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At the Brunei Gallery

Peter Campbell: Indian photography, 1 November 2001

... types and tribes which Kim encounters on his journeyings – their monochrome precision is miles away from Kim’s evocation of richly flavoured, brightly coloured, ever-moving life. All that we must add for ourselves. But what we add it to is so circumstantial, so revealing in detail, so inclusive in its often dour record of appearances (and so devoid ...


Richard Wollheim: In South Africa, 3 July 1986

... through the light drifts of tear-gas. Four students were arrested. Meanwhile, less than ten miles away, a thousand shacks had been destroyed and twenty, twenty-five thousand blacks had been made homeless. I could understand how the children of the middle classes, returning from Crossroads where they did much of the relief work, could resolve to have ...


Richard Usborne: On Cutting P.G. Wodehouse, 4 October 1984

... a motoring tour and was much impressed by it. It seemed to me just the town which ought to be two miles away from Blandings Castle.’ This late-revealed statement will put the cat among the pigeons in the tight little world of Wodehouse topographical scholarship. In this context the names of two retired soldiers, Colonel Norman Murphy in Cumbria and Colonel ...

Solzhenitsyn’s Campaigns

Richard Peace, 18 April 1985

Solzhenitsyn: A Biography 
by Michael Scammell.
Hutchinson, 1051 pp., £18, February 1985, 0 09 151280 8
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... he was to be released into permanent exile in Central Asia. This began in 1953 in Kok Terek, many miles to the south of his labour camp but still in Kazakhstan. The local authorities were wary of employing him in his former profession of schoolteacher, but by persistence, and the revelation of his talents as mathematician and pedagogue, he achieved his ...

Prophet of the Rocks

Richard Fortey: William Smith, 9 August 2001

The Map that Changed the World: The Tale of William Smith and the Birth of a Science 
by Simon Winchester.
Viking, 338 pp., £12.99, August 2001, 0 670 88407 3
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... ditches, quarries and mines. A man of great physical strength, he thought nothing of walking sixty miles in pursuit of a few new marks on his template of British geology. He was compelled to seek patronage from the aristocracy to further his research, and there were times when such patronage was in short supply. But in the early years of the 19th century ...

Hammers for Pipes

Richard Fortey: The Beginnings of Geology, 9 February 2006

Bursting the Limits of Time 
by Martin Rudwick.
Chicago, 840 pp., £31.50, December 2005, 0 226 73111 1
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... those who determined the ‘mother lode’ from which they were derived – in some cases many miles away. They were used subsequently as evidence in support of the universal deluge. Now we know them to have been dumped as the glaciers of the last Ice Age melted away. It’s curious that the identity of these investigators should be frozen in the names of ...


D.A.N. Jones, 12 July 1990

A Sort of Clowning: Life and Times, 1940-59 
by Richard Hoggart.
Chatto, 225 pp., £14.95, June 1990, 0 7011 3607 3
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Tilting at Don Quixote 
by Nicholas Wollaston.
Deutsch, 314 pp., £14.95, June 1990, 0 233 98551 4
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Finger Lickin’ Good: A Kentucky Childhood 
by Paul Levy.
Chatto, 202 pp., £13.95, May 1990, 0 7011 3521 2
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How Many Miles to Babylon? 
by Adewale Maja-Pearce.
Heinemann, 154 pp., £13.95, June 1990, 0 434 44172 4
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... he is an English-born novelist, the son of a Nigerian father and a Scottish mother. In How many miles to Babylon? he tells us that he came home from his London school complaining that the other children called him a wog: his Scottish grandmother gave him the well-meant, useless advice that he should tell his schoolfellows that the word meant ...

Awfully Present

Thomas Jones: The Tambora Eruption, 5 February 2015

Tambora: The Eruption that Changed the World 
by Gillen D’Arcy Wood.
Princeton, 293 pp., £19.95, April 2014, 978 0 691 15054 3
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... in 230 ad, Baekdu Mountain on the Chinese-North Korean border in 969 and Mount Rinjani, a hundred miles or so west of Tambora, in 1257. By comparison, Vesuvius in 79 ad, Krakatoa in 1883 and Pinatubo in 1991 had a vei of 6 (more than 10 km3); Mount St Helens in 1980 had a vei of 5 (more than 1 km3); Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 had a vei of 4 (more than ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Man on Wire’, 11 September 2008

Man on Wire 
directed by James Marsh.
August 2008
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... doesn’t tell us to), other, later figures who couldn’t walk in the air, and especially perhaps Richard Drew’s famous photograph, taken at 9.41 a.m. on 11 September 2001, showing a man dropping downwards head first, one leg bent at the knee, only the abstract vertical lines of a building behind him, a construction that in the photograph has neither top ...

At Hyde Park Corner

Jonathan Meades: The Bomber Command Memorial , 25 October 2012

... include the late Bee Gee Robin Gibb, the mobile phone baron John Caudwell and the pornographer Richard Desmond: their name liveth for evermore all right, prominently, in a niche on the western side of the structure. The memorial to the 55,573 nameless dead airmen of Bomber Command and its few thousand survivors has evidently been squatted by fiscally ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: The Queen, 11 May 2006

... little pain Edward – but the Queen has indeed overseen a drama of pride and pettiness that makes Richard II seem like an episode of Coronation Street. More than that, she has described a new role for the royals: making one feel a bit better about the dysfunctionality of one’s own family, knowing that they could never be so internationally fucked up as ...


Sean Wilsey: Going Slow, 17 July 2008

... drive a 1960 Chevy Apache 10 pick-up truck, at 45 mph, from far west Texas to New York City: 2364 miles through desert, suburbs, forests, lake-spattered plains, mountains, farmland, more suburbs and the Holland Tunnel. I got to know both of my travelling companions during a brief period living in the town of Marfa, Texas, which is also where I found the ...


Peter Wollen: In the Tunnel, 28 April 1994

... unnaturally large, with their heads reaching nearly up to the ceiling, as the British sculptor Richard Deacon showed us in photographs of visitors to the labyrinth of tiny tunnels which run under the city of Chicago. The tunnel becomes claustrophobic, oppressive, odd. On the other hand, if the tunnel is very large, it becomes ...

One for Uncle

John Bayley, 5 April 1990

Robert Graves: The Years with Laura 1926-1940 
by Richard Perceval Graves.
Weidenfeld, 380 pp., £25, March 1990, 0 297 79672 0
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... Woolf? ... I’m Graves.’ He appeared to have been rushing through the air at sixty miles an hour and to have alighted temporarily ... The poor boy is all emphasis, protestation and pose. He has a crude likeness to Shelley, save that his nose is a switchback and his lines blurred ... The usual self-consciousness of young men, especially as he ...

Wall in the Head

Carolyn Steedman: On Respectability, 28 July 2016

Respectable: The Experience of Class 
by Lynsey Hanley.
Allen Lane, 240 pp., £16.99, April 2016, 978 1 84614 206 2
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... give these people baths they’ll only put coal in them.’ Even sitting writing this review 18 miles away in the bourgeois fastness of Leamington Spa, I feel pretty offended myself at the attribution of low-life character to any of my Warwickshire neighbours. Here in the West Midlands we all come from somewhere else, as George Eliot pointed out when ...

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