26 MAY 2007

Page 5

Delusions of grandeur

The Spectator

H ere is what Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, told a Fabian Society and Progress debate for the Labour deputy leadership contenders on 16 May: ‘For our party audience, if...

Page 9

T his week I’m going to the Hayon-Way literary festival to

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take part in a discussion following the showing of a documentary made for BBC4 by Charlie Russell. It’s called The Last Year of my Life . Mine, that is. It was filmed over the...

Page 10

Cameron has a good case: shame he’s got diverted by the grammar schools row

The Spectator

F or some time, David Cameron has been looking for an unpopular education policy. To be heard, he believes, one needs to be attacked. He has already been denounced for his ‘hug...

Page 11

A question unasked in all this row about the Conservatives and

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grammar schools is, ‘ Why did the Tories, in power for 22 of the 42 years since Labour first tried to make comprehensives compulsory, never bring grammar schools back?’ The...

Page 13


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SUNDAY Most exciting day ever : had to activate the Early Warning System! First time it’s been done!! I knew as soon as I saw the headlines on grammar schools that I would have...

Page 14

The purpose of life is happiness: so fight the new enemies of fun

The Spectator

Boris Johnson issues a clarion call against the new Puritanism of the coming Brown era, in which risk, pleasure, bunking off, poetry and all forms of play will be imperilled Y...

Page 16

Social mobility should be the Tory priority

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Greg Clark and Jeremy Hunt , both Conservative frontbenchers, respond to the grammar schools row with a four-point plan to restore hope to the least advantaged W hatever...

Page 18

The man with Afghanistan’s fate in his hands

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Dan McNeill, Nato’s commander in Kabul, tells Heidi Kingstone that even a ‘hard-bitten dude’ faces a struggle to make the liberated country function as an orderly society D an...

Page 19

Mind your language

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We have enjoyed, or not, a certain amount of hoo-ha about whether Scotland should be independent. But independent from what? What is this country called? In 1604 James VI of...

Page 20

Happy birthday to my friend John Wayne

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Iain Johnstone celebrates the centenary of the ‘Duke’ and recalls a memorable holiday off the Mexican coast with the toupee-less Hollywood legend H ad he lived, John Wayne would...

Page 22

I agree with the BBC about MPs’

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expenses. But it should be neutral Rod Liddle says that the Corporation has no right to adopt a position on an issue such as David Maclean’s private member’s bill, and should...

Page 24

Is it right to aspire?

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Sir: According to your leading article, ‘The Tory party is a party of aspiration or it is nothing’ (19 May). If this means that the Tory party is a party in the interest...

Sir: Congratulations on your leading article. I have today resigned

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my membership of the Conservative party. As an ex-grammar school boy, from modest circumstances, who gained a place at Oxford and is now in a professional occupation, I cannot...

An interest in war

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Sir: I read Andrew Roberts’s Biggles-like comments in Blair: A Modern Tragedy (12 May) with amazement, given the still-deepening catastrophe in Iraq as reported week by week....

Vaccines don’t kill

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Sir: Whatever the cause, the deaths of Harry and Christopher Clark were a tragedy, as was that of their mother. Their family has our sympathy. Neville Hodgkinson argues (‘What...

Dim sum

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Sir: Charles Moore asks what name should be given to the ‘dumbing down’ which threatens to reverse the Renaissance (Spectator’s Notes, 19 May). Then, reborn learning replaced...

Page 26

At the Oval, I reflected once again on John Major’s remarkable legacy as PM

The Spectator

C ricket. Aargh. My gorge rises at the very word. Days — months — years of schoolboy misery; long, wretched, empty afternoons of boredom, fear and wasted time. Which is no way...

Page 28

Why we don’t know who killed Cock Robin

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T hat fierce neighbouring cat, which has killed or scared off our mice, has not yet destroyed our robin. Cats do not enjoy eating robins. If they do so by mistake, they vomit....

Page 30

A very expensive drop of Scotch

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Simon Nixon tours the distilleries of Speyside and takes the opportunity to ask whether the Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya was wise to spend £525 million on Whyte & Mackay D...

