27 AUGUST 2005

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PORTRAIT OFTHEWEEK T he news blackout that Downing Street had asked

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newspapers to impose about the whereabouts of Mr Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, on holiday, supposedly for reasons of security, was broken by the man himself when he popped up...

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Tolerating terror

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‘M y point to you is this,’ Tony Blair said of terrorists last month, ‘It’s time we stopped saying “OK, we abhor their methods but we kinda see something in their ideas or maybe...

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B y the time you read this, England and Australia will

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be playing at Trent Bridge, and the news may be good. Or bad. Channel 4 reported record viewing figures for the first three Ashes Tests. Barely countable millions, it seems,...

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Why David Cameron has decided to copy Tony Blair

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A ugust has been a very bad month for Tony Blair. A mood of surly, pettish despair has overtaken the Labour party. Ministers, protected by official cars and red boxes, are...

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W hat was amazing about John Ware’s ‘A Question of Leadership’

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on Panorama last Sunday was that it has taken nearly four years since 11 September for such a programme to be made. It simply and successfully did the basic journalistic job of...

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Hop off, you Aussies

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James Hughes-Onslow on how the humiliating ordeal of an Australian friend at Stansted illustrates the rudeness and incompetence of British immigration officers ‘I ndividuals...

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Don’t blame the neocons

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Brendan O’Neill on how al-Qa’eda became the armed wing of Western liberal opinion I t has become fashionable to say one of two things about al-Qa’eda (or to say both of them, if...

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Ancient & modern

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These days the ability to understand and explain in public prints the aims of the people perceived as public enemies is likely to get you deported. So one wonders what our...

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Gunning for game-shooting

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Simon Heffer on the latest front in the war against field sports T he first fortnight of the shooting season has not been as auspicious as it might have been. This is not just...

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Mind your language

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I think that, like a hosepipe ban, we might just be spared the permanent establishment of the term 7/7. After all, some people were inexplicably fond of the phrase Y2K, meaning...

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Armed liberals

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Rod Liddle says that there is a nasty whiff of New Labour about Sir Ian Blair and his police force A little earlier this week there were 21 Metropolitan Police officers hanging...

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Why America is not a Christian country

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The consensus on both Left and Right is that Americans are uniquely religious. But, says Thomas Fleming , the consensus is wrong Rockford, Illinois P resident Bush’s remark...

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Scotch myth

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From Robert Westbrook Sir: Andrew Neil’s lament at the decline of the so-called ‘Tartan Raj’ (‘The last days of the Tartan Raj’, 20 August) is a Scottish view of what, to the...

Wrong about us

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From Andrew Murray Sir: The article on the anti-war movement by Douglas Davis (‘United in hate’, 20 August) contains a number of factual errors. Muhammad Aslam Ijaz is not, and...

Doubly ungallant

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From Matthew Hall Sir: While normally an admirer of Mark Steyn’s abrasive and incisive style, his assertion (‘Hold your tears’, 20 August) that Cindy Sheehan, the anti-war...

Music sans frontières

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From Leon Kriez Sir: Roger Scruton’s moving description of music’s inherent cosmopolitanism (‘The sound of silence’, 20 August) could not have been more poignantly illustrated...

English, actually

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From Marcus Pitcaithly Sir: Elisabeth O’Flynn has misremembered (Letters, 20 August). The chorus to ‘Song of Patriotic Prejudice’ goes, ‘The English [not British] are best’....

Awful August

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From Nigel Farndale Sir: I know what Charles Moore means about August being a depressing month (The Spectator’s Notes, 20 August). For me the autumnal mood arrives when I...

Spectator for Schools Our new Spectator for Schools scheme aims

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to provide schools across the country with a free subscription to the magazine. So far 600 schools have registered. Readers are invited to contribute £30 towards the postage for...


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4 days / 3 nights from £495pp Explore the vibrant city of Madrid while staying at the 5-star Ritz, owned by the Orient-Express, and the hotel of choice for visiting royalty and...

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To make tax simple, low and compulsory, get at it with the heavy roller

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I t is all the fault of the fairy who came, uninvited, to Gordon Brown’s christening. Beside the scowling infant’s Moses basket, his godparents’ gifts of industry and ambition...

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It is as well that Mr Blair did not in the end go to Blackpool for his holiday

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Nr Pézenas, Departement de L’Hérault R andom thoughts from midAugust abroad; not that they should be all that random. Now that BBC News 24, Sky and CNN can be viewed in the...

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The ayatollah of atheism and Darwin’s altars

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H ow long will Darwin continue to repose on his high but perilous pedestal? I am beginning to wonder. Few people doubt the principles of evolution. The question at issue is: are...

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Lying abroad for her country

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Jane Ridley T HE P RINCESS AND THE P OLITICIANS : S EX , I NTRIGUE AND D IPLOMACY , 1812–1840 by John Charmley Viking, £20, pp. 350, ISBN 0670889644 ✆ £18 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870...

