28 JUNE 1997

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M r Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, came to an agreement with Mr John Bru- ton, the outgoing Taoiseach of Ireland, to start a series of talks with Sinn Fein on decommissioning...

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If Mr Blair runs his government as a children's crusade, he will eventually get the bird BRUCE ANDERSON T he atmosphere could hardly have seemed more harmonious if the Tories...

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BORIS JOHNSON I t was him! We had just put some money on a couple of losers and were staggering down the rain-lashed concrete landing towards the Telegraph box at Ascot, and...

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A danger lurking for Mr Hague MATTHEW PARRIS Ev en at the best-regulated coronations, accidents can happen. William Hague has promised a 'special conference' at which he will...

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ABOVE ALL, WHY? Nicholas Farrell provides the questions about Jonathan Aitken's ruin, and some of the answers Whatever it is that Mr Aitken is hiding, he has so far, despite...

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Mind your language

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I GOT so excited about toothcombs last week that at one point I said the oppo- site of what I meant. I meant to say that the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary says, under tooth,...

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Michael Gove on what happened in the Tory party once Mr Hague saw off Clarke-Redwood IT WAS the Bomb wot won it. Labour's implausible policy on the nuclear deterrent gave the...

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Samuel Francis on the real meaning of a prediction by, among others, Mr Clinton Washington DC EVEN chauvinistic Americans admit that California is the weirdest state in the...

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Second opinion

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MOBUTU Sese Seko, it seems to me, is a much traduced man. In the field of social policy he was a most enlightened ruler and was greatly in advance of his time. For example, he...


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Mary Kenny is present at an occasion attended by the strange mix that is Irish republicanism WHEN I said I was going off to see Martin McGuinness deliver his oration over the...

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Anne McElvoy on what Labour thinks about the Tory leadership, rather than says A NEW Labour friend telephoned just me after William Hague's victory was announced. 'Damn,' he...

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A tribute to a gallant swashbuckler, at present in hot water PAUL JOHNSON T he Guardian-Aitken affair raises important issues, above all the abuse of power by the media, which...

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LETTERS Railway saviours

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Sir: In Ian Brown's critique of Save our Railways (`Save their subsidies', 21 June) his three main insinuations appear to be that we are a shadowy front for old Labour, that we...

Logical plan

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Sir: David Damant (Letters, 21 June), despite an exhaustive knowledge of Ger- man history, continues to assert that the Schlieffen Plan was a 'gambler's throw'. Is it perhaps he...

Sir: May I add my voice of approval to Ian

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Brown's very perceptive piece? During the days when the state ran all public transport there was no move towards integration. Buses only occasionally visited railway sta- tions...

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Brief court martial

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Sir: Someone is having his leg pulled (Let- ter from Charles Fitzgerald, 21 June). If a court martial in this unspecified part of the world was indeed convened by this anony-...

Facing the musicals

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Sir: Sheridan Morley (Arts, 14 and 21 June) is becoming dangerously obsessed by the idea that drama critics — himself excluded, presumably — know nothing about musical theatre....

Cherchez les Ames

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Sir: In the spring of 1855, at the height of the Crimean War, Prince Napoleon (Napoleon III's disreputable cousin) wrote in a pamphlet about French soldiers besieg- ing...

Ignorant Greek twit

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Sir: I, too, was at the 'Puerto Rican Pride' parade (High life, 14 June), as the Times's New York correspondent. There were indeed some 'fat, squat, ugly, dusky' people there...

Sir: Speaking personally, as a young wartime bomber pilot I

The Spectator

was more afraid of Sir Arthur Harris or going LMF [Low Moral Fibre] than I was of the enemy! David Hearsey 128 Piccadilly, London W1

A laughing matter

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Sir: I am terribly disappointed to discover that your correspondent and my old acquaintance Michael Gove appears to be devoid of any sense of humour (`How Clarke won (but only...

