27 JANUARY 1996

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Suggestions to the IRA on what to do with decommissioned weapons M iss Harriet Hannan, Labour's shad- ow Health Secretary, said she was sending one of her sons to a selective...

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If you want to understand Harriet Harman, you only have to look in her eyes BRUCE ANDERSON A astair Campbell, Tony Blair's press spokesman, is a clever fellow and was...

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ANNA FORD A fter my confession last week that a performance of Le Cirque du Soleil had inspired me to run away and join the circus as a trapeze artist, the Daily Express rang to...

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Reflections on a week spent in front of the box AUBERON WAUGH I t required a scene from Coronation Street, where a character called Trish Arm- strong faced prison after...

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Geoffrey Howe, inquiring into an inquiry, says that neither the Attorney-General's reputation, nor Mr Waldegrave's, or any other minister's, should depend on the Scott report...

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Richard Cobb, says his pupil David Gilmour, had definite views on who and what were the Good Things in life `DO YOU think they make wigs in Spain?' Richard Cobb asked me a few...

Mind your language

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WHEN James Murray was editing the New English Dictionary a century ago he complained half humorously that the shortest words required the longest treatment — put took 21...

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James Hughes - Onslow was £500 in the red; the machine ate his card; he asked Drummonds how he differed from the Duchesss of York TROUBLE at t'hole in t'wall last week....

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If symptoms

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persist.. . THERE IS a brand of insanity, or so it is alleged, which consists in this: that the sufferer, so-called, does not know the difference between right and wrong. This...


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Roy Kerridge visits the Newbury protesters, and finds them little loved in the countryside they are trying to save WHEN I heard about the demonstrations against the...

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Fifty years ago

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There has been considerable curiosity as to who was responsible for the brilliant idea of holding the Government's offi- cial dinner to the U.N.O. delegates in the Painted Hall...

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. . . we have no convictions today. Anne McElvoy finds Harriet Harman is just like the rest of us SPARE HARRIET Harman your censure, you opinion-mongers of the Right who view...

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Why the Queen is right to choose the Hodder Valley as a last dwelling place PAUL JOHNSON A ri item of news which arrested me last week was an announcement in the Times that...

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The great British pig gets its 57,800 calories in time for next year's show CHRISTOPHER FILDES I f the British economy were a prize pig — as in so many ways it is — you could...

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Sir: Of the older post-war scholars and per- formers of

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baroque and Renaissance music few have a more distinguished record than Denis Stevens, nobody would deny that; equally, nobody who knows him would ever assert that he was a...

LETTERS A Portillista replies

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Sir: Your magazine is becoming so obsessed with Mr Michael Portillo that, as something of a Portillista myself, I am mild- ly encouraged. The article by Mr Bruce Anderson...

Not charm enough

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Sir: Denis Stevens's attack on the personal- ities of a succession of Heather Professors and the performance of the Oxford Music Faculty over the last 50 years CA little light-...

Sir: Professor Stevens knows that the dead cannot sue for

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slander and therefore turns his gratuitously rough tongue on Sir Jack Westrup and Denis Arnold. That Professor Stevens has a deep dislike of Oxford's Fac- ulty of Music is no...

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Greek meets Greek

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Sir: I believe it was Michael Frayn who said journalists who use irony do so at their peril. Professor Jasper Griffin of Balliol (Letters, 18 January) is not a journalist, so...

Low fliers

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Sir: I was surprised that Sir Simon Towne- ley (Letters, 20 January) should think that the second Marquis of Ripon deserves to be called the 'best shot in England' for hav- ing...

That's Shell!

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Sir: Anne McElvoy (`The moral maze', 13 January) merrily takes to task both business and its critics, and wins two cheers from this side. Of course, your cartoons of Old Nick in...


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Sir: My former colleague Charles Powell claims (`The Mitterrand I knew', 13 Jan- uary) to have spent more time in the com- pany of President Mitterrand than any other...

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My message to the young: it's easier to become a Silk or an ambassador than an editor or columnist STEPHEN GLOVER I was going to write about Max Hastings, the newly appointed...

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A weakness for gossip Byron Rogers ELIZABETH by Sarah Bradford Heinemann, £20, pp. 564 Y ou may remember the bolt action of the adjectives with which the Earl of Clarendon...

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Coup de Grass

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Christian Caryl EIN WEITES FELD by Gunter Grass Steidl Verlag, Gottingen, DM 49.80, pp. 781 I magine that you're a left-leaning writer and you want to write a novel satirising...

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Don't lose your voice

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John Bayley THE ANTI-EGOIST: KINGSLEY AMIS, MAN OF LEI-YEAS by Paul Fussell OUP, £14.99, pp. 206 P honey. An almost obsolete word? It obsessed Kingsley Amis and his generation...

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Making simplicity a grace

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John McEwen DIRT AND DEITY by Ian McIntyre HarperCollins, £20, pp. 461 T his year marks the bicentenary of Robert Bums's death, a global event promising an avalanche of...

