2 MARCH 1996

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The Spectator

Picture for those who thought the Government got off Scott free A motion 'that this House do now adjourn' was defeated in the Commons by 320 to 319; this meant that the...

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Peter Mandelson has a caring policy for the poor: he wants to boss them about BRUCE ANDERSON T he most important political event of the past few days was a publication. The...

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JOAN BAKEWELL T he Duff Cooper Prize is one of the pleasantest occasions on the literary circuit. Not here the threat of dinner-table place- ment between a minor sponsor and...

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Even today, Russians are incapable of grief or atonement for Stalin's crimes. Anne McElvoy says the failure to face the past bodes ill for the future SVETLANA PETERS, née...

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Sue Cameron delves into unnoticed parts of the Scott report and finds a broken-down Rolls-Royce LIKE the dog that did not bark, it is the strange case of Sir Robin Butler and...

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Mind your language

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I CANNOT say that most of your suggestions about the origin of nitty- gritty have turned out to be greatly illuminating. One possibly helpful pointer came from Mr Larry Eubank...

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Mrs Thatcher didn't see the point of him: everyone else in his Party does — Peter Oborne offers the first ever profile of Alastair Goodlad ON MONDAY NIGHT, as John Major and...

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Michael Heath

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If symptoms

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persist.. . I HAVE known a couple of presidents in my time, and a number of government ministers, one or two of whom I have even treated for minor ailments, but I make no claim...

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Memories of Mitterrand are fading here. But in France, Patrick Marnham finds revelations of his deceptions enabling him to cheat the grave Paris FOR TEN days following the...

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In the shadow of the Battle of Murrayfield, Alan Cochrane ponders the new anti- Englishness north of the border AT THE beginning of the Five Nations rugby tournament, a few...

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Fifty years ago

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IN VILLAGES all over England people are awakening to what seems to them the incredible fact that as a result of the Butler Education Act their school may be closed. Until now...

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Christian Hesketh looks back on a sport she discovered in the Borders — and forward to Scotland v. England SCOTTISH rugby was born in the Bor- ders, where year after year...

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A Lenten meditation on Oxford under the spell of Magdalen tower PAUL JOHNSON T he first Saturday in Lent. February fill- dyke doing its worst: torrential down-pours punctuated...

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Losing power, listing, in need of a tug Trafalgar hoists the same old signal CHRISTOPHER FILDES I now see that Trafalgar House must have been so named by Admiral Villeneuve....

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LETTERS Against Paul

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Sir: Your correspondent Paul Johnson, who may or may not be remembered as a for- mer editor of the New Statesman, launched a hysterical attack last week (And another thing, 24...

Neutral on Paul

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Sir: There is a respect in which I welcome Paul Johnson's tirade against Cezanne's painting and influence on 20th-century art (And another thing, 17 February). Though blind to...

Sir: Paul Johnson informs your readers that I am 'oleaginous',

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in which case he is a pussy-cat. Should they wish to judge the accuracy of the rest of his piece, they might like to know that far from 'doing the trick' with the 'shadowy...

For Paul

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Sir: Mr Bernard gives us another letter (24 February) of the usual type: 'I am an intelli- gent, civilised, tolerant fellow, but I say that ratbag Johnson should be silenced.'...

Sir: Poltroon: 'Spiritless coward' (Oxford Dictionary).

The Spectator

Having worked for the Prime Minister, I can assure you that it is not the Prime Min- ister who is the poltroon but Paul Johnson. The evidence of his article (And another thing,...

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Too much Paul (and Glover)

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Sir: The Spectator prints too many articles about other papers and journalists: Paul Johnson inveighs at length about the News of the World and sundry contributors to that...

Rugby balls

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Sir: David Storey's play, The Changing Room, concerns rugby league. The Rugby Football League has just celebrated 100 years of professional rugby football. Never- theless,...


The Spectator

Sir: Come up with: I have written before about the use of this sloppy, 'pop', unthink- ing usage. There are nearly 20 alternative transitive verbs of standard English convey-...

Murky politics

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Sir: The Ulster Unionists may — as the Government says — have tried to secure a clandestine deal in return for their support in the Scott vote, or they may — as the Unionists...

