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T he government published its longawaited dossier on Saddam Hussein's weapons

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of mass destruction. It claimed that he has the capability to launch a chemical or biological attack within 45 minutes and could have a nuclear weapon within two years....

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I am in no doubt,' said the Prime Minister in last Tuesday's debate in the House of Commons, that the threat posed by Saddam Hussein is serious and it is imminent.' After...

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I n the electronic age, a social disease is a virus

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you get from your email correspondents. And often from one-night stands. Three such co-respondents sent me word that as an entry in their 'address book' my computer now had some...

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Almost as striking as the Tory silence the total incoherence of the Labour Left

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PETER ()BORNE 0 ne of the most important political developments of the last ten years has been the abject failure of the Labour Left. Though never remarked upon, the absence of...

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Someone has it in for the Prince of Wales

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STEPHEN GLOVER P rince Charles's leaked letter to Tony Blair has not done him any good. The Mail on Sunday, whose first edition broke the story on Sunday, seemed to think that...

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A war against Iraq might destabilise the Middle East, says David Pryce - Jones, but that is precisely what the region needs IRAQ may soon be liberated. The Americans are...

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Mind your language

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I AM a fallen woman. 'How could you? How could you?' asks J.L.A. Hartley of Vicarage Gate. 'If your fans hadn't known better, we should have assumed that you'd joined the ranks...

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Shelagh Shepherd says that the charity's creepy agenda is deterring potential helpers WELL, that's that then. Yet another summer of paedophile hysteria is over: the baying mob...

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Andrew Gimson says that Gerhard Schroeder has scorned cant and struck a blow for German nationalism Berlin CHANCELLOR Gerhard Schroeder was sober on Sunday night and drunk on...

Second opinion

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I WAS reading the New England Journal of Medicine the other day when my heart suddenly swelled with patriotic pride. One of the articles in the journal contained two maps of...

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Mikhail Khodorkovsky tells John Laughland that American control of Iraq will be good for Cadillacs but bad for Russia OPPONENTS of the impending AngloAmerican war against Iraq...

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Banned wagon

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A weekly survey of the things our rulers want to prohibit THANKS to last weekend's 'Liberty and Livelihood' march, fox-hunters have won over a new constituency of people who,...


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Leah McLaren is alone, on expenses and up for fun. Trouble is, she's in Norway IT's Friday night in downtown Oslo, capital city of the kingdom of Norway. After a dinner...

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The gift of a ring, the symbol of eternity, as a public pledge to honour a marriage contract was a roman tradition. They used the fede, two hands clasped together in troth, to...

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Ross Clark on Israeli nukes and US research into biological warfare SO the waiting is over: the most eagerlyawaited publication since Harty Potter and the Goblet of Fire has...

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Peter Obome exposes the interested parties who failed to march on Sunday ONE of the most remarkable things about Sunday's magnificent Countryside March was the superhuman...

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Janine di Giovanni dodges bullets in the Ivory Coast, where the coups are teirifying Abidjan IN 1994, when I was leaving to work in Rwanda for a spell, an African friend...

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Ancient & modern

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IT IS 150 years since Manchester opened the first public lending library in Britain, but the idea of library is very ancient. Palace archives were the first 'libraries'. From...

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Sense and subsidy

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From Mr S.G. Younger Sir: In 'Throw them to the wolves' (21 September) Michael Hanlon certainly gives the answer to the question 'Why do 400,000 country people make a protest...

From Mr Francis Fulford Sir: Michael Hanlon demonstrates that his

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urban prejudices are backed up by ignorance. The question of subsidies and tax breaks is not unique to rural England but percolates right to Mr Hanlon's front door. I imagine...

The fate of hounds

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From Miss Ann Grain Sir: I refer to your article by Robert GoreLangton ('It's a job for a dog', 21 September) and particularly his reference to the number of hounds which will,...

From Mr Roy L. McCallum Sir: I am a city

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person and I have never been on the back of a horse. However, I can recognise class envy at its worst when I see it, and if the government presses ahead with a ban on hunting...

ERM mistake

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From Lord Deramore Sir: Mike Faulkes (Letters, 21 September) concludes that Margaret Thatcher took Britain into the ERM for reasons of internal party politics in order to reap...

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Supporting the US

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From Mr Edward Gamier, QC, MP Sir: My friend and parliamentary colleague Peter Ainsworth was not well served by the headline above his article CI dare to dissent', 14...

Air power

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From Viscount Trenchard Sir: I was interested to read Bruce Anderson's article CA middle-sized invasion', 14 September) in which he states that the new plan to bring about...

Down with sex education

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From Mr Rupert Fast Sir: Every word of your call to axe Section 28 (Leading article, 21 September) is to be warmly applauded. The legislation is redundant and a form of silly...

Up the Lads

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From Mr David Packer Sir: I was surprised and delighted to see the Macc Lads mentioned by Frank Johnson (Shared opinion, 21 September). Their special brand of socio-political...

