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E.S. Turner

15 September 1988
Memories of Times Past 
by Louis Heren.
Hamish Hamilton, 313 pp., £15.95, July 1988, 0 241 12427 1
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Chances: An Autobiography 
by Mervyn Jones.
Verso, 311 pp., £14.95, September 1987, 0 86091 167 5
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... and Dead Sea fruit, but the author tries to keep bitterness at bay. He wishes he were part of the Wapping team, not least because he was born in a coffee-shop near Murdoch’s ‘fortress’. MervynJones, author of 23 books of fiction and one of the Left’s ebullient romantics, was born in a Regent’s Park Nash house now worth (he assures us) over a million pounds. It bears a plaque to his father ...

Bevan’s Boy

R.W. Johnson

24 March 1994
Michael Foot 
by Mervyn Jones.
Gollancz, 570 pp., £20, March 1994, 0 575 05197 3
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... crippling defeat in the 1983 election Michael Foot stood before the massed ranks of the faithful to account for his stewardship of the Party. ‘I am deeply ashamed,’ he began. Unfortunately for MervynJones, who both loves and admires his subject and would have us dwell on other things, it is the freeze-frame of that moment which lives on. For Foot had led Labour to its worst defeat since 1922, a ...


D.A.N. Jones

18 September 1986
Search Sweet Country 
by B. Kojo Laing.
Heinemann, 256 pp., £10.95, August 1986, 0 434 40216 8
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The Jewel Maker 
by Tom Gallagher.
Hamish Hamilton, 180 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 0 241 11866 2
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The Pianoplayers 
by Anthony Burgess.
Hutchinson, 208 pp., £8.95, August 1986, 0 09 165190 5
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An After-Dinner’s Sleep 
by Stanley Middleton.
Hutchinson, 224 pp., £9.95, May 1986, 0 09 163620 5
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Coming Home 
by Mervyn Jones.
Piatkus, 263 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 0 86188 525 2
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... to play on the open strings while the accompanying pianist makes her sound like a virtuoso. After this pleasant absurdity, Anthony Burgess’s 29th novel, we turn to Stanley Middleton’s 25th and MervynJones’s 22nd, both of them rather dour books concerned with an ‘older’ man renewing acquaintance with his first love. ‘Older’ is by no means a precise term; the hero of An After-Dinner’s ...


Christopher Hitchens: Keywords

13 September 1990
... windbag, but it still alarms me to see the United States embarking on a military journey without maps. ‘Guilty but Insane’ was Ian Gilmour’s heading for his Spectator review of Michael Foot and MervynJones, whose Suez book Guilty Men 1956 is still one of the best accounts of the collusion. The Spectator has often made trouble for the Tory leadership, with Iain Macleod’s bean-spiller on ‘The ...

At the National Portrait Gallery

Peter Campbell: Wyndham Lewis

11 September 2008
... its appearance. It is impossible to consider Lewis as a painter without taking into account the fact that he was also a writer. English painters have written more than most. Some, like Blake, David Jones, Mervyn Peake and Michael Ayrton (who did a portrait of Lewis and dust jackets for his late novels), have created literary and visual worlds that overlap. Lewis, despite being a novelist, was more ...

Whose Candyfloss?

Christopher Hilliard: Richard Hoggart

16 April 2014
Richard Hoggart: Virtue and Reward 
by Fred Inglis.
Polity, 259 pp., £25, October 2013, 978 0 7456 5171 2
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... under the Obscene Publications Act for putting out an unexpurgated edition of Lawrence’s novel – Inglis dwells predictably on the Establishment snobbery personified by the prosecuting counsel, Mervyn Griffith-Jones. No one, as Inglis says, can resist quoting his rhetorical question to the jurors: was Lawrence’s novel the sort of thing they would wish their wives or servants to read? But the ...


Gabriele Annan

24 May 1990
A Young Girl’s Diary 
edited by Daniel Gunn and Patrick Guyomard.
189 pp., £12.95, April 1990, 0 04 440273 2
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... customers with a bona fide professional interest. It seems odd that the editors, Daniel Gunn and Patrick Guyomard, should get their knickers in such a twist about Sir Archibald when forty years later Mervyn Griffith-Jones, the Senior Treasury Counsel against Lady Chatterley, was still getting his in a twist about the possible evil effects of the book on his wife and servants. Compared with Hug-Hellmuth ...

