24 DECEMBER 1988

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SPECT THE AT OR The Spectator, 56 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LL

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Telephone 01-405 1706; Telex 27124; Fax 242 0603 PEACE O n the Saturday before Christmas, the Daily Telegraph reported a shepherds' meet at Walna Scar in the Lake District: ....

The contents of this Christmas double issue appear on pages

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4 and 5.


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SUBSCRIBE TODAY — Save 15% on the Cover Price! RATES 12 Months 6 Months UK 0 £49.50 0 £26.00 Europe (airmail) 0 00.50 0 01.00 USA Airspeed 0 US $99 0 US$50 Rest of Airmail 0...

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'Oh, I'm just spending a quiet Christmas with the family.' W ithout apology or explanation Mrs Edwina Currie resigned as junior health minister two weeks after a single un-...

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The hunting of the Market NOEL MALCOLM 'Just the place for a Market!, the Minister cried As he handed out leaflets all round; 'Europe's open for business! Quick! Rush inside!...

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P erhaps we do not care any more why Jesus had to die on the Cross. We are exactly like Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisi- tor: indifferent as we may be about Christ, we are very much...

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A million pounds to Mr Elton John AUBERON WAUGH 0 ne of the comforts of life for those who read only the Sun — and I dare say a fair proportion of its readers read nothing...

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William Shawcross confronts the appalling possibility that the mass murderers will soon return to Cambodia with the help of the world powers THE mass murderers are on the...

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Andrew Gimson explains the pressure on the PLO YASSER Arafat has sued for peace. It is odd that this should not be more widely appreciated. The concessions he made last week in...

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How Mark Swallow celebrated the season in darkest China THERE are 22 Christians in the Yellow Sea port of Weihai, Eastern China. Teaching English there last year, I was the...

CHILDREN OF THE HEADMASTER A short story by William Trevor

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IT is, according to the synoptic Gospels, easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle , than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. But a rapidly growing...

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Nigel Burke outlines his shorter dictionary of weasel words THERE are a lot of chaps about who say, 'I have an idea.' Alas, they do not mean that they have understood...

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Greg Maddox plumbs the abyss of life in Earls Court ON arriving at Earls Court station, one can head out of the Warwick Road entrance and encounter relative civility, or one...

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James McCarter meets the people who believe we were created by extra-terrestrials THAT grand old American fraudster, L Ron Hubbard, is reported to have said: `If you want to...

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authors to take a closer interest in book finance THE battle between Rupert Murdoch and Ian Chapman, Chairman of Collins, for control of the publishing firm is an instruc- tive...

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A SHORT STORY BY WILLIAM TREVOR THE greater part of the house was shabby from use. The white paintwork of the corridors and the rooms had been chipped and soiled. Generations...

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Michael Trend investigates the attempts to have Christmas abolished EVERY year in late December, as the wits of the press scratch their heads to come up with a suitable...

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One hundred years ago

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OUR CHILDREN I LOOKED at the happy children Who gathered around the hearth; So blithe they were, no children Could happier be on earth; With their merry plays, and their winsome...

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Alan Bell dredges some choice language from the Commonwealth parliamentary swamp A ROUTINE Commons gradation — 'dodging', 'admission of guilt', 'cheat' — displayed by Kinnock...

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Alexandra Artley explores the ecological dilemmas of the festive season 'JUST one nuclear bomb can ruin your whole day.' Firmly strapped into the back of a Deux Chevaux...

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Merlin Holland rejects Ellmann's claim that Wilde died of syphilis GOOD biography is like good journalism; you have to know just how much fable you can mix with your facts....

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John Martin Robinson gives some useful tips on how to modernise a boring old house THE trouble with Georgian houses is that they are very boring. As Sir John Summer- son said...

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Miss Lucinda Tyrrell explains why she dresses up in funny clothes THE average Romantic is female, well- educated, and somewhere between 18 and 45. She is female for what are...

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Gavin Stamp surveys the sad state of the most sacred city THE DEVIL may not always have the best tunes but in Jerusalem the Muslims cer- tainly have the best architecture. The...

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Roy Kerridge visits a town of fossils and folk memories WHITBY Museum in Yorkshire, set in a hillside park, is one of the most interesting places I have visited. I could gaze...

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the horrors of having your house photographed A FEW weeks ago a photographer rang to ask if he might come and take pictures of outhouse. His request revealed that, with so many...

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Candida Crewe opens up a can of worms and looks into some fishy business 'THESE ones came out of a camel's nostril,' Ken Smith said cheerfully, holding up a glass phial. It...

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Paul Webb enjoys the early journalism of Thackeray DOMINATING the Strangers' Room in the Reform Club is a painting of William Makepeace Thackeray, author of Vanity Fair and...

