old, When an icicle-chime On the breath-filled air Struck Christmas time And I was there With a slip...

The adored is mightier than Sean Penn

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William Mount MADONNA — UNAUTHORISED by Christopher Andersen Michael Joseph, £14.99, pp. 279 O ne assumes that Madonna needs no introduction. She is, after all, according to...

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Kindly leave the page

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Jonathan Cecil NED SHERRIN'S THEATRICAL ANECDOTES: A CONNOISSEUR'S COLLECTION OF LEGENDS, STORIES AND GOSSIP by Ned Sherrin Virgin, ,f16.99, pp. 295 T heatrical anecdotes can...

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Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's life

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Anthony Powell JOHN AUBREY: A LIFE by David Tylden-Wright HarperCollins, £20, pp.270 J ohn Aubrey (1626-1697) has long been known as a major figure in the 17th century, his...

An unreal world that could be believed to exist

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Simon Heller FOREVER EALING by George Perry Pavilion, £10.99, pp. 200 I f one accepts that a nation needs a strong and homogenous identity if its own culture is to be strong,...

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On a clear day you can see forever

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Peter Levi MOUNTAINS: AN ANTHOLOGY by Anthony Kenny John Murray, f20, pp.360 T here is something pleasing and faintly ridiculous about an anthology of mountains that befits the...

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A very conservative Mata Hari

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Philip Ziegler FROM THIS DAY FORWARD by Esme Cromer Thomas Harmsworth, £179.5, pp.370 W hen meeting Lady Cromer for the first time at some glittering dinner party James...

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Fled from this Weill world

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Mark Steyn KURT WEILL by Ronald Taylor Simon & Schuster, £20, pp. 199 W ill the real Weill please stand up?', asks Ronald Taylor, starting as he means to go on, in his...

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An early and invincible love of reading

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David Nokes LORD BYRON: THE COMPLETE MISCELLANEOUS PROSE edited by Andrew Nicholson Clarendon Press, £70, pp.580 T his book should be compulsory reading for all members of...

Graceful notes on a crushing boar

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Harry Ashcombe LORD EMSWORTH'S ANNOTATED WHIFFLE edited by James Hogg Michael Joseph, £10.99, pp. 144 h ere are few writers, worthy of the name, who do not acknowledge the...

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Refugee Road

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(To Joseph) Did you sell the gold and the frank- incense? How much did you get for the myrrh? Enough for the food for the donkey, And for you and the Baby and Her? Laura...

More than a signal success

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Richard 011ard A DAMNED CUNNING FELLOW: THE EVENTFUL LIFE OF REAR- ADMIRAL SIR HOME POPHAM, 1762-1820 by Hugh Popham Old Ferry Press, £27.50, pp.256 N ot the least remarkable...

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. . . but personally I prefer reading

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Christopher Hawtree THE RISE AND FALL OF THE MAN OF LE IThRS by John Gross Penguin, f7.99, pp. 361 h e man of letters never really dis- appeared. He was only resting, in those...

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Leaping over death

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William Scammell W e poets in our youth begin in glad- ness, But thereof comes in the end despondency and madness', said Wordsworth. And serve you right, too, mutters the rest...

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Into a suddenly sunny spring dawn A bastard creeps out through a crack in some Until-then, immaculate-looking woodwork. He inhales the air and smiles, and everything Looks good...

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Telling the hawk from the handsaw

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Felix Pryor I was tinkering with a book I had written a couple of years ago. It was a study of the so-called 'little eyases' of Hamlet. These are the child-players that Hamlet...

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Prize-winning novels of France

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Anita Brookner o the surprise of no one the Goncourt this year was awarded to Pierre Combescot for Les Files du Calvaire (Grasset), a tour de force of baroque improvisation...

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V enice's celebrations this year for the 250th anniversary of the death of Antonio Vivaldi have served to draw attention not only to the composer and his works but also to the...

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Rembrandt: the Master and His Workshop (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam: drawings till 19 January, paintings and etchings till 1 March) Past master Giles Auty I n the face of one of...

