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Some Flim-Flam with Socks

Adam Kuper: Laurens van der Post, 3 January 2002

Storyteller: The Many Lives of Laurens van der Post 
by J.D.F. Jones.
Murray, 505 pp., £25, September 2001, 0 7195 5580 9
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... as best he could. He also stuck by his friends when they got into trouble. The Conservative MP Sir Ian Horobin had been in POW camps with Van der Post, and when Horobin was disgraced and imprisoned for a homosexual affair with a minor, Van der Post visited him in jail and later tried to find a publisher for his poetry. Although the newspapers were particularly ...

Bevan’s Boy

John Campbell, 20 September 1984

The Making of Neil Kinnock 
by Robert Harris.
Faber, 256 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 571 13266 9
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Neil Kinnock: The Path to Leadership 
by G.M.F. Drower.
Weidenfeld, 162 pp., £8.95, July 1984, 0 297 78467 6
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... throughout the party: he was elected to the NEC in 1978, ahead of Barbara Castle and displacing Ian Mikardo. He deliberately eschewed office, beyond serving with mutual embarrassment for a year as Michael Foot’s PPS in 1974, and when Callaghan offered him a job (under Hattersley!) he preferred to hold himself free to oppose the Government’s devolution ...

Malvolio’s Story

Marilyn Butler, 8 February 1996

Dirt and Deity: A Life of Robert Burns 
by Ian McIntyre.
HarperCollins, 461 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 00 215964 3
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... Burns Night groupies, Scottish nationalists of the far left or right, and specialists in erotica. Ian McIntyre, a long-serving BBC producer and the biographer of Lord Reith, has no obvious prejudices but risks seeming too distanced from his subject. Unfortunately even this is a position well represented in the long history of Burns commentary. The standard ...

Highland Fling

Rosalind Mitchison, 18 June 1981

Clans and Chiefs 
by Ian Grimble.
Blond and Briggs, 267 pp., £10.95, December 1980, 0 85634 111 8
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... especially the kings of Scotland, are all ‘baddies’. So are the chiefly lines of the clans Campbell and Gordon – ‘bad’ because they were successful in seizing land and power from others. The Mackenzies, as imperialist in their great days as the Campbells, are allowed to be ‘goodies’, perhaps because of the mess they made of things in the 18th ...

On the Dickman Brothers

Stephanie Burt, 2 February 2017

... well share something with earlier singers of the unhomely and uncanny, from Thomas De Quincey to Ian Curtis. His Earth, like theirs, is a purgatory where anything can happen and no one can leave: ‘My brother is hanging from the branches/Hanging or swimming/Our T-shirts absolutely blaze.’ He entitled his second book Flies because they thrive on dead ...

Mirror Images

Jenny Diski: Piers Morgan, 31 March 2005

The Insider: The Private Diaries of a Scandalous Decade 
by Piers Morgan.
Ebury, 484 pp., £17.99, March 2005, 0 09 190506 0
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... Princess Diana, George Michael, Anthea Turner, Richard Branson, Paul McCartney, Patsy Kensit, Ian Botham, Jordan, Mohammed al Fayed, Cherie Blair, Alastair Campbell, Peter Mandelson and Tony Blair. (If there are names in that list you haven’t heard of, don’t worry, none of them matters as much as they think they ...

Into the Second Term

R.W. Johnson: New Labour, 5 April 2001

Servants of the People: The Inside Story of New Labour 
by Andrew Rawnsley.
Hamish Hamilton, 434 pp., £17.99, September 2000, 0 241 14029 3
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Mandelson and the Making of New Labour 
by Donald Macintyre.
HarperCollins, 638 pp., £6.99, September 2000, 0 00 653062 1
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Mo Mowlam: The Biography 
by Julia Langdon.
Little, Brown, 324 pp., £16.99, September 2000, 0 316 85304 6
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Ann Widdecombe: Right from the Beginning 
by Nicholas Kochan.
Politico’s, 302 pp., September 2000, 1 902301 55 2
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The Paymaster: Geoffrey Robinson, Maxwell and New Labour 
by Tom Bower.
Simon and Schuster, 272 pp., £17.99, March 2001, 0 7432 0689 4
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The Future of Politics 
by Charles Kennedy.
HarperCollins, 235 pp., £17.99, September 2000, 0 00 710131 7
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... of the media managers. When the Northern Ireland negotiations got serious Tony Blair took Alistair Campbell into the room with him and insisted that Mo Mowlam remain outside. David Trimble was astonished but that’s how it always is with New Labour. Andrew Rawnsley records how the momentous decision that Britain would not join the euro during the current ...


