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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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... There are also 25 essays, some of them lazily written but four of them, at least, rather good. Three of the four are by Richard Usborne, the king of the traditional Wodehouse buffs. The other is by BennyGreen, 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 ...

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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... Even in Three Men he had to insert that extraordinary incident of the female corpse floating downstream and discourse about the way society treats the ‘erring outcast’ (Christopher Matthew and BennyGreen 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 ...
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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... our civilisation is trying to turn into sense: only through such alertness can culture survive. ‘Almost every word written today about football is quite worthless in the literary sense,’ opines BennyGreen 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 ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Dictators’ bunkers

8 January 2004
... and his identity confirmed. It must certainly have seemed to some people as if Christmas had come early. 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 ...


Christopher Prendergast: Piss where you like

17 March 2005
... of Jarama. My father’s death secured him not one but two funerals. The first took place in London, 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 ...


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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... in Australia that variety was in its death throes, and that if they wanted to make it in TV, they would 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 ...

Bourgeois Nightmares

Gilberto Perez: Michael Haneke

6 December 2012
... rigorous, grim detachment. The three people the young man kills at the bank are the old man, the bank 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. Benny (played ...


Francis Spufford

3 May 1984
... Society, and wait until after the war when things were different but not completely, for the Nouvelle 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 ...


Iain Sinclair: On the Promenade

17 August 2006
... for the affirmation that the experience is survivable, they wallow and tussle, necks stiff, heads 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 ...

King of Razz

Alfred Appel Jr: Homage to Fats Waller

9 May 2002
... disc ‘Why Do Hawaiians Sing Aloha?’ (1937) could challenge Armstrong’s worst. Such plunges locate 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 ...

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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... did it so well there was nowhere left for it to go. One of his most treasured accolades came from 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 ...

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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... 1940): ‘as I stepped out into the warm twilight, the dream came to meet me, and with a full heart 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 ...

Light Entertainment

Andrew O’Hagan: Our Paedophile Culture

8 November 2012
... deep into the national unconscious, particularly the more perverted parts, you got used to grown-up 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 ...

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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... older, married female boss. When his moment finally comes – her bare legs stretched before him on 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 ...

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