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It starts with an itch

Alan Bennett: ‘People’, 8 November 2012

... speeches than I would venture to do nowadays. But some of the diatribes I put into the mouth of George Oliver, a right-wing Labour MP, are echoes of the complaints more succinctly expressed by Dorothy in People, the complaints generally being about England. Enjoy (1980) is another play with which People has similarities, in that both, while ostensibly ...

The Best Barnet

Jeremy Harding, 20 February 1997

With Chatwin: Portrait of a Writer 
by Susannah Clapp.
Cape, 246 pp., £15.99, January 1997, 0 224 03258 5
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... in steaming from his work in the fields, observed: “What an odalisque.” Bruce’s italics.’ George Melly is startled that Chatwin has never heard of the Muppets. Don McCullin, on a picture assignment for the Sunday Times magazine, rings at a grand house in Holland Park to find Chatwin standing behind the front door, ‘like Miss World’ – he ...

At the Gay Hussar

John Sutherland, 20 August 1981

One and Last Love 
by John Braine.
Eyre Methuen, 175 pp., £6.50, June 1981, 0 413 47990 0
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by Helen Yglesias.
Hodder, 332 pp., £6.95, August 1981, 9780340270424
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On the Yankee Station 
by William Boyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 184 pp., £7.95, July 1981, 0 241 10426 2
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Byzantium endures 
by Michael Moorcock.
Secker, 404 pp., £6.95, June 1981, 0 436 28458 8
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Heavy Sand 
by Anatoli Rybakov, translated by Harold Shuckman.
Allen Lane, 380 pp., £7.95, June 1981, 0 7139 1343 6
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... her.’ Unawed, the couple make sophisticated table-talk about their fellow guests: ‘That’s George Melly. And there’s Lord Longford!’    ‘Not together? That would make the mind boggle.’    ‘No, at separate tables.’ It adds ‘sparkle’ to life, the narrator complacently observes, and ‘it can only happen in the ...


Lorna Scott Fox: Salvador Dali, 2 April 1998

The Shameful Life of Salvador Dali 
by Ian Gibson.
Faber, 764 pp., £30, November 1997, 0 571 16751 9
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... Omnibus programmes, a sneering, superficial performance in which Gibson was only outdone by George Melly. That said, few would disagree with Gibson on Dalí’s shameful political volte-face. After 1933, with the Communist Party as reactionary as ever, it began to look as though the systematisation of confusion and the cleansing overthrow of the ...

Seventy Years in a Colourful Trade

Andrew O’Hagan: The Soho Alphabet, 16 July 2020

Tales from the Colony Room: Soho’s Lost Bohemia 
by Darren Coffield.
Unbound, 364 pp., £25, April 2020, 978 1 78352 816 5
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... transgender prostitute, who claimed to have given every member of the royal family a blowjob’. George Melly or David Sylvester, good listeners and both regulars, might have tuned in a bit more carefully and given us the details. Muriel had many tousled Boswells, but her friends were generally too stocious – even by Boswell’s standards – to write ...

Even If You Have to Starve

Ian Penman: Mod v. Trad, 29 August 2013

Mod: A Very British Style 
by Richard Weight.
Bodley Head, 478 pp., £25, April 2013, 978 0 224 07391 2
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... to upper-class and purposively vulgar fanbase. In its ranks were Kingsley Amis, Philip Larkin and George Melly, who all later wrote of this time as of a lost Eden. Larkin’s jazz column for the Telegraph ran from 1961 to 1968, a period roughly coextensive with Mod’s quiet rise and noisy fall. Trads embraced a louche, boho scruffiness (silly ...

What’s It All About?

Tom Lubbock, 6 April 1995

Shark-Infested Waters: The Saatchi Collection of British Art in the Nineties 
by Sarah Kent.
Zwemmer, 270 pp., £19.95, November 1994, 0 302 00648 6
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The Reviews that Caused the Rumpus, and Other Pieces 
by Brian Sewell.
Bloomsbury, 365 pp., £12.99, November 1994, 0 7475 1872 6
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... collected by Saatchi), on established Turner-winning Brits like Richard Long and Gilbert and George, on old bugbears like Warhol and Richard Hamilton. Shortly before Fuller’s death, he thought the tide was turning: Serota seemed to be coming into line, even Saatchi was investing in the School of London. Then it turned right back. In his last completed ...


Tom Paulin: In Donegal, 8 October 1992

... wanker ye.’ I’ve never had this experience in England and have never missed it. Like George J. Watson in his wry and subtle autobiographical piece in The Rattle of the North I believe that English culture, though it’s often a lot less fun than the Irish, contains a core of calm and civility I can never reach, only admire – admire or ...
... got to be at Toggers or something. I hated all that. But I had a very nice housemaster – George Lyttelton of the dreaded Letters – who allowed me to educate myself. He thought it was rather amusing that I was reading Proust, though he didn’t think it was a frightfully good idea. I was always, as a child, fascinated by things considered unsuitable ...

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