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The castle of snoring owls and laughing ospreys

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PAUL JOHNSON I do like to stay in a castle. Nothing grand. I have no desire to put up at Balmoral or Inverary. Blair Atholl or Castle Howard. with footmen striding,...

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Don't let the facts interfere with a good war on terrorism

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MATTHEW PAR RIS U ntil the collapse of communism, America's experience as a great power had been of a world in which there was always (as she saw it) one great evil in the...

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Living in Costa Land

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Karen Robinson says that those fleeing England for Spain just want a home from home DO you want to live in Spain? Statistically, you are as likely to answer yes as no to that...

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Inheriting the land

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Sebastian Deckker LONDON differs significantly from other cities in its pattern of land ownership, being divided not into remote and individual freeholds but into substantial...

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Lost city

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Sinclair McKay UNTIL recently, a lively sub-genre of English literature was that devoted to London's creepier, darker back streets. Peter Ackroyd took us on a grim tour of...

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Prefab sprout

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Ross Clark BESIDES its ludicrous price, there is one thing which distinguishes an Englishman's home from that of virtually any other nationality. We do not, for the most part,...

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Crumbling dreams

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Susana Raby JUST as some men are attracted only to blondes with long legs, or buxom, curlyhaired brunettes, so there are certain architectural features that make my heart beat...

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Share hell

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Vanessa Tyre11-Kenyon OVER the last five years I've had the pleasure of renting out rooms to friends and friends of friends to help pay for my mortgage. After eight or nine...

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Exorcising rites

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Mary Wakefield 'CLOSE your eyes, I'm going to put something in your hand,' said Mark, and bounded out of the room. He returned and gave me what felt like a metal stick. 'OK,...

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From the scaffold to Mr Pooter

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Ferdinand Mount SAMUEL PEPYS: THE UNEQUALLED SELF by Claire Tomalin Penguin Viking, £20, pp. 512, ISBN 00670885 I t is a famous passage, but it needs to be quoted in full, for...

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Big little man

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Patrick Skene Catling MY TURN by Norman Wisdom, written with William Hall Century, £16.99, pp. 303 ISBN 0712623930 W hat a swankpot!' Sir Norman Wisdom pseudo-modestly...

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No petticoat long unlifted

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Robert Edric THE CRIMSON PETAL AND THE WHITE by Michel Faber Canongate, 117.99, pp. 864, ISBN 1841953237 F ew admirers of Faber's recent spate of tales and novellas — the...

The Margot and Henry show

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Jane Ridley THE ASQUITHS by Colin Clifford John Murray, 125, pp. 528 ISBN 0719554578 T he publicity material likens this book to The Forsyte Saga, but in fact it's far more...

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The aesthete's missionary position

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Julian Mitchell DORIAN by Will Self Viking, £16.99, pp. 288, ISBN 0670889962 T he idea of selling one's soul in exchange for eternal youth was not new when Oscar Wilde wrote...

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Madness again in the state of Denmark

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John de Falbe THE VISIT OF THE ROYAL PHYSICIAN by Per Olov Enquist Harvill,E16.99, pp. 309. ISBN 1860469493 A mad king. A doctor who steps into the power vacuum and, in the...

Well met by moonlight

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Miranda Seymour THE LUNAR MEN: THE INVENTORS OF THE MODERN WORLD by Jenny Uglow Faber, i25.00, pp. 518 ISBN 0571196470 0 ne of the best permanent shows in London is the Science...

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The bounds of reasonable behaviour

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Nicholas Barrow FREAKS, GEEKS AND ASPERGER SYNDROME: A USER GUIDE TO ADOLESCENCE by Luke Jackson Jessica Kingsley Publishers, £12.95, pp. 217, ISBN 1843100983 I was diagnosed...

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The fantasies of a failure

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Rupert Christiansen HITLER AND THE POWER OF AESTHETICS by Frederic Spotts Hutchinson, £25, pp. 320, ISBN 0091793947 S talin terrorised people, Hitler seduced them. Or so...

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The tricks of the transference trade

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David Nokes EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY FICTION ON SCREEN edited by Robert Mayer CUP, £47.50, pp. 242, ISBN 0521793165 I t's odd the things in novels that get immortalised in film. In...

An army emerges with honour

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Hugh Cecil REDCOATS: THE BRITISH SOLDIER AND WAR IN THE AMERICAS, 1755-1763 by Stephen Brumwell CUP, £25, pp. 349, ISBN 0521807832 T he Seven Years War, from 1755 to 1763, was...

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Quod erat demonstrandum

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Robert Macfarlane SCIENCE: A HISTORY, 1543-2001 by John Gribbin The Penguin Press, £25, pp. 672, ISBN 0713995033 T here is a school of thought which says that what we regard as...

Past glories prove elusive

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Jeremy Treglown IN ARCADIA by Ben Okri Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £12.99, pp. 230 ISBN 0297829602 D espite many allusions to Virgil and a diligent summary of various...

