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E.S. Turner, 25 June 1987

The Golden Oriole: Childhood, Family and Friends in India 
by Raleigh Trevelyan.
Secker, 536 pp., £16.95, May 1987, 0 436 53403 7
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... chief scapegoat by Cecil Woodham-Smith, in The Great Hunger. He is a dominating figure – it is easy to see why Trollope cast him as Sir Gregory Hardlines in The Three Clerks – and one is grateful whenever the course of the book’s meanderings gives another excuse to appraise his career. Perhaps it is time he had a biography to himself. It was his ...

High Spirits

E.S. Turner, 17 March 1988

Living dangerously 
by Ranulph Fiennes.
Macmillan, 263 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 333 44417 5
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The Diaries of Lord Louis Mountbatten 1920-1922: Tours with the Prince of Wales 
edited by Philip Ziegler.
Collins, 315 pp., £15, November 1987, 0 00 217608 4
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Touch the Happy Isles: A Journey through the Caribbean 
by Quentin Crewe.
Joseph, 302 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 7181 2822 2
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... which used 35,798 tons of fuel oil on the Australia-New Zealand tour alone, with India, the Far East and Japan still to come. Mountbatten, then 19, went along to jolly the difficult and moody Prince, six years his senior. His log is laced with indiscretions to lighten the otherwise tedious record of receptions, parades, gun salutes and tribal dances. A ...


E.S. Turner, 15 September 1988

Memories of Times Past 
by Louis Heren.
Hamish Hamilton, 313 pp., £15.95, July 1988, 0 241 12427 1
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Chances: An Autobiography 
by Mervyn Jones.
Verso, 311 pp., £14.95, September 1987, 0 86091 167 5
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... of American Marines stacked like cordwood in Korea, awaiting shipment home. Heren, born in the East End of London, was taken on as a messenger boy in Printing House Square when Geoffrey Dawson was at the helm. If, fifty years on, he had succeeded to the editorship, he would have known better than to cast himself as an unofficial member of the ...


E.S. Turner, 1 October 1987

The war the Infantry knew 1914-1919: A Chronicle of Service in France and Belgium 
by Captain J.C. Dunn, introduced by Keith Simpson.
Jane’s, 613 pp., £18, April 1987, 0 7106 0485 8
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Passchendaele: The Story behind the Tragic Victory of 1917 
by Philip Warner.
Sidgwick, 269 pp., £13.95, June 1987, 0 283 99364 2
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Poor Bloody Infantry: A Subaltern on the Western Front 1916-17 
by Bernard Martin.
Murray, 174 pp., £11.95, April 1987, 0 7195 4374 6
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... Three writers on the strength is a potential embarrassment for any fighting unit. In the Great War the Second Battalion of the Royal Welch Fusiliers could muster Robert Graves (Good-bye to All That), Siegfried Sassoon (Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer) and Frank Richards (not, as some have supposed, the creator of Billy Bunter but the author of Old soldiers never die, an excellent view of the war by a Regular in the ranks ...


E.S. Turner, 3 July 1980

Friends of the Earth Cookbook 
by Veronica Sekules.
Penguin, 192 pp., £1.95, April 1980, 9780140463026
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Hedgerow Cookery 
by Rosamond Richardson.
Penguin, 250 pp., £1.95, April 1980, 0 14 046358 5
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Jane Grigson’s Cookery Book 
by Jane Grigson.
Penguin, 606 pp., £2.50, April 1980, 0 14 046352 6
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Cooking with Vegetables 
by Marika Hanbury Tenison.
Cape, 284 pp., £9.50, May 1980, 0 224 01597 4
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The Home Gardener’s Cookbook 
by Clare Walker.
Penguin, 362 pp., £1.75, April 1980, 0 14 046353 4
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Natural Baby Food 
by Anna Haycraft.
Fontana, 123 pp., £1, April 1980, 9780006358565
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... escapes from the garden in the past, is not very nice. Who wants to eat fat hen when spinach is easy to buy?’ Not for her the Emerson definition of a weed: ‘a plant whose virtue has not yet been discovered’. This dismissive attitude will not worry Rosamond Richardson, whose Hedgerow Cookery carries on the tradition of books with titles like How ...

Blacks and Blues

E.S. Turner, 4 June 1987

The Life of My Choice 
by Wilfred Thesiger.
Collins, 459 pp., £15, May 1987, 9780002161947
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Worlds Apart: Travels in War and Peace 
by Gavin Young.
Hutchinson, 344 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 09 168220 7
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... of compensating for salt deficiency by mixing cows’ urine in the milk: ‘I always gave someone else my share of this blend.’ Thesiger says things like: ‘I had no intention of marrying; I valued personal freedom too highly for that. As for money, I had no expensive tastes, and wanted only to serve in places remote from civilisation, where the cost of ...

