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Like Buttermilk from a Jug

Oliver Soden: Ivor Gurney’s Groove, 22 September 2022

Dweller in Shadows: A Life of Ivor Gurney 
by Kate Kennedy.
Princeton, 488 pp., £28, June 2021, 978 0 691 21278 4
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... and Gloucester’s Stephens;Fray Bentos, Spiller and Baker, odds and evensOf trench foodKate Kennedy thinks he was equally talented in words and music: ‘The only other models,’ she writes in this new biography, ‘are Renaissance figures such as John Dowland and Thomas Campion.’ (She might have looked sideways to Noël Coward, Bob Dylan or Cole ...

Me and Thee

Justine Jordan: Jayne Anne Phillips, 22 February 2001

by Jayne Anne Phillips.
Cape, 292 pp., £15.99, September 2000, 0 224 05975 0
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... happens at once’ in the year charted by Jayne Anne Phillips in MotherKind – her heroine Kate becomes and loses a mother. The book records tiny actions and reactions: Kate changes baby Tatie’s nappy and her mother’s sickroom flowers, spoonfeeds mashed-up banana to one and morphine to the other. She lives in an ...

Deep Down in the Trash

Robert Crawford, 21 August 1997

God’s Gift to Women 
by Don Paterson.
Faber, 64 pp., £6.99, May 1997, 9780571177622
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... Galloway’s Foreign Parts. It bridges writing as different as the poetry of Carol Ann Duffy, Kate Clanchy or David Kinloch, and the fiction of Christopher Whyte or A.L. Kennedy. Some of these poets and novelists are wary of each other. Jamie recently refused to read with Irvine Welsh because of what she saw as the ...

Sonic Foam

Ian Penman: On Kate Bush, 17 April 2014

... A dream,​ just before waking. It’s a day or two after Kate Bush’s unexpected announcement of her return to the concert stage for a series of shows later this year. In my dream, Bush takes the form of a child’s tiny hardback book: solid, substantial, not too many pages. On the front cover is a menagerie of cartoon animals, all Smartie-tube colours and toothy smiles ...

Knucklehead Truman

Douglas Johnson, 2 June 1983

The Eisenhower Diaries 
edited by Robert Ferrell.
Norton, 445 pp., £15.25, April 1983, 0 393 01432 0
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The Life and Times of Joe McCarthy: A Biography 
by Thomas Reeves.
Blond and Briggs, 819 pp., £11.95, June 1983, 0 85634 131 2
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The past has another pattern 
by George Ball.
Norton, 544 pp., £14.95, September 1982, 0 393 01481 9
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Torn Lace Curtain 
by Frank Saunders and James Southwood.
Sidgwick, 361 pp., £7.95, March 1983, 0 283 98946 7
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The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power 
by Robert Caro.
Collins, 882 pp., £15, February 1983, 0 00 217062 0
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The Politician: The Life and Times of Lyndon Johnson 
by Ronnie Dugger.
Norton, 514 pp., £13.25, September 1982, 9780393015980
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Years of Upheaval 
by Henry Kissinger.
Weidenfeld/Joseph, 1312 pp., £15.95, March 1982, 0 7181 2115 5
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Richard Nixon: The Shaping of his Character 
by Fawn Brodie.
Norton, 574 pp., £14.95, October 1982, 0 393 01467 3
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Haig: The General’s Progress 
by Roger Morris.
Robson, 458 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 9780860511885
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Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President 
by Jimmy Carter.
Collins, 622 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 00 216648 8
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Crisis: The Last Year of the Carter Presidency 
by Hamilton Jordan.
Joseph, 431 pp., £12.95, November 1982, 0 7181 2248 8
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Power and Principle: Memoirs of the National Security Adviser 1977-81 
by Zbigniew Brzezinski.
Weidenfeld, 587 pp., £15, April 1983, 0 297 78220 7
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... man, so bereft of ideas, have succeeded in reaching the highest offices, both military and civil? Kennedy, for all the wistful romanticism that has surrounded him and his court, was disorganised and unsettled, a showman rather than a statesman, who owned his position to the ambition and wealth of a determined father. Lyndon Johnson was a corrupt politician ...

