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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 ...
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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...


David Goldie: Morecambe and Wise, 15 April 1999

Morecambe and Wise 
by Graham McCann.
Fourth Estate, 416 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 1 85702 735 3
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... mismatch of Abbott and Costello and closer to the exasperated camaraderie of Laurel and Hardy; as Kenneth Tynan put it, they were ‘no longer comic and stooge, but egoists in more or less equal competition’. They still told jokes and performed in sketches that required only caricature-acting, but now their roles were blurring to the point at which ...


Stephen Fender, 23 June 1988

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Olivier Rex

Ronald Bryden, 1 September 1988

by Anthony Holden.
Weidenfeld, 504 pp., £16, May 1988, 0 297 79089 7
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... to service a Morris Minor. ‘Valentino taught me the importance of narcissism,’ he told Ken Tynan in a BBC interview in 1967. (He evidently studied film actors: his trick of rolling dead eyes upward till the whites showed came from Fritz Kortner.) He worked hard on himself, and the work paid off in matinee idol parts: Beau Geste, Bothwell in a thing ...
by Richard Ingrams.
Private Eye/Deutsch, 144 pp., £4.25
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... short. And he applies the same technique to people who upset his puritanical sense of propriety. Kenneth Tynan is described in this book as ‘theatre critic and impresario of the pornographic revue, Oh, Calcutta’. Ingrams is proud of being first to ‘break’ the story of Lady Falkender’s illegitimate children. It would seem that Goldsmith does ...

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 ...

People shouldn’t be fat

Zachary Leader, 3 October 1996

Orson Welles: The Road to Xanadu 
by Simon Callow.
Cape, 640 pp., £20, March 1995, 0 224 03852 4
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Rosebud: The Story of Orson Welles 
by David Thomson.
Little, Brown, 460 pp., £20, September 1996, 0 316 91437 1
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... The womanising may have been epic (‘Years of my life have been given up to it,’ he told Kenneth Tynan), but according to Thomson ‘nobody every got the impression that it mattered much.’ What mattered was the self, as validated in seduction. If Welles was gay, Thomson concludes, ‘he was gay in a way uniquely his: he loved himself.’ A ...

Women of Quality

E.S. Turner, 9 October 1986

The Pebbled Shore 
by Elizabeth Longford.
Weidenfeld, 351 pp., £14.95, August 1986, 0 297 78863 9
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Leaves of the Tulip Tree 
by Juliette Huxley.
Murray, 248 pp., £7.95, June 1986, 9780719542886
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Enid Bagnold 
by Anne Sebba.
Weidenfeld, 317 pp., £15, September 1986, 0 297 78991 0
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... on endless rewriting. It was a clash of dragons. When finally staged, the play was hailed by Kenneth Tynan as the finest artificial comedy by an English pen since Congreve, though he felt it might be the end of an era: and so it was, for the next time round there were complaints about ‘mandarin old bags’ spilling pseudo-epigrams. Other ...

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