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Geoffrey Wheatcroft celebrates the radical ideas of the great voluntarist, Auberon Herbert STATE socialism is the refusal to others and the abandonment for oneself of all true...

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A CHRISTMAS STORY BY SOUSA JAMBA MY FATHER left my mother when I was born. My mother kept reminding us of this fact so frequently that whenever she said it Nadie, my sister,...

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Do not be put off

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Sir: Please do not be put off (Another voice, 29 October) by Mr Neal Ascherson's low regard for The Spectator, and its value to those who live abroad (Observer, 23 October)....


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Distant voices Sir: I know it is difficult for Spectator columnists to welcome change, particularly where this occurs in an institution with colonial associations. Even so,...

Out of his skull

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Sir: In his interesting article on 'out-of- body' experiences (Spectator, 10 Decem- ber) Myles Harris did not tell us how easy it is to induce this sensation for yourself. In...

Charlatan's art

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Sir: Mr John McEwen may prefer the epithet crook to charlatan but it is as charlatans that writers on modern art are derided in 'Another voice' (8 October). Surely also it is...

Grubby politics

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Sir: They say one can judge a country by its political scandals and its dustbins. Who would have thought that school meals have both? Alexandra Artley's article on school meals...

Sir: On the night of 24 November I heard a

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plum example of the awfulness which is now afflicting the World Service. Halfway through the Newshour programme was a 'story' about Russian cosmonauts taking a new recording of...

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Doubtful quality

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Sir: Why does Paul Johnson (The press, 10 December) say that there are only three quality Sundays available in London? What about the Sunday Times? Tom Utley Sunday Express,...

Balkan Hope

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Sir: John Zametica, in his spirited attack on British amateurs who write 'unbeliev- able rubbish' on central and south-eastern Europe (Letters, 5 November) is surely wrong to...

Views on Christianity

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Sir: Like your correspondent Omar Ali- Shah (Letters, 24 September), I share William Oddie's regrets that Christian churchmen are not trenchant enough in the defence of the...

Unpleasingly precise

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Sir: You stated that 'Few of us [now] doubt that standards of literacy have fallen,' (Leading article, 19 November). You did not state to whom 'us' referred. You did not state...

Poet's corner

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Sir: One of the aims of X magazine (1959-62) was to put the cat among the pigeons. As is evident from Mr William Scammell's review of the X anthology (26 November), it performs...

Change of address

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Sir: The only thing about which Auberon Waugh ('Another voice', 22 October) agrees with Peter Wright is that Roger Hollis retired to a 'cottage' in Somerset. Alas, alack-a-day,...


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Sir: 'The New Testament itself says no- thing either for or against' the idea that animals cannot go to heaven, wrote Celia Haddon (Letters, 19 November). But in Acts x, 11,...

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Set by Christopher Howse Funny old year In 1988: 1 What did the French do to HP Sauce? 2 Which candidate, with Hong Kong tattooed on his hands, lost by 3,554? 3 What...

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The butchers' bills John Bayley THE PRICE OF ADMIRALTY by John Keegan Hutchinson, £14.95, pp.292 T erms which we trundle smoothly o'er our tongues', exclaimed Coleridge of...

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How they are keeping down on the farm

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Max Egremont THE SEARCH FOR A STYLE by John Cornforth Deutsch, £19.95, pp.263 THE ENGLISH COUNTRY ESTATE by John Martin Robinson Hutchinson, £16.95, pp.216 THE FIELD BOOK OF...

Shadow on the Snow

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The old man wore a gown of morning light. Through silvery translucence and against Smooth ermine hiding wintry grass from sight He felt his scarecrow body, gaunt and flensed....

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Does art give a true picture?

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Raymond Carr SPORTING ART IN EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY ENGLAND by Stephen Deuchar Yale, £24.95, pp.195 I t is odd to be reminded that The Spectator was once a journal that made...

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Glorious things of thee are spoken

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Edward Norman HEAVEN: A HISTORY by Colleen McDannell and Bernard Lang Yale, £16.95, pp.410 S ome years ago a popular English sage and communicator interestingly recorded his...

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The ancient world seen from the inside

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Hugh Lloyd-Jones AULUS GELLIUS by Leofranc Holford-Strevens Duckworth, £35, pp.284 N ot all of the most learned men teach in universities. Some of the most learned persons I...

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The Apparition

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Down at the bottom of my bed Was Herod, standing on his head. He waved his big feet in the air. I heard him cry It isn't fair— if I'd known then what now I know About that...

Stopped off to tell us what they'd found, The wise

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men passed cigars around, Huge Winston Churchill jobs, but Dad Made me give mine back and said He shouldn't be encouraged, sires. Where there's smoke be sure the fire's Not long...

Is America our ancient enemy?

