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Getting back

Adrian Poole, 1 July 1982

A crowd is not company 
by Robert Kee.
Cape, 240 pp., £7.50, May 1982, 9780224020039
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Bedbugs 
by Clive Sinclair.
Allison and Busby, 109 pp., £6.95, May 1982, 0 85031 454 2
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New Writing and Writers 19 
John Calder, 262 pp., £6.95, April 1982, 0 7145 3811 6Show More
Zhenia’s Childhood 
by Boris Pasternak, translated by Alec Brown.
Allison and Busby, 115 pp., £6.95, May 1982, 0 85031 466 6
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... For a start he is strangely unnamed, but I understand that this is an error and that his name is Alec Brown. The stories were first published together in Russian in 1929 and one assumes that the Russian is highly coloured and densely textured. One assumes this because the English version impresses the reader with a sense of helpless and heroic ...

Groupie

Robert Morley, 21 June 1984

Personal Mark 
by Alec McCowen.
Hamish Hamilton, 236 pp., £7.95, May 1984, 9780241112632
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Feeling you’re behind: An Autobiography 
by Peter Nichols.
Weidenfeld, 242 pp., £10.95, May 1984, 0 297 78392 0
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... Filming a few years back in Paris, we were visited on the set by a cardinal. Alec Guinness being absent, I took it upon myself to show him around and at the same time express my sorrow that he had missed so recent a convert to his faith. His Eminence allowed himself a rather wintry smile. ‘That,’ he observed, ‘is a conversion I understand we owe more to the cinema than the Church ...

Short Cuts

Tom Crewe: Ed Balls, 22 September 2016

... again, won the premiership, lost it, and won it back again, retiring from Parliament in 1964. Even Alec Douglas-Home had a second act after losing the election of 1964, serving as foreign secretary under Edward Heath. These are the lucky ones. A different fate awaited Jim Callaghan, who drifted into a burdensome obscurity after losing the 1979 election and ...
Selected Literary Criticism of Louis MacNeice 
edited by Alan Heuser.
Oxford, 279 pp., £19.50, March 1987, 0 19 818573 1
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... seems to have begun in 1974 in Time was away: The World of Louis MacNeice, edited by Terence Brown and Alec Reid, but at that stage it was a tentative thing. Indeed, Derek Mahon’s essay in that book, ‘MacNeice in England and Ireland’, mentioned the matter only to set it aside. ‘He had no place in the ...

Mean Streets of Salvador

Martha Gellhorn, 22 August 1996

... well booked up. My interpreter passed on her lucrative assignment to a fellow law student named Alec. Alec was 20, six feet tall and made of soft lard. (‘I’m not fat, I’m chubby.’) He was studying law because lawyers make the most money. He also taught English at a private language school. He was physically ...

Half-Timbering, Homosexuality and Whingeing

Ian Sansom: Julian Barnes, 1 October 1998

England, England 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 272 pp., £15.99, September 1998, 0 224 05275 6
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... article, entitled ‘Woman in Earnest: What was on Diana’s mind as summer began?’, Tina Brown, then editor of the magazine, thought that Diana had perhaps found a place to channel all that unrequited love, and was ‘learning to be sustained by it’, while Salman Rushdie (‘Crash: Was the fatal accident a cocktail of death and ...

Never the twain

Mark Amory, 4 March 1982

Evelyn Waugh, Writer 
by Robert Murray Davis.
Pilgrim Books, 342 pp., $20.95, May 1981, 0 937664 00 6
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... while those collected in Evelyn Waugh and his World are naturally shorter still. It is true that Alec Waugh returned several times to the subject of his brother and wrote at some length: but then he flaunted his love of America and American ways. Their contributions have been more rigorous, factual and detailed and include a study of Waugh’s life up to ...
TheSinking of the ‘Belgrano’ 
by Desmond Rice and Arthur Gavshon.
Secker, 192 pp., £8.95, March 1984, 0 436 41332 9
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Our Falklands War 
edited by Geoffrey Underwood.
Maritime Books, 144 pp., £3.95, November 1983, 0 907771 08 4
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... from Fleet Headquarters at Northwood. Now we find the submarine commander, Christopher Wreford-Brown DSO, saying in Our Falklands War: We were tasked to look for and find the General Belgrano Group. It was reported to consist of the cruiser and escorts. We located her on our passive sonar and sighted her visually early in the afternoon of 1 May. We ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2004, 6 January 2005

... Alan was sitting in his dressing-room when there was a tentative knock on the door. It was Alec Guinness. He shook Alan’s hand, said, ‘You must be very tired,’ and left. Alan’s languid phone calls were often to do with professional humiliation. In the 1999 production of Antony and Cleopatra at Stratford the curtain rose with Antony on his knees ...

