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Secrets are best kept by those who have no sense of humour

Alan Bennett: Why I turned down ‘Big Brother’, 2 January 2003

... three likely to be from a public school or one of the grander grammar schools. But he was D.S.J. Moore and without it being the least bit ‘put on’ there was nothing in his voice to betray that he was from Dagenham. This may well have helped at Magdalen, which was at that time socially quite smart as well as being academically grand, and though in later ...

The Whole Bustle

Siobhan Kilfeather, 9 January 1992

The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing 
edited by Seamus Deane.
Field Day Publications/Faber, 4044 pp., £150, November 1991, 0 946755 20 5
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... Literature’, including epic, lyric and occasional poetry. The period 1600-1800, introduced by Alan Harrison, is probably more familiar to non-Gaelic readers through Kinsella and O’Tuama’s major bilingual anthology, An Duanaire (1981). The Field Day publicity makes the claim that ‘all texts not originally in English have been specially translated for ...

Sinking Giggling into the Sea

Jonathan Coe: Giggling along with Boris, 18 July 2013

The Wit and Wisdom of Boris Johnson 
edited by Harry Mount.
Bloomsbury, 149 pp., £9.99, June 2013, 978 1 4081 8352 6
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... of the original cast members) and the other three-quarters of the Beyond the Fringe team (Alan Bennett, Jonathan Miller and Dudley Moore), who would go on to present their own take on the nuclear threat, in a sketch called ‘Civil War’.In that sketch, a worried Moore listens ...


Alan Bennett: My 2006, 4 January 2007

... the Fringe sometime in 1961. Included in the programme was a parody of Britten written by Dudley Moore, in which he sang and accompanied himself in ‘Little Miss Muffet’ done in a Pears and Britten-like way. I’m not sure that this in itself would have caused offence: it shouldn’t have as, like all successful parodies, there was a good deal of ...

Scribing the Pharisees

Hyam Maccoby, 9 May 1991

Jewish Law from Jesus to the Mishnah: Five Studies 
by E.P. Sanders.
SCM, 404 pp., £35, May 1990, 0 334 02455 2
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Paul the Convert: The Apostolate and Apostasy of Saul the Pharisee 
by Alan Segal.
Yale, 368 pp., £22.50, June 1990, 0 300 04527 1
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... picture of the Pharisees from Jewish sources. These were, notably, Travers Herford, George Foot Moore and James Parkes. The latest in this line of pro-Phaisee Christian scholars is E.P. Sanders, whose brilliant book Paul and Palestinian Judaism (1977) contained an indictment of the one sidedness and partisanship of the school of anti-Pharisee scholarship ...

How does one talk to these people?

Andrew O’Hagan: David Storey in the Dark, 1 July 2021

A Stinging Delight: A Memoir 
by David Storey.
Faber, 407 pp., £20, June, 978 0 571 36031 4
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... away,’ Uncle Vanya says, when hope is gone. ‘Work! We’ve got to get to work!’ Early in Alan Sillitoe’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Arthur Seaton stuffs a packet of sandwiches and a flask of tea into his pocket and is soon at work amid the generators and milling machines. ‘He pressed the starter button, and his motor came to life with a ...


Karl Miller: What is rugby for?, 5 December 1991

... For the Independent, the knock-on was an ‘outrageous’ act. For the England hooker, Brian Moore, it was a bad case of cheating. For me, it was something anyone might have done, perhaps, for god’s sake, hoping for a catch. A penalty was awarded. But there was talk of a penalty try, and some moralists would probably have preferred a thrashing. Campese ...

Unmuscular Legs

E.S. Turner, 22 August 1996

The Dictionary of National Biography 1986-1990 
edited by C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 607 pp., £50, June 1996, 0 19 865212 7
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... in spite of the authoritative nature of their church.’ The second longest entry is on Henry Moore, that £1 million-a-year taxpayer whose sculpture was (and perhaps still is) prominently displayed in fifty cities and two hundred museums. Wisely, he retrained from philosophising and left the interpretation of his work to others. He was ‘the maker ...

All about Me

Kevin Kopelson: Don Bachardy, 9 April 2015

by Don Bachardy.
Glitterati, 368 pp., £45, October 2014, 978 0 9913419 2 4
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... I was reading – and then reviewing for this very publication – a biography of Franz Liszt by Alan Walker.* I was also reading – for amusement – the biography of Lytton Strachey by Michael Holroyd and one of Dorothy Parker by Marion Meade. In Holroyd’s book, I was most struck by some portraits – reproduced in full colour – that had been done of ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2013, 9 January 2014

... lines in ‘Civil War’, the sketch that opened the second half of Beyond the Fringe. When Moore ‘voices disbelief that a four-minute warning would be enough’ – in the case of a nuclear attack – ‘Cook drawlingly retorts: “I’d remind those doubters that some people in this great country of ours can run a mile in four minutes.”’I feel ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2009, 7 January 2010

... was nothing if not Catholic that might be the link. I tell John Bird the story of Dudley Moore and me seeing Stravinsky and his wife Vera in the Hotel Pierre in New York in 1963, saying how the name Vera has always seemed to me to humanise Stravinsky. ‘Not so much as Stockhausen,’ says John. ‘His wife’s name was Doris.’ 15 October. Across ...

Literary Friction

Jenny Turner: Kathy Acker’s Ashes, 19 October 2017

After Kathy Acker: A Literary Biography 
by Chris Kraus.
Allen Lane, 352 pp., £20, August 2017, 978 1 63590 006 4
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... Acker having friendships with some peers and contemporaries, Jeanette Winterson, Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Geoff Ryman, Kaveney herself; but she was susceptible to ‘Ackerlites’ and could herself be a bit of a climber and a user. ‘Neil remarked … that I was more important to Kathy than I realised,’ Kaveney writes. ‘You were her trophy weird ...


Alan Bennett: Allelujah!, 3 January 2019

... and it seemed such play. Less play was Beyond the Fringe, but that had its sillier side. Dudley Moore had an act – never, I think, done in public – about a patient in hospital calling the nurse for a bedpan. He had quite plump arms and a raspberry blown against his upper arm sounded particularly revolting. This was accompanied by increasingly desperate ...


Alan Bennett: What I Didn’t Do in 2007, 3 January 2008

... cousins and relatives, the church figuring among his inspirations much as Methley did for Henry Moore. 21 May. An absurd accident. I am cycling down Gloucester Avenue this morning when my raincoat catches between the brake block and the wheel and brings me to a halt. Normally when this happens a step or two back reverses the wheel and frees the coat but not ...

English Art and English Rubbish

Peter Campbell, 20 March 1986

C.R. Ashbee: Architect, Designer and Romantic Socialist 
by Alan Crawford.
Yale, 500 pp., £35, November 1985, 0 300 03467 9
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The Laughter and the Urn: The Life of Rex Whistler 
by Laurence Whistler.
Weidenfeld, 321 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 297 78603 2
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The Originality of Thomas Jones 
by Lawrence Gowing.
Thames and Hudson, 64 pp., £4.95, February 1986, 0 500 55017 4
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Art beyond the Gallery in Early 20th-century England 
by Richard Cork.
Yale, 332 pp., £40, April 1985, 0 300 03236 6
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Alfred Gilbert 
by Richard Dorment.
Yale, 350 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 300 03388 5
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... indifferent private press books – would not by themselves have warranted a book on the scale of Alan Crawford’s admirable biography. It is Ashbee’s attempts to give practical expression to the idea that art matters that make Crawford’s apology for a book ‘more ponderous than its subject deserves’ unnecessary. Ashbee’s ideas were a legacy of ...

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