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As a returning lord

John Lanchester, 7 May 1987

Einstein’s Monsters 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 127 pp., £5.95, April 1987, 0 224 02435 3
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... I shall be obliged (and it’s the last thing I shall feel like doing) to retrace that long ride home, through the firestorm, the remains of the thousand-mile-an-hour winds, the warped atoms, the grovelling dead. Then – God willing, if I still have my strength, and, of course, if they are still alive – I must find my wife and children and I must kill ...

Too Obviously Cleverer

Ferdinand Mount: Harold Macmillan, 8 September 2011

Supermac: The Life of Harold Macmillan 
by D.R. Thorpe.
Pimlico, 887 pp., £16.99, September 2011, 978 1 84413 541 7
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The Macmillan Diaries Vol. II: Prime Minister and After 1957-66 
edited by Peter Catterall.
Macmillan, 758 pp., £40, May 2011, 978 1 4050 4721 0
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... for the next ten hours, alternately dosing himself with morphine and reading Aeschylus. He wrote home on 13 September 1916 that ‘the stench from the dead bodies which lie in heaps around is awful.’ Only a fortnight earlier he had told his mother: ‘do not worry about me. I am very happy; it is a great experience, psychologically so interesting as to ...

Stick to the Latin

R.W. Johnson, 23 January 1997

Enoch Powell 
by Robert Shepherd.
Hutchinson, 564 pp., £25, October 1996, 0 09 179208 8
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... to be closed to allow more humane care within the community – and by taking the Tube or walking home after working late so as not to make the ministerial driver wait up late. This MP was a radical critic of Tory incomes policy, was the first in any party to argue for a minimum income for the old and the unemployed, argued for the nationalisation of the ...

Welcome Home

Sukhdev Sandhu: Memories of Michael X, 4 February 1999

Windrush: The Irresistible Rise of Multiracial Britain 
by Mike Phillips and Trevor Phillips.
HarperCollins, 422 pp., £16.99, May 1998, 0 00 255909 9
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... the scrum of cameramen snapping away at this strange and freshly-docked cargo; the calypsonian Lord Kitchener acceding to a Pathé newsman’s request and breaking into a reedy ‘London Is the Place for Me’. Suddenly, according to innumerable commemorative church services and TV series, a marvellous post-colonial transformation was about to be wrought ...

Lord Have Mercy

James Shapiro: Plague Writing, 31 March 2011

Plague Writing in Early Modern England 
by Ernest Gilman.
Chicago, 295 pp., £24, June 2009, 978 0 226 29409 4
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... survival – and perhaps their own – must have seemed grim. Just a few doors down from their home on Henley Street, their neighbours the Greens would lose four of their children to the epidemic. Windows were sealed, doors shut, prayers uttered, remedies sought (onions were peeled and scattered on the ground; dried rosemary, burned in a chafing dish, was ...

Lord Vaizey sees the light

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 20 October 1983

In Breach of Promise 
by John Vaizey.
Weidenfeld, 150 pp., £9.95, September 1983, 0 297 78288 6
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... set of remarkably co-ordinated services had kept the country going. He thus justified what Lord Woolton had begun in the Reconstruction Committee, what Butler and Bevan and others had done, and with the popular support that all this had, he helped persuade politicians that the provisions should be secured and even extended. Gaitskell and Crosland, the ...

Trying to Make Decolonisation Look Good

Bernard Porter: The End of Empire, 2 August 2007

Britain’s Declining Empire: The Road to Decolonisation, 1918-68 
by Ronald Hyam.
Cambridge, 464 pp., £17.99, February 2007, 978 0 521 68555 9
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The Last Thousand Days of the British Empire 
by Peter Clarke.
Allen Lane, 559 pp., August 2007, 978 0 7139 9830 6
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Forgotten Wars: The End of Britain’s Asian Empire 
by Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper.
Allen Lane, 673 pp., £30, January 2007, 978 0 7139 9782 8
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... it pretty chuffed, too. They must have been encouraged in this feeling by the crowds that cheered Lord Mountbatten on India’s Independence night, 14-15 August 1947, and unharnessed the horses from his vice-regal coach to drag it around New Delhi themselves, to the amazement of one journalist: it was as if ‘this nation had become more pro-British than it ...

