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Diary

Christopher Harvie: Cars and Cuckoo Clocks, 26 January 1995

... Captain Boyle at the Lyceum. Laurence Daly of the Miners’ Union, John Mackintosh MP, Robin Cook. The Hamilton by-election had taken place six months before, and the advent of the SNP had kicked Scottish politics into life. It was a talking rather than a dancing party, and the politics themselves seemed intoxicating enough. Around two we processed ...

Real Thing

John Naughton, 24 November 1988

Live from Number 10: The Inside Story of Prime Ministers and Television 
by Michael Cockerell.
Faber, 352 pp., £14.95, September 1988, 0 571 14757 7
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... to Reith: ‘One cannot,’ he said, ‘be impartial between the fire and the fire brigade.’ Harold Macmillan is widely credited with being a TV ‘natural’. Mr Cockerell’s account makes him out to be anything but that. Huw Weldon observed after his first broadcast as prime minister that the script ‘could not be spoken by one human being to another ...
After Hannibal 
by Barry Unsworth.
Hamish Hamilton, 242 pp., £16, September 1996, 0 241 13342 4
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... since it provides the only tenuous link among these people. The most officious of the strangers, Harold Chapman (a Docklands property-dealer in his other life) is approached for money with vague menaces by a local peasant family who own a crumbling wall that’s threatening to block the way, and he in turn approaches his various neighbours. So it’s a plot ...

Diary

Neal Ascherson: On A.J.P. Taylor, 2 June 1983

... and would have refused to accept it ‘from hands still stained with blood’ – a reference to Harold Macmillan, then prime minister. However, it was the end of his lifelong friendship with Namier. ‘I put down the telephone and never spoke to him again... Namier was dead so far as I was concerned.’ All he says about the victorious candidate at this ...

What is Labour for?

John Lanchester: Five More Years of This?, 31 March 2005

David Blunkett 
by Stephen Pollard.
Hodder, 359 pp., £20, December 2004, 0 340 82534 0
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... election to the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee – the first non-MP to do so since Harold Laski – and carved out a space for himself there, allied with but not wholly subsumed by the Bennites. When Neil Kinnock took on Militant, Blunkett dragged his feet, publicly offered Derek Hatton an olive branch, and was considered ‘fundamentally ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2016, 5 January 2017

... of acting with the person in question. ‘A sweetie? Are we talking about the same person?’ ‘Harold Pinter? Can you be serious?’ ‘She’s a bit …’ with a tipping of the elbow to indicate drink taken. I’ve often thought of putting such a session in a play, but unless the names of real actors are used it wouldn’t work.24 January. Watch a DVD of ...

Living with Monsters

Ferdinand Mount: PMs v. the Media, 22 April 2010

Where Power Lies: Prime Ministers v. the Media 
by Lance Price.
Simon & Schuster, 498 pp., £20, February 2010, 978 1 84737 253 6
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... magic circle of lobby men, lunching with him at St Stephen’s Club once a week. He saw Harold Wilson every week too, with the other members of the ‘White Commonwealth’, as the handpicked political editors were then called. Yet he did not grow to love or respect these great men. On the contrary, in his book he portrays most of the prime ...

The Angry Men

Jean McNicol: Harriet Harman, 14 December 2017

A Woman’s Work 
by Harriet Harman.
Allen Lane, 405 pp., £20, February 2017, 978 0 241 27494 1
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The Women Who Shaped Politics 
by Sophy Ridge.
Coronet, 295 pp., £20, March 2017, 978 1 4736 3876 1
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... and his friend to the cinema when she was called into the Commons to deputise for her boss, Robin Cook, who was stuck in Edinburgh. She says it would have been easy enough to change her plans, but ‘my maternal self-esteem, precarious at the best of times, would have collapsed altogether if I turned into one of those parents who let their children down ...

