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Diary

Paul Foot: The Impotence of Alan Clark, 5 August 1993

... accomplished? No junior minister more aptly represented that mood than the patrician Thatcherite Alan Clark. A big landowner, a poor QC and a minor historian, the jolly Clark decided to write a diary while in office. From 1983 to 1991, during which time he occupied three offices – Under Secretary at the Department ...

Going Flat Out, National Front and All

Ian Hamilton: Watch your mouth!, 14 December 2000

Diaries: Into Politics 
by Alan Clark.
Weidenfeld, 389 pp., £20, October 2000, 0 297 64402 5
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The Assassin’s Cloak: An Anthology of the World’s Greatest Diarists 
edited by Irene Taylor and Alan Taylor.
Canongate, 684 pp., £25, November 2000, 0 86241 920 4
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The Journals of Woodrow Wyatt. Vol. III: From Major to Blair 
edited by Sarah Curtis.
Macmillan, 823 pp., £25, November 2000, 9780333774069
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... before – and with more pleasure to her then I think in all the time of our marriage before’.) Alan Clark’s Diaries 1983-91, published a few years ago, were applauded for their beastly candour but Clark was nowhere near as winningly ingenuous as Pepys. Mrs Clark was ...

Licence to kill

Paul Foot, 10 February 1994

Spider’s Web: Bush, Saddam, Thatcher and the Decade of Deceit 
by Alan Friedman.
Faber, 455 pp., £17.50, November 1993, 0 571 17002 1
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The Unlikely Spy 
by Paul Henderson.
Bloomsbury, 294 pp., £16.99, September 1993, 0 7475 1597 2
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... It was the patrician Alan Clark who most accurately summed up the approach of the British and American Governments to the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. Nothing, he reckoned, was better for business than a lot of foreigners killing one another. This has been true of all foreign wars throughout the ages, but for businessmen of the Clark mentality a hot war in the Eighties which demanded endless supplies of expensive weaponry and technology was almost too good to be true ...

Sweetly Terminal

Edward Pearce, 5 August 1993

Diaries 
by Alan Clark.
Weidenfeld, 421 pp., £20, June 1993, 0 297 81352 8
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... Willyism. Everyone says Wicks is useless. This seems the only satisfactory way to write about the Alan ClarkDiaries: set out hunks and small slivers like a buffet for the prospective readership to nibble and savour. The book has been ineptly ill-reviewed so far: furtive pieties on the infidelity front, squeaks from the girls on the Via Femina and ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Telly, 9 August 2001

... diaries, edited by John Lahr, which are to be published in October. Among the slogans (‘Think Alan Clark meets Alan Bennett’ – no, don’t) and the paraphernalia (a padlock and key) is a pamphlet of highlights. A good many of the selected entries concern spanking, and a good many others are anecdotes about ...

The Other Half

Robert Melville, 4 July 1985

Kenneth ClarkA Biography 
by Meryle Secrest.
Weidenfeld, 310 pp., £12.95, September 1984, 9780297783985
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... I knew Kenneth Clark by sight some time before he spoke to me. It was in the late Fifties, I think, at the press view of an exhibition of 20th-century English painting, that words were exchanged. We must have got there very early, because no one else was in the gallery. I was standing in front of a big Pasmore and Clark was coming to look at it ...

Blame it on his social life

Nicholas Penny: Kenneth Clark, 5 January 2017

Kenneth ClarkLife, Art and ‘Civilisation’ 
by James Stourton.
William Collins, 478 pp., £30, September 2016, 978 0 00 749341 8
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... Each and every​ place in the life of Kenneth Clark has been investigated by James Stourton, from the country house in Suffolk where, as a boy, Clark judged the dresses of female dinner guests, to the château in Normandy belonging to his second wife, Nolwen, where, in his later years, he tried to find ways to communicate with the lovers who had once hoped he would marry them ...

