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Half Bird, Half Fish, Half Unicorn

Paul Foot, 16 October 1997

Peter Cook: A Biography 
by Harry Thompson.
Hodder, 516 pp., £18.99, September 1997, 0 340 64968 2
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... I was a friend and devoted admirer of Peter Cook for thirty years but I never realised until I read this book how much our early lives had overlapped. We were born in the same week into the same sort of family. His father, like mine, was a colonial servant rushing round the world hauling down the Imperial flag. At one stage both fathers were ensnared in the argument about the most appropriate capital for the West Indies Federation: an argument as vexed as it was futile since the Federation lasted only a few months ...

Diary

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

... that it was too radical to be very funny, claims ‘it was undoubtedly a strong influence on Peter Cook (one of the original cast members)’, implying, I think, that in Beyond the Fringe, staged the following year, Peter was pushed in the general direction of satirical comedy. I don’t think this was quite the case, rather that John Bird’s show confirmed ...
... Chatterley for a reference for a gamekeeper. The magazine sort of launched me on a career, because Alan Pryce-Jones, who was then the editor of the TLS, gave me a lot of reviewing work. AH: How did you see your future then? FW: I suppose I feebly wanted to be a writer, but, apart from those stories, I couldn’t think what on earth I was going to do. I got my ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2000, 25 January 2001

... said, ‘she’d have made a disastrous queen. Didn’t go to the theatre at all.’ 19 January. Alan Bates opens tonight at the Barbican in the RSC production of Antony and Cleopatra. The version put on at Stratford opened with Antony making love to Cleopatra, his head up her skirts. Cunnilingus served cold, as it were, was quite hard for a Stratford ...

Matters of Taste

Peter Graham, 4 December 1986

On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen 
by Harold McGee.
Allen and Unwin, 684 pp., £20, September 1986, 9780043060032
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The French Menu Cookbook 
by Richard Olney.
Dorling Kindersley, 294 pp., £12.95, September 1986, 0 86318 181 3
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Out to Lunch 
by Paul Levy.
Chatto, 240 pp., £10.95, November 1986, 0 7011 3091 1
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The Good Food Guide 1987 
edited by Drew Smith.
Consumers’ Association/Hodder, 725 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 340 39600 8
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... to Europe, it causes pellagra. Most of the time, though, it is science which has much to teach the cook. McGee explains exactly why, for example, vegetables put in large quantities of already boiling water and cooked uncovered for a few minutes will keep their greenness. We learn how to make iced tea that is not cloudy and sauces that do not curdle. The great ...

Wharton the Wise

D.A.N. Jones, 4 April 1985

The Missing Will 
by Michael Wharton.
Hogarth, 216 pp., £10.95, November 1984, 0 7011 2666 3
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... her broomstick, and make the literary point that the Wharton Hall blague sounds rather like one of Alan Bennett’s fantasies. Michael Wharton is an admirer of Alan Bennett, as he made clear in the ‘Peter Simple’ column recently, while offering assistance to an Oxford phonetician on a visit to Leeds University to record ...

Great Fun

John Bayley, 22 January 1987

Gossip 
by Patricia Meyer Spacks.
Chicago, 287 pp., £9.25, November 1986, 0 226 76844 9
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The Bonus of Laughter 
by Alan Pryce-Jones.
Hamish Hamilton, 263 pp., £12.95, January 1987, 0 241 11903 0
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... that is to say, if the addict feels like contemplating real people rather than fictitious ones. Alan Pryce-Jones’s recollections – ‘autobiography’ would be too pompous a word for them – are incredibly readable. Page after page is turned in utter fascination to see who will next appear and to listen to what they did and said, how they carried ...

Diary

Peter Craven: On the Demidenko Affair, 16 November 1995

... girl who had lied about being a lawyer should be attacked two days later, in the same papers, by Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard professor of law, who happened to be visiting Australia. I met Jill Kitson on the morning his article was published. ‘Now we’ve been attacked by a man called Dershowitz. Who’s ...

Flowery, rustic, tippy, smokey

Jenny Diski: A cup of tea, 19 June 2003

Green Gold: The Empire of Tea 
by Alan Macfarlane and Iris Macfarlane.
Ebury, 308 pp., £12.99, February 2003, 0 09 188309 1
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... what they take pleasure in. Tea is currently hot, here and in the States. You can read about it, cook with it (forget hash brownies, try green tea cakes), heal with it (drink tea and you will live for ever – flavonoids, polyphenols), beautify and slim with it (antioxidants, oxidation of fat), alter your consciousness with it (caffeine), and buy it from any ...