Page 32

The joy of coaching

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Julia Hobsbawm The Daily Telegraph estimated last month that roughly a third of the bosses of FTSE 100 companies use a personal coach — ‘and not the guy who tells them to do...

Page 34

A paradise for bookworms

The Spectator

Joanna Pitman visits Maggs, the antiquarian booksellers, and learns how to build a library that will rise in value I magine coming across a book that has lain untouched for 100...

Page 36

Hot tips in the World Bank stakes: Blair, Bono, Clarkson ... but not me

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S hortly after the death of John Paul II in 2005, the wise and amiable Father Dominic Milroy, former prior of the Benedictine college in Rome, leant across a dinner table and...

Page 38

An unpromising land

The Spectator

Philip Hensher T HE Y IDDISH P OLICEMEN ’ S U NION by Michael Chabon Fourth Estate, £17.99, pp. 432,, ISBN 9780007150393 V £14.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T he enjoyment...

Page 39

Part of the wreckage

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D. J. Taylor B ETWEEN E ACH B REATH by Adam Thorpe Cape, £16.99, pp. 419, ISBN 9780224074988 ✆ £13.59 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 E xercised by the need to establish exactly...

Page 40

The voice of moderation

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Richard Beeston T HE I SLAMIST by Ed Husain Penguin, £8.99, pp. 288, ISBN 9780141030432 ✆ £7.19 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 A bu Suleiman looks back on his time in al-Qaeda...

Page 41

Fearless freedom fighter

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P. D. James W RITING IN AN A GE OF S ILENCE by Sara Paretsky Verso, £12.99, pp. 192, ISBN 9781844671229 ✆ £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 S ara Paretsky is one of the...

Deep, dark truths revealed

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Francis King W INTERTON B LUE by Trezza Azzopardi Picador, £12.99, pp. 268, ISBN 9780330493505 ✆ £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 A few nights ago I was at a dinner party...

Page 42

Last but not least

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Noble Frankland E NDGAME 1945 by David Stafford Little, Brown, £20, pp. 448, ISBN 9780316727945 ✆ £16 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 O f six million Russian soldiers captured...

Page 43

Uncomfortable home truths

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Matthew Dennison W HEN W E W ERE B AD by Charlotte Mendelson Picador, £12.99, pp. 320, ISBN 9780330449298 ✆ £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 I n a large house in north...

Page 44

A romantic looks back

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Lee Langley I NDIA ’ S U NENDING JOURNEY by Mark Tully Rider, £14.99, pp.288, ISBN 97818460401717 ✆ £11.99 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T he unending journey of this book...

Page 45

Pigs in clover

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Cressida Connolly O UR F ARM : A Y EAR IN THE L IFE OF A SMALLHOLDING by Rosie Boycott Bloomsbury, £15.99, pp. 304, ISBN 9780747588979 ✆ £12.79 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655...

Page 46

The wild one

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Caroline Baum was the last journalist to interview the writer Lesley Blanch, who died earlier this month Y ou can hardly blame a woman of 102 for being a bit hazy when it comes...

Page 47

Ordering the steps of the Dance . . .

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W riting a novel is a voyage into unknown territory. (Reading one is also, of course.) The author explores possibilities. To some extent even those novels which seem far removed...

Page 48

‘The name is Elder, not Elgar’

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A large portrait of Mark Elder hangs backstage at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. It’s not a flattering representation; in it the Hallé’s music director looks tired,...

Page 49

Inspiration to young artists

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Mary Wakefield meets Kay Saatchi and learns about her new exhibition H ow do you react to the news that Kay Hartenstein Saatchi, ex-wife of Charles, the woman who helped to...

Page 50

Destroying the past

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Andrew Lambirth A Slap in the Face! Futurists in Russia Estorick Collection, 39a Canonbury Square, London N1, until 10 June F uturism was originally an Italian manifestation in...

Page 52

Talent spotting

The Spectator

Robin Holloway A n officially commissioned company history: recipe for yawns! Most such hardly amount to more than an exercise in corporate piety with surreptitious...

