Page 3

Make your excuses and go

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P oliticians, like novelists, are obsessed by posterity. Practitioners of the here and now — tomorrow’s headline, the latest poll, the next electoral hurdle — they nurse secret...

Page 7

Tokyo T he earthquake wakes me up. One moment I am

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sleeping and the next it feels as though I am on a waterbed with Hugh Hefner and four Playboy Bunnies. All I can do is hold on. There is an earthquake every day in Japan and...

Page 8

Number 10 and the Treasury are fundamentally at odds over the economy

The Spectator

T here is something wonderfully Scottish about the way in which Alistair Darling made his move against Gordon Brown. Rather than stage a dramatic ambush in the Commons, as...

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MONDAY Everyone’s gone Palin crazy! Poppy, Jenny, Lucy and Ellie all came in with their hair teased into frightening up-dos this morning. I might have to go through Mummy’s...

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Labour’s punishment freaks are hounding honest citizens

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Ross Clark says that far from keeping our streets safer or cleaner, the government’s new force of amateur policemen are ignoring the worst offenders and pursuing law-abiding...

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‘Whoever killed Benazir wants to kill me’

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Christina Lamb interviews the husband of the late Benazir Bhutto, Asif Ali Zardari, who hopes to be named President of Pakistan this Saturday Islamabad O n the wall above Asif...

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Mind your language

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The Earl of Cottenham’s surname is Pepys. He doesn’t pronounce it peeps , like the diarist, but peppiss , stressed on the first syllable. It’s almost impossible to know how to...

Never mind the Olympics — get set for the Jubilee

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Free and open to everyone, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 will eclipse the London Games, says Robert Hardman — an unforgettable tribute to the monarch M illions gathered on...

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A pilgrim’s progress for the 21st century

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Mary Wakefield talks to the author William P. Young, whose self-published religious novel has astounded the publishing world and sold nearly two million copies B ecause I spoke...

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In defence of David Southall

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Theodore Dalrymple examines the evidence against two much-vilified British paediatricians, Professors Southall and Meadow, and finds it sadly lacking O ne of life’s...

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What possessed McCain to take a punt on Palin?

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Rod Liddle says that the appointment of an inexperienced, gun-toting former beauty queen as his running mate may well be John McCain’s undoing A h, just when you pro-Republican...

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Heartbeats of delight

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Sir: Few would disagree with Paul Johnson’s view that prolonging the human lifespan is of little value if it merely gives us extra years of Alzheimer’s and debility (And another...

Russia unhinged

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Sir: Vladimir Putin recently implied that John McCain was to blame for the war in Georgia. Russian intelligence claims that American military instructors have been in the war...

Famous last words

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Sir: I don’t think that Martin Vander Weyer (‘Forget economic recovery, Gordon’, 23 August) is correct in intimating that Blackadder was the source of the famous line ‘What we...

Cocktails in purgatory

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Sir: My old friend Taki says (High life, 30 August) that the French ambassador who was sacked because he described Israel as a ‘s****y little country’ is now ‘giving cocktail...

In search of honour

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Sir: Taki’s admiration for the samurai’s honour code (High life, 23 August) and his repeated words of praise for the Wehrmacht in past columns deserve the following comments:...

Riefenstahl’s record

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Sir: Jonathan Mirsky correctly identifies (Letters, 23 August) the ‘ceremonial Potemkin’ of the Beijing Olympics but he is wrong to state that Leni Riefenstahl’s film Triumph of...

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A new cold war means spies. But what can Russia offer Oxbridge graduates these days?

The Spectator

I f that nice Mr Medvedev is right, and Russia is indeed braced for a new cold war, then the spooks must be on a recruitment drive. Ours, obviously, but theirs too. So spare a...

Page 26

High-pitched buzzing from the booksy girls and boys

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W hen I first experienced literary life in London it was 1955 and poor Anthony Eden was prime minister. His delightful wife Clarissa was to be seen at literary parties and,...

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King coal prepares for a comeback

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Neil Barnett says the miners’ union that took on Margaret Thatcher and lost is now talking surprisingly good sense about Britain’s future energy security T he National Union of...

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Nice pork, pity about the pizza

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Judi Bevan finds her local Lidl discount store full of bargains — but not Boden-clad middle-class shoppers I ntrigued by reports that the middle classes are shopping at the...

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A chilly professional

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Jane Ridley T HE F ORGOTTEN P RIME M INISTER : T HE 14 TH E ARL OF DERBY by Angus Hawkins Oxford University Press, £30, pp. 521 ISBN 9780199204410 W ho was the 14th Earl of...

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Bright sparks of the Dark Ages

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Tom Holland T RAVELLING H EROES : G REEKS AND T HEIR M YTHS IN THE E PIC A GE OF H OMER by Robin Lane Fox Allen Lane, £25, pp. 514, ISBN 9780713999808 ✆ £20 (plus £2.45 p&p)...

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The iceman cometh

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Sara Wheeler T RUE N ORTH : T RAVELS IN A RCTIC E UROPE by Gavin Francis Polygon, £9.99, pp. 266, ISBN 9781846970788 ✆ £7.99 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T his is an...

