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At Hyde Park Corner

Jonathan Meades: The Bomber Command Memorial , 25 October 2012

... The Queen unveiled the Bomber Command Memorial at Hyde Park Corner on 28 June. ‘Sixty-seven years too late’ according to a chorus of jingoists who have apparently long been militating for such a memorial. The urbane Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede designed by Edward Maufe was evidently reckoned insufficiently specific. And the appetite for acknowledgment was hardly sated by the perennially defaced statue of Air Marshal Sir Arthur Harris outside St Clement Danes ...

Short Cuts

Jonathan Meades: This Thing Called the Future, 8 September 2016

... Concorde​ was seen in the sky over West London for the first time in late June 1969. Less than a month later Neil Armstrong stepped from Apollo 11 onto the moon. The future had arrived. It was tangible, it was thrilling, it was now. We came to believe that we were all part of an adventure without end. This was just the beginning, the new beginning ...

Sightbites

Jonathan Meades: Archigram’s Ghost, 21 May 2020

Archigram: The Book 
edited by Dennis Crompton.
Circa, 300 pp., £95, November 2018, 978 1 911422 04 4
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... Archigram was an out-of-hours architectural band of six men – Peter Cook, Warren Chalk, Ron Herron, Dennis Crompton, Michael Webb and David Greene – whose day jobs were with big commercial practices and local authorities. They formed in the early 1960s and over the next decade or so produced thousands of designs for ‘cities of the future’ that were highly original, sometimes on the money, sometimes woeful, often funny, reliably coarse ...

Fog has no memory

Jonathan Meades: Postwar Colour(lessness), 19 July 2018

The Tiger in the Smoke: Art and Culture in Postwar Britain 
by Lynda Nead.
Yale, 416 pp., £35, October 2017, 978 0 300 21460 4
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... Lynda Nead​ ’s new study of the ways in which postwar Britain was represented by what was not yet called its media is tirelessly oblique. She contrives to see everything through the reductionist lenses of colour and colourlessness. She leans heavily on Raymond Williams’s notion of a ‘structure of feeling’ which supposedly defines the ‘particular and characteristic colour of a period ...

Favourite without Portfolio

Jonathan Meades: Designs for the Third Reich, 4 February 2016

Hitler at Home 
by Despina Stratigakos.
Yale, 373 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 0 300 18381 8
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Speer: Hitler’s Architect 
by Martin Kitchen.
Yale, 442 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 0 300 19044 1
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... Luc Tuymans’​ s painting The Walk shows Hitler and Speer silhouetted in early evening light on the Obersalzberg. The photograph that the painting is based on is mute. Tuymans’s manipulation of it is anything but. His Hitler, the Führer, the guide, is indeed guiding, just. He is stumbling awkwardly towards the last of the light while the upright Speer holds back, following certainly, but cautiously, tentatively, allowing his idol and besotted patron first dibs on divining the future – which may prove to be less golden than the sun’s shafts seem to promise ...

The Only Way

Sam Kinchin-Smith: Culinary Mansplaining, 4 January 2018

... Jonathan Meades​ is the Jonathan Meades of our generation,’ reads a puff-quote by the late A.A. Gill on the cover of Meades’s new cookbook, The Plagiarist in the Kitchen (Unbound, £20), but it’s hard to think of any patch less in need of a Jonathan Meades than English food writing ...

Winklepickers, Tinned Salmon, Hair Cream

Bee Wilson: Jonathan Meades, 14 July 2016

An Encyclopedia of Myself 
by Jonathan Meades.
Fourth Estate, 341 pp., £9.99, February 2015, 978 1 85702 905 5
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... and are the one in charge, even if you end up getting apples instead because the pears look bad. Jonathan Meades is a writer who understands the power of lists. In An Encyclopedia of Myself, he has written not so much an autobiography as a series of detailed inventories of English provincial life in the 1950s – a world of sadistic army majors ...