Page 54

Surtitle fatigue

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Lloyd Evans Three Sisters Barbican Big White Fog Almeida Terre Haute Trafalgar Studios S trange business walking into the Three Sisters at the Barbican. A vast new temporary...

Laughter unbecoming

The Spectator

Michael Tanner Macbeth Glyndebourne Acis and Galatea St John’s Smith Square Amadigi di Gaula Barbican T he Glyndebourne season began this year in a striking fashion, with a new...

Page 56

Expensive pantomime

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Deborah Ross Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End 12A, Nationwide T he first two Pirates films were such huge worldwide successes — together, they grossed more than $1.5...

End of the World

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Kate Chisholm I t’s your last chance this afternoon to catch one of the best programmes on Radio Four, guaranteed to come up each week with something a bit different: an...

Page 58

Lots in a name

The Spectator

Simon Hoggart W hen we lived in Washington, the local NBC News always ended with Bob Ryan’s Weather . Not God’s weather, or even the more modest ‘Bob Ryan’s Weather Forecast’....

Don’t make me tile the sea

The Spectator

Robin Oakley S adly the racing season both for purebred Arabians and even for camels was over when I was in Qatar last weekend. But I did discover that Arab mums, like British...

Page 59

Bad taste in ‘ladies’

The Spectator

Taki New York T he funny thing about Sarkozy being president of France is not his size, but his family. His father, Pal Sarkozy, used to frequent the same nightclubs as I did...

Page 60

Twice blessed

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Jeremy Clarke O n the last day of the football season we were away to Manchester United and we wanted at least a draw to be safe from relegation. Lose, and we were cast off...

Page 61

Community spirit

The Spectator

Roy Hattersley L ast weekend Arcadia was en fête . The annual flower festival in the church was, as always, quietly dignified and demonstrated both the artistic ingenuity and...

Page 62

L MNT is in Hackney, on the grubby Queensbridge Road near

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grubby Dalston and exactly opposite a vast estate that is so boarded up it’s not so much ‘sink’ as ‘sunk’. ‘Oops,’ I think, as we park up. I am with my brother and my...

Page 64

It’s a beautiful way

The Spectator

Rachel Johnson gets high on food in San Francisco I have just returned from San Francisco. I loved everything about it. I loved Castro, the men in leather vests and sex shops...

Page 65

The art of horsemanship

The Spectator

Jenny Wilhide rides the classical way in Portugal O n weekends my husband and I haul our legs from under our desks and spend a few hours on horseback in the country. It’s a lot...

Page 66

All in the family

The Spectator

James Delingpole explores the hidden, unspoilt treasures of the Costa Blanca ‘D o you think we’ve made a terrible mistake?’ I said to the Fawn as we studied the map of Spain’s...

Page 68

A tale of two cities

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I f you take the red-eye flight from London to Moscow you’ll arrive at 4.55 a.m. local time, but it’s worth it for the empty drive from the airport at Domodedovo into the city....

Page 69

China blues

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Molly Watson I think you can rate the success of any trip abroad by how relieved and happy you feel to be home as your plane makes its final approach to land you back in...

Page 70

Coup de théâtre

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Michael McMahon There are two invaluable rules for a special correspondent — Travel Light and Be Prepared ... remember that the unexpected always happens. Evelyn Waugh, Scoop...

Page 79

The boy wonder

The Spectator

FRANK KEATING F asten your ear-muffs for a deafening weekend — din and dissonance, vrooms and fumes. Around Silverstone, lock up your dogs and daughters while the leaning,...

Dear Mary

The Spectator

Q. I will be celebrating a ‘milestone’ birthday this summer and marking the event with a cocktail party for 60 one evening and a dinner for 100 on another. Having lived in...

Q. The other night I gave my guests a very

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good wine costing £40 a bottle. They drank it without commenting. I wonder whether there was any way in which I could have made them pay greater attention to what they were...

Q. My children refuse to take waterproof coats to school.

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If they do take them, they leave them at school and then get caught in cloudbursts on the way home. I have asked the school to insist that the pupils are wearing their...