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The Parliamentary Peloton

Peter Mair: Money and Politics

25 February 2010
A Very British Revolution: The Expenses Scandal and How to Save Our Democracy 
by Martin Bell.
Icon, 246 pp., £11.99, October 2009, 978 1 84831 096 4
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... legislative activities. They remain largely anonymous, but they usually turn up, and vote as instructed. These are the MPs who are beloved of the whips, the so-called lobby fodder, and according to MartinBell in A Very British Revolution, they are also the MPs who tend to claim the most for expenses: ‘There was nothing they wouldn’t claim for or, when the division bell sounded, vote for.’ Many ...

Callaloo

Robert Crawford

20 April 1989
Northlight 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 81 pp., £8.95, September 1988, 0 571 15229 5
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A Field of Vision 
by Charles Causley.
Macmillan, 68 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 333 48229 8
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Seeker, Reaper 
by George Campbell​ Hay and Archie MacAlister.
Saltire Society, 30 pp., £15, September 1988, 0 85411 041 0
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In Through the Head 
by William McIlvanney.
Mainstream, 192 pp., £9.95, September 1988, 1 85158 169 3
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The New British Poetry 
edited by Gillian Allnutt, Fred D’Aguiar, Ken Edwards and Eric Mottram.
Paladin, 361 pp., £6.95, September 1988, 0 586 08765 6
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Complete Poems 
by Martin Bell, edited by Peter Porter.
Bloodaxe, 240 pp., £12.95, August 1988, 1 85224 043 1
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First and Always: Poems for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital 
edited by Lawrence Sail.
Faber, 69 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 0 571 55374 5
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Birthmarks 
by Mick Imlah.
Chatto, 61 pp., £4.95, September 1988, 0 7011 3358 9
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... literature still cuts free of questions of home and origin, so that writing is like stepping into the fridge. A strong reminder that where a writer lives can be powerfully significant is given by MartinBell (1918-1978): ‘Why, Leeds is Hell, nor am I out of it.’ Unfortunately, this sort of browned-off tone does for a good deal of the verse in Bell’s Complete Poems. Peter Porter writes that ...
24 April 1997
... was spending the day somewhere else. But where? On every side, there seems to be some Toytown farce in progress. What, for instance, would Gore make of Christine Hamilton? What would he make of MartinBell? Too British to be true, the pair of them, in very different ways. It was a relief to learn that several of Vidal’s hours here have been spent discussing Montaigne (so he said) with Michael ...

See the Sights!

Gillian Darley: Rediscovering Essex

1 November 2007
The Buildings of England: Essex 
by James Bettley and Nikolaus Pevsner.
Yale, 939 pp., £29.95, May 2007, 978 0 300 11614 4
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... based above all on anomaly and paradox. Take Brentwood, the heartland of the Peniel Pentecostal Church, whose activities on the wilder fringes of the Conservative Party prompted the ex-newsman MartinBell to take his white anti-sleaze suit out of the cupboard again in the 2001 election. The congregation is still there and keeping busy. But Brentwood’s pride is its Roman Catholic cathedral ...
31 August 1989
Carrington: A Life of Dora Carrington 1893-1932 
by Gretchen Gerzina.
Murray, 342 pp., £18.95, June 1989, 0 7195 4688 5
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Lydia and Maynard: Letters between Lydia Lopokova and John Maynard Keynes 
edited by Polly Hill and Richard Keynes.
Deutsch, 367 pp., £17.95, September 1989, 0 233 98283 3
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Mazo de la Roche: The Hidden Life 
by Joan Givner.
Oxford, 273 pp., £18, July 1989, 0 19 540705 9
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Vera Brittain and Winifred Holtby: A Working Partnership 
by Jean Kennard.
University Press of New England, 224 pp., £24, July 1989, 0 87451 474 6
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Dangerous by Degrees: Women at Oxford and the Somerville College Novelists 
by Susan Leonardi.
Rutgers, 254 pp., $33, May 1989, 0 8135 1366 9
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The Selected Letters of Somerville and Ross 
edited by Gifford Lewis.
Faber, 308 pp., £14.99, July 1989, 0 571 15348 8
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... have lived in Hampstead and gone to Robert Bevan’s Sundays, or tramped with Eleanor Farjeon to Edward Thomas’s cottage. As it was, she found herself in Bloomsbury. Even if they were, as Quentin Bell called them, ‘as amorphous as friends can be’, they were nearly all highly literate, and judged accordingly. They treated her as a kind of peg-top doll, a sailor doll with blue eyes, ‘a thought ...

A Calamitous Man

Patrick Collinson: Incombustible Luther

29 July 1999
Martin​ Luther: The Christian Between God and Death 
by Richard Marius.
Harvard, 542 pp., £19.95, March 1999, 0 674 55090 0
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... Imagine a dream in which you are climbing a church tower in the dark. Stumbling, you reach out for something to hang on to and find that you are pulling at a bell rope, that the bell is waking up the entire town, and soon other towns far beyond. Within weeks you, the inadvertent bell-ringer, are both famous and infamous, and famous not for a few minutes but for ever. Three ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945

1 April 1999
The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... des refusés, there is another category, the salon of the half-admitted, who appear in one book but not the other. Kathleen Raine and Ruth Pitter cannot be found in O’Brien, but Elma Mitchell and MartinBell cannot be found in Armitage and Crawford. Elma Mitchell’s ‘Thoughts after Ruskin’ is a revelation, and to put her in is to do exactly the sort of thing anthologies are meant to do: extend ...