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When first we practise to deceive

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Michael Glover SHROUD by John Banville Picador, 115.99, pp. 416 ISBN 0330483153 T wo years ago the Irish novelist John Banville published a hook called Eclipse. It was his...

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An oddly chosen people

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David Pryce-Jones THE LOST TRIBES OF ISRAEL: THE HISTORY OF A MYTH by Tudor Parfitt Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £18.99, pp. 224, ISBN 0297819348 U nusual groups of people now and...

Gentleman and player

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Hugh Massingberd THE WAY TO WEXFORD by George Baker Headline, £18.99, pp. 346 ISBN 074725381 D uring my brief stint as a showbiz scribe — which unfortunately came to an end...

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Too much and too late

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Peregrine Worsthorne SPLENDID! SPLENDID!: THE AUTHORISED BIOGRAPHY OF WILLIE WHITELAW by Mark Garnett and Ian Aitken Cape, £20, pp, 386, ISBN 0224063111 B y the criteria of the...

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Our man in the thick of it

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Justin Marozzi NEWS FROM NO MAN'S LAND: REPORTING THE WORLD by John Simpson Macmillan, £20. pp. 496, ISBN 0333905741 T here he is on the cover, our handsome 57-year-old Boys'...

Camera Picta Mantegna Frescoes in Mantua

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Within that room in Mantua The teeming walls, the gold, the red, The painted curtain drawn aside Ask who now lives and who is dead? The weighty, proud Gonzaga men, The surging...

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The sound of music

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As the round of summer festivals draws to a close, Peter Phillips offers some reflections T he argument about the timing of concerts received new focus these last few weeks....

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The master of genre

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Andrew Lambirth S ir David Wilkie (1785-1841) was born in Fife, a true son of the manse, the third boy of a poor and respectable parish minister. From an early age he showed...

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Tragedy transformed

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Michael Tanner on the unmatched power of Maria Callas T wenty-five years after her death, the reputation of Maria Callas stands higher than ever, possibly higher even than it...

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Cruel, creepy and touching

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Mark Steyn H appy Times is the kind of film you have to be a foreigner to get away with. Its creators, the distinguished Chinese director Zhang Yimou and his writer Gui Zi,...

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Sequels and equals

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Toby Young I 'm afraid I find myself once again in a minority of one this week. Afterplay. Brian Friel's one-act play in which two Chekhov characters meet up in Moscow in the...

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Glowing greys

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Robin Holloway I was sorry to have to miss from the Proms Weber's Etayanthe, imported from Glyndebourne with period-instrument orchestra under Mark Elder, remembering a concert...

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The wrong wavelength

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Michael Vestey T here was a time when, attending a lunch or dinner party, I was cross-examined about the shortcomings of Radio Four as if I were the controller of the network...

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Light but enlightening

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Simon Hoggart W as there ever a golden age of television'? Perhaps we are living in it. For instance, I think Howard Goodall's Great Dates (Channel 4) is superb: evocative,...

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Whipping worries

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Robin Oakley T ony Blair did not discover focus groups. Harold Macmillan once instructed Rab Butler to 'find out what the middle classes want and put it on a single piece of...

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An editor spurned

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Taki E Washington DC ven if I say so myself, Pat Buchanan's opening column in the first issue of the American Conservative is such a tour de force, I only hope people in the...

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A yokel comes to town

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Jeremy Clarke I went on the Countryside March in my capacity as vice-chairman of the South West Terrier, Lurcher, Ferret and Family Dog club and on a more personal note because...

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A rude wake-up call

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Petronella Wyatt Y ou never think it is going to happen to you. Not even when you read in the papers about women being mugged in what used to be safe areas of London such as...

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EL VINO, the famous Fleet Street wine bar, is still

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home to a few louche journalists and to many of m'learned friends in spongebag trousers. Rump°le of the Bailey is its most famous, if fictional, client, and at lunchtime his...

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OVER the last couple of weeks we've had to think

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quite seriously about a secondary school for our son. I would send him to the local state one, here in Islington, but I've read all the bumf and it just goes on so excessively...

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Two tragedies and a triumph

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Michael Henderson THIS is a story of two cricketers. They both play for Surrey and both have represented England, although Adam Hollioake's Test career was short-lived. The...

Q. About to depart abroad for a year, I had

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some friends in for farewell drinks. As they were leaving, I invited them to help themselves from the box destined for Oxfam in the hall. One picked out an ashtray and said, 'I...

Q. I, Ms Female, have been happily married for a

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year to Mr Male. We went to live in New Zealand, I have a career and we chose to keep our own names. My in-laws live in Australia and are old-fashioned to the extent that all...

Q. Deeply enjoyable and uplifting as the Countryside March was,

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we obviously hope that we shall not see its like again. However, if there should ever be another historic procession of this nature, may I pass on the following tip to readers?...

Q. What was the protocol vis-a-vis carrying a placard on the Countryside March?

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C.O., London SW3 A. Placard-carrying was optional, although some parents found that giving a child one to carry was a useful means of keeping track of its position in the...