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Goodness me

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 26 October 1989

Margaret, Daughter of Beatrice: A Politician’s Psycho-Biography of Margaret Thatcher 
by Leo Abse.
Cape, 288 pp., £13.95, September 1989, 0 224 02726 3
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... Mrs Thatcher, like Hedda Gabler, thinks of herself as her father’s daughter. For a hero, Alderman Roberts may be lacking in style. ‘A cautious, thrifty fellow’ is how Hugo Young describes him and it’s easy to tell he isn’t impressed. But Alfred Roberts was an imposing figure in Grantham and his businesses worked at a time when a great many failed ...

Inside Out

John Bayley, 4 September 1980

The Collected Ewart 1933-1980 
by Gavin Ewart.
Hutchinson, 412 pp., £10, June 1980, 0 09 141000 2
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Selected Poems and Prose 
by Michael Roberts, edited by Frederick Grubb.
Carcanet, 205 pp., £7.95, June 1980, 0 85635 263 2
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... New Review, and the poem shows, with the kind of grim undemonstrative intelligence the novels of Anthony Powell know well how to reveal in horsey men, military men or men in bars (one of his characters called Odo Stevens writes Ewart-type poems), just how much Ewart as a poet owes to his attitude to other poets. I always try to dislike my poets, it’s good ...

Short Cuts

Frederick Wilmot-Smith: RBG’s Big Mistake, 8 October 2020

... gambit paid off. Trump filled Scalia’s seat with Justice Neil Gorsuch. Soon after, Justice Anthony Kennedy retired. At 81, Kennedy was older than a Supreme Court judge should be; but he wasn’t ill (and is still alive). Nevertheless, he decided that President Trump and the Republican Senate were the ones he wanted to nominate and confirm his ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The International’, ‘Duplicity’, 9 April 2009

The International 
directed by Tom Twyker.
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directed by Tony Gilroy.
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... has taken off for Europe, ostensibly to check out the Louvre, but really to follow a U2 tour. As Anthony Lane says, she is picked up so quickly by the bad guys that her parents might just as well have FedExed her to them. Neeson can redeem any movie, and he doesn’t fail here, but it is a close call, for two reasons: because the plot often feels like an ...

Churchill’s Faces

Rosemary Hill, 30 March 2017

... He duly altered the mouth in accordance with her wishes, to remove the evidence of a stroke. Ivor Roberts-Jones thought she would have ‘turned artillery if she could’ on his statue for Parliament Square, now perhaps the most familiar single image of Churchill. Scarfe’s image of Churchill’s last day in the Commons, 27 July 1964 ...

Looking for Imperfection

Gilberto Perez: John Cassavetes, 23 August 2001

John Cassavetes: Lifeworks 
by Tom Charity.
Omnibus, 257 pp., £10.95, March 2001, 0 7119 7544 2
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Cassavetes on Cassavetes 
edited by Ray Carney.
Faber, 526 pp., £17.99, March 2001, 0 571 20157 1
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... I’m really against nudity in movies,’ Julia Roberts said a while ago. ‘When you act with your clothes on, it’s a performance. When you act with your clothes off, it’s a documentary. I don’t do documentaries.’ Quoting this bit of wit and wisdom in a recent New Yorker piece on Roberts, Anthony Lane wrote: ‘it shows … how remote she is from any European visions of cinema – not just from the relaxed, Old World attitude toward sex but from the European assumption (found lingering in the work of Americans like Robert Altman) that the scent of documentary can and should be allowed to flavour a fictional method ...

The Great Unleashing

Jeremy Harding: The End of Jihad, 25 July 2002

Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam 
by Gilles Kepel, translated by Anthony F. Roberts.
Tauris, 454 pp., £25, June 2002, 1 86064 685 9
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... In 1989, an earthquake in Tipasa, just west of Algiers, left thousands of people homeless. Three years later, another shook the densely packed outskirts of Cairo. In both cases, the state’s response was no better than it might have been in any developing country with high population concentrations and feeble services. The way was open for well-funded, efficient organisations to step in ...

