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“... minor. Dru’s The Present Age is so brilliantly carried off that the Hongs seem, on occasion, to have difficulty in choosing their term because Dru’s is so obviously the right one. But even if the Hong translation lacks some of the swing and sheer ‘go’ of Dru’s, it is consistently good and accurate, an excellent earnest of things to come. The worst of all these defects of the age is what ...”
“... him a ‘medieval Modernist’: by which is meant that Pick regarded the purpose of design, and indeed the whole working of the Underground, in the utopian tradition of Ruskin, Morris and Ebenezer Howard. A benevolent authority was to confront Londoners with the best in art, while at the same time pressing them to live freer, fuller and purer lives, preferably at the suburban ends of one of Pick’s ...”
“... in Intermezzo, I think, and no one in her film – either in Lust, Caution or in the fiction she is acting out in the story – will ever declare his love, or say anything, as directly as Leslie Howard does in that Western melodrama. There is a risk of cliché in this thought, but I am only following the director Ang Lee down this path, and he avoids it through cleverness. In the film moderately ...”
“... Did you write it yourself?’ That is the first question any visiting journo asks Howard Marks about his autobiography, Mr Nice. Marks suppresses a yawn. The morning is not really his time. He’s in the middle of a promotional binge, late nights, dry-throat blather; the anecdotes on ...”
“... If the enemy of my enemy is my friend, it follows that the enemy of Michael Howard is my hero. So awful was Howard’s long reign at the Home Office that many liberals sought democratic relief from the most blatantly undemocratic section of the establishment: the judiciary. It was the strange sound of Law Lords ...”
“... more radically, to change the staple of their 800 million countrymen: wheat has a higher nutritional value than rice. That year, a 25-year-old French grain trader, Jean-Yves Ollivier, travelled to Hong Kong and crossed the Sham Chun River, the natural border with mainland China, to enter the town of Shenzhen, then hardly more than a fishing village. The far bank was dotted with red flags, portraits ...”
“... Scorsese’s interest here is in concentrated, closed-circuit madness, and the same interest gave The Aviator (2004) all its good moments, and turned Leonardo di Caprio (as the solitary and paranoid Howard Hughes) into an actor quite different from the one he had been. Enter Jack Nicholson. Or rather, re-enter Jack Nicholson. I had somehow missed all the hype about The Departed representing the first ...”
“... us, when her parents lived next door to us in St John’s Wood. As we say in writing to congratulate her, when one’s baby-sitter is a cabinet minister one realises one is really old! 21 May 1997. Howard Davies is appointed chairman-designate of ‘SuperSIB’ (or, as it is later christened by Gordon Brown, the Financial Services Authority), as much to his surprise as everyone else’s. He had been ...”
“... bunting flutters in the breeze. Tian’anmen Square contains no special seating. Instead there is a lot of open space With here and there a mildly curious face. She’s here to pin them down about Hong Kong. She’d like to have a written guarantee. The PM’s habit is to come on strong. The Chinese instinct is to wait and see. Any idea the business won’t take long Ebbs when the welcome turns out ...”
“... you name it. I very quickly felt as if I was the only person I knew who still basically approved of Blair, apart from all the people who voted for him. (Which, by the way, I didn’t. I was in Hong Kong and forgot to arrange a postal vote.) Mind you, Labour’s electoral majority has always been misleading when it comes to assessing Blair’s actual popularity. He won his stupendous 179-seat ...”
“... scene. A few months ago I took part in a conference. Various novelists, myself included, were talking earnestly of such matters as the need for new ways of describing the world. Then the playwright Howard Brenton suggested that this might be a somewhat limited aim: does literature seek to do no more than to describe? Flustered, all the novelists at once began talking about politics. Let me apply ...”
“... most eloquent’ of the Tory Europhobes. Political uncertainty has never been his problem. In his various capacities as think-tank director, Daily Telegraph leader-writer and speechwriter for Michael Howard, he has been agitating against the United Kingdom’s membership of the EU throughout the 25 years since he was a student politician at Oxford. As an MEP he helped persuade David Cameron to withdraw ...”
“... of Paris in the 19th century still matters to the bourgeoisie so much. Will anything remotely like Benjamin’s project be attempted for the 20th century, by some stoic expatriate in Los Angeles or Hong Kong twenty years or so from now? Are there pieces of the gone city which one day a writer will teach us to fall in love with again? Maybe. Maybe the great cinemas of the 1930s and 1940s, a few of ...”