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Diary

Jenny Diski: Hairdressing, 2 March 2000

... of their own.* Like, I suppose, doctors and psychiatrists, when they talk to each other, their vital interest is in using their skills to make a living. Steven Zdatny offers the articles of Emile Long as a particular view of the social history of the early years of the 20th century, and it is a very particular view indeed. The years from 1910 to 1920 were ...

Mr Straight and Mr Good

Paul Foot: Gordon Brown, 19 February 1998

Gordon Brown: The Biography 
by Paul Routledge.
Simon and Schuster, 358 pp., £17.99, February 1998, 0 684 81954 6
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... It was Gordon Brown who announced proudly that the parameters of public spending for the vital first two years of the Labour Government would be those set down by the Tories; that there would be no increases in income tax, not even on the 0.2 per cent of the population who make more than £100,000 a year; and therefore no increase in public ...

Hooting

Edward Pearce, 22 October 1992

Beaverbrook 
by Anne Chisholm and Michael Davie.
Hutchinson, 589 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 09 173549 1
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... relation, last of the old man’s Green Park walkers, answers: ‘Because he was so exciting and vital.’ As to Beaverbrook’s politics, Aitken defines them as ‘anti-Establishment. He despised the nobs and official people.’ There are good stories about Beaverbrook reserved and waiting until the prospective pleasures of the Aitken ...

Eskapizm

Michael Wood: Oblomov, 6 August 2009

Oblomov 
by Ivan Goncharov, translated by Marian Schwartz.
Seven Stories, 553 pp., £15.99, January 2009, 978 1 58322 840 1
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... a worthy life, you’d best not get off the sofa at all.’ Oblomov, Shishkin says, is a ‘vital, dear and unlucky man’ and morally much to be preferred, the implication is, to all those who preach at him, pass him by, and rip him off. Schwartz, similarly, in her translator’s note, speaks of Oblomov’s ‘shining soul’ and his ...

Sabre-Toothed Teacher

Colin Kidd: Cowling, 31 March 2011

The Philosophy, Politics and Religion of British Democracy: Maurice Cowling and Conservatism 
edited by Robert Crowcroft, S.J.D. Green and Richard Whiting.
I.B. Tauris, 327 pp., £54.50, August 2010, 978 1 84511 976 8
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... who endorsed its ‘cynical truth’ that ‘inequalities, sufferings and alienations’ were ‘vital concomitants of the freedom, discipline and social solidarity of modern societies’. Tory Marxism was an exquisite instrument of provocation. Nothing was more certain to trigger fear and loathing among his real class enemies – the liberal jellies of ...
... It is often late, by chance, and with sudden delight, that we find those poets who later become vital to us. I knew Sorley MacLean by reputation before I felt his authority. His renovation of a poetic tradition, his cross-fertilisation of love and politics, of metaphysical technique and traditional Gaelic modes, of dan direach and personal destiny – I knew about all this at second-hand; it was part of that store of useful literary information that accumulates at the back of the literary mind like respected, unread books on the bookshelf ...

Getting it right

Tam Dalyell, 18 July 1985

The Ponting Affair 
by Richard Norton-Taylor.
Cecil Woolf, 144 pp., £5.95, June 1985, 0 900821 74 4
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Who Killed Hilda Murrell? 
by Judith Cook.
New English Library, 182 pp., £1.95, June 1985, 0 450 05885 9
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... Party up and down the country, there was no way which the professors of Belgrano Studies, as David Frost has christened us, could have carried on. Many a crusade has been smothered by the great big yawn of the British public. Norton-Taylor is not and never was Tam Dalyell’s or anyone else’s tame journalist. On the contrary, he started by being ...

Diary

Tony Blair: Thatcherism, 29 October 1987

... a year ago unknown in Britain and today unknown throughout the world. The other part, under David Owen, is being re-launched as the political wing of Sainsbury’s. At the Labour Conference there was little rejoicing over the demise of the Alliance: instead, the Party engaged in a self-critical assessment of its own part in bringing about a decade of ...

