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Memoriousness

E.S. Turner, 15 September 1988

Memories of Times Past 
by Louis Heren.
Hamish Hamilton, 313 pp., £15.95, July 1988, 0 241 12427 1
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Chances: An Autobiography 
by Mervyn Jones.
Verso, 311 pp., £14.95, September 1987, 0 86091 167 5
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... and, on the first Aldermaston march, ‘walked with Doirs Lessing, Christopher Logue and Kenneth Tynan’. Twice he was arrested and Vicky drew him as a convict in broad arrows. The year 1968 found him with the insurgents in the Sorbonne, but in Britain ‘few shared my enthusiasm for the students of Paris.’ In many ways he was a glutton for ...

Be flippant

David Edgar: Noël Coward’s Return, 9 December 1999

1956 and All That 
by Dan Reballato.
Routledge, 265 pp., £40, February 1999, 0 415 18938 1
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Collected Plays: Six 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 415 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73410 2
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Collected Plays: Seven 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 381 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73410 2
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Collected Revue Sketches and Parodies 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 282 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73390 4
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Noël Coward: A Life in Quotes 
edited by Barry Day.
Metro, 116 pp., £9.99, November 1999, 9781900512848
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Noël Coward: The Complete Lyrics 
Methuen, 352 pp., £30, December 1998, 0 413 73230 4Show More
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... plays work, and which defines his art in relation to those who preceded and followed him. In 1977, Kenneth Tynan claimed that The Young Idea (written in 1921, and sadly not republished this year) ‘contains the first line that distinguished Coward from all his predecessors in English comedy: “I lent that woman the top of my thermos flask and she never ...

Even If You Have to Starve

Ian Penman: Mod v. Trad, 29 August 2013

Mod: A Very British Style 
by Richard Weight.
Bodley Head, 478 pp., £25, April 2013, 978 0 224 07391 2
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... In a lovely 1963 piece on Miles Davis, Kenneth Tynan quoted Cocteau to illuminate the art of his ‘discreet, elliptical’ subject: Davis was one of those 20th-century artists who had found ‘a simple way of saying very complicated things’. Jump to 1966 and the meatier, beatier sound of a UK Top 20 hit, the Who’s ‘Substitute’, a vexed, stuttering anti-manifesto, with its self-accusatory boast: ‘The simple things you see are all complicated!’ You couldn’t find two more different musical cries: Davis’s liquid tone is hurt, steely, recessive, where Townshend’s is upfront, impatient, hectoring ...
Noël Coward: A Biography 
by Philip Hoare.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 605 pp., £25, November 1995, 1 85619 265 2
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... the desire for a smash hit’; ‘Coward remained essentially childish throughout his life.’ Kenneth Tynan confirmed that Coward ‘never suffered the imprisonment of maturity’. Mature years, however, brought on a reactionary rage, not only against the follies of the past but against the excesses of the Sixties. Resolute not to ‘come ...

Noddy is on page 248

Jay Griffiths: On the streets, 10 June 1999

The Penguin Book of 20th-Century Protest 
edited by Brian MacArthur.
Penguin, 440 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 670 87052 8
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DIY Culture: Party and Protest in Nineties Britain 
edited by George McKay.
Verso, 310 pp., £11, July 1998, 1 85984 260 7
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... Tibet is nowhere. It is easy to tell the issues about which MacArthur felt keenly in his youth; Kenneth Tynan writing about Look back in Anger, for example, touches a memory of angry young manhood. MacArthur writes of his parents having to leave school at 14: his was ‘the first generation to go to redbrick universities, only to be dismissed as scum ...

Wounds

Stephen Fender, 23 June 1988

Hemingway 
by Kenneth Lynn.
Simon and Schuster, 702 pp., £16, September 1987, 0 671 65482 9
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The Faces of Hemingway: Intimate Portraits of Ernest Hemingway by those who knew him 
by Denis Brian.
Grafton, 356 pp., £14.95, May 1988, 0 246 13326 0
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... The reaction started with the publication of Death in the Afternoon in 1932, the hero of which, as Kenneth Lynn cogently expresses it, is not ‘a haunted Nick Adams, or a crippled Jake Barnes, or a hollowed-out Frederic Henry, but an overbearing know-it-all named Ernest Hemingway’. Max Eastman said Hemingway had false hair on his chest. Gertrude Stein, in ...

Always the Same Dream

Ferdinand Mount: Princess Margaret, 4 January 2018

Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret 
by Craig Brown.
Fourth Estate, 423 pp., £16.99, September 2017, 978 0 00 820361 0
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... Snowdons was ‘like being in the Garden of Eden without seeing God’. Marlon Brando persuaded Kenneth Tynan to ask her to dinner à trois and then was so tongue-tied that he couldn’t address a word to her except through Tynan: ‘Would you ask the princess what she thinks of …’ ...

