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Play hard

Dave Haslam

20 October 1994
The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music 1972-93 
by Nick Kent.
Penguin, 338 pp., £9.99, May 1994, 0 14 023046 7
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... NickKent is described on the cover of The Dark Stuff as ‘the living legend of rock journalism’. His status as legend is less to do with the quality of his writing than with his wilful mirroring of the ...

Secretly Sublime

Iain Sinclair: The Great Ian Penman

19 March 1998
Vital Signs 
by Ian Penman.
Serpent’s Tail, 374 pp., £10.99, February 1998, 1 85242 523 7
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... beginnings with the New Musical Express in 1977 to his present non-eminent (but legendary) status with the hipper glossies. On the back of more heavily puffed recyclings by other NME veterans such as NickKent and Julie Burchill, that brief pre-Thatcher Waterloo sunset in the IPC tower has taken on a rosy apocalyptic glow. These are not the uncorseted, feelgood ramblings of Sixties survivors (Howard ...
2 April 1987
March to the South Atlantic: 42 Commando Royal Marines in the Falklands War 
by Nick​ Vaux and Max Hastings.
Buchan and Enright, 261 pp., £11.50, November 1986, 0 907675 56 5
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Further Particulars: Consequences of an Edwardian Boyhood 
by C.H. Rolph.
Oxford, 231 pp., £12.50, January 1987, 0 19 211790 4
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... a manly pseudonym and writing about pig-sticking in Blackwood’s – or, of course, with a general writing his memoirs on retirement. Today serving officers appear to suffer no untoward restraints. Nick Vaux, who led 42 Commando Royal Marines in the Falklands, waited only for his brigadier, Julian Thompson, to write No Picnic before weighing in with March to the South Atlantic. Vaux is now a general ...
1 January 1998
The Liar: The Fall of Jonathan Aitken 
by Luke Harding and David Leigh.
Penguin, 205 pp., £6.99, December 1997, 0 14 027290 9
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... in a newly franchised television company (TV-am), a merchant bank (Aitken Hume), a health hydro (Inglewood), a wonderful house within easy walking distance of the House of Commons, a mansion in his Kent constituency, a Jaguar. In return, Aitken put himself entirely at the Prince’s disposal. He would do anything, his secretary reported, to ‘keep the Arabs happy’. He would even help to provide ...

Diary

Iain Sinclair: Eccentric Pilgrims

29 June 2016
... at Rummey Marsh. The filmmaker Andrew Kötting, the driving force of the expedition, is a stocky alpha male with a deep trench of damage in his right leg after a motorcycle collision on the Old Kent Road. He is dressed in a sack of a suit covered with marker-pen Enochian symbols. On his head is a reindeer herdsman’s pointed felt cap with earflaps, like a Norman battle helmet reconfigured by ...

Who Are They?

Jenny Turner: The Institute of Ideas

8 July 2010
... be substantial ideological agreement here. Some people, however, believe the ‘LM network’ is more organised than this allows; apart from anything else, such a belief generates more exciting copy. Nick Cohen, the Observer columnist and author of What’s Left: How the Left Lost Its Way (2007), has called them ‘a vicious movement’ and ‘the smallest and nastiest of the Trotskyist sects’ (the ...

Animal Experiences

Colin Tudge: At the zoo

21 June 2001
A Different Nature: The Paradoxical World of Zoos and Their Uncertain Future 
by David Hancocks.
California, 280 pp., £19.95, May 2001, 0 520 21879 5
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... of ecological trendiness, which currently misconstrues the nature of ‘ecosystems’ and exaggerates the role of small creatures, like beetles and mice, at the expense of big ones – derisorily nick-named ‘charismatic megavertebrates’ or ‘cuddlies’. He and I agree that many ‘landscapes’ in modern zoos are a sham: bad for the animals, useless for conservation. Gorillas, for example ...

