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Poetry and Soda

Barbara Everett, 5 February 1981

The Penguin Book of Unrespectable Verse 
edited by Geoffrey Grigson.
Penguin, 335 pp., £1.75, November 1980, 0 14 042142 4
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The Penguin Book of Light Verse 
edited by Gavin Ewart.
Penguin, 639 pp., £9.50, October 1980, 0 14 042270 6
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... therefore, his Penguin Book of Light Verse is less wholly pleasurable, even less admirable, than Geoffrey Grigson’s now nearly ten-years-old but newly reprinted Unrespectable Verse, then part of the reason may be (given that the two volumes share a number of poems) that Grigson has had either the wisdom or the good fortune not to get saddled with a ...

Medes and Persians

Paul Foot: The Government’s Favourite Accountants, 2 November 2000

... and Price Waterhouse. Over Atlantic Computers, Price Waterhouse sued Touche Ross. Over Wallace Smith, KPMG sued Coopers and Lybrand. Over London United Investments, Price Waterhouse sued KPMG. Over Polly Peck, Touche Ross sued Coopers and Lybrand. Poor Coopers and Lybrand was in the soup more than once over its not altogether distinguished accountancy of ...

Gurney’s Flood

Donald Davie, 3 February 1983

Geoffrey Grigson: Collected Poems 1963-1980 
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £9.95, November 1982, 0 85031 419 4Show More
The Cornish Dancer 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 64 pp., £4.95, June 1982, 0 436 18805 8
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The Private Art: A Poetry Notebook 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £9.95, November 1982, 0 85031 420 8
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Blessings, Kicks and Curses: A Critical Collection 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, £9.95, November 1982, 0 85031 437 2
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Collected Poems of Ivor Gurney 
edited by P.J. Kavanagh.
Oxford, 284 pp., £12, September 1982, 0 19 211940 0
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War Letters 
by Ivor Gurney, edited by R.K.R. Thornton.
Mid-Northumberland Arts Group/Carcanet, 271 pp., £12, February 1983, 0 85635 408 2
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... straight or that one has the necessary stamina to keep the job, but it is a prerequisite.’) Geoffrey Grigson, so much older than Gunn (he is 77), has of course built his career about being considered impertinent, so it’s not surprising to find in his latest collection (his first was in 1939) runovers like these: So mud was on you that day. So it was ...

Diary

Tam Dalyell: Yesterday’s News, 18 September 1986

... Mrs Thatcher’s key personal adviser during the miners’ strike whose activities so enraged Ned Smith, the experienced and thoroughly decent Personnel Officer of the Coal Board, and his colleague, the late Geoffrey Kirk, both of whom strove for honourable solutions. At key moments in the strike, Hart boasted, he advised ...

At Home in the Huntington

John Sutherland: The Isherwood Archive, 10 June 1999

... of literary skill’. (Once celebrated as the Shelley of the Thirties, he was later described by Geoffrey Grigson as the ‘Rupert Brooke of the Depression’.) Isherwood, he grudgingly conceded, could claim ‘accomplishment’. Isherwood returned the tepid compliment, 12 years later, with a script for the Tony Richardson production of The Loved One. The ...

The Rupert Trunk

Christopher Tayler: Alan Hollinghurst, 28 July 2011

The Stranger’s Child 
by Alan Hollinghurst.
Picador, 565 pp., £20, June 2011, 978 0 330 48324 7
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... and the Rise of Biography (1992), Ian Hamilton quotes Brooke’s Rugby and Cambridge friend Geoffrey Keynes on the underlying causes of the Eddie-Ranee stand-off: Brooke’s unmanly physical beauty was often taken as an indication that he was probably a homosexual … It had, of course, been far from Marsh’s intention to produce any such ...

On Spanking

Christopher Hitchens, 20 October 1994

AGuide to the Correction of Young Gentlemen or, The Successful Administration of Physical Discipline to Males, by Females 
by a Lady, with illustrations by a Former Pupil.
Delectus, 140 pp., £19.95, August 1994, 1 897767 05 6
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... And here also was a good test, because Thatcher had attacked the two-party consensus on the Smith-Muzorewa deal, suggesting that if elected she would lift sanctions on Salisbury. At once we were in an argument. Of Joshua Nkomo I remember her saying: ‘I think Joshua is absolutely sweet.’ That was the least of our disagreements. On one point of ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945, 1 April 1999

The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... Anglocentric: Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill is in facing-page English, but Sorley MacLean and Iain Crichton Smith, for example, occur only in English, and there is no Welsh-language poetry at all. On the other hand, O’Brien’s selection of English-language poetry casts a wider and more ambitious net. ‘Even as we study it, the map changes and discloses a larger ...

