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Non-Stick Nationalists

Colin Kidd: Scotland’s Law, 24 September 2015

Constitutional Law of Scotland 
by Alan Page.
W. Green, 334 pp., £95, June 2015, 978 0 414 01456 5
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... Scottish constitutional law has largely sprung up since the coming of devolution. Previously, as Alan Page notes, Scottish constitutional law was generally assumed to be ‘indistinguishable from that of the rest of the UK’. Indeed, one of the traditional failings of British constitutional jurisprudence which ...

Alan Coren

Alan Brien, 4 December 1980

The Best of Alan Coren 
Robson, 416 pp., £7.50, October 1980, 0 86051 121 9Show More
Tissues for Men 
by Alan Coren.
Robson, 160 pp., £4.95, September 1980, 0 86051 116 2
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... Alan Coren is the editor of Punch, and also probably the funniest writer of humorous columns now in regular practice – by no means an inevitable, or even usual, combination. Punch seems to me to have one invaluable asset, its name; and one inescapable handicap, its name. The most famous long-running comic weekly in the world, it often sets me wondering whether it might not be easier to buy, or indeed write for, if it were called, say, the Hibbert Journal, or Notes and Queries, or just the Tudor Street Weekly ...

Biographical Materials

Alan Hollinghurst, 15 October 1981

Remembering Britten 
edited by Alan Blyth.
Hutchinson, 181 pp., £7.95, June 1981, 0 09 144950 2
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Britten and Auden in the Thirties: The Year 1936 
by Donald Mitchell.
Faber, 176 pp., £7.50, February 1981, 0 571 11715 5
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... Donald Mitchell recalls that Benjamin Britten had a low opinion of music critics in newspapers. Alan Blyth’s compilation Remembering Britten would have done little to make him change his mind: it is a book fundamentally misconceived and often grotesque in execution. The tributary volume of memoirs, such as the one Stephen Spender compiled after Auden’s death, has the value not only of illuminating its subject but of providing a complex shading of reaction and relation through the personalities of the contributors ...
... coitus – are likely to have a distinct feeling of ‘Here we go again’ when on the first page of the first section of The White Hotel juices are running down thighs and fingers being crammed into vaginas. In Birthstone, however, there was no relief from the first-person narration apart from the narrator’s own lapses into her ...

Lost Youth

Nicholson Baker, 9 June 1994

The Folding Star 
by Alan Hollinghurst.
Chatto, 422 pp., £15.99, May 1994, 0 7011 5913 8
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... Alan Hollinghurst is better at bees than Oscar Wilde. On the opening page of The Picture of Dorian Gray, Wilde has them ‘shouldering their way through the long un-mown grass’. A bee must never be allowed to ‘shoulder’. Later that afternoon, Dorian Gray, alarmed by Lord Henry Wotton’s graphic talk of youth’s inevitable degeneration, drops a lilac blossom that he has been ‘feverishly’ sniffing ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 1983, 16 February 1984

... house. 8 February, Dundee. A day off from filming An Englishman Abroad and I go to Edinburgh with Alan Bates. We climb the tower near the castle to see the Camera Obscura. The texture of the revolving bowl and the softness of the reflection convert the view into an 18th-century aquatint, in which motor-cars seem as delicate and exotic as sedan chairs. The ...

Diary

Alan Brien: Finding Lenin, 7 August 1986

... ingredient which makes each incident, like Proust’s Japanese flowers in water, so glowing on the page and so drab off it, is known as imagination. This can also be called invention, make-believe, the poet’s eye, the novelist’s ear, possibly what was known when I was a boy as a pack of lies. Not only the cynical may find it remarkable how these ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Dictionaries, 24 August 2000

... has been developed in Canada and christened ‘triffid’, allegedly in honour of a nebula – Alan McHughen, the scientist responsible, may be a mild-mannered biologist by day, but at night he’s an amateur astronomer. He’s dismissive of fears that the association with John Wyndham’s 1950s novel won’t do the controversy-strewn world of GM any ...

Memories of Lindsay Anderson

Alan Bennett, 20 July 2000

... Storey’s Home is nothing if not tentative and he did that superbly. Home is so nebulous on the page that at the time I couldn’t see how Gielgud in particular would ever manage to learn the lines (or the half lines). But it was a wonderful production, as were all Lindsay’s collaborations with Storey, Home, The Contractor, The Changing Room and Life ...

