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This Charming Man

Frank Kermode

24 February 1994
The Collected and Recollected Marc 
Fourth Estate, 51 pp., £25, November 1993, 1 85702 164 9Show More
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... down her cheek? I can only guess why Shirley Williams is carrying a copy of the News Chronicle, or why Jimmy Hill has an Arab headdress, or why Lord Home stands bat in hand before a broken wicket. CraigBrown says that in his caricatures Boxer mixed ‘the base and the suave’, but there is not a lot of baseness here, not much of the Rowlandson; and such fluent drawing can hardly help flattering ...

Is the lady your sister?

E.S. Turner: An innkeeper’s diary

27 April 2000
An Innkeeper's Diary 
by John Fothergill.
Faber, 278 pp., £23.95, January 2000, 0 571 15014 4
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... here if they are married?’ – ‘Yes, if I want to.’) To encounter the tyrant of Thame again two generations later is a downright delight. The angry and abusive restaurateur is still with us, as CraigBrown points out in his excellent short introduction, but John Fothergill, for all his eccentricities, snobberies and potty obsessions, had an endearing quality lacking in today’s kitchen boors ...

Looking for a Way Up

Rosemary Hill: Roy Strong’s Vanities

25 April 2013
Self-Portrait as a Young Man 
by Roy Strong.
Bodleian, 286 pp., £25, March 2013, 978 1 85124 282 5
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... Henry V. Thereafter, realising he was photogenic, he posed relentlessly for photographs, drawings, busts and at least one portrait in stumpwork. His style eventually became so recognisable that CraigBrown suggested his entire face, glasses, nose and moustache, could be bought in one piece from joke shops. His character turned out to be more difficult to get right. Having overcome crippling ...


John Lanchester: Alastair Campbell’s Diaries

16 August 2007
The Blair Years: Extracts from the Alastair Campbell Diaries 
edited by Alastair Campbell and Richard Stott.
Hutchinson, 794 pp., £25, July 2007, 978 0 09 179629 7
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... going to be a tricky subject for Labour in office. Who to put in charge of this complex, delicate area? I know: let’s find our angriest, shoutiest, most tribal, most aggressive party loyalist. As CraigBrown joked in the Mail on Sunday, it is as if, instead of turning to Doctor Watson for advice, Sherlock Holmes had instead consulted the Hound of the Baskervilles. Campbell is a political journalist ...

Always the Same Dream

Ferdinand Mount: Princess Margaret

4 January 2018
Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret 
by Craig Brown.
Fourth Estate, 423 pp., £16.99, September 2017, 978 0 00 820361 0
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... Set: three playboys, only one playgirl. Princess Margaret, followed by Peter Townsend, in 1953. It is 15 years since she died, and memories of her are not as sharp as they were. Which makes CraigBrown’s enterprise not only a marvellous freak of literature but a matchless summoner of our yesterdays. It is a collage, montage or bricolage of glittery bits culled from two hundred biographies ...

Triermain Eliminate

Chauncey Loomis

9 July 1987
Native Stones: A Book about Climbing 
by David Craig.
Secker, 213 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 436 11350 3
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... abruptly in horrid little X’s marking places where the various tragedies were simultaneously fulfilled and terminated. That cured me for good. So now I admire climbing from a distance. As David Craig effectively demonstrates in Native Stones, however, it is an activity best understood from close up. Much of its delight and terror is almost microscopic in source. Non-climbers may associate the ...

Highland Hearts

V.G. Kiernan

20 December 1990
On the Crofters’ Trail: In Search of the Clearance Highlanders 
by David Craig.
Cape, 358 pp., £14.99, October 1990, 0 224 02750 6
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... Just inside the fir-dusk a hollow oblong of stones now showed, brown and damp with that stupefied or browbeaten look of an abandoned croft-house ... Here was Unnimore.’ Here, too, was David Craig, groping through a wilderness in Morvern in search of a long-abandoned hamlet; his treasure-trove the remains of eight little houses, their stones covered with ‘whiskery grey lichens’. A hundred ...
5 September 1985
Ascendancy and Tradition in Anglo-Irish Literary History from 1789 to 1939 
by W.J. McCormack.
Oxford, 423 pp., £27.50, June 1985, 0 19 812806 1
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Across a Roaring Hill 
edited by Gerald Dawe and Edna Longley.
Blackstaff, 258 pp., £10.95, July 1985, 0 85640 334 2
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Celtic Revivals: Essays in Modern Irish Literature 1880-1980 
by Seamus Deane.
Faber, 199 pp., £15, July 1985, 0 571 13500 5
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Escape from the Anthill 
by Hubert Butler.
Lilliput, 342 pp., £12, May 1985, 0 946640 00 9
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... 18th-century Munster appeared under that title), inhabited by people who took a very poor view indeed of the new English-speaking aristocracy that had ousted the old Irish-speaking one. ‘Valentine Brown’, as these purists saw it, was the sort of ludicrous name an arriviste landowner might call himself – someone who’d installed himself in a demesne of the great McCarthys, now dead or dispersed ...

