23 NOVEMBER 1996

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. for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part . . A freight train caught fire in the Chan- nel Tunnel about 12 miles from France, causing damage...

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Why surly Gordon Brown behaved better about a referendum than affable Kenneth Clarke PETER OBORNE K nneth Clarke and his Labour shad- ow Gordon Brown have much in common. They...

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BARRY HUMPHRIES A pproaching old age brings itself to my attention in small, irritating ways. Fortu- nately, aural whiskers have not yet sprout- ed, though I remember that my...

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The unutterable tedium and stupidity of children who complain of their parents being famous PE TRONELLA WYATT I n my last column I wrote that one of the delusions of our age...

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An American died last week, aged 92, after 50 years of denying treason. But, just before his death, James Srodes found more evidence that he was deadlier than Philby Austin,...

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Michael Heath

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Alfred Sherman, later associated with the Thatcher revolution, recalls an earlier revolutionary cause 60 years ago IN THE summer of 1937, I was aged 17 and studying science at...

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Tatler, the glossy monthly, has just published its latest list of 'hottest dates. A.A. Gill knows from experience how it was compiled THE LITTLE black book. The very idea just...

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Simon Sebag Montefiore goes in search of his exotic relations and finds them in the city where Orson Welles filmed Othello AFTER two lost centuries, there is no bet- ter place...

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Mind your language

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I WAS making some scones (sultana) and looking at what my licence quaintly calls the television receiving equipment, which was turned on and presenting a programme on — well,...

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Michael Vestey surveys post-election US politics, and sees a domestically powerless President going abroad New York THE TELEVISION ads no longer show snarling faces, jabbing...

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The National Theatre's Oedipus makes Harry Eyres think there's something similar about Oedipus and the Prime Minister THE cricket-loving John Major is not known to be an...

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Second opinion

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WHEREVER did Rousseau get his idea that the trouble with Man was civilisa- tion? Never has a philosophical premise received quite so incontestable a refuta- tion as in modern...

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Charles Clover says that if nothing is done, by 2016 our countryside will be destroyed by the construction of 35 new cities the size of York A FAMILIAR fear stalks Berks and...

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That's the real problem with the Taliban, Caroline Lees explains. But their leaders are off chasing Western mini-skirts Kabul HELLO? Salaam? It made no difference. The...

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In Cantonese, that is. Michael Sheridan is learning the language of the future Hong Kong THERE ARE many fashionable things to do in Hong Kong, from consuming Can- tonese food...

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Anglicanism, organic sin and the Church of Sodom PAUL JOHNSON I s the Church of England coming to the end of the road? It looks like it. The ser- vice for sodomites and...

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Dry on the label but sweet in the bottle this must be Château Clarke 1996 CHRISTOPHER FILDES T he British are supposed to like their budgets as they like their white...

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LETTERS Powerless aristocrats

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Sir: I have been working this year on a book with a similar theme to John Martin Robinson's (`Still the top class', 16 November), although only in the capacity of 'research...

Dorn orf

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Sir: Your excellent cover picture (16 November) is spoilt by 'Get orf. This would have been right 60 years ago, but since then `orf has `gorn' for ever. David Greenhaigh 3...


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Sir: Simon Sebag-Montefiore (Wafic? What about Basil?' 16 November) says I said, 'Mediaeval Church politics depended on the export of sophisticated weaponry to foreigners.' That...

Proops maligned

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Sir: Thank God Mary Kenny doesn't claim to be one of her model agony aunts because • then she, according to her, would be one of our moral philosophers. As it is, in her arti-...

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Not promiscuous

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Sir: Professional integrity demands correc- tion of the bizarre impression given by the reference to me as 'Doctor Promiscuity' (`The conferences: a postscript', 19 Octo- ber)....

A rare artist

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Sir: You did a considerable service to the history of music and ballet by printing in full (Arts, 2 November) the apologetic postlude added by Julia Kavanagh to her curious and...

Not wanted

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Sir: There appears on page 78 of your issue of 9 November an advertisement for a book published by the Erotic Print Society. Pro- ductions such as this are offensive and...

No sex

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Sir: Simon Barnes (Sport, 9 November) writes, 'You cannot pick up a newspaper without learning more about Boycott's sex life. . . . Perhaps the oddest thing of all about this...

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No support

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Sir: I read with great interest the article by Tom Sutcliffe (`Modern Mary Magdalen', 9 November). I endorse many of the points that he makes, but he ignores a major area of...

British aggression?

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Sir: I note with sorrow the words of Mark Steyn (Arts, 9 November) that New York requires schools to teach that the Irish potato famine was a deliberate act of British...

Below the belt

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Sir: Paul Johnson is unwise to trade in insults against the Church of England (Let- ters, 9 November). If he stoops so low as to call it the Church of Sodom he might find that...

They were told

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Sir: While I do not disagree with the main argument advanced in Paul Johnson's arti- cle (And another thing, 16 November), I do take issue with his introduction regarding...

Downright mad

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Sir: Might I respond to Richard Lamb's considered, and Lindsey Platt's somewhat hysterical, criticisms of my 26 October article (Danger! New myth ahead') in which I expressed...

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Forget the Mail. Here's a paper which really knows how to hurt New Labour STEPHEN GLOVER H ere is a little game. Who can guess in which national newspaper the following...

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Books of the Year A further selection of the best and most overrated books of the year, chosen by some of The Spectator's regular contributors Theodore Dalrymple Perhaps it...

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The fathers have eaten sour grapes . . .

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Raymond Carr FATHERS: AN ANTHOLOGY edited by Louise Guinness Chatty, 116.99, pp. 354 T his anthology comes out at the right time. Families are back in fashion. The British...

