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Must Do Better

Donald MacKenzie: Why isn’t banking cheaper?

4 May 2016
... the cost of intermediation without necessarily improving the effectiveness with which the financial system channels savers’ money to productive uses in the non-financial economy. As the economist JohnKay points out, being an intermediary tends to create an inherent bias towards activity, even when it’s wiser and cheaper to do nothing, because you have to give the appearance of ‘earning your ...
24 May 1990
The Ideologies of Class: Social Relations in Britain 1880-1950 
by Ross McKibbin.
Oxford, 308 pp., £35, April 1990, 0 19 822160 6
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... electoral success of the Conservatives between the wars, takes up both the themes of ‘Why was there no Marxism in Great Britain?’ and those of the essay (co-authored with Colin Matthew and JohnKay) on the effects of the enlargement of the franchise after 1918 on the Labour Party’s share of the vote. If, as McKibbin believes but other historians and psephologists dispute, the enlargement of ...

Kay​ Demarest’s War

Penelope Fitzgerald

17 September 1987
The Other Garden 
by Francis Wyndham.
Cape, 106 pp., £9.95, September 1987, 0 224 02475 2
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The Engine of Owl-Light 
by Sebastian Barry.
Carcanet, 390 pp., £10.95, July 1987, 0 85635 704 9
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A Singular Attraction 
by Ita Daly.
Cape, 144 pp., £10.95, August 1987, 0 224 02438 8
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Cold Spring Harbor 
by Richard Yates.
Methuen, 182 pp., £10.95, July 1987, 0 413 14420 8
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The Changeling 
by Catharine Arnold.
Hodder, 223 pp., £9.95, July 1987, 0 340 40542 2
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... The story, then, of The Other Garden is not his, or appears not to be his. Having led us quietly into the inner life of the village he concentrates on the tragedy (it can surely be called that) of Kay Demarest. The Demarests are divorced, and only live together in their house, which looks like a stage-set for an English country hotel, because it saves them money; ‘the war, which was causing so ...

Miracle on Fleet Street

Martin Hickman: Operation Elveden

7 January 2016
... were Richard Trunkfield, a prison officer who had sold details about James Bulger’s killer Jon Venables; Alan Tierney, a Surrey police constable who was paid £1250 for passing information that John Terry’s mother had been cautioned for shoplifting, and Ronnie Wood for assaulting his girlfriend; and Tracy Bell, a pharmacy assistant at Sandhurst, who had sold five stories about Princes William ...
18 November 1982
The 1982 Budget 
edited by John Kay.
Blackwell, 147 pp., £10, July 1982, 0 631 13153 1
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Money and Inflation 
by Frank Hahn.
Blackwell, 116 pp., £7.95, June 1982, 0 631 12917 0
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Public Enterprise in Crisis: The Future of the Nationalised Industries 
by John​ Redwood.
Blackwell, 211 pp., £5.25, May 1982, 0 631 13053 5
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Controlling Public Industries 
by John​ Redwood and John​ Hatch.
Blackwell, 169 pp., £12, July 1982, 0 631 13078 0
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... per cent of investment. Moreover, they dominate some commanding sectoral heights of the economy – notably energy, communications, transport, and iron and steel. And it is astonishing to recall, as John Redwood does in Public Enterprise in Crisis, the bright hopes that attended their births. They were to advance social and economic equity, enhance efficiency and actually prevent waste, guard against ...

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 ...

Marksmanship

John​ Sutherland

14 November 1996
From Potter’s Field 
by Patricia Cornwell.
Warner, 405 pp., £5.99, June 1996, 0 7515 1630 9
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Cause of Death 
by Patricia Cornwell.
Little, Brown, 342 pp., £9.99, October 1996, 0 316 87885 5
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... breaking sum was a mark of her achievement, not their largesse. In the six years since her first thriller appeared, Patricia (‘Patsy’) Cornwell had come a long way. Scribner acquired the first Kay Scarpetta novel, Postmortem (written in the mid-Eighties, turned down by seven publishers, revised in the late Eighties, published in 1990), for $6000. From Potter’s Field, the sixth Scarpetta ...

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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... 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 Siamese twins. Brotherhood says things like ‘Nails travelling at 300 m.p.h ...