High Priest of Mumbo-Jumbo

R.W. Johnson, 13 November 1997

Lord Hailsham: A Life 
by Geoffrey Lewis.
Cape, 403 pp., £25, October 1997, 0 224 04252 1
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... Oxford by-election of 1938, is Under-Secretary for Air in Churchill’s Government by 1945, First Lord of the Admiralty at the time of Suez, the head of various other ministries, Tory Party Chairman and, for a record 12 years, Lord Chancellor, formally the country’s highest office. (The ...

Riot, Revolt, Revolution

Mike Jay: The Despards, 18 July 2019

Red Round Globe Hot Burning: A Tale at the Crossroads of Commons and Culture, of Love and Terror, of Race and Class and of Kate and Ned Despard 
by Peter Linebaugh.
California, 408 pp., £27, March 2019, 978 0 520 29946 7
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... out in living memory. In response to public protest, or perhaps to the private plea of Admiral Lord Nelson, a former comrade in arms who had provided glowing personal testimony at Despard’s trial, the magistrates had announced that ‘the taking out and burning their bowels before their faces, and dividing the body severally into four parts’ would be ...

Tale from a Silver Age

Peter Clarke, 22 July 1993

Edward Heath: A Biography 
by John Campbell.
Cape, 876 pp., £20, July 1993, 0 224 02482 5
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... just as Eden later forced a smile of approval when Macmillan took over. Sir Alec Douglas-Home, a pocket-sized Balfour, emulated him both in deferring to the Party’s wish for change at the top and in serving under his successor. That successor was Edward Heath, the first leader to be elected under elaborate new rules adopted by the Conservative ...

Closed Material

Nicholas Phillips, 17 April 2014

... with an effective remedy because he had not been informed of the evidence that had led to the home secretary’s decision. As to this, Strasbourg commended a procedure used in Canada to deal with confidential material, which Amnesty International and other interveners had outlined. The court summarised it: a Federal Court judge holds an in camera hearing ...

Little Mania

Ian Gilmour: The disgraceful Lady Caroline Lamb, 19 May 2005

Lady Caroline Lamb 
by Paul Douglass.
Palgrave, 354 pp., £16.99, December 2004, 1 4039 6605 2
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... Metternich’s mistress, Princess Lieven, referred to ‘that madwoman Lady Caroline Lamb’, and Lord and Lady Holland compared her to typhus, while within Caroline’s own family her cousin Lady Harriet Cavendish wrote of her ‘absurdities’, and her grandmother Lady Spencer, who was very fond of her, complained in 1811 of her ‘great imprudence ...

Jacob and Esau

Giles Merritt, 24 November 1988

Upwardly Mobile 
by Norman Tebbit.
Weidenfeld, 280 pp., £14.95, October 1988, 0 297 79427 2
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Reflect on things past: The Memoirs of Lord Carrington 
Collins, 406 pp., £17.50, October 1988, 9780002176675Show More
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... Lord Carrington and Norman Tebbit must be the Jacob and Esau of the Tory Party. Peter Carrington is beyond question a smooth man, and Tebbit is, if not hairy, certainly very prickly. They are also chalk and cheese politically, even though both have in their time been chairman of the Conservative Party. Lord Carrington is the scion of generations of Whigs, a man bred to the ideal of public service and in many ways an unrepentant ‘wet ...

Boofy’s Bill

Alex Harvey, 18 September 1997

... to persecute, to persecute a minority, to persecute as others have persecuted Jews and Negroes. Lord Arran, House of Lords, 12 May 1965 Producing a documentary to mark the 30th anniversary of the legalisation of homosexuality, I was struck by the very Victorian restrictions on the lives of gay men in the Sixties. Victim, the film in which Dirk Bogarde ...

Short Cuts

David Renton: Swinging the Baton, 4 August 2022

... the Working Classes to object to the new police force and call for the extension of the franchise. Lord Melbourne, the Whig home secretary, banned the gathering and ordered the police to break it up if necessary. A police constable called Robert Culley was killed during the subsequent riot, but the jurors at his inquest ...

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