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I only want the OM

Christopher Tayler: Somerset Maugham, 1 September 2005

Somerset Maugham: A Life 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Vintage, 411 pp., £12, April 2005, 1 4000 3052 8
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... written forty or fifty books himself – is out to treat his subject with more tact. Yes, Beverley Nichols called Maugham ‘the most sexually voracious man I’ve ever known’, and, yes, there are one or two anecdotes about his adventures in this line. On the whole, though, Meyers wants to emphasise his industry, generosity and hardihood: ‘Somerset Maugham ...

Scarisbrick’s Bomb

Peter Gwyn, 20 December 1984

Reformation and Revolution 1558-1660 
by Robert Ashton.
Granada, 503 pp., £18, February 1984, 0 246 10666 2
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The Reformation and the English People 
by J.J. Scarisbrick.
Blackwell, 203 pp., £14.50, March 1984, 0 631 13424 7
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... is not very many – certainly not by that date. Instead, there were many more people like John Nichols of Boddington in Northamptonshire, who, when he died in 1535, ‘left 2s. to the Rood light, to Our Lady’s and St John’s lights, 2s. to other “torches” and 2s. to the bells in his parish church’. He also left fourpence apiece to all four orders ...

Too Young

James Davidson: Lord Alfred Douglas, 21 September 2000

Bosie: A Biography of Lord Alfred Douglas 
by Douglas Murray.
Hodder, 374 pp., £20, June 2000, 0 340 76770 7
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... a letter from Bosie regretting that he himself does not enjoy the ‘Privilege enjoyed by your Grace of being descended from the bastard son of a French whore’. Robbie Ross, guardian of Wilde’s memory, was a favourite target. At a party in 1912, Douglas (now 42 years of age) made a noisy entrance, strode across the room and declared ‘you are nothing ...

A Cure for Arthritis and Other Tales

Alan Bennett, 2 November 2000

... does read with any regularity, though, has nothing to do with the North at all. This is Beverley Nichols, of whose column in Woman’s Own she is a devoted fan, and whose life, Beverley writing about his gardens and chronicling the doings of his several cats, seems to my mother one of dizzying sophistication. I don’t share this admiration nor the literary ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2010, 16 December 2010

... readers, most of them women, I come away thinking the writer I most resemble is Beverley Nichols. 14 May. Obituary in today’s Guardian of Gerald Drucker, veteran double bass player and for the last 30 years principal bass of the Philharmonia. When I was a boy Leeds had its own orchestra, the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra, which gave concerts every ...

King of Razz

Alfred Appel Jr: Homage to Fats Waller, 9 May 2002

... his majestic trumpet solo. The song looks worse, literally, in a 1935 movie short by trumpeter Red Nichols and His Five Pennies. It’s staged in an old-fashioned Mutoscope arcade whose customers peer into peep-show machines to watch successive songs visualised on film. The darky mammy, tiptoeing butler, and buck dancers of their ‘When It’s Sleepy Time ...

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