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Stephen Sedley, 11 June 1992

Judge for yourself 
by James Pickles.
Smith Gryphon, 242 pp., £15.99, April 1992, 1 85685 019 6
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The Barrister’s World 
by John Morison and Philip Leith.
Open University, 256 pp., £35, December 1991, 0 335 09396 5
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by David Pannick.
Oxford, 305 pp., £15, April 1992, 0 19 811948 8
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... The absurdity of ex-judge James Pickles is not that, the son of a mayor of Halifax and himself an Oxford graduate, he rails endlessly against the domination of the Bench by the Oxbridge upper middle class. There’s nothing wrong with being a traitor to one’s class. As the left-wing QC D. N. Pritt told the right-wing Labour leader Ernest Bevin, it was the only thing the two of them had in common ...

If they’re ill, charge them extra

James Meek: Flamingo Plucking, 21 March 2002

Salt: A World History 
by Mark Kurlansky.
Cape, 452 pp., £17.99, February 2002, 0 224 06084 8
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Salt: Grain of Life 
by Pierre Laszlo, translated by Mary Beth Mader.
Columbia, 220 pp., £15.95, July 2001, 0 231 12198 9
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... preserve food to tide them through times of famine (which would include the average winter). Hence pickles, sausages, salt fish, hams, cheese, sauces – hence, in fact, much of what is wonderful in food. There are ironies in this, as Kurlansky points out. These foods, once essential to prevent the everyday menace of starvation, are now, in the era of ...


John Sutherland, 18 November 1993

by Iain Banks.
Little, Brown, 313 pp., £15.99, September 1993, 0 316 90688 3
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Against a Dark Background 
by Iain M. Banks.
Orbit, 496 pp., £8.99, January 1994, 1 85723 185 6
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... past his editors. In it he calls on ‘a Real Avenger, a Radical Equaliser to give people like James Anderton, Judge Jamieson and Sir Toby Bissett a taste of their own medicine’. The article contains a list of white-collar criminals and unpunished rogues in high places: misogynist judges who have let off rapists on the grounds that the women ‘asked for ...

On Not Going Home

James Wood, 20 February 2014

... he wished, talking to people, telling them stories about far-off lands, where people ate honey and pickles, where no one put ice in the water, where pigeons nested in pantries.It’s as if jet flight is existentially shallow; a slower journey would enact the gravity and enormity of the transformation. Pronek returns to America, but must take his home with ...

Howard’s End

John Sutherland, 18 September 1986

by Howard Jacobson.
Bantam, 314 pp., £10.95, September 1986, 0 593 01212 7
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Coming from behind 
by Howard Jacobson.
Black Swan, 250 pp., £2.95, April 1984, 0 552 99063 9
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Peeping Tom 
by Howard Jacobson.
Black Swan, 351 pp., £2.95, October 1985, 0 552 99141 4
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... door and insert a letter between his buttocks. His most embarrassing moment, as the late Wilfred Pickles might have said. And the letter? ‘A bill from Heffers for the latest book they had sent him – F.R. Leavis’s Nor shall my sword.’ The story, as it continues, traces Sefton’s rise to the top of the greasy pole of academic life, represented by the ...

Echo is a fangirl

Ange Mlinko, 3 December 2020

Time Lived, without Its Flow 
by Denise Riley.
Picador, 85 pp., £9.99, October 2019, 978 1 5290 1710 6
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Selected Poems: 1976-2016 
by Denise Riley.
Picador, 210 pp., £14.99, October 2019, 978 1 5290 1712 0
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... singing in its waters, ‘flexing my long damp thighs/Now as studded and ridged as the best dill pickles in Whitechapel’. She tries out different registers, different personae:What should I sing out on this gratuitous new instrument?/Not much liking minimalism, I tried out some Messiaen,/Found I was a natural as a bassoon,/indeed the ondes martenot/Simply ...

Mmmm, chicken nuggets

Bee Wilson: The Victorian Restaurant Scene, 15 August 2019

The London Restaurant: 1840-1914 
by Brenda Assael.
Oxford, 239 pp., £60, July 2018, 978 0 19 881760 4
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... for £9.95 at a branch of Wagamama, where it is garnished with a small salad and a few Japanese pickles. Like many British comfort foods, katsu depends on a fine balance between sogginess and crispness. In London in 1885, there was a cheap Italian restaurant (its name and location haven’t survived) where a person could dine on a breaded veal cutlet served ...

Putin’s Counter-Revolution

James Meek, 20 March 2014

... Maidan protesters slept on home-made plywood bunks; much of the floor was covered in food, jars of pickles, sacks of potatoes, bags of bread. The revolution was over, but the forces still on the square anticipated a betrayal by the political beneficiaries of the blood that had been shed: they were determined to stay put. Everywhere there were shrines, with ...

Knife, Stone, Paper

Stephen Sedley: Law Lords, 1 July 2021

English Law under Two Elizabeths: The Late Tudor Legal World and the Present 
by John Baker.
Cambridge, 222 pp., £22.99, January, 978 1 108 94732 9
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The Constitutional Balance 
by John Laws.
Hart, 144 pp., £30, January, 978 1 5099 3545 1
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... common law and subject to its constraints. It was so when Elizabeth I’s autocratic successor, James I and VI, wanted to rule by proclamation; it was so in 2010 when Theresa May wanted to use the royal prerogative to bypass Parliament; it was still so in 2017 when it was proposed that the UK leave the EU by ministerial fiat rather than parliamentary ...

Karel Reisz Remembered

LRB Contributors, 12 December 2002

... didn’t give away his origins, his taste in food did. He liked sausages, sauerkraut, tongue, pickles, cucumber salad, and goose liver, which became, on festive occasions, an almost holy object that only Karel could slice and distribute to his congregation of gourmets. He would taste it, pause, then in the Mitteleuropean accent reserved for comedy, he ...

Cronyism and Clientelism

Peter Geoghegan, 5 November 2020

... lobbyists and pro-corporate think tanks that refuse to declare their donors. The company is run by James Frayne, a long-standing ally of Cummings, and Rachel Wolf, who co-wrote the 2019 Conservative manifesto. Having previously run focus groups for the Department for International Trade and the Cabinet Office, Public First has been given contracts worth more ...


Alan Bennett: Selling my hair on eBay, 6 January 2022

... of the day to tell them the good news – a mixed bag: Winston Churchill, Semprini, Wilfred Pickles, Val Doonican – and he would show you a sheaf of their acknowledgments. ‘He’s batchy,’ Dad would say, meaning ‘he’s barmy,’ but it certainly kept him happy.7 February. Ploughing on with the Francis Bacon biography, a depressing book with the ...

Cocoa, sir?

Ian Jack: The Royal Navy, 2 January 2003

Sober Men and True: Sailor Lives in the Royal Navy 1900-45 
by Christopher McKee.
Harvard, 285 pp., £19.95, May 2002, 0 674 00736 0
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Rule Britannia: The Victorian and Edwardian Navy 
by Peter Padfield.
Pimlico, 246 pp., £12.50, August 2002, 0 7126 6834 9
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... was to keep the boilers fired and steam up. Films ranging from the wartime In Which We Serve to James Cameron’s Titanic have portrayed the scramble for the ladder and the closing watertight door when the ship tilts and the sea pours in – the perfect ingredients for the audience’s later claustrophobic nightmares. But how did men live with this fearful ...

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