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Why ‘Europe’ matters

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T he Conservative party talks about Europe so little these days that it is becoming unnatural, rather as if the Lib Dems had decided that the issue of PR was irrelevant....

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PORTRAIT OFTHEWEEK T he Home Office proposed a new offence of

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having images from the internet of serious sexual violence and other obscene material; it would be punishable by three years in jail. The presumed murderer of an 11-year-old boy...

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I t is always nice to get back and find you

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haven’t been burgled. The locks were secure, the windows intact, and with a song in my heart I opened my bank statement. It all seemed pretty satisfactory, if a tiny bit...

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How the anti-intellectual Tory party has betrayed the legacy of Maurice Cowling

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N ot long after John Major became prime minister Maurice Cowling, who died last week, asked me to a feast at Peterhouse. In the portsoaked aftermath in a candlelit Senior...

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O ur children recently went to the stage version of Billy

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Elliot and, like most, loved it. I am sure it is an inspiring tale about aspiration, disadvantage and dancing. But the politics.... The miners, striking for a year in 1984–85,...

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Who runs the Tory party?

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Peter Oborne says that Ken Clarke’s leadership bid comes at a time of almost unprecedented anger and chaos in Westminster and the constituencies T he Prime Minister faced a...

Page 9

I once met a woman who so preferred dogs to

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men that when her husband demanded that she make a choice between him and her dogs, she unhesitatingly chose his departure. It was she who told me that Dobermann (or Rottweiler,...

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Mind your language

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If you live in a place ending in –don (or sometimes –ton ), such as Toot Baldon, Stottesdon (Shropshire) or Billington (Bedfordshire), you will probably find that the shape of...

Why I remain an optimist

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Wednesday will not be the last terrible day for Baghdad, says Mark Steyn , but the new constitution is yet another step towards a happy ending New Hampshire T he death of...

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The price is right

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Hurricane Katrina pushed oil above $70 a barrel, but, says Martin Vander Weyer , high prices are nothing to fret about I t’s not easy to get a handle on how much oil we have...

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Flap over nothing

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Who believes that bird flu may cause as many as 50 million deaths? Ross Clark doesn’t, and here’s why I don’t personally know anyone suffering from malaria or tuberculosis, but...

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The joy of stigma

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Rod Liddle is all for tolerance and compassion but has no time for loony campaigns to rid the world of useful stereotypes I think my favourite ever name for a campaigning,...

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Triumph of the poms

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England expects to win the Ashes. What’s going on? Mike Atherton on the game plan that led to victory S ometime during the last Test at the Oval next week, England expects that...

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Strange customs

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From Jill Watkin-Tuck Sir: Having suffered similar humiliation and over-zealous inanity at the hands of British immigration, I can only sympathise with James Hughes-Onslow’s...

From Judge David Q. Miller

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Sir: Reading of the appalling treatment of the Australian lady, Julie Hope, at Stansted, I reflected upon the very different behaviour of those Australians who volunteered in...

Public-school pop

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From Hugh Massingberd Sir: Among the public-school pop stars not mentioned in Marcus Berkmann’s amusing article (Arts, 13 August) were Michael (‘Mike’) d’Abo of A Band of...

And more things

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From Jodi Cudlipp Sir: Poor old Saint Paul Johnson — he’s such a coward. He never attacked Hugh Cudlipp during Hugh’s lifetime: he wouldn’t have dared. But he forgets that I’m...

From The Rt Hon. Lord Tebbit

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Sir: Paul Johnson referred in his column (And another thing, 20 August) to my parliamentary question which prised out the number of people who had died in England and Wales...

Smelling assaults

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From Pamela Hill Sir: ‘The corpulent lecher George IV’ could not have asked anybody to become his mistress (Books, 27 August). Even by 1814, when Dorothea Lieven sat on one...

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Are Tony Blair and George Bush dabbling in Satanism?

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A super production of Don Giovanni at the Sydney Opera House last week led my thoughts far from Prague, where it was first performed, far from Australia and far from Mozart. The...

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An old German philosopher and the impotence of Europe

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T he most influential thinker on the Continent is Jürgen Habermas. Indeed, he might be called the Brussels philosopherlaureate. It is said he is the favourite guru of both...

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Mandy and Hu He leave M&S’s customers to catch a cold in the High Street

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T he long line of young women outside Marks & Spencer, arms folded modestly across their chests as they wait for their brassieres to arrive, is a standing rebuke to the European...

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Tragical comical

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historical Sam Leith A FTER THE V ICTORIANS by A. N. Wilson Hutchinson, £25, pp. 609, ISBN 0091794846 ✆ £20 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 A fter the Victorians opens with a...