Yesterday's terrorists

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Sir: In your leading article, 'The human question' (17 February), you make two his- torical references that make me itch some- what. The first is that Michael Collins tried to...

Paul rebuffed

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Sir: If Paul Johnson wishes to devote his column (And another thing, 10 February) (for which you presumably pay him) to plugging his book, that is his privilege (or so you seem...

Schwarzkopf illuminated

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Sir: I was distressed that Michael Scott found Alan Jefferson's book about the soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf 'first-class' (Books, 24 February). For those interested in the...

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Today's terror

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Sir: It has been 40 years since I last looked down the barrel of a gun. That is until 3.45 yesterday afternoon. In 1956, on manoeuvres in Germany, when commanding a troop of...

No time for poetry

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Sir: What an agreeable portrait Sue Cam- eron suggests of my father's life as Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service (Wanted: the next Sir Humphrey', 3 February)! As...

The real target

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Sir: Far from hitting the City (`Mammon cheats the bomb', 17 February), the Provi- sionals' real target was surely the national media — far better for getting the message...

A case for treatment

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Sir: Dr Dalrymple's weekly revelation (If symptoms persist . . . ' ) of the cultural chasm that exists between himself and the criminals he chooses (presumably) to attend is...

Prix Italia

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Sir: With regard to Alexander Waugh's offer (Letters, 17 February) of a £250 cash prize for a satisfactory summary of Petronella Wyatt's thesis, I submit the fol- lowing:...

Singular construction

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Sir: I am one of Dot Wordsworth's regu- lars, and I mostly agree with her. But this time I side with James Cope (Letters, 24 February). Dot tells us that media has a plural...

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Three new titles are coming, but not all their owners will be as pleased as Punch STEPHEN GLOVER H ope springs eternal, in journalism as in all things. The history of recent...

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Tory MPs have no business being independent-minded PETRONELLA WYATT T he growing independence of Conserva- tive MPs is one of the greatest threats to democracy. Members of...

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A disagreeable go-between Francis King FOREIGN COUNTRY: THE LIFE OF L. P. HARTLEY by Adrian Wright Deutsch, f17.99, pp. 296 A lthough almost a quarter of a century has passed...

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At Berry Hill

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This afternoon, nothing rests. Traffic presses over the brow of the hill; tortoiseshells dip over the buddleia and the thistles. The wind flaps and a newspaper rustles. On the...

Developing frivolous complications

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David Montrose THIS IS IT by Joseph Connolly Faber, £8.99, pp. 310 M odern specimens of the British comic novel generally bear some resemblance to the following identikit: a...

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Buy low and hold on tight

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Piers Plowden WARREN BUFFETT: THE MAKING OF AN AMERICAN CAPITALIST by Roger Lowenstein Weidenfeld, £20, pp. 473 I n 1969 Warren Buffett wrote to his part- ners regarding his...

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These fragments I have shored against my ruins

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Richard Hamilton AN ANECDOTED TOPOGRAPHY OF CHANCE by Daniel Spoerri, Emmett Williams and Dieter Roth Atlas Press, £13.99, pp. 240 T opographie Anecdotee du Hasard has been a...


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More seductive than false gods (How alluring each new one!) Are the routine distortions We ascribe to the true one. Tim Hopkins

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The closed university

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Sibylla Jane Flower SWEET KWAI RUN SOFTLY by Stephen Alexander Merriotts Press, 174 Long Ashton Road, Bristol, BS18 9LT, £15, pp. 266 T he frontispiece of this book shows a...

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0 what a tangled Webb they weave

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John Grigg THE NEW STATESMAN: PORTRAIT OF A POLITICAL WEEKLY, 1913-1931 by Adrian Smith Frank Cass, £35, pp.272 B y 1913 Beatrice and Sidney Webb had been forced to conclude...

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But an evening gone

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Nigel Spivey ON THE EVE OF THE MILLENNIUM by Conor Cruise O'Brien Free Press, £7.99, pp. 168 B lame the ancient Etruscans. Their priesthood concocted the doctrine of cycli- cal...

Too many tales of the city

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Charles Allen A FINE BALANCE by Rohinton Mistry Faber, £15.99, pp. 614 I once froze the smiles of a roomful of New York socialites at an English- Speaking Union lecture by...

