31 AUGUST 2002

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M r Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, called for a written

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constitution for the European Union; but in a speech to Scottish businessmen he played down the significance of the demand: The Conservative party has a constitution,' he said,...

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W hen it comes to doing his bit to save the planet, no one has a right to feel more smug this week than President Bush. No amount of power showers will lift his personal carbon...

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T he workers teem over the building site that suddenly appeared on the overgrown river-bed which my holiday cottage overlooks. They like to get an early start before the...

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The Conservatives have hardly ever had it so good

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ANDREW GIMSON P essimism among Conservative candidates, extending to anguished doubt about their deficiencies as public speakers and their general ability to stay the course,...

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To call it 'rape' is to debauch the language

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MATTHEW PARRIS I n Manchester, a friend at university there tells me, a new word has entered smart parlance among the young. The word is 'raped'. The expression is moderately...

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Peter Oborne reveals the scandalous consequences of the government's timid approach to Robert Mugabe, a tyrant who is now creating a famine among his own people THIS autumn...

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Jan Morris defends her country against the invading English, who are welcome as visitors but not as settlers DURING a wet week in August, on a windswept plateau above the...

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Second opinion

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IT has long been known that, along with an inability to learn from experience, the desire to take medicine is what distinguishes man from the animals. This desire, indeed, is...

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Bruce Anderson on why the US President must not listen to his Republican critics; there can be no retreat now GENERALS are often accused of preparing for the next war by...

Mind your language

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THE children are going back to school at Soham with the support, according to the BBC, of 'trained counsellors'. Counsellors are always 'trained' these days, just as dogs are...

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Diamonds have always been prized for their hardness as well as their beauty. These little fragments of eternity, formed from layers of carbon, bond to make the strongest link in...

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Caroline Moorehead on the horrors facing refugees returning to Afghanistan THE American victory over the Taleban and the subsequent arrival of peace-keepers and aid-workers...

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Ancient & modern

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AS the USA considers its impending assault on Iraq, von Rumsfeld would do well to ponder Thucydides' Melian debate. Athens was at war with Sparta, and in 416 BC decided to...


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David Lovibond goes in search of William Brown and a vanished England ON a Saturday afternoon in September 1962 a small boy cycled ten miles into a seaside town on the...

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Andrew Rankin says that the Japanese mafia is surviving the recession by diversifying and downsizing Tokyo AFTER more than a decade of recession, Japan is still floundering....

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Banned wagon

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A weekly survey of the things our rulers want to prohibit CHILDREN at one primary school, it was recently revealed, have been banned from making daisy chains, on the grounds...

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Mary Wakefield has been getting to grips with the temfying but comic world of the Daily Mail's Lynda Lee-Potter LYNDA LEE-POTTER was grinning like a lizard in the top left-hand...

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Fathers on trial

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Sir: It has been two years since my wife left me, after 14 years of marriage, taking my two daughters with her to set up home with a man she'd had a month-long affair with....

From Mr Robert Bartlett

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Sir: Griffin Stone should know that the family-court system in the United States is also absolutely biased against fathers. I have spent the last ten years waiting for my child...

Relatively unfair

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From Mr Richard Nottage Sir: Rachel Johnson (`The cost of dying', 17 August) states that `in France, relatives pay a modest 5 per cent impost on legacies above 137,000 euros'....

From Mr Rory Knight Bruce Sir: Rachel Johnson's remarkable restraint

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in writing about death duties is, in part I suspect, because she has not yet had to pay them. Her highlighting of John Major's deal to absolve the Queen of the burden wrongly...

Revenge is not sweet

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From the Revd Frank Julian Gelli Sir: Mark Steyn (The war Bush is losing', 24 August) is entitled to his very one-sided point of view on 'radical Islamism'. What he is not...

The NHS crisis

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From Dr C.B. Brown Sir: The response of Nigel Crisp (Letters, 24 August), chief executive of the NHS, to your leading article of the 17 August on the parlous state of the NHS...

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Killing fields

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From Mr Joseph Askew Sir: Simon Carr's critique of Martin Amis ('Stalin was had — shock', 24 August) was both a welcome and an interesting piece on the fascination that Western...

Death without honour

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From Mr David Morgan Sir: Were the soldiers who surrendered to the Japanese 'cowards"? Perhaps Taki (High life, 24 August) would like to come to Australia next 25 April (Anzac...

True cost of oil wealth

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From Mr Tareq Albaho Sir: I thoroughly enjoyed reading the article by Neil Clark on Eastern Europe ("East is Eden', 20 July). In particular, I liked his comments about how life...

Doubts about Munich

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From Dr Lisl Klein Sir Frank Johnson (Shared opinion, 24 August) leaves two things out of account in his support of the Munich Agreement of 1938. The first is that, if Hitler...

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It may seem difficult to believe, but the media have shown some restraint in their coverage of Soham

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STEPHEN GLOVER T he very name of Soham induces a strange mixture of disgust, boredom and pity. I return to it with reluctance. But we have to consider the conduct of the media,...

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We should lay wreaths and pour libations on the Tomb of the Unknown Shareholder

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CHRISTOPHER FILDES A . mistice Day comes at last to Marconi, where the shareholders have, in effect, been wiped out. All that remains is to honour their sacrifice, and I have a...