Risky Business

Elaine Showalter

22 September 1994
Telling Women’s Lives: The New Biography 
by Linda Wagner-Martin.
Rutgers, 201 pp., $22.95, July 1994, 0 8135 2092 4
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... Linda Wagner-Martin, a highly respected scholar of American literature who teaches at the University of North Carolina, was bewildered by the hostile reception in Britain of her biography of Sylvia Plath, published in ...
20 August 1998
... public demonstrations of affect without taking them at their word? If we at one and the same time believe and – to deform the famous formula – suspend our belief? Consider the celebrity of Mary Bell. How many times did outraged journalists cut straight from their disapproval of the money she was paid (making profit out of the most hideous of crimes) to the pleasure she was said to have taken in ...

‘I’m trying for you’

A.L. Kennedy: Gitta Sereny

18 June 1998
Cries Unheard 
by Gitta Sereny.
Macmillan, 393 pp., £20, May 1998, 0 333 73524 2
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... this pretty and patently likeable child was revealed as more than a passive bystander at one murder and a participant in a chain of other destructive, if not sadistic, acts. The younger girl, Mary Bell, was equally pretty but eerily self-controlled and thought to be the more intelligent and influential of the pair. Bell was found guilty on both counts of murder. She was described as ‘psychopathic ...
6 September 2001
Napoleon the Novelist 
by Andy Martin.
Polity, 191 pp., £45, December 2000, 0 7456 2536 3
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... Andy Martin is unlikely to convince many readers that Napoleon conquered Europe only as compensation for his inability to write a sentimental novel. His attention to the Emperor’s literary ambitions is ...

Oops

Ian Stewart

4 November 1993
The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier 
by Bruce Sterling.
Viking, 328 pp., £16.99, January 1993, 0 670 84900 6
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The New Hacker’s Dictionary 
edited by Eric Raymond.
MIT, 516 pp., £11.75, October 1992, 0 262 68079 3
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Approaching Zero: Data Crime and the Computer Underworld 
by Bryan Clough and Paul Mungo.
Faber, 256 pp., £4.99, March 1993, 0 571 16813 2
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... On 29 June 1989, a security manager for the US telephone company Indiana Bell received an anonymous telephone call. In a menacing tone a young man’s voice informed him that he had planted bombs in several switching systems known as 5ESSs. ‘They’re set to blow on a ...
14 May 1992
Modernity and Identity 
edited by Scott Lash and Jonathan Friedman.
Blackwell, 448 pp., £45, January 1992, 0 631 17585 7
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Fundamentalisms Observed 
edited by Martin​ Marty and Scott Appleby.
Chicago, 872 pp., $40, November 1991, 0 226 50877 3
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The Post-Modern and the Post-Industrial 
by Margaret Rose.
Cambridge, 317 pp., £35, July 1991, 0 521 40131 3
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Under God: Religion and American Politics 
by Garry Wills.
Simon and Schuster, 445 pp., £17.99, February 1992, 0 671 65705 4
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... a sacrilegious aesthetic, so how did aesthetic modernism manage to feed what Habermas termed an addiction to the ‘horror which accompanies the act of profaning’? The explanation offered by Daniel Bell in The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism was that modern culture had not defiled religion itself but the role of religion: art, he argued, had replaced religion as the gatekeeper of culture, but ...

At Tate Britain

Julian Bell: ‘British Folk Art’

2 July 2014
... unknown. Calcutta figurehead, date unknown. ‘Goose Woman’ by George Smart (c.1830). ‘Sunbeam’ by Gunner Baldie (c.1830). ‘The Tailor’s Coverlet’ by James Williams (1842-52).PreviousNext Martin Myrone, one of the show’s curators, cautiously suggests that the figureheads, with their ‘chunky modelling’, ‘emphatic characterisation’ and ‘vernacular energy’, ‘might be considered ...

Old Europe

Jeremy Harding: Britain in Bosnia

20 February 2003
Indictment at The Hague: The Milosevic Regime and the Crimes of the Balkan Wars 
by Norman Cigar and Paul Williams.
New York, 339 pp., $24.95, July 2002, 0 8147 1626 1
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Unfinest Hour: Britain and the Destruction of Bosnia 
by Brendan Simms.
Penguin, 464 pp., £8.99, July 2002, 0 14 028983 6
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Under Orders: War Crimes in Kosovo 
by Fred Abrahams.
Human Rights Watch, 593 pp., £18, October 2001, 1 56432 264 5
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Milosevic: A Biography 
by Adam LeBor.
Bloomsbury, 386 pp., £20, October 2002, 0 7475 6090 0
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... Milosevic put it to him that it was being used by a KLA sniper. berisha: No. milosevic: Please. You’ve sworn to tell the truth here. Later, Berisha recalls seeing Serbian paramilitaries in the bell-tower of the church: milosevic: I am asking you whether you saw them shoot at anyone. berisha: Not only once, but many times. I saw it with my own eyes. And to go from one house to another, you had ...

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