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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 ...


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 ...

Savage Rush

David Trotter: The Tube

21 October 2010
Underground Writing: The London Tube from George Gissing to Virginia Woolf 
by David Welsh.
Liverpool, 306 pp., £70, May 2010, 978 1 84631 223 6
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... he would normally alight. By High Street Kensington, he has taken the seat opposite; by Notting Hill Gate, he is at her elbow. ‘The extraordinary part of the matter,’ James observes, ‘was that they were not in the least meeting where they had left off, but ever so much further on, and that these added links added still another between High Street and ...

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 ...

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 ...

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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... as much direct experience of Western life as I had.’ This same smooth-cheeked Kane of the Surrey hills makes a fleeting guest appearance in King of the City. The hero, Denny Dover, a paparazzo (and proud of it) visiting a Holborn publisher, bumps into a ‘fat little office boy who wanted me to think he was the editor’. That’s Moorcock in the days when ...
13 July 2016
The Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House between the Wars 
by Adrian Tinniswood.
Cape, 406 pp., £25, June 2016, 978 0 224 09945 5
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... whisky and crying. Indeed Lawrence and Baldwin become a kind of leitmotif, often shadowed by Charlie Chaplin, who seems to have been on everyone’s guest list. Lawrence knew John and Susan Buchan, country-house owners of the new weekending sort, and spent his time with them talking about ‘the Arabs … his muddled masochism and his ...
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 ...

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 ...

In Farageland

James Meek

8 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 Death of a Poet

Penelope Fitzgerald: Charlotte Mew

23 May 2002
... the seed of weeping, and attend.’ With these words Beatrice checks Dante, not long after the chilling moment when she asks him how he dares to enter the Earthly Paradise, since that is a place where human beings are happy. He must put away tears because they arouse forgiveness, and this is the time of reproach. Reproach, because the delusions of guilt had ...

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 ...
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 ...
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 ...

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