Patrick Wright

Patrick Wright is completing a book about the East German novelist Uwe Johnson.

Short Cuts: The Moral of Brenley Corner

Patrick Wright, 6 December 2018

The​ Department of Transport is currently putting arrangements in place to transform a 13.5 mile stretch of the M20, passing through Kent on the way to Folkestone and the Channel Tunnel, into a ‘giant lorry park’ in time for 29 March next year. When I learned of this frantic exercise in ‘resilience planning’, my mind drifted back to a time still unblessed by the...

His Bonnet Akimbo: Hamish Henderson

Patrick Wright, 3 November 2011

There are those, even among his friends, who remember Hamish Henderson as a chaotic figure who could most often be found soliloquising in Sandy Bell’s, a favourite pub near Edinburgh University. Was he one of the ‘lowest of men’, spilling whisky and sliding off his stool as he launched into another ballad? Or was he a seer, defying body and convention to ‘soar like an...

Omnipresent Eye: The Nixon/Mao Show

Patrick Wright, 16 August 2007

It is a cold, clear morning, and the soldiers gathered at the airfield are singing ‘The Three Main Rules of Discipline’ as an American jet labelled ‘The Spirit of 76’ lands and taxis over to its appointed resting place. A hatch opens to reveal President Nixon. The former Red-baiter blinks before launching himself down the ramp slightly ahead of his wife, who is wearing...

Little England: The view through a bus window

Patrick Wright, 7 September 2006

In 2000 the Royal Institute of British Architects hosted a public meeting at which various contenders for the new office of London mayor were invited to argue their case for election. If the event remains memorable, it’s thanks largely to the Conservative candidate, Lord Archer, who betrayed no inkling of the perjury charges that would soon ditch his campaign and carry him off to jail....

Cubist Slugs: The Art of Camouflage

Patrick Wright, 23 June 2005

Six years in the making, Blechman’s Encyclopedia is itself a camouflaged object. At first glance, it looks as if it comes straight out of a military glove compartment. Indeed, it could be a military glove compartment. The two volumes are contained in a large, shadow-casting khaki box, covered with black stencilled numbers that suggest ordnance but turn out to be nothing more explosive than the ISBN. Both are covered in disruptive pattern material, but the larger one, which contains the main analysis of camouflage as it travels from ‘nature’ to ‘military’ and then ‘culture’, is banded in bright orange. This reflects Blechman’s design strategy of ‘negating the practicality of camouflage by combining it with high-visibility fabrics’. The choice of orange may also be connected to his interest in Eastern spiritual traditions, and perhaps even to the way in which the sales and press person at Maharishi, identified only as ‘Suzie’, signs off her emails with the word ‘peace’.

Outside in the Bar: Ten Years in Sheerness

Patrick McGuinness, 21 October 2021

In Uwe Johnson’s work, perspective doesn’t come from a bird’s-eye view but from staying at eye level – from looking and never stopping. His characters are suspicious of any claim that there is...

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In 1954, it seemed that ‘People’s China’ was about to rejoin the world. The Geneva Accords on Indochina, which ended France’s colonial wars in South-East Asia and...

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In Europe’s Inner Demons, Norman Cohn described the medieval witch craze as a ‘supreme example of a massive killing of innocent people by a bureaucracy acting in accordance with...

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Tankishness: Tank by Patrick Wright

Peter Wollen, 16 November 2000

The tank, I was surprised to learn, was a British invention. It provided a much-needed response to the recent development of barbed wire, fortified trenches and rapid-fire machine-guns. Armoured...

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Downland Maniacs

Michael Mason, 5 October 1995

‘Acid rain’ was first identified, and deplored, almost 150 years ago. That is a disconcerting fact for our modern environmental awareness – which thus appears not to be modern...

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Down Dalston Lane

Neal Ascherson, 27 June 1991

In the winter of 1941, so I have been told, there were nights when it was never dark at the fighter airfield at North Weald. You could walk up the shallow ridge at the southern perimeter and see,...

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Getting on

Paul Addison, 9 October 1986

Here are two books about the relationship of the English to their past. According to Patrick Wright, England is a reactionary society burdened by a false mystique of national identity. To...

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