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In theory, a monopoly has no competition...

The Spectator

true that British Rail operates the only national railway system in the country By definition, that should make us a monopoly. By implication, we should therefore enjoy a cosy...

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Portrait of the week

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rsShirley Williams won Crosby for SODPAL with a majority of 5,289 over turning the previous Tory majority of 19,272. Everybody agreed that Labour had fared worst, their...

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Political commentary

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Shirley as Zen Buddhist Ferdinand Mount T here's quite a lot of kissing going on in the corner by the doors where new members lurk before taking their seats. Bob Mitchell, the...

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rr he TUC has enjoyed the wide publicity given to the 'Jobs for Youth' campaign, so it was perhaps as well that there were no reporters from the national press at a party given...

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Another voice

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Crying out for action Auberon Waugh N o doubt I shall be accused of facetiousness at best, special pleading or unscrupulous opportunism at worst, if I ascribe the painful...

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The missile game

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Nicholas von Hoffman Washington rr he word these past few days is that Libyan assassins have arrived in the country. It is not a difficult feat with our porous borders, through...

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Options for disarmament

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Bohdan Nahaylo O nly days after the conclusion of the world chess championship another in ternational contest requiring just as much skill, caution and patience from the...

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Politics, Thai-style

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Richard West Bangkok T he recent by-elections here have been much more interesting than the dismal affairs at Croydon and Crosby. Six of the vacancies had been caused by a...

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Spain's military manoeuvres

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Stephen Aris Madrid I n the vast square of the Plaza Oriente, some 150,000 blue-shirted right-wingers assembled, as they have every year for the past six years, to honour the...

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In Scarman Town

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Roy Kerridge positive discrimination would be all right if it was me and a white girl going for a job,' a coloured friend told me, after watching a television programme on the...

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One hundred years ago

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A pathetic case was heard before Mr Justice Hawkins yesterday week. John Edwards, a prisoner in Coldbath Fields Prison, sent there for uttering counterfeit coin, had tamed a...

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The steel route

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James HughesOnslow W hen I was in charge of a loudspeaker van in Ramsgate during the February campaign of '74, we all knew how to wriggle out of tiresome arguments about the...

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The press

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Waiting for Santa Paul Johnson T here are signs that Fleet Street may be entering a new period of major upsets, with titles and groups changing hands and mergers — and the new...

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In the City

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Flowing uphill Tony Rudd I f the outlook for the economy is so grisly why is it that share prices are going up? This is the simple conundrum which faces the investor today....

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Neither cold nor hot

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Sir: Following the Crosby result, we have had to endure the equally predictable comments on the SDP from Mr Heath — still possessed of his unforgiving spirit, and repeating his...


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Sir: Mr J. S. Collis raises once more (Letters, 28 November) the question of how to pronounce 'Ms' and the significance of its use. The current terms 'Miss', "Missis" ' and...

Orwell's Southwold

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Sir: Richard West begins his article on Southwold (28 November) by challenging my correction of his claim in an earlier article that it was 'the favourite resort' of George...

The age of the thane

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Sir: Richard Crampton's example (Letters, 28 November) of disconcerting locomotive names reminds me that recently, on one of my weekly journeys to Manchester, I boarded a train...

Lutyens and Speer

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Sir: Gavin Stamp takes me to task for bracketing the current enthusiasm for Sir Edwin Lutyens with the revival of interest in the works of Speer (21 November). `Tastless and...

Sir: In the article on the Sir Edwin Lutyens exhibition

The Spectator

(November 21), the price of the catalogue was quoted as £8.50. May I please draw your attention to the correct price of the softback catalogue at the exhibition which is £7.75....

Stotting on

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Sir: `Stot' is a good Scots verb in regular use (Alexander Chancellor's review of The Best of 11, 21 November). English children bounce a ball but Scots bairns `stot' a ball....

Gwen John

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Sir: The Spectator of 24 October took long to arrive on this sub-tropical isle and I aM still waiting for a copy of Susan Chitty's life of Gwen John. It delighted me therefore...

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John Stewart Collis

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Bismarck by Edward Crankshaw. I need not explain this choice since I have just reviewed it for the Spectator. I would only add that it is one of those rare biographies which...

Be! Mooney

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Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (Faber) and The Sirian Experiments by Doris Lessing (Cape) are, on the surface, very different kinds of book — the one written in prose that...

Naomi Mitch ison

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The only book I read for pleasure rather than work or a misplaced sense of duty in the early part of the year was Edward Blishen' s Shaky Relations (Hamish Hamilton) and oh, how...

Diana Quick

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I had high hopes of The White Hotel by D. M. Thomas before reading it, having been completely engrossed by The Flute Player two years ago. The earlier work came back to haunt my...