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. . . and the children's teeth are set on

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edge Andro Linklater SONS AND MOTHERS edited by Matthew Glendinning and Victoria Glendinning Virago, £16.99, pp. 262 T he drama of modern motherhood can be crudely summarised:...

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Rite of passage by water

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Bruce Boucher VENICE AND THE GRAND TOUR by Bruce Redford Yale, £20, pp. 137 B ruce Redford's Venice and the Grand Tour celebrates a special relationship of a different kind:...

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In the country of the camel

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Simon Courtauld THE LAST OF THE BEDU by Michael Asher Viking, £20, pp. 298 THE DANAKIL DIARY by Wilfred Thesiger HarperCollins, £18, pp. 214 T he first problem with the Bedu is...

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The non-conformist vision

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James Simmons WRITING TO THE MOMENT: SELECTED ESSAYS 1980-1996 by Tom Paulin Faber, £16.99, pp. 318 T om Paulin is an honorary Irish poet by virtue of having spent his...

It's the way he tells them

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Blair Worden THE SENSE OF REALITY by Isaiah Berlin, edited by Henry Hardy Chatto, £20, pp. 277 H ow do libraries and bookshops decide where to position Isaiah Berlin's books?...

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say Hello!, we say goodbye Dominique Vulliamy MY STORY by Sarah, Duchess of York Simon & Schuster, £15.99, pp. 296 THE DUCHESS OF YORK UNCENSORED by Vasso Kortesis Blake,...

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Great Scott!

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S ome years ago, journeying down the valley of the river Araxes in eastern Turkey — 'as one does', you might sarcastically interject — I noticed the man sitting next to me...

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Steps in the right direction Giannandrea Poesio talks to Ashley Page about the future of British ballet I s there a future for British ballet? The question encapsulates one of...

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Houses of horror

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Leslie Geddes-Brown speaks out on behalf of all vertigo sufferers I have visited the Sackler Galleries at the Royal Academy only once. The space, once the old diploma...


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The Art of the Picture Frame (National Portrait Gallery, till 9 February) Feelings, not facts Edward Lucie-Smith T he National Portrait Gallery's new exhibition The Art of...

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Theodora (Glyndebourne Touring Opera) Handel surprises Michael Tanner H aving missed Handel's oratorio Theodora at Glyndebourne this year, and read ecstatic reports about it...

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American Buffalo (15, selected cinemas) Kansas City (15, selected cinemas) A script in search of a film Mark Steyn H ere's an old gag, best done in a Cockney, Brummie or...

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Shakespeare for My Father (Theatre Royal, Haymarket) Scrooge (Dominion) What the Heart Feels (Orange Tree, Richmond) In the shadows Sheridan Morley I n my theatre-going life,...

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Arts diary

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Taking sides John Parry I was hugely entertained, and not at all surprised, to read the rambling petulant attack on theatre critics by the director Michael Bogdanov. Some...

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Three cheers Robin Holloway nsistent reminders earlier this autumn of the 50th birthday of the Third Pro- gramme, and its successor Radio Three, brought home the fact that the...


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Royal rejects Simon Hoggart W ith lunch digested, rain drizzling down outside, the papers a rumpled mess on the floor, what greater pleasure could there be than to settle down...

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Murder most gripping Michael Vestey T he late, lamented Edgar Lustgarten returned from the Black Museum in the sky this week in the rotund shape of John Mortimer. Remember...

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High life

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Corporate cowards Taki New York I learned my lesson 26 years ago. Having spent the night gambling with him, I asked Henry Ford, the then numero uno of the United States, for...

The turf

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Going for Gold Robin Oakley T o everything there is a season. Shortly before the swankier yachts slip into their South of France moorings for the summer, the seafront bistros...

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Low life

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Wars and peace Jeffrey Bernard I have just watched an episode in a series of documentaries about the first world war. Anything to do with that tragedy is a dreadful tear-jerker...

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Country life

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We want it all Leanda de Lisle W hile city people talk about 'retiring to the countryside', those already here talk about retiring to a town where the houses are better heated...

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BRIDGE Take five Andrew Robson . THE summer festival of bridge at Brighton grows in popularity and players as far afield as Bangladesh, Iceland and . Indonesia attended....

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A quality Christmas Auberon Waugh A Christmas approaches we move up- market with an all-French offer which aver- ages £7.32 a bottle on the mixed case, although this cruel...

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Bank, Browns and Irving's

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COVENT GARDEN and surrounding theatreland is unquestionably the area of London most heavily populated by restau- rants. During this autumn three large, new establishments have...

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i U RA SI,LLE HU SCOIC"X SIFMISEI COMPETITION Bouts limes Jaspistos IN COMPETITION NO. 1959 you were invited to write a poem with a given rhyme- scheme. The scheme was...


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IN-THE-STRAND SIMPSON'S IN•THE-STRAND Mind over matter Raymond Keene AT THE MOMENT two great players, Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov, both claim the world championship,...

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CROSSWORD 1288: Waltz by Columba

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a bottle of Graham's Late Bottled Vintage correct solution opened on 9 December, of £20 (or, for UK solvers, the latest Dictionary – ring the word 'Dictionary'). 1288, The...

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No trivial matter Simon Barnes CHARLES Williams chose Charles de Gaulle as his first biographical subject. No one has denied that de Gaulle had some- thing more than a walk-on...


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Dear Mary.. Q. You know what it's like — rush, rush, rush, straight out of the office and you are meant to be in your seat 50 minutes later. Rush, rush, rush, through the...