30 DECEMBER 2000

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JANUARY. The Queen and the Prime Minis- ter held hands in the Millennium Dome to welcoMe the New Year. Mr George Harri- son was stabbed by a madman. Mr Vladimir Putin, the new...

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T he public has shown remarkable for- bearance this Christmas. At the very moment when public transport is essential, the rail network has gone into self-induced spasm. Families...

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Mr Blair could have his own problems with the liberal

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elite BRUCE ANDERSON I t was a cynical attempt to manipulate the most backward elements of public opin- ion. But with an election coming up, this is a politician who will try...

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JULIE BURCHILL I have got a computer! After all those years

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swearing that I wouldn't, too. I've written ten books over the past 20 years bloody brilliant ones, if I do say so myself — on a succession of, basically, toy word- processors,...

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At least they are if you bought them Eminem this Christmas. The lyrics are violent and obscene. Does it matter? James Delingpole thinks the white rapper is a new Gerard Manley...

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Mind your language

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YES, thank you, I had a very pleasant Christmas. Veronica was staying with a family in France and my husband spent a lot of time restoring an antique case of surgical...

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Not everyone got through the year well; even Mark Steyn counts himself a loser New Hampshire THE transition is now well under way. That's to say, the US media have almost...

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Bunny Smedley visits the grave of one of her forebears, the American loyalist Joseph Galloway ON a bright, cold day last month, I went to Watford to lay an armful of lilies on...

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Banned wagon

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FEARS have been expressed that farm- ers will be forbidden to drive their trac- tors for more than two hours a day under health-and-safety legislation aimed at cutting their...

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We're told that homophobia is wicked, but why, asks Andrew Gimson, are we encouraged to lynch paedophiles? A FEW days ago I was standing with another man outside a school in a...

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Ross Clark on the 119 Pentecostalists who have joined the Brentwood and Ongar Conservative Association I HAD planned to slip in quietly at the back as you can in an Anglican...

Ancient & modern

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A BLIND clergyman has opened a restaurant in Zurich, staffed by the blind and operating in total darkness, to help the sighted realise what it is like to be blind. The Roman...

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Don't worry about the plot, just listen to the music

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MATTHEW PARRIS M y New Year's resolution came to me just before Christmas as I watched the English National Opera's production of Verdi's Nabucco. Nabucco is a work which for...

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How long will Lucky Jim get away with it down

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in darkest Somerset? PAUL JOHNSON B iographies of real animals are rare. You can write a novel, like Anna Sewell's Black Beauty, or a fictional documentary, like Henry...

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Lunchtime Oborne

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From Mr Jeff Randall Sir: I was amused to read Peter Oborne's report (`Table manners', 16/23 December) on poor manners among Britain's wining- and-dining classes. Quite rightly,...

From Mr Colin Byrne Sir: Can I be the first

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to send a letter of thanks to Peter Oborne for mentioning me in his column on people who did not send him letters of thanks for being taken out to lunch by him. To quote...

Stalin and abortion

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From Mr Andnj Halushka Sir: As much as I like to read Paul John- son's column (and as much as I admire him as a historian), I feel compelled to com- ment on his mention of...

Death wishes

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From Mr Peter J. Farrell Sir: With reference to your leading article (2 December), about ten years ago a coun- try doctor in New South Wales wrote a let- ter to the Sydney...

Playing the game

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From Dr Christopher Tyerman Sir: Would it be possible to point out to Charles Sprawson (Books, 16/23 Decem- ber) that, pace his assertion of my ignoring Old Harrovian Wimbledon...

`Other ranks' Blair

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From Mr R.H. Wilson Sir: On reading Peter Burnand's article (`Carry on, Sar' Major', 18 November) on his time at Sandhurst, I was reminded of my time at Mons Officer Cadet...

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The listening man

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From Mr Adam Thorpe Sir: Contrary to Philip MacCann's version (Books, 9 December), I was fully awake during his chat into the wee hours with Malcolm Bradbury in my Leipzig hotel...

Spartist conspiracist

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From Mr David Loshak Sir: Even in your fun-filled Christmas issue, it's odd to find a parody of Dave Spart. John le Carre's rant against the internation- al drugs companies...

Not so clever

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From Mr Robert Love Sir: The true 'fatal error' (Taal error', 9 December) was made not by Mark Palmer's computer but by its owner on the day he bought it. It beggars belief that...

No to EU and PR From Mr Giles Conway-Gordon Sir:

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Hugo Young is very confused (William Hague's winning idea', 9 December). He acknowledges the significance and popular- ity of William Hague's view that the power of the state...

