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Little England

Patrick Wright: The view through a bus window, 7 September 2006

Great British Bus Journeys: Travels through Unfamous Places 
by David McKie.
Atlantic, 359 pp., £16.99, March 2006, 1 84354 132 7
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... doors, suggesting that they might do better to walk along the platform to the restaurant car. Jeffrey Archer may have dreamed of routes as straight as an executive jet’s runway, but McKie knows that a true bus journey is a wandering, much interrupted affair that takes for ever to arrive at anything resembling a destination. Characterised by ...

Fortress Freud

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 18 April 1985

In the Freud Archives 
by Janet Malcolm.
Cape, 165 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 224 02979 7
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... largely based on the experience of one middle-aged New York analyst whom she calls ‘Aaron Green’. He is an edgy, discontented man, committed to Freud’s legacy in its most classical form and at the same time acutely aware of the profession’s shortcomings. He discusses, for example, the period when he was in training at the New York Institute of ...

Going underground

Elaine Showalter, 12 May 1994

The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes 
by Janet Malcolm.
Knopf, 208 pp., $23, April 1994, 0 679 43158 6
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... in a notorious case about libel and invasion of privacy brought by the modest and reclusive Jeffrey Masson, the topical ironies of the book have attracted a great deal of attention in the United States. In the New York Times Book Review, Caryn James observed that ‘while the English fuss about poets’ graves, Americans gossip about litigation and ...

I was invisible

Christian Lorentzen: Viet Thanh Nguyen, 18 November 2021

The Committed 
by Viet Thanh Nguyen.
Corsair, 345 pp., £8.99, March, 978 1 4721 5253 4
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... scheme arranged by the Boss, which has distinct echoes of the scandal and rumours surrounding Jeffrey Epstein.In The Sympathiser, Nguyen drew liberally from American literature, transforming it for his own darkly funny and deadly serious purposes. The narrator has parallels with Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and Philip Roth’s Alex Portnoy (both ...

Peeping Tam

Karl Miller, 6 August 1981

... the truth. Eight years before Jane Austen expressed her suspicions of Burns’s sincerity, Francis Jeffrey passed judgment on his work in the Edinburgh Review (January 1809). For Jeffrey, a formidable arbiter of taste in the new Britain, Burns was an ‘enamoured peasant’, prone to the faults of a rustic vulgarity, and to ...

Doing something

Ahdaf Soueif, 1 October 1987

Persian Nights 
by Diane Johnson.
Chatto, 352 pp., £10.95, July 1987, 0 7011 3234 5
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Smile, and Other Stories 
by Deborah Moggach.
Viking, 175 pp., £10.95, September 1987, 0 670 81658 2
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Fast Lanes 
by Jayne Anne Phillips.
Faber, 148 pp., £8.95, August 1987, 0 571 14924 3
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... a cartoonist. He painted a series of charming and instantly recognisable street scenes: stacked green-grocers’, lemonade vendors, decked-out taxicabs, dust-carts pulled by donkeys. The Under-Secretary flew into a rage: Who is this man? An Israeli? Why has he drawn everybody with kinky hair? Doesn’t he know selling lemonade on the street is ...

Blessed, Beastly Place

Douglas Dunn, 5 March 1981

Precipitous City 
by Trevor Royle.
Mainstream, 210 pp., £6.95, May 1980, 0 906391 09 1
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RLS: A Life Study 
by Jenni Calder.
Hamish Hamilton, 362 pp., £9.95, June 1980, 0 241 10374 6
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Gillespie 
by J. MacDougall Hay.
Canongate, 450 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 903937 79 4
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Scottish Satirical Verse 
edited by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 236 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 85635 183 0
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Collected Poems 
by Robert Garioch.
Carcanet, 208 pp., £3.95, July 1980, 0 85635 316 7
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... an Edinburgh figure: born there, schooled there, a city advocate, Kames’s protégé. Francis Jeffrey, a boy in 1790, once helped carry the intoxicated Boswell to bed. Next morning, on waking the hungover genius, Jeffrey’s head was patted. ‘If you go on as you’ve begun,’ said the bloated biographer, ‘you may ...

Imps and Ogres

Marina Warner, 6 June 2019

Big and Small: A Cultural History of Extraordinary Bodies 
by Lynne Vallone.
Yale, 339 pp., £20, November 2017, 978 0 300 22886 1
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... of course. Roald Dahl’s Big Friendly Giant distributes good dreams to children, and bilious green Shrek and his beloved Princess Fiona, pretty princess by day, ogre by night, inverted the usual expectations of ogreish brutality and scored a wildly popular success. Out of the ordinary bodies can be seductive, too, especially when confined to stories and ...

