7 AUGUST 1999

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PORTRAIT OF THE WEEK Do not attempt to look at

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the eclipse of Tony Blair without rose-tinted spectacles M r George Robertson, the Secretary of State for Defence, was put forward as the next secretary-general of the North...

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The Spectator, 56 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LL t Telephone: 0171-405 1706; Fax 0171-242 0603 CHOOSE HUGHES I t is August and it is hot. The whole country seems to be in the...

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George Robertson has done well out of the war the peace will be harder BRUCE ANDERSON S ir Michael Jackson has suddenly become everyone's favourite General. Not since Sir John...

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ere I am in the noble but forgotten capital of the Ottoman principality of Mol- davia, searching for the unravelled intestines of my giant, one-eyed hero. I am on a ghoul- ish...

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Are we crazy to rank a minor Cabinet minister above the donkey nappies of Great Yarmouth? MATTHEW PAR RIS W hen I served on the Broadcasting Standards Commission, the others...

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John Laughland on how the European Left is increasingly irritated by our Prime Minister IT had to be roses. When the little Albanian girl in Pristina was photographed handing...

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Nicholas Farrell reports on the exotic company awaiting the Blair party on the Tuscan coast San Rossore, Pisa THEY call them the lucciole, the fireflies who stand by the road....

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resort 'HOW imaginative,' said friends en route to Tibet, or bound for a fortnight's water- colour course in a hilltop monastery in Umbria. 'How brave,' said other mothers as...

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Michael Heath


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Piers Paul Read hunts for the man to arrest the decline of the Catholic Church IT has always been clear to Roman Catholics in Britain that Cardinal Hume would be a hard act to...

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Mind your language

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'YOU'LL know,' said my husband in a harassing tone just as a wasp was trying to come between me and a cooling drink with a bit of borage floating on it. 'What's that funny...

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Mark Steyn looks long and hard for a Republican rival to George Dubya New Hampshire 'GOOD to see you, Mark,' said Dan Quayle, and looked me straight in the eye. Then he looked...

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Lombard life

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I AM sorry that Matt Barrett, Barclays' new chief executive from Montreal, is not bringing the Mark II Mrs Barrett with him. When I met her she was wearing a ball-gown, but her...

The one-trick pony

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THE Federal Reserve Bank of New York has a sideline in publishing comics, and I can say that The Story of the Federal Reserve Sys- tem is a worthy successor to Too Much, Too...

Sell signal

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EXCHANGES are falling over each other to turn into companies. Australia's Stock Exchange is already quoted on itself and has bid (unsuccessfully) for the Sydney Futures...


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Goodbye to the Throgmorton Street club I can't wait to knock it down CHRISTOPHER FILDES I have few ambitions left in the City, but I was there when the Queen opened the Stock...

Productive paradigm?

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YOU know how the new information tech- nology is making us all more productive? How it has rewritten economic laws and her- alded a brave new paradigm where growth can last for...

It's just a pain

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APPLYING this to his own working week, Stephen Roach finds that it includes six hours attributable to the dead weight of the information age (computer boot-up and shutdown: one...

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Fires can be a blessing, often very effectively disguised PAUL JOHNSON One also learns from fires. Years ago, when we lived in Iver, Bucks, one of our small children, sent to...

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Wodehouse's code

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From Mr Hany Lesser Sir: P.G. Wodehouse's wartime broadcasts did not portray the Germans as 'really jolly decent chaps' but as aggressive, callous and above all incompetent: had...

Beastly Germans

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From Professor J.R.Vincent Sir: Taki seeks to disconnect the Germans from Nazi anti-Semitism (High life, 24 July). Well, maybe. But the idea that the Germans have a natural...

From Odile Taliani Sir: Taki has an indisputable right to

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his opin- ion about the Germans, as does A.A. Gill. The only surprise is that it seems to have escaped a man of Taki's vast culture that Schubert was Austrian, not German. It...

Wagner's role models

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From Dr B.C. Ellis Sir: Mr Michael Portillo (Arts, 10 July) did an excellent service in dissecting some of the barnacles that the 20th century has attached to Wagner's personal...

