26 JANUARY 2002

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M r Ben Bradshaw, a Foreign Office minister, said that officials

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had visited three British citizens imprisoned, after their capture in Afghanistan, at Camp XRay, a compound at the United States base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. None of the...

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The Spectator, 56 Doughty Street, London WCIN 2LL Telephone: 020-7405 1706; Fax 020-7242 0603 TONY AND THE TERRORISTS T he allocation of offices at Westminster and the...

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F or Christmas we had a baby boy in Bethlehem, and our project for the week, rather like last week and the week before that, is to find him a name. A nine-and-a-half-pound giant...

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Mark Steyn is a decent man who values human life,

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but I suggest he is wrong to describe me as gullible STEPHEN GLOVER T here is unhappiness in the snowy wastes of New Hampshire. My item last week about the civilian war-dead...

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Peter Oborne reveals that the government brought Enron's accountants in from the cold after they had been sued by the Tories for negligence THIS week the great accountancy...

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Banned wagon

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A weekly survey of the things our rulers want to prohibit TO discriminate against somebody on the grounds of race or sex can these days land one with a very large compensation...

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Anne McElvoy talks to Estelle Morris, who accepts that the government isn't quite hitting all its education targets SHE's really nice, that Miss Morris. Always takes the time...

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Ancient & modern

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THE 'Nomenclature' Committee of the European Union is wrestling with the tricky problem of the number of lumps that a sauce can contain in order for it not to be classified as a...

Was Mr Blair too optimistic in his promise to me?

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. You're asking me what is the exact space of time it takes to turn round schools in a borough with the worst record. I'm not going to be tied to a date because that becomes the...

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Castro remains Cuba's greatest problem, says Bruce Anderson, but his departure will be followed by decades of instability IT was the whore who made me angry. Up to then, I...

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Pamper them with Pedigree Chum and milk then whack them with a croquet post: Robert Gore - Langton on purging your garden of pests THERE's not a lot you can do about terrorism...

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Mark Steyn says that the passionate ignorance of Britain's anti-Americans is giving everyone in the US a good laugh New Hampshire NOT far from me, in the small Coos County...

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Mind your language

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HAVE just discovered that fenestra, the Latin word that gives some Romance languages their word for 'window', comes from Etruscan, the language of the mysterious people...

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Mian Ridge on the special coaches who are helping people to get rid of their posh accents 'YOU are scared to let your voice out because you don't want to show your feelings, a...

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Tim Congdon says that demographics show that the Eurozone is heading for crisis: that's why we won't join the new currency MEDIA coverage of Britain and the euro has descended...

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Second opinion

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BRITISH parents hate their children, and they are quite right to do so. Needless to say, their hatred is thoroughly reciprocated, with equal justification. One glance at British...

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Seven pillars of wisdom for a new Archbishop of Canterbury

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PAUL JOHNSON T here is no satisfactory way of choosing a new Archbishop of Canterbury, or any other Anglican bishop, for that matter. It has caused trouble to the authorities...

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Bloody agitprop

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From Mr Alexander Walker Sir: Peter Oborne's comments on the Saville tribunal ('The politics of bloody murder', 12 January) should be considered in relation to the film Bloody...

Drugs and discipline

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From Mr J. MotTish Sir: To recommend that Eton should abandon the principle of zero tolerance on drugs in the interests of pragmatism (Leading article, 19 January) is exactly...

Act now against Mugabe

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From Mr Geoffrey Van Orden, MEP Sir: Stephen Glover is to be commended for the latest in a series of articles drawing attention to the abuses perpetrated by the Mugabe regime in...

The phoney peace

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From Dr David Stafford Sir: Peter Padfield's assertion (Letters, 19 January) that in 1941 Hitler was prepared to withdraw from 'the whole of western Europe', that this formed...

Museums under threat

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From Professor Keith Thomson Sir: I am wondering what sensitive nerve I must have struck to cause Charles Saumarez Smith (Books, 19 January) so to misrepresent the essay that he...

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Prisoners of their prisoners

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From Mr Robert Henderson Sir: The Americans have two hideous problems with releasing the Afghan POWs they are holding in Cuba. The first is obvious: such people will be utterly...

It's all pale green

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From Mr Michael Smith Sir Paul Johnson asks (And another thing, 12 January) whether light is the natural state of the universe. The answer is yes, and the colour is green. The...