Wallahs and Wallabies

Gilbert Phelps, 8 May 1986

12 Edmondstone Street 
by David Malouf.
Chatto, 134 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 7011 3970 6
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The Shakespeare Wallah 
by Geoffrey Kendal and Clare Colvin.
Sidgwick, 186 pp., £12.95, March 1986, 0 283 99230 1
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Children of the Country: Coast to Coast across Africa 
by Joseph Hone.
Hamish Hamilton, 258 pp., £12.95, March 1986, 0 241 11742 9
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... three books, in which the two genres are combined, that label can properly be applied only to David Malouf’s 12 Edmondstone Street. An intimate apprehension of time and place informs the long title essay, which probes into the remembered experience of a child’s association with the house in Brisbane where he was born. As such it is a genuine ...

Frets and Knots

Anthony Grafton, 4 November 1993

A History of Cambridge University Press. Vol. I: Printing and the Book Trade in Cambridge, 1534-1698 
by David McKitterick.
Cambridge, 500 pp., £65, October 1992, 0 521 30801 1
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... David McKitterick’s Printing and the Book Trade in Cambridge, 1534-1698 is the first of three projected volumes on the history of the book’s own publisher, the Cambridge University Press. Though the book stretches to 387 pages of text and almost another hundred pages of notes, it does not reach the point around 1700 when Richard Bentley reshaped the Press into a major player, as he tried to reshape Horace, Paradise Lost and Trinity College, where McKitterick is fellow and librarian ...

Believing in the Alliance

Keith Kyle, 19 November 1981

... We have defied the laws of arithmetic,’ declared a buoyant David Steel after he had heard the result of the Croydon, North-West by-election, ‘One plus one really does equal three.’ It is now apparent that the public opinion polls were consistently correct in showing that, while support for the Liberal Party as such remained of a traditionally modest order and support for the Social Democrats alone was a similar or even smaller percentage, backing for the two-party alliance as a third force in British politics was a wholly different matter, and promised the chance of a complete breakthrough under the existing electoral system ...

Highland Hearts

V.G. Kiernan, 20 December 1990

On the Crofters’ Trail: In Search of the Clearance Highlanders 
by David Craig.
Cape, 358 pp., £14.99, October 1990, 0 224 02750 6
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... stupefied or browbeaten look of an abandoned croft-house ... Here was Unnimore.’ Here, too, was David Craig, groping through a wilderness in Morvern in search of a long-abandoned hamlet; his treasure-trove the remains of eight little houses, their stones covered with ‘whiskery grey lichens’. A hundred pages on, our intrepid explorer is being driven ...

The Sound of Thunder

Tom Nairn: The Miners’ Strike, 8 October 2009

Marching to the Fault Line: The 1984 Miners’ Strike and the Death of Industrial Britain 
by Francis Beckett and David Hencke.
Constable, 303 pp., £18.99, February 2009, 978 1 84901 025 2
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Shafted: The Media, the Miners’ Strike and the Aftermath 
edited by Granville Williams.
Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, 176 pp., £9.99, March 2009, 978 1 898240 05 1
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... thus a belief in the continued viability of the pits – to function at all. Francis Beckett and David Hencke quote one journalist’s description of a mining village near Barnsley: The village is not big, nearly all the 300 workers in the pit live here with their families. The wages were never very high … but they have cars and many own their little ...

You are terrorists, we are virtuous

Yitzhak Laor: The IDF, 17 August 2006

... grow accustomed from childhood: the most menacing army in the region is described here as if it is David against an Arab Goliath. Yet the Jewish Goliath has sent Lebanon back 20 years, and Israelis themselves even further: we now appear to be a lynch-mob culture, glued to our televisions, incited by a premier whose ‘leadership’ is being launched and ...

Multiple Kingdoms

Linda Colley: The origins of the British Empire, 19 July 2001

The Ideological Origins of the British Empire 
by David Armitage.
Cambridge, 239 pp., £35, September 2000, 0 521 59081 7
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... their doubts about the desirability and viability of such a strategy. One of the many virtues of David Armitage’s Ideological Origins of the British Empire is that its author is markedly transatlantic in background, and consequently able to understand and mediate between these very different intellectual sensibilities and scepticisms. Trained at Princeton ...

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