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Chris Mullin: The Birmingham Bombers, 21 February 2019

... name him. Within four hours of the explosions on 21 November five Irishmen – Paddy Hill, Gerry Hunter, Richard McIlkenny, Billy Power and Johnny Walker – were arrested at Heysham in Lancashire as they got off a train from Birmingham New Street which connected with the ferry to Belfast. A sixth man, Hughie Callaghan, was arrested the next day in ...

Mortal on Hooch

William Fiennes: Alan Warner, 30 July 1998

The Sopranos 
by Alan Warner.
Cape, 336 pp., £9.99, June 1998, 0 224 05108 3
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... helicopter pilot called Nam the Dam; ‘some kind of crazy salvage-diver-cum-Armada-treasure-hunter’ called Argonaut; drifters like Knifegrinder and DJ Cormorant; Chef Macbeth with his remote-controlled planes; and sinister John Brotherhood, the focus for a series of portentous references to the Devil, and for stories of sexual depravity involving ...

Maschler Pudding

John Bayley, 19 October 1995

À la Pym: The Barbara Pym Cookery Book 
by Hilary Pym and Honor Wyatt.
Prospect, 102 pp., £9.95, September 1995, 0 907325 61 0
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... the grub as grub would probably be far better at home, but the mind wants a change. In several of Ian Fleming’s thrillers James Bond (who is much more interested in food and drink than in sex and killing people) derides the lyric menus of the American eatery, promising flaky-fresh sole and dawn-tender steak: he never orders anything with his bourbon but ...

Sex is best when you lose your head

James Meek, 16 November 2000

Promiscuity: An Evolutionary History of Sperm Competition and Sexual Conflict 
by Tim Birkhead.
Faber, 272 pp., £9.99, May 2000, 0 571 19360 9
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... and their pictures over the pages of the science journals. It doesn’t always work out. Fiona Hunter and a colleague, later to expose what the mainstream media dubbed ‘penguin prostitution’ in the Antarctic, once watched a colony of fulmars on Fair Isle for 56 days on the trot, 18 hours a day, only to find the species relatively faithful: a mere 16 ...

Rubbing Shoulders with Unreason

Peter Barham: Foucault's History of Madness, 8 March 2007

History of Madness 
by Michel Foucault, edited by Jean Khalfa, translated by Jonathan Murphy and Jean Khalfa.
Routledge, 725 pp., £35, April 2006, 0 415 27701 9
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... but over the years, the subtitle clambered into first place and usurped the incumbent. As Ian Hacking remarks in a witty and astute foreword, this is rather like the Cheshire Cat leaving behind only its grin. Hacking suggests that the disappearance or suppression of the déraison is a sign that Foucault had changed his mind about ...

Episteme, My Arse

Christopher Tayler: Laurent Binet, 15 June 2017

The Seventh Function of Language 
by Laurent Binet, translated by Sam Taylor.
Harvill Secker, 390 pp., £16.99, May 2017, 978 1 910701 58 4
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... socialist candidate for the presidency. Still, as Barthes said of his meal with Giscard, ‘a myth hunter … must hunt everywhere.’ That lunch, which took place in a flat in the Marais on 25 February 1980, with Lang doing the cooking, apparently went quite well. But then Barthes, en route back to his office, walked into the path of a laundry van, which left ...

Cubist Slugs

Patrick Wright: The Art of Camouflage, 23 June 2005

DPM: Disruptive Pattern Material; An Encyclopedia of Camouflage: Nature – Military – Culture 
DPM, 2 vols, 944 pp., £100, September 2004, 9780954340407Show More
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... constituents, camouflage carried military symbolism into civilian life. It was favoured by the hunter, the code-scrambling hippy, the survivalist, the anti-federalist fantasist. It became the unofficial uniform of diverse malcontents who went off to build shelters, real or symbolic, in the woods of the late 20th century. The reader of these volumes first ...

His Bonnet Akimbo

Patrick Wright: Hamish Henderson, 3 November 2011

Hamish Henderson: A Biography. Vol. I: The Making of the Poet (1919-53) 
by Timothy Neat.
Polygon, 416 pp., £14.99, May 2009, 978 1 84697 132 7
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Hamish Henderson: A Biography. Vol. II: Poetry Becomes People (1954-2002) 
by Timothy Neat.
Polygon, 395 pp., £25, November 2009, 978 1 84697 063 4
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... And that was what he set out to prove over the decades that followed. He became a passionate song hunter whose research tools included a Rudge 500cc motorbike, a tent, innumerable bottles and a habit of testing the ‘human will’ of his compatriots by ‘doing a Henderson’: a method of sponging that prompted one victim into reviving an obsolete Scots word ...

A New Kind of Being

Jenny Turner: Angela Carter, 3 November 2016

The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography 
by Edmund Gordon.
Chatto, 544 pp., £25, October 2016, 978 0 7011 8755 2
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... way. ‘To begin with, she imagined the Barbarians as a biker gang, and read Hell’s Angels by Hunter S. Thompson,’ Gordon tells us. But then she became hugely absorbed by events in the world outside, in particular the événements in Paris, and upped the calibre of her reading to Lévi-Strauss and Adorno. ‘One felt one was living on the edge of the ...

Promenade Dora-Bruder

Adam Shatz: Patrick Modiano, 22 September 2016

So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighbourhood 
by Patrick Modiano, translated by Euan Cameron.
MacLehose, 160 pp., £8.99, September 2016, 978 0 85705 499 9
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... decision as much as a political one. As a child of 1945 – Year Zero of the postwar period, as Ian Buruma has called it – Modiano was insisting on the unbridgeable distance between himself and his protagonist. The apparent naturalism of the film’s style, too, was quietly defamiliarising, particularly in the last scenes, in which Lucien and France ...

Falklands Title Deeds

Malcolm Deas, 19 August 1982

The Struggle for the Falkland Islands 
by Julius Goebel, introduced by J.C.J. Metford.
Yale, 482 pp., £10, June 1982, 0 300 02943 8
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The Falklands Islands Dispute: International Dimensions 
edited by Joan Pearce.
Chatham House, 47 pp., £2.75, April 1982, 0 905031 25 3
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The Falkland Islands: The Facts 
HMSO, 12 pp., £50, May 1982, 0 11 701029 4Show More
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... kept up a fair rate of protest: it is not true that the whole issue was revived by Peron. E. N. Hunter Christie’s The Antarctic Problem of 1951 (the author dealt with Falklands issues in our Buenos Aires Embassy in the late 1940s and has been much concerned with the islands and dependencies since) says that, formally revived in 1884, ‘since ...

Iraq, 2 May 2005

Andrew O’Hagan: Two Soldiers, 6 March 2008

... V8 Land Rover, lightly armoured – which would travel the road out of Amara in the dark. Sergeant Ian Blackett was in the patrol’s first vehicle and had known Wakefield for five months. There were 14 men in the patrol and Wakefield was one of the most experienced. ‘He was a professional soldier,’ Blackett says. Some soldiers seem not to do much except ...

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