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Delivering the Leadership

Nick Cohen: Get Mandy, 4 March 1999

Mandy: The Authorised Biography of Peter Mandelson 
by Paul Routledge.
Simon and Schuster, 302 pp., £17.99, January 1999, 9780684851754
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... Routledge’s dislike of Mandelson is a consequence of his trade unionism and his friendship with Charlie Whelan, Gordon Brown’s former press officer. The Chancellor might appear to outsiders as the willing servant of a free-market consensus which has cracked in those parts of the world – roughly one-third – currently in recession and worse, but to ...

Scotland the Bashful

Chris Baur, 18 June 1981

... mythology to sustain it – nothing much beyond the hopeless romanticism of Bannockburn and Prince Charlie, mixed with a sour economic complaint and an annual celebration on the terraces of Wembley or Hampden. Clearly, this nationalism was something felt in the bones of the people. And so we held our breath, watching as Scotland moved, it seemed, relentlessly ...


A.J.P. Taylor: Two Finals, 17 June 1982

... is a delightful town, well worth a visit. The Castle, still in use as a prison, stands on a hill and you can look across the valley of the Lune to Morecambe Bay. Pevsner, 1969 edition, says that the 18th-century Music Room is irredeemably lost. Not at all. Enlightened citizens of Lancaster, stung by Pevsner’s reproaches, have restored the Music Room ...

On Nicholas Moore

Peter Howarth: Nicholas Moore, 24 September 2015

... the singing clowns who fail to amuse Baudelaire’s bored young prince reappear in Moore as Elvis, Charlie Chaplin, Dylan Thomas, Louis Armstrong, Brenda Lee or Spike Milligan. It’s now the Ku Klux Klan, the Nazis, Biafra, Mosley and the fashionable dramas of ‘Kitchen-Sink Sade-Marats’ whose atrocious crimes fail to turn the green waters of Lethe lying ...

Choke Point

Patrick Cockburn: In Dover, 7 November 2019

... or south, stand out against the French coast. Nicolas Deshayes – an artist who lives on the hill, just below Henry II’s magnificent 12th-century castle, the largest in England – revels in the spectacle of choreographed movement. He makes works that reference water: vast bodies of it, along with drains, pipes and other signs of liquid urban ...


Gaby Wood: On Gene Kelly, 21 March 1996

... Gene taught dance until, according to a local woman, ‘practically every child in the Squirrel Hill neighbourhood wanted to attend his classes.’ Gene Kelly’s Studio of the Dance was set up in Johnstown, and every year it staged revues with names like Gene Kelly’s Kiddie’s Vodvil. Much later, in 1945, Kelly choreographed and starred in Anchors ...

In Farageland

James Meek, 9 October 2014

... set of shining white blocks built in 2007 as part of Labour’s PFI programme. As well as Farage, Charlie Leys, the sixth-former who had organised and was chairing the event, had managed to pull in South Thanet’s sitting Tory MP, Laura Sandys, a believer in EU membership who is standing down at the next election, and the candidates from Labour, the Liberal ...

The Untreatable

Gavin Francis: The Spanish Flu, 25 January 2018

Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World 
by Laura Spinney.
Jonathan Cape, 352 pp., £20, June 2017, 978 1 910702 37 6
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... in Brooklyn. Copeland allowed children to go to school, but he banned them from theatres. When Charlie Chaplin’s Shoulder Arms came to New York in October, Harold Edel, the manager of the Strand Theatre, wrote: ‘We think it a most wonderful appreciation of Shoulder Arms that people should veritably take their lives in their hands to see it.’ Edel was ...

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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... this style was the magnate, George Walker; once, according to James Morton, an ‘ally’ of Billy Hill and Eddie Chapman, later a frequently puffed adornment of the Thatcherite open market culture.) There is nothing new in the concept, quality tailoring bonded over primal naughtiness. It has been spelled out frequently in the underground literature that ...

