Page 5

The bitterness of Brown sugar

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G ordon Brown’s rhetoric in his tenth and presumably final pre-Budget report on Wednesday was as robust as his morning appearances on radio and television were reassuringly...

Page 9

I was completely taken aback by the brutality of Casino Royale .

The Spectator

I had asked various friends who had seen the film, including two mothers who had gone with their children, whether they would recommend it. One mother told me that she and her...

Page 10

If Britain had its own Baker report on Iraq, this is what it would say

The Spectator

A fter so deftly avoiding any Iraq inquiry at home, Tony Blair will be cursing his luck to have walked straight into one in Washington. His talks with President Bush were...

Page 11

I t is strange to find myself at odds with several

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fellow Thatcherites, but it seems to me obvious that David Cameron’s first year as Tory leader, which falls this week, has been a success. What his critics cannot get into...

Page 14

A man who believes in Darwin as fervently as he hates God

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An unlikely bestseller championing atheism will fill many stockings this Christmas. Rod Liddle meets its author, Richard Dawkins, and asks if his opposition to religion is as...

Page 16

‘When we are bloodied, we bloody someone else’

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James Forsyth talks to Robert Kagan, the acclaimed author and adviser to John McCain, who says that America’s robust military role in the world will long survive the Bush...

Page 18

Kinnock: ‘Reid should not stand in Brown’s way’

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Tim Walker talks to the former Labour leader about the ambitions of John Reid, his own support for the removal of Saddam, and his view of David Cameron ‘C all me Neil, for...

Page 22

A terror so great we forgot it at once

The Spectator

The case of Dhiren Barot, the British al-Qa’eda chief jailed for 40 years, faded from the memory immediately. That’s because it revealed unbearable truths, writes Melanie...

Page 24

Anglicanism is alive and well in Umbria

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Topaz Amoore draws festive cheer from the vibrant Anglican community in Orvieto and enjoys the service taken by an American woman priest — a marvellous advert for ecumenism O...

Page 25

Mind your language

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A lovely framed photograph of some rhubarb, which Veronica took, hangs on the kitchen wall as I write — white where it has been pulled from the root, and then juicy red in the...

Page 26

The way out of this row is to privatise Oxford

The Spectator

The reform of the university is now to be put to a postal vote. But, says Martin Jacomb , the answer to Oxford’s dilemma is to liberate it completely from government control...

Page 28

The green gospel

The Spectator

From Paul Horgan Sir: I read the article by Allister Heath (‘It’s a wonderful world: richer, healthier and cleaner than ever’, 2 December) with interest. The author is...

From Mark Austin Sir: While I agree with the thrust

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of Allister Heath’s article, he has inadvertently made a statistical error in assuming (or giving the impression of assuming) that an average lifespan of, say, 30 in the past...

Oxbridge dropouts

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From Geoff Parks and Mike Nicholson Sir: Your article ‘Why so many state school pupils drop out of Oxbridge’ (2 December) is highly misleading. Oxford and Cambridge have the...

From Tommy Wide Sir: Charlie Boss says state school pupils

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are dropping out of Oxford ‘in unusually high numbers’. But he is wrong. Considering that 53.4 per cent of all students at Oxford are from state schools, a 60 per cent...

Invasions of the Bruce

The Spectator

From K.R. Houston Sir: In his review of the recently published biography of Conrad and Barbara Black, Byron Rogers recounts a spat he once had with Lord Black over what...

Page 30

‘If you want to destroy the Conservative party as it has existed for 150 years, press one’

The Spectator

I t must be odd, joining the Conservative party today. What do newcomers favour? The worldly-wise have long explained that Conservatism does not stand for much. It is what Tory...

Page 32

What happens when you inherit your uncle’s underclothes

The Spectator

J ust as the English have inspired supreme artistry in male dress, symbolised by Savile Row and Beau Brummell, so they have also contributed a dissenting movement of genteel...

Page 36

I’ve seen the future of food retailing — and it works

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Neil Collins meets the trio of former bankers behind Ocado, the online supermarket which is challenging the giants of the British grocery trade I t’s simple, this internet...

Page 37

Advertisement feature

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Martell’s country weblogger explains... Winter breaks Hello again! Well, I’ve been thinking about how close we are to Christmas and New Year – so much to do and to get...

Page 38

‘This is not an industry for pussycats’

The Spectator

Richard Orange elicits some blunt opinions on the mining boom from Rio Tinto boss Leigh Clifford I f you built a composite portrait of Leigh Clifford from the handful of...

