7 JUNE 2008

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Hail to the not-yet-Chief

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T he man who four short years ago addressed the Democratic party convention as a little-known state senator from Illinois will do so this August as his party’s nominee for...

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L ast weekend I discovered what it is like to be

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a small furry animal in its burrow, when in an effort to catch up on some sleep and do some work, I had refused to go out and instead sat steadfast in my living-room. I was...

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Welcome to Brownland, where everything that goes wrong is blamed on one man

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I t’s a funny old thing, the Labour party. For ten years it tolerated Tony Blair, hoping that if it put up with him long enough, it would get the leader it really wanted....

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N ever having watched Jonathan Ross, I have no opinion as

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to whether he is worth £18 million over three years, which is what the BBC is said to pay him. But the news that the BBC Trust had just reported that the BBC was not distorting...

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MONDAY Jed has reassured us that he will still be working full-time for Dave once he moves to America. All those silly people claiming his physical whereabouts makes a...

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‘If there’s a vote of no confidence on 42 days, we’ll win’

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In her only print interview, Jacqui Smith tells Matthew d’Ancona that her proposal for the detention of terror suspects does not undermine Magna Carta, that she is ‘frustrated’...

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Naked commercial greed meets Stalinist control

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When Leo McKinstry objected to his neighbours’ plan to build two blocks of flats, he quickly discovered the limits of ‘community empowerment’ under New Labour T here is an...

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McCain is in for a terrible shock if he wins

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Reihan Salam says that most Republicans have no idea how much the American social landscape has changed. They should learn from Obama’s Google-like appeal B ritain’s...

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I have a basic human right to look at fag packets

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Claire Fox says that plans to ‘denormalise’ smoking by removing cigarettes from display infantilises adults and imposes upon us a dubious official version of what is ‘normal’ H...

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S taying recently in a handsome French provincial city, I could

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not help thinking, as I walked down its silent cobbled streets at night, what it would have been like if it had been in England. How restful is that deep, urban silence, which...

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I don’t think my mum has much to fear from ‘Emos’

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Henry Sands meets a group of ‘Emos’ — ‘emotional’, blackclad teenagers — who claim to hate his mother for what she wrote about them in the Daily Mail . But they’re not very...

Page 22

An official no-go area for Christians?

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Excuse me: I need a drink Rod Liddle is outraged by the community support officer in Birmingham who threatened two Christian evangelical ministers with arrest for handing out...

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Poppy appeal

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Sir: Fraser Nelson’s article accurately outlines the urgent need to implement an alternative counter-narcotics policy in Afghanistan (‘The precarious peace in Helmand’, 28 May)....

The original Homer?

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Sir: Reading about Jeremy Clarke’s Homer Simpson talking bottle opener (Low life, 31 May) has not quite made me rush out and buy one, but I am pleased to discover that Homer is...

Bel canto

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Sir: Stephen Pettitt laments the lack of ‘dramatic cogency’ in bel canto opera (Arts, 31 May). But dramatic cogency has never been the purpose of opera. Since singing is not the...

Who’s the worst PM?

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Sir: I should not dream of challenging so august a source as Christopher Fildes (Letters, 24 May). I can only state that I definitely remember first coming across the Harold...

Self-justifying theology

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Sir: Nigel Stone is brilliant in exposing Gene Robinson’s self-justifying theology (Letters, 24 May), but the churches’ traditional repudiation of homosexuality does not stand...

Bureaucratic nightmare

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Sir: Dealing with the financial affairs of a deceased relative has made me wonder if standards in our service industries have declined. In correspondence with our major banks I...

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There are no ‘good’ teachers: the teacher who is good for you may wreck another’s prospects

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T he funny thing is that I’m not sure I ever knew her Christian name. No doubt she had one, and for no reason at all I think it might have been Jean, but to us she was so much,...

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‘Mr Pont, may I introduce you to Miss Austen?’

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T here is something infinitely touching about a creative artist who dies young, not before displaying sure evidence of a glorious gift but without having time to set up the...

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Will the wisdom of Warren Buffett translate into German?

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Matthew Lynn wonders whether the world’s greatest investor will be able to pick winners in continental Europe the way he has for more than four decades in the US I f Warren...

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The great box-ticker takes charge

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Richard Northedge T he Financial Services Authority has had only two chairmen since its creation in 1997, and as the Northern Rock debacle happened on the watch of the second...

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Painful birth of a new epoch of simplicity

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Tony Curzon Price says the current surge in prices signals the beginning of a new 40-year economic cycle A n unpopular, costly war; a sliding dollar; high levels of US...

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The autobiography of a fig leaf

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Philip Hensher P REZZA : M Y S TORY , P ULLING N O P UNCHES by John Prescott Headline, £18.99, pp. 416, ISBN 9780755317752 ✆ £15.19 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T here are...

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All the best tunes

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Charles Cumming D EVIL M AY C ARE by Sebastian Faulks (writing as Ian Fleming) Penguin, £18.99, pp. 320, ISBN 9780718153762 O n a damp spring evening in 1955, Ian Fleming...

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A selection of recent paperbacks

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Non-fiction : Singled Out by Virginia Nicholson (Penguin, £8.99) A Voyage Round John Mortimer by Valerie Grove (Penguin, £9.99) A History of Modern Britain by Andrew Marr (Pan,...

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Drawing a blank

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Liz Anderson T HE S TORY OF F ORGETTING by Stefan Merrill Block Faber, £14.99, pp. 313, ISBN 9780571237463 I can’t remember. How many times have we all made a similar response...

