6 JULY 1996

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S ixty-five Tory MPs signed a motion criticising a plan by Michael Portillo, the Defence Secretary, to sell off 60,000 army homes. Mr Portillo was also attacked by his mentor,...

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Mr Major's Government is drowning in dinner party soft-headedness BRUCE ANDERSON W ith less than a year to go before the general election, the Tory Party has only just decided...

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JEREMY ISAACS O n the morning of 4 July 1975 — it was semi-final day at Wimbledon — my brother Michael and his wife Ribbie left their two young boys, one two years old, the...

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Just a year before she wins Hong Kong, Michael Sheridan asks what a mighty new China intends for the world, especially her neighbours, and notes a possible comparison with the...

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Andrew Gimson says England is more now the country of Prussian military virtues, and Germany that of fair play Berlin THE GERMAN trainer Berti Vogts had one reservation about...

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Victoria Mather investigates why 'the season' is not as it was. One of the reasons is that Ivana the Trump has replaced Amelia the debutante THE SEASON, that swirl of parties...

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Second opinion AS WE all know, British doctors have many

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deficiencies, among them a ten- dency to drink too much and a complete lack of interest in their patients. Now the British Medical Journal reveals an even more serious...

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Peter Hall recalls when Britain asked Caribbeans to come here — and what happened to them when they did IMAGINE a time when there was full employment, a time indeed when labour...

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Mind your language

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THOSE Cerberuses of the small screen, the Broadcasting Standards Authority, have noted how many people are offended by profanities (`Jenis', and so on, taken in vain). But I was...

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Challenging the philosophical fallacy behind the rise of the idle poor PAUL JOHNSON I f there is one extinct species in Britain today it is the idle rich. Fifty years ago...

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Cowboy hats, welly-boots — the landed interest's party lands itself in the manure CHRISTOPHER FILDES F or the shattered British industry on parade at the Royal Show this week,...

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Sir: Anne McElvoy's excellent article spec- ulating on how homosexuals

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might vote in the general election seemed to be attempt- ing to rewrite history. She referred to a Rob Hayward who lost his seat for Kingston- upon-Thames at the last election....

Sir: I refer to the picture on the cover page

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of the issue of 29 June. Though you may have some reasons for adding the initials of the YMCA on to the clothes of one of these characters, I see in this a lack of good taste....

Sir: Anne McElvoy quotes Rob Hayward, 'amateur psephologist', as saying:

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'Lesbians are more invisible. They are more likely to settle down later into heterosexual relation- ships. ... ' I beg to differ. I have, in my time, been acquainted with a...


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Sir: It is seldom that one finds a Diary item that seems to beg as many questions as Alan Watkins's 'revelation' that Ian Har- greaves banished Ian Aitken from the pages of the...


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Pink and blue Sir: Despite Anne McElvoy's best efforts to tempt the Tories to chase the gay vote ('The vote that dare not speak its name', 29 June), the Conservative Party...

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Speak for yourself

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Sir: In his review of the biography of Jorge Luis Borges by James Woodall (Books, 29 June), David Sexton says that Borges's lack of sexual experience was a trauma for him,...

Waste of space

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Sir: Writing when respectable columnists were no more than a set of initials, Dorothy L. Sayers once defined a cad as the sort of man who had his picture on the rear cover of...

No thanks to Europe

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Sir: I am increasingly astonished by the EU's success in persuading commentators to ascribe to it achievements with which it had nothing to do. For instance, Bruce Anderson in...


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Sir: Alan Watkins's Diary piece on Sir Her- bert Butterfield (22 June) contains a large number of factual errors. My name is Patrick not Paul, I left New Hall almost two years...

We don't want to know

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Sir: Much as I admire Hilary Mantel as a novelist, I am less than enamoured of her as a book reviewer. I refer to her review of Penelope Lively's latest novel, Heat Wave, in...

Dotty guess

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Sir: Simon Cawkwell's challenge (Letters, 22 June) to readers to estimate Dot Wordsworth's age is too good to miss. Given her frequent references to her child Veronica, a name...

Prague bulls-eye

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Sir: Paul Johnson's eulogy of contemporary Prague as a sort of capitalist and moralist Valhalla (And another thing, 25 May) fails to take account of some of the brute facts on...

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Is a marketing man the right man for the Express? Perhaps the thing to do is to put it on the market STEPHEN GLOVER W hat would you do if you owned the Dail), and Sunday...

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Someone had blundered • it was me PETRONELLA WYATT B less them: none of my friends have mentioned it, not one. It is only shame and remorse now — and a less worthy concern to...

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Forever in amber Philip Hensher THE DICTIONARY OF NATIONAL BIOGRAPHY, 1986-1990 edited by C. S. Nicholls OUP, 450, pp. 607 T he Dictionary of National Biography, nicest of...

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The crown prince and the mummified dwarf

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Jonathan Keates CARL GUSTAV JUNG: A BIOGRAPHY by Frank McLynn Bantam, £25, pp. 640 I n the same way that everybody alive at the time recalls exactly what they were doing at the...

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Fighting his way back

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Allan Mallinson A QUESTION OF HONOUR: THE LIFE OF LIEUTENANT GENERAL VALENTINE BAKER PASHA by Anne Baker Leo Cooper, f12.95, pp. 180 `13$ on't say anything — you will ruin me.'...

Whose life is it anyway?

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Piers Paul Read MY OTHER LIFE by Paul Theroux Hamish Hamilton, £16, pp. 441 I n 1989 Paul Therowc published a novel, autobiographical in form, entitled My Secret Life which is...

