22 FEBRUARY 1997

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They've always relied on the kindness of strangers T he Government won by 320 votes to 307 a vote on a debate forced by Labour on the future of Mr Douglas Hogg, the Minis- ter...

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SPEC I NTOR The Spectator, 56 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LL Telephone:

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0171-405 1706; Fax 0171-242 0603 WHO CARES HOW OLD WE ARE? T he launch of the latest Discovery mis- sion has been greeted with enormous excitement. We may be on the verge of...

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Labour's constitutional reforms would lead to English nationalism and hanging BRUCE ANDERSON In the nature of such events, the debate will have produced more heat than light....

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R ecent speeches by Gordon Brown suggest we may be in for some kind of incomes policy. I do hope not. We tend to forget nowadays that for a whole decade, 19 64-74, we lived...

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If Mr Blair wants a subject for a hinterland, I suggest politics MATTHEW PARRIS A book has come my way quite out of the run of the dreary mail shots a political journalist...

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It's become fashionable to say that blood sports will not after all be abolished under Labour. Don't ON A misty day with the Essex foxhounds recently, outside a covert by Great...

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James Hanson sees the Social Chapter and, still more, the single currency as threats to our economic recovery IF THERE is any topic on which we need to go back to basics, it...

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Mind your language

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MR TIMOTHY Birch, from Queensland, by way of a New Year's game (the post is slow from Noosa Heads) challenges me to define 13 words beginning with ch without recourse to a...

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Andrew Gimson discovers what unites most Germans: dislike of Prussia and Berlin Berlin PROFESSOR Norman Stone appears from time to time on German television, being one of the...

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`DON'T IT OVERDO — - R A 1111 GEORGE' them about politics and politicians. But both have strong views on the subject `ROY Hattersley! God Almighty, he's a born loser!'...

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Simon Blow compares and contrasts heterosexual and homosexual meeting places DO homosexuals have a better time than heterosexuals when they go out at night? Puzzling over...

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Bet on the banks

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WHAT the Tote needs, we shall say, is dis- tribution. It still relies on selling tickets on the course and through its 216 shops. In just the same way the banks used to rely on...

Gazza kicks out

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WHEN Barclays picked Bill Harrison to run BZW, its investment banking business, Nicholas Sibley (who had been BZW's taipan in Hong Kong) passed judgment: `It's like making Gazza...


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The Captain and I are under starter's orders to gee up the Old Nanny Goat CHRISTOPHER FILDES M y racing correspondent Captain Threadneedle and I are reviewing our options. We...

Self seeks a haven

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MY friend Self, the tax assessor, has left the Revenue's brown envelopes accumulat- ing on his doormat while he curls up with a good book: Caroline Doggart's classic Tax Havens...

Value for money

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THE Bank of England has won a good mark from the economic pundit of the Times. The Old Lady has done well in maintaining the value of sterling in the long term', or so his...

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How to settle the Scots, the Welsh and the Lords in one senatorial stroke PAUL JOHNSON T he Labour Party has now been in exis- tence almost a century and has formed five...

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LETTERS Lingering doubts

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Sir: Whatever the truth of the Hanratty case, it is not correct to say that the police officer who investigated the case now accepts that Hanratty was innocent (Let- ters, 15...

Signal error

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Sir: Mr G.M. Wedd's letter on the German intercept at Cassino (8 February) is, I am afraid, in error. Neither in German nor in British signals are the definite articles...

Sir: Anne McElvoy takes the Sunday Times to task for

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mentioning the role of repara- tions in our 'potted history' of the Weimar Republic. Everyone knows, I think, that Germany paid only a fraction — approxi- mately one-tenth —...

The reparations myth

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Sir: Following Anne McElvoy's article on the myth of Versailles reparations (The consequences of a myth', 15 February), may I appeal through the columns of The Spec- tator for a...


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SUBSCRIBE TODAY- RATES 12 Months 6 Months UK ❑ £88.00 ❑ £45.00 Europe (airmail) ❑ £99.00 U £51.00 USA Airspeed ❑ US$141 Cl US$71 Rest oft Airmail ❑ £115.00 U...

