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Warm Drops in Baghdad

John Simpson, 22 November 1990

... The rainy season arrived here on 27 October. As the first warm drops fell, the dusty ground gave out an unfamiliar odour, sweet, pungent and musty. Cars slithered on the slick roads, and soft dates, knocked from the palm-trees, made walking dangerous. Hassan, our driver, turned up in a black suit with stripes like railway lines, to mark the end of summer ...

As seen on TV

Keith Kyle, 26 September 1991

From the House of War 
by John Simpson.
Hutchinson, 390 pp., £13.99, August 1991, 0 09 175034 2
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In the Eye of the Storm 
by Roger Cohen and Claudio Gatti.
Bloomsbury, 342 pp., £16.99, August 1991, 0 7475 1050 4
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... For many people the BBC Foreign Affairs Editor John Simpson, who stayed behind in Baghdad when Armageddon was scheduled to begin, was the civilian hero of the Gulf War. The only thing that may have puzzled them was his title. How could a man edit reports coming from all quarters of the globe if he deliberately isolated himself under conditions of siege? On this matter From the House of War provides little help, except for a passing reference to the author’s ‘rather empty title’, which apparently carries important psychological impact when dealing with Iraqi (and other) civil servants, perhaps pandering, in the case of the Iraqis, to their notion that the whole world ought to be edited from Baghdad ...

Britain’s Juntas

Arthur Gavshon, 19 September 1985

The Disappeared: Voices from a Secret War 
by John Simpson and Jana Bennett.
Robson, 416 pp., £12.95, June 1985, 0 86051 292 4
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... hard at work in August 1980 when the immaculate Cecil Parkinson visited Videla in Buenos Aires. As John Simpson and Jana Bennett of the British Broadcasting Corporation relate in their excellently-researched but somewhat inhibited book, the one-time Secretary for Trade and Industry had brought two messages for leaders of the Junta. The first was that ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Politicians v. the press, 22 July 2004

... John Lloyd, currently the editor of the Financial Times Magazine, resigned as associate editor of the New Statesman in April 2003. His reasons for leaving were published in a ‘farewell article’, in which he criticised ‘a large part of the British Left’ for its opposition to the war in Iraq, described the Statesman as ‘a sort of upmarket version of the Daily Mirror’, and concluded that because ‘the NS believes that Blair and the US are the problem, not the solution,’ it was ‘time to recognise that Blairites like me should not appear regularly in its pages ...

John Clare’s Horizon

Matt Simpson, 16 March 1989

... had to lie somewhere – hedge or ditch exactly bordering on God. Wanted to know where it lay from Helpston; found it maddening – no end of lanes, of fields where grass and leaves smelt strange, larks babbled other dialects; wandered mile on mile in search of it – an end to far-as-eye-can-see despair; settled on turning round, went home ...

Ode on a Dishclout

Joanna Innes: Domestic Servants, 14 April 2011

Labours Lost: Domestic Service and the Making of Modern England 
by Carolyn Steedman.
Cambridge, 410 pp., £21.99, November 2009, 978 0 521 73623 7
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... or happy. Steedman is concerned to find this thinking at the level of daily life. She shows us John Locke writing to his Somerset friends, the Clarkes, asking advice about servants and ‘weighing up the capacities, abilities and personalities’ of the Clarkes’ maids. In contrast to his thoughts on the toilet training, washing and dressing of ...


John Sutherland, 8 June 1995

Empire of Words: The Reign of the ‘OED’ 
by John Willinsky.
Princeton, 258 pp., £19.95, November 1994, 0 691 03719 1
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... and his evidently courteous exchanges with recent custodians of the project (Robert Burchfield, John Simpson, Edmund Weiner) Willinsky detects a quaint mixture of ‘afternoon tea and high-speed computer searches’. His conclusion is friendly, but a little condescending: ‘All told, the OED’s literary, prosaic and omitted citations authorise a ...

