22 MARCH 1997

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The Spectator

`The Grin Reaper' M r John Major, the Prime Minister, after the Queen agreed to dissolve parlia- ment, called an election for 1 May. He said, `Elections, some people say, are...

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The Spectator

The Spectator, 56 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LL Telephone: 0171-405 1706; Fax 0171-242 0603 OLD LABOUR, NEW HISTORY A self-justifying Times letter last week by an old...

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The road from compassion leads nowhere. Better take the road from unfeeling BRUCE ANDERSON T he government had some good for- tune on Wednesday. The latest unemploy- ment...

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L ast week for me was bitter-sweet. It began in the greenroom before the Frost programme, where Stephen Dorrell greet- ed me like a long-lost friend. We sat next to each other...

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I believe I have discovered how Mr Major might win MATTHEW PARRIS T he weather in Honolulu is charming at present. I mention the fact because there is really only one way now...

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Sarah Whitebloom talks to election experts Robert Worcester and David Carlton, and confirms their predictions with actual voters MILLBANK, Central Office, Walworth Road,...

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Michael Heath

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Plus Brown vs Cook. Anne IVIcElvoy reveals recent disputes showing that a Labour Cabinet will be split on Europe too EVERY WEEK, Labour's 'Big Four' (Blair, Brown, Cook and...

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The Spectator

Michael Harrington looks forward to the Tories again having a chance to do something destructive for the country After the election, the Tories will probably revert to the...

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The Spectator

James Hanson, who is a Life Peer, warns Mr Blair against the dangers of removing the hereditary principle from the Upper House THE PHILOSOPHER Kant observed that out of the...

Mind your language

The Spectator

MY husband pointed out to me the other day how journalists on the televi- sion or wireless or in newspapers are retaining the names by which they were known in the nursery....

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The Spectator

Kathleen Burk discovers the wealth amassed by A.J.P. Taylor.• the first telly don THE ACADEMIC who writes for the pop- ular press and goes on television, thereby doubling his...

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The Spectator

Maurice Cowling finds in America Maurice Cowling finds in America the university turmoil he says he experienced in Cambridge Garden City, Long Island WHEN I was retiring from...

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The Spectator

What Maggoty Mac and the feculent Pharaoh are up to PAUL JOHNSON Then in addition there are the various wild cards who, for one reason or another, would like to see the...

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Just like Nigel

The Spectator

THE AUSTINS are still on the road, which is more than can be said for the policies. I would not have expected, all those years ago, to see India's finance minister bring in a...

Victorian values

The Spectator

VICTORIA, Bombay's railway station, is a cross between St Pancras and the Taj Mahal. No city has grander Victorian build- ings. Sir George Gilbert Scott took time off from St...


The Spectator

India and China it's a two-horse race, but the betting is the wrong way round CHRISTOPHER FILDES Bombay h ehe overfly is how an American friend of mine describes most of his...

Etymologically correct

The Spectator

BOMBAY came in the dowry brought to Charles II by Catherine of Braganza, and is said to derive its name from the Portuguese born bairn: good harbour. This imperialist etymology...

Hanging on and hoping

The Spectator

TWENTY years ago when I first came to Bombay, I called on a British bank which had outlived the Raj and was hoping to escape nationalisation. I found it strike- bound. The union...

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LETTERS Time will tell

The Spectator

Sir: Implicit in Francis Pike's article (`There's a smile on the face of the tigers', 15 March) is that the Asian example has something to teach Europe. It has become tediously...

Sir: Francis Pike pegs his claim that Europe lacks interest

The Spectator

in Asia on a conversation which he believes he had with me in 1992 when I was economic adviser to Neil Kin- nock. He alleges I said that I 'had never looked at an Asian...

Brought to our attention

The Spectator

Sir: Sir Edward Heath's letter (15 March) defending his conduct over the royal yacht Britannia cannot be allowed to go unchal - lenged. Quite apart from the hilarious pomposity...

Centres of culture

The Spectator

Sir: I'm sorry that Leanda de Lisle's Mid- land garden centres are so little to her taste (Country life, 8 March). Here in Dorset we have no muzak and wide aisles and helpful...