Our Flexible Friends

Conor Gearty, 18 April 1996

Scott Inquiry Report 
by Richard Scott.
HMSO, 2386 pp., £45, February 1996, 0 10 262796 7
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... were three government ministers, William Waldegrave from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Alan Clark from the DTI and Lord Trefgarne from Defence. On the agenda was what to do about the export of arms and arms-related equipment to the Gulf region in light of the changed circumstances brought about by peace. To the extent that the Howe guidelines ...

Shoulder-Shrugging

Julian Critchley, 11 December 1997

Dear Bill: Bill Deedes Reports 
by W.F. Deedes.
Macmillan, 396 pp., £20, October 1997, 0 333 71386 9
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... the school holidays from Harrow. For a time his family owned Saltwood Castle, now the lair of Alan Clark and terrible with banners, but the pile proved to be ruinously expensive and the family moved from castle to country house. The Wall Street crash of 1929 obliged the young Deedes to quit Harrow and its unattractive headmaster Cyril Norwood. Deedes ...

How’s the vampire?

Christopher Hitchens, 8 November 1990

King Edward VIII: The Official Biography 
by Philip Ziegler.
Collins, 654 pp., £20, September 1990, 0 00 215741 1
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... trenches and his overmastering desire to avoid a repetition. Some years ago, I was interviewing Alan Clark MP about his book The Donkeys, a rugged study of British Great War generalship which became the script for Joan Littlewood’s Oh What A Lovely War. He suddenly said to me: ‘I daresay you’ve been told I’m a Fascist.’ I admitted that I had ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 1999, 20 January 2000

... so still seems contemporary. The most startling revelation is that it includes a character called Alan Bennet (sic) who is described as ‘in his late forties. He is neatly dressed but there is an indefinable quality of failure about him’. Coward’s play was staged in September 1960, a month after Beyond the Fringe, and a year after I had appeared on the ...

More ‘out’ than ‘on’

Glen Newey: Chris Mullin’s Diaries, 27 August 2009

A View from the Foothills: The Diaries of Chris Mullin 
by Chris Mullin.
Profile, 590 pp., £20, March 2009, 978 1 84668 223 0
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... the DETR, Prescott blusters and bungles away, the Peter Principle made flesh. Other ministers – Alan Milburn, David Blunkett, Stephen Byers – briefly shoot skywards, flare and fizzle. Through the passing show Mullin is by turns wryly amused and appalled, but often just alienated, a Meursault of the red boxes. Despite his Bennite past, the alienation is ...

Hobnobbing

Simon Hoggart, 24 April 1997

Michael Heseltine: A Biography 
by Michael Crick.
Hamish Hamilton, 496 pp., £20, February 1997, 0 241 13691 1
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... That snobbishness hasn’t disappeared. Take Michael Jopling’s celebrated remark, quoted by Alan Clark: ‘The trouble with Michael is that he has had to buy all his own furniture.’ Willie Whitelaw is quoted as saying that he is the kind of man who combs his hair in public, though that sounds too mean for Willie. There are also the big political ...
Once a Jolly Bagman: Memoirs 
by Alistair McAlpine.
Weidenfeld, 269 pp., £20, March 1997, 9780297817376
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... that Alistair McAlpine was writing his memoirs some optimists hoped he might match the diaries of Alan Clark, whose sustained and entertaining indiscretions caused such exquisite pleasure. No such luck. At least three-quarters of McAlpine’s book is a dreary account of a dreary life, whose most interesting passage is a tip about how to light a ...

Shtum

John Lanchester: Alastair Campbell’s Diaries, 16 August 2007

The Blair Years: Extracts from the Alastair Campbell Diaries 
edited by Alastair Campbell and Richard Stott.
Hutchinson, 794 pp., £25, July 2007, 978 0 09 179629 7
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... fall of Milosevic, which was brilliant.’ But there are some great little sketches, as when Alan Clark is added to a North London dinner party as a last-minute guest. The Braggs arrived and Melvyn was horrified. He said he loathed Alan C. Alan and Jane arrived in one of his ...

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