The intelligentsia head south

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Jonathan Beckman T HE S TANDING P OOL by Adam Thorpe Cape, £16.99, pp. 423, ISBN 9780224079419 ✆ £13.59 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 A dam Thorpe set his previous novel,...

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Sound and fury, signifying nothing

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Raymond Carr N APOLEON ’ S C URSED W AR by Ronald Fraser Verso, £29.99, pp. 587, ISBN 9781844670826 ✆ £23.99 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 I n exile on St Helena, Napoleon...

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Trouble and strife

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William Leith I NDIA : T HE R ISE OF AN A SIAN G IANT by Dietmar Rothermund Yale, £20, pp.274, ISBN 9780300113099 ✆ £16 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 I f anybody knows about...

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Getting to the heart of the matter

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Charlotte Moore B LEEDING H EART S QUARE by Andrew Taylor Michael Joseph, £16.99, pp. 480, ISBN 9780718153731 ✆ £13.59 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 A ndrew Taylor’s latest...

The decline of the West

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Patrick Skene Catling T HE L EGEND OF C OLTON H. B RYANT by Alexandra Fuller Simon & Schuster, £12.99, pp. 203, ISBN 9781847372758 ✆ £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 ‘T...

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The revolutionary, the president, the playwright

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Victor Sebestyen T O THE C ASTLE AND B ACK by Václav Havel Portobello Books, £20, pp. 383, ISBN 9781846271373 ✆ £16 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 A troika of heroic Slavic...

Miss Marella Mink

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She walks down the stairs descending into my eye with dark, crisp hair, freshly curled, her namesake’s fur around her neck. She is mischievous in her goodness and knows how to...

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A house and its history

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Paula Byrne M ADRESFIELD : T HE R EAL B RIDESHEAD by Jane Mulvagh Dovecote Press, £20, pp. 384, ISBN9781904349587 ✆ £16(plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T he new Brideshead...

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China’s piano fever

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Petroc Trelawny visits the world’s largest piano factory in the country where under Mao it was dangerous to play the instrument A s my plane makes its final approach into the...

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The savvy Mr Perry

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Andrew Lambirth Unpopular Culture De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea, until 6 July, then touring T his is not a review, for I haven’t yet seen the exhibition under discussion,...

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Hip-hop hell

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Marcus Berkmann I was on a number 43 bus the other afternoon, on a sparsely populated top deck, on my way to pick up my daughter from school, when three teenage boys came...

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Replica idols

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Lloyd Evans Never Forget Savoy Life Coach Trafalgar Studio The Common Pursuit Menier A glimpse of the Dark Ages at the Take That musical. During its greediest and naughtiest...

Stifling the Egyptians

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Michael Tanner Aida Wales Millennium Centre W elsh National Opera’s new Aida , directed by John Caird, is a moderate success, not more, and raises the question of why some...

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Saved by the horses

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Deborah Ross Mongol 15, Nationwide M ongol traces the early years of the legendary warrior Genghis Khan and does not feature, at any point, the world’s greatest...

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Confucian confusions

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Kate Chisholm T he Reith Lectures have been going for 60 years, the acme of Radio Four’s ambition to reflect the cultural heart of the nation, named after the man who believed...

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Top women

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Simon Hoggart T his weekend, by chance, brought us television biographies of the two most famous British women of the 19th century. They were very different programmes, for...

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Umbrian idyll

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Taki Città di Castello, Umbria A few years before the end of the 19th century, King Leopold of Belgium summoned his favourite banker, Baron Lambert, for an intimate chat over...

Tree talk

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Jeremy Clarke A ll my life I’ve tried to acquaint myself with trees by learning which ones are which, but the task seems beyond me. Wouldn’t it be praiseworthy, for example, to...

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Cosmic codes

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Melissa Kite I am a great one for omens. So the arrival in my inbox of two emails, completely unconnected, from two different people called Dirk had to be interpreted as a...

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Saffron studies

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Richard Sennett R ecently I enticed my niece to a gastronome’s dinner during the London Food Festival. She is about to enter university, and I thought it was about time she...

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Women! Get back in the kitchen!

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That’s the answer to the food-shortage crisis, says Rose Prince ‘M ust go, I have to cook dinner,’ said my friend Robin, who had dropped in on his way home from work. Jumping on...

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Rock the kasbah

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Mark Palmer discovers the lap of luxury in the Atlas mountains H ats off to Richard Branson’s mum. If it wasn’t for the formidable Mrs B, most of us wouldn’t be able to stay at...

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Clarkson and Monbiot are the same: they are just being true to themselves

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‘S ee that pot plant?’ said Jeremy Clarkson. ‘I could get a column out of that.’ We were at a supper party in Hay and indulging in that parlour game often played by newspaper...

Mind your language

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‘Why,’ asked my husband, looking up from his book, ‘is Joseph Gillott a very bad man?’ ‘What?’ I said. ‘Because,’ he replied, as if I had acknowledged defeat, ‘he wishes to...

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A s hard luck stories go, it might not be up

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there with Oliver Twist , but dammit last weekend my Sky went down. In that pathetic, fat-arsed nerdy way I had been planning the ideal weekend: bouncing happily from the climax...

Q. During a lavish lunch party last month, our host

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was insulting about my new boyfriend, whom I had brought along with his permission. His actual words were, ‘He’s not my particular cup of tea, darling.’ He said this privately...

Q. We are having to open our house up to

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the public for a certain number of days per year. My wife and I are in dispute over whether the necessary facilities should be signposted as ‘Toilets’ or ‘Lavatories’. I...

Q. I have a suggestion prompted by the accurate observation

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of A.G., London W8, in the 10 May issue, that people notice what one is looking at and naturally resent one looking at one’s watch. There is more than one solution to this...