26 OCTOBER 2002

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T he Fire Brigades Union announced a 48-hour national strike from 29 October, the first of a series of stoppages in pursuit of a 40 per cent pay rise. About 19,000 servicemen...

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A lly public-sector union contemplating a strike is best advised to start by targeting children's bookshops. It is remarkable how groups of workers who first impinge on the...

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A glorious sunny day in Spain, and I have just been certified a genuine, card-carrying, paid-up cripple. Actually, being an old-age pensioner and a householding resident of...

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This firemen's strike is a climacteric moment for Tony Blair's government PETER °BORNE T ony Blair has been a lucky Prime Minister. Never in his first six years in office has...

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Whatever the buzz, the Times is stuck in a groove STEPHEN GLOVER M y colleague Stuart Reid has been urging me to write about the Times for weeks. 'There's a buzz on the...

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David Marsh sees the political case for joining the euro, but excessive spending has revealed the fundamental flaw — no one is really in charge THE drama of the European...

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The sniper terror has not brought out the best in the American character, says Christopher Caldwell Washington. DC IN the suburbs of Washington these days, you can see men...

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Michael Duffy is happy to report that flag-waving nationalism was absent from the memorial service for the Bali victims Sydney I LIVE near the main road here, running down to...

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Jasper Griffin on the costly dangers of booking online with the airline formerly known as the world's favourite THE more devices we have to make life easier, the more they...

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Mind your language

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MR Roger Broad, a reader who lives in an area of London I would call Westbourne Park, though he might disagree, writes to tell me that a friend of his, born in Istanbul of...


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The Russian bombings of 1999 were blamed on the Chechens, but Jeremy Pulley believes they were planted by the secret police IN the early hours of 23 September 1999 something...

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Rachel Johnson says the scandal over public exam results could end up with Oxbridge suing the Education Secretary TOM HILL, a 19-year-old Marlburian (and son of parents with...

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Banned wagon

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A weekly survey of the things our rulers want to prohibit GIVEN a straight choice between the two, few would dissent from Winston Churchill's adage that to jaw-jaw is better...


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Rod Liddle says his friends have been scandalised by recent newspaper reports that he is a 'regular Anglican churchgoer' I'VE just emerged from a most peculiar couple of...

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Amrit Dhillon finds that rural democracy in India is malicious, petty and unimaginably cruel New Delhi IT sounds idyllic. Village councils. Grassroots democracy. The words...

Second opinion

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IS man a product more of his genes than of his environment? Oceans of ink, and even some blood, have been spilt over this question. I have thought of a new solution to this...

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Victoria Kaulback crossed the Channel in search of glamour and romance, and found a land of humourless conformity Paris I THINK I have been had. Like someone who has just read...

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Ancient & modern

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LORD ARCHER, now serving four years for perjury, has been shocked to find that jails are full of criminals, living in cells fitted with bars and steel doors. So he is writing a...

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Fill in the form and open up your bank account Big Brother is keeping a database CHRISTOPHER FILDES T o convince your bank that you are who you say you are, send in your gas...

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An American Leviathan to prevent life becoming nasty, brutish and short PAUL JOHNSON I predict that an influential tome in the 21st century will be Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan...

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Why did Alastair attack me so ferociously? And why doesn't the BBC employ him as an interviewer? MATTHEW PARRIS T hreatening letters on 10 Downing Street-headed notepaper are...

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Scott on Scott

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From Mr Jeremy Scott Sir: I was interested to read the piece by Barrie Penrose (lack Straw's nocturnal delving', 19 October) on the curious Norman Scott/Jeremy Thorpe affair....

Art v. homes and jobs

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From Mr Lance Cantor Sir: As an antidote to your magazine's usual conservative tone, it was refreshing to read Andrew Gimson's recent article ('A distant mirror', 12 October)...

Have them young

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From Lisa Arai Sir: I endorse Michael Hanlon's sentiments (`Baby gloom', 19 October). Teenage fertility is not necessarily a bad thing; an 18or 19-year-old is well suited to...

Desperate, moi?

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From Mr Philippe Le Com Sir: Peter Oborne (Politics, 19 October) referred to the Foreign Press Association as a 'fine Nash establishment, hard by the Turf Club, which has been...