Light Entertainment

Andrew O’Hagan: Our Paedophile Culture, 8 November 2012

... the help he got from Gamlin. Forbes wrote to him at the BBC – at the time Forbes’s name was John Theobald Clarke – and Gamlin wrote back, telling Forbes that his letter was so extraordinary he would have to meet him. When they met Gamlin said it would be necessary for him to change his name. ‘Another young actor, ahead of me,’ Forbes wrote years ...

John and Henry

Christopher Reid, 2 December 1982

The Life of John Berryman 
by John Haffenden.
Routledge, 451 pp., £15, September 1982, 0 7100 9216 4
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Poets in their Youth: A Memoir 
by Eileen Simpson.
Faber, 272 pp., £10.95, September 1982, 0 571 11925 5
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... When John Berryman’s first full-length collection of poems, The Dispossessed, was published in 1948, Yvor Winters wrote a notice of it for the Hudson Review. Here Winters drew attention to Berryman’s ‘disinclination to understand and discipline his emotions’, and went on to suggest: ‘Most of his poems appear to deal with a single all-inclusive topic: the desperate chaos, social, religious, philosophical and psychological, of modern life, and the corresponding chaos and desperation of John Berryman ...

On My Mother’s Side

Matt Simpson, 7 February 1991

... gurgling suddenly, the phone ... She’s trying numbers, Simpsons in the book. ‘Is that the Matt Simpson that’s at Liverpool University?’ Dear Cousin Marje – there’s just enough love between us now for the announcing of funerals, opening of graves: now her father’s slung his hook, his old heart, straining to lift a clod, a spade, has juddered to ...

At which Englishman’s speech does English terminate?

Henry Hitchings: The ‘OED’, 7 March 2013

Words of the World: A Global History of the ‘Oxford English Dictionary’ 
by Sarah Ogilvie.
Cambridge, 241 pp., £17.99, November 2012, 978 1 107 60569 5
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... sources where previously the documentation stopped in the 19th century. The present editor, John Simpson, explains that in some cases ‘quotations formerly published in the Dictionary have been silently omitted.’ This could be construed as censorship or ‘deletion’, but plainly it is being done in the interests of balance. No dictionary can ...

Dangerously Insane

Deyan Sudjic: Léon Krier, 7 October 2010

The Architecture of Community 
by Léon Krier.
Island, 459 pp., £12.99, February 2010, 978 1 59726 579 9
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... ahead of the feeble neo-Palladianism of Quinlan Terry, let alone the heavy-handed Robert Adam, or John Simpson, or even his own brother, Rob Krier, also an architect. They take traditional elements and reassemble them in new and unfamiliar ways. They do not try to evoke things they are not. Their impact comes from their vigour and energy, the quality of ...

On and Off the Scene

Jessamy Harvey, 6 February 1997

edited by Mark Simpson.
Cassell, 163 pp., £9.99, September 1996, 0 304 33144 9
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... the media’s portrayal of a community split into gay and anti-gay supporters in the wake of Mark Simpson’s collection of essays is a joke. The media seem to need to believe that an entity called ‘the gay community’ actually exists. I am not so sure. I used to like thinking there was, before I had the nerve to come out. In those days I probably spent ...

When judges sleep

Stephen Sedley, 10 June 1993

In the Highest Degree Odious: Detention without Trial in Wartime Britain 
by A.W.B. Simpson.
Oxford, 453 pp., £35, December 1992, 0 19 825775 9
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... bat. A book may be lurking there, as it must in many other corners of the legal attic. Brian Simpson himself embarked on such an enterprise some years ago with the 19th-century case, known to every law student, of the Crown v. Dudley and Stephens – the captain and mate of the yacht Mignonette who survived a ship-wreck by eating the cabin boy and were ...

Powerful Moments

David Craig, 26 October 1989

Touching the void 
by Joe Simpson.
Cape, 172 pp., £10.95, July 1988, 0 224 02545 7
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by M. John Harrison.
Gollancz, 221 pp., £12.95, September 1989, 9780575036321
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... heart of the experience and don’t resort unduly to its more freakish terrors? The wonder of Joe Simpson’s escape back into life is both that he survived near death on the Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes and that he has the power of recall to do justice in vivid and original phrasing to an episode which will remain as a true myth of survival through ...

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