Serious Mayhem

Simon Reynolds: The McLaren Strand, 10 March 2022

The Life and Times of Malcolm McLaren: The Biography 
by Paul Gorman.
Constable, 855 pp., £14.99, November 2021, 978 1 4721 2111 0
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... Sex Pistols as Johnny Rotten or Sid Vicious, eclipsing the group’s musical muscle: drummer Paul Cook, guitarist Steve Jones and bassist Glen Matlock. (It was Matlock who wrote nearly all the group’s best tunes, only to be pushed out for being a Beatles-loving middle-class namby.) Andrew Loog Oldham, who managed the Rolling Stones, was the crucial ...
Secret Affairs: Franklin Roosevelt, Cordell Hull and Sumner Welles 
by Irwin Gellman.
Johns Hopkins, 499 pp., $29.95, April 1995, 0 8018 5083 5
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Closest Companion: The Unknown Story of the Intimate Friendship between Franklin Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley 
edited by Geoffrey Ward.
Houghton Mifflin, 444 pp., $24.95, April 1995, 0 395 66080 7
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No Ordinary Time. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War Two 
by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Simon and Schuster, 759 pp., £18, June 1995, 0 671 64240 5
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The End of Reform 
by Alan Brinkley.
Knopf, 371 pp., $27.50, March 1995, 0 394 53573 1
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... Eleanor consummated her love affair with the newspaper-woman, Lorena Hickok (as Blanche Wiesen Cook argued in her Eleanor Roosevelt biography, attacked in a book review by Geoffrey Ward and ignored by Doris Kearns Goodwin), or whether they stopped with intimate touches and avowals of love. Most of all, we come to admire the relationship between Eleanor and ...

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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... candidate for the safe seat of desperately impoverished Dunfermline East, he co-edited with Robin Cook another series of socialist essays, The Great Divide. In his Introduction, he grappled with the familiar argument that the shocking conditions of the poor could only be improved in times of economic growth. ‘The era of economic growth,’ he ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Allelujah!, 3 January 2019

... appearance of relish. Maybe he did do that in public – the Derek and Clive dialogues with Peter Cook left very little to the imagination, so it’s not unlikely.23 March. Barry Cryer brings a good deal of old-fashioned joy into my life, as I’m sure he does for many others. His phone calls always begin, ‘It’s your stalker,’ after which without ...

The Cadaver Club

Iain Sinclair, 22 December 1994

Original Sin 
by P.D. James.
Faber, 426 pp., £14.99, October 1994, 0 571 17253 9
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Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 282 pp., £14.99, September 1994, 1 85619 507 4
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The Hidden Files: An Autobiography 
by Derek Raymond.
Warner, 342 pp., £5.99, December 1994, 0 7515 1184 6
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Not till the Red Fog Rises 
by Derek Raymond.
Little, Brown, 248 pp., £15.99, December 1994, 0 316 91014 7
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... than the Book of Revelation. Orwell had Eton and the military police to draw on for 1984, and Alan Moore (V for Vendetta) had Orwell. What’s interesting is that for this ‘entirely new departure’ James stayed so close to the sense that runs through all her work of the horror of human intimacy, of touch (‘a collection of bones loosely held together ...

Crisis at Ettrick Bridge

William Rodgers, 12 October 1989

A Short History of the Liberal Party 1900-88 
by Chris Cook.
Macmillan, 216 pp., £9.95, August 1989, 0 333 44884 7
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Against Goliath 
by David Steel.
Weidenfeld, 318 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 9780297796787
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Labour’s Decline and the Social Democrats’ Fall 
by Geoffrey Lee Williams and Alan Lee Williams.
Macmillan, 203 pp., £29.50, July 1989, 0 333 46541 5
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Penhaligon 
by Annette Penhaligon.
Bloomsbury, 262 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 7475 0501 2
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Citizens’ Britain: A Radical Agenda for the 1990s 
by Paddy Ashdown.
Fourth Estate, 159 pp., £5.95, September 1989, 1 872180 45 0
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... MPs to 14. It was clear that the death of Liberal England had been prematurely foretold. As Chris Cook reminds us in the latest edition of his History of the Liberal Party, it was Jo Grimond who turned round the depleted Liberal ranks and marched them towards the sound of gunfire. It seemed a risible endeavour, with Lady Violet Bonham-Carter and remnants of ...

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