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Flappers

Jonathan Barnes

23 January 1986
The Prehistory of Flight 
by Clive Hart.
California, 279 pp., £29.75, September 1985, 0 520 05213 7
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... not submit to empirical proof. The temerarious, who trusted themselves to the air, were lucky to escape with a few broken bones – and never travelled more than a yard or so in the horizontal plane. CliveHart’s Prehistory of Flight lists in an appendix some fifty attempts at heavier-than-air flight undertaken – or allegedly undertaken – before 1783. The second and more lively half of his book ...

Flightiness

Marina Warner: Airborne Females

30 August 2018
Women Who Fly: Goddesses, Witches, Mystics and Other Airborne Females 
by Serinity Young.
Oxford, 432 pp., £19.99, May 2018, 978 0 19 530788 7
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... encyclopedic, not unlike J.G. Frazer’s in The Golden Bough, and in Women Who Fly she has marshalled a wonderful gallery of flyers – a kind of panangelium – from cultures far and wide. Whereas CliveHart’s Images of Flight (1988) didn’t distinguish its subjects by gender, Young focuses on female figures. Hers is a festive anthology, arranged in two main categories – Supernatural Women and ...

Funnelweb

Clive​ James

5 April 1984
... Grand Prix of the year Before he died in Belgium, Gilles Villeneuve Put on his helmet and I saw the sun Fill up his tinted visor like white wine. Few poets get the face that they deserve Or, like Hart Crane, can travel in a tear. Of course Villeneuve was handsome anyway – The Rimbaud of the wheel just oozed romance – But where his class showed was in how that beast Ferrari drew sweet curves at ...
22 January 1987
Other Passports: Poems 1958-1985 
by Clive​ James.
Cape, 221 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 224 02422 1
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... he might be, he wasn’t going to be primarily a poet, even if he cast his messages to the world in verse. This nostrum begs many questions, but it remains a good rule-of-thumb. By this test, Clive James is a true poet. Line after line of his has a characteristic personal tone, a kind of end-stopped singingness which is almost independent of what it says. The following are taken at random from ...

So Much Smoke

Tom Shippey: King Arthur

20 December 2018
King Arthur: the Making of the Legend 
by Nicholas Higham.
Yale, 380 pp., £25, October 2018, 978 0 300 21092 7
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... so. There is ‘not a shred of evidence for it’, Higham reports. (It becomes one of his favourite phrases.)The Sarmatian theory was taken up in Antoine Fuqua’s movie King Arthur (2004), starring Clive Owen and Keira Knightley, which must rank as one of the silliest films ever to have come out of Hollywood. Its tenuous grip on history is best exemplified by the claim in its tie-in novel that ‘the ...

Say thank you

Clive​ James: Witty Words in Pretty Mouths

23 May 2002
Fast-Talking Dames 
by Maria DiBattista.
Yale, 365 pp., £19.95, June 2001, 0 300 08815 9
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... those. But DiBattista can see that Loy was already good in her supporting role as the narcoleptic man-eater in Rouben Mamoulian’s Love Me Tonight in 1932. Ginger Rogers is rightly praised for Roxie Hart, Carole Lombard for Twentieth Century, Irene Dunne for The Awful Truth, Rosalind Russell for His Girl Friday. Apart from these recognised talents, which even a dullard can assess correctly just by ...

In Farageland

James Meek

8 October 2014
... of tall terraced lodging houses, where the funsters slept and, I suppose, a significant proportion of my peers were conceived. ‘The town used to double, treble, quadruple in size in summer,’ said CliveHart, one of Cliftonville’s Labour councillors. ‘Birmingham used to close down and send everybody here for a fortnight. I was born in a council house a mile from the sea. In the summer months my ...

What Nanny Didn’t Tell Me

Bernard Porter: Simon Mann

26 January 2012
Cry Havoc 
by Simon Mann.
John Blake, 351 pp., £19.99, November 2011, 978 1 84358 403 2
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... of the reader, to leaven the impact of the later fiasco, and to make the case for such irregular military interventions. As Mann puts it, ‘regime change is in vogue.’ He had links, through David Hart (a Thatcher adviser and plotter), with leading American neocons. He even took on an important piece of neocon ideology: the belief that if democracy were established in one part of (in this case ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2012

3 January 2013
... sawdust and blood.2 February. An environmentally sensitive bus named after me in Leeds. I just wish it could have been a tram.9 March. I am reading Colm Tóibín’s New Ways to Kill Your Mother. Of Hart Crane’s suicide he writes: ‘He walked on deck … took off his coat, folded it neatly over the railing (not dropping it on deck) … then suddenly he vaulted over the railing and jumped into the ...

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