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Rien ne va plus Alistair McAlpine T here can seldom have been moments of such excitement in the sale-rooms as those in 1987 during which the Hon. Charles Allsopp received the...

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All I want for Christmas Rupert Christiansen A s operatic recording of 1991, the col- lective wisdom of the Gramophone's reviewers selected John Eliot Gardiner's Idomeneo...

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Music 2

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Safe haven for genius Robin Holloway W hen I woke up I heard a sound, it grew ever louder, I could no longer imag- ine myself in a dream, music was sounding, and what music!'...


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Royal Ballet (Covent Garden) English National Ballet (Royal Festival Hall) Russian refinement Deirdre McMahon C olas in La Fille mal gardee is the first Ashton role which...

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Surrealist Games (Compiled and presented by Alastair Brotchie, edited by Mel Gooding, Redstone Press, boxed, £14.95) Hardened sunbeams John Henshall T his extraordinary...

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Beauty and the Beast (Players Theatre) The Sea (Lyttelton) Fairy extravaganza Christopher Edwards he Players Theatre — now reinstalled T at its old address in Villiers...

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Curly Sue (selected cinemas) Bah, humbug Harriet Waugh F or the most part film-makers seem to use Christmas as the stamping-ground for unsound films, so it has been a...

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High life

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Sinners, rejoice Taki O h dear, Christmas is here and instead of getting into a major depression like everyone else I'm actually looking forward to being locked up with my...


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Bin and gone Martyn Harris I n Haringey Christmas starts not with carol-singers or cards, but with the thunder of galvanised dustbins on the front path and a rending scream...

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Low life

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Wife stories Jeffrey Bernard I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that the suicide rate goes up at Christmas just like it does on Sundays. I used to find it a time for...

New life

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Raggle taggle Zenga Longmore B arcelona, where Omalara and I stayed last weekend, is well known for its architec- tural marvels. But there are human marvels there also. I...

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THERE are no two institutions better equipped to vex the

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restaurant critic than the health farm and the country house hotel. There is much to dread in both: the health farm stands in thin-lipped opposi- tion to the life of the senses;...

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Imperative cooking: Christmas counterblasts

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L .46 5 iffi r ts. 1 • • I HAVE the solution to the Christmas problem, at least one of them: what to give as presents. The Imperative solution not only saves the agonising,...

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Puzzling Raymond Keene T o exercise readers ' mental faculties over the festive season here are six positions from games by The Spectator's player of the year, Nigel Short....


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SCOTCH WHISKY Whopping porkies Jaspistos SCOTCH WHISKY I n Competition No. 1707 you were in - vited to supply an anecdote that beggars belief but enriches credulity. In...

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Christmas Quiz: the answers

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Queen's English 1 and d; 2 and e; 3 and a; 4 and f; 5 and h; 6 and c; 7 and j; 8 and g; 9 and i; 10 and b. Screen Test 1. Kevin Costner; 2. Gerard Depardieu; 3. Tom Hanks; 4....

No. 1710: Ask a silly question.. .

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Having seen an article entitled 'Should shop assistants marry'?' Chesterton prop- osed other similarly silly subjects, such as `Are feet unkind to boots'?' and 'Does burning...

Solution to 1037: Partners in rhyme 011 ...v m A

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T A "L No A yedri7G 1 ME Ill E 1111 T OEM ±Ell■ OM 0E1 lET TsEt NirrilAril E N I 0 ELLEAS INE S I am An ILEA R3 T E 0111313111r E I OM E b13 L IBM I III 7C...

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A Christmas Jumbojac A first prize of £60, three prizes of £25 and six further prizes of The Spectator Annual (pub. Harper Collins, £16.99) will be awarded for the first...

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JUST AS the primrose Wisden blesses April, so certain proof that the festive sea- son is upon us is the arrival of the annual Sportspages Almanack. Stockings should be...


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Q. I am giving a number of dinner parties over Christmas and would like to ask your advice on a point of control. What can one do when people just carry on laughing, talk- ing...