Musical Beds

D.A.N. Jones

30 December 1982
On Going to Bed 
by Anthony Burgess.
Deutsch, 96 pp., £4.95, August 1982, 0 233 97470 9
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The End of the World News 
by Anthony Burgess.
Hutchinson, 398 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 0 09 150540 2
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This Man and Music 
by Anthony Burgess.
Hutchinson, 192 pp., £7.95, September 1982, 0 09 149610 1
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... I was glad that he noticed the chapter headings were taken from Ravel’s suite, Tombeau de Couperin – but he concluded, tutorially: ‘What is a suite but a museum of dead dances? Next time, Mr Jones must try sonata form!’ Since I like museums and ancient dances, it pleases me to respond that On Going to Bed resembles a good, old-fashioned suite (with a pictorial musée) – and that it might ...

Taking the Blame

Jean McNicol: Jennie Lee

7 May 1998
Jennie Lee: A Life 
by Patricia Hollis.
Oxford, 459 pp., £25, November 1997, 0 19 821580 0
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... shrubbery and photographers put floodlights up on scaffolding in the lane; in London their house was always watched and visitors to Lee’s dying father were cast as Bevanite conspirators) and told MervynJones, who worked for Tribune: ‘Nye is 60. He can’t go on resigning and walking out and isolating himself with his little band of faithful. He can’t go on like that, he can’t.’ CND, which ...

Hating dogs

Julian Barnes

17 September 1981
Words on the Air 
by John Sparrow.
Collins, 163 pp., £7.95, August 1981, 0 00 216876 6
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... essay, it leaves one, nonetheless, slightly dissatisfied. Where, one can’t help asking, does the Warden actually stand? What does he think? He must have an opinion. If forced to side with either Mervyn Griffith-Jones or Richard Hoggart, which of them would he pick? However, Mr Sparrow has long since folded his tent and slipped away. That familiar sound of canvas being taken down is heard in many of ...


Jeremy Treglown

6 August 1992
Writers on World War Two: An Anthology 
edited by Mordecai Richler.
Chatto, 752 pp., £18.99, February 1992, 0 7011 3912 9
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Legacies and Ambiguities: Post-war Fiction and Culture in West Germany and Japan 
edited by Ernestine Schlant and Thomas Rimer.
Woodrow Wilson Center Press/Johns Hopkins, 323 pp., $35, February 1992, 0 943875 30 7
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... all war writers, perhaps one should be grateful that readers seem to succumb to it so readily. The reaction takes many forms, including a kind of nervous male bluster masquerading as chivalry. When Mervyn Griffith-Jones put his famous question to the Lady Chatterley trial jury about the reading-matter appropriate to wives and servants, he may have had in mind the criteria applied by a Sunday Times ...

Take a bullet for the team

David Runciman: The Profumo Affair

21 February 2013
An English Affair: Sex, Class and Power in the Age of Profumo 
by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Harper, 400 pp., £20, January 2013, 978 0 00 743584 5
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... coward. ‘The last and biggest crime of all of Ward’s in the eyes of decent men was that at the pinch – he just couldn’t take it.’ The press, though, were being given a lead by the lawyers. Mervyn Griffith-Jones, in his closing address for the prosecution at Ward’s trial (a role he had also performed at the ‘Lady Chatterley’ trial three years earlier), told the jurors that ‘the evil ...

Into the Underworld

Iain Sinclair: The Hackney Underworld

22 January 2015
... forbidden depths. As the first Thatcherite towers sprung up in Docklands, and downriver parts of London agreed to behave as if the fictions of J.G. Ballard were planning documents, the painter Gavin Jones, working covertly and alone, excavated a wartime bunker hidden beneath a grassy mound outside a block of council flats in Bow. He disguised the entrance with an upturned boat, ran out electrical ...


David Runciman: Thatcher’s Rise

6 June 2013
Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography. Vol. I: Not for Turning 
by Charles Moore.
Allen Lane, 859 pp., £30, April 2013, 978 0 7139 9282 3
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... future, plus greater freedom of political manoeuvre once it was over. At the same time a group of 364 economists sent a letter to the Times condemning her economic policies (the signatories included Mervyn King, the future governor of the Bank of England). They wrote: ‘There is no basis in economic theory or supporting evidence for the government’s belief that by deflating demand they will bring ...


Alan Bennett: Allelujah!

3 January 2019
... Sitting it was too, and in acute discomfort, as Avedon chose to pose me perched on the branch of a tree in Hyde Park, one leg on either side, and so not unreminiscent of the predicament Corporal Jones is always getting himself into in Dad’s Army. If the resulting photograph is rather strained it’s hardly surprising.6 May. I am waiting downstairs while Rupert puts the finishing touches to ...

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