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John Sutherland

4 June 1981
Tit for Tat 
by Verity Bargate.
Cape, 167 pp., £5.95, April 1981, 0 224 01908 2
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Watching Me, Watching You 
by Fay Weldon.
Hodder, 208 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 340 25600 1
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Maggie Muggins 
by Keith Waterhouse.
Joseph, 220 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 7181 2014 0
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Mr Lonely 
by Eric Morecambe.
Eyre Methuen, 189 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 413 48170 0
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... from the male sex and with it ‘a desolate sense of triumph’. In one sense, like the fiction of Erica Jong, this novel trades on the post-Portnoy freedom to open up life’s dirty little secrets. It compares interestingly in this respect with the pre-Portnoy, and much more reserved, My friend says it’s bulletproof by Penelope Mortimer. But Tit for Tat has ...
10 May 1990
The Dictionary of National Biography: 1981-1985 
edited by Lord Blake and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 518 pp., £40, March 1990, 0 19 865210 0
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... to the Dictionary of National Biography there are photographs of David Niven, Diana Dors, Eric Morecambe, John Betjeman and William Walton. Dors has a leering ‘Come up and read me sometime’ expression on her face and Niven wears his yacht-club greeter’s smile. Morecambe seems to be laughing at one of his ...

Sunshine

David Goldie: Morecambe and Wise

15 April 1999
Morecambe and Wise 
by Graham McCann.
Fourth Estate, 416 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 1 85702 735 3
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... Nearly 29 million people watched Morecambe and Wise’s Christmas Special in 1977 – over six and a half million more than had watched the Queen’s Speech earlier in the day. Graham McCann proposes that this popular endorsement of Morecambe and Wise as de facto national comics is also a vindication of what were then the public service ideals of the BBC ...

Shoulder-Shrugging

Julian Critchley

11 December 1997
Dear Bill: Bill Deedes Reports 
by W.F. Deedes.
Macmillan, 396 pp., £20, October 1997, 0 333 71386 9
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... and Richard Ingrams cast Deedes as the foil to Denis Thatcher. He was Ernie Wise to Thatcher’s Eric Morecambe. But the role of straight man came naturally to him. Dear Bill (the book, that is) should make a merry Christmas for thousands of its ...

Noam’s Ark

Walter Nash

25 October 1990
The Twitter Machine: Reflections on Language 
by Neil Smith.
Blackwell, 275 pp., £9.95, September 1989, 0 631 16926 1
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English in Use 
by Randolph Quirk and Gabriele Stein.
Longman, 262 pp., £17.95, September 1990, 0 582 06612 3
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... parade of learning, write attractively (the collaboration works so well that, as the late lamented Eric Morecambe was wont to remark in a different context, ‘you can’t see the join’), and have made their book potentially useful to the self-instructing student and the self-mistrusting teacher by providing a little programme of exercises at the end of ...

Diary

John Upton: ‘Wicked. Sweet. Nice one’

25 July 2002
... accompanied by anyone today?’ the chairman of the bench, an elderly man with a bald head and Eric Morecambe spectacles, enquires. He is too polite to comment on Ezekiel’s mode of dress. ‘Sir, good afternoon, I represent Ezekiel today,’ I stand and incline my head towards the magistrates, who incline theirs in return. I explain that his ...

Double Act

Adam Smyth: ‘A Humument’

11 October 2012
A Humument: A Treated Victorian Novel 
by Tom Phillips.
Thames and Hudson, 392 pp., £14.95, May 2012, 978 0 500 29043 9
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... not only in the sense that all of its words were written first by Mallock (although not, as Eric Morecambe said of the notes in his piano playing, necessarily in the right order); but also because Phillips pieces together Mallock’s words to produce other writers’ lines. So there is Donne and Shakespeare, but also lines from books that in 1892 ...

Welcome Home

Sukhdev Sandhu: Memories of Michael X

4 February 1999
Windrush: The Irresistible Rise of Multiracial Britain 
by Mike Phillips and Trevor Phillips.
HarperCollins, 422 pp., £16.99, May 1998, 0 00 255909 9
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... tabloids, but animosity was not universal: an English woman travelling on the same London bus as Eric Huntley escorted him under her umbrella all the way to the Haroldstone Road house he was looking for. Vince Reid, on the other hand, recalls how people came up to him and rubbed his skin to see if the blackness came off (a ritual which, with the help of ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2010

16 December 2010
... would have been in 1963 but now part of a free-standing unit in limed oak. It was this house where Eric Korn heard someone reading out the plaque as being to ‘William Butler Yeast’. ‘Presumably,’ Eric wanted to say, ‘him responsible for the Easter Rising.’ 17 February. Stopped by a man outside the post office in ...
2 April 1998
... a particularly good collection of modern British paintings, and from which I was hoping to choose Eric Ravilious’s Train Landscape. It’s a painting redolent of all the journeys by train I remember, particularly in my teens and during my National Service, when it was still possible to explore the English countryside by rail, a period that the foolishness ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Fresh Revelations

20 October 1994
...  ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2011

5 January 2012
... damaged when the turf was spiked. A week or so previously I’d watched on TV an episode of an American series, Diagnosis: Murder, starring Dick Van Dyke, with the plot concerning three athletes in Florida, two of whom were electrocuted on the playing field in exactly the same fashion as the horses. No one else has noted the coincidence, but then I don’t ...

The Girl in the Shiny Boots

Richard Wollheim: Adolescence

20 May 2004
... unit at Heysham, every Wednesday or Thursday night we would walk the two or three miles into Morecambe, and go to the dance in the Floral Hall. From about eight to midnight, several hundred men and women, nearly all in uniform, were packed in under a pink and gold dome, and wandered round in a haze, searching for a partner. I danced badly, and I was ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Notes on 1997

1 January 1998
... colour three times a week. Where are you with a dame like that? You don’t know.’ The names Americans visit on their children never cease to amaze me. One of Diana Ross’s daughters labours under the name of Chudney. 12 May, New York. Sit looking out of the bedroom window into the back garden of a house on the next block where an idyll develops. An ...

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