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On the Dole

Melanie Phillips, 15 July 1982

by Jeremy Seabrook.
Quartet, 226 pp., £8.95, February 1982, 0 7043 2325 7
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The Black Economy: how it works, who it works for, and what it costs 
by Arnold Heertje, Margaret Allen and Harry Cohen.
Pan, 158 pp., £1.95, April 1982, 0 330 26765 5
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... It is, as Jeremy Seabrook says, the similarities that strike you first. There was a dull vacuity in his eyes nowadays; he became listless, hard of hearing, saying ‘Eh?’ when anybody asked him a question. Nothing to do with time; nothing to spend; nothing to do tomorrow nor the day after; nothing to wear; can’t get married ...

Horrid Boy

Polly Toynbee, 17 April 1980

Mother and Son 
by Jeremy Seabrook.
Gollancz, 189 pp., £6.95, October 1979, 9780575026889
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... a bit about mothers, most of it comes as less than a revelation. The book is an autobiography of Seabrook’s working-class childhood in Northampton during and just after the war. He was a twin, and the two boys were brought up by their mother, surrounded by aunts. His father, a feckless, flamboyant man, took off while they were still young. The implication ...
Selected Poems 1964-1983 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 262 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 571 14619 8
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Terry Street 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 62 pp., £3.95, November 1986, 0 571 09713 8
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Selected Poems 1968-1983 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 109 pp., £8.95, November 1986, 0 571 14603 1
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Essential Reading 
by Peter Reading and Alan Jenkins.
Secker, 230 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 436 40988 7
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by Peter Reading.
Secker, 40 pp., £5.95, October 1986, 0 436 40989 5
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... has a certain period interest. This is the beginning of the end of that culture mourned by Jeremy Seabrook among others:                                       A landlord stares.All he has worked for is being destroyed.The slum rent-masters are at one with Pop.But there are obvious limitations to this ...

Outbreak of Pleasure

Angus Calder, 23 January 1986

Now the war is over: A Social History of Britain 1945-51 
by Paul Addison.
BBC/Cape, 223 pp., £10.95, September 1985, 0 563 20407 9
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England First and Last 
by Anthony Bailey.
Faber, 212 pp., £12.50, October 1985, 0 571 13587 0
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A World Still to Win: The Reconstruction of the Post-War Working Class 
by Trevor Blackwell and Jeremy Seabrook.
Faber, 189 pp., £4.50, October 1985, 0 571 13701 6
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The Issue of War: States, Societies and the Far Eastern Conflict of 1941-1945 
by Christopher Thorne.
Hamish Hamilton, 364 pp., £15, April 1985, 0 241 10239 1
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The Hiroshima Maidens 
by Rodney Barker.
Viking, 240 pp., £9.95, July 1985, 0 670 80609 9
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Faces of Hiroshima: A Report 
by Anne Chisholm.
Cape, 182 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 0 224 02831 6
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End of Empire 
by Brain Lapping.
Granada, 560 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 246 11969 1
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by Simon Winchester.
Hodder, 317 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 340 33772 9
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... culture to a summit of influence in the mid-20th century.’ Yet Trevor Blackwell and Jeremy Seabrook don’t mention sport at all in A World Still to Win, their eloquent but also irritating and unconvincing tract on the ‘reconstruction of the post-war working class’. For them, it seems, the working class must be downtrodden, duped, or ...


Patrick Parrinder, 20 August 1992

Past Tenses: Essays on Writing, Autobiography and History 
by Carolyn Steedman.
Rivers Oram, 224 pp., £22, June 1992, 1 85489 021 2
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... sentimental and moralistic pictures of working-class community associated with Richard Hoggart, Jeremy Seabrook and Steedman’s particular mentor, Raymond Williams. The childhood Steedman described was not cosy and hospitable but lonely, introverted and largely joyless. Her mother, a Lancashire weaver’s daughter, had fought against marginality and ...


Anne Sofer: The Silliest Script Ever Written, 1 September 1983

... aspirations are here to stay: on the other are the evangelists (exemplified by Jeremy Seabrook) who feel that the party can only regain its soul if its appeal becomes chiefly a moral, rather than an economic one, so as to re-arouse the sense of sharing the collective solidarity the old working class had. To the side of both these ...

Favoured Irregulars

Andy Beckett: The Paras, 24 January 2019

Our Boys: The Story of a Paratrooper 
by Helen Parr.
Allen Lane, 382 pp., £20, September 2018, 978 0 241 28894 8
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... support armed conflicts; and the efforts to shout down and delegitimise those who don’t, such as Jeremy Corbyn – all these are signs of a country that has come to see military service, especially in wartime, as an extraordinary occupation, which should not be scrutinised too hard. Helen Parr’s book is, in part, an attempt to describe how this change came ...

It Migrates to Them

Jeremy Harding: The Coming Megaslums, 8 March 2007

Planet of Slums 
by Mike Davis.
Verso, 228 pp., £15.99, March 2006, 1 84467 022 8
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Buda’s Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb 
by Mike Davis.
Verso, 228 pp., £12.99, March 2007, 978 1 84467 132 8
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... troubled, too, by urban encroachment on what’s left of rural livelihoods. He cites the work of Jeremy Seabrook on Penang fishermen, their homes cut off from the sea by a large highway and their fishing grounds polluted by the spread of urbanisation: the next generation ended up in Japanese-owned sweatshops. ‘In many cases,’ Davis ...
... the experience of fraternity, suffused with hope for a better future – the traditions of which Jeremy Seabrook writes so well and movingly. In Debts of Honour Michael Foot acknowledges his debt to lgnazio Silone, and quotes him revealingly: ‘I cannot conceive of Socialism tied to any particular theory, only to faith. The more Socialist theories ...

North and South

Raphael Samuel, 22 June 1995

Coming Back Brockens: A Year in a Mining Village 
by Mark Hudson.
Cape, 320 pp., £16.99, October 1994, 0 224 04170 3
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... is apt to picture every form of mass consumption as degenerate. Here – as in the writings of Jeremy Seabrook – it is the prosperity of the working class, rather than, or as well as, the poverty, which is the focus of anxiety. In any of these literatures, the North of England is apt to fare badly. As the original home of many of this country’s ...


Raymond Williams, 17 April 1986

Landscape for a Good Woman: A Story of Two Lives 
by Carolyn Steedman.
Virago, 164 pp., £3.95, April 1986, 0 86068 559 4
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... streets are all the same; nothing changes.’ More sharply, Carolyn Steedman also chal-challenges Jeremy Seabrook’s Working-Class Childhood, where a similar passivity is also the lost solidarity of the ‘old working class’, by contrast with post-war ‘materialism’, but which in the very form of its analysis ‘denies its subjects a particular ...

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