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The Metronomic Moon

Michael Young

9 January 1992
... In other years I would say, how pretty they are, The cherries outside our house. This autumn I see the first leaves Writhe from the green into the yellow and From the yellow into what seems a frantic red Before they corkscrew to their conclusion When the morning wipers scrape them from the windscreens To drop them in the dog shit on the pavement. Their beauty has not brought them mercy. The cherry ...

Scarlet Woman

Michael Young

1 September 1988
East End 1888: A Year in a London Borough among the Labouring Poor 
by William Fishman.
Duckworth, 343 pp., £18.95, June 1988, 0 7156 2174 2
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... I do not see how Professor Fishman could do more than he has done to convince us that he was there in 1888, qualified as only an eyewitness can be to guide us 1988ers through the streets of Tower Hamlets as they were, and are, to him. We can walk with him downwind and eastwards from the Mansion House and are soon slowed by the all-pervading smell of poverty and filth as we traverse streets with the ...

Down with Age

Michael Young

25 October 1990
... when the harvest was bad), outside the landowning classes everybody who could work had to work, irrespective of age. Who would not toil should not eat. Exceptions were, of course, made for the very young and the very old, but in England as elsewhere children were dressed up like little adults as soon as they could walk, and set to work. To Daniel Defoe, on his tour of the country in 1727, this was a ...
27 October 1988
The Metronomic Society: Natural Rhythms and Human Timetables 
by Michael Young.
Thames and Hudson, 301 pp., £16.95, May 1988, 0 500 01443 4
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... MichaelYoung is a rarity among sociologists: he has a feel for the people he writes about, and he writes well. When he takes us into a Merseyside factory and walks us around in the company of Joe Murgatroyd ...


Geoffrey Hawthorn

15 November 1984
Social Scientist as Innovator 
by Michael Young.
Abt Books, 265 pp., $28, April 1984, 0 89011 593 1
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Revolution from Within: Co-operatives and Co-operation in British Industry 
by Michael Young and Marianne Rigge.
Weidenfeld, 188 pp., £12.95, July 1983, 0 297 78234 7
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Dilemmas of Liberal Democracies: Studies in Fred Hirsch’s ‘Social Limits to Growth’ 
edited by Adrian Ellis and Krishan Kumar.
Tavistock, 212 pp., £12.95, September 1983, 0 422 78460 5
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... the German Social Democrats in the years before 1914, most Labour Party politicians had ceased, it seemed, to be able to hear any voices but their own. One of those they should have been hearing was MichaelYoung’s. Young is the country’s most compelling sociologist. Not lower-middle-class in origin, not indeed English at all, but half-Irish and half-Australian, educated outside the normal rut at ...

We’ve done awfully well

Karl Miller: The Late 1950s

18 July 2013
Modernity Britain: Opening the Box, 1957-59 
by David Kynaston.
Bloomsbury, 432 pp., £25, June 2013, 978 0 7475 8893 1
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... to over-interpret what he does have to say about public affairs. A not uncritical leftish feeling can be surmised for the romantic socialism of Aneurin Bevan, and for the romantic sociology of MichaelYoung and Raymond Williams, as the views of these three have been characterised. One of the best sayings culled for the new volume is drawn from Bevan, and is as good as the ‘poetry’ heard by ...


John Bayley: On Retiring

25 July 1991
... it with their telescopes before they sailed, and adjust their chronometers. Ships and port have vanished, but the daily rite of time and precision is still enacted. This nugget of information from MichaelYoung and Tom Schuller’s Life after Work* is both moving and symbolic. Greenwich was the chosen area of their enquiry into what happens to us after we stop clocking in. As one with a year or so to ...