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In praise of the Roundhead who exposed the warped Cavalier STEPHEN GLOVER T he Guardian is perhaps our most influential newspaper. It has succeeded in painting the Tories as...

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Why Aitken's public life was dishonest because his private life was too PEREGRINE WORSTHORNE Again, most serial philanderers make mistakes and get caught out, but not...

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Edited by Petronella Wyatt Summer hath his joys Jennifer Paterson I have just eaten my first tiny broad beans of the season, plain boiled and served with butter. They are...

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Summer on the beach Simon Sebag Montefiore T he Blairite epoch began for me at a louche café called Vingt-Quatre which is the heart of that quarter of Fulham Road...

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Popping corks Frederick Forsyth F unny stuff, champagne. A bit like sex really. When it's good it's brilliant; when it's awful you wish you'd stuck to Bisodol, which you...

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History of meals

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Grand old sit-downs Jonathan Keates S o that's it then, say the pundits and media oracles, dinner this summer is a defi- nite no-no. The thing to do instead, it seems, is to...

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Dangerous hors d'oeuvres A.A. Gill L ook here, one of the things we expect- ed a new touchy-feely administration to do pronto was to get rid of all those sad young people...

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High spirits Victoria Mather S ummer drinks are celebratory, winter drinks are prophylactic. In summer one drinks to party, in winter one drinks to sur- vive; any fool who...

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Dining out Mary Killen Q. I can never think of anything to say at dinner parties. Would it be better if I refused all such invitations? B.E., Devon A. You have a choice of...

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Set by Christopher Howse W in The World Encyclopaedia of Cocktails, published by Constable. Entries to Food and Drink Quiz, by 10 July. The editor's decision is final. Fish...

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A gangster takes on the state

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Philip Hensher NEWS OF A KIDNAPPING by Gabriel Garcia Marquez Cape, £16.99, pp. 370. T hough it doesn't live up to the excite- ment of a new novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez,...

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Chekhov and son

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Charlotte Moore FELIX IN THE UNDERWORLD by John Mortimer Viking, £16.99, pp. 247 h is is a novel about a novelist. Felix Morsom, a widower and lonely without knowing it, leads...

A lost world

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Peter Levi COURTESANS AND FISHCAKES by James Davidson HarperCollins, f25, pp.371 T he pleasures of knowing Greek include immediate communication with a world very unlike ours,...

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The skull beneath

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Ra Page SKIN by Tobias Hill Faber, £8.99, pp. 200 A poet trying his hand at prose fiction is, according to most critics, like a comedi- an taking a straight role. All those...

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Return of a forgotten historian

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Douglas Johnson THE HISTORY OF CIVILISATION IN EUROPE by Francois Guizot, translated by William Hazlitt, edited by Larry Siedentop Penguin Classics, £8.99, pp. 255 G uizot was...

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We hunt them for the beauty of their skins

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Patrick Skene Catling DECORATED SKIN: A WORLD SURVEY OF BODY ART edited by Karl Gifting Thames & Hudson, £45, pp. 256 E ery artist's prime, most fondly enhanced subject is his...

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The dying had to stop

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Byron Rogers BOGART by A. M. Sperber and Eric Lax Weidenfeld, £20, pp. 676 I t was an extraordinary career. By the time he had completed his first 45 films he had been hanged...

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No seat at the top table

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Alan Judd THE QUEST FOR GRAHAM GREENE by W. J. West Weidenfeld, £20, pp.286 T he Graham Greene biographical indus- try began during its subject's lifetime and was much...

A flawed prophet

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Paul Ferris THE MEMORY WARS: FREUD'S LEGACY IN DISPUTE by Frederick Crews et al Granta, £9.99, pp. 299 H ere between two paperback covers are the classic polemics against Freud...

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Fact and fiction

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Tony Gould THE HACIENDA: MY VENEZUELAN YEARS by Lisa St Aubin de Teran Virago, f16.99, pp. 342 THE PALACE by Lisa St Aubin de Teran Macmillan, £15.99, pp. 263 L isa St Aubin de...

