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Staggering

Frank Kermode

2 November 1995
Roy Fuller: Writer and Society 
by Neil Powell.
Carcanet, 330 pp., £25, September 1995, 1 85754 133 2
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... actually reside a contributor to New Writing, as, in a way that now seems baffling, had been reported to them’. That sentence, with its contrived inversions, has a very characteristic stagger – NeilPowell prefers to talk about a style ‘slightly skewed’. In the same volume of his autobiography, Vamp till Ready, Fuller discusses a poem in which he had spoken of ‘the penis lighthouse ...
1 May 1980
Five American Poets 
by John Matthias, introduced by Michael Schmidt.
Carcanet, 160 pp., £3.25, November 1979, 0 85635 259 4
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The New Australian Poetry 
edited by John Tranter.
Makar Press, 330 pp., £6.50, November 1979
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Carpenters of Light 
by Neil Powell.
Carcanet, 154 pp., £6.95, November 1979, 0 85635 305 1
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Mirabell: Books of Number 
by James Merrill.
Oxford, 182 pp., £3.25, June 1979, 0 19 211892 7
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The Book of the Body 
by Frank Bidart.
Faber, 44 pp., £4.50, October 1979, 0 374 11549 4
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Skull of Adam 
by Stanley Moss.
Anvil, 67 pp., £2.50, May 1979, 0 85646 041 9
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Poems 1928-1978 
by Stanley Kunitz.
Secker, 249 pp., £6.50, September 1979, 0 436 23932 9
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... the river forgetting Gudique is the river. The best of the Australians achieve something like this conjunction, but there is too much in Tranter’s anthology that is no more than verbal gesture. NeilPowell’s Carpenters of Light is probably a better book than I am prepared to admit. Its limits (academic prissiness apart) are the limits of his understanding of Modernism. He uses the term ...
23 May 1991
Antidotes 
by C.H. Sisson.
Carcanet, 64 pp., £6.95, March 1991, 0 85635 908 4
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Dog Fox Field 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 103 pp., £6.95, February 1991, 0 85635 950 5
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True Colours 
by Neil Powell.
Carcanet, 102 pp., £6.95, March 1991, 0 85635 910 6
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Eating strawberries in the Necropolis 
by Michael Hulse.
Harvill, 63 pp., £5.95, March 1991, 0 00 272076 0
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... are where they should be, in the language. It is not merely the scale of Murray’s talent that is remarkable, but the way he has worked in isolation, not at the role of the poet, but at the craft. NeilPowell’s cover offers the title, True Colours, red on black, and a photograph of a shirtless young man, nipples to crotch, head and legs out of the picture, his Lee Cooper jeans undone and hanging ...

Heat in a Mild Climate

James Wood: Baron Britain of Aldeburgh

19 December 2013
Benjamin Britten: A Life in the 20th Century 
by Paul Kildea.
Allen Lane, 635 pp., £30, January 2013, 978 1 84614 232 1
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Benjamin Britten: A Life for Music 
by Neil Powell.
Hutchinson, 512 pp., £25, January 2013, 978 0 09 193123 0
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... are constantly shifting and wavering, unsettling the consolations of Tallis’s Canon (which is sung as the cast processes out of the church); a homespun cacophony.Two biographies, by Paul Kildea and NeilPowell, intelligently appraise this official and unofficial Britten, and are rich with contradiction. Britten was quietly radical and quietly conservative. He was a joiner and a separatist: he lived ...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: David Davis v. Miss Great Britain

3 July 2008
... and rubbed his hands at the thought of the Tory divisions that must surely lie beneath; only to be told by eager citizen bloggers that there were clear precedents – George Lansbury in 1912, Enoch Powell in 1958 – and that Davis was an incarnation of that forgotten thing: the politician with principles, a man standing up for his beliefs. Never mind that, as it transpired, he would be standing up ...

Permissiveness

Paul Addison

23 January 1986
The Writing on the wall: Britain in the Seventies 
by Phillip Whitehead.
Joseph, 438 pp., £14.95, November 1985, 0 7181 2471 5
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... after 1970 to a romantic, illusory socialism. Every strike and every claim on the state was held to be justified as an instalment in the class struggle. If dockers marched in support of Enoch Powell, they were held to be suffering from false consciousness. But if they went on strike they were heroes of labour. The fact that flying pickets or the scramble for benefits had little or nothing to do ...

Saint Jane

D.A.N. Jones

20 October 1983
The Good Father 
by Peter Prince.
Cape, 204 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 224 02131 1
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Mrs Pooter’s Diary 
by Keith Waterhouse and John Jensen.
Joseph, 208 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 7181 2339 5
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Dandiprat’s Days 
by David Thomson.
Dent, 165 pp., £8.50, September 1983, 0 460 04613 6
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The Dream of a Beast 
by Neil​ Jordan.
Chatto, 103 pp., £6.95, October 1983, 0 7011 2740 6
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Squeak: A Biography of NPA 1978A 203 
by John Bowen and Eric Fraser.
Faber, 127 pp., £2.95, October 1983, 0 571 13170 0
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The Life and Times of Michael K 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 250 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 436 10297 8
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... or automatic hostility towards police and military action. The story begins in 1981, soon after the Brixton riots: at a lunch party in nearby Stockwell, the firmest of the true believers, Jane Powell, is maintaining that a legal amnesty should have been given to all those arrested in the street fighting. Her friends call her Saint Jane: she is a lawyer who works for a law centre, a hard-working ...