Utopia Limited

David Cannadine

15 July 1982
Fabianism and Culture: A Study in British Socialism and the Arts, 1884-1918 
by Ian Britain.
Cambridge, 344 pp., £19.50, June 1982, 0 521 23563 4
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The Elmhirsts of Dartington: The Creation of an Utopian Community 
by Michael Young.
Routledge, 381 pp., £15, June 1982, 9780710090515
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... sustained and self-conscious development. There, however, the similarities end. Britain’s densely-researched book is a revised doctoral dissertation which views the Webbs with Webb-like detachment: Young’s account is longer but also slighter – an affectionate (if faintly equivocal) survey by an Old Dartingtonian, who knew both Elmhirsts well, and is himself a trustee of the school. As Britain ...

How Not to Invade

Patrick Cockburn: Lebanon

5 August 2010
Beware of Small States: Lebanon, Battleground of the Middle East 
by David Hirst.
Faber, 480 pp., £20, March 2010, 978 0 571 23741 8
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The Ghosts of Martyrs Square: An Eyewitness Account of Lebanon’s Life Struggle 
by Michael Young.
Simon and Schuster, 295 pp., £17.99, July 2010, 978 1 4165 9862 6
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... That amounted to a built-in prophylactic against the dictatorship of one group, usually ethnic or sectarian, over others that has blighted the rest of the Arab world. Here Hirst is in agreement with MichaelYoung, whose eloquent, colourful book is mostly about Syria’s attempt to control Lebanon: its murder of the Sunni leader and former prime minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005; the anti-Syrian ...
19 November 2019
... Michael​ Neve died on 9 October. I first met him in 1995, at a funeral. We had been taught Nietzsche by the same lecturer at Cambridge; that had been enough academia for me, but Michael had advanced (or, by his own account, stumbled haplessly) to the position of senior lecturer at the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL. He had a contract with Penguin for an ...

Shock Cities

Susan Pedersen: The Fate of Social Democracy

22 December 2019
Thatcher’s Progress: From Social Democracy to Market Liberalism through an English New Town 
by Guy Ortolano.
Cambridge, 301 pp., £29.99, June 2019, 978 1 108 48266 0
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Me, Me, Me? The Search for Community in Postwar England 
by Jon Lawrence.
Oxford, 327 pp., £25, June 2019, 978 0 19 877953 7
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... bequeathed. Lawrence begins with an examination of working-class attitudes and aspirations as revealed by the records of Raymond Firth’s study of Bermondsey in 1947-49 and 1958-59, and MichaelYoung and Peter Willmott’s studies of Bethnal Green and Essex in 1953 and 1955. He then turns to Raphael Samuel’s interviews in Stevenage in 1959-60 and John Goldthorpe and David Lockwood’s surveys ...
20 December 1979
by Jilly Cooper.
Eyre Methuen, 283 pp., £4.95
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... answer from his father to the question: ‘Dad, are we ethnic?’). In so far as class is amusing, Jilly Cooper has not let her subject down. She quotes the Registrar General and Richard Hoggart and MichaelYoung, while writing in a manner that falls somewhere between Nancy Mitford and a Daily Mail column. Her characters are fun, her observations acute, and since she does not try her hand at analysis ...
30 August 1990
The Alternative: Politics for a Change 
edited by Ben Pimlott, Anthony Wright and Tony Flower.
W.H. Allen, 260 pp., £14.95, July 1990, 9781852271688
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... one of the editors of this book, were adherents of the Labour Party, the old Alliance, the Communist Party and of no party at all. Many of the contributors still are these things, though some, like MichaelYoung, have returned to the Labour Party de jure and others de facto. It was a measure both of the successes of the Conservative Party in the Eighties and the apparent decay of the social-democratic ...
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 ...

Wharton the Wise

D.A.N. Jones

4 April 1985
The Missing Will 
by Michael​ Wharton.
Hogarth, 216 pp., £10.95, November 1984, 0 7011 2666 3
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... For 27 years Michael Wharton has written the ‘Peter Simple’ column in the Daily Telegraph. He was only 43 when he secured this good, steady job and now he has published an autobiographical account of his 43 ...

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