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Floreat Brixton

Tam Dalyell, 5 December 1985

An Eton Schoolboy’s Album 
by Mark Dixon.
Debrett, 118 pp., £10.95, November 1985, 0 905649 78 8
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... Henry VI founded Eton, his “College Roiall of oure Lady Eton”, in the year 1440.’ So says Mark Dixon in An Eton Schoolboy’s Album. He may or may not have learned much history, but somewhere along the line Dixon, who left Eton in 1980, has learned how to write in an entertaining and elegant way. I find it ...


Ferdinand Mount: British Weeping, 17 December 2015

Weeping Britannia: Portrait of a Nation in Tears 
by Thomas Dixon.
Oxford, 438 pp., £25, September 2015, 978 0 19 967605 7
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... is here for tears, nothing to wail or knock the breast.’ Samson’s father, like Mark Antony, assumes that his audience could choose to mourn their dead hero either by weeping or not weeping, and that he can offer cogent reasons to move them one way or the other. In that sense, ‘a tear is an intellectual thing,’ as Blake puts it in ‘The ...
Mason & Dixon 
by Thomas Pynchon.
Cape, 773 pp., £16.99, May 1997, 9780224050012
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... bookshop. It’s been painted on the glass by hand. It’s from the first sentence of Mason – Dixon. Thomas Pynchon was born on Long Island, New York in 1937. He studied engineering, physics and, later, English literature, at Cornell University, then worked as a technical writer for Boeing until 1962. Not long after that, he more or less disappeared from ...

At which Englishman’s speech does English terminate?

Henry Hitchings: The ‘OED’, 7 March 2013

Words of the World: A Global History of the ‘Oxford English Dictionary’ 
by Sarah Ogilvie.
Cambridge, 241 pp., £17.99, November 2012, 978 1 107 60569 5
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... and the 1933 Supplement. In ‘deleting’ these items (‘dropping’ might be nearer the mark), was Burchfield banishing words that had earned a rightful place in the OED or was he simply removing ones that had never merited inclusion? We get an idea of what he thought he was doing from his description of the 1933 Supplement as a ‘riffraff ...

At the Nailya Alexander Gallery

August Kleinzahler: George Tice, 11 October 2018

... Missouri or the faded and layered signage against a brick background of Pentimento, Galena Avenue, Dixon, Illinois, the front of the ‘Lewis’ Restaurant, Main Street, Fairmount, Indiana or the Lincoln Triplex Cinema, North Arlington, New Jersey. The light is very particular in these small-town landscapes, gathered in the book Hometowns. The book is his ...

Here you are talking about duck again

Mark Ford: Larkin’s Letters Home, 20 June 2019

Philip Larkin: Letters Home, 1936-77 
edited by James Booth.
Faber, 688 pp., £40, November 2018, 978 0 571 33559 6
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... a handful of letters to Mop, and that is because for these two years they lived together at 12 Dixon Drive, an address that would furnish the surname of Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim Dixon. Was there an element of malice in Amis’s allusion? There certainly was in his portrayal of Monica Jones – full name Margaret ...

Don’t you care?

Michael Wood: Richard Powers, 22 February 2007

The Echo Maker 
by Richard Powers.
Heinemann, 451 pp., £17.99, January 2007, 978 0 434 01633 4
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... At one moment in Thomas Pynchon’s novel named after them, Mason and Dixon pause to wonder what history’s verdict on their most famous work is likely to be, its ‘assessment of the Good resulting from this Line, vis-à-vis the not-so-good’. A voice, apparently coming from nowhere, says: ‘You wonder? That’s all? What about “care”? Don’t you care?’ The surveyors explain to the voice that surveying is what they do ...

