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Medes and Persians

Paul Foot: The Government’s Favourite Accountants, 2 November 2000

... Not long after the 1992 election – at around the time the Tories’ fate was sealed by Norman Lamont and Black Wednesday – Andersen Consulting offered its services free to the Labour Party’s Commission on Social Justice, set up by the Labour leader John Smith. The Commission was chaired by Sir Gordon Borrie, former Director General of Fair ...

The Fug o’Fame

David Goldie: Hugh MacDiarmid’s letters, 6 June 2002

New Selected Letters 
by Hugh MacDiarmid, edited by Dorian Grieve.
Carcanet, 572 pp., £39.95, August 2001, 1 85754 273 8
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... and occasional enormity of his ego – as well as his lifelong obsession with size and comparison. Norman MacCaig, who knew him well, thought MacDiarmid was an ‘egomaniac’; Seamus Heaney has described him as ‘very egocentric’. Neither of them, sensibly, thinks that an imperfect or monstrous life makes much difference to the poetry. But if poetry ...

Bugger me blue

Ian Hamilton, 22 October 1992

The Selected Letters of Philip Larkin 
edited by Anthony Thwaite.
Faber, 759 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 571 15197 3
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... There is a story that when William F. Buckley Jr sent a copy of his essays to Norman Mailer, he pencilled a welcoming ‘Hi, Norman!’ in the Index, next to Mailer’s name. A similar tactic might happily have been ventured by the publishers of Philip Larkin’s Letters: the book’s back pages are going to be well-thumbed ...

Silly Buggers

James Fox, 7 March 1991

The Theatre of Embarrassment 
by Francis Wyndham.
Chatto, 205 pp., £15, February 1991, 0 7011 3726 6
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... persuaded by him to begin his career as a writer on the Magazine. Others, it should be said, like Norman Lewis, were not his protégés. The standard was high. We were subjected to intense envy and dislike from those on the newspaper on the floors above us. When you pressed the button to the fourth floor, eyeballs would roll towards the roof, sneers were ...

Absolute Modernity

Paul Driver, 26 September 1991

Gabriel Fauré: A Musical Life 
by Jean-Michel Nectoux, translated by Roger Nichols.
Cambridge, 646 pp., £45, April 1991, 0 521 23524 3
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Pierre Boulez 
by Dominique Jameux, translated by Susan Bradshaw.
Faber, 422 pp., £25, March 1991, 9780571137442
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Stocktakings from an Apprenticeship 
by Pierre Boulez, translated by Stephen Walsh.
Oxford, 316 pp., £40, August 1991, 0 19 311210 8
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... Thus in his brilliant, stylish and still necessary ‘Master Musicians’ study of 1946, Norman Suckling could write: ‘The use made by Fauré of these ancient forms of musical speech consisted ... in a development of them along lines different from those followed in the course of musical history; he went back as it were to the fork of the roads and ...

Dual Loyalty

Victor Mallet, 5 December 1991

The Samson Option: Israel, America and the Bomb 
by Seymour Hersh.
Faber, 256 pp., £15.99, October 1991, 0 571 16619 9
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Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the US-Israeli Covert Relationship 
by Andrew Cockburn and Leslie Cockburn.
Bodley Head, 423 pp., £17.99, January 1991, 0 370 31405 0
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... to ingratiate itself with the Soviet Union). The late Robert Maxwell, the publisher, and Nicholas Davies, the former foreign editor of the Daily Mirror, have inconsequential British bit parts in the saga as told by Hersh. But Maxwell’s Jewish origins, his escape from the holocaust, his identification with Israel – he was buried in Jerusalem – and his ...

The Olympics Scam

Iain Sinclair: The Razing of East London, 19 June 2008

... old Limehouse Town Hall. I attended this public debate and heard the Hackney solicitor Bill Parry-Davies describe, quietly, remorselessly, how, after a series of mysterious fires, Dalston Lane had lost its Victorian theatre and sections of Georgian terrace, facilitating the new transport hub that would service the vital axes, south to the City, east to the ...

Grim Eminence

Norman Stone, 10 January 1983

The Twilight of the Comintern 1930-1935 
by E.H. Carr.
Macmillan, 436 pp., £25, December 1982, 0 333 33062 5
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... with further inquiry. In Foundations, he was lucky to acquire the partnership of Professor R.W. Davies, of the Centre for Russian Studies at Birmingham, and who knows the Soviet economy very thoroughly.6 It was this partnership which saved Carr’s book from going to bits: Foundations has great strength in its discussion of the planning machine, of the ...

