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Just off Lexham Gardens

John Bayley, 9 January 1992

Through a Glass Darkly: The life of Patrick Hamilton 
by Nigel Jones.
Scribner, 408 pp., £18.95, December 1991, 0 356 19701 8
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... about, and so indicative of a place, a time and a culture. When he was himself living in Brighton, Nigel Jones happened to meet the widow of the writer’s elder brother Bruce, who gave him access to a mass of letters the siblings had exchanged over the years. As one might expect, the atmosphere of the Hamilton household was decidedly incestuous: father a ...

Short Cuts

Chris Mullin: Anonymous and Abuse, 19 November 2019

... life by a crazed Islamist. Ten years earlier, again while conducting a surgery, the Cheltenham MP Nigel Jones was seriously injured by a sword-wielding constituent. His assistant was killed. All this was long before Brexit poisoned the well of British politics.Has it got worse? Yes, it has. Brexit has released a nasty strain of chauvinism which has ...

Something Rather Scandalous

Jean McNicol: The Loves of Rupert Brooke, 19 October 2016

Rupert Brooke: Life, Death and Myth 
by Nigel Jones.
Head of Zeus, 588 pp., £12, April 2015, 978 1 78185 703 8
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Fatal Glamour: The Life of Rupert Brooke 
by Paul Delany.
McGill-Queen’s, 380 pp., £28.99, March 2015, 978 0 7735 4557 1
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The Second I Saw You: The True Love Story of Rupert Brooke and Phyllis Gardner 
by Lorna C. Beckett.
British Library, 216 pp., £16.99, April 2015, 978 0 7123 5792 0
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... sanitised. Christopher Hassall was asked to write the authorised biography in part because, as Nigel Jones notes in his own biography of Brooke, Hassall’s lengthy Life of Eddie Marsh had managed ‘to avoid the topic of his subject’s homosexuality’ and he could therefore be relied on to be discreet. (It’s unfair to say that Hassall doesn’t ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Flirtation, Seduction and Betrayal, 5 September 2002

... the bouncy castle of celebrity without taking off their shoes? What will happen, for example, to Nigel Farndale? Farndale’s Flirtation, Seduction, Betrayal: Interviews with the Rich and Famous is to be published at the end of October (Constable, £14.99). When an advance proof copy arrived on the Short Cuts desk I eagerly pounced: at last! Everything I ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Ukip’s wrinkly glitz, 4 November 2004

... straw poll stand in his way, however. He has accused Ukip of being run by a ‘cabal’ headed by Nigel Farage, the Ukip MEP for the South-East, and says it’s time for the party to grow up and get serious. Suggesting that the chairmen were subject to ‘Mugabe-style’ intimidation from the cabal, Kilroy-Silk has demanded a poll of the party’s entire ...

Passing-Out Time

Christopher Tayler: Patrick Hamilton’s drinking, 29 January 2009

The Slaves of Solitude 
by Patrick Hamilton.
Constable, 327 pp., £7.99, September 2008, 978 1 84529 415 1
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The Gorse Trilogy 
by Patrick Hamilton.
Black Spring, 603 pp., £9.95, June 2007, 978 0 948238 34 5
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... course there was the drinking. Bruce died in 1974. After an interval, his widow gave his papers to Nigel Jones, whose 1991 biography of Hamilton was followed two years later by a less substantial Life written by Sean French. Between them, these biographers raised their subject to his current position as the go-to guy for shabby-genteel, pub-dwelling ...

Fill it with fish

Helen Cooper: The trail of the Grail, 6 June 2002

Parzival and the Stone from Heaven: A Grail Romance Retold for Our Time 
by Lindsay Clarke.
HarperCollins, 239 pp., £14.99, September 2001, 0 00 710813 3
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Merlin and the Grail: ‘Joseph of Arimathea’, ‘Merlin’, ‘Perceval’ The Trilogy of Arthurian Romances Attributed to Robert de Boron 
translated by Nigel Bryant.
Boydell and Brewer, 172 pp., £30, May 2001, 0 85991 616 2
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Le Livre du Graal. Tome I: ‘Joseph D’Arimathie’, ‘Merlin’, ‘Les Premiers Faits du Roi Arthur’ 
edited by Daniel Poirion and Philippe Walter.
Gallimard, 1993 pp., £50.95, April 2001, 2 07 011342 6
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... Yes, yes, Mr Burne-Jones,’ Benjamin Jowett is reputed to have said as he inspected the artist’s newly completed Arthurian murals in the Oxford Union, ‘but what does one do with the Grail once one has found it?’ This sounds almost as much the definitive question as the Grail was the definitive quest, but Jowett’s objection is more radically misconceived than any answer could be ...

