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Diary

Alan Bennett: Where I was in 1993, 16 December 1993

... papers are full of the latest scandal, the bugged phone call between the Prince of Wales and Mrs Parker-Bowles. I read none of it, as I didn’t read the earlier Diana tapes, not out of disapproval or moral superiority, just genuine lack of interest. I wish it would all go away. Sickened by the self-righteousness of the newspapers, which, though it takes a ...

Moguls

J. Hoberman: Did the Jews invent Hollywood?, 7 March 2002

Hollywood and Anti-Semitism: A Cultural History up to World War Two 
by Steven Alan Carr.
Cambridge, 342 pp., £42.50, July 2001, 9780521798549
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... anti-capitalist, anti-Communist or anti-American. That, at any rate, is the argument of Steven Alan Carr’s Hollywood and Anti-Semitism, an impressively researched and closely reasoned cultural history, which takes up its theme in 1880, 25 years before the appearance of the first nickelodeons, and pursues it through to the US entry into World War ...

Diary

Clive James, 18 March 1982

... his fame – A true wit wouldn’t hint it, much less crow it. Poor knackered Nicky thinks he’s Alan Coren: He’s just a wee laird with a twitching sporran. And yet it’s wise to give conceit expression – Within the limits set by the absurd. A boast might be self-serving like Confession But similarly festers if unheard. Much meekness stands revealed ...

Iron Tearing Soil

James Francken: Golf, 4 October 2001

A Gentleman's Game 
by Tom Coyne.
Atlantic, 264 pp., £15, July 2001, 1 903809 05 3
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Riverbank Tweed and Roadmap Jenkins: Tales from the Caddie Yard 
by Bo Links.
Simon and Schuster, 302 pp., £15, May 2001, 0 684 87362 1
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Spikes 
by Michael Griffith.
Arcade, 258 pp., £17, February 2001, 1 55970 536 1
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... faces which come with a promise to add a few yards off the tee. Some golfers go further still. Alan Shepard, overlooked for the original Moonshot, commanded Apollo 14 and became the first golfer to play in outer space. After three hours on the Moon, Shepard had collected all the samples of rock and soil he needed; he decided to make the most of weak lunar ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Allelujah!, 3 January 2019

... you will be delighted to know that a pub in the Yorkshire town of Otley is to be renamed the Alan Bennett in your honour in order to celebrate Yorkshire Day.’ Fortunately this bizarre baptism is only for a month; were it longer I fear it would soon be reflected in the takings. The body responsible for this kindly gesture is the Otley Pub Club, which ...

Gentlemen and ladies came to see the poet’s cottage

Tom Paulin: Clare’s anti-pastoral, 19 February 2004

John Clare: A Biography 
by Jonathan Bate.
Picador, 650 pp., £25, October 2003, 0 330 37106 1
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‘I Am’: The Selected Poetry of John Clare 
edited by Jonathan Bate.
Farrar, Straus, 318 pp., $17, November 2003, 0 374 52869 1
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John Clare, Politics and Poetry 
by Alan Vardy.
Palgrave, 221 pp., £45, October 2003, 0 333 96617 1
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John Clare Vol. V: Poems of the Middle Period 1822-37 
edited by Eric Robinson, David Powell and P.M.S. Dawson.
Oxford, 822 pp., £105, January 2003, 0 19 812386 8
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... clerk at Helpston in Northamptonshire. In the early 1760s, she had a relationship with John Donald Parker, an itinerant Scottish fiddler and teacher who was working in the village school. On discovering she was pregnant, he disappeared and was never heard of again. Her son was christened for the absent father, and became a talented traditional singer, a gift ...

Miss Dior, Prodigally Applied

Ian Patterson: Jilly Cooper, 18 May 2017

Mount! 
by Jilly Cooper.
Corgi, 610 pp., £7.99, February 2017, 978 0 552 17028 4
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... of males, a character created from a mixture of Mr Rochester, Clark Gable, Casanova, the late Alan Clark MP, and – apparently – various dashing and extant English aristocrats, including Andrew Parker Bowles. Rupert Campbell-Black, wealthy landowner, sometime world champion showjumper, sometime Tory MP and sports ...

Do put down that revolver

Rosemary Hill, 14 July 2016

The Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House between the Wars 
by Adrian Tinniswood.
Cape, 406 pp., £25, June 2016, 978 0 224 09945 5
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... the horrors of the first half of the 20th century. The title is borrowed from Robert Graves and Alan Hodge, whose social history of Britain from 1918 to 1939, The Long Weekend, appeared in 1940, and it conjures up a sepia image of a tranquil Indian summer ‘in which the sun set slowly on the British Empire and the shadows lengthened on the lawns of ...
... sort of doubt about Cain’s wife, or the Old Testament miracles or the Consecration of Archbishop Parker ... No, it was something deeper than that. I couldn’t understand why God had made the world at all.’ Catholicism explained to Waugh why the world was as evil and horrible as it was. Catholicism explained the vile bodies in it. It also explained to him ...

How to die

John Sutherland, 13 February 1992

Final Exit: The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying 
by Derek Humphry.
Hemlock Society, 192 pp., $16.95, April 1991, 0 9606030 3 4
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... All suicide, we are to believe, is painful, messy, undignified and inconvenient. Or as Dorothy Parker (an inveterate botcher of suicide) put it: Razors pain you; Rivers are damp; Acids stain you; And drugs cause cramp. Guns aren’t lawful; Nooses give; Gas smells awful; You might as well live. Britain’s policy of benign censorship keeps the annual ...

In Whose Interest?

Thomas Meaney: Truman’s Plan, 6 December 2018

The Accidental President: Harry S. Truman and the Four Months that Changed the World 
by A.J. Baime.
Doubleday, 431 pp., £20, February 2018, 978 0 85752 366 2
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The Marshall Plan: Dawn of the Cold War 
by Benn Steil.
Oxford, 606 pp., £25, March 2018, 978 0 19 875791 7
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... their families in ersatz châteaux and the legendary jazz scene – Truman may have heard Charlie Parker live – was a middle-class affair found in labour union halls rather than bordellos. Two Irish gangs, the Goats and the Rabbits, fought for control of the city. Tom Pendergast, the cunning, sickly boss of the Goats, ran his operations out of a two-storey ...

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