27 DECEMBER 2003

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The Spectator

JANUARY. Two young black women, Letisha Shakespear and Charlene Ellis, were shot dead during a party at a hairdresser's at Aston, Birmingham. Eli Hall, a gunman surrounded by...

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Don't hang Saddam A s we go to press, two prisoners are awaiting their fates in very different circumstances. Ian Huntley, found guilty of the double murder of the Soham...

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L ast Wednesday I went straight

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from Prime Minister's Questions to RAF Brize Norton to catch a VC10 to Iraq. I wanted to thank some of the British troops facing Christmas far from home and also meet as many...

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N ow, I have nothing against the Ministry of Defence, without

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whose historical efforts my plashy fen would undoubtedly by now be a weisseriger Sumpf. And, indeed, there are some within its ancient corridors whom I count as dear friends....

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Whatever happens, the Telegraph must not seem to be edited in Washington

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T here seems scarcely to be a person alive who does not hope to acquire — or know someone who hopes to acquire — the Telegraph group in the coming year. The names of former...

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The triumph of George W. Bush

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Mark Steyn says the armchair insurgents have got it all wrong: the President is winning the war against terror, and the Democrats are facing humiliation in November New...

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Confederacy of dunces

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The European constitution perverts history and geography, says Peter Jones, and is an insult to ancient civilisations N ow that the EU has failed to forge an agreement over its...

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Ancient & modern

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Now that Christmas dinner is a distant memory, it is time to consider Armin Meiwes, on trial in Germany for killing and eating a 'willing' victim, Bernd Brandes. Since the...

Organ minders

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Robert Gore - Langton, whose son was given a new kidney in the summer, praises the NHS and warns against a free trade in spare parts Iv hen a kidney recently went up for sale...

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Stage fright

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Lloyd Evans says that being a theatre critic is not all silver-topped canes and nights of bliss: 28 of the 30-odd shows in the West End are turkeys H elp us! We're under attack...

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Mind your language

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I've just looked up foxglove in Brewer's Dictiontay of Phrase and Fable, not because I expected it to tell me the word's origin, but because I hoped it would give a false...

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Damien, the oak tree and me

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11111111111111111111 Jonathan Bidgood explores his artistic misgivings M y brother, who is wise in the ways of the art world, recently regaled me with an episode in the life...

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Let us assume that we can overcome our jealousy. After

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all, there is little equality in the world of financial gain. What of the more pertinent issue of artistic technique? Could our four-year-old kid really do that, and would it...

Following America's decision to lift tariffs on imported steel, one

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might have expected the European Union to have made a gesture towards free trade. Yet the European Union has just voted to continue a five-year-long moratorium on the import of...

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Honour bound

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Andrew Gimson says that the leaked honours memo reveals the establishment in all its glorious timidity and conformity T he inanity of minuting these conversations! The madness...

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Animal magic

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Cats and dogs can read our minds: Rupert Sheldrake on the mysteries of telepathy I n his book The Lost World of the Kalahari, Sir Laurens van der Post described how Bushmen were...

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ot all women are lazy; some of them

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are interfering bossy boots A ll women hate me. Previously, only the vast majority of them did. Now it's the whole lot. There is no refuge. They come at me from a devilish...

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Incredible statistics

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From Toby Gettins Sir: I congratulate The Spectator on breaking the story on the literally incredible Aids statistics in sub-Saharan Africa ('Africa isn't dying of Aids', 13/20...

Wrong, wrong, wrong

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From Christopher Booker Sir: No critic likes to be caught not having read a book he has reviewed, but John Laughland (Letters, 13/20 December) only confirms my point. In...

Comic grief

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From Colin Bostock-Smith Sir: One of the side effects of taking the antimalarial mefloquine, as referred to in these pages recently Mow to scare a US marine', 29 November), is...

The merry pedant

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From Francis Bennion Sir: If I may correct Mr Craig Brown in a somewhat pedantic way, I would point out that it is not necessary, in order to avoid the clumsy construction 'The...

A move to the Orthodox?

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From Dr Tim Hudson Sir: I think Digby Anderson may be in the wrong Church (`Go to work on Christmas Day... ', 13/20 December). For the Orthodox, 6 January has much more...

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Now it can be told: What the Pope thinks of Cherie Blair

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S earching in the end-of-the-year newspapers for any sign of what the new year would be like, a Daily Telegraph headline struck the eye: 'Get rid of sexism, Cherie tells the...

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Expelled from an atheist's funeral for improper conduct

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A theists' funerals always pose a problem. Where are we speeding them off to? Oblivion? Annihilation? It's all very well calling them a 'celebration'. But death, whatever else...

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Thanks, Uncle Gordon, but no, thank you you're spending the wrong kind of money

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ow sit down and write to Uncle Gordon and thank him nicely for your present. What do you mean, you don't like it? That's no way to talk. Your uncle's very busy, he's got £460...

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After the War was over . . .

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Philip Hensher ABSOLUTE FRIENDS by John le Carre Hodder, £18.99, pp. 383, ISBN 0340832878 No, really, le Carre needs the Cold War, with its bizarre cast and incredible...