From Mr John Bidwell Sir: I have recently had my

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short story A Boy at Seven published by Alexander Waugh. It recounts ten thoroughly miser- able years spent by the author at a leading Jesuit Catholic public school during the...

LETTERS Crimes of the cloth

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From Mr James McDonald Sir: Simon Caldwell's piece 'First the sus- pect then the crime' (31 July) is really too much. The article suggests that accusations of child abuse...

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Good hair day

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From Mr R.S. Hunt Sir: You call for a hundred pens to defend the reputation of the Countess of Wessex (Leading article, 31 July). You will find a dozen or so of them used...

Why Penny is right

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From Lady Powell Sir: Thank God for Penny Mortimer ('New Labour is riding for a fall', 17 July)! As one who, like her, hoped for a Labour victory at the last election, I salute...

Sting in the tail

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From Mr Tom Benyon Sir: I believe that the epitaph Peter Chadlington quotes ('How to rest in peace', 31 July): Remember, friends, as you pass by, As you are now so once was I....

A veteran speaks

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From Mr Jack Speight Sir: Uncharitable opinions held by first world war veterans about the French, according to David Watkins (Letters, 31 July), would have puzzled my late...

Too bad about Straw

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From Mr Robert Triggs Sir: With the greatest respect to the schol- arly and septuagenarian Paul Johnson (And another thing, 24 July), I thought his ven- omous hatchet-job on the...

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What paper drops a distinguished correspondent after 28 years? The Guardian, of course STEPHEN GLOVER I magine if the government put out a press release like this feeble...

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The distressing truth about our nocturnal lives PEREGRINE WORSTHORNE I disagree. At least some Spectator read- ers buy it in the hope of escaping through its pages into a...

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A master with two mistresses Bevis Hillier THE LE I I FRS OF WILKIE I n an after-dinner speech, Winston Churchill amused the company by recount- ing how he had been...

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Two wagers with providence

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Robert Oakeshott THE AFRICA HOUSE: THE TRUE STORY OF AN ENGLISH GENTLEMAN AND HIS AFRICAN DREAM by Christina Lamb Viking, £12.99, pp. 346 The walls are good and solid — almost...

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When the birds sing in Greek

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Lewis Wolpert THE MARRIAGE OF HEAVEN AND HELL by Peter Dally Robson, £16.95, pp. 225 V irginia Woolf suffered from manic depression all her life and Peter Dally, a...


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An English Garden in Provence by Natasha Spender Following the recent fire that swept through Natasha Spender's property, destroying much of the land, this is now the only...

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Artfully, seriously ludic

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Anita Brookner HEADLONG by Michael Frayn Faber, £16.99, pp. 3954 T he journey begins with a literal jour- ney: a couple travelling north with their young baby. They are going...


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Subscribe NOW! R&M 12 months 6 months (52 issues) (26 issues) UK 0 597 0 549 Europe 0 £109 0 £55 USA 0 US$161 0 US$82 Australia 0 Aus$225 0 Aus$113 Rest of World 0 £119 0...

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Restoration, creation and imagination

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Henry Hobhouse P erhaps because they live in such a Crowd with not much more than an acre of good land each, the English try to compose in their gardens an illusion of space by...

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Recent audio books

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Peter Levi T hirty years ago, I remember being puz- zled and excited by The Alexandria Quartet, but that was because I knew Lawrence Durrell and had admired him since the war...

Since writing this review, Natasha Spender's house and garden at

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Mas St Jerome have been devastated by fierce bush fire, whipped up by the mistral and needing 1,000 pompiers to control it. Most of the house, much of the interior and all the...

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Tear up the old rule books Where should 4 million new dwellings be built? Alan Powers investigates W henever an estate of newly built detached houses appears over a cornfield...

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John Piper (The Stables Gallery, Renishaw Hall, Sheffield, till 26 September) Romantic spirit Andrew Lambirth R enishaw Hall in Derbyshire is the seat of the Sitwell family,...

