5 APRIL 1997

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T he Conservative party manifesto promised tax relief for couples one of whom stayed at home looking after a dependant. Earlier, Lady Thatcher, the for- mer prime minister, had...

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The candidates insist that the polls are wrong. Perhaps we're not a nation of Mandies BRUCE ANDERSON Mr Major was promising a whole range of incremental improvements on...

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NICHOLAS COLERIDGE T housands of words have been devoted to describing the recent Paris fashion col- lections, but nobody mentioned how much nudity there was. At John Galliano's...

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They really believe it — these death cultists. Not San Diego's — I mean the Tory party's MATTHEW PARRIS T hose unafraid to die for their faith are always, in their way,...

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Alan Cochrane reports on who really brought down the Scottish Tory chairman. And it wasn't either Labour or the tabloids But Sir Michael Hirst was not brought down by the...

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Sarah Whitebloom tells how Beckenham Tories stood by their man, and how sleaze is turning people off the election, not just off the Tories BECKENHAM'S Conservatives do not...


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Michael Heath

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Mind your language

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A GROUP of professional women (if you see what I mean) has begun a cam- paign against the use of the style Ms. Good luck to them; it is a silly word. But they haven't got a...

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Simon Blow finds the upper classes adopting dangerously bourgeois habits The dream inspired by my great-grand- mother never became reality. Experience of country houses in...

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Niall Ferguson says history shows that the Tories are not losing in spite of the stronger economy, but because of it IT'S not the economy, stupid. Someone, it seems, should...

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Alistair Home evokes a troubled, beauti ful country with which he has an especially personal connection Mandalay IT WOULD be hard to think of a country which has been more...

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Why Tony Blair should give the Guardian a wide berth PAUL JOHNSON T he issue in the 1979 election, which began nearly two decades of Tory rule, was whether the unions were to...

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Markets hunt the Snark, Greenspan rings the bell: `What I tell you three times is true' CHRISTOPHER FILDES A an Greenspan is on honeymoon, so all of his exuberance is strictly...

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Not newsworthy?

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Sir: If Stephen Glover really thinks that the Guardian's coverage of evidence given to Sir Gordon Downey 'contained little that was new' (Media studies, 29 March) he really...

Film noir

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Sir: I write to congratulate Frederick Forsyth on his brilliant article, 'Impatient with The English Patient' (29 March). I agree with every word. Persuaded by all the hype that...

Lapse of memory

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Sir: The image of the fearless Mr Al Fayed, so squeaky clean that he has never had a parking ticket, the champion who will carry on revealing the truth even if such a course...

LETTERS Seats, not votes

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Sir: Bruce Anderson is right (`The one thing wrong with Essex Man', 29 March): Margaret Thatcher's popularity is a remarkable myth, a triumph of illusion over reality: from 1979...

Sir: While less knowledgeable than Freder- ick Forsyth about the

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authenticity of its mil- itary procedures and hardware, I too found the Oscar-laden film The English Patient absurdly overpraised. The best thing about it is the gorgeous...

Be merry

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Sir: You have published a letter (22 March) which concludes `Eatwell' followed by an address. What fun! May I please use your letters column to convey my own message? Nigel...

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Sir: So Alice von Schlieffen, as well as the Kaiser,

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writes off the BEF as a con- temptibly little army. There are two ele- ments to fighting power, however: the phys- ical and the moral. The fact is that the BEF fought harder and...

The two Misses Wyatt

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Sir: I was very surprised to see someone called Petronella Wyatt lamenting the steep rise in homosexuality among Italians (Another voice, 29 March). Apparently, far from being...

The wrong right hook

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Sir: Alice von Schlieffen (Letters, 29 March) might consider whether her great- grandfather's plan could possibly have suc- ceeded in pushing 90 per cent of 'all avail- able...

More last words

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Sir: It seems probable that your Alastair Forbes is the same as the one referred to in the correspondence of Evelyn Waugh and Diana Cooper. A footnote in Mr Wu and Mrs Stitch...

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`We're going to expose,' said the Labour spin doctor to the man from the last loyal Tory paper STEPHEN GLOVER T he Labour party has squared the right- wing press — almost....

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Why Eurosceptics should be at least as worried about Westminster's sleaze as New Labour's voters PEREGRINE WORSTHORNE Initially, of course, Thatcherite Conser- vatism was...

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A bit of a joke Philip Hensher MARCEL DUCHAMP by Calvin Tomkins Chatto, £25, pp. 550 A s Calvin Tomkins' superb biography makes clear, the artist Marcel Duchamp was obviously...

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Entertaining us with no worth or shadow of felicity

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Michael Hulse FIRES ONG by Joseph Hone Sinclair-Stevenson, £17.99, pp. 694 O ne of Graham Greene's great services to literature was to insist on the distinction between a novel...

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Plastic surgery is a girl's best friend

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Kim Levine SEX AND THE CITY by Candace Bushnell Abacus, £6.99, pp. 228 J ust who exactly is the real Candace Bushnell? A media parody or a Dorothy Parker for our times? One of...