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In all his words most wonderful

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Jane Gardam THE LIFE OF SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE by Rosemary Ashton Blackwell, £25, pp. 480 W riting a life of Coleridge must be like trying to harness a cloud, a drifting...

Publish and be rich

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Jonathan Keates SEBASTIAN WALKER: 1942-1991: A KIND OF PROSPERO by Mirabel Cecil Walker Books, £14.99, pp. 185 S ebastian Walker was one of the most consistently successful...

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How not to succeed

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Caroline Moore LAST ORDERS by Graham Swift Picador, £15.99, pp. 295 R ather oddly, the list of works 'Also by Graham Swift' on the fly-pages of this lat- est novel does not...

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Attie Campbell

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1900-1967 Where do you wander now, old friend? Where do you drink? Few inns better than Hamnavoe bar, Few better stories, I think. Is there a star Stirred with laughter that...

The sound of a voice that is still

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Charles Osborne LUISA TETRAZZINE: THE FLORENTINE NIGHTINGALE by Charles Neilson Gattey Scolar, f29.50, pp. 396 B y the time of her London debut in 1907 at the age of 36, the...

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Trouble at the House again Rupert Christiansen defends the Royal Opera House as it bares all in a television series P ity the Royal Opera House. The press is enjoying itself...

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Banking on the future

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Nicholas Snowman on the changing face of the Royal Festival Hall I remember, as a very small boy, being taken to the Festival of Britain. Others recall the sense of excitement,...

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Strangely Familiar (RIBA, 66 Portland Place, Wl, till 10 Feb) Know your city Alan Powers T he value of architectural exhibitions is often questioned. Nothing can represent a...

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The Midsummer Marriage (Royal Opera House) A grand alliance Giannandrea Poesio Wit ithin contemporary musical culture, the relationship between opera and dance is an...


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Sabrina (PG, selected cinemas) Mute Witness (18, selected cinemas) The waiting game Mark Steyn T he first time I saw the eponymous heroine of Sabrina in print she was...

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Damn Yankees (The Bridewell) An Ideal Husband (Theatre Royal Haymarket) Goldhawk Road (The Bush) Small but perfectly formed Sheridan Morley T he smaller the better: the...

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Sex, violence and rock'n'roll James Dehngpole T here was a nasty moment when I thought I was going to have to give up on BBC 2's new mega-serial, Our Friends in the North...


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Whither the weather? Ursula Buchan W e live in a golden age. Even I, by nature pessimistic, am forced to admit it. Never have so many people gardened with such success, using...

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You cannot be serious Michael Vestey R adio comedy is no joke. At times, the very term is an oxymoron. Those of us who grew up in the Fifties with brilliant radio comics, Tony...

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The turf

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Give them a break Robin Oakley A e all National Hunt jockeys masochists at heart? The thought was prompted by a few days in hospital for a shoulder operation during which the...


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The price of loyalty Alan Judd S econd-hand cars are sometimes adver- tised as having had a diplomat/doctor/ titled/lady/company director owner, though none of this, of...

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High life

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I think on thee, dear friend Taki S ir Winston Churchill was sitting between Tina and Ari Onassis at the roulette table nearest to the bar in the Monte Carlo sporting club. If...

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Low life

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The mad fair sex Jeffrey Bernard R eaders of this column may have noticed by now that my admiration for women is tempered by a conviction that they are moderately mad and...

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Slamming it Andrew Robson ONE OF the most popular conventions in the early days of bridge was Gerber, in which a bid of 4+ asks partner how many aces he possesses. Identical...

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It's all in the bottle Auberon Waugh R obin Yapp specialises in discovering seriously good French country wine, which he has the skill and energy to hunt down from the...

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A plan to save the monarchy L.4 111 LIR"LIPLoiftLii i i,—,#*LALJAIL WHEN it was

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announced that Dr Hope was to be enthroned as Archbishop of York, traditionalists were cautiously pleased. Dr Hope has sensibly had nothing to do with the new cult of...

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I SIVAE 44H x01,141.11 ' ... s LE OF U RA SINGLI MALT SUICH 411151 COMPETITION Tra-la-la Jaspistos IN COMPETITION NO. 1916 you were given the first two lines of a song and...


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God's gift Raymond Keene IN THE THIRD decade of the 19th centu- ry, the Welsh sea captain W. D. Evans invented a new gambit idea, described at the time as 'God's gift to a...

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A first prize of £25 and a bottle of Graham's Late Bottled Vintage 1989 Port for the first correct solution opened on 12 February, with two runners-up prizes of £15 (or, for UK...

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Gentlemen v. players Simon Barnes THERE EXISTS a confused notion that people in sport should somehow have higher standards than other people. Remember the row when the...


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Dear Mary. . . Q. I wonder if you can help with a rather intimate domestic problem. My wife and I have joined a scheme whereby American tourists who wish to stay in an 'English...