5 JANUARY 2008

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1828 and All That

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T he year 2008 marks the 180th anniversary of The Spectator . The original Spectator , founded by Addison and Steele, ran only briefly from 1711 to 1712, although its spirit...

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M y daughter has just got married and a beautiful and

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lively event it was, moving from her local church in St James’s Gardens to the Dorchester via Routemaster buses. I took the opportunity in my speech to thank many for their...

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It’s that time of year again My Fellow Compassionates! So here they are, my New Year’s Resolutions for 2008! 1.) Go easy on the policy . I don’t know about you but I’m...

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Pakistanis now fear that anyone who speaks out will be silenced

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Benazir Bhutto’s son has none of his mother’s glamour, says Christina Lamb , but he must now do his dynastic duty in a country cruelly deprived of its only pro-Western, liberal...

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We are at war with hatred, fanaticism and despair

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William Shawcross W hen will we ever learn? The murder of Benazir Bhutto should finally convince us that we are in the midst of a crucial international war to stop Islamist...

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Musharraf may now be the last best hope of Pakistan

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Pervaiz Musharraf presides over a fearsomely chaotic and dangerous country, says Con Coughlin , but he is probably the only man who can save Pakistan from self-destruction F...

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An act of evil that recalled the atrocities of the SS

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The murder and mayhem in Kenya this week were the result of tribalism and corruption, says Michael Gove , but the West must not lose faith in promoting democracy abroad S eldom...

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Is a TV drama about the royal family sacrilege?

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Clemency Burton-Hill , who appears in the new ITV series The Palace, muses on the outrage it has provoked and the taboos that still govern fictional portrayals of the monarchy...

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Mind your language

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I am going to air a shocking proposal, now that we’re safely into 2008. It is about all right . Can it be alright ? The question is posed by a thoughtful reader whose letter I...

Stand by for a year of nostalgia for 1968

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Rod Liddle braces himself for a celebration of the events of 40 years ago — a time of leftist ferment and revolution, the dreary consequences of which we are still trying to...

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Hoggartian paradox

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Sir: For a second time Simon Hoggart takes aim at The Blair Years , on which I was the principal interviewer. In his column of 8 December (Arts), he was cross about the fact...

In defence of Ms Gibbons

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Sir: How contemptible of Rod Liddle to use his column for an ad hominem attack on Gillian Gibbons (‘The teddy-bear teacher was released too soon’, 8 December). It leaves a sour...

Give me a medal

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Sir: I note with interest Barry Humphries’s BT experience (Christmas notebook, 15–29 December). Our telephones failed recently and customer services instructed me over the phone...

Welsh Stalin

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Sir: I enjoyed Paul Johnson’s essay on the Ozymandian transience of dictators (And another thing, 1 December), but I must take issue with him on his description of Henry VIII as...

Top-shelf Spectator

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Sir: I recently bought my copy of The Spectator in my local supermarket. After the checkout girl had scanned it in, she asked me if I was over 18. ‘Eh?’ I replied. It transpired...

Korngold uncut

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Sir: Michael Tanner wrote that Decca’s recording of Das Wunder der Heliane , released in 1993, was ‘heavily and mercifully cut’. As the producer of the CDs, I can assure you...

Demon in the stable

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Sir: It was a pleasure to read Martin Gayford’s excellent article on the Portinari altarpiece by Hugo van der Goes (Arts, 15–29 December), but I suspect the spirit of Christmas...

Millions of Mohammeds

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Sir: I agree with Charles Moore’s curiosity (The Spectator’s Notes, 15–29 December) over the varying attitudes to the use of Jesus as a name in Christian countries (particularly...

Mersey, Mersey me

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Sir: May I congratulate you on a superb Christmas issue? I particularly loved Beryl Bainbridge’s lament for the Liverpool of her youth. But when she says ‘My Liverpool has gone...

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Brown, like Major, is falling prey to the media’s habit of linking unrelated stories

The Spectator

B efore Christmas, on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Sir John Major gave his thoughts on politics ancient and modern. Since leaving Downing Street Sir John has been sparing with...

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A cheer for the quetzal, a sigh for the heron

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B y far the most entertaining show in London is the comprehensive exhibition of paintings by Millais at Tate Britain. In addition to his genius for creating an image which...

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Too much zeal

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Graham Stewart S CARED To D EATH : F RoM BSE To G LoBAL WARMING by Christopher Booker and Richard North Continuum, £16.99, pp. 494, ISBN 9780826486141 ✆ £13.59 (plus £2.45 p&p)...

