Leading Article: The art of survival

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FIREWORKS: NOT many. It may well have been, with all the lucid symbolism of British constitutional tradition, the 394th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot; nevertheless, yesterday's announcement of the final 75 hereditary peers to be spared banishment from the House of Lords went off with neither fizz nor sparkle.

The principal interest for the moderately informed outside observer lay in working out what exactly the 75 Weatherills, as they will doubtless be known, had about them that clinched their sweep to safety. Many had seen government service of some sort or other, but we wanted to look deeper.

Conclusions: an interest in outdoor pursuits was clearly an advantage, even though Lord Mowbray, Segrave and Stourton (one man) offers a slightly more cerebral mix: "reading, shooting, gardening". Gardeners, in fact, are well represented; the 16th Earl of Lindsay, for example, lists two publications: Garden Ornament (1989), and Trellis (1991). Emsworthian hobbies did not find favour; the best we can find are Lord Glenarthur, who lists "barometers", and Lord Rea, who plays the bassoon.

No, our suspicion is that, rather as we choose potential winners at Plumpton, votes were cast for euphony. Just read: Allenby of Megiddo; Baldwin of Bewdley; Brabazon of Tara; Colville of Culross; Lucas of Crudwell and Dingwall; Sandwich; Slim; Strange. Marvellous. The Poet Laureate should hymn them, and the work should be read out every 5 November. With trumpets.

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