Pink and Bare

Bee Wilson: Nicole Kidman, 8 February 2007

Nicole Kidman 
by David Thomson.
Bloomsbury, 311 pp., £18.99, September 2006, 0 7475 7710 2
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... movies. It is not that Kidman is his favourite sweetheart: he prefers ‘Catherine Deneuve, Julia Roberts, Grace Kelly and Donna Reed’, stars he fears to write about because he cares too much; but he will freely expose his passion for Kidman’s ‘elegant Australian bod’. This was a high-risk strategy, and Thomson can’t say he didn’t know what he was ...


Gordon Brown, 2 February 1989

edited by Robert Skidelsky.
Chatto, 214 pp., £18, November 1988, 0 7011 3342 2
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The Hard Road to Renewal: Thatcherism and the Crisis of the Left 
by Stuart Hall.
Verso, 283 pp., £24.95, December 1988, 0 86091 199 3
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... ambition and postponed satisfaction, duty and patriotism.’ It is on this aspect that Anthony King and Ivor Crewe concentrate in the Skidelsky collection. Margaret Roberts moved from her Anglo-Poujadist origins via Oxford, the lab and the bar to eventual leadership and Gaullist ambitions, more honoured in ...

Ramadhin and Valentine

J.R. Pole, 13 October 1988

A History of West Indies Cricket 
by Michael Manley.
Deutsch, 575 pp., £17.95, May 1988, 0 233 98259 0
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Sobers: Twenty Years at the Top 
by Garfield Sobers and Brian Scovell.
Macmillan, 204 pp., £11.95, June 1988, 0 333 37267 0
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... reason to be grateful for the periods politicians spend in opposition. Roy Jenkins’s Asquith, Anthony Crosland’s reflections on socialism, Richard Crossman’s Bagehot, would hardly have come out of Whitehall, and Michael Manley would not have found time to write a history of West Indian cricket which encompasses the social, economic and regional ...


Marina Warner: Why I Quit, 11 September 2014

... November, I attended an academic staffing committee meeting presided over by the vice-chancellor. Anthony Forster has a military background and retains the jutting bearing and combed-down hair of the profession, though he left the army aged 26 to do political and social science. Colchester is a garrison town and he must have seemed a friendly fit. (The joke ...

Short Cuts

Frederick Wilmot-Smith: Plainly Unconstitutional, 21 October 2021

... litigator once told me that his strategy was to ‘shut Antonin Scalia up long enough to get Anthony Kennedy on my side’.)The composition of the Supreme Court determines the path of the country. It is therefore unsurprising that appointments to the court are politically contentious. (The Trump administration displayed a rare competence in the ruthless ...

The Finchley Factor

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Thatcher in Israel, 13 September 2018

Margaret Thatcher and the Middle East 
by Azriel Bermant.
Cambridge, 274 pp., £22.99, September 2017, 978 1 316 60630 8
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... described a bibulous evening at Number Ten that autumn, when Churchill told his foreign secretary Anthony Eden how to deal with the troublesome Egyptians and other Arabs: ‘Rising from his chair, the old man advanced on Anthony with clenched fists, saying with the inimitable Churchill growl, “Tell them that if we have ...

Memories of Lindsay Anderson

Alan Bennett, 20 July 2000

... warning the actors, Lindsay had the table jacked up 18 inches on the actual take so that Rachel Roberts, Jill Bennett and Co found themselves trying to behave normally although the dining-table was practically under their chins. On the other hand, as with the Royal Family, it did have to be his fun. He had no time for the occasional giggles and private ...

English Butter

David Trotter, 9 October 1986

Englishness: Politics and Culture 1880-1920 
edited by Robert Colls and Philip Dodd.
Croom Helm, 378 pp., £25, June 1986, 0 7099 0849 0
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The Character Factory: Baden-Powell and the Origins of the Boy Scout Movement 
by Michael Rosenthal.
Collins, 335 pp., £15, August 1986, 0 00 217604 1
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Oxford and Empire: The Last Lost Cause? 
by Richard Symonds.
Macmillan, 366 pp., £29.50, July 1986, 0 333 40206 5
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... thought better of it, retired smartly into the nearest town, and was once again surrounded. Lord Roberts spoke exasperatedly of his ‘strange fancy for being besieged’. Both Roberts and Kitchener clearly regarded him as a liability. But being besieged had already made his name. Brilliantly laconic despatches from ...

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