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Smitten for life

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Simon Baker T HE B AD G IRL by Mario Vargas Llosa Faber, £16.99, pp. 276, ISBN 9780571239337 ✆ £13.59 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 R icardo Somocurcio, the narrator of The...

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Growing old gracefully

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Anne Chisholm SomeWhere t oWardS the e nd by Diana Athill Granta, £12.99, pp. 183, ISBN 9781862079847 ✆ £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 N inety may be the new 70, but it...

Undoing the folded lie

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Grey Gowrie a n eW W aSte l and by Michael Horowitz New Departures, £25 (hardback), £15 (paperback), pp. 464, ISBN 9781906061098/ 9780902689183 W hen you buy this book (and buy...

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From one extreme to the other

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Jonathan Sumption ALGERIA: A NGER OF THE DISPOSSESSED by Martin Evans and John Phillips Yale, £19.99, pp. 352, ISBN 9780300108811 ✆ £15.99 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 D...

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Going on and on

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Malcolm Deas M Y L IFE by Fidel Castro, edited by Ignacio Ramonet, translated by Andrew Hurley Allen Lane, £25, pp. 724, ISBN 9780713999204 ✆ £20 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655...

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Always on the side of the wolf

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Carole Angier I T W AS THE N IGHTINGALE by Ford Madox Ford Carcanet, £14.95, pp. 272, ISBN 9781857549324 ✆ £11.95 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 P oor old Fordie. That was...

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Take another look at Millais

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Andrew Lambirth urges those who think they don’t like this artist to go and see this show L ast chance to see this large and lavish retrospective of the most famous of the...

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Beyond redemption

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Lloyd Evans Absurd Person Singular Garrick Women of Troy Lyttelton Cinderella Old Vic F ive years as a critic and I’ve never seen anything by Alan Ayckbourn. With a flicker of...

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Caught napping

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Ariane Bankes Sleeping & Dreaming Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London NW1, until 9 March 2008 ‘T o sleep, perchance to dream... ’. If only. We are supposed to spend...

Just get over it, love

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Deborah Ross Closing the Ring 12A, Nationwide I t would be good to be able to think of something nice to say about this movie, if only out of respect and affection for Richard...

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Reasons to be cheerful

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Marcus Berkmann I am an idiot. Last month, in this space, I proffered the usual random selection of favourite albums of the year, not a single one of which had actually been...

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Amid the mudflats

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Kate Chisholm I f you’ve been waking up at 3 a.m. after yet another nightmare about climate change, there’s been a well-timed antidote on Radio Four this week. On The Estuary...

Lies and humiliation

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Simon Hoggart W e said goodbye to Michael Parkinson and Andy Millman over Christmas. Andy Millman was the hero of Extras , whose finale went out on BBC1 on 27 December. This...

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Downers and uppers

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Taki N ew Year’s Eve parties cannot be described in lyrical terms, recalling perhaps the elegance of poetry by, say, Baudelaire, Oscar Wilde’s decadence being more like it. I...

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Hunting special

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Jeremy Clarke F oul weather and worse to come. Puddles in the farmyard. An 18th-century farmhouse with a cast-iron fox’s mask for a doorknocker. The door is ajar. Inside, men...

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High maintenance

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Melissa Kite S ince when did we become incapable of doing anything for ourselves? It started off with cleaners. In the bad old days only rich people had cleaners. Now everyone...

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I may have to get divorced: this happiness stuff makes time go too quickly

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W hat happened? Where did 2007 go? Come to think of it, where did the last 10 years go? It’s as though there’s an egg-timer on my desk that measures how much time I have left,...

Ancient & modern

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One moment laws against ‘religious hatred’, the next against smoking in cars, now mobile phones. What next? But then, law-making has been expanding ever since the Romans drew up...

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A friend of mine, a very busy man who knew

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that I had retired and had little to do except meet deadlines, asked me recently to help him find a flat for rent in a distant part of the country. It was part of the...

Q. I love my wife very much but would like

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your advice on how she might be cured of an annoying habit. Whenever a friend rings up and, no matter how long they talk for, my wife seems unable to wind up the call. This...

Q. An impoverished friend is getting married for the first

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time in later life. I have asked what he would like as a wedding present and even said how much I am prepared to spend. However he has been very coy, saying that he and his...

Q. I often run into a dear friend and neighbour

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when I’m boarding the train to London. I like to use this 90-minute journey to read but this friend always boards the train without reading matter. She likes to chat about...