24 AUGUST 1996

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Mandelson's serenade T he Queen is heading a committee to consider if the civil list should continue and whether Catholics and first-born females should succeed to the throne;...

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The Palace ought to trust the people, which is not the same as leaking to the press BRUCE ANDERSON T he royal family ought to take counsel from Tony Blair. A week ago, the...

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GREY GOWRIE T his year, I visited the Festival on my own. On solitary walks round the magnifi- cent city, between bouts of cultural con- sumption, I meditated on Scottish...

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The security of the realm is in danger: people like me are in charge of it MATTHEW PARRIS F ewer 20th-century quips have become more famous than Groucho Marx's remark that he...

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Scotland is seeking political and cultural distance from England. But, says Paul Bew, Ireland's experience since independence provides a cautionary tale understandable...

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Mind your language

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THE Dai l y Telegraph has been getting terribly excited by a new dictionary that says, if reports are to be believed, it doesn't much matter if you use infer to mean imply. The...

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Michael Heath


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The chief of a justice commission is a freemason. That's all right, says Paul Pickering (who isn't one) PETER SELLERS was a freemason. So states the Grand Lodge in a recent...

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Peter Mandelson is honoured to have the ear of his party's leader, says Alfred Sherman. That's why he had better watch his back THE Conservatives are in trouble for demonising...

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The publisher of Burke's Peerage promised Sarah Whitebloom that he could trace her relatives across the globe. He couldn't UNLIKE the Smiths, Clarks and Taylors, whose names...

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America stops throwing money at problems — a lesson for us too PAUL JOHNSON R esident Clinton's decision to sign the Republican Bill which ends Aid to Families with Dependent...

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It's on the cards I shall trump Michael Howard with mugshots of John Stuart Mill CHRISTOPHER FILDES B efore Michael Howard tries to charge us £15 a time for his plastic cards...

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Avoid sneering

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Sir: I read Michael Coveney's letter attack - ing Milton Shulman (10 August) with some concern. As a critic Michael Coveney is fluent, plausible and available, which makes him...

In the Scandinavian interest

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Sir: Frank Johnson writes (Leading article, 3 August) that Sir Peter Hall yearns 'for London as the capital of some Scandina- vian ... welfare autocracy'. Probably Sir Peter...

Sir: It was interesting to learn (Leading article, 3 August)

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that high-quality dramat- ic writing presupposes people living in card- board boxes. We must plead guilty to hav- ing missed that point in Scandinavia. Jakob Balling 3...


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Power struggle Sir: Your leading article of 10 August is a very one-sided view of the history of this century. The late entry of America into the 1914-18 war was not to...

Essential managements

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Sir: Alexander Murray (Letters, 17 August), as an expert in the fascinating but largely irrelevant subject of mediaeval church history, betrays his prejudice. Management, it...

Mother or child

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Sir: Stephen Glover (Media studies, 17 August) quotes Dr Scarisbrick's position, which he 'takes to be' the orthodox Catholic one, that abortion is permissible where the...

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The Observer has new readers in mind, and they're all knee-high to a grasshopper STEPHEN GLOVER I can't resist writing about the Observer. For many weeks after Will Hutton's...

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Norman Bates is alive and well: I know, I've stayed in his motel PETRONELLA WYATT L ast week, as readers will have gath- ered, I was in San Diego for the Republi- can National...

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Heavily stressed Arcadia David Sexton AFTER HANNIBAL by Barry Unsworth Hamish Hamilton, £16, pp. 243 P rhaps Cyril Connolly expressed it most pathetically, in The Unquiet Grave...

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Large, if invisible, earnings

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John Oaksey QUEST FOR GREATNESS: A CELEBRATION OF LAMMTARRA AND THE RACING SEASON by Laura Thompson Michael Joseph, £20, pp. 224 L aura Thompson was presumably as flummoxed as...

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One that got away Cressida Connolly THE UNREDEEMED CAPTIVE by

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John Demos Papermac, £10, pp. 250 O n a freezing morning in February 1704, the town of Deerfield, Massachusetts, was attacked by a band of French and native Indian soldiers from...

Oh death, where is thy bite?

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Michael Hulse THE CALCUTTA CHROMOSOME by Amitav Ghosh Picador, f15.99, pp. 308 I mmortality has not figured very prominently in literature since Swift's Struldbrugs, and...

