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Me First

Andrew​ O’Hagan

7 March 1996
Peter York’s Eighties 
by Peter York and Charles Jennings.
BBC, 192 pp., £12.99, January 1996, 0 563 37191 9
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... conservatory? What about a pair of Levi 501s? York admits, and no doubt others will see what he means, that one of the pivotal moments of the decade was buying your first Chicken Kiev from Marks and Spencer. ‘With a how-to book and a little cash,’ he writes, ‘aspirants could escape the Human Condition, could play-act, be someone entirely new.’ Hard news and current affairs were trifling ...

I had to refrain

Andrew​ Saint: Pre-Raphaelite Houses

1 December 2005
Philip Webb: Pioneer of Arts and Crafts Architecture 
by Sheila Kirk.
Wiley-Academy, 336 pp., £29.99, February 2005, 0 470 86808 2
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... He was lucky in having access via the Morris circle to customers who were moneyed, progressive, cultured and on the whole exceedingly trusting. A number of the earlier ones were painters, such as Spencer Stanhope, George Howard, Val Prinsep, G.P. Boyce and G.F. Watts, for whom Webb created an unusual house on the Isle of Wight, now destroyed. Victorian painters made good money, and Webb was the main ...

Cleaning up

Simon Schaffer

1 July 1982
Explaining the Unexplained: Mysteries of the Paranormal 
by Hans Eysenck and Carl Sargent.
Weidenfeld, 192 pp., £9.95, April 1982, 0 297 78068 9
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Appearances of the Dead: A Cultural History of Ghosts 
by R.C. Finucane.
Junction, 292 pp., £13.50, May 1982, 0 86245 043 8
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Hauntings and Apparitions 
by Andrew​ Mackenzie.
Heinemann, 240 pp., £8.50, June 1982, 0 434 44051 5
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Beyond the Body: An Investigation of Out-of-the-Body Experiences 
by Susan Blackmore.
Heinemann, 270 pp., £8.50, June 1982, 0 434 07470 5
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... therefore that they have the right to legislate on what is and what is not scientific. Parapsychology yes: fork-bending no. The question is not this simple, however. In the books by Dr Finucane, by Andrew Mackenzie and by Susan Blackmore, there are countless contemporary experiences of ‘psychic’ phenomena. They are all very carefully classified: out-of-the-body experiences, psychokinesis (the ...
20 August 1998
... they used them to reveal, but perhaps they didn’t. More simply, Diana embodied a wondrous mixture of forms of celebrity – sacred and secular. ‘Not only did she capture the spirit of the age,’ Andrew Morton writes on the last page of the most recent edition of his famous book, ‘but more than that the manner of her life and death formed part of a religious cycle of sin and redemption, a ...

White Lie Number Ten

Nicholas Jose: Australia’s aboriginal sovereignty

19 February 1998
Race Matters: Indigenous Australians and ‘Our’ Society 
edited by Gillian Cowlishaw and Barry Morris.
Aboriginal Studies Press, 295 pp., AUS $29.95, March 1998, 0 85575 294 7
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Aboriginal Sovereignty: Reflections on Race, State and Nation 
by Henry Reynolds.
Allen and Unwin, 221 pp., AUS $17.95, July 1996, 1 86373 969 6
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... feelings of those who had endured it.’ Gillian Cowlishaw shows how anti-racist initiatives – schooling assistance, for example – can underline the inferiority they are supposed to redress. Andrew Lattas sees white settler Australians as internalising a sense of not being at home with themselves: ‘The experience of the self as lacking in subjectivity, as lacking in spiritual form, is one of ...

Bobbing Along

Ronald Stevens: The Press Complaints Commission

7 February 2002
A Press Free and Responsible: Self-Regulation and the Press Complaints Commission 1991-2001 
by Richard Shannon.
Murray, 392 pp., £25, September 2001, 0 7195 6321 6
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... and McGregor happily believed the denial despite a warning from Lord Rothermere that the stories weren’t unfounded. The issue was, however, destined to blow up in his face with the publication of Andrew Morton’s book on Diana which, though itself outside the Commission’s field of activity, was almost certain to be serialised in a newspaper and would in any case generate comment in the press ...
8 December 1994
The Prince of Wales 
by Jonathan Dimbleby.
Little, Brown, 620 pp., £20, November 1994, 0 316 91016 3
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... of kingship. He seems to think, in his more arrogant moments, that he can walk on water, but he also possesses a remarkable capacity for shooting himself in the foot. And in marrying Lady Diana Spencer, he thought he had chosen the ideal bride, yet it turned out that he had made the most terrible mistake of his life. The most important thing that a Prince of Wales has to do is to choose the right ...

