21 MAY 2005

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PORTRAIT OF THE WEEK A t the state opening of Parliament,

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the Queen said, ‘My government is committed to creating safe and secure communities, and fostering a culture of respect.’ For the next 18 months 45 Bills were scheduled. An...

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The snare of PR

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I f Michael Howard were a football manager, he would be entitled to some very bitter post-match expletives. Tony Blair’s respectable-sounding majority of 67 cannot cover for...

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A halcyon yet chilly afternoon in our house in the south

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of France, strolling around the garden trying to understand the gardener’s explanation for why he had ferociously slaughtered so many plants, shrubs and bushes that seemed...

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The European constitution contains some good sense. That’s why the French dislike it

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T he situation in France is very perplexing, especially if you are British. The French people may well vote Non in the constitutional referendum next Sunday, which would be a...

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Who will stand up to the bullies of the Anti-Bullying Alliance?

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D o you ever look around you in mystification and wonder what it is that other people do for a living? Our manufacturing industry has deliquesced into nothing; we no longer dig...

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anti-Semitism, anti -capitalism Wolfgang Munchau says economic difficulties have produced a culture of bitterness in Germany, where politicians are invoking hate-figures from...

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Ancient & modern

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A reader, Mark Savage, points out to me that there are comparisons between Saddam Hussein and Cleopatra — both wily, mysterious Easterners needing eradication because...

Michael Andersen on the double standards behind US support for the brutal Uzbek President, Islam Karimov

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The Kyrgyz-Uzbek border T o people in Central Asia, home to some of the most oppressive regimes in the world, President Bush’s inaugural speech in January was important....

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Asbo madness

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Ross Clark examines the use of the Anti-Social Behaviour Order and says it is being wildly misapplied L ike many of my countrymen, I find the cantankerous figure of Charles...

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‘The Tories must be ruthless’

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In his first interview since the election, Lynton Crosby tells Alice Thomson what he has enjoyed about living in Britain and running Michael Howard’s campaign H e is the...

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The great lettuce conspiracy

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Deborah Ross celebrates the chip, which is not only cheaper than pre-packaged salad, but just as good for you T he other day I bought a bag of salad from Marks & Spencer and...

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Mind your language

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This week: the mystery of the missing banister. But first an example of equable temperament, compared with many inquirers into language, from Dr Sylvia Moody. She mildly wonders...

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No ties, please, we’re Tory!

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C ameron & Osborne have launched a takeover bid for the venerable but long-ailing retailer, the Conservative party. The bid will apparently be vigorously contested. The...

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A hedge fund on your balance sheet, a cuckoo in your nest

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A Scottish accountant has his own way of injecting the fear of God into his hearers. This must be one reason why Douglas Flint is finance director of HSBC, and made him the...

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More prisoners, less crime

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From David Green Sir: Douglas Hurd pointed out that the prison population increased from 44,000 in the 1980s to over 75,000 today (‘Does prison really work?’, 14 May). If...

From John Mustoe

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Sir: Douglas Hurd is much too nice a person to have anything to do with the prison service. Prisons are full of people who see good people as suckers, and more robust action is...

Influence of affluence

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From Dennis Outwin Sir: You have suggested several reasons for the disappointing Conservative vote in the recent election (14 May). Here is another one. Far from suffering in...

Hospital makes you fat

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From Ian Duke Sir: Like Jessica Johnson (Letters, 14 May), I too have recently visited an A&E unit. The story was the same: vending machines packed with high-fat, high-sugar...

Slanderous Leanda

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From Henrietta Bredin Sir: I find I am the victim of gross slander in these pages, perpetrated by Leanda de Lisle (Diary, 14 May). She claims that one of my ankles was bitten...

Sachs and the facts

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From Tim Congdon Sir: I’m not sure what to make of Jeffrey Sachs’s attempted rebuttal of my claim that his book is full of mistakes in history and geography (Letters, 14...

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Insult to intelligence

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From Peter Coghill Sir: Roger Graef’s piece ends with the valid conclusion that errant behaviour among children is copied from adults (‘How we betray the young’, 7 May)....

Cross-dressing canard

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From F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre Sir: I am deeply distressed that Patrick Skene Catling has used The Spectator ’s pages as a vehicle (Books, 7 May) to perpetuate the rumour that...

No exit from poverty trap

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From Conrad Vink Sir: While I expected to disagree with Allister Heath’s assessment of New Labour’s economic record (‘Why we can’t afford a third term’, 30 April), I...

Alive and kick-starting

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From Rodney Morgan-Giles Sir: In ‘The way ahead for the Conservatives’ (7 May) Simon Heffer quotes my father as the late Rear Admiral Sir Morgan MorganGiles. Although never...

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What did Lord Cardigan and D.H. Lawrence have in common?

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L ord Beaverbrook always pronounced it ‘yat’. He said, ‘Let me give you some good advice, Mr Johnson. Hesitate a long time before you buy yourself an expensive steam...

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Be not afraid!

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Charles Moore says that we live in an age of anxiety, in which politicians — notably Tories — are too frightened to choose freedom I t is only natural that those with a...

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More lonely than queer

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Jane Ridley ROSEBERY: S TATESMAN IN T URMOIL by Leo McKinstry John Murray, £25, pp. 626, ISBN 0719558794 ✆ £23 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848 L ord Rosebery was the great...

