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Graham Coster, 10 January 1991

Stone Alone 
by Bill Wyman and Ray Coleman.
Viking, 594 pp., £15.99, October 1990, 0 670 82894 7
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Blown away: The Rolling Stones and the Death of the Sixties 
by A.E. Hotchner.
Simon and Schuster, 377 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 0 671 69316 6
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Are you experienced? The Inside Story of the Jimi Hendrix Experience 
by Noel Redding and Carol Appleby.
Fourth Estate, 256 pp., £14.99, September 1990, 1 872180 36 1
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I was a teenage Sex Pistol 
by Glen Matlock and Pete Silverton.
Omnibus, 192 pp., £12.95, September 1990, 0 7119 2491 0
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by George Michael and Tony Parsons.
Joseph, 242 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 0 7181 3435 4
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... sort of funny entertainment’. Rock’n’roll as modern vaudeville: I doubt the precious George Michael would agree. On the cover of I was a teenage Sex Pistol Matlock peeps cagily over his shades at you; Bare has George in one of his standard-issue moody pouts. I take it the title connotes the craven exposure ...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: The Big Issue, 20 September 2001

... Chomsky. It hit the big time a while ago, with sought-after interviews with the Stone Roses and George Michael (‘breaking a six-year silence’). Guest editors have included Damien Hirst and David Bailey – Big Issue chic. The ads say something, too: Levis, Sony, Calvin Klein, Bacardi; British Nuclear Fuels, a contentious issue in the office, soon ...

Don’t think about it

Jenny Diski: The Trouble with Sonia Orwell, 25 April 2002

The Girl from the Fiction Department: A Portrait of Sonia Orwell 
by Hilary Spurling.
Hamish Hamilton, 208 pp., £9.99, May 2002, 0 241 14165 6
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... venom that pursued her into and beyond the grave’. The venom was largely a result of the way, as George Orwell’s widow, she managed the literary estate. She was deemed to be tyrannical, grasping and interested only in the income the estate generated. She was remembered – by men in particular – as having slept around copiously in her youth, though when ...

Cocoa, sir?

Ian Jack: The Royal Navy, 2 January 2003

Sober Men and True: Sailor Lives in the Royal Navy 1900-45 
by Christopher McKee.
Harvard, 285 pp., £19.95, May 2002, 0 674 00736 0
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Rule Britannia: The Victorian and Edwardian Navy 
by Peter Padfield.
Pimlico, 246 pp., £12.50, August 2002, 0 7126 6834 9
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... side. ‘A shadow would come over the ship as soon as you heard you were coaling,’ said George Michael Clarkson (Joiner First Class). The great enemy was dust. All doors would be sealed; small holes were filled with oakum; lifeboats were hoisted outboard; officers and men alike wore their oldest clothes and poked Vaseline up their nostrils and ...


John Sutherland: Sad Professor, 18 February 1999

An Intelligent Person's Guide to Modern Culture 
by Roger Scruton.
Duckworth, 152 pp., £14.95, November 1998, 0 7156 2870 4
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... moment, represents the voice of ‘youth’ is peculiar enough. REM’s lead singer and lyricist, Michael Stipe, is knocking on 40; other members of the group are older (one, the percussionist Bill Berry, has taken early retirement, on grounds of advanced age and poor health). Stipe is as close in age to Roger Scruton as to Liam Gallagher and, on photographic ...

On Michael O’Brien

August Kleinzahler: Michael O’Brien, 16 February 2017

... few​ significant American poets called as little attention to themselves in their lifetimes as Michael O’Brien, who died last November at the age of 77. Much as with Lorine Niedecker – whose ‘silences’, he wrote, ‘derive from an intellectual conviction that art, like science, demands total concentration on the object of attention’ – his ...

George Eliot, Joyce and Cambridge

Michael Mason, 2 April 1981

... with uncertain boundaries referred to as ‘classic realism’. Not for the first time, it is George Eliot who is picked out for most attention as the author of classic realist texts. The specific point of comparison with Joyce is the two writers’ treatment of dialogue in their fiction. According to MacCabe, Joyce in Dubliners avoids setting up a ...

Did Lloyd George mean war?