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When doctors disagree

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D. J. Taylor H UMAN T RACES by Sebastian Faulks Hutchinson, £17.99, pp. 614, ISBN 0091794552 ✆ £14.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T hough not generally intimidated by big...

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Frantic and fantastic

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Philip French FAN-TAN by Marlon Brando and Donald Cammell Heinemann, £16.99, pp. 250, ISBN 043401400 ✆ £13.59 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T here is now an established...

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The oddness of odds

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Stuart Wheeler CHANCE by Amir D. Aczel High Stakes Publishing, £12, pp. 192, ISBN 1843440229 ✆ £9.60 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 I do find this an extraordinary book....

A devotee of Devon

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Charlotte Mitchell C OURT R OYAL : A S TORY OF C ROSS C URRENTS by Sabine Baring-Gould Praxis Books, Crossways Cottage, Walterstone, Herefordshire, HR2 0DX, £10, pp. 424, ISBN...

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Reliable friend, less reliable consul

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Juliet Townsend J OSEPH S EVERN : L ETTERS AND M EMOIRS edited by Grant F. Scott Ashgate, £45, pp. 752, ISBN 0754650146 ✆ £36 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T he twin graves...

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Playing the marriage market

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Raymond Carr C ONSUELO A ND A LVA : L OVE AND P OWER IN THE G ILDED A GE by Amanda Mackenzie Stuart HarperCollins, £25, pp. 579, ISBN 0007127308 ✆ £20 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429...

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Under the volcano again

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Jane Gardam P OMPEII : A N OVEL by Robert Harris Arrow, £6.99, pp. 352, ISBN 0099282615 P OMPEII : T HE L IVING C ITY by Alex Butterworth and Ray Laurence Weidenfeld, £20, pp....

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At full throttle

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Andrew Lambirth on an artist’s relationship with the Llanthony Valley in south Wales O n a warm but dampish day a month ago, I set off for the wilds of south Wales to explore...

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Quirky vision

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Simon Wilson Keith Holmes: Venice Is in the Detail The Millinery Works Gallery, 85/87 Southgate Road, London N1 7–25 September, closed on Mondays V enice must be the most...

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Flying target

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Mark Steyn Red Eye 12A, selected cinemas R ed Eye is, in every sense, state-of-theart. Wes Craven’s in-flight thriller takes off and lands in a smooth 85 minutes of...

Dated caper

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Lloyd Evans Tom, Dick and Harry Duke of York’s Russian National Mail Old Red Lion S implicity isn’t a virtue that Ray Cooney has any time for. Here’s the set-up for his new...

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The scent of sex

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Charles Spencer T owards the end of his life, John Betjeman was asked during a television interview if he had any regrets. Ravaged by Parkinson’s disease he tremblingly...

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Unhappy Handel

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Michael Tanner Glyndebourne’s Giulio Cesare Proms T he new production of Handel’s Giulio Cesare has been the hit of this year’s season at Glyndebourne, and equally has been...

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Royal scandal

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Michael Vestey T he Document series on Radio Four is often an absorbing pursuit of information triggered by the discovery of one document which leads to another. The sleuthing...

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Perfect day

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Robin Oakley H aving been carved up brutally at Vauxhall last Saturday by an opentopped Mercedes, I gently indicated a request for better road manners as one does (at least...

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Political moves

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Taki Gstaad I know few politicians and speak to even fewer — Lady Thatcher and Lord Tebbitt being the exceptions — so I’m hardly the one to judge whether being a cuckold is...

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Mine’s a lasagne

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Jeremy Clarke T ickets for Who’s the Daddy? , which ended last Sunday, were like gold dust. Even co-writer Lloyd Evans couldn’t help. I rang and rang the King’s Head box office...

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Down but not out

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FRANK KEATING N ever bet against world champions is the sage ringsider’s timeless rubric. Certainly not when they look to be cornered and groggy. In what is already the most...

Q. We were recently married and a number of people

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who had informed us that they were coming failed to appear on the day. Besides the disappointment, our catering was not cheap and these no-shows cost us a considerable sum. We...

Q. In response to your correspondent from Neustadt in Germany

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in the edition dated 23 July, they may find the following version of Ogden Nash’s poem to their liking: Sicher, stecke deine unteren Glieder in Hosen, Es sind deine Glieder,...

Q. At a garden drinks party I talked to a

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woman I have known for ages, though not intimately. She is splendid on a horse but in conversation is possessed of a highoctane speech sibilant. At a thrilling moment during one...