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Wodehouse in America

D.A.N. Jones, 20 May 1982

P.G. Wodehouse: A Literary Biography 
by Benny Green.
Joseph, 256 pp., £8.95, October 1981, 0 907516 04 1
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Wodehouse on Wodehouse: Bring on the girls (with Guy Bolton), Performing Flea, Over Seventy 
Penguin, 655 pp., £2.95, September 1981, 0 14 005245 3Show More
P.G. Wodehouse: An Illustrated Biography 
by Joseph Connolly.
Eel Pie, 160 pp., £3.95, September 1981, 0 906008 44 1
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P.G. Wodehouse: A Centenary Celebration 1881-1981 
edited by James Heineman and Donald Bensen.
Oxford, 197 pp., £40, February 1982, 0 19 520357 7
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The World of P.G. Wodehouse 
by Herbert Warren Wind.
Hutchinson, 256 pp., £5.95, October 1981, 0 09 145670 3
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... of the four are by Richard Usborne, the king of the traditional Wodehouse buffs. The other is by Benny Green, the new broom. Oxford University and the Pierpont Morgan Library are both relevant to Wodehouse’s life. He did not attend a university, though he would have liked to: but he has been much honoured by Oxford men. ‘Auctor magicus,’ chanted ...

Funny Mummy

E.S. Turner, 2 December 1982

The Penguin Stephen Leacock 
by Robertson Davies.
Penguin, 527 pp., £2.95, October 1981, 0 14 005890 7
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Jerome K. Jerome: A Critical Biography 
by Joseph Connolly.
Orbis, 208 pp., £7.95, August 1982, 0 85613 349 3
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Three Men in a Boat 
by Jerome K. Jerome, annotated and introduced by Christopher Matthew and Benny Green.
Joseph, 192 pp., £12.50, August 1982, 0 907516 08 4
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The Lost Stories of W.S. Gilbert 
edited by Peter Haining.
Robson, 255 pp., £7.95, September 1982, 0 86051 200 2
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... and discourse about the way society treats the ‘erring outcast’ (Christopher Matthew and Benny Green identify her as a Gaiety Girl drowned the previous year at Goring: ‘Jerome read a report of the tragedy in the Berkshire Chronicle and decided to incorporate it into his story’). Jerome’s most successful serious play, though few would now ...

Soccer Sociology

Hans Keller, 3 July 1980

Association Football and English Society: 1863-1915 
by Tony Mason.
Harvester, 278 pp., £15.95, January 1980, 0 85527 797 1
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... every word written today about football is quite worthless in the literary sense,’ opines Benny Green in the Spectator, and proceeds to call Tony Mason’s volume ‘by far the most profound social study of the game ever written ... faultless both in the thoroughness of its research and the commonsense with which it has been put to use’. If, on ...


Christopher Prendergast: Piss where you like, 17 March 2005

... starting with a procession of friends, colleagues and banners before we made our way to Golders Green crematorium, the keynote speech given by Mick O’Riordan, then general secretary of the Irish Communist Party. The second took place some months later in Dublin, where I took his ashes to be buried in a plot of unconsecrated ground in Mount Pleasant ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Dictators’ bunkers, 8 January 2004

... Too early, perhaps. Madeleine Albright may have had this in mind when she said in the Fox News green room last month: ‘Do you suppose that the Bush Administration has Osama bin Laden hidden away somewhere and will bring him out before the election?’ She claims that she was joking; Fox journalist Mort Kondracke, however, thinks she can’t have been ...


David Goldie: Morecambe and Wise, 15 April 1999

Morecambe and Wise 
by Graham McCann.
Fourth Estate, 416 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 1 85702 735 3
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... have to sharpen-up their act. Working for Lew Grade’s ATV with the writers Dick Hills and Sid Green, they subtly altered the relationship between the stage personae of Eric and Ern. Over the course of six series between 1961 and 1968 something developed between the pair that made them look less like an act and more like a relationship. Bruce Forsyth ...

Bourgeois Nightmares

Gilberto Perez: Michael Haneke, 6 December 2012

... guard and the woman taking care of the migrant boy, whom she has left waiting for her in her car. Benny’s Video (1992) begins with a videotape of the slaughter of a pig, which is then rewound and replayed in slow motion: this is a video Benny has made, and he watches it again and again. ...