Nine White Men Armed with Iron Bars

Andy Beckett: Postwar Immigrant Experience, 2 November 2017

Lovers and Strangers: An Immigrant History of Postwar Britain 
by Clair Wills.
Allen Lane, 442 pp., £25, August 2017, 978 1 84614 716 6
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... Cochrane, by white youths, by concluding that immigration should be drastically reduced. In 1962, Harold Macmillan’s Conservative government, sometimes revered by liberals for decolonisation in Africa as well as its supposed domestic moderation, passed the Commonwealth Immigrants Act. Its system of categories and vouchers was officially based on ...

The Sixth Taste

Daniel Soar, 9 September 2021

... schools for women. Dashi made from seaweed or dried fish was for grandmothers: the modern home cook believed in efficiency and innovation.It was time for the bottled miracle to take on the world. After expansion into Japan’s colonial possessions – noodle shops and street vendors in Taiwan, food dealerships in Korea – it infiltrated China by ...

‘Tiens! Une madeleine?’

Michael Wood: The Comic-Strip Proust, 26 November 1998

À la recherche du temps perdu: Combray 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Stéphane Heuet.
Delcourt, 72 pp., €10.95, October 1998, 2 84055 218 3
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Proust among the Stars 
by Malcolm Bowie.
HarperCollins, 348 pp., £19.99, August 1998, 0 00 255622 7
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... not just a mockery of it, as is the proleptic and unacknowledged winning entry in that contest, Harold Pinter’s Proust Screenplay, written in 1972 for Joseph Losey, but never filmed: a brilliant, synoptic, allusive evocation of the whole of A la recherche du temps perdu. Völker Schlöndorf’s film Swann in Love (1983), by comparison, adapted just the ...

‘You are my heart’s delight’

Susannah Clapp, 7 June 1984

A Portrait of Fryn: A Biography of F. Tennyson Jesse 
by Joanna Colenbrander.
Deutsch, 305 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 0 233 97572 1
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... bacchantes, and squeaked about sex over cocoa and boiled eggs; Mrs Colenbrander tells us that when Harold and Laura Knight arrived: ‘Their brilliant painting stunned the whole colony.’ After Damit and Horse, there was Tottie Harwood and literary London. Edith Jesse didn’t want her daughter back at home after college, so she started to write to keep ...

Mad Monk

Jenny Diski: Not going to the movies, 6 February 2003

The New Biographical Dictionary of Film 
by David Thomson.
Little, Brown, 963 pp., £25, November 2002, 0 316 85905 2
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Nobody’s Perfect: Writings from the ‘New Yorker’ 
by Anthony Lane.
Picador, 752 pp., £15.99, November 2002, 0 330 49182 2
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Paris Hollywood: Writings on Film 
by Peter Wollen.
Verso, 314 pp., £13, December 2002, 1 85984 391 3
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... Parallax View, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Annie Hall, American Graffiti, Star Wars, Harold and Maude, Two-Lane Blacktop, Five Easy Pieces, The King of Marvin Gardens, Badlands. These are the movies reviewed by Lane that he lists: Indecent Proposal, Sleepless in Seattle, Speed, Wolf, Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction, Braveheart, The Bridges of Madison ...

Damaged Beasts

James Wood: Peter Carey’s ‘Theft’, 8 June 2006

Theft: A Love Story 
by Peter Carey.
Faber, 269 pp., £16.99, June 2006, 0 571 23147 0
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... reference: ‘Imagine. All the VICE SQUAD with their big fat woodies come to have a Captain Cook.’ The most accomplished speaker of this private language, and the great enricher of the novel, is its second narrator, Hugh Boone, or Slow Bones, who alternates narration with Michael. Carey has said that As I Lay Dying had a great influence on him, and ...

Is the lady your sister?

E.S. Turner: An innkeeper’s diary, 27 April 2000

An Innkeeper's Diary 
by John Fothergill.
Faber, 278 pp., £23.95, January 2000, 0 571 15014 4
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... to read about the day seven chauffeurs mutinied over their treatment by a sneakily parsimonious cook. Two fussy maiden ladies who asked about the cost of stabling their Austin Seven were told ‘If you care to take it up to your bedroom there will be no charge for garage.’ I do not like to think what he would have told me to do with my sports Morgan ...

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