24 MAY 1997

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PORTRAIT OF THE WEEK 'Well. . . actually, we can't

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take you to our leader at the moment.' M r Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, visited Northern Ireland and announced that British officials would resume contact with Sinn Fein,...

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As much integrity as anyone in public life, but the public will never believe it BRUCE ANDERSON T here is an art to find the mind's con- struction in the face. That old booby...

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BARRY HUMPHRIES S omewhere in London there must be a Speed bumps millionaire. In the dismal purlieu of Hampstead where I temporarily reside, the craze for these costly corruga-...

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Those new women around the House aren't all alike, says Anne McElvoy, who offers a user's guide THEIR penchant for cerise suits and padded shoulders has been cruelly dissect-...

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A visit to a timely West End play prompts Alan Watkins to say what Tom Driberg MP was really like THERE are certain books or plays which catch a mood. Tom and Clem by Stephen...

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Mind your language

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SOME of you have written to tell me that proverbs are a very different thing from the aphorisms of Mark Twain that I praised last week, and that to drag the latter into...

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Ronald Butt warns against the Tory leader being chosen by those who don't know him well WHEN a wind of political fashion is blow- ing at force, who dares stand against it? The...

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Douglas Johnson on how to stop Messieurs Blab; Mobutu and Cantona continuing to distract the French from their election FRANCE is yawning, France is sulking, France is in an...

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Nicholas Farrell on what it was like to be in a court case judged by the new Prime Minister's wife SOME people are saying that Cherie Blair should not practise at the bar now...

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Richard Tait defends ITN against the charge that it is a giant bullying a dwaif IT STARTED with the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague. It will proba- bly end up in...

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Giving a Bronx cheer to the priests from the House of Rimmon PAUL JOHNSON T he Yorkshire race-steward who told two television 'executives' to take their hands out of their...

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A small celebration for Tax Freedom Day just you and I and Tony CHRISTOPHER FILDES J oin me on Saturday for a modest cele- bration. We shall be raising our glasses to Tax...

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Count me out

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Sir: In its leader column of 10 May The Spectator confesses that, as Prime Minister, Blair arrived in Downing Street to a skilful- ly choreographed welcome from the crowds...

LETTERS Lacking in compassion

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Sir: You miss a major point in your com- ments on Mr Cook's initiatives regarding exploited Indian children and arms sales (Leader, 17 May), which is that hundreds and thousands...

Sir: Your leading article suggests that a more moral foreign

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policy would not be in the interests of either Britain or the most disadvantaged within the 'world communi- ty'. In doing so, you cite some rather odd examples to support your...

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Wishful thinking

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Sir: I fear that in printing my letter in response to William Hague (17 May), The Spectator has been guilty of a Freudian slip. I wrote, of course, 'Labour, now the gov-...

Too kind

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Sir: I agree that Edinburgh is possibly the handsomest city in Europe and, yes, I am indeed English, but otherwise I am obliged to correct Paul Johnson's embarrassing encomium...

A matter of fat

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Sir: Your radio correspondent, Michael Vestey, falls into an old, familiar trap in attributing to Cyril Connolly the aphorism, 'Inside every fat man, there's a thin man who is...

Sensibly dressed

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Sir: All of us deplore Gordon Brown's deci- sion not to wear a white tie at the Mansion House dinner, but Taki has chosen a strange example to illustrate his point (High life,...

Sir: Mr Theodoracopulos asks, 'Can you imagine Winston Churchill in

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a track suit?' Yes, I can. Sir Winston invented what might have been called the world's first leisure suit had he not worn it to war. It was called a siren suit. A comfortable,...

Sir: How right you are to point to the 'unre-

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alistic and mendacious Eurosceptics' who claim that the Conservative election defeat was because the Conservatives were not Eurosceptic enough. No political party in Britain...

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Power of the press? No, power of the readers STEPHEN GLOVER Even more interesting is the way readers of different newspapers voted. Between 21 March and 29 April MORI...

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If Mr Isaacs were really brave, he'd want a statue to a homophobe — not to Wilde PEREGRINE WORSTHORNE W ith paedophilia such a growing problem it would seem an unfortunate,...

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Art and cash Blair Worden THE PLEASURES OF THE IMAGINATION by John Brewer HarperCollins, £30, pp. 661 H istorical fashions change quickly. A quarter of a century ago,...

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Scholar who became top of the fops

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Bevis Hillier THE ROY STRONG DIARIES, 1967-1987 by Roy Strong Weidenfeld, £20, pp. 461 A few years back, I was on a London Underground train, reading the Evening Standard. It...

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White Mischief continued

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Simon Courtauld DIANA LADY DELAMERE AND THE LORD ERROLL MURDER by Leda Farrant PDS, £13.99, £8.99, pp. 180 D id she do it, or didn't she? The settler families of 1940s Kenya...

