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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 ...

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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... Ewart knows just how wrong. ‘It’s hard to dislike Ewart’ was the comment of a reviewer in the 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 ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The International’, ‘Duplicity’

9 April 2009
The International 
directed by Tom Twyker.
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Duplicity 
directed by Tony Gilroy.
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... his (presumed) former ruthlessness. His teenage daughter, encouraged by her feckless liberal mother, has taken offfor 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 ...
29 March 2017
... she had done to the Sutherland, adding ominously, ‘accidents can happen to sculpture as well.’ 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 ...

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. The initiative ...

Thatcherism

Gordon Brown

2 February 1989
Thatcherism 
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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... an expression of Mrs Thatcher’s upbringing in Grantham, her background of hard work and family responsibility, 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 ...
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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... We sometimes have 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 ...

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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... for a somewhat eerie second innings as prime minister. Sir Evelyn Shuckburgh of the Foreign Office 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 ...

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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... After the relief of Mafeking, Baden-Powell led his regiment out to harass the enemy. But he soon 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 ...

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 ...

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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... much maligned) book is the way it gives Thomson’s own lust for Kidman a walk-on part in her various 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 ...
20 July 2000
... Their furniture has been delayed in transit so dinner has to be eaten off an old trestle table. Without 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 ...

Diary

Marina Warner: Why I Quit

10 September 2014
... an interview about my role on the prize committee was filmed for the university website. Then, last November, I attended an academic staffing committee meeting presided over by the vice-chancellor. AnthonyForster 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 ...

The Runaways

Tessa Hadley: Michael Ondaatje

8 November 2018
Warlight 
by Michael Ondaatje.
Cape, 299 pp., £16.99, June 2018, 978 1 78733 071 9
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... literary journal. He’s been showered with awards: The English Patient was the winner of the Golden Man Booker, celebrating fifty years of the prize (in his acceptance speech he credited the role Anthony Minghella’s film adaptation may have played in that result). These novels, really, are romances, in the sense that everything that happens in them is charged with magic, nothing is merely ordinary ...
19 December 1991
... led the way in over-long sentences served in foul and overcrowded gaols. The foundation in 1934 of the NCCL was a barometric indication of the state of civil rights and the rule of law when Margaret Roberts was still a child. Yet it has taken the illiberal and unconstitutional conduct of her three governments to push a written constitution and a Bill of Rights to the head of the political agenda. The ...

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