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Not a matching pair

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William Feaver B ACON AND S UTHERLAND by Martin Hammer Yale, £25, pp. 272, ISBN 0300109067 H orny black hills on red grounds and exposed roots clawing the air like scary glove...

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Overpowered but not overawed

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James Astill I D IDN ’ T D O I T F OR Y OU : H OW THE W ORLD B ETRAYED A S MALL A FRICAN N ATION by Michela Wrong Fourth Estate, £16.99, pp. 330, ISBN 0007150962 & £14.99...

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Being at home abroad

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Richard Dorment J AMES R EEVE : A N E NGLISH P AINTER IN M EXICO by Bevis Hillier, Sarah Wiseman, Angeles Gonzalez Gamio and Teresa del Conde Revimundo, £25 (plus p+p), pp....

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Walls falling, windows opening

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Graham Stewart T HE W ORLD IS F LAT : A B RIEF H ISTORY OF THE G LOBALIZED W ORLD IN THE T WENTY - FIRST CENTURY by Thomas Friedman Allen Lane, £20, pp. 488, ISBN 0713998784...

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That old Southern charm

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William Brett T HE B ALLAD OF L EE COTTON by Christopher Wilson Little, Brown, £14.99, pp. 307, ISBN 0316730262 ✆ 12.99 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848 L ee Cotton is born...

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All the way from Folk to Electric

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Hugh Massingberd L IKE A R OLLING S TONE by Greil Marcus Faber, £12.99, pp. 283, ISBN 057223850 & £10 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848 F aced with a choice on election night...

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No ordinary Joe

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Alexander Masters T RUE S TORY by Michael Finkel Chatto, £16.99, pp. 312, ISBN 000701176881 ✆ £14.99 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848 I can’t decide whom I distrust more...

Remembering Douglas Johnson

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Simon Hoggart writes : D ouglas Johnson, who has died at the age of 80, was one of the most distinguished — and most entertaining of the academic writers who have appeared in...

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Getting to know them

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Andrew Lambirth on the insights and rewards to be gained through watching artists at work I had intended to devote this article to the subject of artists on film and in...

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A certain something

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Martin Gayford C ould Caravaggio draw? That might seem a startling, even a ridiculous, question, but it expresses a doubt with which I was left by the admittedly magnificent...

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Potent venom

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John Spurling Edward Burra 1905–1976 Lefevre Gallery, 31 Bruton Street, London W1, until 17 June ‘E verything looks menacing,’ Edward Burra once told the Tate’s...

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One in a million

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Laura Gascoigne Landscape 200 Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery I f you took a national poll on our greatest watercolourist, Turner would win hands down, Girtin would come...

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Cheap old art

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Susan Moore O n the evening of 4 May at Christie’s in New York, a previously unknown, seminal sculpture by Constantin Brancusi, probably the first of his admired ‘Bird in...

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Miscast playboy

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Toby Young The Philadelphia Story Old Vic Billy Elliot: the Musical Victoria Palace Death of a Salesman Lyric I walked into The Philadelphia Story with a real spring in my...

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Touching the void

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Mark Steyn What the Bleep Do We Know? 12A, selected cinemas M otoring through Gloucestershire a couple of Sunday nights back, I caught a Radio Four programme called Something...

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Power play

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Michael Tanner Jephtha English National Opera T he distinction between operas and oratorios in Handel’s output is to a large degree an academic affair, depending on such...

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Explosive ideas

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Giannandrea Poesio Corps est Graphique Compagnie Kdfig, Peacock Theatre Triple Bill Royal Ballet, Royal Opera House I t is a general belief that non-theatre-specific dance...

Bitter truths

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James Delingpole T ragically, I missed the recent reality TV show in which celebrity love rat (and, weirdly enough, brother of my old riding teacher) James Hewitt was filmed...

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Myth and propaganda

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Michael Vestey I n his new Radio Four history series, The Things We Forgot to Remember (Monday), Michael Portillo tries to show how much myth and propaganda there is...

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The tuna the better

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Simon Courtauld A few years before his assassination in 1908, King Carlos of Portugal published a book on the tuna, its distribution and the various species of the fish. I am...

Popular Ford

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Alan Judd M y first car was a £40 Ford, a 1955 perpendicular Popular with the 1172cc side-valve engine and three gears. It would jump out of second on hills or under power,...

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Security counsel

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Taki New York A letter from an English couple, who are long-time friends of mine, arrived, thanking me for lending them my London flat. (They live in America.) ‘We also...

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Rights and wrongs

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Jeremy Clarke A t 15, my boy has given up the piano and has got himself a little business buying and selling second-hand cars. Every Tuesday we go to the nearest car auction,...

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Hot stuff

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Aidan Hartley I read once in the Field that the experience of owning a Scottish estate was like standing under a cold shower ripping up £50 notes. The image could apply to my...

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SIMON HOGGART I t’s a huge pleasure to work with John Armit wines. Not only do they offer tremendous bargains, but they also give you the chance to taste the wines first,...

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Grounds for gratitude

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FRANK KEATING W ales hosts an English Cup Final for the last time today. The builders swear that a spanking new Wembley will be ready for the FA’s 2006 final. We shall see....

Q. My husband and I have been invited to stay

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for Royal Ascot-at-York this year with an old friend who lives close to the racecourse and with whom we have stayed many times before on non-racing occasions. The invitation was...

Q. My new boyfriend is wonderful in many ways but

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now we have moved in together I find that he always leaves wet bath towels lying on the floor. When I ask him to pick them up he always says that he will do it later. Needless...