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Newspaperising the World

Sadakat Kadri: The Leveson Inquiry, 5 July 2012

Dial M for Murdoch 
by Tom Watson and Martin Hickman.
Allen Lane, 360 pp., £20, April 2012, 978 1 84614 603 9
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... an invaluable account of its evolution, told by Martin Hickman of the Independent, and the MP Tom Watson. Watson has been particularly close to events. In September 2006, he spearheaded opposition within the Labour Party to Tony Blair’s refusal to schedule his departure from office. Since Blair enjoyed Rupert Murdoch’s ...

Occupation: Novelist

Christopher Beha: Peter Matthiessen, 31 July 2014

In Paradise 
by Peter Matthiessen.
Oneworld, 246 pp., £12.99, April 2014, 978 1 78074 555 8
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... In 1953, he’d founded the Paris Review in part as a front for that work, a detail he kept from George Plimpton for years. His third novel, Raditzer (1961), depicts yet another young man of means resisting paternal influence: Charles Stark foregoes joining his father’s law firm to enlist in the navy just as the war is ending. Shipping out to the ...

I myself detest all Modern Art

Anne Diebel: Scofield Thayer, 9 April 2015

The Tortured Life of Scofield Thayer 
by James Dempsey.
Florida, 240 pp., £32.50, February 2014, 978 0 8130 4926 7
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... went to Harvard, where he despised his ‘gilded wastrel’ classmates, studied philosophy under George Santayana and helped to produce the Harvard Monthly; and Oxford, where he had an intense friendship and possibly a love affair with Vivien Haigh-Wood, who married Eliot the day Thayer boarded the ship back to the US. The newlyweds held him in low ...

Diary

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 ...

Diary

Audrey Gillan: The drubbing of Mohammad Sarwar, 22 January 1998

... Saddened and dissatisfied, I returned to Glasgow to tell the girls’ story. The Glasgow MP George Galloway was in Islamabad to receive an award from Benazir Bhutto’s government, and I thought he might intervene on the girls’ behalf. He told me he could not get involved because the girls lived in another MP’s constituency but suggested that I ask ...

Looking back in anger

Hilary Mantel, 21 November 1991

Almost a Gentleman. An Autobiography: Vol. II 1955-66 
by John Osborne.
Faber, 273 pp., £14.99, November 1991, 0 571 16261 4
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... Dirk Bogarde, Kenneth More and Donald Sinden ... Osborne as a Spartan, as a rugby fan, as Dr Watson ... He would, you feel, have snarled a hole in the screen. A Better Class of Person is written with the tautness and power of a well-organised novel. It is a ferociously sulky, rancorous book, remarkable for its account of the lower-middle-class childhood ...

Wake up. Foul mood. Detest myself

Ysenda Maxtone Graham: ‘Lost Girls’, 19 December 2019

Lost Girls: Love, War and Literature, 1939-51 
by D.J. Taylor.
Constable, 388 pp., £25, September 2019, 978 1 4721 2686 3
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... by comparison, only marrying twice. As Taylor has already written in his superb bi0graphy of George Orwell (2003), the wedding of Sonia and George took place round a bed in University College Hospital, and Orwell would be dead from TB three months later. ‘A shrewd investment, or an act of self-sacrifice?’ Taylor ...
The Children’s Book of Comic Verse 
edited by Christopher Logue.
Batsford, 160 pp., £3.95, March 1980, 0 7134 1528 2
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The Children’s Book of Funny Verse 
edited by Julia Watson.
Faber, 127 pp., £3.95, September 1980, 0 571 11467 9
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Bagthorpes v. the World 
by Helen Cresswell.
Faber, 192 pp., £4.50, September 1980, 0 571 11446 6
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The Robbers 
by Nina Bawden.
Gollancz, 144 pp., £3.95, September 1980, 0 575 02695 2
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... student from Sparta [who] was a truly magnificent farter’. Beyond him he does not venture. Julia Watson stops with the old man of Blackheath who sat on his set of false teeth. Calamity and the gruesome, the crude and the slapstick, are given a suitable amount of space, and Harry Graham is perhaps overworked, though children, who are never satisfied with a ...

Progress Past

Paul Langford, 8 November 1990

The Idea of Progress in 18th-Century Britain 
by David Spadafora.
Yale, 464 pp., £22.50, July 1990, 0 300 04671 5
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George III and the Satirists from Hogarth to Byron 
by Vincent Carretta.
Georgia, 389 pp., £38.50, June 1990, 0 8203 1146 4
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... than is offered here. Ross of Exeter was ‘moderate’, Green of Lincoln ‘a liberal’, Watson of Llandaff ‘extremely liberal’; Butler of Oxford was ‘a conservative’, Newton of Bristol ‘fairly conservative’. What liberalism and conservatism mean in this context is not explained: aside from the anachronistic nature of such terms, it is ...