The Spectator

RATES 12 Months 6 Months UK U £88.00 U £45.00 Europe (airmail) U £99.00 LI £51.00 USA Airspeed U US$141 U US$71 Rest of} Airmail U £115.00 U £58.00 World Airspeed LI £99.00 U...

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His finest hour

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Sir: I was greatly chuffed to read the long letter you published in your issue of 8 March from one of my possibly rather rare fans down under, a Mr Peter Sekuless. He quoted a...

Sir: Edward Heath quite possibly adduced compelling arguments to prove

The Spectator

himself right and Bruce Anderson wrong but I, and Probably many others, never bothered to read them. We all stopped at that dismal phrase, beloved of the pompous, that the...

Sir: If Peter Sekuless is correct in claiming that Ali

The Spectator

Forbes mixed at a very senior level during the second world war, he clearly sur- passed himself afterwards. Readers of Barbara Skelton's delightful memoirs of life with Cyril...

Down, sir!

The Spectator

Sir: I must reluctantly disclaim the knight- hood, undeserved or otherwise, kindly awarded me by The Spectator in editing Michael Russell's letter (15 March), but by no one...

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The Spectator

The Tories were uncooperative, New Labour wasn't but Blair will lose his place in the Sun STEPHEN GLOVER T he courtship between Rupert Mur- doch and Tony Blair — which...

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The Spectator

For Messrs Portal() and Redwood, patriotism is the last refuge of the ambitious PEREGRINE WORSTHORNE By the same token, it is interesting to speculate how a volte-face now by...

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The Spectator

h ere have been innumerable translations of Homer into English; one will find specimens of most of them, together with specimens of other works which have made some use of...

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Accidents that could not wait any longer to happen

The Spectator

Ian Sansom ACCIDENTALLY, ON PURPOSE: THE MAKING OF A PERSONAL INJURY UNDERWORLD IN AMERICA by Ken Dornstein Macmillan, £19.50, pp. 452 K en Dornstein is a former Private...

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It's a while since he began

The Spectator

Carole Angier VARIOUS POSITIONS: A LIFE OF LEONARD COHEN by Ira B. Nadel Bloomsbury, £20, pp. 325 I have two qualifications for reviewing this biography of Leonard Cohen:...

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Now comic as well as odd

The Spectator

David Nokes THE LIFE AND OPINIONS OF TRISTRAM SHANDY, GENTLEMAN by Martin Rowson Picador, £15.99, pp. 176 H ow gratifying it is when pundits get things wrong. 'Nothing odd will...

What's the use of dreaming?

The Spectator

Anthony Storr SEEING IN THE DARK by Bert O. States Yale, £22.50, pp. 265 T his is Bert 0. States's third book 0 0 dreams, the other two being The Rhetoric of Dreams (Cornell,...

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An acknowledged expert

The Spectator

Francis King LOVE AND LONGING IN BOMBAY by Vikram Chandra Faber, £12.99, pp. 257 T his collection of five stories is excep- tional for two reasons, one trivial and one...

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Blacks and blues, but not read all over

The Spectator

Roy Kerridge THE NEW BLACKWELL GUIDE TO RECORDED BLUES edited by John Cowley and Paul Oliver Ric! , kiwi/ f40, f13.99, pp. 495 T he advent of CD players has brought about a...

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The old chauvinist in spanking form

The Spectator

James Michie THE KING'S ENGLISH: A GUIDE TO MODERN USAGE by Kingsley Amis HarperCollins, £16.99, pp. 270 T he jacket, like the book itself, can't help raising questions. Why...

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Where are their screams now?

The Spectator

Michael Hulse FUGITIVE PIECES by Anne Michaels Bloomsbury, £15.99, pp. 294 A widely-shared prejudice holds, in the teeth of contrary evidence from Goethe to Michael Ondaatje,...

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Still on the skids after all these years

The Spectator

Patrick Skene Catling NEVER A NORMAL MAN by Daniel Parson HarperCollins, i25, pp. 420 I f anyone else wrote a biography of Daniel Farson, the writer, art critic, Photographer...

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Brahms: love him or loathe him? Michael Kennedy on his topsy- turvy, on-off relationship with the composer W hat's the point, some ask, of the copious observation of historical...

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Exhibitions 1

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Lovis Corinth (Tate Gallery, till 4 May) A mass of contradictions Martin Gayford T here are artists whose work is not best Shown in a straightforward chronological r...