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New Year resolution

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Sir: This week the Chinese people celebrate their New Year. It is to be fervently hoped that the Republic of China will make a res- olution for the year ahead. At present there...

Nato in danger

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Sir: As a long-standing Nato supporter, I endorse your opposition to the proposal to extend the alliance eastwards (Leader, 15 February). I am not concerned in the least with...

Grand old man

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Sir: How can Alan Watkins dare call Churchill 'the old war criminal' (Diary, 15 February)? Perhaps he has been reading too Many 'revisionist historians'. I would refer him to...

Sir: I too, like Mr D.P. Dick (Letters, 11 January),

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have wondered who Alastair Forbes is and why he figures so frequently in your pages. I have concluded that he is an old British expat, fled these many years to Swiss mountain...

LETTERS Old favourite

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Sir: Having read Paddy Cullinan's letter (15 February), and reread it to check I was not missing some hidden meaning, can I redress his (or her?) utter nonsense and in doing so...


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Sir: Admirers of Kenneth Rose will have bristled at Alastair Forbes's description of him as a gossip columnist (`Rich little poor girl', 15 February). Any gossip columnist with...

Dumpynose welcomed

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Sir: While it is indeed sad that Mass has decided to hang up his Chambers (Letters 1 February) — at least for The Spectator can I say what a delight the puzzles of Dumpynose...

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The unknown may have done better than famous Andrew Neil, but he could still do much better STEPHEN GLOVER J ohn Witherow, editor of the Sunday Times, is by most accounts an...

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T here are some people who seem to be using the creative arts for such peculiar ends of their own — to sort the world out, to cure themselves of their problems - and with such...

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But wisdom

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lingers Main de Botton ECHOES OF AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY by Naguib Mahfouz Doubleday, £14.99, pp. 118 T his is an autobiography only in the loosest sense. We don't hear where the...

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A touch of genius

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Francis King OP. NON CIT. by Alan Isler Cape, £12.99, pp. 215 D espite the world of fiction being so incestuously cramped, coincidences are more common than plagiarism in it....

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Mr Nice goes into the air force

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Philip French JAMES STEWART I n The Poisoned Crown, Hugh Kingsmill traces the idea of mass consciousness from its powerful embodiment in Byron and Napoleon through a century to...

Stumbling into danger

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John Jolliffe THE WORLD AT NIGHT T his is Paris before and during the Nazi occupation, surprisingly neglected hitherto as a setting for the dilemmas of agents, double agents,...

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A daughter of the revolution

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Barbara Trapido EVERY SECRET THING by Gillian Slovo Little, Brown, £16.99, pp. 282 A reader's heart will go out to Gillian Slovo, whose face stares from the photo- graph, an...

Obituaries grow steadily livelier

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Roy MacLaren CANADA FROM AFAR: THE DAILY TELEGRAPH BOOK OF CANADIAN OBITUARIES edited by David Twiston Davies Dundum Press, available from Telegraph Books Direct, teL 01908 566...

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On 7th March 1997, the eve of International Women's Day, The Spectator and She Magazine will be joining forces with the UK's leading think-tank DEMOS, to host a cutting edge...

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The bad boy, the prostitute and the President

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Anthony Howard BEHIND THE OVAL OFFICE: WINNING THE PRESIDENCY IN THE NINETIES by Dick Morris Random House, £20, pp. 359 W en Dick Morris —.Till's Bad Boy' as the New York...

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ARTS S o, everyone has had lots of fun vilifying Sotheby's.

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Cartoonists have shown them as upper-class spivs, commentators have pro- duced dire warnings of the end of the auc- tion trade as we know it, politicians have thundered about...

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Down with accessibility!

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Michael Kennedy regrets the antagonism to people who speak or write seriously about music M y attention was caught the other week by a paragraph in Russell Davies's radio review...


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Falstaff (Opera North, Norwich) I have a problem ... Michael Tanner S . eeing Opera North's Falstaff in Nor - wich made me anxious. Nothing to do with Norwich, even though...