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Twice the man he's cracked up to be

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Vicki Woods REACH FOR THE GROUND by Jeffrey Bernard Duckworth, £8.99, pp. 160 I n Reach for the Ground (as in real life over the past few years) Jeffrey Bernard shatters six...

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Calling them Names

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Martin Vander Weyer BLONDE AMBITION by Samantha Phillips Century, £9.99, pp. 256 S amantha Phillips is that photogenic blonde who made headlines some months ago by winning a...

Maintaining cordial relations

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Mary Keen GERTRUDE JEKYLL: ESSAYS ON THE LIFE OF A WORKING AMATEUR edited by Primrose Arnander and Michael Tooley Michaelmas Books, £20, pp. 256, available by mail order (£23...

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The topless towers of Manhattan

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Peter J. M. Wayne RISE OF THE NEW YORK SKYSCRAPER, 1865-1913 by Sarah Bradford Landau and Carl W. Condit Yale, £50, pp. 478 ELEGANT NEW YORK: THE BUILDERS AND THEIR BUILDINGS,...

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If you got it, flaunt it

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Helen Osborne LOITERING WITH INTENT: THE APPRENTICE by Peter O'Toole Macmillan, £20, pp. 410 As to the question, what is acting? It is my pleasure to remind you of the words...

A selection of recent paperbacks

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Fiction: High Fidelity by Nick Hornby, Indigo, £5.99 The Moor's Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie, Vintage, £6.99 Arabian Nights and Days by Naguib Mahfouz, Doubleday, £8.99 The Book...

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`We have the best opera in the world' As Rupert Christiansen bows out, he looks back over his six years as opera critic S ix years in any job is long enough, so this week I am...

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Portrait of an artist

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Martin Bailey believes a picture languishing in a museum vault is Van Gogh's portrait of Gauguin I n the vaults of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is a portrait of a man with...

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Changing landscape

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Edward Lucie-Smith believes contemporary Asian art is about to make a major impact over here T he world of contemporary art is vol- cano country — full of seismic rumblings and...

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Power play Peter Phillips R ecent mention in the press of John Birt's reforms at thaBBC brought to mind two comments on the way the Corporation runs itself, which I have long...


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The poor relation Leslie Geddes-Brown D amien Hirst has apparently scooped $400,000 in New York for his two cows in formaldehyde and the British Council has organised a show...

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Pop music

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Private obsession Marcus Berkmann trange days indeed,' as John Lennon sang shortly before some lunatic shot him. Reputations die quickly in pop music, but some artists vanish...

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War and Peace (National) By Jeeves! (Duke of York's) The Odd Couple (Haymarket) Novel approach Sheridan Morley O n the Cottesloe stage of the Nation- al, Nancy Meekler and...

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Mission: Impossible (PG, selected cinemas) Spooks but no sparks Mark Steyn I happened to see Mission: Impossible the same week I saw Spy Hard. One of them comes on like a...


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Battle of minds Michael Vestey T he BBC's senior foreign correspon- dent Martin Bell has reported from 80 countries and covered 11 wars. Last Sun- day he faced his 12th...

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The black experience Harry Eyres C aryl Phillips's novel The Final Passage, published in 1985, was an important book, as well as a beautiful and bleak one. A young black...

Not motoring

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Transport of delight Gavin Stamp S tanding on a rock a little upstream of Dumbarton Rock — the seat perhaps, but perhaps not, of King Arthur — is an obelisk erected to the...

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The turf

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Double talk Robin Oakley N ot too long after most Derbys that I can remember, the cry goes up, especially from those who did not back the winner, `Well, what did he beat?' The...

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Low life

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No dates in Marrakesh ' Jeffrey Bernard I have just had an offer from an Ameri- can, up-market, glossy magazine asking me if I would like to go to Marrakesh to write about it....

High life

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Lost weekend Taki Orvieto rvieto from a distance is a hell of a sight. As is the whole of Umbria. If Tus- cany is straight out of a film, Umbria is an opera set. Last Friday,...

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Country life Banking on

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pigs Leanda de Lisle F or the first seven years of our mar- riage, we lived in the farmhouse next to the outdoor pig unit. Perhaps that sounds bad, but, although pigs have a...


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BRIDGE Problems ahead Andrew Robson THIS WEEK we feature a typically awk- ward 3NT contract — a choice of long suits to establish and plenty of communica- tion problems. Can...

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PROVIDING a meal after the show impos- es subtler demands

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on a restaurant than merely serving up a good dinner. Late in the evening, after a lengthy opera or gru- elling play, one can be both tired and exhil- arated, in search of a...

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IN•THE•STRAND SIMPSON'S IN-THE-STRAND CHESS Karpov's crisis Raymond Keene GREAT PLAYER though he is, Anatoly Karpov has one recurring problem: he finds it difficult to put...

J 0114(1 .

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URA I ISLE OF I /SUE 11.40.101111/611 COMPETITION Der Lattenzaun Jaspistos IN COMPETITION NO. 1939 you were asked for a verse translation, close or loose, of Christian...

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A first prize of £25 and a bottle of Graham's Late Bottled Vintage 1989 Port for the first correct solution opened on 22 July, with two runners-up prizes of £15 (or, for UK...

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Fall of the killer-bunny Simon Barnes IT WAS like Olive Oyl reading the Molly Bloom soliloquy: 'The reason I feel so great is that I won another grand slam that I never won...


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• • Dear Mary. Q. My house is remotely situated. It is so far from the nearest habitation that the insurance company (I have a lot of valuable furniture) has agreed with the...