Heart-Stopping

Ian Hamilton, 25 January 1996

Not Playing for Celtic: Another Paradise Lost 
by David Bennie.
Mainstream, 221 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 1 85158 757 8
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Achieving the Goal 
by David Platt.
Richard Cohen, 244 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 1 86066 017 7
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Captain’s Log: The Gary McAllister Story 
by Gary McAllister and Graham Clark.
Mainstream, 192 pp., £14.99, October 1995, 9781851587902
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Blue Grit: The John Brown Story 
by John Brown and Derek Watson.
Mainstream, 176 pp., £14.99, November 1995, 1 85158 822 1
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Kicking and Screaming: An Oral History of Football in England 
by Rogan Taylor and Andrew Ward.
Robson, 370 pp., £16.95, October 1995, 0 86051 912 0
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A Passion for the Game: Real Lives in Football 
by Tom Watt.
Mainstream, 316 pp., £14.99, October 1995, 1 85158 714 4
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... seconds, before whipping out a revolver and shooting a suspiciously dark supporter in the George Fox Stand (since United fans are known colloquially as ‘Arabs’). This muddle of transdisciplinary pretentiousness comes from a book called Not Playing for Celtic: Another Paradise Lost, and, yes, the paradise in question is indeed John Milton’s ...

A Ripple of the Polonaise

Perry Anderson: Work of the Nineties, 25 November 1999

History of the Present: Essays, Sketches and Despatches from Europe in the Nineties 
by Timothy Garton Ash.
Allen Lane, 441 pp., £20, June 1999, 0 7139 9323 5
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... option for restless spirits: a motive that can be traced back to early Victorian times, when George Borrow’s fascination with Spanish or Gypsy low life was bred of detestation for native ‘gentility’. On the other hand, Britain’s Imperial primacy – whose memory long outlasted its reality – inevitably encouraged dreams of daring exploits in ...
Friends of Promise: Cyril Connolly and the World of ‘Horizon’ 
by Michael Shelden.
Hamish Hamilton, 254 pp., £15.95, February 1989, 0 241 12647 9
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Coastwise Lights 
by Alan Ross.
Collins Harvill, 254 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 00 271767 0
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William Plomer 
by Peter Alexander.
Oxford, 397 pp., £25, March 1989, 0 19 212243 6
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... of a clever young psychologist. Sonia Brownell also worked on Horizon, resisting the advances of George Orwell until his terminal illness and the great success of 1984. Connolly tended to implore the previous lady to take him back after it was too late. He and Barbara Skelton quarrelled violently in the car on the way to their wedding and their way back from ...

Under the Sphinx

Alasdair Gray, 11 March 1993

Places of the Mind: The Life and Work of James Thomson (‘B.V.’) 
by Tom Leonard.
Cape, 407 pp., £25, February 1993, 9780224031189
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... profits were as huge as the poverty generating them and the established clergy approved. Bishop Watson preached – and published! – a sermon on ‘The Wisdom and Goodness of God, in having made both Rich and Poor’ to the Poor Relief officers of Westminster. Such an angel as Watson was obviously wingless. Phoney ...

The Amazing …

Jonathan Lethem: My Spidey, 6 June 2002

Spider-Man 
directed by Sam Raimi.
May 2002
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... for what seemed to us a second-best girlfriend, the dark-haired ‘girl next door’, Mary Jane Watson, a mere glass of beer – the champagne of Gwen Stacy was not for the likes of us. So, Karl and I resented Spider-Man like we resented the Beatles, for being such lavish evidence we’d been born too late. The 1970s adventures were overly reverent, full of ...

Works of Art

Peter Lamarque, 2 April 1981

Art and Its Objects 
by Richard Wollheim.
Cambridge, 270 pp., £12.50, November 1980, 0 521 22898 0
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Works and Worlds of Art 
by Nicholas Wolterstorff.
Oxford, 372 pp., £20, December 1980, 0 19 824419 3
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... in common between, say, Ulysses, Der Rosenkavalier, the ‘Donna Velata’ and Donatello’s St George in virtue of which they are all works of art? As if that were not hard enough, try adding prints, films, dances and buildings and the problem becomes intractable. Yet traditionally the aim of aesthetics has been to undertake an abstraction from the ...

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