In defeat, ingratitude

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From Mr David Ramsay Sir: In his well-reasoned article 'The right to say no' (9 December), Daniel Hannan dis- cusses and then rejects the theory that other EU countries resent...

Epistolary request

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From Mr John Coldstream Sir: The late Dirk Bogarde, a keen reader of your organ, was described in its pages by Matthew Parris as one of a group of famous men who were 'braver...

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The BBC's treatment of the Tories is not only wrong.

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It is cowardly STEPHEN GLOVER A ll decent people should support the BBC. That includes Tories, if they can still be counted as decent. However dumbed down it may have become —...

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The first place to look Philip Hensher T he huge encyclopaedias which describe all the manifestation of a single cultural fact were a 19th-century phenomenon, and they have...

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Beefing up the Bible

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Elisa Segrave ONLY HUMAN by Jenny Diski Virago, £14.99, pp. 215 ACCORDING TO MARY: THE LIFE OF MARY MAGDALENE by Marianne Fredriksson, translated by Joan Tate Orion, £16.99,...

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Recent publications from France

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Anita Brookner I t would seem that non-fiction — or life — is taking over from fiction in France this year. The outstanding book, which held its own against more recent...

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Sunrise and sunset on the boulevard

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David Hughes VANITY FAIR'S HOLLYWOOD edited by Graydon Carter and David Friend, with text by Christopher Hitchens Thames & Hudson, £40, pp. 318 T he American magazine Vanity...

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A game of Chinese chequers

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Jonathan Mirsky A GREAT WALL: SIX PRESIDENTS AND CHINA, AN INVESTIGATIVE HISTORY by Patrick Tyler Public Affairs, New York, $16, pp. 512 I n this this astonishing — and...

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When order is undone

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Patrick Carnegy is much impressed by the RSC's Henry VI, Parts 1, 2 and 3 T hese three plays are the least known and indeed often dismissed parts of Shake- speare's series of...

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Rent a movie Mark Steyn gives his advice on how to spend New Year's Eve W e've come to that time of year when we critics advise you to skip New Year's Eve and rent a movie...

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The Tempest (Almeida) Merrily We Roll Along (Donmar Warehouse) Ancient Lights (Hampstead) Stormy weather Sheridan Morley T here can seldom if ever have been such a...


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Genius of Schubert Robin Holloway E arlier this year one of the most impor- tant and handsome undertakings in the century-old history of recorded music reached its...

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Verdi's Requiem (Coliseum) Irresistible force Michael Tanner I t still isn't uncommon to hear Verdi's Requiem being disapproved of for being too dramatic, or theatrical, the...

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Accuracy problem Simon Hoggart L e Real Alan Clark (Channel 4) began with the sonorous words, 'In his celebrated diaries, Tory politician Alan Clark por- trayed himself as an...

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Ask the right questions Michael Vestey I n the closing weeks of the year I have been struck more than usual by the irritat- ing sloppiness of so many radio presenters and...

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Caveat emptor Alan Judd T his is a story about a man who went to buy a car. He wanted a small, economical hatchback about three years old, and he walked into a local...

The turf

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Hong Kong thrills Robin Oakley K nd friends might call it a robe, a kimono or a sort of Eastern dressing-gown. But the garment a team filming a BBC hol- iday programme in Hong...

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High life

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Defying the gods Taki Rougemont hen on a dark and stormy night on the banks of Lake Geneva the great 18- year-old Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus,...

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No life

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No trouble Jeremy Clarke D ick?' I said to the sister on duty, `Dick Brooking?' She looked doubtful. 'Lit- tle chap,' I said. 'Tiny.' Dick's mother died giving birth to him in...

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Singular life

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It's sick Petronella Wyatt N aturally, as it is the Christmas period, I have been ill. I am ill every Christmas. Last year I won a respite and was allowed to catch a cold. But...


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Susanna Gross LEAFING through my bridge club's recent newsletter, I was struck by a large announcement at the top of a page: 'Action on Addiction'. My first thought was that...

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Game of the year

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Raymond Keene THE year 2000 was curious in that no one game really stood out as the overwhelming achievement of the year. The pinnacle of the year's chess was a result, rather...

An eclogue for Christmas

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Jaspistos IN COMPETITION NO. 2167 you were invited to supply a poetic dialogue between two country-dwellers appropriate to the season. A poem by Louis MacNeice with this title...

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An odd year ahead

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Simon Barnes ODD-numbered years have an odd feel to them in sport. That is because each even- numbered year has a colossal, daunting and unmissable centrepiece: the Olympic...


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Dear Mary.. . Q . .Please suggest a solution to a dilemma w h ich must afflict many of your readers with friends in Norfolk. As Norfolk-visitors will be aware, there are a...