25 MAY 2002

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M r Tony Blair, the Prime Minister. met Mr Jose Maria

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Aznar, the Prime Minister of Spain, in Downing Street, as negotiations by Mr Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, to hand over Gibraltar to Spain foundered over the use of the...

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The Spectator, 56 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LL Telephone: 020-7405 1706; Fax 020-7242 0603 DON'T BLAME BUSH I t is fortunate for the reputation of Horatio Nelson that...

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I t has been mentioned in print already, so I am not breaking confidences to confess that, yes, the first hint of Tony Blair's wish to change the Lobby system, which Trevor...

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Alas, I fear Mr Blair is neither so reckless nor so stupid as to risk a referendum

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ANDREW GIMSON T he Labour party has started a campaign to 'reconnect', as Philip Gould puts it, with the working-class voters who have deserted it since 1997. Mr Gould, whose...

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How to ruin a good, honest, hard-working town: turn it into a city

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MATTHEW PARRIS T his year, to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubilee, city status is being conferred on the many applicants for that supposed honour. Derby has never recovered...

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Aidan Rankin says that most homosexuals are moderates, but militants make the running, and gay politicians and entertainers now enjoy the protection of 'victim' status IT IS a...

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Diana Mosley applauds the new tolerance and lays a myth to rest DR JOHNSON defines the word 'bugger' in his dictionary as 'a term of endearment' among sailors. Nevertheless,...

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Boris Johnson finds that Lord Bingham disagrees with the government on drugs, among other things LORD BINGHAM is a wiry, athletic-looking fellow. In his youth he was famous...

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She also wore Nikes and her maid of honour weighed in at 3501b: Roger McFallon attends a cowboy wedding on the Canadian prairie Southern Alberta IN the small prairie church,...

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Mind your language

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THERE is no stopping folk-etymology, as the recent fiddle-faddle over fitly-gritty demonstrated. Policemen said that they had been forbidden to use it because it was deemed...

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Ancient & modern

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THE government spin doctor, Alastair Campbell, confessing that his past efforts had destroyed the credibility of New Labour, began his soul-searching analysis with the words,...


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Luke Slattery on why left-wing politicians Down Under like to keep their eyes and ears on the higher things of life Sydney TONY BLAIR might be reluctant to express publicly...

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Douglas Davis, of the Jerusalem Post, says that the Corporation is reinfecting Britain with the virus of anti-Semitism WOULD I. asked the BBC researcher who called from Radio...

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Some people dream of owning a Lear jet but for me it would be a huge blossom-pink diamond. These beautiful accidents of nature can be found in shades from raspberry to delicate...

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A lot of cranks swear by organic food, says Martin Gayford, but that is no reason for not buying it ALMOST every Sunday. if I can, I walk into the centre of the town where we...

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ONE of the depressing aspects of modern life is the

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tendency of worthy organisations to be hijacked by fundamentalists. One might have imagined that there was more than enough neglect, child-beating and paedophilia to occupy...

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Martin Walton says that the Irish still don't like the English . . . because they feel inferior Dublin OUTSIDE Galway, at Moran's Oyster House, I approached an evidently...

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Second opinion

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SOME people have been so good as to suggest in the public prints that I lack compassion; and one person even went so far as to assert, in a celebrated journal, that I merely...

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Hugh Russell on the story of a Zambian farmer who killed three gangsters with three bullets. . . to the delight of the local police Lusaka THEY came for Robert at midnight....

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Loyal, but to whom?

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From Mr Martin Huggins Sir: One of the unspoken advantages of the old House of Lords was that it provided a cheap and harmless grazing ground for politicians rejected by the...

From Mr Peter Hancock Sir: Despite a natural reluctance to

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criticise a fellow Spectator reader. I do feel that Chris Patten entirely misses the point in his recipe for bringing democracy into the workings of the EU. Why should English...

Conservative legacy

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From Mr Chris Bertram Sir: While sympathising with much of Simon Heffer's fulmination about the erosion of Britain's democratic institutions (`The case for anarchy', 18 May),...