Legal confusion

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From Mr J. Alan Smith Sir: Robert Baker (`The wages of sex', 19 January) writes: 'There is a law in medical literature akin to the Newtonian law of thermodynamics, which is that...

They also sing. . .

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From Mr Antoine Brumel Sir: It was heartening that Peter Phillips (Arts, 19 January) spent nearly half of his piece on the end of Starlight Express speaking of the members of...

Taylor's half-dozen

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From Pamela Taylor Sir: Frank Johnson (Shared opinion, 12 January) states that 'I have long believed 1940 to be the most important and interesting year in British history, and...

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Talk magazine was gunned down — but was there more than one assassin?

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FRANK JOHNSON E veryone of my generation remembers where they were when they first heard of the assassination of Talk. We admirers of the magazine who live in Britain were, of...

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Costa Rica is my haven what the taxman needs is a dose of helpful competition

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CHRISTOPHER FILDES M y tax haven of the year is Costa Rica. Birds, beaches, rainforests, a railway system in need of revival, and a special deal for visitors who bring an...

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Mountains of the Moon

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Septuagenarian Tom Stacey pits himself against the glaciers of the Equator THE other day, when it was still summer in Kensington, I was gripped by a compulsion to climb to the...

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Isle of Wight

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Wight spirit Jonathan Ray I HAD been to the Isle of Wight only once before, about 12 summers ago, for a wedding — an occasion of which I remember very little, except that...

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Golden oldies Matthew Reid BEYOND the Blue Mountains of New South Wales the countryside opens up into the beautiful rolling pastures of the Central Tablelands. It is an...

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Family fortunes Vanessa Tyrell-Kenyon IF YOU are scared of flying, I recommend taking a small child with you: protective instincts are by far the best antidote to selfcentred...

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Round the bend Kit Wharton THE policeman manning the roadblock smiled villainously as he pulled our camper van over, a cigarette in one hand and a machinegun over his...

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Glorious mud

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Mark Palmer JORDAN for Christmas wasn't my idea, but a friend insisted on it. She also made clear that her mother would be joining us and that the main purpose of our stay...

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Birdman of Bevagna Michael McMahon Bevagna, where the mediaeval walls with their gates and towers, and the wonderful little piazza with its Romanesque churches of S. Silvestro...

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All under the influence

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Philip Hensher THOMAS AND JANE CARLYLE: PORTRAIT OF A MARRIAGE by Rosemary Ashton Chatto, £25, pp. 548, ISBN 00701167092 E ven Carlyle's contemporaries occasionally suspected...

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The naming of parts

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Vicki Woods FAME FATALE by Wendy Holden Headline, £10, pp. 378, ISBN 0747272514 THE NEW YOU SURVIVAL KIT by Daisy Waugh HarperCollins, L.5.99, pp. 293, ISBN 0007119062 T he...

The Guy Who Does the Music for Porn Films

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As Christmas carol discs are cut in June And pantomimes are written in July, So those who forge seasons are out of tune With seasons in themselves, and thus am I. When lipstick...

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Everything begins at Calais

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Alberto Manguel SOMETHING TO DECLARE by Julian Barnes Picador, f8.99, pp. 304, ISBN 0330489I6X I n France, local arguments are appropriately called querelles de clocher,...

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The battles of Britain

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M. R. D. Foot WARRIOR RACE by Lawrence James Little, Brown, £25, pp. 864, ISBN 0316857629 T his fat book is a history of the British isles, viewed from their constant...

Manners makyth morals

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Nicholas Fearn A SHORT TREATISE ON THE GREAT VIRTUES by Andre Comte-Sponyille Heinemann, L17.99, pp. 290, ISBN 0434009687 O ne of the paradoxes of the liberal upbringing is...

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Chasing abstract bliss

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Benjamin Yarde-Buller HAPPY MOSCOW by Andrey Platonov Harvill, £9.99, pp. 164, ISBN 186046646X A ndrey Platonov is increasingly being recognised, in Russia and elsewhere, as...

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Russian dolls, each with a secret

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John de Falbe THE SECRET HISTORY OF MODERNISM: A NOVEL by C. K. Stead Harvill, £14.99, pp. 230. ISBN 1860469310 T he main character of C. K. Stead's sophisticated and...

Outing the Fiihrer

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Frederic Raphael THE HIDDEN HITLER by Lothar Macthan, translated by John Brownjohn Basic Books, f10.99, pp. 288, ISBN 0465043089 W hen Nero was in one of his paranoid frenzies,...

