30 MARCH 1996

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PORTRAIT OF THE WEEK T he nation was thrown into what

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could fairly be called hysteria by a scientific opin- ion that it might be possible for human beings to catch Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (which is an incurable brain affliction)...

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Government takes immediate measures against Mad Human Disease. Pity about the cows BRUCE ANDERSON O n Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, Stephen Done!! discovered that...

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DEBORAH DEVONSHIRE I looked at the television programme about Uncle Harold called Reputations. How strange to see his and Aunt Dorothy's private life trotted out like a story in...

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If we have an addiction which shames us, we now shamelessly write a book about it, says Isabel Wolff The Princess of Wales could do so eventually Ryan's beans-spilling is the...

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and others among the strange, famous or crooked whom A. L. Rowse has been meeting for years IT IS difficult for people today to realise the extraordinary reclame that T.E....

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Cuthbert Alport recounts the origins of the postwar-group whose title is a rallying cry still NOW THAT 'One Nation' has become such a prominent catchphrase in contem- porary...

Fifty years ago

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MEMBERS of Parliament who were taken by the Ministry of Civil Aviation to see Heath Row aerodrome — or London Airport, as it is to be called henceforward — got back to...

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If symptoms

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persist. . . I AM by nature and experience a pes- simist, but I am not so wedded to my gloom that I cannot recognise and rejoice over good news when I hear it. I refer, of...

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Theodore Dalrymple takes issue with the historian who said that Dunblane told us nothing about our time THOMAS WATT Hamilton, the perpe- trator of the Dunblane massacre,...

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Natasha Garnett says that The Girlie Show is not what women are like, but what men want them to be like THE POSTER for Channel 4's youth tele- vision programme The Girlie Show...

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Mind your language

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'WHY ARE people so stupid?' asked my husband as he hungrily dissected his steak with surgical expertise. Well, I don't know, but what I do know is that they have rapidly become...

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Thank heavens for Catholic schools, says Anne McElvoy. They allow some of us to save face — and money I STILL recall the feeling of plummeting disappointment when, shortly...

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The pot of caviare, the Rushdie Affair and the last of the Leavisites PAUL JOHNSON h e current controversy over literary biography has led some to claim that read- ers are...

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LETTERS Check your facts

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Sir: Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, states in your paper (Letters, 16 March) that 'one of the things trainee reporters tend to learn in their first week in journalism...

Iron curtain melt-down

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Sir: There is a much closer precedent for Churchill's use of the phrase 'the iron cur- tain' at Fulton in March 1946 than its appearance in a book by the Russian writer Vasilii...

Check your privilege

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Sir: Once again, I fear Robert Maxwell's biographer has been a trifle economical with the actualite. Joe Haines asserts (Let- ters, 16 March) that the Allason v. Haines libel...

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Goring on

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Sir: A year ago you were kind enough to publish a letter from me which you entitled 'Great Gores of today' (1 April 1995) in reply to one from Mr Gore Vidal about his maternal...

Sir: Don't sack Christiansen. His scintillat- ing, egotistical and supremely

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entertaining reviews are the reason I buy The Spectator. Bernadette Cruise 22 Elkedra Close, Hawker ACT, Canberra, Australia

Don't sack Rupert

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Sir: Rupert Christiansen's Diary (23 March) refers to a sweating, debilitating nervous condition brought on by listening to 0-level Performances of opera. There was nothing...

Internment experts

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Sir: How funny that Ruth Dudley Edwards should advise me, in her splendidly patron- 'Congratulations, Babe — I've got you the part of a sausage in a Wall's commercial.' ising...

Sir: Further to the letter from Irfon Roberts on the

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origins of 'iron curtain', he is certainly correct in attributing it to Vasilii Rozanov in Russian. However, Heller and Nekrich in their book Utopia in Power sug- gest that he...

No law for crime

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Sir: I feel bound to correct the misappre- hension of your correspondent Gordon Smith (Letters, 23 March) in respect of the Crime Writers' Association. The CWA has never issued...

What about the book?

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Sir: Perhaps you could ask your literary edi- tor to suggest to his reviewers that they say something about the book they are pur- porting to review. Having read Robert...

Hold very tight, please

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Sir: Patrick Ussher (Letters, 23 March) seems to have 'suffered Latin' in vain. Everything he says about A.D. Godley's motor-bus poem is wrong. Bum is not the accusative of bos,...

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Mr Blair used to do anything to charm the Tory press, even laugh at Lord Stevens's jokes. Not now STEPHEN GLOVER If this is the end of the affair, it has been a surprisingly...

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Scenes from provincial life Philip Hensher THE WOMAN WHO WALKED INTO DOORS by Roddy Doyle Cape, £14.99, pp. 226 0 ver the last 15 years or so, one of the most striking things...

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Palace of varieties

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P. J. Kavanagh THE OXFORD COMPANION TO IRISH LITERATURE edited by Robert Welch OUP, US, pp. 640 D ifficult to say something general about a book that contains 2,000 years of...

Sexy Things

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Sexy is the buzz-word now, Since buzz-word has become old hat; Be careful how you use it though In print or during casual chat. The first thing you must understand: It does not...

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Created in his own image

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Rosalind Miles THE QUEST FOR GOD: A PERSONAL PILGRIMAGE by Paul Johnson Weidenfeld, £14.99, pp. 216 E ven God weeps,' the Sicilians say. Who would not grieve at the depths of...

Love in a hot climate

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William Scammell ASH ON AN OLD MAN'S SLEEVE by Francis King Constable, £15.95, pp. 208 E lliott Baker arrives in the 'hot, dark, mysterious' city of Havana, a valetudinari- an...

