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Do put down that revolver

Rosemary Hill, 14 July 2016

The Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House between the Wars 
by Adrian Tinniswood.
Cape, 406 pp., £25, June 2016, 978 0 224 09945 5
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... the horrors of the first half of the 20th century. The title is borrowed from Robert Graves and Alan Hodge, whose social history of Britain from 1918 to 1939, The Long Weekend, appeared in 1940, and it conjures up a sepia image of a tranquil Indian summer ‘in which the sun set slowly on the British Empire and the shadows lengthened on the lawns of a ...

Astral Projection

Alison Light: The Case of the Croydon Poltergeist, 17 December 2020

The Haunting of Alma Fielding: A True Ghost Story 
by Kate Summerscale.
Bloomsbury, 345 pp., £18.99, October, 978 1 4088 9545 0
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... comedy at the pictures after that. The so-called ‘morbid’ age was also, as Robert Graves and Alan Hodge suggested in 1940, when calling their social history of the interwar years The Long Weekend, an age of mass pleasures, of the lido, rambling and cycling clubs, the first holiday camps and the dance hall (the ‘Lambeth Walk’ was the national ...

Sea-shells and Tigers

Philip Kitcher, 18 March 1999

Life’s Other Secret: The New Mathematics of the Living World 
by Ian Stewart.
Penguin, 320 pp., £20, June 1998, 0 7139 9161 5
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... So says Lady Thomasina Coverly, the heroine of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, to her tutor Septimus Hodge. Her question was echoed a century after her (fictitious) life by the unorthodox biologist D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, whose mathematical investigations of the living world were collected in On Growth and Form, published in 1917. Although they have excited ...

Adjusting the Mechanism

Colin Burrow: Robert Graves, 11 October 2018

Robert Graves: From a Great War Poet to ‘Goodbye to All That’, 1895-1929 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Bloomsbury, 461 pp., £25, August 2018, 978 1 4729 2914 3
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The Reader over Your Shoulder: A Handbook for Writers of English Prose 
by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge.
Seven Stories, 613 pp., £30, September 2017, 978 1 60980 733 7
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... Virginia Woolf​ could be cruelly accurate in her assessments of people. On 24 April 1925 Robert Graves visited her unexpectedly and stayed too long. She described him as ‘a nice ingenuous rattle headed young man’, and declared ‘the poor boy is all emphasis protestation and pose.’ By 1925 Graves had good reason to be ‘rattle headed’. He had survived Charterhouse school, which he hated ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1984, 20 December 1984

... butler saw. Lindsay directing Ralph Richardson. A group photo of some critics. ‘Look at them, Alan. I mean, is it surprising?’ He has no pretensions to taste and would presumably despise the word. Coffee over, he starts preparing lunch. He is a hospitable man, though the odd thing is he prepared my lunch separately from his and serves it first, though ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2005, 5 January 2006

... modernian. 26 October. An interesting letter this morning from Claire Tomalin about the Drummer Hodge scene in The History Boys, saying that, contrary to what Hector specifically asserts in the scene, Hodge was not in the ordinary sense a name but like, as it were, Joe Bloggs, a generic name for a common and unthinking ...

Why Mr Fax got it wrong

Roy Porter: Population history, 5 March 1998

English Population History from Family Reconstitution 1580-1837 
by E.A. Wrigley and R.S. Davies.
Cambridge, 657 pp., £60, July 1997, 0 521 59015 9
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The Savage Wars of Peace: England, Japan and the Malthusian Trap 
by Alan Macfarlane.
Blackwell, 427 pp., £45, May 1997, 0 631 18117 2
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... light on the interplay of demographic, economic and social forces in specific communities: was Hodge down in Devon marrying earlier than his dad because his prospects were brightening, because customary village constraints were weakening, or because he didn’t give a damn (Malthus’s nightmare), since the Poor Law would in any case keep him? We are ...


Tobias Jones: Campaigning at the Ministry of Sound, 6 March 1997

... the music inside will come from Creation Records, the label which launched Oasis, whose founder, Alan McGee, gave Blair a cool £10,000 to nurture Young Labour and pay for the Youth Rally in Blackpool; it was the same McGee who presented Blair with the band’s platinum disk, and gave the now legendary riposte to Virginia Bottomley when invited to a bash for ...

Free Schools

Dawn Foster, 7 May 2015

... apparently had no chair of governors, despite legal stipulations. But the school prospectus listed Alan Lewis, a former deputy chair of the Conservative Party, as its ‘executive patron’, and the leaked EFA report concludes that he had been the ‘chair of governors between September 2011 and October 2012’. Lewis also rented the land to the school, at a ...

Who will stop them?

Owen Hatherley: The Neo-Elite, 23 October 2014

The Establishment and How They Get Away with It 
by Owen Jones.
Allen Lane, 335 pp., £16.99, September 2014, 978 1 84614 719 7
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... His opinions would be ridiculed as those of a ‘dinosaur’ if they came from a Peter Taaffe or Alan Woods, but he is inoculated against such criticism by his youth and avoidance of jargon. In many respects, he is the best thing to happen to the non-compromised, non-New Labour left in the mainstream media in decades: he makes ideas that are customarily ...

My Old, Sweet, Darling Mob

Iain Sinclair: Michael Moorcock, 30 November 2000

King of the City 
by Michael Moorcock.
Scribner, 421 pp., £9.99, May 2000, 0 684 86140 2
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Mother London 
by Michael Moorcock.
Scribner, 496 pp., £6.99, May 2000, 0 684 86141 0
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... the actress who originally played Miss Marple’, is present. Also namechecked are Patricia Hodge, Simon Russell Beale, Giles Gordon (once Moorcock’s literary agent), Andrea Dworkin and Iris Murdoch, who ‘sat smiling into the middle-distance while Felix Martin explained the H-bomb to her’. What Moorcock is doing, under the permission of a work of ...

We Are Many

Tom Crewe: In the Corbyn Camp, 11 August 2016

... that not only was your boss undermining you but that this was happening to other colleagues?’ Alan Johnson, who led the Labour campaign to remain in the EU, has alleged that Corbyn and his team regularly failed to take up agreed positions, avoided taking part in meetings and watered down speeches. (In truth, the pro-EU Labour vote held up pretty well, but ...

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