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John Sturrock

Mary-Kay Wilmers

20 September 2017
... It​ was John who had the idea that I should say something about his professional life at his funeral. It was a very nice idea and I’m glad – not to say flattered – that he had it. But I found it a spookily ...

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John Sturrock: Blair’s Convictions

24 May 2007
... we’d become gloomily used to in the leaden or fragmented speech patterns that pass as standard among the political elite. Blair’s fluency was sufficiently striking to make me wonder whether, when John Prescott eventually lumbered into view, he hadn’t been elevated against all the odds into high office simply in order to enhance his leader’s elocutionary merits by some desperate and close-to ...

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John Sturrock: John Reid tries to out-Blunkett Blunkett

2 November 2006
...  we have good reason to see this quite dreadful prospect or else intention as fresh evidence that in its own mind the administration is now answerable to nobody at all. Only in his dreams could John Reid imagine that the changes that would be required to the present more than adequate anti-terrorist laws to enable the Home Office’s hitherto frustrated torturers to be let loose on selected ...

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John Sturrock: On Bullshit

17 April 2003
... chief press secretary at the time of the Falklands War in 1982. His first book was called Kill the Messenger, a title rich in ‘poor me’ implications; this one is called The Wages of Spin (John Murray, 261pp., £18.99, March, 0 7195 6481 6), the implication of which is that Sir Bernard wants to impose a buffer zone between himself and those who now do the bullshitting job he once did: they ...

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John Sturrock: Blair’s wars

6 November 2003
... carriers altogether, except that we have in office a Prime Minister hooked to an unholy degree on military action. ‘It is some feat to go to war five times in six years,’ are the opening words of John Kampfner’s Blair’s Wars (Free Press, £17.99). ‘That statistic impelled me to write this book.’ It’s good that Kampfner was impelled to write it because he has done an excellent job in ...

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John Sturrock: Reading Butler

5 August 2004
... t simply the fall guy in this deception, since its members had played their part in meeting the not so subconscious desires of their political masters and dressing the intelligence up. So should John Scarlett, the head of the JIC, take the rap? Not according to Butler: ‘We realise that our conclusions may provoke calls for the current chairman of the JIC, Mr Scarlett, to withdraw from his ...

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John Sturrock: Books and balls

8 February 2001
... If the balaclava’d guerrilleros of the Animal Liberation Front run short of targets once they’ve seen off the laboratories full of victimised mice, they might consider picketing the rare but potentially newsworthy venues in which academic psychologists on the professional ascent try to make up their minds whether animals, too, have minds that can be made up. Whether, in short, they have cognitive ...

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John Sturrock: Starved for Words

20 July 2000
... When statistics start horning in on our language, or the way we use it, the results are seldom quite what we’d be happy to hear. To be told that, day in, day out, we rely on some wretchedly skimpy proportion, a bare few thousand, of the uncommonly luxuriant word-hoard available to us anglophones, is chastening, leading us at best into sporadic efforts to stretch our working vocabularies by bringing ...

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John Sturrock: At the Test Match

6 September 2001
... In the piece by David Bell elsewhere in this issue, a number of lines from an 18th-century French poem are quoted fearlessly in the original. At one time, the question of whether or not to translate them would never have arisen, the editors of a paper like this assuming that a sufficiently high proportion of its readers were comfortable with French for a translation to be both patronising and redundant ...

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John Sturrock: The Evil List

25 April 2002
... Living as we do in the Land of the League Table, there’s sadly little call to be surprised by the appearance of what some will see as a prosopographical breakthrough: a book confidently entitled The Most Evil Men and Women in History (Michael O’Mara, £15.99) and with a cover where the word ‘evil’ appears in black in a type size several magnitudes greater than that of its supporting syntax ...

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John Sturrock: Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy

7 October 2004
... We live in an age, or if not an age a country, where seemingly novel disorders of the mind or body are given names that leave you in no doubt as to their novelty. Who would have thought, for example, that the 18th-century shooter of lines, Baron Munchausen, would one day have his place on the list of state-of-the-art ailments as the patron of something called Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy? This ...

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John Sturrock: Football slang

2 December 2004
... It’s not every day that the soccer tifosi, those hardcore empiricists, come face to face with a well nigh theoretical observation to the effect that ‘football matches are iterative,’ which might give one to think that the teachings of the late Jacques Derrida, who had a lot to say about, and some cruel conclusions to draw from the iterability of language, had finally penetrated the press-boxes ...

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John Sturrock: Iraq’s Invisible Weapons

19 June 2003
... Given that it’s not so far been settled to everyone’s satisfaction exactly what the belligerents had in mind when they went to war in 1914, we shouldn’t perhaps get too impatient as the junta who ordered up the invasion of Iraq try to settle on a postwar reason for having done so that will make those of us who remain unretractably opposed to it seem to be sulking, or even Saddam-friendly. The ...

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John Sturrock: A Bath in the Dock

18 December 2003
... It’s a strange thing when, in the course of a murder trial at the Old Bailey, a cracked plastic bath is carried into the courtroom, and a second strange thing when no one at the time thinks to ask why on earth it was needed there. The bath had been unplumbed from a house in Cambridgeshire, driven to London and, like a fair few of the arrested before it, been roughed up when in police custody, bearing ...

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John Sturrock: Plain Sailing

26 April 2007
... Island race or not, we have not been doing at all well when putting out to sea in past weeks. First, in the benign setting of the Caribbean, the vice-captain and muscular icon of the England one-day cricket eleven, Freddie Flintoff, was sacked from the vice-captaincy, though not, for sure, from his iconicity, for having had a great deal too much to drink before driving a pedalo out into the local waters ...

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