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New era Nicholas Dromgoole he last two ballets in the welcome Bolshoi season at the Coliseum were Swan Lake and Don Quixote. (And spare a drop Of gratitude that we have...

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Antony and Cleopatra (Shakespeare's Globe) Disposing of the Body (Hampstead) I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change (Comedy) Starting Here, Starting Now (Jermyn Street)...

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Top class Peter Phillips N ot surprisingly much has been written about the causes for England's recent abject performance at Lord's against the New Zealanders. In an article...

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The Consul (Holland Park) Menotti exposed Michael Tanner H ow bad is Menotti, and The Consul in particular? Not that the question is of great interest in itself, but the...

Pop music

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Sacred cows Marcus Berlunann W arm days, hot nights: a time for home truths. 'Let's face it,' said my friend Boyd the other evening, holding a Fleet- wood Mac compilation I...

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Strangers on a Train (PG, selected cinemas) Starring Hitchcock Mark Steyn I n her first novel, Strangers on a Train, Patricia Highsmith wrote: But love and hate, he thought...

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What tosh Michael Vestey A reader recently e-mailed the editor from New Zealand to urge him to send me to the abattoirs. It seemed a rather exces- sive punishment for my...

James Delingpole is away.

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High life

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Doing a Darling Taki Rottach on Tegernsee The Eighty Yard Run' is probably Irwin Shaw's best short story. The hero, Christian Darling, walks along the football field where he...

The turf

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Sex and showers Robin Oakley A t Glorious Goodwood the petunias are extra pink and the Pimms has a particu- lar zing. Leggy chestnut fillies carry them- selves with an...

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Country life

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Falling for it Leanda de Lisle P eter has now bought two horses. Ben, the chestnut I introduced to you in an ear- lier column, and Sky. Rather a hippy name, don't you think?...

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Singular life

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Posthumous dating PetroneIla Wyatt I like a double life — no, hang about, make that a treble one. The more compli- cated things are the better. Dissemble? Me? As Eliza...


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Get shorty Andrew Robson FOR THE past five years the chairman of the English Bridge Union has been Peter Stocken. A jigsaw puzzle maker by profes- sion, Peter has injected the...

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Take a great leap South Auberon Waugh ALTHOUGH a number of French wines were included in the tasting and one or two of them scored high marks, at the end of the day we have an...


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e/o Stevens Gamier Ltd 47 West Way, Botley Road, Oxford 0X2 0,JF Tel: (01865) 263300 Fax: (01865) 791594 Price No. Value Mute Parral Chenin Chardonnay 1998, Mendoza 12...

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By David Fingleton Eating out in Cape Town

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I HAD expected Cape Town and its sur- roundings to be beautiful, and its wines to be excellent. What I had not been prepared for were the variety and excellence of its...

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Bouts times Jaspistos IN COMPETITION NO. 2096 you were asked for a poem and given a rhyme- scheme. When I left for my holiday I knew perfectly well which poem I had taken this...


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British prospects Raymond Keene THE Smith & Williamson British Chess Championship now taking place at Scarborough has been weakened by the absence of many of the top British...

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A first prize of £30 and a bottle of Graham's Six Grapes Port for the first correct solution opened on 23 August, with two runners- up prizes of £20 (or, for UK solvers, the...

No. 2099: Self-deprecating

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'I'm a shrimp. . . 'I'm only a second trom- bone. . . I'm Nobody. . . '. You are invited to write a poem (maximum 16 lines) begin- ning with one of these three modest state-...

Solution to 1422: Wing

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ElenneleariBeildrld Amnon s Rim min i nod II SI1I1E 0 aro Annon a. N E TIT Ella. ereemien vE T E R N lignan in 0 Baron T aremenla el man no 1 iiiieriT iiAmiGn N li ilia'...

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The great escapism Simon Barnes 'DON'T worry about a valuables bag, lads,' the manager said to the visiting team. 'They're not thieves, just murderers.' Which would have been...


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Q. A friend of mine, whom I had previously credited with a high degree of intelligence and good taste, has just given birth to a female and proposes to call the child Hope. I...