Page 39

Enough, says Blair — but is anyone listening?

The Spectator

Given that the government’s lust for setting targets has done so much to increase bureaucracy in public services, one could be forgiven for a little scepticism regarding the...

Page 41

The perils of insouciance

The Spectator

Jonathan Davis says investors’ disregard for risk has paid off handsomely in 2006 — but it may not in 2007 A good general rule for investors is to take no notice of...

Page 42

A cold fish in deep water

The Spectator

Malcolm Deas A LEXIS DE T OCQUEVILLE by Hugh Brogan Profile, £30, pp. 448, ISBN 1861975090 ✆ £24 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T here are many studies of Tocqueville’s...

Page 43

Heads that wore the crown

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Robert Stewart M ONARCHY : F ROM THE M IDDLE A GES TO M ODERNITY by David Starkey HarperCollins, £20, pp. 319, ISBN 0007247508 ✆ £16 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 D avid...

Page 44

A map of the road to Hell

The Spectator

Adam LeBor T HE B EST I NTENTIONS : K OFI A NNAN AND THE UN IN THE E RA OF A MERICAN P OWER by James Traub Bloomsbury, £20, pp. 464, ISBN 0747580871 ✆ £16 (plus £2.45 p&p)...


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A limp soft-soaper, he wouldn’t say Boo to a goose. Cautiously neutral, he tried emollience, thereby creating genocide the massacre of the Tutsis by the Hutus. He similarly...

Page 45

Up close and personal

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Harry Mount N EW Y ORK : L IFE IN THE B IG C ITY by Will Eisner Norton, £19.99, pp. 423, ISBN 039306106X ✆ £15.99 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 M y apologies to the...

Page 46

Lesser lives in the limelight

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Simon Baker I f James Boswell could glance at a few recent issues of The Spectator , he would be delighted to see that the literary form he did so much to modernise is...

Page 47

Christmas cookery books

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Elfreda Pownall L ast year Jamie Oliver was seen on television grinning with pleasure as a class of tiny Italian children accurately named every vegetable he held up to them....

Page 48

A mixed blessing

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Matthew Dennison M URIEL P ULLS I T O FF by Susanna Johnston Arcadia, £17.99, pp. 175, ISBN 1905147244 ✆ £14.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 ‘L onely hopelessness’...

Page 49

The subtle art of suggestion

The Spectator

Francis King C REATURES OF THE E ARTH by John McGahern Faber, £16.99, pp. 408, ISBN 9780571225668 ✆ £13.59 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 P rematurely, John McGahern...

Page 50

Will Count Olaf prevail?

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Ian Samson A S ERIES OF U NFORTUNATE E VENTS : B OOK THE T HIRTEENTH : T HE E ND by Lemony Snicket Egmont, £6.99, pp. 368, ISBN 10405226730 ✆ £5.59 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870...

Hell and its afterlife

The Spectator

Ian Thomson D ANTE ’ S I NFERNO : A V ERSE T RANSLATION by Sean O’Brien Picador, £15, pp. 247, ISBN 0330441108 ✆ £12 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 I n 1882, while on...

Page 51

Children’s books for Christmas

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Juliet Townsend D ecember, as far as children’s books are concerned, is the month of the hardback. For the rest of the year the young are fobbed off with soft covers, but the...

Page 52

A choice of crime novels

The Spectator

Harriet Waugh I an Rankin is back on splendid form with The Naming of the Dead (Orion, £17.99). The novel is set in the week of the G8 meetings at Gleneagles in 2005 when...

Page 53

A selection of recent paperbacks

The Spectator

Fiction : Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (Penguin, £7.99) The Story of General Dann and Mara’s Daughter, Griot and the Snow Dog by Doris Lessing...

Page 54

The importance of being Henrik

The Spectator

Paul Binding H ENRIK I BSEN AND THE B IRTH OF M ODERNISM by Toril Moi OUP, £25, pp. 396, ISBN 0199295875 ✆ £20 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T he celebrations and...

Surprising literary ventures Gary Dexter

The Spectator

S ANTA ’ S T WIN (1996) by Dean Koontz Dean Koontz is the author of the schlock-horror novel Demon Seed (later a film) about a woman who is raped by a computer. Further...

Page 55

Objects of affection

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Mary Wakefield talks to Craigie Aitchison about Bedlingtons — and about his painting B y five o’clock last Thursday evening, Craigie Aitchison and I had been talking about...

