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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 ...

Diary

Inigo Thomas: My Father, Hugh Thomas, 15 June 2017

... of a Spanish entrepreneur who played an important political role after Franco’s death, Max Mazin, about whom he had written a book, but the journey had been cancelled at the last minute. Oral biography is more familiar in the US than it is in Britain: George Plimpton and Studs Terkel were two of its best-known exponents. In these books, the life ...

Trouble down there

Ferdinand Mount: Tea with Sassoon, 7 August 2003

Siegfried Sassoon: The Making of a War Poet 1886-1918 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Duckworth, 600 pp., £9.99, September 2002, 0 7156 2894 1
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Siegfried Sassoon: The Journey from the Trenches 1918-67 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Duckworth, 526 pp., £30, April 2003, 0 7156 2971 9
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Sassoon: The Worlds of Philip and Sybil 
by Peter Stansky.
Yale, 295 pp., £25, April 2003, 0 300 09547 3
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... across all sorts of subjects: verse techniques, the difficulty of finding servants, staying with Max Beerbohm, the Test series, his first meeting with Thomas Hardy, the shortcomings of his wife/son/ daughter-in-law, his neglect by the critics – this last a recurring theme. ‘They don’t understand what a talent I have for light verse.’ He had no pudeur ...

Diary

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Ghosting

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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