5 JULY 2003

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T he government set out some pretty rum plans for homosexual partnerships, securing tax benefits and severance by

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'divorce', in a paper called 'Civil Partnership: A framework for the recognition of same-sex couples'. After a last-minute procedural concession by the government, the Commons...

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Break a bad law

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T ony Blair has deserved praise for , his commitment to the building of democracies in parts of the world where political debate has more commonly been conducted via the...

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O n Saturday, I shall be beside the Eiffel Tower, hoping

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to see David Millar win the Prologue of the centennial Tour de France. Until last year, I'd long followed the Tour at a distance, but never in person. Then I was asked to write...

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ight the government have put the life of an intelligence agent at risk?

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m ost prime ministers arrive at 10 Downing Street battlehardened. Not so Tony Blair. He had an easy ride to the top: the fortuitous arrival as a young MP; his swift emergence as...

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INi r ell done the rapidrebuttal unit of the British Chamber

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of Commerce. The announcement of the Corporate Social Responsibility Bill, tabled by the Labour MP Linda Perham and enjoying the support of Labour's latest back-bench desperado,...

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Let's hear it for traffic wardens

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They are among the most hated people in urban Britain and — because many of them are from west Africa — often the victims of racial abuse. But, says Andrew Gimson, without...

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Mind your language

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I was just looking up malarkey when my husband called out in the tones of a man who has found a glass eye in his porridge. 'Looks like yours,' he said, fishing a bit of paper...

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Whistling in the dark

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Simon Nixon says the government is powerless to prevent an energy crisis that could strike as early as this winter p ower cuts and rolling blackouts are about as Old Labour as...

Ancient & modern

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Greeks and Romans loved lists, from Tables of Persons Eminent in Every Branch of Learning together with a List of Their Writings to Words Suspected of Not Having Been Used by...

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Tomorrow he'll be yesterday's man

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Howard Dean, Democratic front-runner, is arrogant and thin-skinned, says Mark Steyn, and pretty soon he'll be forgotten New Hampshire 1 t's always slightly discombobulating...

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If I should die, blame the top five performance indicators

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T , he will to live is a wonderful if, at times, inexplicable thing. Mine deserted me midway through this assignment. It just went. I was logged on to the Audit Commission's...

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I'm boring, I'm ugly and I can't write

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Actually, none of this is true of James Delingpole, but he wants to make it dear that he won't succumb to the English disease of bogus self-deprecation im y new book, Thinly...

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Black fascism

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The white liberals who opposed apartheid are despised; the blacks who supported it are eulogised. Andrew Kenny on the oppressive humbug of the ANC Cape Town A nyone who wants...

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The Faustian bargains of a vexatious litigant

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ii n yet another futile attempt to get my CDs in order. I serendipitously unearthed a disc I had been looking for in vain — Beecham's 1929 recording, in English, of Faust....

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Will Europeanism be Blair's answer to Thatcherism?

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t last an opinion poll has suggested that Mr Blair might not remain prime minister for as long as he likes. By the time this appears, another opinion poll might return to what...

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In praise of virtue

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From Mr Ron West Sir Rod Liddle makes the standard CChange mistake of associating traditional morality with hostility to freedom Mack to basic instincts', 28 June). It is no...

Jobs galore

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From Dr Madsen Pine Sir: Ross Clark's article on public-sector jobs overhauling private-sector ones ('Public scandal', 28 June) is by no means the whole story. This week we...

From Dr Bany Mope Sir: Ross Clark made some excellent

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points in his piece on public-sector pay, but spoiled it with some ill-informed remarks about GPs: pay. Indeed, it is disappointing that The Spectator should swallow government...

Full of care From Kate Bulbulian Sir: I read with

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interest Mark Steyn's arti cle ('Others can do the caring', 21 June). He said he was unable to 'find Will Day's Iraq'. This might not be surprising, since he travelled to...

Fear of death

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From Dr Andrew D. Lawson Sir: Richard Comber is right to point out the inappropriateness of some care offered to the elderly ('It could be you'. 28 June), and I am sure that he...