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A ludicrous figure, but a heroine

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Thomas Blaikie MISS UNDINE'S LIVING ROOM by James Wilcox Fourth Estate, £6.99, pp. 260 POLITE SEX by James Wilcox Fourth Estate, £6.99, pp. 280 J ames Wilcox's comic novels...

The Unprocessed Word

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(for Malcolm Williamson) In this age of the word-processor you are sending Handwritten letters; friends are glad you do: Like fingerprints and faces, the handwriting Is yours...

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Careless talk costs souls

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Alan Coren THE MAN IN THE MOON by Andrew Barrow Macmillan, £14.99, pp. 220 V ery near the top of the right-hand wing of Hieronymous Bosch's nerve- boggling triptych, 'The...

Her privates we

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Nigel Clive THE RECOLLECTIONS OF RIFLEMAN HARRIS edited by Christopher Hibbert The Windrush Press, £9.99, pp. 128 MEMOIRS OF SERGEANT BOURGOGNE, 1812-1813 introduced by...

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The proper study of mankind is Mann

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Dietmar Herz THOMAS MANN by Ronald Hayman Bloomsbury, £20, pp. 618 THOMAS MANN: EROS AND LITERATURE by Anthony Heilbut Macmillan, 120, pp. 618 F rom time to time Thomas Mann...

Snake in Autumn

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A lithe fat flash of light below the compost Reveals his coils, flesh swollen, slowly writhing In warm October leaves. One eye is blind. A wound along his body weeps with pus. I...

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Not a source of innocent amusement

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D. J. Taylor DARKEST ENGLAND by Christopher Hope Macmillan, £15.99, pp. 282 D arkest England starts promisingly enough on the high plains of the South African Karoo on the day...

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Museums Terrible, beautiful weapons Martin Vander Weyer visits the new Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds I t is hard to think of anything less politi- cally correct. Within a...

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Van Gogh (Kunstforum, Vienna, till 27 May) Monet (Osterreichische Galerie, till 16 June) Sombreness and splendour Martin Bailey V ienna is now playing host to the megastars...

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Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci (Welsh National Opera at the Royal Opera House) From primness to power Rupert Christiansen D espite scandalous setbacks over the Cardiff...

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Alice in Wonderland (English National Ballet, London Coliseum) Soiree Jerome Robbins (Paris Opera Ballet, Opera Gamier) The art of arrangement Giannandrea Poesio M any...


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Compilation confrontation Peter Phillips C laudio Abbado's surprising decision to take Deutsche Grammophon to court in Paris has let loose an entirely predictable flood of...

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The 68th Academy Awards/ Dead Man Walking (15, selected cinemas) Monumental snoozeroo Mark Steyn A the Oscars a few years back, Dudley Moore noted: 'It took me ten years to...

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Mary Stuart (Lyttelton, National Theatre) The Frogs (Cottesloe, National Theatre) The Soldier's Song (Stratford East) Queens in opposition Sheridan Morley T o see Elizabeth I...

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The skill is in the telling Michael Vestey A the age of almost 88, Alastair Cooke in Letter from America on Radio Four (Friday) represents the perfect anti- dote to ageism at...


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Drama diluted Harry Eyres O n television the relationship between drama and real life doesn't work the same way as in theatre. If theatre, as Peter Brook once said, is 'life...

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The turf

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National guide Robin Oakley The present timing is not even in the interests of the flat. The Doncaster author- ities made plain that they too would rather see the flat...

Not motoring

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Brunel knew best Gavin Stamp T rains and architecture can coexist. When, in the 1830s, Brunel brought his broad-gauge railway through Bath on the way to Bristol, he cut the...

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High life

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Kennedy women Taki hez Madame Tussaud's last Saturday for a great bash among the waxworks. Unlike the Donald Trumps of this world, my host, an American, asked me to keep his...

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Low life

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No-knickers Joyces Jeffrey Bernard Just as I first watched Band of Gold because I fancied Geraldine James, I was fixated then by a French girl called Marie France who was...

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Country life

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The priests of yesteryear Leanda de Lisle A e the clergy all that they used to be? We have a lady vicar in Market Bosworth who seems very worthy and our Catholic priest is a...


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BRIDGE Pandemonium Andrew Robson Dealer North North-South Vulnerable ALL modern bridge tournaments use 'bid- ding boxes'. Instead of saying your bid, the intonation of which...

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Rare freaks of excellence Auberon Waugh F leet Street's El Vino, long famous as the favourite haunt of Mr (now Sir) Lunchtime O'Booze, has always excelled in well-chosen,...

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I WILL not make a habit of reviewing pubs off,

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or in this case even on, the Goldhawk Road. To have done so once might have seemed eccentric — only look how the journey was rewarded — but to return begins to look...

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J '11,1,11111,11(.11.1111111

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URA ISLE OF i URA 1,IF MAO 401lX.M1511 COMPETITION Alphabet chat Jaspistos IN COMPETITION NO. 1925 you were invited to supply an amusing dialogue in which each person...


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IN-THE•STRAND SIMPSON'S IN-THE-STRAND Oscar time Raymond Keene ACCORDING to the British Chess Maga- zine, upon which I have based the notes to this week's game, the best...

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CROSSWORD 1254: Facetious claims by Doc

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

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Madness at Becher's Brook Simon Barnes ALL SPORTS are about cruelty. Every vic- tory is, for everybody save the victor, a defeat. Every triumph springs from some- one else's...


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Dear Mary. . . Q. I am constantly running into a couple in London whom I have known for many years. It seems that practically every time I go to a party they too are present. I...