23 JANUARY 1988

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A storm in a teacup L iberal-SDP negotiators finally agreed on the terms of their merger, having published two utterly different sets of policy commitments within a week. In an...

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UNHEALTHY POLITICS I will of course come to the way forward,' said Mr John Moore, the Health and Social Services Secretary, when the House of Commons debated the National...


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SUBSCRIBE TODAY - Save 15% on the Cover Price! Please enter a subscription to The Spectator I enclose my cheque for £ (Equivalent SUS & Eurocheques accepted) RATES 12 Months...

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Mr Maclennan's alarming symptoms of post electoral tristesse NOEL MALCOLM A liance voters are already painfully familiar with the 'Cleopatra's Nose' theory of history. In...

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I t was 47 years ago this weekend that Lord Erroll was murdered in Kenya and his body found in a Buick on the Nairobi- Ngong road. So began the endlessly fasci- nating Happy...

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Time to dig up dead horses and kick a blind man or two AUBERON WAUGH I see myself as the big fat spider in the corner of the room. Sometimes I speak when I'm asleep. You...

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Australia is 200 years old. But Francis Hallinan argues it is only in the last 20 that it has acquired a history IT HAD always been a puzzle why the 16th-century — Portuguese...

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Myles Harris recalls doctoring to an alcoholic mining village in Western Australia PORT Dampier, Western Australia was very like the hell the Revd Brother Keegan described at...

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Gerda Cohen on the hardening of Israeli hearts WATCHING those scenes on television the terrified people being driven from the Temple Mount, tear-gassed and beaten about the...

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Anatol Lieven sees the West German economic miracle beginning to falter THE announcement that West Germany is to raise its consumer taxes in 1989 to cope with a steeply rising...

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Robert Rhodes James sees a disillusioned electorate ending the career of Kurt Waldheim THE eerie similarities between the down- fall of President Nixon and the impending doom...

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The author is MP for Cambridge.

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Michael Trend finds the naming of the proposed new merged party typifies its problems HOW do you think up a name for your new political party or grouping? This is a question...

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The media: Paul Johnson notes a breakthrough for women in journalism IT WOULD not surprise me if, in 50 years' time, perhaps even in 30, the British newspaper scene were...

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Gosh, a PSLR

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WHAT a nice worry for the Treasury — a Public Sector Lending Requirement: 'But, Sir Peter, who ever can we lend the money to?' Indeed, what a painless way to cut public...


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Watching the Stock Exchange go the way of the Astoria, Finsbury Park CH RISTOPHER FILDES T he scene is the Rank Organisation in its bad old days of white carpets and resilient...

No, Prime Minister

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YOU may wonder why Paul Eddington has exchanged 10 Downing Street (and Yes, Prime Minister) for Dartmouth Road, Smethwick — the less historic home of Birmid Qualcast, the...

Below zero

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AND now, an additional news item. The courteous and patient excisemen who lead me through the labyrinth of Value Added Tax have sent me their guidance on zero- rating. This,...


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Sir: One is rarely surprised these days to see public

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reviling of the recently dead, but John Sweeney's attack on the late Michael Horton (16 January) surely lacks in logic as well as taste. It can hardly be as an adulterer that...

Sir: Readers will examine Barbara Smok- er's premises (Letters, 2

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January): a) that the change from fertilised egg to late foetus is fundamental enough to justify quite different treatment; b) that a cluster of undifferentiated cells develops...

LETTERS Being and unbeing

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Sir: In your issue of 2 January, I read a letter from a Barbara Smoker, President of the Secular Society. After considerable waffle, she adum- brated a proposition by which, as...


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Sir: I greeted Gavin Stamp's article on war graves (The silent witnesses', November 7) with great sadness but also pleasure at the recognition of these moving and often...

First white woman

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Sir: Nicholas Coleridge has my sympathy and understanding (Diary, 7 November) in trying to deal with travel writers in the absence of the distinguished travel editor and...

Michael Horton

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Sir: John Sweeney's article about my pre- decessor Mike Horton (`Speaking ill of the dead', 16 January) reflected little credit on your publication. The fine traditions of The...

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Up with Bottomley

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Sir: Even from Auberon Waugh's article maligning Peter Bottomley it is clear that the Transport Minister is a man supportive of family life, is concerned for the dis-...


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Sir: The Spectator Christmas issue arrived upon my return from hospital (where I had left my nasal polyps) containing Ian Samuel's discourse 'A mouthful of ashes'. I was wearing...

Poetry and SAE

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Sir: In the spring of 1989 Chatto & Windus hope to publish the second volume of the New Chatto Poets series. Anyone wishing to have their work considered for inclusion should...

Claiming credit

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Sir: Noel Malcolm (12 December) says that the deployment of cruise and Pershing missiles 'seems' to have been vindicated by the signing of a treaty made possible because the...

Cold comforts

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Sir: I read Dr Gerard Bulger's article (19/26 December) on 'Hypothermia Hyped to Death', with interest and at times a wry smile, if that was not out of place when reading of the...

Bottomley replies

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Sir: How about asking your wine corres- pondent to review non- and low-alcohol wines and beers? Peter Bottomley Minister for Roads and Traffic, Department of Transport, 2...

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My worst travel experience

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Jan Morris I AM a sanguine and innocent traveller. I expect nothing very terrible to happen to me, and so far nothing has — even in my foreign correspondent days, to my chagrin...