MacDiarmid and his Maker

Robert Crawford, 10 November 1988

MacDiarmid 
by Alan Bold.
Murray, 482 pp., £17.95, September 1988, 0 7195 4585 4
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A Drunk Man looks at the Thistle 
by Hugh MacDiarmid, edited by Kenneth Buthlay.
Scottish Academic Press, 203 pp., £12.50, February 1988, 0 7073 0425 3
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The Hugh MacDiarmid-George Ogilvie Letters 
edited by Catherine Kerrigan.
Aberdeen University Press, 156 pp., £24.90, August 1988, 0 08 036409 8
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Hugh MacDiarmid and the Russian 
by Peter McCarey.
Scottish Academic Press, 225 pp., £12.50, March 1988, 0 7073 0526 8
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... did not exist. And only Christopher Murray Grieve would have dared to invent him. Alan Bold’s valuable biography points out that when the 30-year-old Grieve began to write in the Scottish Chapbook under the pseudonym ‘M’Diarmid’, he was already editing the magazine under his own name, reviewing for it as ‘Martin Gillespie’, and ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: New Writing, 8 March 2001

... shaky criticism of the series might be directed at the number of familiar names on the contents page: Barbara Trapido, Anthony Thwaite, Anne Stevenson, Alan Brownjohn, Helen Simpson, Andrew Motion, Michael Hofmann, Alan Sillitoe, Louis de Bernières and Geoff Dyer are ten of them, and ...

Short Cuts

Paul Laity: Alternative Weeping, 7 September 2000

... in 1928. Readers who want to revel in such smut on a park bench or on the train can hide Alan Travis’s forthcoming Bound and Gagged: The Secret History of Obscenity in Britain (Profile, £16.99) behind the generously proportioned pages of the LRB. Anyone churlish enough to suggest that today’s authors don’t earn their whopping advances should ...

Plain English

Denis Donoghue, 20 December 1984

Nineteen Eighty-Four: Facsimile Edition 
by George Orwell, edited by Peter Davison.
Secker, 291 pp., £25, July 1984, 9780436350221
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Nineteen Eighty-Four 
by George Orwell, edited by Bernard Crick.
Oxford, 460 pp., £17.50, March 1984, 0 19 818521 9
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Inside the Myth. Orwell: Views from the Left 
edited by Christopher Norris.
Lawrence and Wishart, 287 pp., £12.50, November 1984, 0 85315 599 2
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The Crystal Spirit: A Study of George Orwell 
by George Woodcock.
Fourth Estate, 287 pp., £5.95, November 1984, 0 947795 05 7
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Orwell’s London 
by John Thompson.
Fourth Estate, 119 pp., £9.95, November 1984, 0 947795 00 6
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... Only a few errors have come to my notice, and perhaps one or two further tiny blemishes. On page 5, a cancelled word has been dropped from the transcription. It seems clear that Orwell first wrote: ‘on official business’, changed this to ‘on an official errand’, and then went back to his first phrase. On ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2011, 5 January 2012

... me.‘Aren’t you famous?’‘Well I can’t be, can I, if you don’t know my name.’‘It’s Alan something.’‘Yes.’‘From Scarborough?’‘No.’‘So which Alan are you?’‘I’m another Alan.’‘Are you just a lookalike?’‘Well, you could say so.’He pats my arm ...

Cut-Ups

Robert Crawford, 7 December 1989

Perduta Gente 
by Peter Reading.
Secker, £5, June 1989, 0 436 40999 2
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Letting in the rumour 
by Gillian Clarke.
Carcanet, 79 pp., £4.95, July 1989, 9780856357572
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Lazy Thoughts of a Lazy Woman 
by Grace Nichols.
Virago, 58 pp., £4.99, July 1989, 1 85381 076 2
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Studying Grosz on the Bus 
by John Lucas.
Peterloo, 64 pp., £4.95, August 1989, 1 871471 02 8
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The Old Noise of Truth 
by Joan Downar.
Peterloo, 63 pp., £4.95, August 1989, 1 871471 03 6
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... take comfort from the fact that the selection of poems in Essential Reading (1986) is edited by Alan Jenkins of the TLS. And that book contains a few examples of what are (in part at least) knowing winks: after describing a catalogue of sufferings in C, Reading concludes that ‘this, rendered in catalectic tetrameters, might do for the TLS or other ...

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