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6 October 1983
A Variety of Lives: A Biography of Sir Hugh Greene 
by Michael Tracey.
Bodley Head, 344 pp., £15, September 1983, 0 370 30026 2
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... and he never felt the compulsion, which others have felt, to weave his views into a harmonious system of thought.’ The reader will find all these items in the identikit portrait which MichaelTracey constructs. Greene was good to work for, and with, above all because he liked diversity among his associates. We were each perfectly free to weave our own views into a harmonious system of thought ...


Joanna Biggs: Zadie Smith

1 December 2016
Swing Time 
by Zadie Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 453 pp., £18.99, November 2016, 978 0 241 14415 2
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... a single voice, what might it be possible to say? But Smith’s narrator, it turns out, isn’t as interested in her own story as in telling those of others, primarily that of her childhood friend Tracey, but also those of her mother and her boss. The narrator meets Tracey at dance lessons in a sweaty-floored church hall in Willesden in 1982. They are both seven. Tracey’s ballet shoes are made of ...
4 December 1980
My Life with Nye 
by Jennie Lee.
Cape, 277 pp., £8.50, November 1980, 0 224 01785 3
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Debts of Honour 
by Michael​ Foot.
Davis-Poynter, 240 pp., £9.50, November 1980, 0 7067 6243 6
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... If Jennie Lee, Aneurin Bevan and Michael Foot had achieved Cabinet rank together in the 1960s, the United Kingdom would be in better shape now. ‘That is my truth,’ as Bevan used to say. ‘Now tell me yours.’ What have they in common ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Is it just me?

1 December 2005
... in Is It Just Me . . . ? that have also – or at any rate might well have – appeared on Spoons are: Tony Blair, chick-lit, city breaks, Sofia Coppola, Alain de Botton, Eats, Shoots and Leaves, Tracey Emin, exercise videos, foot spas, Ikea, improving the value of your property, Boris Johnson, Kabbalah,, Live8, loft-living, loyalty cards, the Oscars, paninis, Tony Parsons, Harold ...


Andrew O’Hagan

11 May 1995
... the thing loosened and fell into the middle of the room with me underneath it. I knew the face framed by that rickety wood. I’d seen it before, in that frame, and I knew who it was: my grandfather Michael. I knew that’s who it was though I’d never met him. The grandfather was covered in dust and damp patches dried in. But that was him: he had the darkest eyes I’d ever seen. His hair was slick ...
11 June 1992
Judge for yourself 
by James Pickles.
Smith Gryphon, 242 pp., £15.99, April 1992, 1 85685 019 6
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The Barrister’s World 
by John Morison and Philip Leith.
Open University, 256 pp., £35, December 1991, 0 335 09396 5
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by David Pannick.
Oxford, 305 pp., £15, April 1992, 0 19 811948 8
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... will have crumbled.’ Even Lord Lane could be forgiven for thinking it pretty rich to be called a dinosaur by the judge who jailed Michelle Renshaw for being too scared to give evidence and who sent Tracey Scott to prison for six months with her baby for letting her friends take goods through her supermarket check-out. The Renshaw case, as it happens, is the subject of about the only conscious ...

A New Twist in the Long Tradition of the Grotesque

Marina Warner: The monstrousness of Britart

13 April 2000
High Art Lite: British Art in the 1990s 
by Julian Stallabrass.
Verso, 342 pp., £22, December 1999, 1 85984 721 8
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This is Modern Art 
by Matthew Collings.
Weidenfeld, 270 pp., £20, June 1999, 0 297 84292 7
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... the premises for a rave that didn’t happen and now didn’t want to pay. The man’s job title was something like Manager of Decommissioned Underground Material and I had gone to see him with Michael Morris, one of the directors of Artangel, a company that puts on art events in different media in unusual places. He was trying to get permission to use the runnels and platforms for The Vertical ...
16 March 2000
In House: Covent Garden, 50 Years of Opera and Ballet 
by John Tooley.
Faber, 318 pp., £25, November 1999, 9780571194155
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Never Mind the Moon: My Time at the Royal Opera House 
by Jeremy Isaacs.
Bantam, 356 pp., £20, November 1999, 0 593 04355 3
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... and rationale of all ... opera productions’ and responsible for arranging lectures and other events. I had seen ‘dramaturgy’ at work in German theatres and knew something of what Edmund Tracey and Nicholas John had been doing at the English National Opera. No one did that kind of thing at Covent Garden, and the mail I received suggested that others, too, thought it was high time they ...

