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Robert Morley, 7 July 1983

Downing Street in Perspective 
by Marcia Falkender.
Weidenfeld, 280 pp., £10.95, May 1983, 0 297 78107 3
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... The pool,’ writes Baroness Falkender ‘has every imaginable facility from changing-room and showers to a pantry for drinks and tea-making. Douglas Hurd’s two sons learned to swim at Chequers and so did mine.’ Chequers deserves a whole chapter, there are so many tributes to be paid. To the telephone girls, ‘quite simply the best telephone girls in the world’, who go down to operate the switchboard on the second floor every time the prime minister spends a weekend there ...

This Charming Man

Frank Kermode, 24 February 1994

The Collected and Recollected Marc 
Fourth Estate, 51 pp., £25, November 1993, 1 85702 164 9Show More
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... who alone appears twice in the book, is once parked under the bosom of Arianna Stassinopoulos. Marcia Falkender holds the PM, a ventriloquist’s dummy, on her knee. Tom Driberg is adjacent to a Gents. So far so good. But why is Germaine Greer represented as the Venus de Milo, and with a tear running down her cheek? I can only guess why Shirley ...


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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... well. Wilson is not only an admirer of the Shah, but a crashing bore. Callaghan is described by Marcia Falkender as a ‘bent copper’. Heath is portrayed as unable to make contact with people. When the Thatchers come to dinner, ‘every time Mr Thatcher tries to say something she interrupts him to say: “But dahling, the Ambassador already knows ...

Lord Vaizey sees the light

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 20 October 1983

In Breach of Promise 
by John Vaizey.
Weidenfeld, 150 pp., £9.95, September 1983, 0 297 78288 6
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... had divided his party for ten. That was almost certainly not necessary. It took Wilson and Marcia Falkender to put it, for a time, together again. At Health, Macleod was a success, too much so for Vaizey’s taste, because he let dental assistants scale teeth, built more hospitals, and secured acceptance for the Guillebaud Report. In this, Brian ...

You’re only interested in Hitler, not me

Susan Pedersen: Shirley Williams, 19 December 2013

Shirley Williams: The Biography 
by Mark Peel.
Biteback, 461 pp., £25, September 2013, 978 1 84954 604 1
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... perfect strangers feel you speak for them, and feel honoured to leave their fate in your hands. Marcia Falkender, Harold Wilson’s much feared secretary, believed that Williams had a gift that ‘few male and even female politicians possess’: ‘an ability to project an idealised version of herself, a myth in which all those around her believe ...

My Life with Harold Wilson

Peter Jenkins, 20 December 1979

Final Term: The Labour Government 1974-76 
by Harold Wilson.
Weidenfeld/Joseph, 322 pp., £8.95
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... Cabinet at Number 10 was more like a medieval court, a centre of intrigue and morbid suspicion. Marcia Williams, as she then was, had a sharp political intelligence as well as a commanding personality, but some of the others were dreadful toadies. On one occasion, during Wilson’s first year, I told one of my Transport House contacts that perhaps the Prime ...

Say what you will about Harold

Christopher Hitchens, 2 December 1993

Wilson: The Authorised Life 
by Philip Ziegler.
Weidenfeld, 593 pp., £20, September 1993, 0 297 81276 9
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... come back to Rhodesia in a moment, but notice for now that even when he puts things as Wilson and Falkender might wish them put, Ziegler acknowledges what was hysterically denied at the time – namely, the connectedness of the foreign and domestic capitulations.Despite his lenient style, Ziegler possesses one great advantage over Ben Pimlott’s even ...

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