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Exhibitions 2

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Mary Newcomb (Crane Kalman Gallery, Paul Costelloe, Brompton Road, SW3, till 19 April) The pleasure principle Andrew Lamhirth M ary Newcomb (born 1922) is that strange...

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Adrift in Soho

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Simon Blow on his one-time mentor, the photographer and writer Daniel Farson T he publication of Daniel Farson's autobiography, Never a Normal Man (reviewed on page 45), coupled...

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The Spectator

Badfinger (Donmar Warehouse) Waste (Old Vic) That's politics James Treadwell I n what he obviously hopes is a provoca- tive gesture, Peter Hall (quietly dropping the `Sir'...

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The Spectator

Iphigenie en Tauride (Welsh National Opera) Great Gluck Michael Tanner W elsh National Opera's Iphigenie en 7auride is not quite such a triumph as their Carmen, but it is...

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Arts diary

The Spectator

Charming concepts John Parry T he quote at the front of Labour's long-delayed cultural policy document, finally launched this week at a rather muted news conference, is well...


The Spectator

Star Wars (U, selected cinemas) Battle weary Mark Steyn I didn't take in much of Star Wars in 1977, mainly because I was preoccupied with my date. Now it's back with a...

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The Spectator

Communication problem Michael Vestey I had been putting it off for weeks, reviewing the Reith Lectures on Radio Four, delivered by Professor Patricia Williams of New York's...

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The Spectator

Cultish secrets James Delingpole his is serious. He wants my cock! What am I going to do?' Astonishing, isn't it, the dialogue they come up with on Grange Hill these days? No....

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The Spectator

Power and pain Christian Hesketh S aturday was a day of power and pain. The final matches of the Five Nations' Championship gave the two strongest sides in the Northern...

The turf

The Spectator

The Real Thing Robin Oakley W hen Willie Rock asked jockeys to school his horses after racing a few years ago some used to be reluctant. The Antrim trainer had some mettlesome...

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High life

The Spectator

Too many friends Taki Gstaad W hen the good Dr Johnson said that when a man was tired of London he was tired of life, he hadn't thought of the pre- sent motley bunch of...

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Country life

The Spectator

Great minds ... Leanda de Lisle I was honoured this weekend by a visit from The Great Thinker, an old friend, who rarely leaves his London flat. My father said that seeing us...

Low life

The Spectator

Mismatched in hospital Jeffrey Bernard Anyway, I asked her point blank, for rea- sons I won't go into here, what the outlook was for somebody who decided to give up dialysis...

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The Spectator

D) By Digby Anderson Taking on the new portion-controllers HOW do you thank your host for a very good dinner? Or put it round the other way: what is the most valued...


The Spectator

No surprise Andrew Robson If you opened up a new jigsaw puzzle, you would not expect all the pieces to fall the right way up. Yet the bridge equivalent of this occurred on the...

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The Spectator

IN-THE-STRAND BEFORE the second world war the Sicil- ian Defence was regarded with some suspi- cion by the gurus of chess. Capablanca, world champion from 1921 to 1927, com-...

j j 515655 SI SLTSCOT ) C ' H NHISKV 7'

The Spectator

COMPETITION I isLEof , 9 ,,, .13, ltiIN A `These I have loved . . . ' Jaspistos IN COMPETITION NO. 1974 you were invited to write a poem in praise of brand- names and...

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No. 1977: That is the question

The Spectator

You are invited to provide a light-hearted song (maximum 16 lines in all) beginning with the two lines, Will I have to be sexy at sixty?/Will I have to keep trying so hard?'...

Solution to 1300: Lucky number

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The Spectator

W.& J. GRAHAM'S PORT A first prize of £30 and a bottle of Graham's Late Bottled Vintage 1991 Port for the first correct solution opened on 7 April, with two runners-up prizes...

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The Spectator

MIKE Brearley has the reputation of being an urbane, genial guru, the Bhagwan of cricket captaincy, a double-first sort of chap who hummed the Razumovsky Quartets as he batted,...


The Spectator

Q. My parents were invited to a wedding in Australia but were unable to attend. Through the post, however, came a letter from the bride's mother enclosing two unidentified...