Keeping the peace

E.S. Turner, 2 April 1987

March to the South Atlantic: 42 Commando Royal Marines in the Falklands War 
by Nick Vaux and Max Hastings.
Buchan and Enright, 261 pp., £11.50, November 1986, 0 907675 56 5
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Further Particulars: Consequences of an Edwardian Boyhood 
by C.H. Rolph.
Oxford, 231 pp., £12.50, January 1987, 0 19 211790 4
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... The French Marshal MacMahon said: ‘I shall remove from my promotion list any officer whose name I have seen on the cover of a book.’ He spoke for high commanders everywhere. ‘Damn your writing, mind your fighting’ was the snub likely to greet a British officer with literary pretensions. The Duke of Cambridge opposed the founding of the Army Journal and the Cavalry Journal on the grounds that nothing but indiscipline could result from allowing serving officers to discuss their profession in print ...

Earls’ Sons

E.S. Turner, 20 October 1983

The Man who was Greenmantle: A Biography of Aubrey Herbert 
by Margaret FitzHerbert.
Murray, 250 pp., £15, September 1983, 0 7195 4067 4
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A Classic Connection 
by Michael Seth-Smith.
Secker, 184 pp., £9.95, September 1983, 0 436 44705 3
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... generation Margaret FitzHerbert says that their inheritance from the Empire-builders was ‘an ease around the world, and an infinite self-confidence. Following their knightly imaginations, wandering across the face of the earth, they had no axe to grind. Theirs was, briefly, an age of chivalry, soon to be laid at rest in the trenches ...’ We are talking ...

The Staidness of Trousers

E.S. Turner, 6 June 1996

A Peculiar Man: A Life of George Moore 
by Tony Gray.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 344 pp., £20, April 1996, 1 85619 578 3
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... business, spreading death and ruin. Compared with Esther, the heroine of Cathy Come Home had an easy ride. Portraying as it does a society rotted from top to bottom by gambling fever, Moore’s novel reads at times like one of those axe-grinding tales that used to be written to advance the cause of thrift, temperance or early closing. Occasionally the ...

Do Not Fool Around

E.S. Turner, 24 November 1994

A Passion for Wings: Aviation and the Western Imagination, 1908-1918 
by Robert Wohl.
Yale, 320 pp., £25, October 1994, 0 300 05778 4
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... minister. In France the authorities tightened up such rules as existed after that mishap, but else-where aviators were allowed extraordinary liberties, as they still are. A future Wohl volume will perhaps tell how, for hundreds of thousands on the Concorde descent path, the pilot is seen not as the embodiment of godhood but as the boor who charges into ...


E.S. Turner, 6 April 1995

Zipper: An Exploration in Novelty 
by Robert Friedel.
Norton, 288 pp., £16.95, February 1995, 0 393 03599 9
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... Dr Johnson in his Dictionary defined ‘network’ as ‘anything reticulated or decussated at equal distances, with interstices between the intersections’. How, then, would he have defined ‘zip-fastener’? Since a certain testiness was apt to impair his objectivity, he might have settled for something like: ‘a hateful device in which collinear interdigitation usurps the function of buttons ...
Noël Coward: A Biography 
by Philip Hoare.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 605 pp., £25, November 1995, 1 85619 265 2
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... These courteous gentlemen, sometimes playwrights themselves, had his measure, but they gave him an easy rein, resignedly accepting ‘a characteristic immoral twist’ and admitting that they were not arbiters of taste, while drawing the line at indecency. With The Vortex the problem was not so much a son accusing his mother of unchastity – ‘revolting in ...

The Torturer’s Apprentice

E.S. Turner, 5 October 1995

The Railway Man 
by Eric Lomax.
Cape, 278 pp., £15.99, August 1995, 0 224 04187 8
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... The Bridge over the River Kwai, that stirring symphony of false notes, it can hardly have been an easy decision for Lomax to allow his life to be re-scripted and interpreted by others. Millions will have seen Prisoners in Time, but this well-written and well-judged book is the superior article. Newspapers have told how, even now, survivors of the Far Eastern ...

Suck, chéri

E.S. Turner: The history of sweets, 29 October 1998

Sugar-Plums and Sherbet: A Prehistory of Sweets 
by Laura Mason.
Prospect, 250 pp., £20, June 1998, 0 907325 83 1
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... Africa that she has on Sale an Assortment of Sugar Basins, handsomely labelled in Gold Letters: “East India Sugar not made by Slaves”.’ There follows this assurance: ‘A Family that uses 5lbs of Sugar per Week will, by using East India, instead of West India, for 21 months, prevent the Slavery, or Murder, of one ...
Biting the Dust: The Joys of Housework 
by Margaret Horsfield.
Fourth Estate, 292 pp., £14.99, April 1997, 1 85702 422 2
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... In the index to that best of bedside books, the Army and Navy Stores Catalogue for 1915, there are 148 entries under ‘Brushes, various’. For men there were such essentials as moustache brushes, brilliantine brushes and revolver-cleaning brushes, but nearly all the other items were for the use of women about the house. Individual brushes were available for banisters, cornices, walls, halls, curtains, carpets, parquet, furniture (stiff crevices), furniture (soft crevices), libraries, billiard-tables, mattresses, conservatory windows, flues, lamp chimneys, boots, boot-tops, hats, hat-brims, velvet, crumbs, celery and dogs ...

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