Late Capote

Julian Barnes, 19 February 1981

Music for Chameleons 
by Truman Capote.
Hamish Hamilton, 262 pp., £7.95, February 1981, 0 241 10541 2
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... constant tease of Answered Prayers – that promised concoction which will be half Proust, half Nigel Dempster – but in the meantime a new aesthetic was getting overdue. The Preface to Music for Chameleons, reprinted from Vogue, provides it. It opens with some routine bravado – ‘Writers, at least those who take genuine risks, who are willing to bite ...

Huw should be so lucky

Philip Purser, 16 August 1990

Sir Huge: The Life of Huw Wheldon 
by Paul Ferris.
Joseph, 307 pp., £18.99, June 1990, 0 7181 3464 8
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... and firmly related to the intention and quality of the programme in question. He defended Nigel Kneale’s Year of the Sex Olympics because it was a serious play; he wondered mildly if there were not some house taboo against the bare breasts on view in Nana. Incidentally, in a consideration of television and the way a television panjandrum exercises ...

Sweetly Terminal

Edward Pearce, 5 August 1993

Diaries 
by Alan Clark.
Weidenfeld, 421 pp., £20, June 1993, 0 297 81352 8
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... Crazy-High Interest account. But what’s the use? Ash, ash, all is ash. Willie said that Nigel Wicks will be (sic) very good ... is very good ... BUT – a marvellous Willyism. Everyone says Wicks is useless. This seems the only satisfactory way to write about the Alan Clark Diaries: set out hunks and small slivers like a buffet for the prospective ...

Diary

Tobias Jones: On Chess, 5 June 1997

... classic tactical treatise of the 17th century, Go Rin No Sho (A Book of Five Rings), and replaces Nigel Short’s notorious TDF game-plan of (‘trap, dominate, fuck’) with haikus and aikido tenets (‘If pulled, enter. If pushed, turn’). Zen training to cultivate the quality of fudoshin, the ‘imperturbable mind’, is offered as the perfect blend of ...

swete lavender

Thomas Jones: Molesworth, 17 February 2000

Molesworth 
by Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle.
Penguin, 406 pp., £8.99, October 1999, 0 14 118240 7
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... are missing a different point: and they’re bound to, because they did read it at school. Nigel Molesworth is a 1950s prep-school boy – the ‘goriller of 3B’, ‘curse of st custard’s which is the skool i am at’ – whose spelling is atrocious. His diaries, written by Geoffrey Willans (a one-time schoolmaster) and illustrated by Ronald ...

Would we be any happier?

Thomas Jones: William Gibson, 20 February 2020

Agency 
by William Gibson.
Viking, 402 pp., £18.99, January, 978 0 241 23721 2
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... who lives in Vancouver, was in London on 31 January. ‘Dreamt of a squealing, woad-smeared Nigel Farage,’ he tweeted, ‘weakly prancing naked at Stonehenge, then woke to see I’d slept, soul-delayed, through the start of Brexit Hour.’ ‘Soul delay’ is jet lag: Cayce, recently arrived in London at the beginning of Pattern Recognition, imagines ...

I used to work for them myself

David Leigh, 4 August 1983

British Intelligence and Covert Action: Africa, the Middle East and Europe since 1945 
by Jonathan Bloch, Patrick Fitzgerald and Philip Agee.
Junction, 284 pp., £5.95, May 1983, 0 86245 113 2
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Through the Looking-Glass: British Foreign Policy in an Age of Illusions 
by Anthony Verrier.
Cape, 400 pp., £12.50, February 1983, 0 224 01979 1
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... had known what to look for, just as you would have spotted his counterpart in MI5, Sir John Lewis Jones, in the honours list immediately prior to that). What, then, is the point of the fantastic governmental mumbo-jumbo with which the British ‘Secret Service’ surrounds itself? Although it is a rather youthful bureaucratic invention, only about seventy ...

Diary

Michael Stewart: Staggeringly Complacent, 6 June 1985

... poll tax is now the leading candidate to replace the rates. And then there is the strange case of Nigel Lawson. A week or two ago he gave evidence to a House of Lords Select Committee. It was suggested to Mr Lawson that some of the great captains of industry – the Lord Weinstock, the Lord Aldington, the Lord Kearton, not to mention plain Mr Harvey-...

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