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The playwright's the thing

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Helen Osborne PEGGY: THE LIFE OF MARGARET RAMSAY, PLAY AGENT by Colin Chambers NH Books, £20, pp. 361 Y ou'd have to scratch pretty hard today to find a passionate theatrical...

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Before the Chinese takeaway

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Nicholas Harman BEATING RETREAT: HONG KONG UNDER THE LAST GOVERNOR by Tim Heald Sinclair-Stevenson, £20, pp. 370 HONG KONG REMEMBERS by Sally Blyth and Ian Wotherspoon OUP,...

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The sleeve stays unravelled

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Anita Brookner THE HOUSE OF SLEEP by Jonathan Coe Ming £16.99, pp. 384 J onathan Coe made a spectacular name for himself with his last novel, the marvel- lous What a Carve-Up!,...

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Shakespeare: do we need him? Yes, says Harry Eyres. His poetic profundity is a matter of central human importance H ow convenient it must be to think like Lisa Jardine. The...

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Elektra (Covent Garden) Polaski to the rescue Michael Tanner I t is glorious but it is not Greek!' writes Robin Holloway in his illuminating essay on the orchestration of...

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Go forth well armed

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Rupert Christiansen gives ten pieces of advice to the Royal Opera House's new chief executive D ear Mary Allen, I suppose congratulations are in order, but I can't say I envy...

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The Fix (Donmar Warehouse) Beauty and the Beast (Dominion) In need of repair Sheridan Morley A t a time when the future of the stage musical is a matter of transatlantic...


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Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina (12, selected cinemas) Beavis and Butt-head Do America (15, selected cinemas) Passing on passion Mark Steyn L eo Tolstoy's America and Beavis and...

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Carmen (Peacock Theatre) Spanish fire thannandrea Poesio T he fiery, passionate nature of Spanish folklore dancing has always attracted the- atre people. Still, the stage...

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Cardigan diplomacy Michael Vestey I n Monday's Guardian, BBC radio took a whole page of the media section to trumpet its success in the 1997 Sony Radio Awards, boasting that...

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Zealots locked in combat Simon Hoggart A year or so ago I used to start a job on Fridays at lunchtime, and on my way I would pass both a Pret-a-Manger, the healthy and...

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The turf

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Flat out Robin Oakley C up Final days produce some funny old racecards and Newbury was no excep- tion on Saturday. There were more maid- ens contesting the races than you...

Not motoring

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Great Scotts Gavin Stamp I am in rather a droll position,' wrote the architect George Gilbert Scott junior from Rouen in 1884 to his friend Edward Walford, the London...

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High life

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War on truth Taki I New York f you think comedy is dead, you should have been in the Big Bagel earlier this week. Slam Barn Pam Harriman's ill-gotten gains were being...

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Low life

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Talking dirty Jeffrey Bernard A t one point last week, there were three psychiatrists standing at the end of my bed. I am quite willing to be civil to these people even though...

Country life

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Money matters Leanda de Lisle W e must be living in the Bermuda tri- angle of Lottery winners. A man from a vil- lage down the road has just won nine and a half million...

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Find the 10 Andrew Robson THE Principle of Restricted Choice states that when an opponent has played a criti- cal card, his opponent is twice as likely to hold the adjacent...

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The Café, Nicole's and Joe's Restaurant

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IT WAS The Spectator's publisher, Kimber- ly Fortier, who shrewdly suggested that I should investigate the haunts of ladies who lunch, and there seemed to be no question that...

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A miracle of old honey and hay Auberon Waugh T here are some magnificent wines in this offer, and at least one of them (the Monbazillac( 2 )) is also a stupendous bar- gain. I...

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IN-THE-STRAND SIMPSON'S IN-THE-STRAND Playing the blues Raymond Keene DEEP BLUE has won, but the suspicion remains that it was really Kasparov who lost. However, can it be...

i U RA

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11 , 41F WILT VAITLII WHISKS u RA 515(15 WILT SCOTCH 51511 COMPETITION Hong Kong song Jaspistos IN COMPETITION NO. 1983 you were invited to write a poem or song to mark the...

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A first prize of £30 and a bottle of Graham's Late Bottled Vintage 1991 Port for the first correct solution opened on 9 June, with two runners-up prizes of £20 (or, for UK...

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Intimations of mortality Simon Barnes ERIC Cantona's march through English football and English culture has been a tri- umph of belief: of Cantona's belief in Can- tona. He...


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Dear Mary.. Q. I have a friend, a neighbour, who often tries to horn in when she finds out I am having interesting people to stay for the weekend. She will say something like,...