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Fine-Tuned for Life

John Leslie: Cosmology

1 January 1998
Before the Beginning 
by Martin Rees.
Simon and Schuster, 288 pp., £7.99, January 1998, 0 684 81660 1
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The Life of the Cosmos 
by Lee Smolin.
Weidenfeld, 358 pp., £20, September 1997, 0 297 81727 2
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... for roughly ten billion years. Even to get from Earth’s formation to our century took as long, Martin Rees remarks, as journeying half across America at the rate of one step per two thousand years. Our sun will shine steadily for five billion more years before swelling and vaporising our planet. The universe, however, will probably last for at least ...

Short Cuts

Martin Loughlin: Tax Credits

19 November 2015
... trumped by the insistence of Leigh’s fellow Tory MP, the ‘keen constitutional student’ Jacob Rees-Mogg, that the motion to delay undermined a privilege of the Commons ‘codified as long ago as 1678’. Rees-Mogg had a solution: the prime minister must create 150 new peers to make absolutely sure that the Conservatives ...

Diary

Andrew O’Hagan: Orders of Service

18 April 2019
... for Larkin and a bit of Bix Beiderbecke. Ten years later, at Stephen Spender’s wingding in St Martin-in-the-Fields, there was Beethoven’s Quartet in A minor, an adagio from Haydn, a speech by Richard Wollheim, and no fewer than 13 of Spender’s own poems, read by Harold Pinter, Ted Hughes, James Fenton, Jill Balcon and Barry Humphries. (At ...

Squealing

Ian Buruma

13 May 1993
Gower: The Autobiography 
by David Gower and Martin Johnson.
Collins Willow, 256 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 00 218413 3
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... of English problems were the erosion of the class system, or the defeat of the Cavaliers. William Rees-Mogg, in the Times, rather wittily compared the Gooch and Gower saga to a romance of the Great War. Gruff Sgt Gooch can’t stand dashing Lt Gower, but when the Hun tosses a hand-grenade into their trench, the dashing lieutenant saves the gruff ...

The Precautionary Principle

David Runciman: Taking a Chance on War

1 April 2004
... the exotic array of worst-case scenarios we are now faced with. In his book Our Final Century, Martin Rees puts the chances of the human race surviving the next hundred years at 50:50.* The list of things that could go horribly wrong ranges from the highly unlikely (a giant asteroid strike) to the frankly bizarre (rogue scientific experiments rolling ...
6 July 1995
Elizabeth Bowen and the Dissolution of the Novel 
by Andrew Bennett and Nicholas Royle.
Macmillan, 208 pp., £35, December 1994, 0 333 60760 0
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... movement of course) was much rarer because harder to do. A good writer in this genre, such as Martin Amis, succeeds in raping the ‘now’ by means of a philistine main character, who brutishly makes clear the sourness and the nowness of our time. Modernity’s awareness of itself must hit the reader through the pretence of utter indifference to any ...

Disgrace under Pressure

Andrew O’Hagan: Lad mags

3 June 2004
Stag & Groom Magazine 
edited by Perdita Patterson.
Hanage, 130 pp., £4, May 2004
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Zoo 
edited by Paul Merrill.
Emap East, 98 pp., £1.20, May 2004
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Nuts 
edited by Phil Hilton.
IPC, 98 pp., £1.20, May 2004
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Loaded 
edited by Martin Daubney.
IPC, 194 pp., £3.30, June 2004
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Jack 
edited by Michael Hodges.
Dennis, 256 pp., £3, May 2004
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Esquire 
edited by Simon Tiffin.
National Magazine Company, 180 pp., £3.40, June 2004
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GQ 
edited by Dylan Jones.
Condé Nast, 200 pp., £3.20, June 2004
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Men's Health 
edited by Morgan Rees.
Rodale, 186 pp., £3.40, June 2004
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Arena Homme Plus: ‘The Boys of Summer’ 
edited by Ashley Heath.
Emap East, 300 pp., £5, April 2004
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Stag & Groom Magazine 
edited by Perdita Patterson.
Hanage, 130 pp., £4, May 2004
Show More
Zoo 
edited by Paul Merrill.
Emap East, 98 pp., £1.20, May 2004
Show More
Nuts 
edited by Phil Hilton.
IPC, 98 pp., £1.20, May 2004
Show More
Loaded 
edited by Martin Daubney.
IPC, 194 pp., £3.30, June 2004
Show More
Jack 
edited by Michael Hodges.
Dennis, 256 pp., £3, May 2004
Show More
Esquire 
edited by Simon Tiffin.
National Magazine Company, 180 pp., £3.40, June 2004
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GQ 
edited by Dylan Jones.
Condé Nast, 200 pp., £3.20, June 2004
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Men’s Health 
edited by Morgan Rees.
Rodale, 186 pp., £3.40, June 2004
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Arena Homme Plus: ‘The Boys of Summer’ 
edited by Ashley Heath.
Emap East, 300 pp., £5, April 2004
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... gay for men to blow-dry their hair. This went on for a while until one day he made the point to Martin Amis that it was actually quite gay to sleep with a woman. GQ is gay in that way: it appears to envy women more than lust for them, and its pages are full of tips on how men should depilate, breast-enlarge, slicken, tart up, and generally make themselves a ...