The fault lies not in ourselves

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David Pryce-Jones A BRUTAL FRIENDSHIP by Said K. Aburish Gollancz, £20, pp. 412 T he Arab world today, as Said Aburish rightly describes it, is a menacing cauldron of...

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House under fire Lord Chadlington defends the policies of the Royal Opera House to Charles Osborne I n three weeks from now, the Royal Opera House will close for redevelopment...

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Exhibitions 1

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Nolan's Nolans: A Reputation Reassessed (Agnew's, 43 Old Bond St, W1 till 25 July) John Virtue (Jason and Rhodes, 4 New Burlington Place, W1 till 1 July) A sense of isolation...

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Exhibitions 2

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Van Dyck in Genoa (Palazzo Ducale, Piazza Matteotti, Genoa, till 13 July) Dynastic statements Bruce Boucher Van Dyck's 'Noble Genoese Woman and Daughter', Cleveland Museum of...

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Oh, to be in Aldeburgh . . Robin Holloway I n spite of the tiniest touch of ingrowing self-congratulation, Aldeburgh remains not only the most individual but also the most...

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Batman & Robin (PG, selected cinemas) Power dressing Mark Steyn A far as I can remember, the 1960s Batman never made too much of his cos- tume. In those days, the long...

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The Ring (Norwegian Opera, Norwich) Die Zauberfliite (European Chamber Opera, Holland Park) Ring ritual Michael Tanner T he Norwich Ring' is bound to enter into Wagnerian...

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Amy's View (National Theatre) Blithe Spirit (Chichester) The Wood Demon (Playhouse) Brave acts Sheridan Morley L ce his long-time director Richard Eyre, the most prolific and...

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Comedy culture Michael Vestey W riting recently in this column about the range and subtlety of British comedy and wondering why this country is so suc- cessful, I thought it...

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I don't give a damn James Delmgpole E very five years or so, Ian Hislop decides he needs a token weirdo at one of his Private Eye lunches and invites me along for a round of...

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The turf

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Candid talk Robin Oakley D ean McKeown is one of the canniest jockeys these days on the Northern Circuit, and not surprisingly. His racing education began early. As an...

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Proud of the pride Christian Hesketh W hat makes the contest between the Lions and South Africa's Springboks such an enthralling event is not only the three matches which...

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High life

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Self-satisfied hyenas Taki W hen Aristotle Onassis won a civil suit brought against him by the fellow Greek ship-owner Panaghis Vergotis — the case was front-page stuff,...

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Country life

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Mean hearted Leanda de Lisle Y ou're not a Conservative, Leanda. You're just not,' a friend of many years informed me after I'd told him I voted Conservative on 1 May. He...


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One way to win Andrew Robson HOW often is a ten card suit dealt? Frequently in a goulash, but very rarely in normal play. In spite of holding ten trumps in her own hand,...

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Hurry, while stocks last Auberon Waugh So, off we go. The white cheapie, a good astringent sauvignon( 1 ) from the Pays d'Oc, is wrapped in fruit which comes pouring out of...

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URA I 'AVM %MI YOICH.N1111 COMPETITION Not the same news Jaspistos IN COMPETITION NO. 1988 you were invited to choose a recent newspaper head- line and to write a story...


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IN-THE-STRAND SIMPSON'S IN-THE-STRAND CHESS Caro can't . Raymond Keene IF THERE is one Black defence against the king pawn opening which represents a kind of rock of...

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A first prize of £30 and a bottle of Graham's Late Bottled Portage 1991 Port for the first correct solution opened on 14 July, with two runners-up prizes of £20 (or, for UK...

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The moment of inspiration Simon Barnes THERE is a line in Kipling's tale of polo and its ponies, The Maltese Cat, that I have always liked. 'It was then that Powell, a quiet...


The Spectator

Dear Mary.. . Q. I recently sustained a gardening injury to my knee. How can I best disguise the rather large scab during my forthcoming holiday in the South of France, where I...