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Diary

Paul Foot: The Impotence of Alan Clark

5 August 1993
... and vibrancy. Why, they ask, can’t we go back to those happy bygone days when so much was accomplished? No junior minister more aptly represented that mood than the patrician Thatcherite AlanClark. 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 ...

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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... has lain with her as a husband ‘more times since this falling-out than in I believe twelve months before – and with more pleasure to her then I think in all the time of our marriage before’.) AlanClark’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 generally pitied at the time ...
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 AlanClark 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 ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Telly

9 August 2001
... Bloomsbury have sent out the first publicity pack for Kenneth Tynan’s diaries, edited by John Lahr, which are to be published in October. Among the slogans (‘Think AlanClark 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 ...

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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... ash. Willie said that Nigel Wicks will be (sic) very good ... is very good ... BUT – a marvellous Willyism. Everyone says Wicks is useless. This seems the only satisfactory way to write about the AlanClark Diaries: 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 ...

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 ...
18 April 1996
Scott Inquiry Report 
by Richard Scott.
HMSO, 2386 pp., £45, February 1996, 0 10 262796 7
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... lies in a meeting that was held on 21 December 1988, four months after the end of the Gulf War. Present were three government ministers, William Waldegrave from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, AlanClark 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 ...

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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... in the Middle East to establish a mission in the East End of London. Deedes spent some time there during the school holidays from Harrow. For a time his family owned Saltwood Castle, now the lair of AlanClark 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 ...

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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... twice. Gordon Brown schemes to become leader, while his faction intrigues against Blair’s. At 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 ...

Diary

Alan​ Bennett: What I did in 1999

20 January 2000
... or a new perspective) is an old actress, Sarita Myrtle, who’s gone completely doolally, and 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 ...
3 April 1997
Once a Jolly Bagman: Memoirs 
by Alistair McAlpine.
Weidenfeld, 269 pp., £20, March 1997, 9780297817376
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... most of his life collecting art treasures with and for his wealthy friends? When the news was out that Alistair McAlpine was writing his memoirs some optimists hoped he might match the diaries of AlanClark, 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 ...

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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... Sometimes it is inadvertent and Pooterish: ‘GB called and we agreed God was a disaster area’; ‘The fall of Milosevic, which was brilliant.’ But there are some great little sketches, as when AlanClark 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 Bentleys, which ...

Dirty Money

Paul Foot

17 December 1992
A Full Service Bank: How BCCI stole millions around the world 
by James Ring Adams and Douglas Frantz.
Simon and Schuster, 381 pp., £16.99, April 1992, 0 671 71133 4
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Bankrupt: The BCCI Fraud 
by Nick Kochan and Bob Whittington.
Gollancz, 234 pp., £4.99, November 1991, 0 575 05279 1
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The BCCI Affair: A Report to The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 
by Senators John Kerry and Hank Brown.
US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 800 pp., September 1992
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Inquiry into the Supervision of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International 
by Lord Justice Bingham.
HMSO, 218 pp., £19.30, October 1992, 0 10 219893 4
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... Georgia and owed about three million dollars. Abedi lent him the three million. It was never repaid of course, but the two men were firm friends for life. Another much more distinguished convert was Clark Clifford, the beautifully-spoken lawyer who had been a friend of the Kennedys and Defence Secretary to Lyndon Johnson. When Abedi first met him Clifford was looking for a cause – especially if it ...

Miss Dior, Prodigally Applied

Ian Patterson: Jilly Cooper

17 May 2017
Mount! 
by Jilly Cooper.
Corgi, 610 pp., £7.99, February 2017, 978 0 552 17028 4
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... seems to have changed since then as far as the main thrust of her fiction goes. The best-known figure in her novels is the most dominant of males, a character created from a mixture of Mr Rochester, Clark Gable, Casanova, the late AlanClark MP, and – apparently – various dashing and extant English aristocrats, including Andrew Parker Bowles. Rupert Campbell-Black, wealthy landowner, sometime ...

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