Christian v. Cannibal

Michael Rogin: Norman Mailer and American history, 1 April 1999

The American Century 
by Harold Evans.
Cape, 710 pp., £40, November 1998, 0 224 05217 9
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The Time of Our Time 
by Norman Mailer.
Little, Brown, 1286 pp., £25, September 1998, 0 316 64571 0
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... lunatic view, good fucks are more likely to produce good children) and with his response to Kate Millett (in The Prisoner of Sex) and to Gore Vidal. Don’t they all make the prosecution case against Mailer the homophobe and misogynist? The thing is, Mailer knows they do. Reading ‘The Time of Her Time’ again now, one is not so sure which side the ...

The Importance of Aunts

Colm Tóibín, 17 March 2011

... with aunts could be easily misunderstood. He was close to his own mother, as he was to his Aunt Kate, who lived with the family for most of James’s upbringing, and travelled with them when they crossed and recrossed the Atlantic. But he also sought to get away from his mother, and managed to do so by settling in Europe. He was devoted to her and he ...

If everybody had a Wadley

Terry Castle: ‘Joe’ Carstairs, the ‘fastest woman on water’, 5 March 1998

The Queen of Whale Cay: The Eccentric Story of ‘Joe’ Carstairs, Fastest Woman on Water 
by Kate Summerscale.
Fourth Estate, 248 pp., £12.99, August 1997, 1 85702 360 9
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... while others shine for a time then disappear. Marion Barbara (‘Joe’) Carstairs, the subject of Kate Summerscale’s vastly entertaining new biography, The Queen of Whale Cay, would seem to fall into the latter category. In the Twenties, Carstairs (1900-93) was briefly yet wildly celebrated as the ‘fastest woman on water’ – Britain’s premier ...

The Antagoniser’s Agoniser

Peter Clarke: Keith Joseph, 19 July 2001

Keith Joseph 
by Andrew Denham and Mark Garnett.
Acumen, 488 pp., £28, March 2001, 9781902683034
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... and Catherine married Abraham’s brothers Coleman and Samuel Joseph, while their sisters Emma and Kate Joseph married Sarah’s brothers Joseph and Henry Gluckstein. (The family tree is very helpful at this point.) Moreover, this interlocking, involuted, inter-married nexus operated not just as a cousinhood but as a cartel, with a financial pooling of ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2012, 3 January 2013

... Chelsea and so brightens considerably. Meanwhile lurking by the door HMQ is due to come through is Kate O’Mara and when I next look lining up to meet Her Majesty are Ms O’Mara along with Joan Collins and Shirley Bassey, the impression being that anyone can get to speak to the monarch provided you’re pushy enough. But it’s all very casual, so much so ...

Lethal Pastoral

Paul Keegan: Housman’s Lethal Pastoral, 17 November 2016

Housman Country: Into the Heart of England 
by Peter Parker.
Little, Brown, 446 pp., £25, June 2016, 978 1 4087 0613 8
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... about writing or assembling poems), its slow take-off then rapid ascent; his election in 1911 as Kennedy Professor of Latin at Cambridge; his separate apotheoses as scholar and poet. Apart from a sabbatical term in 1934, he lectured in Cambridge twice a week for 25 years, until only days before his death. He was aware that the less he said the more was said ...

Across the Tellyverse

Jenny Turner: Daleks v. Cybermen, 22 June 2006

Doctor Who 
BBC1Show More
Doctor Who: A Critical Reading of the Series 
by Kim Newman.
BFI, 138 pp., £12, December 2005, 1 84457 090 8
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... Unearthly Child’ was broadcast on a date to conjure with – 23 November 1963, the day after Kennedy was shot. The basic concept had come from Sydney Newman, the recently appointed head of drama at the BBC. He was looking for something that would hold children, teenagers and adults in the then-as-now transitional Saturday teatime slot, between Grandstand ...

What does a snake know, or intend?

David Thomson: Where Joan Didion was from, 18 March 2004

Where I Was From 
by Joan Didion.
Flamingo, 240 pp., £14.99, March 2004, 0 00 717886 7
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... mysterious. But it surely cries out for more commentary when Didion recalls that as the deaths of Kennedy and Lee Oswald were being shown on television, Eduene remarked: Well, Oswald and Ruby had ‘every right’ to do as they did. That is an alarming mother to be uncertain of. That is more than being right of centre. That is something like giving up the ...

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