He is not quite a camera

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Lucy Hughes-Hallett IN A LAND OF PLENTY by Tim Pears Doubleday, £16.99, pp. 542 T im Pears's novel ends in a welter of violent action — a face shot to pieces; brains blown out;...

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Ups and downs of a maverick

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Nigel Clive THE LAST INCH: A MIDDLE EAST ODYSSEY by Claud Morris Kegan Paul International, £25, pp. 238 F rom an early age, Claud Morris was into journalism and running a...

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Romancing with wretchedness

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Jonathan Keates THE COLLECTED LETTERS OF GEORGE GISSING, VOLUME IX, 1902-1903 edited by Paul F. Mattheisen, Arthur C. Young and Pierre Coustillas Ohio, £66.50, pp. 550 F or...

A chameleon among the Boers

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Brian Willan THE SEED IS MINE: THE LIFE OF KAS MAINE, A SOUTH AFRICAN SHARECROPPER, 1894-1985 by Charles van Onselen James Currey Publishers, £14.95, pp. 660 K as Maine is an...

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Cast a cool eye on life, on work

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Mary Keen A CORNER OF ENGLAND by James Ravilious Devon Books, Halsgmve House, Tiverton Business Park, Tiverton, Devon, EX16 6SS, £19.95, pp. 160 J ames Ravilious' photographs...

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A choice of recent thrillers

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Harriet Waugh I n The Echo by Minette Walters (Macmillan, £16.99) Michael Deacon, an alcoholic, heart-on-sleeve journalist investigating the lot of tramps, becomes interested...

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The Western front

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Andro Linklater A HISTORY OF THE BREAST by Marilyn Yalom HarperCollins, £15.99, pp. 331 T he female breast, that most public of private parts, lies on a cusp of DD propor-...

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`My picture was my stage' Martin Gayford on the painter, satirist and moralist, William Hogarth Wil liam Hogarth's work was a fresh start, a new beginning, the place — as an...

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William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (12, selected cinemas) Dazzled by detail Mark Steyn T he only real objection I have to William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is the...

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Arts diary

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Give them a break John Parry I s there any minister in this government or in the next who has noticed the magnifi- cent collection of nine Oscars won by The English Patient...


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King Lear (National Theatre) Hurlyburly (Old Vic) Mannered, mad and majestic Sheridan Morley I n a lifetime of theatre-going I must have seen upward of 50 King Lears, some...

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Pop music

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Figure it out Marcus Berkmann T he British, it seems, are buying more music. In 1994, according to the new edi- tion of Cultural Trends in the 1990s, we spent £1,015.7 million...

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Cooked on air Michael Vestey I thought Jon Sopel had just seen a ghost or a naked woman striding across Radio Four's PM studio; either that or someone had his head in an...

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Ghoulish questions James Delingpole A few years ago, my girlfriend's house was invaded by giant killer rats. We could hear them scuttling between the partition walls at night....

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The turf

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Loyalty stakes Robin Oakley S ometimes it's no fun at all training racehorses. Everyone else was enjoying themselves at Plumpton on Easter Satur- day. Fruitcake, coffee and...

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High life

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Scandal and sleaze Taki I Washington DC i s cherry blossom time in the nation's capital, as beautiful a city as there is in America, although it's too bad about some of the...

Low life

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Hold on to your money Jeffrey Bernard E ver since that ridiculous but charming romp of a film, National Velvet, starring Elizabeth Taylor, I have sometimes won- dered what in...

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Country life

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Grey matters Leanda de Lisle W ould you write for the Sun? Would you?' a woman once screamed at me across a dinner-table. I knew that, as far as she was concerned, to say yes...

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Spring in the air Andrew Robson SOME bridge hands require methodical grafting. In others, a creative leap of the mind is needed. This week's hand falls into the latter...

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AS WE are still in the middle of Paschal- tide,

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which continues until the Saturday after Pentecost, the saints aren't getting much of a look-in, though I see they have moved the Annunciation to 7 April this year, which will...

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URA ISLE OF j URA SIVA' likl I SCLIICK INISKI COMPETITION Ali Forbes week Jaspistos IN COMPETITION NO. 1976 you were invited to supply a piece of high-life remi- niscence...


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IN-THE-STRAND SIMPSON'S IN-THE-STRAND First knight Raymond Keene GAWAIN JONES may be Britain's next Nigel Short. The nine-year-old, who is Britain's reigning under-10...

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1305: Pieces of eight by Doc A first prize of £30 and a bottle of Graham's Late Bottled Vintage 1991 Port for the first correct solution opened on 21 April, with two runners-up...

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Out with the daffodils Simon Barnes THE DAFFODIL-yellow colour is the same as always, and so are the two top-hat- ted cricketers, the gloveless and padless wicket-keeper in...


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Dear Mary. . . Q. My wife and I will be having a holiday abroad in May, when we shall be joined by our daughter and son-in-law Mike. Mike is a very macho young man, if ever...