Aberdeen rocks

Jenny Turner: Stewart Home

9 May 2002
69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess 
by Stewart Home.
Canongate, 182 pp., £9.99, March 2002, 9781841951829
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... student at the university, has met ‘Alan’ – as she calls him – in a pub on Union Street, and the two of them discuss the books he has been reading as they go. Writers under discussion include Michael Bracewell, Dick Hebdige, Lynne Tillman, Kathy Acker, Jean Baudrillard, Paul Johnson, W.G. Sebald. The eateries and supermarkets of Aberdeen are visited, and rendered, as far as I can see, entirely ...
1 September 1983
Footlights! A Hundred Years of Cambridge Comedy 
by Robert Hewison.
Methuen, 224 pp., £8.95, June 1983, 0 413 51150 2
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... Jonathan Miller still had their quota of rouged youths. But at long last the IQ level of the Footlights rose into triple figures. Successively onto the scene came such butch illuminati as Miller, Michael Frayn and Peter Cook, with results that Mr Hewison obviously finds it much less uncomfortable to write about, even if it simultaneously becomes more difficult to trace the thread. These were and are ...

Lamb’s Tails

Christopher Driver

19 June 1986
All Manners of Food: Eating and Taste in England and France from the Middle Ages to the Present 
by Stephen Mennell.
Blackwell, 380 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 631 13244 9
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Curye on Inglysch: English Culinary Manuscripts of the 14th Century including ‘The Forme of Cury’ 
edited by Constance Hieatt and Sharon Butler.
Oxford, for the Early English Text Society, 224 pp., £6.50, April 1985, 0 19 722409 1
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The English Cookbook 
by Victor Gordon.
Cape, 304 pp., £12.50, November 1985, 0 224 02300 4
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... scepticism is particularly welcome, for it has to contend with so many crass assumptions made wherever writers – Bernard Levin, Philippa Pullar – put their hand to food, or food pundits – Michael Smith, Egon Ronay – venture upon writing. The caricaturists of Puritanism did their work early, for the Restoration Court exercised a Reagan-like hold on the media. At this period, one of the 17th ...

Utterly in Awe

Jenny Turner: Lynn Barber

4 June 2014
A Curious Career 
by Lynn Barber.
Bloomsbury, 224 pp., £16.99, May 2014, 978 1 4088 3719 1
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... are with men, the puffed-up sort – Bragg, Jimmy Savile, Jeffrey Archer and, more recently, Sir Alan Sugar. She likes artists, especially the erstwhile Young British Artists, and above all, Tracey Emin, who knows how to lay on a juicy spread: the offerings for their first encounter in 2001 included a used condom left on a sofa, Tracey’s 80-year-old dad in a nearby pub, a dream about ‘how ...

The Coat in Question

Iain Sinclair: Margate

20 March 2003
All the Devils Are Here 
by David Seabrook.
Granta, 192 pp., £7.99, March 2003, 9781862075597
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... that cashes cheques, detoured through the diminished surrealism of the Dreamland funfair, to dismiss such transitory cultural pretenders as Billy Childish (‘a hundred records, all bad’) and Dame Tracey Emin. They peddle bad memories of the Estuary, Chatham and Margate, for the shocked delight of bored metropolitans (who never have to go there). Seabrook lives it, thrives on the way he’s been ...

Into the Underworld

Iain Sinclair: The Hackney Underworld

22 January 2015
... his hidden kingdom as an underground Piranesi prison for lodgers. The half-completed passages and perpetual burrowing reminded me of the fractal architecture of the Elizabethan palace contrived by Michael Moorcock for his Spenserian 1978 novel, Gloriana, or The Unfulfill’d Queen. Moorcock, in his turn, was paying his respects to Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast. Being outside the literary mainstream ...

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