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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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Bare 
by George Michael and Tony Parsons.
Joseph, 242 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 0 7181 3435 4
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... pretty silly, and exactly the point. Rock’n’roll, as Mick Jagger says in Hotchner’s book, is ‘just sort of funny entertainment’. Rock’n’roll as modern vaudeville: I doubt the precious GeorgeMichael 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 ...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: The Big Issue

20 September 2001
... But there are funny bits and star turns too. Julie Burchill has been a contributor; so has Noam Chomsky. It hit the big time a while ago, with sought-after interviews with the Stone Roses and GeorgeMichael (‘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 ...

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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... world – Scapa, Aden, Malta, Singapore – as well as freighters that could deliver it to the warship’s side. ‘A shadow would come over the ship as soon as you heard you were coaling,’ said GeorgeMichael 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 ...

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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... later, to write a biography designed, as Hilary Spurling’s explicitly is, to stem ‘the tide of 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 ...

Diary

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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... the lead singer as well as the group. Let that pass. The notion that this particular group, at this 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 ...

On Michael​ O’Brien

August Kleinzahler: Michael​ O’Brien

16 February 2017
... Very 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 ...
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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... Bentley Gilbert is a historian well-equipped to strip off myths and expose 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 ...
2 April 1981
... reality as the literature he dislikes. The episode in literary history which MacCabe deplores is a thing 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 ...
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 ...

Five Poems

Michael​ Longley

8 January 1987
... and lay out the dead. There are children who haven’t learnt to swim, bundled With budgerigars and tabbies 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 ...
9 July 1987
Speak, Memory 
by Vladimir Nabokov.
Penguin, 242 pp., £3.95, May 1987, 0 14 008623 4
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The Russian Album 
by Michael​ Ignatieff.
Chatto, 191 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 7011 3109 8
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The Making of a Peacemonger: The Memoirs of George​ Ignatieff 
prepared in association with by Sonja Sinclair.
Toronto, 265 pp., £15, July 1985, 0 8020 2556 0
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A Little of All These: An Estonian Childhood 
by Tania Alexander.
Cape, 165 pp., £12.50, March 1987, 0 224 02400 0
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... her own past with the same retrospective fervour that I now do her image and my past. Thus, in a way, I inherited an exquisite simulacrum – the beauty of intangible property, unreal estate.’ Michael Ignatieff was born in Canada in the 1940s. ‘My friends,’ he remarks a little sheepishly at the start of his book, ‘had suburban pasts or pasts they would rather not talk about. I had a past of ...

Venice-on-Thames

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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... characterise as ‘a creative reaction of youth against authority’. The rebels included the gardens’ patron, Frederick, Prince of Wales, the artists Hogarth and Hayman, the designers Gravelot and GeorgeMichael 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 ...

Modernity

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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... Civil War. How poignant are the remnants of party discipline which enable this testimony to omit, 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 ...

His Greatest Pretend

Dinah Birch: The man behind Pan

1 September 2005
Hide-and-Seek with Angels: A Life of J.M. Barrie 
by Lisa Chaney.
Hutchinson, 402 pp., £20, June 2005, 0 09 179539 7
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... spirit of David grew into something more than a family memory. That cocky whistle and aggressively masculine straddled stance became emblematic of the irresponsibility of Peter Pan, the immortal boy. George Frampton’s familiar statue in Kensington Gardens fixed the image, with the addition of pan pipes turning David’s whistle into something that fused the glamour of those Housman called the ‘lads ...

Pouting

Karl Miller: Smiley and Bingham

9 May 2013
A Delicate Truth 
by John le Carré.
Viking, 310 pp., £18.99, April 2013, 978 0 670 92279 6
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The Man Who Was George​ Smiley: The Life of John Bingham 
by Michael​ Jago.
Biteback, 308 pp., £20, February 2013, 978 1 84954 513 6
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... John le Carré has now published 23 books, the Great Bear of that night sky being the series of novels lit by the round English gentleman, spymaster George Smiley, he who wipes his glasses with the thick end of his unfailing tie. Among the features of these spy stories is a concern with patriotism and uncertainty, not least with the uncertainties of ...

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