Michael Brock, 26 November 1987

David Lloyd GeorgeA Political Life. The Architect of Change, 1863-1912 
by Bentley Brinkerhoff Gilbert.
Batsford, 546 pp., £25, April 1987, 0 7134 5558 6
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... facts. All his skills were needed here: during some seventeen years of ministerial life Lloyd George took a hand in five books about himself, and much distortion resulted. After the war, for instance, Ll.G. hoped that his long struggle against Naval expenditure had been forgotten. He recorded that in July 1908 he had told the German Ambassador of his ...

I’m being a singer

Andrew O’Hagan: Dandy Highwaymen, 8 October 2020

Sweet Dreams: The Story of the New Romantics 
by Dylan Jones.
Faber, 663 pp., £20, October 2020, 978 0 571 35343 9
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... were dancing to 1980s pop music and getting excited. A number of drunk men were dressed as St George, wearing England flags and Crusader helmets. Eyes swivelling, pints held aloft, standing on chairs or doing the conga, they were clearly at home in the holiday camp, whose ‘true intent’, it used to say on a neon sign over the swimming pool, ‘is all ...

Michael Foot’s Fathers

D.A.N. Jones, 4 December 1980

My Life with Nye 
by Jennie Lee.
Cape, 277 pp., £8.50, November 1980, 0 224 01785 3
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Debts of Honour 
by Michael Foot.
Davis-Poynter, 240 pp., £9.50, November 1980, 0 7067 6243 6
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... If Jennie Lee, Aneurin Bevan and Michael Foot had achieved Cabinet rank together in the 1960s, the United Kingdom would be in better shape now. ‘That is my truth,’ as Bevan used to say. ‘Now tell me yours.’ What have they in common, though, this leftist Gang of Three, the Englishman, the Welshman and the Scot, Bevan, his wife and his friend, all from such different backgrounds? They have similar opinions, of course: but what of their human and moral nature, their style of writing and speaking? It may be worth noting that all three are childless and parentful: all three have been devoted to Protestant Christian parents and have (to my regret) firmly rejected the faith of their fathers ...


Amanda Vickery: Vauxhall Gardens, 7 February 2013

Vauxhall Gardens: A History 
by Alan Borg and David Coke.
Yale, 473 pp., £55, June 2011, 978 0 300 17382 6
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... patron, Frederick, Prince of Wales, the artists Hogarth and Hayman, the designers Gravelot and George Michael Moser, the sculptor Louis-François Roubiliac and the composers Arne and Handel: ‘The brash light-heartedness, the unwillingness to follow rules, the energy, informality and experimentation that were intrinsic to Vauxhall are all typical of ...

His Own Sort of Outsider

Philip Clark: Tippett’s Knack, 16 July 2020

Michael Tippett: The Biography 
by Oliver Soden.
Weidenfeld, 750 pp., £25, April 2019, 978 1 4746 0602 8
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... By​ the time his first opera, The Midsummer Marriage, had its premiere at Covent Garden in 1955, Michael Tippett was considered, alongside Benjamin Britten, the most significant and original British composer of his generation. Yet he was also the natural outsider in a scene that as well as Britten (born 1913), included William Walton (1902) and Lennox Berkeley (1903), with the reassuring presence of Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872) hovering over them all ...


George Steiner, 5 May 1988

Visions and Blueprints: Avant-Garde Culture and Radical Politics in Early 20th-century Europe 
edited by Edward Timms and Peter Collier.
Manchester, 328 pp., £29.50, February 1988, 0 7190 2260 6
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... from the list of significant British writers involved in the Spanish cockpit, the very name of George Orwell! Or how ambiguous are the criteria which impel Peter Collier to cite, with almost breathless admiration, Auden’s commendation of ‘the necessary murder’. Ritchie Robertson is concise and authoritative on the Zionist impulse in Herzl and ...

Five Poems

Michael Longley, 8 January 1987

... under the stairs. Shockwaves are wrinkling the water that isn’t there. Stone-in-Oxney for George Newson At a table which seems to take root in the lawn We breakfast late to a single propeller’s drone, The ghost of a Spitfire over Stone-in-Oxney Or a Stuka, its turning-circle that cloud-gap Or wherever you point to show me a bird, its dive Low as the ...


Rose George: A report from post-civil war Liberia, 2 June 2005

... Most of the politicians now in power are ‘the same warlords and murderers’, as Archbishop Michael Francis told me last year. According to the Accra guidelines, sitting politicians are not allowed to stand for election, but there have already been shameless manoeuvrings. ‘People come here and shake my hand,’ Klein says, ‘and they say they want to ...

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