There isn’t any inside!

Adam Mars-Jones: William Gaddis, 23 September 2021

The Recognitions 
by William Gaddis.
NYRB, 992 pp., £24, November 2020, 978 1 68137 466 6
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by William Gaddis.
NYRB, 784 pp., £20, October 2020, 978 1 68137 468 0
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... and finished work (he’s writing an organ concerto). Meanwhile the tortured bridge designer Benny rhapsodises about some technical drawings done by a one-time employee, so accomplished that they make something unbuilt seem to attain a plane higher than physical reality: ‘Every tension was perfect, the balance was perfect, you can look at those bridges ...


Francis Spufford, 3 May 1984

... Revue Française’s Proust, a winter treat for when the ice on the Danube had turned dark grey-green, and the postman wore foot-cloths and felt boots. Why the burst of sensibility? Because during the winters, when the family were trapped in the house, it seems that for Melchior’s father the postman’s packages made landmarks. In 1919, the year Melchior ...


Iain Sinclair: On the Promenade, 17 August 2006

... high above the tannin scum: leathery seaweed, wads of yellow paper. They tiptoe out, speeded-up Benny Hill, over sharp stones, to neat piles of folded clothes. The watched, towelled down and returned to their balconies, rusting rails and anti-gull devices, become the watchers. A slow-motion cinema of such tender boredom that they will never move ...

King of Razz

Alfred Appel Jr: Homage to Fats Waller, 9 May 2002

... exactly the problem then faced by popular artists of talent: the dearth of first-rate songs. Benny Goodman, the only contemporary of Waller’s who recorded more than he did, employed the best arrangers to make truly poor dance numbers sound perfectly mediocre. Even if Waller could have summoned the discipline to write more songs as fine as his ...

He wants me no more

Tessa Hadley: Pamela Hansford Johnson, 21 January 2016

Pamela Hansford Johnson: Her Life, Works and Times 
by Wendy Pollard.
Shepheard-Walwyn, 500 pp., £25, October 2014, 978 0 85683 298 7
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... I accepted it … I walked the Paris streets under the rainbow glory of the lamps, walked on night-green grass and over pavements shining like diamonds.’ This is from The Philistines (1949): ‘She shivered a little in the chilly young air of the day … All sensation was beautiful, even to the movement of a finger, the flutter of a lash … Having doubted ...

Swinging it

Mark Ford, 7 July 1988

S.J. Perelman: A Life 
by Dorothy Herrmann.
Simon and Schuster, 337 pp., £14.95, November 1987, 0 671 65460 8
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Don’t tread on me: The Selected Letters of S.J. Perelman 
edited by Prudence Crowther.
Viking, 372 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 670 81759 7
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... Robert Benchley, who wrote that Perelman did to our weak little efforts at ‘crazy stuff’ what Benny Goodman has done to middle-period jazz. He swung it. To use a swing phrase, he took it ‘out of this world’. And there he remains, all by himself.’ Acres and Pains really only recycles the most time-honoured of jokes about the bewildered townsman ...

Squealing to Survive

John Lahr: Clancy was here, 19 July 2018

Black Sunset: Hollywood Sex, Lies, Glamour, Betrayal and Raging Egos 
by Clancy Sigal.
Icon, 352 pp., £12.99, May 2018, 978 1 78578 439 2
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The London Lover: My Weekend that Lasted Thirty Years 
by Clancy Sigal.
Bloomsbury, 274 pp., £20, May 2018, 978 1 4088 8580 2
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... the coffee table – she says: ‘Take me – or your Christmas bonus.’ It’s a hilarious Jack Benny ‘Your money or your life’ moment. Our hero takes the spondulicks, natch. Is it true? The choice seems unreal; but it fits the genre requirements of film comedy. Clancy, who spent his last thirty years in Los Angeles writing screenplays, among them In ...

Light Entertainment

Andrew O’Hagan: Our Paedophile Culture, 8 November 2012

... men like Rod Hull clowning around on stage with a girl like Lena Zavaroni. You got used to Hughie Green holding the little girl’s hand and asking her if she wanted an ice-cream. Far from wanting an ice-cream, the little girl was starving herself to death while helpfully glazing over for the camera and throwing out her hands and singing ‘Mama, He’s ...

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