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Taki's testimonial

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From Lord Black of Crossharbour Sir: After the letters Taki and I have exchanged in your columns over several years, I would be remiss if I did not express my gratitude for his...

I thought of it first

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From Mr Daniel Hannan Sir: Stephen Glover returns to the question of who was first to suggest a referendum on the EU Constitution (Media studies. 28 June). I flagged up the idea...

A curb, not a ban

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From Mr Norman Baker Sir: Alan Judd's representations about my comments on 4x4 vehicles (Motoring, 26 June) are entirely wrong. I have absolutely not called for a ban on 4x4...

Against the rope

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From Mr Peter Leapman Sir: I don't suppose we should blame Paul Johnson for portraying George Orwell as a sort of instinctive Tory (And another thing, 28 June), but at least one...

Planes and trains

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From Mr Antony Bird Sir: Richard Branson (`Come fly with me', 28 June) mentions Lindbergh, the Wright brothers, Alcock and Brown, but omits the first aeroplane to fly the...

From Frances Slaymaker Sir: Perhaps Sir Richard Branson's £5 million

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might be better employed ensuring that there is a working boiler on his West Coast train service, so that passengers may enjoy a hot drink on the five-hour stint between Penrith...

Archer: there was no letter

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From Julia Simpson Sir: Your correspondent Rod Liddle ('Some are more guilty than others', 14 June) made reference to a Home Office letter suggesting that Jeffrey Archer should...

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The persecution of Mr Gilligan by Mr Campbell has been odious

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M any people distrust the BBC. They may like the idea of it, but often deplore the practice. They suspect that journalists who work for it are metropolitan lefties. But such...

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My policy overhaul leaves a blank space at the usual people's expense

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have been wondering whether the his toric overhaul of Europe's Common Agricultural Policy will get as far as this column. Overhaul? Historic? Well, that's what it says on the...

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A random harvest

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To celebrate The Spectator's 175th anniversary, Digby Durrant has been looking through past literary pages W hen invited to see how writers have fared at the hands of The...

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SIR ROCCO FORTE F requent travellers have been thin on the ground for the last few months so I thought this column should set an example by returning to The Spectator. I today...

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Unlikely maid of honour

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Hugh Massinqberd ELIZABETH: THE SCANDALOUS LIFE OF THE DUCHESS OF KINGSTON by Claire Gervat Century', £17.99. pp. 306. ISBN 0712614516 `1( iss me, Chudleigh,' quipped Auberon...

Besides, the wench is dead . . .

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William Leith VIRGINIA by Jens Christian Grondahl Canongate, £7.99, pp. 121, ISBN 1841954101 D enmark, 1942. The country is occupied by the Germans. At night, Danes lie in...

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The Grand Tour

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Douglas Johnson LE TOUR: A HISTORY OF THE TOUR DE FRANCE by Geoffrey Wheatcroft Simon & Schuster, £16.99, pp. 378, ISBN 0743231104 M ost French newspapers have a section...

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Sense and sensibility

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Anne Chisholm THE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT by Anita Brookner Viking, £16.99, pp. 246, ISBN 0670914363 L iterature, in Anita Brookner's novels, is never a source of comfort. Often,...

Back to the drawing board

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Emma Tennant THE ECLIPSE OF ART by Julian Spalding Layzell, £12.95, pp. 126, ISBN 3791328816 J ulian Spalding has spent more than 30 years as a gallery curator and director....

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The new wizard of Oz

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John de Falbe A FEW SHORT NOTES ON TROPICAL BUTTERFLIES by John Murray Penguin, £14.99, pp. 274, ISBN 0670913472 T wo kinds of character predominate in the eight stories...

Ugla in Wonderland

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Tony Gould THE ATOM STATION by HaIldor Laxness, translated by Magnus Magnusson Hamill, £10.99, pp. 180, ISBN 1843430436 his novel is a bit of an oddity. To start with, the...