Diary

Duncan McLean: Frank Sargeson, 7 June 2018

... I’m all right boy, he’d say. Shortly after its completion, Sargeson wrote about That Summer to Alec Pickard: ‘Mainly I suppose it could be described as a story about love – I suppose an attempt at demonstrating something of the faith trust responsibility confidence & belief that is the sine qua non of such relationships. But what will puzzle many ...

Andropov’s Turn

Philip Short, 19 May 1983

Khrushchev 
by Roy Medvedev, translated by Brian Pearce.
Blackwell, 292 pp., £9.50, November 1982, 0 631 12993 6
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Soviet Policy for the 1980s 
edited by Archie Brown and Michael Kaser.
Macmillan/St Antony’s College, Oxford, 282 pp., £20, December 1982, 0 333 33139 7
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... and in the problems confronting Andropov. Soviet Policy for the 1980s, edited by Archie Brown and Michael Kaser, both of St Antony’s College, Oxford, is a collection of nine essays on different aspects of the Soviet system completed six months before Brezhnev’s death. There is one complete dud: John Hazard’s contribution on Soviet legal ...

Whakapapa

D.A.N. Jones, 21 November 1985

The Prague Orgy 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 89 pp., £5.95, October 1985, 0 224 02815 4
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Loyalties 
by Raymond Williams.
Chatto, 378 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 7011 2843 7
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Cousin Rosamund 
by Rebecca West.
Macmillan, 295 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 333 39797 5
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The Battle of Pollocks Crossing 
by J.L. Carr.
Viking, 176 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 670 80559 9
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The Bone People 
by Keri Hulme.
Hodder, 450 pp., £9.95, July 1985, 0 340 37024 6
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... complicated as Greek ancestral myths. The book begins: ‘Merritt, did you say? Any relation to Alec Merritt?’ ‘He’s my father. I don’t see him. They split when I was a child ... ’ ‘Yet I had a clear impression you were something to do with Phil Whitlow.’ ‘He married my mother.’ We must not get ...

Questionably Virtuous

Stuart Middleton: Harold Wilson, 8 September 2016

Harold Wilson: The Unprincipled Prime Minister? Reappraising Harold Wilson 
edited by Andrew Crines and Kevin Hickson.
Biteback, 319 pp., £20, March 2016, 978 1 78590 031 0
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... trust: after Wilson unsuccessfully contested the deputy leadership with the Gaitskellite George Brown at the end of 1962, Gaitskell told a journalist that although both were prone to disloyalty, he preferred Brown’s drunken indiscretions to Wilson’s more sober calculations. Gaitskell died of lupus in January ...

Too Obviously Cleverer

Ferdinand Mount: Harold Macmillan, 8 September 2011

Supermac: The Life of Harold Macmillan 
by D.R. Thorpe.
Pimlico, 887 pp., £16.99, September 2011, 978 1 84413 541 7
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The Macmillan Diaries Vol. II: Prime Minister and After 1957-66 
edited by Peter Catterall.
Macmillan, 758 pp., £40, May 2011, 978 1 4050 4721 0
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... you weren’t ruthless enough.’ When Eden offered him the Exchequer, Macmillan did a Gordon Brown: insisting that ‘as chancellor, I must be undisputed head of the home front, under you’ and that there could be no question of his predecessor, Butler, being accorded the title of deputy prime minister. Barely a year later, after the Suez debacle, he ...

Meaningless Legs

Frank Kermode: John Gielgud, 21 June 2001

Gielgud: A Theatrical Life 1904-2000 
by Jonathan Croall.
Methuen, 579 pp., £20, November 2000, 0 413 74560 0
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John G.: The Authorised Biography of John Gielgud 
by Sheridan Morley.
Hodder, 510 pp., £20, May 2001, 0 340 36803 9
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John Gielgud: An Actor’s Life 
by Gyles Brandreth.
Sutton, 196 pp., £6.99, April 2001, 0 7509 2752 6
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... a cello, an ‘unbridled oboe’, or, most spectacularly, ‘a trumpet muffled with silk’ (Alec Guinness), had not been recognised by a person who was in court on some other, unrelated business. If all this indeed happened at the height of a homophobic witch-hunt, the actor seems to have got off easily with a small fine and a routine scolding. It was ...

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