Page 56

Bird’s-eye views

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Andrew Lambirth The Past from Above: through the lens of Georg Gerster British Museum, until 11 February 2007 London: A Life in Maps British Library, until 4 March 2007 G...

Page 58

Going wild

The Spectator

Laura Gascoigne Vincent van Gogh and Expressionism Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, until 4 March 2007 I n November 1905, in the Galerie Ernst Arnold, four young architecture...

Page 60

Time for change

The Spectator

Stephen Pettitt W as it the adorable Mrs Stacey, fount of all knowledge whether in fields of Greek mythology or of wild flowers, who let us know? Or was it dull Mr Jenkins, the...

Page 62

Wings of desire

The Spectator

Ursula Buchan T here are precious few growth areas in horticultural retailing at the moment, but sales of garden bird food are certainly one of them. Despite the fact that...

Page 63

Supreme challenge

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Michael Tanner The Ring Mariinsky Theatre, Millennium Centre, Cardiff A ny article about a production of Wagner’s Ring cycle has to begin by saying that it is the supreme...

Page 64

New chapter

The Spectator

Giannandrea Poesio Royal Ballet Triple Bill Royal Opera House Darcey Bussell and Igor Zelensky Sadler’s Wells I was unable to review the new Royal Ballet triple bill...

Stormy waters

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Peter Phillips P eriodically, Radio Three sails into stormy waters, a section of its listeners taking a dislike to some new policy intiative and crying ‘dumbed down’. Off...

Page 65

Cultural debate

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Toby Young Amy’s View Garrick Whipping It Up Bush S ome playwrights mellow with age, but not David Hare. His sense of righteous indignation knows no bounds. According to...

Page 66

Past perfect

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Charles Spencer I t was one of those perfect New York days that make you feel grateful to be alive. I’d eaten my favourite breakfast pancakes with maple syrup and crispy...

Page 67

Chick flick

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Deborah Ross Happy Feet U, nationwide T his film has been a big hit in America and for the life of me I can’t understand why. Am I completely out of step? Am I a misery...

Page 69

Getting real

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Kate Chisholm I f, like me, you’re struggling to keep up with all the different ways you can now listen to music, watch your favourite videos and soaps, blog your own...

Funny girls

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James Delingpole T here’s a programme I sometimes do on the right-wing guerilla media website 18 Doughty Street which I think you might enjoy. It’s called Culture Clash ,...

Page 71

Yesterday’s parties

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Taki New York T his is the time of year that the Bagel’s social season hits its apex, with a whole galaxy of parties, galas, benefits, openings, dinners and balls all made...

Page 72

Ticket to ride

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Jeremy Clarke T he ticket office window was open for business, but the woman was out the back performing a delicate operation with a stick of purple lip-gloss. The imminent...

Page 74

The art of underachieving

The Spectator

Tom Norrington-Davies says that taking shortcuts in the kitchen is suddenly considered stylish O n occasion the life of a cookery writer is akin to that of a Hollywood player....

Page 76

Scents and sensibility

The Spectator

Celia Lyttelton on the ultimate ego trip — creating a scent of one’s own T he fragrance industry has robbed scent of its mystery, replacing natural ingredients with...

Page 78

Small, but perfectly formed

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Jonathan Ray discovers the many pleasures of Geneva T here was an irritating symmetry to our weekend in Geneva. Like the naive idiots that we are, my wife and I decided to save...

Page 82

To Russia (in Notting Hill) with love

The Spectator

‘C andles burnt brightly on the huge fir tree. Glass ornaments, gingerbread men, sweet sugar plums and mysterious parcels hung from the branches.’ This vision of a Christmas...

Page 87

Dalton’s millions

The Spectator

FRANK KEATING T his year’s Sportsbook of the Year is Unforgivable Blackness (Pimlico), a vividly enlightening new biog of Jack Johnson, the first black American boxing...

Q. In the summer I became engaged to a sweet

The Spectator

young thing. We did not wish to announce our good fortune in the newspapers and have not yet set a date for our wedding. As Christmas draws nearer we are wondering to what...

Q. As the principal of a school, I occasionally have

The Spectator

to travel abroad. During a visit to a school in south China I was generously entertained and called upon to eat some awful stuff by my kind hosts. Remembering my grandmother’s...

Q. Further to your correspondence over the bachelor office colleague

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with personal hygiene problems, I have a bachelor friend who, I know, lies in a bath twice a day yet still stinks. The problem is clearly his clothes. His suits and trousers...