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Bright and early

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Clayre Percy YESTERDAY MORNING by Diana Athill Granta, £12.99, pp. 169, ISBN 1862074844 T he dreadfulness of lying was brought home to me when I was four years old.' The...

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The wonderful world of Flashman

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Hugh Mass ingberd COLONEL STANDFAST: THE MEMOIRS OF W. A. TILNEY 1868-1947 edited by Nini Murray-Philipson Michael Russell, £17.95, pp. 205, ISBN 0859552683 I n my round-up of...

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A boy's best correspondent is his mother

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D. J. Taylor LETTERS TO HIS MOTHER, 1920-1924 by Ronald Firbank Maggs, 50 Berkeley Square, London WI, £34.50, pp. 154, ISBN 0901953105 T he appearance of Ronald Firbank's...

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No careless talk in the close

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Jane Gardam SPIES by Michael Frayn Faber, £16.99. pp. 197, ISBN 0571212867 M ichael Frayn's new novel comes disguised as a memory of boyhood experience during the last war,...

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Music that dupes the audience

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Stephen Pettitt believes that because minimalism has lost its radical edge it is now meaningless A around 40 years, the history of minimalist music is a relatively short one....

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Paris: Capital of the Arts 1900-4968 (Royal Academy, till 19 April) Frantic tour Martin Gayford A re cities exhibitable? The evidence seems to be piling up that they are not....

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The Death of Klinghoffer (Barbican) Reflections on hijacking Michael Tanner J ohn's Earbox', the appropriately quirky name given to the weekend of concerts devoted to Adams's...


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Enriched by Brahms Robin Holloway T he 'Pathetic Fallacy', that romantic doctrine whereby the changing weather mirrors the changing moods, invites spirited rebuttal. One...

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Vanilla Sky (15, selected cinemas) Bland but vast Mark Steyn S omehow Tom Cruise has managed to follow the debacle of Eyes Wide Shut with Brain Wide Shut. What the hell was...

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Top Girls (AkIwych) The Alchemist (Riverside Studios) Women trouble Toby Young T op Girls, Caryl Churchill's play about the problems faced by women throughout the ages, is...

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New York Theatre

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Broadway's last first lady Sheridan Morley I n this country, such are the vagaries of showbusiness, Elaine Stritch is famous for two reasons: a long-running odd-couple...

Olden but golden

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The good and the shaming Charles Spencer T he best-laid plans and all that. I settled down last weekend to bring you, as promised, a full report on Bob and Keef's teeth, the...

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Elusive truth James Delmgpole O ne of the things you don't learn from the film version of Black Hawk Down is why Mohamed Farrah Aidid's Habr Gidr clan went to war with America...

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Frightening riddle Michael Vestey T here are several radio and television programmes marking Holocaust Day this year, and among them The Long Train to Lublin on Radio Four...

The turf

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Tale of two Toms Robin Oakley I t is not only with insurance policies and Hollywood marriage contracts that you need to read the small print. It would have been an infinitely...

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High life

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Royal relations Taki T Rougemont here's been so much rubbish published recently about the Queen that I thought it was about time for the poor little Greek boy to also have his...

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Low life

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Caught out Jeremy Clarke I 've moved. On New Year's Day, after yet another row, I drove to the nearest town and rang up all the 'accommodation to let' notices in the...

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FOR our first otter of the New Year, I turned

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to one of our most distinguished wine merchants, Lay & Wheeler of Colchester. Choosing half a dozen wines was easy; we could have put together several offers, all first-rate....

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Water torture

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Rachel Johnson IT WAS about ten on Saturday morning when the doorbell rang. The children were scrimmaging in our basement kitchen, the husband was in Sudan. 'Hi, it's John,'...

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worthy Sebastian Deckker MENTION the word 'mews' and a definite image is conjured up. It is probably that of a narrow cobbled lane lined with attractive cottages, tucked out...

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Rocket man

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Simon Barnes ONE of the eternal illusions of life is that you can become another person by an act of will; that by really trying you can escape from yourself; that you can...

Q. You recently gave your opinion that it is correct

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to address the son of a baronet with his title as soon as his father has died, quoting the principle. 'The King is dead. Long live the King!' This is not so. There is quite a...

Q. Is it fair to ask friends to pull their

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weight and help with washing-up, laying tables etc. during a weekend house party? When my husband and I end up doing all the clearing up as well as everything else, I cannot...

Q. Which fruit is currently fashionable?

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CP., London WI2 A. Pawpaw.