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Dole Man versus The Comeback Kid

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Thomas Fleming THE CHOICE by Bob Woodward Simon & Schuster, £16.99, pp. 462 T here has not been a presidential election this boring since Wendell Wilkie ran against Franklin...

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The heart of the matter

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Rupert Christiansen ESSAYS IN APPRECIATION by Christopher Ricks OUP, £25, pp. 363 Yet he is never merely provocative or whimsical. For Ricks remains very much a critic in the...

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Modest Brits and swan Yanks

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Marcus Berkmann THE PICADOR BOOK OF SPORTS WRITING edited by Nick Coleman and Nick Hornby Picador, £16.99, pp. 405 Johnnie Walker this is Jack Daniels.' thirst for sport...

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Furnished with a mind so rare

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I did not try to embarrass him by asking when he himself had last looked at Cymbeline, and in any case, smug as he was with that been-there-done-that complacen- cy peculiar to...

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Festival foibles and follies Magnus Linklater finds drama inside and outside the theatre in Edinburgh T here has been no lack of drama at the 50th Edinburgh Festival: and I...

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Fringe benefits

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Renata Rubnikowicz goes in search of the good, the bad and the ugly E dinburgh weather can be atrocious in August but this must surely be the first time in the 50 years of the...


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Nederlands Dans Theater (Edinburgh Playhouse) Mark Morris Dance Group (Edinburgh Festival Theatre) Orfeo ed Euridice (Edinburgh Festival Theatre) Craving creativity...

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Ferry Cross the Mersey (Lyric) Dial M for Murder (Apollo) On the Twentieth Century (Bridewell) Summer specials Sheridan Morley W ith London baking into the nineties and most...

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Eraser (18, selected cinemas)

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Give us a clue Mark Steyn I n the mood for a summer blockbuster, I arranged to meet my ex-wife — a black stripper with a heart of gold — outside the piranha house at the zoo,...


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Suffering from youth Michael Vestey T his is the season of repeats; Radio Four is full of them. Sometimes they're welcome; another chance to hear, say, Martin Jarvis reading...

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Fighting talk James Delingpole I 'm on holiday in the Seychelles. No, of course I'm not really. Otherwise it would say 'James Delingpole is on holiday' at the bottom of this...

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Eighth wonder of the world Alan Judd T he PR team at the makers of that most talked about of new cars, the XXi (as it is popularly known, but known to cognoscenti as the...

The turf

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The great divide Robin Oakley I t was the master of Warren Place who began it all. Henry Cecil, from a stable where you suspect that most of the horses too, given half a...

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Low life

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Relative values Jeffrey Bernard I have just received a letter from my solicitor telling me that it is time for him to see me in case my will needs updating if I so wish. It...

High life

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Swiss shock Taki Here is a man who led the coup that not only got rid of Allende but also guided his people into unheard of prosperity and peace. He also looks the part, a...

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Country life

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Let battle commence Leanda de Lisle W ar has broken out in the border country of Leicestershire and Warwick- shire. There were skirmishes at the mediae- val fayre in Market...

Afir MA08 ORA

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BRIDGE Pointless Andrew Robson THE MORE experienced bridge player becomes less and less a slave to points. Would you have had the courage of North, in bidding a slam without...

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Lots to rave about Auberon Waugh V ottenburg's Sauvignon Blanc( 1 ) is the second Stellenbosch sauvignon which has excited me wildly this year. At £4.85 the bottle (£4.35 on...

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IN•THE•STRAND SIMPSON'S IN-THE-STRAND CHESS Still overdue Raymond Keene LAST WEEK I argued that there was an overwhelming case for the British Chess Federation to lobby...


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URA II j YALU MILL ALOILIIMMILL I COMPETITION Un truisms Jaspistos IN COMPETITION NO. 1946 you were invited to write a poem which consists entirely of unreliable...

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1275: Contributory factors by Doc A first prize of £25 and a bottle of Graham's Late Bottled Vintage 1989 Port for the first correct solution opened on 9 September, with two...

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Retired hurt Simon Barnes I FAILED to score 1,000 runs in May this year. In fact, the closest I have ever come was a shortfall of a mere 993. Alt!, but I batted like a god...


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Dear Mary.. . Q. Soon after my arrival in small-town Alabama I was surprised — and elated to see a tie I recognised. I hailed its owner and asked when he had been with that...