Smuggled in a Warming Pan

Stephen Sedley: The Glorious Revolution

23 September 2015
The Glorious Revolution and the Continuity of Law 
by Richard Kay.
Catholic University of America, 277 pp., £45, December 2014, 978 0 8132 2687 3
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... In​ 1944, as Richard Kay records, an optimistic litigant challenged the validity of a Victorian statute under which he was being sued, on the ground that Queen Victoria, like all her predecessors since 1689, had had no title ...
25 January 1996
Terence Rattigan: A Biography 
by Geoffrey Wansell.
Fourth Estate, 428 pp., £20, October 1995, 1 85702 201 7
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... meant ‘Sex Without Tears’ to its audience – the ideal combination.) The femme fatale Diana is foiled in her attempt to grab the hero – played by the youthful Rex Harrison while Diana was Kay Hammond – and decides to console herself with the young Lord Heybrook, who is about to arrive at the crammers’ establishment (a perfect and improbable Thirties scenario). She duly makes a languid ...

Onomastics

Alex Ivanovitch: William Boyd

4 June 1998
Armadillo 
by William Boyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 310 pp., £16.99, February 1998, 0 241 13928 7
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Nat Tate: American Artist, 1928-60 
by William Boyd.
Twenty One, 77 pp., £9.95, April 1998, 1 901785 01 7
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... subsequent two novels go on to tell at some length. The Blue Afternoon, for example, takes the beginning of Brazzaville Beach and makes something rather grand out of it, an epic explanation of how Kay Paget came to be called Kay Carriscant. Armadillo is similar, a story that spools out between two names: our hero calls himself Lorimer Black and ends up as Milomre Blocj. Like the author of NatTate ...

Frank Kermode

Mary-Kay​ Wilmers: On Frank Kermode

9 September 2010
... before he’d realised that Frank hadn’t thought that much of it. He had an extraordinary gift for finding things interesting, whether he liked them or not. Writing about Frank in the Guardian, John Sutherland called him a ‘fierce reader’ and the phrase was picked up by several newspapers here and in other countries. As he himself says, Sutherland was adapting Frank’s own expression ...

She wore Isabel Marant

Joanna Biggs: Literary London

2 August 2018
Crudo 
by Olivia Laing.
Picador, 140 pp., £12.99, June 2018, 978 1 5098 9283 9
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... her death in April 2016; she was tweeting about Sam Shepard and Brexit and the Booker shortlist and a new Laure Prouvost show and Charlie Gard and Call Me by Your Name and cab drivers in Rome and John McCain’s part in the GOP vote to roll back Obamacare. And a year later, almost to the day, here is Crudo – born of accident, on holiday, like a dare – and it is already on the Sunday Times ...

Incandescences

Richard Poirier

20 December 1979
The Powers that Be 
by David Halberstam.
Chatto, 771 pp., £9.95
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... a single family: the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), created and run by William Paley; Time Inc, including Life, owned by Henry Luce; the Washington Post and Newsweek, run by Philip and then by Kay Graham; and the Chandler family’s Los Angeles Times. Beginning in the Thirties with President Roosevelt, who, more than any President before him, manipulated the newspapers and the new ...
15 April 1982
Blind Understanding 
by Stanley Middleton.
Hutchinson, 159 pp., £7.50, March 1982, 0 09 146990 2
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Fifty Stories 
by Kay​ Boyle.
Penguin, 648 pp., £2.95, February 1982, 0 14 005922 9
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Unsolicited Gift 
by Jacqueline Simms.
Chatto, 151 pp., £6.95, March 1982, 0 7011 2616 7
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Nellie without Hugo 
by Janet Hobhouse.
Cape, 192 pp., £6.95, March 1982, 0 224 01969 4
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Levitation: Five Fictions 
by Cynthia Ozick.
Secker, 157 pp., £6.95, March 1982, 0 436 25482 4
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... against eating a dry biscuit.’ By such minute and precise notations (‘piled up, fragment by fragment’, as another character observes) is this rich and dense account of a life rendered. As John Bainbridge sifts through his rag-bag of memories, we close in on the events and people and things that have nearly touched him nearly: the death of a young subaltern in the war, an adulterous affair ...

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