When the beam of light has gone

Peter Wollen: Godard Turns Over, 17 September 1998

The Films of Jean-Luc Godard 
by Wheeler Winston Dixon.
SUNY, 290 pp., £17.99, March 1997, 0 7914 3285 8
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Speaking about Godard 
by Kaja Silverman and Harun Farocki.
New York, 256 pp., $55, July 1998, 0 8147 8066 0
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... film, the petty criminal played by Belmondo, modelled his self-image on that of Humphrey Bogart in Mark Robson’s The Harder They Fall. These films were not even ‘classics’ – they were little-regarded films dating from the mid-Fifties, movies which Andrew Sarris, a leading historian of Hollywood, later characterised as ‘widely reviled’ and ...

Shag another

Katrina Forrester: In Bed with the Police, 7 November 2013

Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police 
by Rob Evans and Paul Lewis.
Faber and Guardian Books, 346 pp., £12.99, June 2013, 978 0 571 30217 8
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... what protesters would do next. In one report, a Special Branch chief inspector, Conrad Hepworth Dixon, claimed that the city faced the threat of demonstrators carrying ‘ball-bearings, fireworks, hat pins and banner poles for use as weapons’. Ministers considered deploying the army. Senior police officers assured the government they were in control, but ...


Tobias Jones: Campaigning at the Ministry of Sound, 6 March 1997

... the carefree and the caring may not be Utopian, but it’s full of Blair’s millenarian ardour: Mark Rodol, managing director of the Ministry of Sound, calls the phenomenon ‘the biggest collaboration of young people since the Sixties’. ‘Tony Blair’s speech brought tears to my eyes,’ whimpered Noel Gallagher, from the rock-hard Oasis, after ...


Zoë Heller: Ronald Reagan, 2 March 2000

Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan 
by Edmund Morris.
HarperCollins, 874 pp., £24.99, October 1999, 0 00 217709 9
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... first encounters Reagan playing right guard in a high-school football game in Dixon, Illinois. It is a brief thing – the future leader’s wet sleeve brushes his hand – but ‘Morris’ still manages, aged 14, to register Reagan’s exact height and weight, his ‘shallow chest’, ‘adolescent coarseness’, myopia (‘I sensed that ...

Between the Guelfs and the Ghibellines

Tim Parks: Guelfs v. Ghibellines, 14 July 2016

Dante: The Story of His Life 
by Marco Santagata, translated by Richard Dixon.
Harvard, 485 pp., £25, April 2016, 978 0 674 50486 8
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... episodes elsewhere in his work, could suggest epilepsy. But rather than consider these fits a mark of the devil, the standard interpretation at the time, Dante takes them as a sign of ‘a predestination decreed by a supreme power’. He had been chosen. Various details in the Vita nova contribute to a false impression of his social ...

A Surfeit of Rank

Simon Akam, 10 March 2022

The Habit of Excellence: Why British Army Leadership Works 
by Langley Sharp.
Penguin, 320 pp., £20, October 2021, 978 0 241 50750 6
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... and powerful indicator of authoritarian behaviour’.Sale was influenced by the work of Norman Dixon, a psychologist and the author of On the Psychology of Military Incompetence (1976), which argued that the British army recruited its officers from a narrow social demographic, undervaluing intellectual efforts and overvaluing tradition. Promotion favoured ...

That’s America

Stephen Greenblatt, 29 September 1988

‘Ronald Reagan’, the Movie, and Other Episodes in Political Demonology 
by Michael Rogin.
California, 366 pp., £19.95, April 1987, 0 520 05937 9
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... the international Communist conspiracy. It could be argued, against Rogin, that these three phases mark quite distinct institutional and psychological structures in American experience, just as a more optimistic account of the history of the United States would insist upon a counter-tradition of democratic openness and tolerance. But in a series of powerful ...

Mixed Up

Joanna Kavenna: In the génocidaire’s wake, 3 March 2005

The Optimists 
by Andrew Miller.
Sceptre, 313 pp., £16.99, March 2005, 9780340825129
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... present is as maniacal as Pynchon in the past: The Crying of Lot 49 is as outlandish as Mason & Dixon. Miller is entitled to switch anything he likes; they’re his novels and he can romp it up in ruffs or sober it up in jeans, as he prefers. But the question of why he does it is an interesting one. Miller is loquacious on the theme of historical ...

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