My Old, Sweet, Darling Mob

Iain Sinclair: Michael Moorcock, 30 November 2000

King of the City 
by Michael Moorcock.
Scribner, 421 pp., £9.99, May 2000, 0 684 86140 2
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Mother London 
by Michael Moorcock.
Scribner, 496 pp., £6.99, May 2000, 0 684 86141 0
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... until the city conforms to his reading of it. No longer able to potter out into Notting Hill to check on some detail, he is in the position that Robin Cook found himself in when, working in a vineyard in the South of France, he decided to reinvent himself as ‘Derek Raymond’. Raymond’s late London novels are pure wish fulfilment, breeze-block ...

Apoplectic Gristle

David Trotter: Wyndham Lewis, 25 January 2001

Some Sort of Genius: A Life of Wyndham Lewis 
by Paul O'Keeffe.
Cape, 697 pp., £25, October 2001, 0 224 03102 3
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Wyndham Lewis: Painter and Writer 
by Paul Edwards.
Yale, 583 pp., £40, August 2000, 0 300 08209 6
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... Committee’s long-suffering representative at last got the damn thing out of Lewis’s Notting Hill studio and into a taxi than he asked for it back. O’Keeffe’s emphasis on conditions rather than qualities looks like a deliberate choice. He has abstained throughout not only from assessment, but from anything other than the most cursory description of ...

Romantic Ireland

Denis Donoghue, 4 February 1982

The Collected Stories of Sean O’Faolain: Vols I and II 
Constable, 445 pp., £8.50, October 1980, 0 00 946330 5Show More
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... and a word from Yeats: ‘The dawn moved along the rim of the mountains and as I went down’ the hill felt the new day come up around me and felt life begin once more its ancient, ceaseless gyre.’ The trouble is that O’Faolain, on his hero’s behalf, is trying to make me feel more, and more tenderly, than anything the story compels me to feel. He is ...


Richard Altick, 3 December 1981

The Return to Camelot: Chivalry and the English Gentleman 
by Mark Girouard.
Yale, 312 pp., £12.50, September 1981, 0 300 02739 7
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... to be the last. Already, in 1825, the tall tower of William Beckford’s new baronial hall. Font-hill Abbey, had collapsed without warning. A few years after the Eglinton debacle, one of the day’s leading artists, William Dyce, was commissioned to paint allegorical frescoes on Arthurian themes in the Queen’s Robing Room in the new Houses of Parliament. A ...

Turning down O’Hanlon

Mark Ford, 7 December 1989

In Trouble Again: A Journey between the Orinoco and the Amazon 
by Redmond O’Hanlon.
Penguin, 368 pp., £3.99, October 1989, 0 14 011900 0
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Our Grandmothers’ Drums: A Portrait of Rural African Life and Culture 
by Mark Hudson.
Secker, 356 pp., £12.95, June 1989, 0 436 20959 4
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Borderlines: A Journey in Thailand and Burma 
by Charles Nicholl.
Secker, 320 pp., £12.95, October 1988, 0 436 30980 7
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... the world seemed freshly made and the future ceased to matter. Beneath the tropical sun on Toucan hill, ignorant, momentarily, like a Yanomami, of the laws of science, gazing at that little egg, I might have been looking at one half of an empty eggshell, a message of brown and purple blotches on a background of browny-white, a present from a mistle-thrush ...

Cropping the bluebells

Angus Calder, 22 January 1987

A Century of the Scottish People: 1830-1950 
by T.C. Smout.
Collins, 318 pp., £15, May 1986, 9780002175241
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Living in Atholl: A Social History of the Estates 1685-1785 
by Leah Leneman.
Edinburgh, 244 pp., £15, April 1986, 0 85224 507 6
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... countrymen showed little enthusiasm for that cause and had to be bullied to fight for Prince Charlie. A recruiter complained that the men of Dunkeld were ‘quite degenerat from their Ancestors, and not one spark of Loyalty among them’. But Atholl Highlanders, who had eagerly welcomed the Hanoverian Campbells, supposedly their traditional foes, were ...

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