Dialect with Army and Navy

David Wheatley: Douglas Dunn and Politovsky, 21 June 2001

The Donkey’s Ears: Politovsky’s Letters Home 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 176 pp., £7.99, May 2000, 0 571 20426 0
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The Year's Afternoon 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 81 pp., £7.99, October 2000, 0 571 20427 9
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... on his choice). Finding the politics of that book layered on too thickly, the American poet Dave Smith described the effect in terms strangely reminiscent of life on board the Suvorov: ‘a show of skills which has, too often, the feel of trial military manoeuvres with no apparent enemy’. But in many ways The Donkey’s Ears is unusual for the political ...

Dear Mohamed

Paul Foot, 20 February 1997

Sleaze: The Corruption of Parliament 
by David Leigh and Ed Vulliamy.
Fourth Estate, 263 pp., £9.99, January 1997, 1 85702 694 2
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... quiet. At last, on 20 October 1994, the paper published the story that Fayed had paid the MPs Tim Smith and Neil Hamilton to campaign on his behalf in the House of Commons. Smith, a former Tory Party Treasurer, admitted the payments and promptly resigned as a junior Northern Ireland Minister. Hamilton denied everything to ...

Mr Straight and Mr Good

Paul Foot: Gordon Brown, 19 February 1998

Gordon Brown: The Biography 
by Paul Routledge.
Simon and Schuster, 358 pp., £17.99, February 1998, 0 684 81954 6
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... great allies of New Labour. Brown’s chief man in the Treasury is his friend and generous host Geoffrey Robinson, whose enormous wealth is stashed away in a tax haven. One millionaire in the Government is not enough. As soon as New Labour was elected, its ministers scurried into the City to seek out millionaires to conduct the Government’s ...

Piperism

William Feaver: John and Myfanwy Piper, 17 December 2009

John Piper, Myfanwy Piper: Lives in Art 
by Frances Spalding.
Oxford, 598 pp., £25, September 2009, 978 0 19 956761 4
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... combination: gauziness crazed with detail. By then he was articled in his father’s firm, Piper, Smith & Piper in Vincent Square, with a view (his father’s view) to becoming a solicitor. His hair began turning grey. In March 1927 his father died, prompting him to abandon the law and enrol at the Royal College of Art. His mother, a softer touch, provided an ...

Her Boy

R.W. Johnson: Mark Thatcher, 16 November 2006

Thatcher’s Fortunes: The Life and Times of Mark Thatcher 
by Mark Hollingsworth and Paul Halloran.
Mainstream, 415 pp., £7.99, July 2006, 1 84596 118 8
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The Wonga Coup: The British Mercenary Plot to Seize Oil Billions in Africa 
by Adam Roberts.
Profile, 304 pp., £9.99, June 2006, 1 86197 934 7
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... she expressed it,” he recalled.’ That was Thatcher all over, as even such slavish acolytes as Geoffrey Ripon gradually discovered. She exalted rags-to-riches entrepreneurialism but the launch of her career depended on her having married a wealthy older man able to pay for childcare and make it unnecessary for her to earn her own living. It should come as ...
The ‘Private Eye’ Story: The First 21 Years 
by Patrick Marnham.
Private Eye/Deutsch, 232 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 233 97509 8
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One for the Road: Further Letters of Denis Thatcher 
by Richard Ingrams and John Wells.
Private Eye/Deutsch, 80 pp., £2.50, October 1982, 9780233975115
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Sir James Goldsmith: The Man and the Myth 
by Geoffrey Wansell.
Fontana, 222 pp., £1.95, April 1982, 0 00 636503 5
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... the last five or six years, there have only been three significant long-running stories: the Helen Smith case, the Thorpe trial and the Goldsmith imbroglio. In the first, the Eye is merely – though admirably – allying itself to someone else’s valiant and obsessive personal quest; the second is an example of the passive scoop (police officers deliberately ...

Smocks

Rosemary Hill, 5 December 1991

Gertrude Jekyll 
by Sally Festing.
Viking, 323 pp., £17.99, October 1991, 0 670 82788 6
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People’s Parks 
by Hazel Conway.
Cambridge, 287 pp., £49.50, August 1991, 0 521 39070 2
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The History of Garden Design: The Western Tradition from the Renaissance to the Present Day 
edited by Monique Mosser and Georges Teyssot.
Thames and Hudson, 543 pp., £45, May 1991, 0 500 01511 2
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... in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She was born in 1843 into a family that Logan Pearsall Smith described as a ‘fine old succession of country people, “quality folk” as they are called’, but with more interest in the arts than many such families. The Jekylls had a life-size cast of the Venus de Milo in the dining-room. They moved to Surrey ...

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