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Three's company Giannandrea Poesio Although the secret of a thriving ballet company is a varied, challenging repertoire, some traditionalists regard such an artistic policy as...

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In the front line Alan Powers e would seem to have undoubted ability, but is possibly suffering from a peri- od in which theory looms larger than prac- tice.' This statement...

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Mu sic

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Bunched in Belgium Robin Holloway M onday evening flight into Antwerp swathed in its river mists; straight in by cab to the bright lights of the Bourla, a heavily handsome...

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Michael (PG, selected cinemas) Grace of my Heart (15, selected cinemas) Far too cool Mark Steyn T be honest, I preferred John Travolta when he was washed up and reduced to...

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Arts diary

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Bang for bucks John Parry I have just heard the most precise and graphic new expression about businessmen who sponsor the arts and I plan on using it at every possible...

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The Shallow End (Duke of York's) Heathcliff (Labatt's Hammersmith Apollo) Paper monster Sheridan Morley W ho now recalls Lambert LeRoux? The question is, I hope, purely...


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Gillian Ayres (Royal Academy, till 2 March) Feast of colour Andrew Lambirth T he art of Gillian Ayres (born 1930) resists tidiness, it's not well-mannered, but it's brimful...

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Tortured jargon Michael Vestey T he new Controller of Radio Four, James Boyle, is conducting a stringent review of all his programmes, with the implication that some might...

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Let them eat Cake James Delingpole Y ou know when you've taken so many drugs that all you can do is go, 'Wow! This is incredible! At last I am privy to the hid- den secrets of...

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High life

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Happy loser Taki Gstaad his is the time of year when social pandemonium takes over in Gstaad and its environs. The GreenGo turns into a war of attrition between those trying...

The turf

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Comings and goings Robin Oakley J ockeys and trainers are not always in harmony. One Epsom trainer has been kn . own to complain, 'If brains were a virus, Jockeys would be the...

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Low life

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Damaging E ver since the smoking police came to power I have been waiting with great apprehension for the same army of bigots to persecute not only drinkers themselves but to...

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Country life

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Age concerned Leanda de Lisle A thirtysomething girlfriend of mine w ho works in a fashionable profession and lives in fashionable Notting Hill Gate is in a . bit of a state....


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The best Andrew Robson WHO is the best bridge player in the world? Although his bidding is a little old-fash- ioned, the expert who makes fewest errors in the card play is the...

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A nice cheap offer, averaging £4.62 a bottle on the mixed case. Whatever people say, many things have improved in this coun- try over the last ten years, most noticeably the...


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cio Heyman Barwell Jones Ltd 24 Fore Street, Ipswich, Suffolk IP4 1J0 Tel: (01473) 232322 Fax: (01473) 280381 Price No. Value White Astonvale 1995 Colombard (Zandvliet...

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Imperative cooking: the Labour threat

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HOW will Imperative Cooks fare under a possible Labour government? Badly. The socialists are already committed to a super- nann Ying body called a Food Standards A gency. They...

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Sour Auburn Jaspistos IN COMPETITION NO. 1970 you were invited to update, in heroic couplets, Goldsmith's 'Deserted Village', a descrip- tion of the degeneration of the...


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IN-THE•STRAND GARRY KASPAROV is not just in con- tention with his rivals of the present day, such as Anand, Kramnik and Karpov, he is also engaged in a battle with the great...

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W. & J. GRAHAM'S PORT A. first prize of £30 and a bottle of Graham's Late Bottled Vintage 19 91 Port for the first correct solution opened on 10 March, with two runners-up...

Solution to 1296: Fives

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No. 1973: Flavour of the month

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You are invited to write an acrostic poem about March in which the first letters of the lines spell out COMES IN LIKE A LION. Entries to 'Competition No. 1973' by 6 March.

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I HAVE the knack of upsetting the Welsh. Perhaps it is something I share with most Other English people, or perhaps it is a spe- cial talent. I was in Wales last weekend, on...


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Q. We recently employed a new couple at ° w'Scottish estate and it was explicitly agreed that we were to be addressed as Mr "5 1 Mrs How. So we were somewhat sur- prised when...