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Diary

Paul Foot: The Buttocks Problem

5 September 1996
... by Sir William, lay in drawing down the underpants of boys – as individuals – before ordering them to lie on his sofa while he spanked their bare buttocks. In his Introduction, the author MarkPeel pays tribute to Trench’s ‘common touch’ without referring to his most common touch of all: the sensuous fingering of his pupils’ buttocks before and during the interminable beatings. He goes ...

Two Poems

Lucy Anne Watt

23 May 1985
... blades, opening, from Bramleys, flat spirals we’d match for length, so thin our knives ghosted through. Then, she’d pick from lifted trays, like any marketeer, fenestrated rose transparencies to mark (under ‘peel’) from ten. On the tables blue bowls of vanilla slices, each purse of six cloves relaxing in the ovens’ pre-heat. Breaking the drought Not counting the last tank’s thirty gallons ...

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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... MarkPeel organises his serviceable authorised biography of Shirley Williams around an ostensible conundrum. Why didn’t Williams achieve more politically? Why did the polarising, hectoring Margaret Thatcher ...

Dig, Hammer, Spin, Weave

Miles Taylor: Richard Cobden, Class Warrior

12 March 2009
The Letters of Richard Cobden. Vol. I: 1815-47 
edited by Anthony Howe.
Oxford, 529 pp., £100, November 2007, 978 0 19 921195 1
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... the harbinger of middle-class revolution grew. His name lurked behind rumours of a tax revolt, of votes gerrymandered and signatures forged on petitions, and even an assassination attempt on Robert Peel, the prime minister. The young and impressionable Engels, whose daily walk to work took him past the Manchester offices of the Cobden brothers’ calico empire, was impressed. For the rest of his ...

They both hated DLT

Andy Beckett: Radio 1

15 April 1999
The Nation’s Favourite: The True Adventures of Radio 1 
by Simon Garfield.
Faber, 273 pp., £9.99, October 1998, 0 571 19435 4
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... book, Simon Garfield repeats a well-known but telling tale about Dave Lee Travis (or ‘DLT’, as he gruffly liked to be known). Travis was having a party at his home, and decided to invite John Peel, then the only DJ at Radio 1 with a serious interest in the music he played. Peel, who was much older, and held a far more marginal position in the station’s daily schedule, went along out of ...

To Live like a Bird

Mark​ Rudman

1 June 2000
Approximately Nowhere 
by Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 77 pp., £7.99, April 1999, 0 571 19524 5
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... from the window cross. A light bulb’s skull tumbles forlornly into the room. Outside there is a chained monkey who bites. He lives, as I do, on Coke and bananas, which he doesn’t trouble to peel. ‘Postcard from Cuernavaca’ is an oblique homage to Malcolm Lowry: Under the Volcano is set in Cuernavaca. In ‘Shivery Stomp’, Hofmann spells out his identification with Lowry and how ‘it ...

Small America

Michael Peel: A report from Liberia

7 August 2003
... and with them the familiar images of soldiers dressed in women’s wigs, or carrying Mickey Mouse bags, which stood in grotesque technicolour contrast to the atrocities they were committing. In Mark Huband’s The Liberian Civil War (1998), the author describes his growing disillusionment with all the rebel leaders, including Taylor, who spoke of his uprising as a grassroots response to the ...

Diary

Jean Sprackland: In the Mud

6 October 2011
... feet. The remnant of the ancient mud lagoon I’d stumbled across was much more extensive than the fragments I’d seen before, deep, and made up of many strata. If you broke off a piece, you could peel the layers apart; they were as flexible as rubber. Within each stratum were countless micro-strata, each one representing a twice daily silt-laden tidal incursion over a period of two and a half ...

Fuss, Fatigue and Rage

Ian Gilmour: Two Duff Kings

15 July 1999
George IV 
by E.A. Smith.
Yale, 306 pp., £25, May 1999, 0 300 07685 1
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... had been cut off – and even she was bored with him. Grief was absent at his funeral. ‘A coronation could hardly be gayer,’ noted a peer, and the Times reported that there was ‘not a single mark of sympathy’ in the congregation. It seemed, wrote Mme de Lieven, that George IV had ‘never seriously inspired anyone with attachment’. Later observers viewed him no more favourably, Thackeray ...

77 Barton Street

Dave Haslam: Joy Division

3 January 2008
Juvenes: The Joy Division Photographs of Kevin Cummins 
To Hell with Publishing, 189 pp., £200, December 2007Show More
Joy Division: Piece by Piece 
by Paul Morley.
Plexus, 384 pp., £14.99, December 2007, 978 0 85965 404 3
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Control 
directed by Anton Corbijn.
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... I once met two students from Nijmegen who had come on a pilgrimage to Manchester because they loved The Fall. They flicked through my record collection and asked me about the band’s frontman, Mark E. Smith, and his lyrics. ‘What is “mithering”?’ they wanted to know. ‘And what is “cash and carry”?’ Smith, Curtis and Morrissey created a version of Manchester that journalists and ...
16 April 1998
Whatever Happened to the Tories: The Conservatives since 1945 
by Ian Gilmour and Mark​ Garnett.
Fourth Estate, 448 pp., £25, October 1997, 1 85702 475 3
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... as a Conservative MP and minister for thirty years and, being of a forgiving nature, still a Tory, his satisfaction cannot be unalloyed. Whatever Happened to the Tories, a book he has written with Mark Garnett, is an account of how all this came about: how the party which recovered so quickly after the 1945 defeat almost disintegrated fifty years later. Although it is subtitled The Conservatives ...

Marriage

Lorna Tracy

17 June 1982
... heeled housewives of the same period. ‘I’ll make the dinner,’ said James on their first night at home. Dinner was one of James’s crunchy curries. He was not patient to husk, scrape, cleanse, peel, crush, chop, grind and sort: he threw each ingredient into the pot just as it had come out of the brown paper bag and he served it up, husks and pods and skins together, on rice that was mixed with ...

Diary

Maya Jasanoff: In Sierra Leone

11 September 2008
... In return, he receives suits of embroidered cloth, a telescope, a ‘mock Diamond ring’, two hefty wheels of cheese, and the usual tributes of tobacco, guns and rum. By the time Naimbana fixed his mark to this document, more than a quarter of the settlers had died, probably of the falciparum malaria that continues to plague Sierra Leone’s population today. The new inhabitants of Granville Town ...

Do, Not, Love, Make, Beds

David Wheatley: Irish literary magazines

3 June 2004
Irish Literary Magazines: An Outline History and Descriptive Bibliography 
Irish Academic, 318 pp., £35, January 2003, 0 7165 2751 0Show More
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... of the 1840s – the decade of the Nation and the United Irishman – things didn’t really hot up again until the 1890s. Yeats had spent long enough stepping over ‘the dirty piece of orange-peel in the corner of the stairs as one climbs up to some newspaper office’ to know what he was facing when he took on Beltaine in 1899 and Samhain in 1901. Around the same time, the country’s first ...

On Nicholas Moore

Peter Howarth: Nicholas Moore

23 September 2015
... at 200 Gray’s Inn Road because he knew that entries subverting the competition scarcely concealed his own longing for publication himself. The H.D. pastiche comes from a garbled version of John Peel’s radio programme Night Ride because Moore identifies so sharply with the unsigned acts that sent in their demos to the show (he himself sent Peel poems after discovering him on Radio One when the ...

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