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Going on the air

Philip French, 2 May 1985

Orwell: The War Broadcasts 
edited by W.J. West.
Duckworth/BBC, 304 pp., £12.95, March 1985, 0 7156 1916 0
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... in 1968 by Ian Angus and Sonia Orwell) by a single enticing paragraph from a 1940 review of Max Miller at the Holborn Empire, attached as a footnote to ‘The Art of Donald McGill’. The same four-volume collection contains 20 pieces Orwell contributed to newspapers, anthologies and magazines while on the BBC staff, but includes nothing he wrote as a ...

Coup de Guinness

Robert Morley, 5 December 1985

Blessings in Disguise 
by Alec Guinness.
Hamish Hamilton, 238 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 241 11681 3
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... and fluffy slippers.    ‘You will have to imagine the music. We are in a big theatre, Drury Lane ... Do you hear the fiddles?’    ‘No.’    ‘Use your imagination. Hark at the cymbals! And the tinkling bells. And here come the drums! You must applaud, boy. Clap your hands! I am a Persian Princess ... dancing in the Harem to please my ...


August Kleinzahler: My Last Big Road Trip, 2 December 2010

... a clear radio channel to accommodate his iPod. To my alarm, in the dark of night on a narrow two-lane road, in the middle of truly-fucking-nowhere, the Maestro pulls over to the shoulder and puts his head in his hands. This is not good. He maintains that posture for some time. But then he rallies. He takes a deep breath and attacks the radio in earnest until ...

The Case of Agatha Christie

John Lanchester, 20 December 2018

... have had to be content with a packet of sandwiches and a flask of coffee beneath the bough in a by-lane. As one grew older, as one established oneself, one gained a new delight in formality. Her dress for the garden party, chosen to combine suitably with full academicals, lay, neatly folded, inside her suitcase. It was long and severe, of plain black ...

The Candidates

Chris Lehmann: Scott, Rick, Ted, Marco and Jeb, 18 June 2015

... was a man trained in every elite sanctum of the American meritocracy reduced to executing a Mad Max-style campaign of deliberate sabotage against the most basic operations of government. Cruz’s megalomania is so unhinged that he has alienated most of the Senate Republicans, meaning that he will never be able to get anything substantive done for his ...

With a Da bin ich!

Seamus Perry: Properly Lawrentian, 9 September 2021

Burning Man: The Ascent of D.H. Lawrence 
by Frances Wilson.
Bloomsbury, 488 pp., £25, May, 978 1 4088 9362 3
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... was very taken by an episode in the same novel in which Birkin and Ursula, standing in a country lane, in the middle of a passionate ding-dong about the authenticity of being, are briefly interrupted by a cyclist out for a ride. He gives them a nod (‘“Afternoon,” he said, cheerfully’) and disappears into the distance, back into whatever life it was ...


Alan Bennett: What I Did in 2015, 7 January 2016

... Complaint I’m not surprised at Dad’s reaction when he found it in my bookcase at Wood Lane fifty years ago. In some misguided missionary zeal that makes me cringe even to remember I may actually have recommended it. Because if it shocked him then it shocks me now, though I don’t imagine he read more than a few pages before putting it back and ...

The Saudi Trillions

Malise Ruthven, 7 September 2017

... wealth and such emblems of modernity as air-conditioned shopping malls, designer boutiques and six-lane highways flashing with supercharged vehicles exclusively driven by men. Trump returned from his visit with a promise – he claimed – of $350 billion in Saudi spending on American armaments over the next ten years, with $110 billion right away, of benefit ...

Secrets are best kept by those who have no sense of humour

Alan Bennett: Why I turned down ‘Big Brother’, 2 January 2003

... one imagines, by John Bayley, whose efforts on behalf of his late wife and her reputation make Max Clifford seem timid and retiring. One lesson of this deplorable business is never to sanction the shooting of any video, however lofty its purpose, because once shot it will be shown. Professor Hodges seems to have arrived at his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s ...

Walk on by

Andrew O’Hagan, 18 November 1993

... sat on a bleached-out walkway near London Bridge, staring into a gigantic billboard: ‘Pepsi Max: Max the Taste, Axe the Sugar.’ The concrete walkway sloped down from a modern block of offices labelled Colechurch House. It was the middle of the morning, cold, with hardly anyone around. I sat cross-legged with a torn ...

The Best Stuff

Ian Jack: David Astor, 2 June 2016

David Astor: A Life in Print 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Cape, 400 pp., £25, March 2016, 978 0 224 09090 2
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... and, though Astor replied robustly, the damaged relationship with Sieff and people such as Max Rayne hurt him and he tried for years to repair it. Astor sometimes said that he wished he’d been born a Jew; as it was, he was born into a family that considered itself part and parcel of the political establishment: he first met Eden in the 1930s at a ...


Andrew O’Hagan: Julian Assange, 6 March 2014

... was dark and drizzly by the time I got to Ellingham Hall. I stopped the car and got changed in a lane, putting a hoody over a T-shirt, while rabbits hopped in the headlamps. I’d been told there were journalists everywhere and indeed there were lights around the fields and sometimes helicopters overhead. I looked at the driveway under a full moon, it felt ...

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