Page 5

McCain, please

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W hy have the US primaries been so gripping? Partly because they are suffused with an optimism and energy that is conspicuously lacking from domestic British politics; partly...

Page 9

M y daughter telephoned to say, to my disbelief, that she

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was snowbound in Hangzhou, where it never snows. The city is regarded as the most beautiful in China, with swaying willows surrounding an old lagoon on the edge of which Mao...

Page 10

D erek Conway maintains his position. ‘I still believe I have

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done nothing wrong,’ he told the Mail on Sunday . To understand why he could possibly think that, one has to dig deeper into British class feeling. In wanting to become a...

Page 12

Diary of a NottiNg Hill NoboDy

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MONDAY Operation Policy Surge a complete success! Slap-up breakfast with wholemeal muffins and organic bucks fizz to celebrate burial of Tory sleaze under a confusing heap of...

Page 14

Trust in politics is dead: long live ‘wiki-politics’

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Fraser Nelson says that the recent run of ‘sleaze’ stories has merely reinforced the public’s contempt for the political class. Hierarchy is dead, ‘peer-to-peer...

Page 16

Reasons for Barack Obama to be cheerful

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James Forsyth says that Super Tuesday did not give the Illinois senator the mandate he craved. But, with money, time and inspiration on his side, he can still beat Hillary...

Page 18

Inside Hamas: my journey to its secret heart

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The film-maker Mike Chamberlain has gained unprecedented access to the Islamist organisation. He recounts the cloak-anddagger methods that led him to its leaders and its foot...

Page 20

Essex and the City: my life as a ‘posh bird’ broker

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Venetia Thompson on how she learnt to fit in with the harddrinking barrow boys on the trading floor, who live on fish and chips, pickled onions and the most expensive vintage...

Page 22

Venice is the only city on earth going backwards

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Stephen Bayley rejects the sentimentality that locks the city in the past and that resists every invasion of modernity except tourism. The place is a corpse T he peril in Venice...

Page 24

If we don’t bug a conversation between Khan and Ahmed, who do we bug?

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Rod Liddle says that discussions between a radical Muslim MP and a man suspected of facilitating terrorism overseas are fair game. Extradition is a much bigger worry S hould...

Page 25

Nip terror in the bud

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Sir: Correlli Barnett would have us believe Con Coughlin is suffering from paranoia and describes George Bush’s ‘war on terror’ as stale rhetoric (Letters, 2 February)....

In my own defence

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Sir: In last week’s editorial (2 February) about Derek Conway and ‘sleaze’, you conjured up the demons of ‘cash for questions, the Neil Hamilton saga and brown paper...

Persuasion not coercion

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Sir: I enjoyed reading James MacMillan’s passionate and provocative article (Arts, 2 February). His disquiet seems to be based around two related areas: modern liberalism’s...

Smoked out

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Sir: In June 2006 the then public health minister, Caroline Flint, told the House of Lords economic affairs committee that ‘in relation to deaths from smoking and second-hand...

Funeral music

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Sir: I agree with G.W. of Pewsey (‘Dear Mary’, 2 February) about variety in hymn selection at funerals. However, equal care must be taken in considering the relevance to the...

Page 26

‘Sleaze’ is such a nasty word. How much nicer to call it ‘anti-parliamentary activity’

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S ometimes, the answer is staring you right in the face. As the Speaker begins to wonder how he can tighten up rules on parliamentary finances without admitting that the day of...

Page 28

When gobbling brawn is caviar to the general

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T here is more writing about food now than ever before, most of it feeble. There are exceptions. My Somerset neighbour Tamasin Day-Lewis descants admirably on the subject...

Page 30

The entrepreneur’s art: buying, building, selling

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Judi Bevan meets David Young, who served in Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet before chairing Cable & Wireless and creating his own successful private-equity business F ew...

Page 31

... And good riddance to the beerage

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Simon Nixon U sually the passing of a major UK company into foreign ownership — and with it the ending of British pretensions to global leadership in another industry — is...

Page 32

A crash course in survival

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Philip Hensher M IRACLES OF L IFE by J. G. Ballard Fourth Estate, £14.99, pp. 278, ISBN 9780007270729 ✆ £11.99 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 N o one would be allowed to...


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Seeing the country from a train I’ve grown convinced its gasholders in fact are used to house the spite and gloom of post-industrial towns. Arriving anywhere, I credit them...

Page 33

God and the GOM

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Jane Ridley G LADSTONE : G OD AND P OLITICS by Richard Shannon Hambledon Continuum, £80, pp. 550, ISBN 9781847252029 R ichard Shannon has been writing about Gladstone on and...

Page 34

Getting a kick

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Nicky Haslam E THEL M ERMAN by Geoffrey Mark Barricade Legend, £20, pp. 312, ISBN 1569802939 O ne frequently reads of chaps for whom their epiphany was the first sight and...

Problems of keeping mum

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Molly Guinness G RANDMOTHER ’ S F OOTSTEPS by Charlotte Moore Penguin, £17.99, pp. 274, ISBN 9780670917068 ✆ £14.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 G randmother’s...