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All the sad variety of Hell

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Ian Thomson LONDON: THE WICKED CITY by Fergus Linnane Robson Books, £18.95, pp. 428, ISBN 1861056192 R eaders of Fergus Linnane's earlier book, London's Underworld, will know...

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Getting it mainly right

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James Buchan THE WARS AGAINST SADDAM by John Simpson Macmillan, 120, pp. 415, ISBN 1405032642 T he capture of Saddam Hussein on 13 December at a farmhouse not far from his...

Temples of culture under siege

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Charles Saumarez Smith WHOSE MUSE? ART MUSEUMS AND THE PUBLIC TRUST edited by James Cuno Princeton University Press in association with Harvard University Art Museums, 119.9.5,...

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Much more than a handful

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Nicholas Barrow MULTICOLOURED MAYHEM by Jacqui Jackson Jessica Kingsley, £12.95, pp. 256, ISBN 1843101718 B e fore I read Multicoloured Mayhem, I had watched the television...

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A lighter shade of genius

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Benjamin Davis ALFRED HITCHCOCK: A LIFE IN DARKNESS AND LIGHT by Patrick McGilligan Wiley, £19.99, pp, 850, ISBN 0470869720 A nyone who has ever had a duff interview will feel...

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respecter of reputations

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Jeremy Treglown TWENTIETH-CENTURY ATTITUDES: LITERARY POWERS IN UNCERTAIN TIMES by Brooke Allen Ivan R. Dee, $26, pp. 241, ISBN 1566635209 T o be a great gossip, the American...

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New books from France

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Anita Brookner U nheralded and largely unsung, the Prix Goncourt was announced two weeks early this year, to no very great acclaim: even booksellers seemed indifferent. La...

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Strolling round Siena

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Andrew Lambirth delights in this Tuscan hill town as he explores its countless treasures -vv. e were fortunate with the weather in Siena. At first it was warm enough to sit...

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Cartoon heaven

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Mark Steyn M y favourite screen experience in 2003 was Looney Tunes. No, not Looney Tunes — Back In Action, this year's bigscreen feature in which Warner Brothers demonstrate...

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Sugar-free diet

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Giannandrea Poesio Companhia de Danca Deborah Colker The Barbican The Wind in the Willows Linbuty Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House ll o weeks ago, on my way to the rbican, I...

Punk transformed

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Robin Holloway H ere's an antidote to post-holiday accidie: Mein Herz brennt (My Heart Burns) by the 38-year-old German composer Torsten Rasch. This extraordinary work has...

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Sondheim's genius

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Michael Tanner Sweeney Todd Royal Opera Q pera or not, Sondheim's Sweeney Todd is a musical drama of genius, and one which I am delighted to see staged at the Royal Opera, if...

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Delicious fare

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Toby Young Dinner Wyndhams Les Liaisons Dangereuses Plavhotic Five Gold Rings Almeida Ti e acid test of whether I like a play is if I want to see it again. I first saw Dinner...

Fruitful follies

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Patrick Carnegy All's Well That Ends Well Swan Theatre, Stratford Beauty and the Beast Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford y ou know at once from the title that nothing's...

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Music and politics

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Michael Vestey rrhe use of music by the opposing powers 1 during the Cold War provided enough material for an absorbing programme on Radio Three before Christmas, The Secret...

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Office politics

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James Delingpole E "'Everyone always says how clever it was .L.:.eof John Cleese to have ended FawIty Towers after just 12 episodes, while it was still funny. But it's not...

A hell of a coup

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Talu New York Ai ld now for Rosebud, the single childood incident that will illuminate us as to why Saddam did what he did. His was the kind of life Freudian complexes are...

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Christingle rapping

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Jeremy Clarke M e and my boy and my boy's halfbrother were scoffing our roast pork dinners in manly silence, when my Mum came in, late, from church. She'd stopped off on the...

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Mimi versus Saddam

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Petronella Wyatt T hepart of the world which likes to call itself civilised is facing a problem that seems to be insuperable. That is, what to do with Saddam Hussein? It would...

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I phone my mother to ask if she wants to meet

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in Brent Cross shopping centre for lunch. This, I should add, was in the run-up to Christmas when I'd already been to Brent Cross at least 456 times that week, haemorrhaging...

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A terrible chucker

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MICHAEL HENDERSON Iv hen should a sportsman reveal what is said in the heat of the contest? Some performers would say 'never': what happens on the field, on court or on the...

Q. My wife and I have been blessed with the

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arrival of a delightful baby boy. We have been inundated with soft toys from doting family and friends. We would like to do a cull and send many off to charities but don't wish...

Q. I am the male partner in what is now

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known as a reconstructed family. There are two children with an absent father who comes from a family where table manners are not deemed to be important. The children are...

Q. Is it now considered wrong, in these less sexist

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times, to address Christmas cards to the woman of the household? Should the envelope now bear the names of all those to whom good wishes are being sent? W.T., Devizes,...