Democracy in NY

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From Mr Guy Stair Saintv Sir: While there is much truth in Mark Steyn's passionate endorsement of American democracy ('Sweet land of liberty', 18 May), its extent may be limited...

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Doing a favour

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From Sir Stephen Hastings Sir: We should be grateful to Philip Gould (Power to the people', 18 May). Never has the confusion and inanity of New Labour thinking been so...

Desmond and the BBC

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From Mr Mark Damazer Sir: Stephen Glover's relentless campaign against the BBC led him to say (Media studies, 18 May) that BBC television news had 'almost entirely ignored' news...

It's not cricket

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From Mr P.M. Roebuck Sir: Michael Henderson (Sport. 18 May) says that I missed the imbroglio after Michael Atherton had been filmed putting soil on a cricket ball because I had...

The right to speak

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From Mr Peter Tatchell Sir: I am, for once, in wholehearted agreement with Peter Hitchens (`Keep quiet or face arrest', 11 May). The conviction of Harry Hammond for displaying a...

Lonely old world

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From Mr Trevor Lyttleton Sir: My favourite Spectator columnist, Petronella Wyatt (Singular life, 18 May), attributes the 'declining standards of behaviour' of our pensioners to...

Kelvin fights back

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From Mr Kelvin MacKenzie Sir: I am outraged at Bruce Anderson's (`Knickers to Kelvin MacKenzie', 18 May) description of me as having the attentionspan of a mayf If you would...

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Why the new editor of the Times has to keep on printing stories about celebs and nasal hair

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STEPHEN OLON, ER E 'er since Robert Thomson became editor of the Times two and a half months ago, I have picked up the paper with something more than my usual enthusiasm. How...

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When it comes to the point, will matters more than anything else

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PAUL JOHNSON L ate this year, or early in the next, we are going to witness a battle of wills, as well as armies, in the Middle East, on a scale that will go down in history as...

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The ruthless grip of language

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Philip Hensher M ichael Frayn has been awarded this year's Heywood Hill Prize, and nobody is going to argue with that. The prize is not for an individual work, but in...

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A sailor with strange credentials

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Jeremy Swift RACUNDRA'S THIRD CRUISE by Arthur Ransome, edited by Brian Hammett Femhurst Books, £14.95, pp. 128, ISBN 1808660891 A rthur Ransome remains an enigma. The facts of...

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Scillies in April

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Running up to the Day-Mark Through the spring heather And high on the evening sea air, I flushed the distant bird — It launched on barred wings, Sank fast within half a furlong...

Challenge and response

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Raymond Carr EMPIRE, WAR AND FAITH IN EARLY MODERN EUROPE by Geoffrey Parker Allen Lane, £25, pp. 411, ISBN 0713995157 P rofessor Parker is one of the three most distinguished...

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Cracking the Knossos code

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Sara Paton THE MAN WHO DECIPHERED LINEAR B: THE STORY OF MICHAEL VENTRIS by Andrew Robinson Thames & Hudson, £12.95, pp. 168, ISBN 0500510776 CHe died, like all geniuses, at...

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John Laughland FROM KOSOVO TO KABUL: HUMAN RIGHTS AND INTERNATIONAL INTERVENTION by David Chandler Pluto, .f15.99, pp. 268, ISBN 0745318835 D avid Chandler has emerged in...

A more than likely story

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Hugh Massingberd THE STUARTS' LAST SECRET: THE MISSING HEIRS OF BONNIE PRINCE CHARLIE by Peter Pininski Tucicwell, £16.99, pp. 317, ISBN 186232199X T hirty-odd years ago....

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Hot, damp air on your skin

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Gabriele Annan HEAVEN ' S EDGE by Romesh Gunesekera Bloomsbury, £16.99, pp. 234, ISBN 0747558132 T he blurb says that Heaven's Edge is 'a love story set in a spoilt paradise...

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A crossroads with two signposts: diversity and uniformity

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I n 1226, Kubla Khan ordered the slaughter of all the inhabitants of a central Asian city he was besieging because his father, Genghis, had been killed during the course of the...

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Believe it or not, but it bowls along

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Byron Rogers AUTO DA FAY by Fay Weldon A utobiography turns on trust: it is a long tale told in a darkened room, on which you cannot question, let alone crossexamine, the...