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Jonathan Clark INVENTING THE PEOPLE: THE RISE OF POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY IN ENGLAND AND AMERICA by Edmund S. Morgan W. W. Norton, £12.95, pp.318 D o you have any idea what it is...

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My table thou hast furnished

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David Ekserdjian THE ALTARPIECE IN RENAISSANCE ITALY by Jacob Burckhardt edited by Peter Humfrey Phaidon, £75, pp.240 P eter Humfrey could probably sell sand to a sheik....

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Dial ex for murder Harriet Waugh M urder in Paradise by Ann Cleeves (Century, £10.95, pp.181), while not the best crime novel I have read this year, is the best detective...

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A happy medium

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Richard Shone PORTRAIT OF DAVID HOCKNEY by Peter Webb Chatto & Windus, £17.95, pp.289 B ernard Levin, whose all too frequent pronouncements on the visual arts are infallibly,...

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A fabulous pageant, but why do they do it?

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Rupert Christiansen THE FABER BOOK OF LETTERS edited by Felix Pryor Faber, £12.95, pp. 319 A s someone who would sooner clean the windows or mow the lawn than write letters —...

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December Dream

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From my white box, with its two squares Of five-by-five plate-glass, I gaze across an oblong well On at least a gross Of identical, functional And five-by-five foot gleams, As...

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Who's in, who's out, who's who

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Peter Vansittart THE CAMBRIDGE GUIDE TO LITERATURE IN ENGLISH edited by Ian Ousby CambridgelHamlyn, £17.95, pp.1109 C ambridge too demands its monument to literature. Here are...

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Lullaby for a Man Asleep in Brewer Street

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I wish you sweeter dreams than you can buy in Soho from Kinky Madam Jo-Jo at Adults Only Peepshow. I wish you more convincing and better, more entrancing visions than Real...

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The Sistine Chapel Restoring the light Juliet Reynolds T o the Vatican!' I burst out breath- lessly as I fell into a yellow Roman taxi early one morning last September. 'Are...

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Opera Rigaletto (Covent Garden)

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Comfortable tidings Rodney MiInes N ot even the most benign hack could describe any of this season's new produc- tions as an unqualified success, and the ill-tempered,...

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Eminent octogenarians Robin Holloway h e two most eminent living composers celebrated their 80th birthdays on consecu- tive days earlier this month. Olivier Mes- siaen is more...

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Yes, arts minister Giles Auty urges that choice in education should extend to the fine arts L oolcing through back issues the other day it came as a shock to realise that this...

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Orpheus Descending (Haymarket) Southern myth Christopher Edwards S ir Peter Hall returns to the private sector with this striking and powerful production of a work that the...

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Fugal torpor Deirdre McMahon A pollo, George Balanchine's 1928 masterpiece, has been in the repertory of the Royal Ballet since 1966 where it has been maintained fairly...

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Scrooged (PG', selected cinemas) High Spirits ('15', Odeon West End, Leicester Square) A child is bored Hilary Mantel 0 nce again it's time to put the holly- sprigged boot...

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Taking a break Wendy Cope I n many places of work there is a winding-down towards Christmas, as more and more time is given over to festivities and the nursing of hangovers....

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High life

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At last, my book choice Taki I n the true Christmas spirit, I would like to offer High life's suggestions for a trouble-free Yuletime by recommending the books you and your...

Low life

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Annus mirabilis Jeffrey Bernard W ell, that's another year under the belt. One lurches from Christmas to Christmas and it is something of a miracle to arrive at it year after...


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Home life

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Funny sort of flu Alice Thomas Ellis A s, am very seldom ill (I am touching the wooden bedhead as I write) I can never understand what's happening when I begin to feel...

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Imperative cooking: vegetarian vexations

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• I BLAME the compulsory, piped proleta- rian music. But whatever the reason, I was caught off guard. There we were eight or ten of us, in this pub late one Friday night, in...

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Solution to 887: Imposition MT : . 0 ,7S 0 E 4 , W el

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0 I n" GH , E r l 3:A ES C F' ! L I I r E I2H , R FY 1 I , 1 ,U A0•01 1 P • A ' Et HO RE T N mit, • S E S Pat.'•IT 1.1,.. LI E P T y G 8 il ILA rt G N R T 0 P...


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Unpresentables I n Competition No. 1554 you were asked for four imaginary items, with accompany- ing salesman's guff, from a brochure adver- tising the sort of Christmas...

No. 1557: The strange bet

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Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous reader who recently brought off a success- ful gamble, I am able to offer a special Christmas prize of £100 to the most enter- taining...

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A card from Mass A first prize of £60, three prizes of £25 and six further prizes of The Spectator Book of Crosswords will be awarded for the first correct solutions opened on...

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• Twelfth Knight Raymond Keene T his year, for our annual competition, I have set twelve positions to be solved over Christmas and the New Year. Each one is desiged to...