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A.J. Ayer, 20 May 1982

by Iain Hamilton.
Secker, 397 pp., £12, April 1982, 0 436 19191 1
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... The Spanish Testament and Scum of the Earth, of which the main interest is autobiographical. Mr Hamilton admits to drawing heavily upon these works, but does no more than summarise their contents in a less forceful style than Koestler’s own. His prolongation of the story beyond the year 1940, where Koestler abandons it, is mainly devoted to Koestler’s ...

Orwell and Biography

Bernard Crick, 7 October 1982

... life or a biography as Hyperion to a satyr. A life must be a true account of what somebody did. Mr Iain Hamilton has recently written a biography of Koestler which did not bother to look for any primary sources whatever for the first 35 years of Koestler’s life, on the fatuous grounds that Koestler had himself written autobiographies covering that ...


Ian Hamilton: At Lord’s , 15 September 1983

... point, there is a handy guide – The Cricketers’ Who’s Who, compiled each year by the ex-MP Iain Sproat.* As well as the expected cricket statistics, there are sections on Jobs Outside Cricket, What I did in the Close Season, Nicknames, Opinions on Cricket, and so on – good gossipy stuff to nose about in between overs. In winter, it seems, cricketers ...

Monster Doss House

Iain Sinclair, 24 November 1988

The Grass Arena 
by John Healy.
Faber, 194 pp., £9.95, October 1988, 0 571 15170 1
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... Murphy. A novel, Streets Above Us, has been completed, its title joyfully echoing Patrick Hamilton. It would be a nice irony if the brewers, Whitbread, saw their way to handing John Healy a cheque that would keep him writing for the next year or so. I shall certainly be watching out for whatever emerges – if Healy does not get bored with practising ...

You’ve got it or you haven’t

Iain Sinclair, 25 February 1993

Inside the Firm: The Untold Story of the Krays’ Reign of Terror 
by Tony Lambrianou and Carol Clerk.
Pan, 256 pp., £4.99, October 1992, 0 330 32284 2
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Gangland: London’s Underworld 
by James Morton.
Little, Brown, 349 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 356 20889 3
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Nipper: The Story of Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read 
by Leonard Read and James Morton.
Warner, 318 pp., £5.99, September 1992, 0 7515 0001 1
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Smash and Grab: Gangsters in the London Underworld 
by Robert Murphy.
Faber, 182 pp., £15.99, February 1993, 0 571 15442 5
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... of the stuff) or by condescending arts programmers prepared to suffer a ten-minute Patrick Hamilton retrospective – as long as it goes out at midnight. Lowlife fictions, closer to the action than any scissors-and-paste ‘true crime’ anthology, inform us, involve us, excite us, return us to a lost sense of our own mortality. Here the gangs are ...

Faculty at War

Tom Paulin, 17 June 1982

Re-Reading English 
edited by Peter Widdowson.
Methuen, 246 pp., £7.95, March 1982, 0 416 31150 4
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Against Criticism 
by Iain McGilchrist.
Faber, 271 pp., £12.50, May 1982, 0 571 11922 0
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... and journals (the line of influential poetry reviewing stretches from Edward Thomas to Ian Hamilton). Sooner or later, the taste which innovating literary journalists shape and enforce seeps through to institutions of higher education, which then disseminate it to their students, many of whom transmit it to the next generation of ...

Secretly Sublime

Iain Sinclair: The Great Ian Penman, 19 March 1998

Vital Signs 
by Ian Penman.
Serpent’s Tail, 374 pp., £10.99, February 1998, 1 85242 523 7
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... coast. Some edge of the golf course, out of season resort like Sheringham – where Patrick Hamilton dried out, on a regimen of no booze before lunchtime, Hopalong Cassidy novels, and the occasional glimpse from behind net curtains of schoolgirls on horseback. They should have known the real story, because it was there from the start. Staring them in ...