The Whole Bustle

Siobhan Kilfeather, 9 January 1992

The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing 
edited by Seamus Deane.
Field Day Publications/Faber, 4044 pp., £150, November 1991, 0 946755 20 5
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... on a particular language – varieties of Gaelic, of course, but also Latin writing in Ireland and Norman-French texts; and there are sections devoted to major authors such as Yeats and Joyce and to major historical events such as the Famine. Each section begins with a substantial critical introduction by the responsible contributing editor and ends with brief ...

Heathrow to Canary Wharf

Nick Richardson: Crossrail, 11 October 2012

... Court Road and Soho Square point in the wrong direction, and Dean Street has been rechristened Davies Street. Mostly, though, people don’t like Crossrail because they can’t see why the taxpayer has to shoulder most of the cost of building a stretch of tunnel that basically duplicates the stretch of Hammersmith Line between Paddington and ...

Who was David Peterley?

Michael Holroyd, 15 November 1984

... to serious non-fiction, from the days of André Maurois’s romanticised version of Shelley to Norman Mailer’s pastiche of Marilyn Monroe, have seemed more dubious. With Peterley Harvest there was an additional problem because, unlike recent fictional diaries such as Nazi Lady: The Diaries of Elisabeth von Stahlenberg 1933-1948, or fictional ...

In the Chair

Edward Said, 17 July 1997

Glenn Gould: The Ecstasy and the Tragedy of Genius 
by Peter Ostwald.
Norton, 368 pp., $29.95, May 1997, 0 393 04077 1
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When the Music Stops: Managers, Maestros and the Corporate Murder of Classical Music 
by Norman Lebrecht.
Simon and Schuster, 400 pp., £7.99, July 1997, 0 671 01025 5
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... superficiality, greed and show-business aspects of the concert scene (exposed remorselessly by Norman Lebrecht) but he was a prosperous man who made considerable amounts of money. (In a Swiftian touch, he left most of his estate to the Salvation Army and to the Toronto Humane Society for animal welfare; the most interesting photograph in Ostwald’s book ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I Didn’t Do in 2007, 3 January 2008

... of this. 23 May. Ros Chatto, my agent, calls to say I have been offered a role in the BBC Andrew Davies adaptation of Fanny Hill. She reads through this raunchy script finding no mention of the part for which I’m slated until she gets to the very final scene, where Fanny meets an old and respectable gentleman (me) whom she fucks to extinction, then ...

What did they do in the war?

Angus Calder, 20 June 1985

Firing Line 
by Richard Holmes.
Cape, 436 pp., £12.95, March 1985, 0 224 02043 9
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The Right of the Line: The Royal Air Force in the European War 1939-1945 
by John Terraine.
Hodder, 841 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 340 26644 9
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The Bomber Command War Diaries: An Operational Reference Book 
by Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt.
Viking, 804 pp., £25, May 1985, 0 670 80137 2
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’45: The Final Drive from the Rhine to the Baltic 
by Charles Whiting.
Century, 192 pp., £7.95, March 1985, 0 7126 0812 5
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In the Ruins of the Reich 
by Douglas Botting.
Allen and Unwin, 248 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 9780049430365
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1945: The World We Fought For 
by Robert Kee.
Hamish Hamilton, 371 pp., £12.95, May 1985, 0 241 11531 0
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VE Day: Victory in Europe 1945 
by Robin Cross.
Sidgwick, 223 pp., £12.95, May 1985, 0 283 99220 4
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One Family’s War 
edited by Patrick Mayhew.
Hutchinson, 237 pp., £10.95, May 1985, 0 7126 0812 5
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Poems of the Second World War: The Oasis Selection 
edited by Victor Selwyn.
Dent, 386 pp., £12, May 1985, 0 460 10432 2
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My Life 
by Bert Hardy.
Gordon Fraser, 192 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 86092 083 6
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Victory in Europe: D Day to VE Day 
by Max Hastings and George Stevens.
Weidenfeld, 192 pp., £10.95, April 1985, 0 297 78650 4
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... of handing Cossacks camping in Austria back to the Soviet forces and almost certain death. Major Davies wept as he carried out his orders, but heartless German concentration camp guards could equally well claim they had merely ‘carried out orders’. The detail given by Botting, by Whiting and, more soberly, by Holmes can help us get the bombing of ...

Diary

W.G. Runciman: Dining Out, 4 June 1998

... when one’s baby-sitter is a cabinet minister one realises one is really old! 21 May 1997. Howard Davies is appointed chairman-designate of ‘SuperSIB’ (or, as it is later christened by Gordon Brown, the Financial Services Authority), as much to his surprise as everyone else’s. He had been on his way to South America in his capacity as deputy governor of ...

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