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Chilblains in the Cotswold

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Juliet Townsend B ERTIE , M AY AND M RS F ISH by Xandra Bingley HarperCollins, £14.99, pp. 225, ISBN 0007149506 V £12.99 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848 O ne day in 1941 an...

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Lessons in French humour

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Patrick Skene Catling NICHOLAS by René Goscinny and Jean-Jacques Sempé Phaidon, £12.95, pp. 127, ISBN 0714844829 ✆ £11.95 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848 W hen publishers keep a...

Why Rome fell

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Ian Garrick Mason T HE F ALL OF R OME AND THE E ND OF C IVILIZATION by Bryan Ward-Perkins OUP, £14.99, pp. 239, ISBN 0192805649 ✆ £12.99 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848 T HE F...

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Best of friends

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James Fleming D UCKS , G EESE AND S WANS edited by Janet Kear OUP, Volumes I and II, £150 the set, pp. 908, ISBN 0198546459 B irds are our pals. They awaken us, sing us happy...

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The battles of a lively young cub

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D. R. Thorpe I N THE M IDST OF E VENTS : T HE F OREIGN O FFICE D IARIES AND P APERS OF K ENNETH Y OUNGER , F EBRUARY 1950– O CTOBER 1951 edited by Geoffrey Warner Routledge,...

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Foul play in Hull

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Andrew Taylor S WAN S ONG by Robert Edric Doubleday, £16.99, pp. 351, ISBN 0385605781 ✆ £14.99 (plus £2.25 p&p) 0870 800 4848 I t is always interesting to see what happens when...

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Pyramid of negatives

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Lloyd Evans is shocked, surprised and amused by what he finds at the Edinburgh Festival I t’s good that an arts festival should ask a question of its host city. Not so good...

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Look back with pleasure

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Andrew Lambirth 1979 Bloomberg SPACE, 50 Finsbury Square, EC2, until 17 September T he Bloomberg Space on the edge of Finsbury Square is a fine ground-floor gallery with...

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Discreet charm

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Michael Tanner Iolanta Proms W elsh National Opera gave three concert performances of Tchaikovsky’s last opera Iolanta in the latter part of last season, and brought it to the...

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Captain Cook country

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Russell Chamberlin T here’s an irritating tendency by some local authorities to follow the deplorable example set by the Local Government Act of 1972 and give madeup names to...

Seamless flow

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Giannandrea Poesio Ballet Nacional de Cuba: Giselle; Magia de la Danza Sadler’s Wells Theatre I am always thrilled by a good performance of Giselle , especially when it is...

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Whose work is it anyway?

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Robin Holloway I have no vivid musical experiences this month with which to divert or instruct. Rather than cancel, I’ll spin something out of nothing: an invisible gymslip if...

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Under the greenwood tree

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Patrick Carnegy As You Like It Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon T he beguiling charm of Rosalind and her love-games as ‘Ganymede’ with the earthy Orlando, the...

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Bad language

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Michael Vestey O n the face of it, an exercise to record voices across the country might be considered worthwhile, if only to see how dialects and accents change and how they...

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Devastating tactics

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James Delingpole I spent most of last Sunday evening yelling insults at my TV screen. ‘Berk!’ I shouted. ‘Twat!’ Then later, ‘Oily creep!’ ‘Traitor!’ ‘Tosser!’ The first person...

Celebrity culture

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Taki Gstaad S artre famously called hell other people, and he had not even been on a boat anchored next to a gin palace during the month of August. Yachting in the Med used to...

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Fantasy football

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Jeremy Clarke T o the Apollo Cinema in the West End for the press screening of Green Street , a mainstream US-financed film, directed by former German kick-boxing champion Lexi...

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Africa’s Afghanistan

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Aidan Hartley ‘H ello? Hello?’ I am dictating this to my wife by sat phone from a secret location in the Gulf of Aden. I am embedded with Allied forces on the frontline of the...

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P rivate Cellar is a new company, based near Newmarket, and run by three former employees of our old friends Corney & Barrow. Their first list is short but carefully cho sen,...

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The Lion of Vienna

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FRANK KEATING C ricket’s ongoing red-hot Ashes opera has had the soccer season deferentially tiptoeing into its autumn overtures, but a backlash will be rude and raucous all...

Q. My husband and I were guests at a fiveday

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house party in Scotland. Most of the other guests were heavy drinkers and on the first night one of them actually entered our bedroom in the middle of the night and got into our...

Q. I always try to travel by budget airlines because

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I adore guiltlessly spending the saving on clothes. In my experience the budget airlines are just as reliable regarding time-keeping and I buy my own Pret A Manger food at the...

Q. My wife and I are nearing an anniversary of

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our wedding, which in our circle is usually marked by a champagne reception. We have many friends living locally whom we would like to invite. However, we feel that this is an...