Diary

Karl Miller: Conflict of Two Egos

3 June 1982
... James Prior of Northern Ireland, Peter May of England, one of its cricket captains, and William Rees-Mogg, late of the Times, are among the tightest and funniest things he has written. May is present, while utterly silent, as a batsman of genius, and as a figure of fun and a pillar of rectitude during the urinous escapades which it is feared may shock ...

Flings

Rosemary Hill: The Writers’ Blitz

21 February 2013
The Love-Charm of Bombs: Restless Lives in the Second World War 
by Lara Feigel.
Bloomsbury, 519 pp., £25, January 2013, 978 1 4088 3044 4
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... the night sky, riven with fire and the beams of searchlights, is more like a Turner or a John Martin. Further down St James’s Street, on the opposite pavement from where a club that is more or less Brooks’s has been bombed, ‘a group of progressive novelists in firemen’s uniform were squirting a little jet of water into the morning room … “It ...
25 June 1987
The Provisional IRA 
by Patrick Bishop and Eamonn Mallie.
Heinemann, 374 pp., £12.95, June 1987, 0 434 07410 1
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Ten Men Dead 
by David Beresford.
Grafton, 432 pp., £3.50, May 1987, 0 586 06533 4
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... towards reversing the Ulsterisation policy which puts the RUC and UDR in the front line and frees British Army battalions for service with Nato and elsewhere. The Provos want the British Government to draft more troops back. Killing British soldiers, they reckon, will have a greater influence on British opinion than killing RUC and UDR ...
28 September 1989
... willing to gobble up their weaker brethren. ‘Longman’ is modern shorthand for Longman, Brown, Rees, Orme and Green; Routledge for Routledge, Kegan Paul, Trench and Trübner. Chatto and Windus began in the 1870s as a partnership between Andrew Chatto who had drive, and W.E. Windus, a minor poet who had some capital. But the firm only took off with the ...
19 October 1995
... the ‘Lord Archer wins the lottery’, ‘lucky Stephen King’, or ‘not more cash for Martin’ reactions. Conservative values and Good English (virtues that Sir Kingsley and the Times share) would be the prime beneficiaries of the shattered book agreement. Inside, the op-ed page was dominated by a gloating ‘Good Riddance to the Net Book ...

Be flippant

David Edgar: Noël Coward’s Return

9 December 1999
1956 and All That 
by Dan Reballato.
Routledge, 265 pp., £40, February 1999, 0 415 18938 1
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Collected Plays: Six 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 415 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73410 2
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Collected Plays: Seven 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 381 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73410 2
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Collected Revue Sketches and Parodies 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 282 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73390 4
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Noël Coward: A Life in Quotes 
edited by Barry Day.
Metro, 116 pp., £9.99, November 1999, 9781900512848
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Noël Coward: The Complete Lyrics 
Methuen, 352 pp., £30, December 1998, 0 413 73230 4Show More
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... than Adam Low’s enlightening 1998 Arena, a pedestrian 1983 ‘biographical film’ by Laurence Rees, which at £26.99 is not only not worth the price of admission, but not worth the bother of removing the cellophane. There have been a number of explanations as to why Dad’s second renaissance feels more like a restoration. The first is that the original ...

Criminal Justice

Ronan Bennett

24 June 1993
... Four are a politically heterogeneous bunch: at one end, Cardinal Basil Hume, Robert Kee, Merlyn Rees, Lord Scarman and the late Lord Devlin; at the other, rhetoric-ridden, far-left Trotskyist groupings. And in between the world and its dog. The only thing on which all are agreed – some with more knowledge of the facts than others – is that Paul ...

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