Page 35

The unwilling executioner

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Carole Angier D ETECTIVE S TORY by Imre Kertész Harvill/Secker, £12.99, pp. 113, ISBN 9781846551833 ✆ £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 F atelessness, Imre...

Genius under many guises

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Patrick Skene Catling T HE C OMPLETE N OVELS by Flann O’Brien, with an introduction by Keith Donohue Everyman, £14.99, pp. 787, ISBN 9781841593098 ✆ £11.99 (plus £2.45...

Page 36

Our deadliest secret

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M. R. D. Foot C ABINETS AND THE B OMB by Peter Hennessy OUP for the British Academy, £19.95, pp. 356, ISBN 9780197264225 ✆ £15.95 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T his book...

Page 37

A daunting experience

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Tom Hollander’s first meeting with a theatrical agent didn’t turn out quite how he expected I t was the late Eighties and it paid to be brash. But I wasn’t brash I was...

Page 38

Be selective

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Andrew Lambirth From Russia: French and Russian Master Paintings 1870-1925 from Moscow and St Petersburg Royal Academy, until 18 April Sponsored by E.ON I t is a salutary and...

Page 40

Grief and groans

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Lloyd Evans Purgatorio Arcola Happy Now? Cottesloe The Lover/The Collection Comedy P urgatorio . Hardly a seductive title and I confess it was curiosity rather than enthusiasm...

Page 41

Mozart undersold

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Michael Tanner Die Zauberflöte Royal Opera House A Midsummer Night’s Dream Linbury T here is a hard core of central works which any major opera house needs to have, in a...

Page 42

Pure genius

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Deborah Ross There Will Be Blood 15, nationwide Juno 12A, nationwide T here Will Be Blood (oh, yes) stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview, a late19th-century American...

Reptilian reverie

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James Delingpole W hen I was a boy my father and I used to spend our summer holidays collecting lizards. We’d prop a large bucket at an angle in a suitable spot, grease the...

Page 43

Missing the picture

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Kate Chisholm W hy would anyone want to listen to a programme about the Oscars? Surely the whole point is to see those ghastly frocks and gimcrack smiles, effortfully put on...

Page 44

Straight talking

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Robin Oakley M y favourite, though almost inevitably apocryphal, story from the US elections so far: Hillary Clinton, on a school visit, invites pupils to question her. ‘OK,...

Page 45

Pointless penalising

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Alan Judd B ig, lazy V8 engines, powerful and durable, are as American as Coca-Cola and Stetsons. Europeans, with smaller cars, shorter distances, dearer petrol and hightaxing...

Page 46

Secrets and lies

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Taki Gstaad I n the good old days of the Cold War, Athenian hacks used to say that there were only two countries where secrets were safe: China and Greece. In the former nobody...

Page 47

Lighting up

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Jeremy Clarke W hat a depressingly sunless month January was, here on this rainswept Devon peninsula! No sun, and purple sprouting broccoli for lunch every day as there’s a...

Page 48

Changing values

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Alex James F ifteen years ago a state-of-the-art recording studio would have cost well north of a million pounds. Mix consoles were vast and needed continuous maintenance by...

Page 49

I love Stone, Vine & Sun of Winchester. They keep winning

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awards for best independent wine merchant; they have a knack for finding delicious wines at excellent prices from places you haven’t heard about yet but very soon will....

Page 50

System addict

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Christa D’Souza finds that the wardrobe fights back W hat does one want at this time of year? Apart from £10,000 for the tax man, that is? If you are me the answer is a...

Page 51

No more Troubles

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Leo McKinstry says that Belfast is one of the most appealing cities in Europe T hirty years ago Belfast was about as appealing a destination as Kabul or Baghdad are today....

Page 52

Falling for the flatlands

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Thomas Leveritt E very joker with a country pile has been holding himself a festival lately. So why not join? As chance would have it, my friend Hugh has such a setup in...

Charlie don’t surf. Nor do I, alas

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I n Newquay, women are taking their clothes off in the streets. Men are too, mind, though I find this less of a distraction. My brother John, who lives on the edge of the town,...

Page 53

Cider with Dave

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Matthew Reid O ne dark, moonless January night, in an orchard at the foot of the Cotswolds, I found myself among 20 or 30 figures encircling a colossal, ancient apple tree,...

Page 62

When Arsenal got too posh, I switched to QPR. Now look what’s happened

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A s an angry young man in the 1990s, I used to get extremely irritated when I read articles by left-wing intellectuals in the London Review of Books about football. To my...

Mind your language

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See if you can understand this: ‘We want tae mak siccar that as mony folk as can is able tae find oot aboot whit the Scottish Pairlament dis and whit wey it warks.’ It looks...

Page 63

L ocal newspapers usually have a slightly dotty reverence for the

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area they serve. My own local paper recently described Winston Churchill as ‘the former Westerham resident and wartime prime-minister’. The Evening Standard has the...

Q. We are lucky enough to be lent a chalet

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in Verbier. My wife invited her niece and boyfriend who is showing signs of becoming a fixture. He is not blessed with a great intellect and has been brought up in a household...

Q. Many years ago my dear husband switched his addiction

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from cigarettes to Nicorette gum. The first thing he does in the morning is pop a gum in, and last thing at night he takes one out and carefully places it on his bedside table...