The balance of terror

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From Mr Michael Dommett Sir: I have recently returned from ten months' working in Northern Ireland between Bangor and Belfast. While appreciating that it wasn't a largely...

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Room at the bottom

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From Mr Wilfred De'Ath Sir: John Mortimer, in his review of The Angry Young Men (Books, 12 October), says that the novelist John Braine 'ended up happy with his fine car and...

No end to referendums

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From Mr Alan Pavelin Sir: You argue (Leading article, 19 October) that, because the Irish Republic has already voted No to the Nice Treaty, it is somehow undemocratic to run...

Islam's militant women

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From Penny M. Russell Sir: With regard to Mark Steyn's article (`They want to kill us all', 19 October), having lived in the Islamic community in the US by virtue of my marriage...

Ginkgos from the ashes

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From Mr Stephen Bather Sir: The excellent Dr Oliver Rackham remarks in his review of Thomas Pakenham's new tree book (Books, 12 October) that the ginkgo at Tokyo's Zempukuji...

Currie a la carte

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From Mr Claus von Bulow Sir: Rod Liddle (Thought for the day, 19 October) points out that a number of Muslim countries would have stoned Edwina Currie rather than reward her...

Baited by badgers

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From Mr Ross Renwick Sir: Some time ago I read in The Spectator of someone who lay awake worrying about badgers. I, too, now lie awake worrying about badgers. Can anyone tell me...

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Faithful after his fashion

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Graham Stewart THE LAST DIARIES by Alan Clark, edited by Ion Trewin Weidenfeld. 00, pp. 405, ISBN 0297607146 T here is doubtless some passing pleasure to be had in making it...

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Every day a day for politics

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Philip Ziegler DIARIES 1991-2001: FREE AT LAST by Tony Benn, edited by Ruth Winstone Hutchinson, £25, pp. 738, ISBN 0091793521 I n his 76 years of active political life (he is...

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Outer and inner space

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Jane Ridley REMAKING THE LANDSCAPE edited by Jennifer Jenkins Profile Books, ,f20, pp. 298. ISBN 1861973756 T his collection of essays is timely, often sensible, sometimes...

Voices in the next room

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Lucy Hughes-Hallett THINGS MY MOTHER NEVER TOLD ME by Blake Morrison Chatto, £16.99, pp. 341, ISBN 0701173432 A fter his father died Blake Morrison wrote an emotive and bravely...

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A cold eye and a warm heart

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Caroline Moorehead THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS by Kate Adie Headline, £20, pp. 373. ISBN 0755310721 A s a child, Kate Adie never wanted to be a girl guide, because she dreaded...

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Falling among fans

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Byron Rogers A PRISON DIARY by FF 8282 Macmillan, £14.99, pp. 259, ISBN 1405020946 I remember the day, the time, the place. Discussing the world's news with the village...

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The strange lure of the nauseating

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Nigel Spivey

TRANSGRESSIONS: THE OFFENCES OF ART by Anthony Julius Thames & Hudson, £24.95, pp. 272, ISBN 0500237999

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T he obvious comment to make about modern transgressive art is that it has nowhere to go. All the boundaries have been crossed. As foul language now runs in the flow of most...

Putting the ha back in Ithaca

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Patrick Skene Catling CASSANDRA'S DISK by Angela Green Peter Owen, £10.95, pp. 262. ISBN 072061144X Y es,' writes the eponymous narrator of this exceptionally clever,...

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Back in form and Africa

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Sara Wheeler DARK STAR SAFARI by Paul Theroux Hamish Hamilton, £17.99, pp. 512, ISBN 024114048X B ack in the far-off 1970s, Paul Theroux put travel writing back on the map for...

Angels and ministers of grace

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Elisa Segrave VIRGINIA WOOLF'S WOMEN by Vanessa Curtis Robert Hale, £20, pp. 224, ISBN 0709069464 D espite its provocative title, this is not a salacious book. Any reader...

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Having things both ways

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John Bayley NATASHA'S DANCE by Orlando Figes Penguin, £25, pp. 728, ISBN 0713995173 I t all comes out of War and Peace? Well, Tolstoy makes a good starting-point anyway for...

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The unvarnished picture

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Hugh Massingberd 'THE UNEXPURGATED BEATON introduced by Hugo Vickers Weidenfeki, £25, pp. 418. ISBN 0297645994 W hat-ho,' says an Excess sub-editor appreciatively as Simon...

