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Concierge

John Lanchester, 16 November 1995

Sons of Ezra: British Poets and Ezra Pound 
edited by Michael Alexander and James McGonigal.
Rodopi, 183 pp., $23.50, July 1995, 90 5183 840 9
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‘In Solitude, for Company’: W.H. Auden after 1940 
edited by Katherine Bucknell and Nicholas Jenkins.
Oxford, 338 pp., £40, November 1995, 0 19 818294 5
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Auden 
by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Heinemann, 406 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 434 17507 2
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Wystan and Chester: A Personal Memoir of W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman 
by Thekla Clark.
Faber, 130 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 0 571 17591 0
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... in it are so troubled, as all Pound criticism has to be. The book’s keynote essay is by Edwin Morgan, who recounts how he spent World War Two ‘sitting in a flyblown tent in the Egyptian desert, waiting for the advance of Axis guns’, and who ‘from that time on ... could never see Pound in an unambiguous light, or think of him as other than the most ...

Empty Cookie Jar

Donald MacKenzie: Ethnoaccountancy, 22 May 2003

Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego and the Death of Enron 
by Robert Bryce.
PublicAffairs, 394 pp., £9.99, November 2002, 1 903985 54 4
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Enron: The Rise and Fall 
by Loren Fox.
Wiley, 384 pp., £18.50, October 2002, 0 471 23760 4
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... that gives a flavour of what may lie ahead was between one of America’s most august banks, J.P. Morgan Chase, and 11 insurance companies. The latter provided the bank with ‘surety bonds’ totalling $1 billion against Enron defaulting on ‘forward’ contracts with the bank. (A ‘forward’ is a customised future, and unlike a future isn’t traded on ...

Allegedly

Michael Davie, 1 November 1984

Public Scandal, Odium and Contempt: An Investigation of Recent Libel Cases 
by David Hooper.
Secker, 230 pp., £12.95, September 1984, 0 436 20093 7
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... famous libel action brought against the Spectator by Aneurin Bevan, then Shadow Foreign Secretary, Morgan Phillips, Secretary of the Labour Party, and Richard Crossman, a member of the Party’s National Executive. They had gone as official delegates to a congress of the Italian Socialist Party in Venice, and the Spectator had said that they ‘puzzled the ...

Tons of Sums

Michael Mason, 16 September 1982

Charles Babbage: Pioneer of the Computer 
by Anthony Hyman.
Oxford, 287 pp., £12.50, July 1982, 9780198581703
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... is the work of a real thinker,’ and the social links between the two men (Augustus De Morgan, for example) seem to be thought of as mitigations, but they can only be the opposite. Babbage did not even try to meet Boole before 1862. A close involvement with the hardware of his machines was far from uncongenial to Babbage: a well-to-do ...

Duffers

Jonathan Parry, 21 September 1995

The City of London. Vol. II: Golden Years, 1890-1914 
by David Kynaston.
Chatto, 678 pp., £25, June 1995, 0 7011 3385 6
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... and the Midland. Foreign banks, from Kleinwort Benson and Schröders to Deutsche Bank and J.P. Morgan, also set up in London, seeking to invest their clients’ money profitably. From the 1880s through to 1914, this pattern of constant expansion and migration consolidated London’s premier position in the organisation of flows of trade and capital. This ...

The End

James Buchan, 28 April 1994

The City of London. Vol. I: A World of Its Own, 1815-1890 
by David Kynaston.
Chatto, 497 pp., £25, February 1994, 0 7011 6094 2
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... the greatest figure ever to adorn the international capital markets, greater even than J.P. Morgan and Michael Milken in their primes. At a dinner in 1834, someone expressed the hope that the Rothschild children were not too attached to money and business: the rentier cast of mind had already set by this period. Nathan answered: I wish them to give ...

But Stoney was Bold

Deborah Friedell: How Not to Marry if You’re a Millionaire, 26 February 2009

Wedlock 
by Wendy Moore.
Weidenfeld, 359 pp., £18.99, January 2009, 978 0 297 85331 2
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... in power, Bowes rarely attended the Commons and is recorded as having voted only once, to oppose a bill ‘to reduce election bribery on the grounds that existing laws were already too severe’. The wife-beatings had continued all along, but after failing to be re-elected four years later, Bowes developed a new habit. He would force Mary to appear deranged in ...

