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My God, the Suburbs!

Colm Tóibín: John Cheever

5 November 2009
Cheever: A Life 
by Blake Bailey.
Picador, 770 pp., £25, November 2009, 978 0 330 43790 5
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... did not love John, who was born in 1912. By the time his mother was pregnant with him, indeed, the marriage was under so much strain that Cheever’s father invited an abortionist to dinner. As BlakeBailey writes in his biography: ‘It was a story that haunted Cheever the rest of his life … Not surprisingly, he saw fit to blame his mother for having the bad taste to tell him of the episode ...

His Little Game

Andrew Boyle

27 July 1989
The Blake​ Escape: How we freed George Blake​ – and why 
by Michael Randle and Pat Pottle.
Harrap, 298 pp., £12.95, April 1989, 0 245 54781 9
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... Blake’s father was Albert Behar, whose Sephardic Jewish family cut him off with less than the proverbial shilling because of his marriage to a Dutch Christian woman called Catherine Beijdedvellen. Behar ...
24 September 1992
Language, Self and Society: A Social History of Language 
edited by Peter Burke and Roy Porter.
Polity, 358 pp., £45, December 1991, 0 7456 0765 9
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Images of English: A Cultural History of the Language 
by Richard Bailey.
Cambridge, 329 pp., £16.95, March 1992, 0 521 41572 1
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The Oxford Companion to the English Language 
edited by Tom McArthur and Feri McArthur.
Oxford, 1184 pp., £25, September 1992, 9780192141835
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The History of the English Language: A Source Book 
by David Burnley.
Longman, 373 pp., £25, January 1992, 0 582 02522 2
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The Cambridge History of the English Language. Vol. I: Beginnings to 1066 
edited by Richard Hogg and Norman Blake.
Cambridge, 609 pp., £60, August 1992, 9780521264747
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... travestied with questions like ‘Will computers ever develop chatty vernaculars of their own?’ or with hackneyed and misleading metaphors like ‘the language of clothes’. So I turn to Richard Bailey’s Images of English: exhilarating material drawn from the less gleaned acres of language history. On the controversies over post-Renaissance style, we have not only Gil, Bullokar and Puttenham but ...

At Pallant House

Eleanor Birne: Pauline Boty

6 February 2014
... She had an acting career on the side, including a bit part in Alfie. She was almost cast as the lead in Darling, before Julie Christie came along. She danced on Ready Steady Go!, modelled for David Bailey, introduced Bob Dylan to London, broke Peter Blake’s heart, was part-owner of a frock shop in Carnaby Street, married and gave birth to a daughter all before dying in 1966 at the age of 28. Her ...

Unhappy Families

Angela Carter

16 September 1982
The Beauties and Furies 
by Christina Stead.
Virago, 329 pp., £3.95, July 1982, 0 86068 175 0
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... has much in common with the Eleanor Herbert of her latest.) But Stead does not direct us to condemn Elvira – nor to pity her. Stead’s greatest moral quality as a novelist is her lack of pity. As Blake said, Pity would be no more, If we did not make somebody poor, and, for Stead, pity is otiose, a self-indulgent luxury that obscures the real nature of our relations with our kind. To disclose that ...

Diary

Tom Carver: Philby in Beirut

11 October 2012
... his final words. He was buried in the Muslim graveyard in the Basta district of Beirut. Though he had a difficult relationship with his father, Philby was badly shaken. A few months later, George Blake, who’d been studying at the Arabic language school run by the Foreign Office at Shemlan just south of Beirut, was arrested under the Official Secrets Act and put on trial at the Old Bailey. The ...

The smallest details speak the loudest

John Upton: The Stephen Lawrence inquiry

1 July 1999
The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry 
by Sir William Macpherson.
Stationery Office, 335 pp., £26, February 1999, 0 10 142622 4
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The Case of Stephen Lawrence 
by Brian Cathcart.
Viking, 418 pp., £16.99, May 1999, 0 670 88604 1
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... capable of confirming the correctness of a weak identification.’ The prosecution case against all three men was withdrawn and the jury entered formal verdicts of not guilty. Outside the Old Bailey, Imran Khan commented: ‘We are extremely disappointed with the judge’s ruling and would have hoped the identification evidence could be put before the jury – something that happens in nearly ...

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