Joe, Jerry and Bomber Blair

Owen Hatherley: Jonathan Meades, 7 March 2013

Museum without Walls 
by Jonathan Meades.
Unbound, 446 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 1 908717 18 4
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... Jonathan Meades, for the last thirty years Britain’s most consistently surprising and informative writer on the built environment, has finally published a book on the subject. A volume did appear in 1988 – English Extremists, written with Deyan Sudjic and Peter Cook, celebrating the postmodern architects Campbell Zogolovitch Wilson Gough – but since then his medium has been television ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: Caliban’s Lunch, 24 June 2010

... as he lays down his spoon, wipes his mouth and rises from the table like a new tele-hybrid, part Jonathan Meades, part Simon Schama, for another assay: ‘The mid-16th century, in gastronomic terms, was precisely such an exotic place.’ And off we go with ‘How to smeare a rabbet or a necke of mutton’, from The Good Hous-wives treasurie. Beeing a ...

At Tate Britain (2)

Rosemary Hill: Kenneth Clark, 3 July 2014

... controlled classification’ of academic specialism – make him a recognisable precursor of Jonathan Meades rather than Simon Schama. As the BBC contemplates remaking Civilisation, the exhibition shows what a hard act Clark still is to ...

The Cadaver Club

Iain Sinclair, 22 December 1994

Original Sin 
by P.D. James.
Faber, 426 pp., £14.99, October 1994, 0 571 17253 9
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Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 282 pp., £14.99, September 1994, 1 85619 507 4
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The Hidden Files: An Autobiography 
by Derek Raymond.
Warner, 342 pp., £5.99, December 1994, 0 7515 1184 6
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Not till the Red Fog Rises 
by Derek Raymond.
Little, Brown, 248 pp., £15.99, December 1994, 0 316 91014 7
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... the official opposition, the Compendium mob; favourite copy for rudeboy journalists. Jonathan Meades (‘Robin behaved badly before anyone else did’), Ian Penman, John Williams, Elizabeth Young – they’ve all done him. And been stretchered back to the cab. A Cook tribute is the contemporary equivalent to the apprentice’s passing-out ...

The Coat in Question

Iain Sinclair: Margate, 20 March 2003

All the Devils Are Here 
by David Seabrook.
Granta, 192 pp., £7.99, March 2003, 9781862075597
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... Howl, are all ‘published in Heaven’. You won’t find his tributes to Gordon Lish (pen-pal) or Jonathan Meades (doorstepped) in any literary periodical. If you tracked down the originals, you might spot some of the elements that dress Seabrook’s whippy style: the Meades-to-camera performed prose, the music-hall ...

Customising Biography

Iain Sinclair, 22 February 1996

Blake 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 399 pp., £20, September 1995, 1 85619 278 4
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol I: Jerusalem 
editor David Bindman, edited by Morton D. Paley.
Tate Gallery, 304 pp., £48, August 1991, 1 85437 066 9
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. II: Songs of Innocence and Experience 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Andrew Lincoln.
Tate Gallery, 210 pp., £39.50, August 1991, 1 85437 068 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol III: The Early Illuminated Books 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Morris Eaves, Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 288 pp., £48, August 1993, 1 85437 119 3
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. IV: The Continental Prophecies: America, Europe, The Song of Los 
editor David Bindman, edited by D.W. Dörbecker.
Tate Gallery, 368 pp., £50, May 1995, 1 85437 154 1
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. V: Milton, a Poem 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 224 pp., £48, November 1993, 1 85437 121 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. VI: The Urizen Books 
 editor David Bindman, edited by David Worrall.
Tate Gallery, 232 pp., £39.50, May 1995, 9781854371553
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... and, of course, Peter Ackroyd’s gold-brick biography of Blake. Bennett, Ackroyd and Jonathan Miller – these were the figures who mattered most. The Christmas parcels of English literature. Enough of threadbare bohemia, paranoid narcissism, chemical tourism through the Third World. Enough of ill-disciplined prose and rootless lives. Enough of ...

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