Medieval Fictions

Stuart Airlie

21 February 1985
Chivalry 
by Maurice Keen.
Yale, 303 pp., £12.95, April 1984, 0 300 03150 5
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The Rise of Romance 
by Eugène Vinaver.
Boydell, 158 pp., £12, February 1984, 0 85991 158 6
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War in the Middle Ages 
by Philippe Contamine, translated by Michael Jones.
Blackwell, 387 pp., £17.50, June 1984, 0 631 13142 6
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War and Government in the Middle Ages 
edited by John Gillingham and J.C. Holt.
Boydell, 198 pp., £25, July 1984, 0 85115 404 2
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Prussian Society and the German Order 
by Michael Burleigh.
Cambridge, 217 pp., £22.50, May 1984, 9780521261043
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... turning this combat into a form of sexual display. Women occasionally took a more active part in chivalry’s rituals: Dr Keen has a nice story of the ‘vamping’ of the Black Prince by Joan of Kent and he emphasises that Lancelot was instructed in the mysteries of knighthood by the Lady of the Lake: ‘a great lady of regal family and endowed with magical powers, but not a priest’. The ...

Iwo Jima v. Abu Ghraib

David Simpson: The iconic image

29 November 2007
No Caption Needed: Iconic Photographs, Public Culture and Liberal Democracy 
by Robert Hariman and John Louis Lucaites.
Chicago, 419 pp., £19, June 2007, 978 0 226 31606 2
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... in China is displaced by a display of rugged individualism. Some of the same pressures are seen to have governed the afterlife of other images. Two compelling photos from the Vietnam War era – Nick Ut’s 1972 photo of the naked girl running from a napalm attack, and John Filo’s shot of a girl screaming over a dead body at the 1970 Kent State shooting – generated narratives that would ...
16 April 2014
... when François Mitterrand embarrassed the British government in his speech at the opening of the Channel Tunnel in 1994 by observing that at least visitors to the UK would have time to admire the Kent countryside that plans for what is now HS1 were pursued in earnest. Along with Eurostar, the 67-mile line now carries domestic trains to various locations in Kent as well as a couple of freight ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Madness: The Movie

9 February 1995
... who congregate at the door having coffee and a cig and trampling on another bit of the lawn. As always, I find I’m pretty surplus to requirements, my only contribution a muttered suggestion to Nick Hytner that Rupert Graves’s ad lib ‘I’m fine, I’m fine’ would be more in period if he said: ‘It is no matter, no matter.’ I watch Nigel H. rehearse the pisspot scene, then walk round ...

Not No Longer but Not Yet

Jenny Turner: Mark Fisher’s Ghosts

9 May 2019
k-punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher 
edited by Darren Ambrose.
Repeater, 817 pp., £25, November 2018, 978 1 912248 28 5
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... he suspects, is what’s really behind the epidemic of adolescent unhappiness. ‘Affective disorders are forms of captured discontent.’For much of the 2000s, Fisher worked at an FE college in Kent, ‘in the vanguard’, as he says, of the market-driven reforms that have since rolled out in schools and universities. His students, he writes, knew perfectly well that their prospects were poor ...

Newspaperising the World

Sadakat Kadri: The Leveson Inquiry

5 July 2012
Dial M for Murdoch 
by Tom Watson and Martin Hickman.
Allen Lane, 360 pp., £20, April 2012, 978 1 84614 603 9
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... from Labour to the Conservatives; and senior Conservatives and Scotland Yard officials managed to stonewall tenacious efforts by Watson, his fellow Labour MP Chris Bryant and the Guardian reporter Nick Davies to show that Mulcaire and Goodman were fall-guys. The Press Complaints Commission meanwhile proved it was dysfunctional by devoting an entire report in November 2009 to a sardonic dismissal of ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2000

25 January 2001
... arrival whom she kisses. ‘Hello, you motherfucker.’ This is said in such lazy affectionate tones with ‘Hello, you old cunt’ I suppose once the equivalent but these days not permitted. 20 May. Nick Hytner is in the second week of rehearsals of Tennessee Williams’s Orpheus Descending at the Donmar. We chat in Maggie Smith’s dressing-room in the interval of The Lady in the Van, Maggie saying ...

Into the Underworld

Iain Sinclair: The Hackney Underworld

22 January 2015
... like the original oil era. They’ve tricked a lot of public land by offering inducements that haven’t been followed up on.’ Our local frackers have their piggy eyes on the Weald Basin, from Kent to Dorset, and after that they’re ready to take on London. Anything that can be talked up as ecologically sound, any quick fix solution to the energy crisis, is going to receive immediate support ...

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