A far cry from Paradise

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Anita Brookner T HE G ATE OF A IR : A G HOST S TORY by James Buchan Quarcus, £14.99, pp. 224 ISBN 9781847244673 ✆ £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T his strange novel is...

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Rekindling life in a dead frame

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Caroline Moore T HE C ASEBOOK OF V ICTOR FRANKENSTEIN by Peter Ackroyd Chatoo and Windus, £16.99, pp. 296 ISBN 9780701182953 ✆ £13.59 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 W hy...

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The châtelaine and the wanderer

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Anne Chisholm I N T EARING H ASTE : L ETTERS BETWEEN D EBORAH D EVONSHIRE AND P ATRICK L EIGH F ERMOR edited by Charlotte Mosley John Murray, £25, pp. 416 ISBN 9780719568589 ✆...

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Brave new writing

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Fifty years ago, Alan Sillitoe’s first novel, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, changed the history of English fiction. Richard Bradford explains how. A lan Sillitoe is 80...

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Breaking the rules

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‘T he result is a minor masterpiece, so good that one can even forgive the author’s affected forays into demotic English (‘don’t’ and ‘wouldn’t’ for ‘did not’ and ‘would not’,...

Page 39

Top drama at bargain prices

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Lloyd Evans talks to the Donmar’s artistic director Michael Grandage about his Wyndham’s venture I t might so easily have gone wrong for Michael Grandage. In 2002 he was...

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Family business

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Andrew Lambirth Painting Family: The De Brays, Master Painters of 17th Century Holland Dulwich Picture Gallery, until 5 October Cecil Collins — A Centenary Exhibition Monnow...

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Colour and

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energ y Michael Tanner Love and Other Demons Glyndebourne I only caught up with Glyndebourne’s newly commissioned opera at its penultimate performance. It was a courageous...

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All she needs is love

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Deborah Ross The Duchess 12A, Nationwide T he Duchess is probably no more than a most handsomely mounted costume drama which is no bad thing if you happen to like handsomely...

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Missing the mark

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Toby Young RocknRolla 15, Nationwide G uy Ritchie’s career has been in the doldrums recently. Having tried to remake Swept Away , then following it up with a Kabbalah-inspired...

Page 45

Conservative mores

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Lloyd Evans Tory Boyz Soho Sick Room Soho The Pretender Agenda New Players T he Conservatives were once a party of proud Etonians and closet homosexuals; now they’re a party...

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Creative differences

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Marcus Berkmann F andom can be a lonely place. If you love a band, truly love a band with that slightly teenage desperation you hope never to grow out of (until they make a...

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Marriage lines

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Kate Chisholm W eddings! You couldn’t avoid them on Radio Four this week. As if Usha plighting her troth with Alan not just once, but twice, on The Archers Omnibus was not...

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Escapist froth

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James Delingpole B efore I get on to TV, can I tell you about my horrible health-scare thing, oh, can I, can I? Right, well I’ve been having this horrible health-scare thing...

Character call

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Robin Oakley T he one advantage of missing last Saturday’s race day at Sandown, thanks to being encased at the time in a throbbing MRI scanner at St Thomas’s Hospital, was the...

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Driving out dragons

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Taki Gstaad ‘ G oblins and devils have long vanishedfrom the Alps, and so many years have passed without any well-authenticated account of a discovery of a dragon that dragons...

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Toeing the line

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Jeremy Clarke I ’m down in the bar underneath the stand at half time and everyone’s exceedingly jolly. The team isn’t playing badly for a change. At least we’re trying. Plus,...

Page 51

Baton twirling

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Alex James B rad, who has been my constant companion for the last couple of months, was just starting to appreciate the strange power of television. The terrible authority, the...

Page 52

The skinny on sportswear

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James Sherwood seeks suitable jogging attire T here are few things more sanctimonious or self-deluding than a lifelong devotee of Marlboro reds and gin martinis like me...

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Meet the real Donna

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Charlotte Metcalf finds a friend on the Mamma Mia! island T o the north of the island of Skopelos is a huge rock topped by a tiny monastery. Below it lies a bay of sparkling,...

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Why Kirsten Dunst banned me from the set of the film about my life

The Spectator

I n the current issue of Empire there is a piece by Bob Weide, the director of How to Lose Friends & Alienate People , in which he says that the reason I was banned from the set...

Ancient & modern

The Spectator

Apparently some scientists believe that the patterns in which bumblebees search for food — ‘geographic profiling’ is the technical term — could help detectives hunt down serial...

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A friend of mine, a professor at an Ivy League university,

The Spectator

specialises in research into transgenic mice, learning how DNA modifications affect intelligence and memory. A few years ago, after some genetic tinkering, he created a batch of...

Q. I have lived in Indochina for more than six

The Spectator

years but I am still invited to various society weddings, exhibition openings, concerts and parties in London. Here in Cochinchina plenipotentiaries are kind enough to include...

Q. In our country cottage we have no signal for

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mobiles and visitors have consequently always had to use the landline. In the past I have been very relaxed about this but now I want to save money. They always ask first, of...

Q. I have found a watercolour which has been languishing

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under wraps in our attic. It is by a well-known 18th-century artist and I would now like to put it to use in our drawing-room. The old 18th-century glass with which it was...