A. L. Rowse

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Duty and pleasure combined make me give the first place to Miss M. St. C. Byrne's edition of The Lisle Letters (Chicago University Press). These now beat the famous Paston...

Anthony Storr

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Remembrance of Things Past, Marcel Proust (Chatto & Windus). Terrance Kilmartin's revision of Scott-Moncrieff's famous translation makes one return to, and enriches one's...

Nikolai Tolstoy

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From a year's reading it was hard to pick the three books that have given the greatest pleasure. But I have little doubt that Macmillan's five-volume New American World tops the...

Raleigh Trevelyan

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Italo Calvino has long been one of my favourite authors, and I greatly enjoyed his novel If On A Winter's Night A Traveller (Secker and Warburg), a typical intellectual tease. I...

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Harriet Waugh

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My first two choices are novels. Both, coincidentally set before the Second World War, follow the development of a child through girlhood to monstrous middle age. Both are...

Michael Wharton

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Among paperbacks I have come across, the Oxford University Press's reissue of The Collected Poems of Edward Thomas, with a new introduction, is outstanding; all the known poems...

Farewell, my Mystery

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Anthony Storr Selected Letters of Raymond Chandler ed. Frank MacShane (Cape pp. 501, £12.50) A n editor once wrote that Chandler 'had revived the lost art of letter-writing.'...

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Give the

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Spectator this Christmas His high standards included food; so preparing dinner was no light task. His wife was 17 years older than he was, but he was always devoted to her....

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Anzio fiasco

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Philip Warner Rome '44: The Battle for the Eternal City Raleigh Trevelyan (Secker and Warburg PP. 366, £13.95) Those who fought in the Italian campaign I will welcome this...

Patrick Kavanagh 1906-1967

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I was taken aback by the hostility. was nothing, young, a nobody. But for you I was part of a 'London conspiracy' You told my Irish girl. When she repeated it I crashed the...

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Modest Hack

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Mark Amory As I walked down New Grub Street Walter Allen (Heinemann pp. 277, £8.95) W alter Allen describes himself as a literary journalist and is indifferent whether you vary...

Tinkling symbols

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C. H. Sisson Religion and Imagination John Coulson (Clarendon Press pp. 193, £12.50) J ohn Coulson is a theologian who has been hob-nobbing with literary critics. He is an...

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Private Bi

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Harriet Waugh Fiddle City Dan Kavanagh (Cape pp.173, £5.95) The Shining Day Frank Ross (Macmillan pp. 339, £6.95) Soldier no More Anthony Price (Victor Gollanz pp.277, £6.95)...

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Paul Ableman The View From Planet Earth Vincent Cronin (Collins pp.348, £12.50) T his book is a mess and it gets messier as it goes on. It starts chastely with a chapter of 18...


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Lewis Jones The Spoken Word: A BBC Guide Robert Burchfield (BBC pp. 40, £1.95) Paradigms Lost: Reflections on literacy and its decline John Simon (Chatto pp. 222, £9.95) W hat...

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Recent paperbacks

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James HughesOnslow The Victorian Christmas Book Anthony and Peter Miall (Dent pp. 192, £3.50). When mincemeat was meat, turkeys were smaller and fewer than geese and Christmas...

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Firm foundations Rodney Mines Alceste (Covent Garden) Pe'leas and Melisande (Coliseum) O ne of the received opinions of Gluck's majestic reform opera is that there is a...


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Up in the air John McEwen B ritish Sculpture in the 20th Century, Part Two: 1951-1980 (Whitechapel Art Gallery till 24 January 1982) completes a timely and enterprising...

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Martyrology Peter Ackroyd Mommie Dearest ('AA', selected cinemas) L ate one night, I turned on my telephone answering machine, only to hear a demented voice screaming, 'Wire...

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Comic cuts Mark Amory Richard III (Aid wych ) 84 Charing Cross Road (Ambassadors) i t - T -1 his awful holocaust play, this burn ]. up, this maggot that's introduced to eat...


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Too dreary Richard In grams H aving mocked the SDP to begin with, the media men, in the week of the Crosby by-election, have now become verY deferential indeed, as though...

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High life

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Honest living Taki New York A s if New York accents, rude Puerto Rican waiters, brutish black taxi drivers, and third-rate television programmes were not enough, my stay in...

Low life

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In writing Jeffrey Bernard I bet there's not many of you nice people who can provoke a personalised, dedicated, first and only edition of a poem, but I managed just that last...

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The Spectator

No. 1196: Silly season Set by E. 0. Parrott: From an imaginary mail-order catalogue you are invited to supply cajoling descriptions of at least five totally useless Christmas...

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The Spectator

Special Ks Raymond Keene T his week want to assess the play in the Karpov-Korchnoi world championship match and suggest several reasons for the latter's drastic defeat. In...