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Swagger, colour and dash

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Rupert Christiansen THE VICTORIANS by A. N. Wilson Hutchinson, £25, pp.724, ISBN 0091794218 A N. Wilson claims that he can imagine nothing more agreeable than the life of a...

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Tangles and ties of strength and sentiment

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M. R. D. Foot THE RISE AND FALL OF A NATIONAL STRATEGY, 1945-1963 by Alan S. Milward Whitehall History Publishing/Frank Cass, £65, pp.512, ISBN 0714651117 A an Milward defies...

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The beautiful and the damned

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Gabriele Annan GETTING PERSONAL: A BIOGRAPHER'S MEMOIR by Brian Masters Constable,176.99, pp. 288, ISBN 1841195502 W hen one of his serial live-in lovers left him, Brian...

This side of greatness

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Francis King FIERCER THAN TIGERS: THE LIFE AND WORKS OF REX WARNER by Stephen E. Tabachnick Michigan State University Press, £30.99, pp. 522, ISBN 087013552X I f Kafka had...

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A set of linked doodles

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William Feaver REFLECTIONS AND SHADOWS by Saul Steinberg, with Aldo Buzzi Penguin, 0.99, pp. 100, ISBN 0713995858 T he niceties of Saul Steinberg's cartoon drawings are...

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Regret, guilt and exhilaration

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Miranda Seymour HIGH SEASON IN NICE by Robert Kanigel Little, Brown, £17.99. pp. 316, ISBN 0316854956 EDITH WHARTON'S FRENCH RIVIERA by Philippe Co!las and Eric Villedary...

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Dinosaur or bird?

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Sara Paton BONES OF CONTENTION by Paul Chambers John Murray, £17.99, pp. 270, ISBN 0719560543 B y the middle of the 19th century the science of natural history was heading for...

A second passage to India

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Charles Allen THE FAR CRY by Emma Smith Persephone, £10, pp. 344. ISBN 1903155231 I n September 1946 a 23-year-old Englishwoman sailed for India in one of the first passenger...

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Absconding from perfection

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Anita Brookner LIGHT YEARS by James Salter g 0 Hamill, £10.99, pp. 308, ISBN 1860466540 li 3g A nother novel, another marriage, another marital breakdown — but this is...

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Opera's unsung heroes

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Henrietta Bredin on the the slippery, subtle and tricky business of translating T ranslating, often referred to as an unsung art, is quite literally the opposite when undertaken...

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Pale imitation

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Mark Steyn T here are no new jokes, only old jokes in new form. So the problem with The Sweetest Thing isn't that you've seen every comic situation in the movie before, but...

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Resplendent staples

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Robin Holloway N otwithstanding the much-touted Spanish Theme, this year's Proms have so far been most remarkable for memorable performances of some resplendent staples of the...

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Battle of two divas

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Michael Tanner C oncert performances of opera have become a regular feature of the Edinburgh Festival, and it's often hard to say that one regrets the lack of staging,...

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Surprising relationships

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Toby Young A few minutes into Play Without Words, the latest production to open at the Lyttelton, I thought I'd come to the wrong part of the National Theatre by mistake. This...

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Wicked words

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Patrick Carnegy T here are times, are there not, when it would be good to drop in, suitably disguised, on your enemies in order the better to observe and revenge yourself upon...

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Burying the truth

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Michael Vestey T he return of a new series of Document, on Radio Four (Thursdays), is always to be welcomed, largely for the way it sheds some light on how poorly governed...

Team spirit

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Marcus Berkmann D avid Liddiment did well to resign when he did. Otherwise he may well have been tarred and feathered for I'm A Celebrity . . . Get Me Out Of Here! (ITV), the...

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Emotional struggles

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Robin Oakley W e all have our perspectives. In Sweden for CNN last week, I found that the locals have been enjoying the hottest summer since records began. But for the...

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Doves and hawks

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Taki L New York ast week in Gstaad was magical. The weather was perfect, the air fresh and clean, the mountains glistening in the background, the sounds of Mozart and...

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Double trouble

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Jeremy Clarke L ast bank holiday Monday we took a case of ice-cold La Piazza Bianco Tenuta Casalbaio 2001, purchased from the Spectator Wine Club, to Newton Abbot races, Simon...

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Deborah Ross

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IT's been a quiet summer here at Dross Publications Inc., largely because the editorial team have proved themselves lazy and useless (BEYOND BELIEF!), and I would sack them all,...

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IT is always a joy to go to Adnams on the Suffolk coast. The company, which has long made superb beers, is now a successful wine merchant too, and if you're lucky enough to be...

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A man and a month

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Michael Henderson BOOKS written by sportsmen about their careers are usually, in the words of Brian Glanville, that brilliant chronicler of football, no more than `disingenuous...

Q. I refer to your advice on giving eulogies (Your

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problems solved, 17 August). Is not `eulogy' suggestive of de mortuis nil nisi bonum, and therefore of formal praise which does not truly honour the dead? That aside, may I add...

Q. When invited to dinner by new friends,

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should a vegetarian announce his `special needs' or just keep mute and, like Alderman Ptolemy Tortoise, bring some salad with him in a string bag? D.B., London W8 A. It is...

Q. Mary, I need your help! I am going to

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university in October and I don't know how to kiss. This is a delicate issue for me and I am unsure to whom I should turn. Any advice? B.M., London A. Why not gain practice by...