Susan Crosland

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THE luxuriously converted VC-10 flew from Heathrow to Bermuda where Britan- nia was parked in the bay. Privacy ranks top of my pleasures: except for lunch and dinner, the...

Geoffrey Howe

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TO avoid risking a rupture of relations with Ruritania I have thought it prudent to pick a horror story with a UK setting. Chairing as Chancellor a meeting of the EC Finance...

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Craig Brown

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WHENEVER something awful happens to me abroad, I feel a little distant from it and even amused by it, as if I am an actor playing Widow Twankey in a provincial pantomime,...

Ranulph Fiennes

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I REMEMBER the discomfort of parching thirst in the heat of the Dhofar nej'd, the nag of septic boils in the monsoon forests of Brunei, panic after breaking through Arctic...

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An imperfect detail Dervla Murphy The success of an expedition depends mainly upon the perfection of the details where animals are employed for transport. Francis Galion...

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The Philippines

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A land at a loss for a symbol John Keay E very taxi in town would know the Foreign Ministry. All the same I copied the address from the phone book. 'Padre Faura Avenue,'...

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A taste of Flann Colin Welch FLANN O'BRIEN: AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY by Peter Costello and Peter van de Kamp Bloomsbury, (14.95 L ike Whitman, Flann O'Brien con- tained...

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Two ways of writing history

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A nest of priests

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Francis King THE ABBE TIGRANE by Ferdinand Fabre, translated by Robert Liddell Peter Owen, £10.95 A lthough enthusiastically admired first by Walter Pater and then by Edmund...

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A first stab at the rich

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David Profumo A CASE OF KNIVES by Candia McWilliam Bloomsbury, £12.95 F ord Madox Ford once described in It Was the Nightingale how he could not begin a scene in a novel...

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A selection of recent paperbacks

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Fiction The Emperor of Ice-cream by Brian Moore, Paladin, £3.95 In the Labyrinth by John David Morley, Abacus, £3.99 Charade by John Mortimer, Penguin, £2.50 The Shrapnel...

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Reflections on a golden boy

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Patrick Skene Catling A CAPOTE READER by Truman Capote Hamish Hamilton, £15.95 I n 1970 when he was 55 Truman Capote wrote 'I'm an alcoholic,' in a boastfully confessional,...

Scene of the Crime

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Inside that house a wounded man is dying. Of aluminium was the building built: Its window-frames were made triangular to counterbalance an intrinsic tilt. A thin snow flutters...

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Exhibitions Thirties thinking Giles Auty British Abstraction in the 1930s (Albemarle Gallery, till 5 February) Bernd Zimmer (Raab Gallery, till 20 February) James Lynch...

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Indigestible fare Deirdre McMahon D uring the recent season of the Sad- ler's Wells Royal Ballet, the director of the Sadler's Wells Theatre announced a E1 million project to...

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Fatal Attraction ('18', selected cinemas) Mad, bad and dangerous Hilary Mantel A drian Lyne's film comes from the USA trailing a reputation for changing lives; for making...

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Quiet genius Peter Phillips T he anniversarians of 1988 are not going to give festival planners much help this coming summer, unless endless per- formances of Carmen are their...

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Easy Virtue (King's Head) Man to Man (Royal Court) Vocation to amuse Christopher Edwards oel Coward's seldom performed Easy Virtue (written in 1924) was a deliber- ate...

Pop music

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Radio gaga Marcus Berkmann F rom the safety of January, Christmas and its horrors now seem gloriously dis- tant, almost ludicrously so, in fact: season- al artefacts like...

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High life

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The Suzy streak Taki T hey say that sycophancy is tolerable if it's applied discreetly, but when spread thick in, say, the manner of Suzy (a New York gossip columnist) it...


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Screen print Wendy Cope A bby has a nice new hairstyle. Victor has a big new car and another nutty girlfriend. Roxanne seems to be per- manently cured of longing for Arnold,...

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Home life

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Pet worries Alice Thomas Ellis A note came through the door the other day to tell us that a small cat from further up the road was missing, and asking us to look out for it....

Low life

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Clapped out Jeffrey Bernard I took my daughter to lunch at the Bombay Brasserie this week and what an excellent place it is. Completely wasted on hordes of sales managers,...

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A first prize of £20 and two further prizes of £10 (or, for UK solvers, a copy of Chambers Dictionary, value £13.95 — ring the words 'Chambers Dictionary' above) for the first...

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Quizzical II Raymond Keene The answers to the Christmas quiz are as follows: 1. Capablanca insisted at a meeting of top players in London 1922 that the prize fund for any...


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Hymn 666 Jaspistos I N Competition No. 1506 you were asked for a hymn from the Stockbroker's Book of Hymns, Revised & Augmented. Rupert Brooke, whose idea this hymnal was, did...

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`HOW weary, stale, flat and unprofitable seem to me all

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the uses of this world,' or in other words I am completely struck down with flu for the first time in 20 years, feel ghastly and can't get it together too well so please bear...

No. 1509: Clichés from the box

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Sports commentors have their own brand of cliches and misuse of English. You are invited to provide an extract from a com- mentary on a sporting event rich in these...

Solution to 839: Trencherman

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'Alm 0 H Ira; r rem yin A©m I OS ? Bala , Foe. E NrilE u , Law . se E E N. KA seer I E CT A TE 1,110K I NEI 10AMI F Y 'e C T A...