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A personal, magisterial must

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David Ekserdjian G uide books may be a law unto themselves, but even within their weird and wonderful ranks this one is not like any other I have ever come across. Hitherto,...

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Laugh, glance or pass on?

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Martin Gayford believes we have no reason to be worried by art: just look, relax and enjoy it D oes art make you anxious? If so, you are probably far from alone. In a recent...

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Valencian virtues

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Andrew Lambirth explores the little-known delights in the capital of the Levante V alencia is Spain's third city (after Madrid and Barcelona), but has as yet been mercifully...

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Looking at ourselves

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Mark Glazebrook on why portrait painting has such appeal I quickly forgave Roy Strong, shortly after he had succeeded David Piper as Director of the National Portrait Gallery,...

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Raw reality of life

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Andrew Wordsworth on Lucian Freud, who celebrates his 80th birthday this year I t's a curious paradox that some of the finest studies of the English character have been painted...

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Ireland's best

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Susan Moore on how collectors of Irish art have become more discriminating W ill it last? It is the question asked every year as the annual Irish auctions loom large in the...

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From London to Italy

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Giannandrea Poesio B lessed be the Seventies for having been so kitsch, so colourfully naive and outrageously silly. Created in 1975 by the great master of ephemeral ....

Masked spectacle

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Toby Young A nyone who's seen an RSC production in the last 25 years will know that it's almost unheard of for a director to stage a classic play in anything other than modern...

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Focus on Debussy

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Robin Holloway A coincidence of interesting anniversaries means that I'll have to stagger writing about them if justice is to be done. The conjunction of William Lawes's birth...

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Strauss's strength

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Michael Tanner A mong the seemingly endless sprawl of Richard Strauss's later operas, Daphne is distinguished by a combination of comparative compression, vitality and surging...

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Strictly for the anoraks

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Mark Steyn I caught the new Star Wars at a matinee which started late, which meant I and the ten other fellows who wanted to see it were kicking around outside the theatre for...

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All about the box

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Simon Hoggart B ig Brother is upon us again, and Channel 4 kicked off the festivities with a fascinating programme called How Not To Get On Big Brother. Television really has...

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Querying quirks

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Michael Vestey W hatever's going on in the garden, however much leaf might be uncurling on the branches or flowers coming into bloom, it's the arrival of Test Match Special on...

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Windsor memories

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Robin Oakley I f the suspension total mounts much further this season and Godolphin, Stoute and Dunlop have further trouble finding jockeys, I would like to let them know that...

Old-fashioned charm

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Taki INew York I was that rarest of occasions, an oldfashioned dinner-dance for 476 people given by a couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, without a corporate...

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Piling up the money

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Jeremy Clarke L ast week I borrowed a fiver from the Big Issue seller. I only asked for two quid, but he lent me a fiver on condition he had it back by Saturday. He's always...

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OK, I'm in the mood for getting right down to it this week. Yes, you heard right. I'm going to get right down to it without any rambling, shilly-shallying, time-wasting tours of...

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Safe as houses?

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Catherine Coley EVERY so often, an estate agent comes out with an alarmist prediction of how high house prices are going to rise. Earlier this year, Knight Frank calculated...

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Short is long

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Sebastian Deckker PEOPLE say, 'Length is important.' This was especially true when purchasing leasehold residential property in London. However, with a succession of...

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Formerly known as Prince

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YOU can always tell a buffoon, but you can't tell him much. After beating a willing if hapless Spaniard, one Manuel CaIvo, in the London Arena last Saturday, Naseem Hamed turned...

Q. I understand that there is a real risk that

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my teenage children will soon be exposed to a craze for something known as freakdancing. I am told that the activity is undesirable. Can you enlighten me as to what exactly is...

Q. I was recently introduced to an extremely attractive man

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whom I would like to get to know better. He is a quite well-known poet and, following our first meeting, he sent me a couple of slim volumes through the post. I have studied...

Q. I recently attended a small dinner party given by

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someone who, as well as being something of a control freak, is very possessive over her friends. I met a woman there whom I would like to see again, but I know that, had I asked...