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An intolerant sort of liberal

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Digby Anderson JOHN HENRY NEWMAN: THE CHALLENGE TO EVANGELICAL RELIGION by Frank M. Turner Yale, £25, pp. 740. ISBN 0300092512 I n 1845 Newman was received into the Roman...

Lingerings of the Cheshire cat

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Turner's pubic studies still troubling Ruskin's heart; That second-best bed of type. Ann Hathaway's Sure Start; Tell them in Lacedaemon we forgot to bring our cameras; Fish...

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Southern Gothic revenge

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Anita Brookner THE LITTLE FRIEND by Donna Tartt Bloomsbury. £16.99, pp. 555, ISBN 0747562113 T he Secret History', Donna Tartt's first novel, marked the most astonishing...

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Turin's jewel-box

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in the s ky Robin Simon on a remarkable new gallery designed by Renzo Piano above Fiat's former factory t is not every day that an exhibition of just 25 works of art is...

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Madame de Pompadour (National Gallery, till 12 January 2003) Rococo glamour Martin Gayford A , the beginning of last week I went to the party at the V&A which inaugurated the...

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Chabrier's gems Robin Holloway F rom the very first track of the 43 in Hyperion's new two-CD set with all songs, the idio m Chabrier's so and accent are bl unmistakae. However...

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Astute recipe for success

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Tom Sutcliffe on three little-known but enjoyable operas in this year's Wexford Festival Y ou still get the Angelus at noon and at six in Ireland on RTE's Radio One. Last...

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St Francois d'Assise (San Francisco) Spiritual exaltation Michael Tanner N othing could be a more confident sign from a new operatic administration than putting on Messiaen's...

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The Maids, Theaterhaus Stuttgart (Barbican Pit) Lust and lyricism Giannandrea Poesio I ntertextuality is a fashionable word in the performing arts, commonly and erroneously...

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Twelfth Night (Donmar Warehouse) Mrs Warren's Profession (Strand) Elaine Stritch At Liberty (The Old Vic) Dreamy romance Toby Young welfth Night is yet another triumph for...


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Coming Homes (RIBA. 66 Portland Place. till 11 January) Steps into the future Al an Powers T he new housing at Chorlton Park, Manchester for the Irwell Housing Association,...

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High Crimes (12A, selected cinemas) Where's the flesh? Mark Steyn I f Hollywood ever totally collapses, films like High Crimes will be the reason why. Not that there's...

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Pretty gruesome Michael Vestey

N o doubt we all tend to see ourselves in different

The Spectator

ways to how others see us but in the case of John, now Lord Birt, the former director general of the BBC, the gap is breathtakingly wide. This became clear during his appearance...

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Hectic desperation Simon Hoggart I went to a party given by the BBC this week to launch its Great Britons series. It was an excellent thrash, attended by lots of celebrities...

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The turf

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Classic mistakes Robin Oakley R acehorse trainers don't come any shrewder than Barry Hills. If Barry perseveres with a horse there's usually a good reason, as he has shown...

High life

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Nobel rivals Taki MNew York y friend George Szamuely, the writer, is mad as hell and won't take it any more. The reason for Szamuely's anger is simple. When he heard over the...

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Low life

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Prisoner in toilet C Jeremy Clarke I was going up to BBC Bristol by train, to write and record voice-links for an audio diary kept by a long-term unemployed Buddhist woman who...

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Tripping up in Venice

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Petronella Wyatt I arrived in Venice recently to find the city virtually under water. They had put up those wooden boards for walking across the sodden piazzas, which may suit...

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Michael Gove FOR the English, argues Richard Littlejohn, multiculturalism means always having to say you're sorry. For the Londoner, especially in Notting Hill,...

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OUR old friend Simon Wrightson of Manfield Grange, North Yorkshire, has provided this offer, which includes four excellent wines and two which I think are quite superb. Oddly...

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Bat and baton

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Michael Henderson IT can be an enclosed world, sportswriting, but some of us get out now and again to admire the delights of neighbouring parishes. So it was with great joy...


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Q. My social life and my job depend to a degree on my contacts with the aristocracy. During a recent visit to a stately home, I had an unfortunate reaction to alcohol and rich...