Problems of Approach

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Hail Mary — icon, person, metaphor I pray to you the only way I know a twisty poet, not an upright man. Lighthouse of hope, star of the sheeny sea whether as image or as holy...

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A city of strangers still

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Michael Carlson TERRIBLE HONESTY: MONGREL MANHATTAN IN THE 1920s by Ann Douglas Picador, £20, pp. 606 T errible Honesty is really two books, and they don't meld together very...

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The Spectator

Back to the future LPs and turntables are making a return from the dead, as Peter Phillips reports I n the last year you may have noticed on the publications stand of your...

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Exhibitions 1

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Masterpieces from the Doria Pamphilj Gallery, Rome (National Gallery, till 19 May) Revelations from Rome Martin Gayford W riting in the 1996 Spectator pocket diary on...

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Exhibitions 2

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Design of the Times: 100 years of the RCA (Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, till 20 March) Spreading the word Leslie Geddes-Brown W e've all been reading rather a lot...

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Far from the Madding Crowd (Birmingham Royal Ballet, Birmingham Hippodrome) Action packed Giannandrea Poesio W hen Thomas Hardy wrote 'It is hard for a woman to define her...

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Gone to pot Ursula Buchan A a young child, my favourite, indeed I should think my only, party-piece was a recitation of that piece of doggerel 'For want of a nail, the shoe...


The Spectator

Of mice, men and women Alistair McAlpine T he sale at Christie's of Decorative Arts Furniture from 1860-1940 brings back childhood memories. I was a small boy plucked from the...

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Skylight (Wyndham's) Chapter Two (Gielgud) Laughing Wild (Riverside Studios) Love's dilemma Sheridan Morley W hen David Hare's Skylight first opened at the National last...

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Strange Days (18, selected cinemas) Hooked up but not on Mark Steyn T he past may be another country, but the future is always the same one: an apoc- alyptic nightmare in...

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Treat 'em and street 'em Kim Levine E ver since the development of the germ theory of disease in the 19th century, society has been awaiting the arrival of the definitive...

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What about us? Michael Vestey I doubt if we will know who the next managing director of BBC Radio is until a puff of smoke rises above Broadcasting House in Portland Place, as...

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Not motoring

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Common man's common sense Gavin Stamp A a non-driving father of two, I was naturally delighted by the headline to a leading article in last Saturday's Daily Tele- graph: 'Real...

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The turf

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Too much bumph Robin Oakley R acehorse information comes in many guises. You may see a green two-year-old begin to realise half way through a race what this racing business is...

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High life

The Spectator

Am I pregnant? Taki Gstaad The month of February is compulsive party time in this beautiful Alpine village. There are more grand dinners given nightly by the Gstaad elite than...

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Low life

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Miserable sods Jeffrey Bernard I was asked to see a film recently by the powers that be at The Spectator called Leaving Las Vegas, which I'm sure many of you will know about...


The Spectator

BRIDGE Star qualities Andrew Robson IF I WAS asked to name the two qualities most necessary for an expert bridge player, I would say a logical mind, and the single-...

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Alastair Little, Lancaster Road HOW COULD I mind Anthony Holden's

The Spectator

complaining about me — in the sweetest terms imaginable, of course — in this week's Express? I'm flattered — as indeed he meant me to be. At first I thought he was just cross...

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IN-THE-STRAND SIMPSON'S IN-THE-STRAND 1 A 1FAV, CHESS Pythonesque Raymond Keene KASPAROV'S MATCH against the IBM Deep Blue computer has created more public and media...

J SINGLI WALT SC01(1111111511

The Spectator

URA 1111 SINGLF MALI SCOTCH VALHI COMPETITION Very different story Jaspistos IN COMPETITION NO. 1921 you were asked to supply an authentic headline from a newspaper and...

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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 18 March, with two runners-up prizes of £15 (or, for UK...

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Dear Mary. . Q. My father is suffering. His driver, an ex- jockey (retired through injury), is a man whom he holds in great esteem. There is, however, a problem. The air...


The Spectator

What are managers for? Simon Barnes IT IS TIME to consider one of the great mysteries of modern sport. What does a manager actually do? The England cricket and rugby teams are...