It starts with an itch

Alan Bennett: ‘People’, 8 November 2012

... the video guide to the National Trust house at Hughenden, once lived in by Disraeli, is voiced by Jeffrey Archer, euphemistically described by the Trust as a ‘provocative figure’. And in the matter of pornography the Trust has recently sponsored an app to accompany a tour round London’s Soho, the highlights of which are not architectural. It is ...

You’ve got it or you haven’t

Iain Sinclair, 25 February 1993

Inside the Firm: The Untold Story of the Krays’ Reign of Terror 
by Tony Lambrianou and Carol Clerk.
Pan, 256 pp., £4.99, October 1992, 0 330 32284 2
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Gangland: London’s Underworld 
by James Morton.
Little, Brown, 349 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 356 20889 3
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Nipper: The Story of Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read 
by Leonard Read and James Morton.
Warner, 318 pp., £5.99, September 1992, 0 7515 0001 1
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Smash and Grab: Gangsters in the London Underworld 
by Robert Murphy.
Faber, 182 pp., £15.99, February 1993, 0 571 15442 5
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... An unforgettable occasion. A motor eased alongside Tony at the corner of Blythe Street, Bethnal Green. Ron and Reg were inside, keeping company with a known associate, Dickie Morgan. Reg was nicely cased in a blue three-piece by Woods of Kingsland Road. Dickie matched him. (The Twins were very influential that way. All the faces were expected to dress to a ...

What Nanny Didn’t Tell Me

Bernard Porter: Simon Mann, 26 January 2012

Cry Havoc 
by Simon Mann.
John Blake, 351 pp., £19.99, November 2011, 978 1 84358 403 2
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... Adam Roberts’s excellent The Wonga Coup.* Roberts names more names than Mann does, including Jeffrey Archer’s (he may have donated money), and gives some broad hints as to the identity of Mann’s equivalent of Sir James Manson, here just called ‘the Boss’, who is supposed to have masterminded the whole affair. Apparently, Mann has ‘legal ...

It’s life but not as we know it

Tim Radford, 3 July 1997

... and sent back their instrument readings. Nothing. No remains of a vanished civilisation, no little green men, no little green plants, nothing. Humans contemplated the consequence. They were alone around their own star. The nearest star to theirs was four light-years away. That is, if you could accelerate a spaceship to ...

Seventy Years in a Colourful Trade

Andrew O’Hagan: The Soho Alphabet, 16 July 2020

Tales from the Colony Room: Soho’s Lost Bohemia 
by Darren Coffield.
Unbound, 364 pp., £25, April 2020, 978 1 78352 816 5
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... I started off many evenings in the Coach & Horses, where a living warning came in the form of Jeffrey Bernard, missing half a leg but still pluming and gasping in the Spectator about his bad character. Never did a man receive drinks with such a sense of entitlement: he hated himself, of course, which was a burden on everybody, despite the cartoons and all ...

If everybody had a Wadley

Terry Castle: ‘Joe’ Carstairs, the ‘fastest woman on water’, 5 March 1998

The Queen of Whale Cay: The Eccentric Story of ‘Joe’ Carstairs, Fastest Woman on Water 
by Kate Summerscale.
Fourth Estate, 248 pp., £12.99, August 1997, 1 85702 360 9
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... come in all shapes and sizes: from the obvious ghouls and werewolves (Rasputin, Hitler, Idi Amin, Jeffrey Dahmer) to various mid-rank demigods and unicorn-people (T.E. Lawrence, Wittgenstein, Che Guevara, Greta Garbo, Edith Sitwell, JFK, Maria Callas, Howard Hughes, Andy Warhol, Glenn Gould, the late Princess of Wales) down to minor bog-sprites such as Eartha ...

The Browse Function

John Sutherland, 27 November 1997

Webonomics: Nine Essential Principles for Growing Your Business on the World Wide Web 
by Evan Schwartz.
Penguin, 244 pp., £11.99, October 1997, 9780140264067
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... in a garage three years ago. The garage-owning founder (now chief executive officer), Jeff (now Jeffrey) Bezos, was just 30. Apparently, in the early days, he would drive down to the local post office to dispatch orders by hand. Bezos is no tweedy ‘bookman’. He originally had 20 product categories in mind, but settled on books as the most appropriate ...

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