On Laura Kasischke

Stephanie Burt: Laura Kasischke, 2 August 2018

... for – or mourned – their children, all the time. Like the best of those poets, such as Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt, Kasischke keeps referring to the practicalities that parents (usually mothers) have to consider, while children (or fathers) can imagine beautiful things: ‘somehow I became/a high brick wall fully expecting/the little blue flowers to thrive ...

Diary

Andrew O’Hagan: Orders of Service, 18 April 2019

... Catherine was feeling unwell. On the phone, she’d asked me to bring her some soup from Melrose & Morgan, along with the orders of service, maybe a cake, and a good new novel. Catherine reads with conviction, quotes Shakespeare by the yard, and behaves as if only forgetfulness could explain one’s deepest stupidities. She was a producer on Panorama in the ...

Sinking by Inches

Anne Enright: Ireland’s Recession, 7 January 2010

... should be held off until the middle of 2010. The big guys, too, know all about holding tight. A bill establishing the National Asset Management Agency, which will take over the toxic debts of the six major banks, is not passed until November, by which time their debts are considerably more toxic than they were when the percentage price was first ...

You’ve got it or you haven’t

Iain Sinclair, 25 February 1993

Inside the Firm: The Untold Story of the Krays’ Reign of Terror 
by Tony Lambrianou and Carol Clerk.
Pan, 256 pp., £4.99, October 1992, 0 330 32284 2
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Gangland: London’s Underworld 
by James Morton.
Little, Brown, 349 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 356 20889 3
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Nipper: The Story of Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read 
by Leonard Read and James Morton.
Warner, 318 pp., £5.99, September 1992, 0 7515 0001 1
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Smash and Grab: Gangsters in the London Underworld 
by Robert Murphy.
Faber, 182 pp., £15.99, February 1993, 0 571 15442 5
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... Street, Bethnal Green. Ron and Reg were inside, keeping company with a known associate, Dickie Morgan. Reg was nicely cased in a blue three-piece by Woods of Kingsland Road. Dickie matched him. (The Twins were very influential that way. All the faces were expected to dress to a middle-management standard.) Reg was, as Tony acknowledges, ‘one of the ...

Diary

Tobias Jones: The politics of football, 7 May 1998

... football-mad cabinet ministers from taking up freebies at the Finals, the merchant bank Deutsch Morgan Grenfell has admitted to having 1600 seats already booked. (At England’s Euro 96 semi-final against Germany, an astonishing 14,000 people in the stadium were on corporate entertaining packages.) Of the ten venues, now commemorated on postage stamps, the ...

Heathrow to Canary Wharf

Nick Richardson: Crossrail, 11 October 2012

... many passengers from the Ealing area would use Crossrail in preference to the Underground. A bill was submitted to Parliament in 1991, and reluctantly thrown out, because, as in the 1970s, there was a recession and so no available funds. In 2001, Cross London Rail Links, a company set up by the newly formed Transport for London and the Strategic Rail ...

The Triumph of Plunder

James Morone: Gore Vidal on the venal history of America, 23 September 2004

Inventing a Nation: Washington, Adams, Jefferson 
by Gore Vidal.
Yale, 198 pp., £8.99, September 2004, 0 300 10592 4
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... imagines the early American legislators blinking in astonished awe as Congress gets Washington’s bill and ‘coughs up $100,000’ for expenses. All the lesser characters echo his obsession. John Adams, the first vice-president, thought his salary (a quarter of the president’s) ‘a sort of "curiosity"’; it has not been recorded, Vidal writes, whether ...

Diary

Christian Lorentzen: At the Conventions, 27 September 2012

... signs until just before I got to the hotel. The walk had taken nine hours. On CNN Piers Morgan was interviewing the five sons of Mitt Romney, who all have the strange quality of laughing at things that have no potential to be funny. I suppose otherwise they’d never laugh at all. In their biography The Real Romney, Michael Kranish and Scott Helman ...

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