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Amid the alien limbs

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John Kenworthy-Browne THE PLEASURES OF ANTIQUITY: BRITISH COLLECTORS OF GREECE AND ROME by Jonathan Scott Yale, £40, pp. 340, ISBN 0300098545 1 n 1882 the German archaeologist...

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Trouble and strife

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Michael Vestey THE FUN FACTORY: A LIFE IN THE BBC by Will Wyatt Aurum Press, £20, pp. 363, ISBN 1854109154 W ill Wyatt opens this account of his 34 years at the BBC with the...

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The sacred in secular societies

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Tom Flynn on the international controversy about the repatriation of human remains T hose nations and cultural groups lobbying Western museums for the restitution of cultural...

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Brilliant Power

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Andrew Lamb irth Bridget Riley Tate Britain until 28 September A t r Millbank is currently one of the best etrospective exhibitions I've seen — an eloquent selection of...

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Neglected master

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Simon Heifer on the composer George Lloyd, who died five years ago G eorge Lloyd would have been 90 last week: and this week is the fifth anniversary of his death. He was...

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Drooling Danoraks

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Marcus Berkmann T he last time Steely Dan had a new album out, the new Oasis one came out the same day. This time Radiohead unleashed their latest grim-faced masterpiece of...

Going nowhere

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Michael Tanner A Streetcar Named Desire El N ilia Barbican W hen a play is well known to everyone in an educated audience, and in a particular production at that, there must...

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Nature takes its course

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Ursula Buchan I didn't used to be very keen on golf. It was less that it spoiled a good walk as spoiled a good landscape, in my opinion. I couldn't be doing with all those...

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Levity and levitation

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Robin Holloway H ard on the climactic goal of the academic year — exams, marking them, eager students clustering round the noticeboards outside the Senate House to find their...

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Musical chairs

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Toby Young Mamma Mia! Mandalay Bay Theater, Las Vegas The Violet Hour Steppenwolf Theater, Chicago Gypsy Shubert Theater, New York New York I 'm writing this from my room in...

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Independent spirit

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Mark Steyn K t i harine Hepburn arrived in ollywood in 1932, to appear in A Bill Of Divorcement. She walked in and George Cukor showed her some sketches and she said, 'Well, I...

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Civilising influence

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Michael Vestey A lthough it was first broadcast 34 years ..ago, those who watched Kenneth Clark's series on the history of Western European culture, Civilisation on BBC2, still...

Glasto etiquette

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James Delingpole A fter I got back from Glastonbury this rlyear, I did as I always do and watched it on TV (BBC3 — which did an excellent job, apart from playing way too many...

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No soppiness, please

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Taki Al Marshal Blucher spluttered to the ron Duke at the conclusion of the Battle of Waterloo, 'Quelle affaire!' I am talking about my three wonderful weeks in England. The...

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Time to fight back

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Jeremy Clarke R ight, that's it. On the morning of the 87th anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme I'm lying in bed listening to a news 'update' on our local...

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Last of the ladies

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PetroneIla Wyatt S hould this column be more frugal or less frugal? As an unelected column should it be allowed to ask someone else to squeeze its toothpaste tube? Should it be...

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Tears at bathtime

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MICHAEL HENDERSON definition of nationality can be a tricky business. Gustav Hoist was English, Vladimir Nabokov was American, and Wassily Kandinksy began life as a Russian,...

Q. I have been giving a summer drinks party in

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my London garden each year for the past 20 years. It has become something of a fixture on the social calendar and I am loth to give it up, but now a ruthlessly frank friend has...

Q. I will shortly be hosting a small houseparty in

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Ireland. My guests inhabit very different worlds, and there will be representatives from the musical, literary and racing fraternities. I fear there will be very little common...

Q. I've a terrible feeling that Brian Sewell isn't as

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posh as he pretends to be. Could you advise me on how I should behave if I meet him? P.W., St George's Square, London SW1 A. Brian is actually lower-upper-middleclass, but his...