Andrew O’Hagan, 11 May 1995

... and launched, first as HMS Montrose, just before Christmas 1920. An Armed Merchant Cruiser of the Campbell class, she was fitted with eight six-inch guns and two three-inch anti-aircraft batteries. In 1940, the ship was guarding the sea around the Shetland Isles and, sometimes, it would lead a convoy through the dangerous waters off the west of Ireland. A ...
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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... author of that remarkable first novel about South Africa, Turbott Wolfe. His fellow-countryman Roy Campbell praised his achievement in a poem of the time: Plomer, ’twas you who, though a boy in age, Awoke a sleepy continent to rage, Who dared alone to thrash a craven race And hold a mirror to its dirty face. His voice was described by Charles Causley as ...


Susan McKay: Pro-­Union Non­-Unionists, 4 March 2021

... Last month​ , Michael Gove dispatched Ian Paisley Junior, the Democratic Unionist Party MP for North Antrim, with brutal indifference. Brexit was done, the DUP had been done over, and everyone could see that it was entirely the party’s own fault. On 11 February, Gove spoke from the House of Commons while Paisley Junior sat at his computer in Ballymena ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Skyfall’, 22 November 2012

directed by Sam Mendes.
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... talk of the real thing. Here at last was the mean, lethal, almost banter-free figure we thought Ian Fleming had invented, the ruthless, funless fellow we imagined we had always wanted. He had a licence to kill but his real licence was his angry work ethic. He was going to get the job done and nothing would distract him. He looked more like Robert Shaw, the ...

Joe, Jerry and Bomber Blair

Owen Hatherley: Jonathan Meades, 7 March 2013

Museum without Walls 
by Jonathan Meades.
Unbound, 446 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 1 908717 18 4
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... Extremists, written with Deyan Sudjic and Peter Cook, celebrating the postmodern architects Campbell Zogolovitch Wilson Gough – but since then his medium has been television. Meades has never been a fully paid-up architectural correspondent; he argues in Museum without Walls that taking up such a job helped destroy ...

The New Lloyd’s

Peter Campbell, 24 July 1986

Richard Rogers 
by Bryan Appleyard.
Faber, 271 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 571 13976 0
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A Concrete Atlantis 
by Reyner Banham.
MIT, 265 pp., £16.50, June 1986, 0 262 02244 3
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William Richard Lethaby 
by Godfrey Rubens.
Architectural Press, 320 pp., £30, April 1986, 0 85139 350 0
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... that the partnership was breaking up) and Jack Zunz, chairman of Arups. During the discussions Ian Finlay, the Deputy Chairman of Lloyd’s, met Marco Goldschmied, a partner in the practice, in the washroom. He asked if Rogers would give them something that looked like the Beaubourg. Goldschmied said no. It was the question that the Lloyd’s committee had ...


Susan McKay: Breakdown in Power-Sharing, 8 March 2018

... of DUP politicians in recent years. When the MP and Member of the Legislative Assembly Gregory Campbell was called by the Sinn Féin speaker at Stormont in 2014 he replied, to sniggers from the DUP benches, ‘Curry my yogurt can coca coalyer.’ This is a parody of the Irish, ‘Go raibh maith agat, Ceann Comhairle,’ ‘Thank you, chairperson.’ He ...

Liars, Hypocrites and Crybabies

David Runciman: Blair v. Brown, 2 November 2006

... year, in the Australian case there were apparently witnesses. One of these, the former Liberal MP Ian McLachlan, came forward to announce that he had been in the room, along with Costello, when Howard promised that he would not stay in office for more than two terms. It was McLachlan’s statement that prompted Costello to confirm that the rumours were ...

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