Upside Down, Inside Out

Colin Kidd: The 1975 Referendum

25 October 2018
Yes to Europe! The 1975 Referendum and Seventies Britain 
by Robert Saunders.
Cambridge, 509 pp., £24.99, March 2018, 978 1 108 42535 3
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... itself. It didn’t even rhyme: 2016 was 1975 through the looking-glass. Most of the surviving protagonists of the 1975 referendum – such as the former Europhiles David Owen and Nigel Lawson; Neil Kinnock, a prominent Labour anti in 1975; or Alex Salmond, then a youthful SNP anti-Marketeer – found themselves on the other side of the debate from their former selves. The exception was Jim ...
26 October 1989
Dick Crossman: A Portrait 
by Tam Dalyell.
Weidenfeld, 253 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 297 79670 4
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... Not long ago, a very distinguished academic reviewer suggested in these pages that one of the troubles with the Labour Party under Neil Kinnock’s leadership was that it was no longer the kind of party which attracted the loyalty and service of Oxbridge intellectuals. In his view, this was a serious flaw, perhaps even a fatal one ...

Sucking up

Michael Rogin

12 May 1994
Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War 
by John MacArthur.
California, 274 pp., £10, January 1994, 0 520 08398 9
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Live from the Battlefield: From Vietnam to Baghdad – 35 Years in the World’s War Zones 
by Peter Arnett.
Bloomsbury, 463 pp., £17.99, March 1994, 0 7475 1680 4
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... for the mass public at home, not those on the contested foreign ground – to substitute for war the image of war. That effort, failing in Vietnam, produced the news reporter as American hero – Neil Sheehan, David Halberstam, Seymour Hersch, Jonathan Schell, Peter Arnett. They reported not only the war the government did not want its citizens to see, but also the government efforts to invent a ...

Conspire Slowly, Act Quickly

David Runciman: Thatcher Undone

22 December 2019
Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography Vol. III: Herself Alone 
by Charles Moore.
Allen Lane, 1072 pp., £35, October 2019, 978 0 241 32474 5
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... for speculators to target the pound. Lawson and Howe were stymied by her intransigence but realised there was little they could do about it. Having discovered what her most trusted adviser, Charles Powell, called somewhat euphemistically their ‘ploy’, she moved Howe away from the Foreign Office to become leader of the House of Commons, and a few months later Lawson resigned. The ostensible reason ...

Ideologues

Peter Pulzer

20 February 1986
The Redefinition of Conservatism: Politics and Doctrine 
by Charles Covell.
Macmillan, 267 pp., £27.50, January 1986, 0 333 38463 6
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Thinkers of the New Left 
by Roger Scruton.
Longman, 227 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 582 90273 8
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The Idea of Liberalism: Studies for a New Map of Politics 
by George Watson.
Macmillan, 172 pp., £22.50, November 1985, 0 333 38754 6
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Socialism and Freedom 
by Bryan Gould.
Macmillan, 109 pp., £25, November 1985, 0 333 40580 3
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... and inveighs against ‘permissiveness’ in favour of Victorian values. Those who see in this a coherent syndrome call it populist authoritarianism, and date its rise from the emergence of Enoch Powell as a national hero after his ‘river of blood’ speech in 1968. I wonder whether it is all as simple as that. The question is not whether there is a logical connection between these attitudes ...

Diary

Tam Dalyell: Yesterday’s News

18 September 1986
... but as close as Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman were to Richard Nixon. The ‘misunderstandings’ over Westlands were attributed to those civil servants such as Mr Bernard Ingham and Mr Charles Powell whom Mrs Thatcher sees many times each day. Isn’t this something we should be concerned about? Three decades after Crichel Down, however, all the House of Commons and the country seem to do is to ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I Didn’t Do in 2007

3 January 2008
... is a footpath across the field and we stroll through the high barley on this hot afternoon with swallows skimming low over the tops and it feels like a scene from the 1940s. It could be a Michael Powell film or a page from the diaries of Denton Welch. This isn’t wholly imagination either, as it turns out that there was a camp here during the war for American airborne troops, which makes the ...

The Illiberal Hour

Mark Bonham-Carter

7 March 1985
Black and White Britain: The Third Survey 
by Colin Brown.
PSI/Heinemann, 331 pp., £22.50, September 1984, 0 435 83124 0
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... same time it was deliberately encouraged by government and by industry. The London Passenger Transport Board recruited Barbadians to drive our buses and to run the Underground system. It was Enoch Powell who was Minister for Health when doctors and nurses from the Commonwealth were being recruited to supply the services we required. The jobs were filled, more immigrants arrived and problems arose ...

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