At Tate Britain

David Craig: Mountain Art

25 April 2002
... to show people grappling with the mountains. The final painting in the Mind Has Mountains catalogue* does this most unexpectedly. In Swing, Amjilassa (2000, in progress) a girl in a yellow blouse and brown sari swings on taut white lines from the invisible top of a bamboo framework. In front of her, a great gulf of air; beyond, a steep Nepalese hillside terraced with paddy-fields. The airiness, the ...

Getting on

Patricia Craig

17 September 1987
The Golden Bird: Two Orkney Stories 
by George Mackay Brown.
Murray, 226 pp., £10.95, July 1987, 0 7195 4385 1
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The Upper Hand 
by Stuart Hood.
Carcanet, 186 pp., £10.95, July 1987, 0 85635 719 7
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Dreams of Dead Women’s Handbags 
by Shena Mackay.
Heinemann, 160 pp., £10.95, August 1987, 0 434 44044 2
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... the early 1960s, for example, Irish-language enthusiasts opposed the introduction of television into the Gaedhaltacht areas of Donegal, out of apprehension about its Anglicising effect. George Mackay Brown’s Orkney is an unfamiliar, off-shore locality in which everything seems a little richer through being both concentrated and chancy. How long can its distinctive character survive? It was endangered ...

Bird-man swallows human

David Craig: Birds’ Eggs

19 October 2016
The Most Perfect Thing: Inside (and outside) a Bird’s Egg 
by Tim Birkhead.
Bloomsbury, 288 pp., £16.99, April 2016, 978 1 4088 5125 8
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... extraordinary Garden of Earthly Delights. Bosch’s eggs are monstrous and symbolic. In the large central panel a white egg lying on the shore of a lake disgorges into the water a posse of little brown men. In the ‘Hell’ of the right-hand panel a bird-man with blue limbs, a bristling beak and glossy eye swallows a pallid human whole while excreting a transparent blue egg in which a human is ...

Fox and Crow

David Craig: The Moors

30 July 2014
The Moor: Lives, Landscape, Literature 
by William Atkins.
Faber, 371 pp., £18.99, May 2014, 978 0 571 29004 8
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... the singing of our own bloodstream, which we half-hear, half-sense during the small hours between sleeps. What do they smell like? Like honey, steeping the sunshine. What do they look like? Like a brown and purple cloud-shadow spread out across the uplands, described by William Atkins in characteristically fine focus when he says of the North Yorkshire moors that ‘the new blooms were silverish ...

The Satoshi Affair

Andrew O’Hagan

29 June 2016
... 9 December 2015. Some of the federal agents wore shirts that said ‘Computer Forensics’; one carried a search warrant issued under the Australian Crimes Act 1914. They were looking for a man named Craig Steven Wright, who lived with his wife, Ramona, at 43 St Johns Avenue. The warrant was issued at the behest of the Australian Taxation Office. Wright, a computer scientist and businessman, headed a ...


David Craig: Episodes on the Rock

13 May 1993
... limestone. Below us the scrap-yards are starting to shrink, so directly underneath that stones loosened by our feet plummet onto the rusty roofs. The crash-crash arouses the guard dogs in No 26: a brown Alsatian, a white Alsatian and a pair of dusty blackish mongrels. They bark furiously, fight each other in little circles, then settle down again in the shade. As I do myself for the next half-hour ...
14 May 1992
Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years 
by Brian Boyd.
Chatto, 783 pp., £25, January 1992, 0 7011 3701 0
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... depth of his response to White’s oxymoronic accuracy of observation. Is it fellow-feeling or emulous study which produces an earlier variant on the plausible mismatches of nature’s palette? ‘Brown woolly smoke arched and dipped over the green shadow it cast on the aquamarine lake.’ White matters less than Joyce, about whom Nabokov, on occasion, could be unruefully generous. In one interview ...

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