Chinaberry Pie

D.A.N. Jones, 1 March 1984

Modern Baptists 
by James Wilcox.
Secker, 239 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 9780436570988
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Speranza 
by Sven Delblanc, translated by Paul Britten Austin.
Secker, 153 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 9780436126802
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High Spirits 
by Robertson Davies.
Penguin, 198 pp., £2.50, January 1984, 0 14 006505 9
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Hanabeke 
by Dudley St John Magnus.
Angus and Robertson, 133 pp., £6.95, January 1984, 0 207 14565 2
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Train to Hell 
by Alexei Sayle.
Methuen, 152 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 0 413 52460 4
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The English Way of Doing Things 
by William Donaldson.
Weidenfeld, 229 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 0 297 78345 9
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... and Isherwood’ (Alan Brien), ‘The most glitteringly funny prose since Evelyn Waugh’ (Kenneth Tynan). The English Way of Doing Things does not live up to these tributes. The farcical plot evidently attempts a dirtied-up Wodehouse style, of the kind successfully carried off by Tom Sharpe; the prose style of the opening chapter may be an ...

Carnival Time

Peter Craven, 18 February 1988

The Remake 
by Clive James.
Cape, 223 pp., £10.95, October 1987, 0 224 02515 5
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In the Land of Oz 
by Howard Jacobson.
Hamish Hamilton, 380 pp., £12.95, September 1987, 0 241 12110 8
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... of entertainment to have been written in modern times, comparable in its passion and panache to Kenneth Tynan’s theatre reviews in the post-war period, but without the golly-goshery that mars Tynan’s work. It seems likely to last as long as anyone cares about words rising to the challenge of such images. One of ...

Splashed with Stars

Susannah Clapp: In Stoppardian Fashion, 16 December 2021

Tom Stoppard: A Life 
by Hermione Lee.
Faber, 977 pp., £14.99, September, 978 0 571 31444 7
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... killed. Here too she met the man who became her second husband and gave Tomáš a new name: Major Kenneth Stoppard, a reliable provider, a xenophobe and antisemite, who towards the end of his life suggested his stepson stop using his surname. ‘Sorry Dad,’ was the reply. ‘It’s not practical.’ The new family left for England in 1946. Large numbers of ...

Escape of a Half-Naked Sailor

P.N. Furbank: ‘Three Queer Lives’, 29 November 2001

Three Queer Lives: An Alternative Biography of Fred Barnes, Naomi Jacob and Arthur Marshall 
by Paul Bailey.
Hamish Hamilton, 242 pp., £14.99, October 2001, 0 241 13455 2
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... to Naples, he heard her bawling: ‘Steward, where’s my shaving water?’ Eventually he and Kenneth Tynan collaborated on a surrealistic radio play, The Quest for Corbett, and persuaded her – though at first she said ‘she didn’t understand a bloody word of this “avant-garde tripe”’ – to star in it. According to Bailey, she did not ...

Thunder in the Mountains

J. Hoberman: Orson Welles, 6 September 2007

Orson Welles: Hello Americans 
by Simon Callow.
Vintage, 507 pp., £8.99, May 2007, 978 0 09 946261 3
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What Ever Happened to Orson Welles? A Portrait of an Independent Career 
by Joseph McBride.
Kentucky, 344 pp., $29.95, October 2006, 0 8131 2410 7
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... murderous teenagers of Heavenly Creatures as ‘the most hideous man alive’, matches wits with Kenneth Tynan and Laurence Olivier in Austin Pendleton’s play Orson’s Shadow, and has even been fingered posthumously as a suspect in the 1947 Black Dahlia murder. Welles appears, larger than life, in documentaries and dramatisations, of both his own ...

The Socialist Lavatory League

Owen Hatherley: Public Conveniences, 9 May 2019

No Place to Go: How Public Toilets Fail Our Private Needs 
by Lezlie Lowe.
Coach House, 220 pp., £12.95, September 2018, 978 1 55245 370 4
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... I have a dream in which I join a subversive organisation called the Socialist Lavatory League,’ Kenneth Tynan wrote in his diary in 1973. ‘Its purpose is to bring all private loos into public ownership. Everyone will have the right to use anyone else’s loo – which will mean the end of private peeing. The dream wakes me up giggling, but on ...

Nice Guy

Michael Wood, 14 November 1996

The Life and Work of Harold Pinter 
by Michael Billington.
Faber, 414 pp., £20, November 1996, 0 571 17103 6
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... conversation. One laughs in recognition, but one’s laughter is tinged with snobbism.’ This is Kenneth Tynan in 1960, quoted by Billington. One’s laughter might be tinged with many things, and vague, repetitive silliness can hardly be confined to one class. But there is no silliness in Pinter’s dialogue, and no real inconsequentiality ...

Shaw tests the ice

Ronald Bryden, 18 December 1986

Bernard Shaw: The Diaries 1885-1897 
edited by Stanley Weintraub.
Pennsylvania State, 1241 pp., £65, September 1986, 0 571 13901 9
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... audiences as generations of clever, calculatedly bumptious undergraduates, from Mackworth Praed to Kenneth Tynan, have performed to their alma maters at Oxford and Cambridge. With the same energy that he gave to his belated education, he flung himself into the other activities that young men discover at university. On his 29th birthday he was introduced ...

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