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The Sultan and I

Anthony Howard, 1 June 1989

By God’s Will: A Portrait of the Sultan of Brunei 
by Lord Chalfont.
Weidenfeld, 200 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 297 79628 3
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The Richest Man in the World: The Sultan of Brunei 
by James Bartholomew.
Viking, 199 pp., £12.95, April 1989, 0 670 82152 7
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... faintly ludicrous figure, the Sultan of Brunei, was in December 1985. Until around then – as Lord Chalfont obligingly mentions in the course of a work that can otherwise only be compared with The Lives of the Saints – the general view (endorsed not only by a public opinion poll but by me as well) was that the Sultan’s kingdom was ‘somewhere in ...


Clive James: Lord's Day, 7 February 1985

... but be dire. Somehow the idea had got about that it was a lively moment in the House of Lords when Lord Hailsham bounced up and down on the Woolsack, and that in the normal course of business there was nothing to be heard from the buttoned red leather benches – pictures of these had been seen in the colour-supplements – except the death rattle of ...

Big enough to deter

Jeff McMahan, 15 April 1982

Nuclear Illusion and Reality 
by Solly Zuckerman.
Collins, 154 pp., £7.50, January 1982, 0 00 216554 6
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... Lord Zuckerman’s recent pronouncements on the nuclear arms race have been favourably received by a large number of people of surprisingly divergent outlooks. His words are piously quoted by spokesmen for CND, and have been endorsed with enthusiasm by Lord Chalfont, the scourge of unilateralists ...


Jon Halliday, 2 June 1983

In the Service of the Peacock Throne: The Diaries of the Shah’s Last Ambassador to London 
by Parviz Radji.
Hamish Hamilton, 343 pp., £12.50, April 1983, 0 241 10960 4
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... conscience and unless an article is “balanced” it would suffer from what he called the “Chalfont syndrome”. But it was precisely in Britain that the vainglorious Iranian royal family sought and found its biographers and publishers. Lesley Blanch is signed up to write a biography of the Empress. Margaret Laing is invited round to lunch with her ...


E.S. Turner, 4 September 1986

Monty: The Field-Marshal 1944-1976 
by Nigel Hamilton.
Hamish Hamilton, 996 pp., £15, June 1986, 0 241 11838 7
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... Nigel Hamilton, son of Sir Denis, has had access, a privilege which was denied, for example, to Lord Chalfont (Montgomery of Alamein, 1976), who was told by the field-marshal that ‘if those papers ever came to light they would cause a Third World War.’ Nigel Hamilton was aged 12 when he first met Monty, who once introduced him to Churchill as his ...

Seconds Away

Wayland Kennet, 8 January 1987

‘Peace’ of the Dead: The Truth behind the Nuclear Disarmers 
by Paul Mercer.
Policy Research Publications, 465 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 9511436 0 3
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... he said that no doubt the same arguments applied in their case. So there we presumably are. Lord Chalfont, who was Minister for Disarmament in Harold Wilson’s first government, contributes a one-page preface rich in his now well-known Moscophobic acerbity: ‘When it is pointed out to the unilateralists that they are doing the work of the ...

Falklands Retrospect

Hugo Young, 17 August 1989

The Little Platoon: Diplomacy and the Falklands Dispute 
by Michael Charlton.
Blackwell, 230 pp., £14.95, June 1989, 0 631 16564 9
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... discovery that the man pushing hardest for the opposite course was Stewart’s junior at the FO, Lord Chalfont. Chalfont was the first British minister ever to visit the Falklands. Later the friend of shahs and sultans and other unliberated tyrants, he then favoured a pragmatic sell-out of the Falklands if such could ...

Christopher Hitchens states a prosecution case

Christopher Hitchens, 25 October 1990

Crossman: The Pursuit of Power 
by Anthony Howard.
Cape, 361 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 0 224 02592 9
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... and others against the Spectator. (The magazine had reported him drunk in Venice: the late Lord Goddard had a bias against the press; and years later I remember Crossman, again in the ghastly Bung Hole, cheerfully admitting that he had been as drunk as – what? Not a lord, perhaps. A skunk?) These sorts of shifting ...

Putting it on

David Marquand, 12 September 1991

A Life at the Centre 
by Roy Jenkins.
Macmillan, 600 pp., £20, September 1991, 0 333 55164 8
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... in a puzzled passage early in this book, he was not alone in that. Ivor Bulmer-Thomas and Lord Chalfont, he points out, also speak English with hardly a trace of a Welsh accent; and he wonders if there is something in the air or water of the Eastern Valley of Monmouthshire that washes away deviations from standard English. The answer is that it ...

The Thought of Ruislip

E.S. Turner: The Metropolitan Line, 2 December 2004

Metro-Land: British Empire Exhibition Number 
by Oliver Green.
Southbank, 144 pp., £16.99, July 2004, 1 904915 00 0
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... on many of Metroland’s historic links. Fleeing the Great Plague, John Milton took a cottage at Chalfont St Giles, where he completed Paradise Regained. When an American proposed to dismantle the cottage and ship it across the Atlantic, there was rebellion and it was saved for Metroland and the nation. World War One inevitably left its mark. Our ‘flying ...

For Want of a Dinner Jacket

Christopher Tayler: Becoming O’Brian, 6 May 2021

Patrick O’Brian: A Very Private Life 
by Nikolai Tolstoy.
William Collins, 608 pp., £10.99, October 2020, 978 0 00 835062 8
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... Though he spoke with an upper-class English accent, he hadn’t issued a correction when Lord Dunsany, in a review, had called him ‘an Irish sportsman’, and he had published a story in Irish Writing.Hill had moved on by the time O’Brian delivered, but his replacement, Tony Gibbs, was delighted with Master and Commander (1969). It ‘leapfrogged ...

Crocodile’s Breath

James Meek: The Tale of the Tube, 5 May 2005

The Subterranean Railway: How the London Underground Was Built and How It Changed the City For Ever 
by Christian Wolmar.
Atlantic, 351 pp., £17.99, November 2004, 1 84354 022 3
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... I suspect there are more Londoners alive now who have been to Lombok than have taken the Tube to Chalfont & Latimer or Chorleywood out of curiosity. There was an anniversary to commemorate. Exactly 90 years before, at Easter 1915, the Underground had launched one of its periodic spring campaigns to encourage people to explore the countryside. Given that ...

Falklands Title Deeds

Malcolm Deas, 19 August 1982

The Struggle for the Falkland Islands 
by Julius Goebel, introduced by J.C.J. Metford.
Yale, 482 pp., £10, June 1982, 0 300 02943 8
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The Falklands Islands Dispute: International Dimensions 
edited by Joan Pearce.
Chatham House, 47 pp., £2.75, April 1982, 0 905031 25 3
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The Falkland Islands: The Facts 
HMSO, 12 pp., £50, May 1982, 0 11 701029 4Show More
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... House of Commons, convinced, then as now, that the islands were British, threatened to bring Lord North’s ministry down if he yielded, and hoped to bring him down anyway if he fought and failed. The result was a compromise. The Spanish agreed to restore matters in the islands to the exact state they were in before the Bucareli expedition, to repair the ...

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