Never Mainline

Jenny Diski: Keith Richards

16 December 2010
Life 
by Keith Richards, with James Fox.
Weidenfeld, 564 pp., £20, October 2010, 978 0 297 85439 5
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... translations of rhyming slang no one has used, except Richards, since Fanny was a girl’s name. Other reviews I’ve seen have been pretty much raves. ‘Whooooosssh! What a trip,’ says Charles Spencer at the Telegraph: ‘it is an absolute blast. Over more than 500 pages, its narrative only rarely fails to grip.’ According to John Walsh in the Independent, ‘the 500-plus pages of Life throb ...

The Obdurate Knoll

Colin Kidd: The Obdurate Knoll

1 December 2011
Then Everything Changed: Stunning Alternate Histories of American Politics: JFK, RFK, Carter, Ford, Reagan 
by Jeff Greenfield.
Putnam, 434 pp., £20.25, March 2011, 978 0 399 15706 6
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11.22.63 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 740 pp., £19.99, November 2011, 978 1 4447 2729 6
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... had been uncannily predicted on the eve of the assassination. The American historian Richard Hofstadter’s influential essay ‘The Paranoid Style in American Politics’ was given as the Herbert Spencer Lecture at Oxford on 21 November 1963. Hofstadter’s subject was the irrational underside of American political culture, where ill-defined fears gave rise to the populist scapegoating of particular ...

Scoop after Scoop

Ian Jack: Chapman Pincher’s Scoops

4 June 2014
Dangerous to Know: A Life 
by Chapman Pincher.
Biteback, 386 pp., £20, February 2014, 978 1 84954 651 5
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... on: animal slaughter was the social cement of Pincher’s Britain. Harry Hyams, Charles Clore, Jack Profumo, Lord Dilhorne, George Weidenfeld, Maurice Oldfield, Victor Rothschild, Lord Porchester, Andrew Parker Bowles: ideally they should be highlighted in bold type, as was the way in the Hickey column. The author lets us know a little about each. Mountbatten may have had an affair with Barbara ...
9 March 1995
... backbenchers with links to British Gas include Jack Aspinwall (a Parliamentary and public affairs consultant) and Dr Michael Clark (a Parliamentary adviser). Southern Water enjoys the services of Andrew Bowden as its Parliamentary consultant. Southern Electricity expressed its appreciation of Ian Bruce by making him a gift of two fax machines. British Telecom uses Simon Coombs as its Parliamentary ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Fresh Revelations

20 October 1994
... t you order me out of the shop, you fucking cow. I allow you to work here.’ The mild, rather donnish Asian pharmacist is a bit nonplussed and as he serves me I offer to go next door to Marks and Spencer for their security man. But the blonde assistant is pluckily standing her ground. The young man has a really mean face and the pharmacist thinks the best thing is to wait until he goes. Which he is ...

Wrecking Ball

Adam Shatz: Trump’s Racism

6 September 2017
... white supremacy. The struggle to achieve full enfranchisement for black people in the United States has produced many martyrs: Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King; James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman. And now Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old paralegal killed in Emancipation Park. It is true, as some have sanctimoniously pointed out, that even in her death, Heyer was a beneficiary of white ...

When the Costume Comes Off

Adam Mars-Jones: Philip Hensher

14 April 2011
King of the Badgers 
by Philip Hensher.
Fourth Estate, 436 pp., £18.99, March 2011, 978 0 00 730133 1
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... being struck in the late 1970s by the vigour of gay culture in the American marketplace. Two novels were selling strongly and being urgently discussed: one was lyrical and would-be Proustian (Andrew Holleran’s Dancer from the Dance); the other was bilious and aspired to satire (Larry Kramer’s Faggots). I disliked them both, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that gay literary culture ...

Diary

Iain Sinclair: London’s Lost Cinemas

6 November 2014
... hole at the epicentre of this vortex of urban restlessness was a necropolis to the age of cinema. The votive spectre, sentimentalised, inflated, patched into every available blank space, was Charles Spencer Chaplin: ‘London’s world famous star’. Child vagrant. Global-franchise tramp. Swiss domiciled millionaire guardian of his own archive. Author of a myth-making autobiography exploiting the nexus ...

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