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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 ...


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 ...

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 ...


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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Princeton Diary

Alan Ryan: In Princeton , 26 March 1992

... academic scandals and quarrels that filled last year’s newspapers have been driven off the front page by more urgent matters: President Bush’s troubles with Pat Buchanan, General Motors’ record-breaking losses of $4.5 billion, and the usual va et vient of an election year, Dinesh D’Souza’s Illiberal Education has lost its lustre as his horror stories ...

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 ...

Holy Relics

Alan Milward, 3 April 1986

Selling Hitler: The story of the Hitler Diaries 
by Robert Harris.
Faber, 402 pp., £10.95, February 1986, 0 571 13557 9
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... believes in his heart has the greatest strength in the world. Signed: Adolf Hitler,’ item 667, page 1248. The diaries were written in modern ink on only slightly old-fashioned paper over which Kujau poured modern tea. The headings were in Lettraset. On the cover of each diary were the plastic initials AH, except where he ran out of A’s and had to put ...

MacDiarmid and his Maker

Robert Crawford, 10 November 1988

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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... Hugh MacDiarmid 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 ...


Chris Mullin: A report from Westminster, 25 June 2009

... hands on a computer disc of our unexpurgated expenses claims and has begun publishing highlights. Page after unedifying page . . . The damage is incalculable. Not just to us, but to the entire parliamentary system. We are sinking in a great swamp of derision and loathing. No matter that the guardians of public morality at ...


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

... table and work on the script. He looks at me inquiringly, then puts a straight line through half a page. ‘Boring, don’t you think? Too tentative.’ He invariably crosses out all my ‘possiblys’ and ‘perhapses’. Sometimes I resent seeing a day’s work crossed out at a stroke (except that I can generally salvage it for something else). It is like ...

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