We’ve done awfully well

Karl Miller: The Late 1950s, 18 July 2013

Modernity Britain: Opening the Box, 1957-59 
by David Kynaston.
Bloomsbury, 432 pp., £25, June 2013, 978 0 7475 8893 1
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... yes, I think we’ve done awfully well, particularly the things I’ve been doing.’ And Iain Macleod then said: ‘Yes, well, I’ve done awfully well and we’ve all done very well indeed.’ Not all of his honourable friends were distressed when Gaitskell died. ‘It was as if a great light had come into the sky,’ sallied Dick Crossman, in ...

The End of Labour?

Colin Kidd, 8 March 2012

... and uncomplicated electoral success interspersed with short squalls of panic. Until the Hamilton by-election in 1967 the SNP had won only a single Westminster seat, in a by-election protest vote in 1945. But Winnie Ewing’s victory in Hamilton took a very safe seat out of Labour’s grip. The defeat, according to ...

Blessed, Beastly Place

Douglas Dunn, 5 March 1981

Precipitous City 
by Trevor Royle.
Mainstream, 210 pp., £6.95, May 1980, 0 906391 09 1
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RLS: A Life Study 
by Jenni Calder.
Hamish Hamilton, 362 pp., £9.95, June 1980, 0 241 10374 6
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by J. MacDougall Hay.
Canongate, 450 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 903937 79 4
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Scottish Satirical Verse 
edited by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 236 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 85635 183 0
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Collected Poems 
by Robert Garioch.
Carcanet, 208 pp., £3.95, July 1980, 0 85635 316 7
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... Scotland’ he loved, while presenting one of its fiercest faces. Consider this epitaph in Hamilton: Stay, passenger, take notice what thou reads, At Edinburgh lie our bodies, here our heads; Our right hands stood at Lanark, these we want, Because with them we signed the Covenant. Stevenson read it, and noted it. He knew he was implicated. Within a ...

Après Brexit

Ferdinand Mount, 20 February 2020

... furious ban on Huawei’s involvement in Britain’s 5G network, and the bombardiers of Brexit – Iain Duncan Smith, David Davis, Liam Fox et al – are furious too. The industry points out that Huawei kit has already been installed in dozens of cities across the UK and to a more sophisticated standard than the US can currently provide. Ripping it all out ...

Narco Polo

Iain Sinclair, 23 January 1997

Mr Nice: An Autobiography 
by Howard Marks.
Secker, 466 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 0 436 20305 7
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Pulp Election: The Booker Prize Fix 
by Carmen St Keeldare.
Bluedove, 225 pp., £12.99, September 1996, 0 9528298 0 0
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... society, like all the other arseholes.’ Which is why he was recruited by MI6. He was a natural. Hamilton McMillan (‘Mac’), an old Balliol chum, took him aside for the traditional sounding out. The chain of clothes shops, AnnaBelinda Ltd, in which Marks had an interest, could be used as safe-houses, dead letter drops; could expand into Romania and ...

If I Turn and Run

Iain Sinclair: In Hoxton, 1 June 2000

by Bill Drummond.
Little, Brown, 361 pp., £12.99, March 2000, 0 316 85385 2
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Crucify Me Again 
by Mark Manning.
Codex, 190 pp., £8.95, May 2000, 0 18 995814 6
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... I JUST TURN/AND/RUN.’ This is the Art Zone, so the calligraphic street poem, the post-Hamilton Finlay fence doodle, is signed with a corporate logo: ‘LACK’. The strategy is not quite as throwaway as it seems: Drummond has noticed layers of primer beneath the dripping runs of yellow. More rehearsed spontaneity. That’s good. And the words ...

Is this the end of the UK?

David Runciman: The End of the UK?, 27 May 2010

... become prime minister (instead, he’s been frozen out of the coalition government in favour of Iain Duncan Smith, an ominous sign that the new administration prefers wholly bogus right-wing liberal conservatism to the real thing). In the end, Davis decided the English had no real appetite for nationalist politics. But the Conservative Party may need to ...

On Thatcher

Karl Miller, 25 April 2013

... exploited was busy voting Margaret Thatcher, madonna of bother, into everlasting power.Iain Sinclair, 27 February 1992 The picture which Nigel Lawson draws of Thatcher herself is a remarkable testimony to the manner in which her government’s grand strategy was determined. Increasingly, ideas were translated into policy via will, whim and ...

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