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Oliver Reynolds, 23 November 1989

... for putting small change on, the tram paraded uphill over the brown coins, with us in the gateway ready to scatter if the tram stopped, the conductor got out! Coins squashed flat and now bigger than English pennies, often flattened and twisted, no elk on them then but the good old king. Tramlines and cycling! I once went flying in front of the teacher, it was ...

Going Native

Sheila Fitzpatrick: The Maisky Diaries, 3 December 2015

The Maisky Diaries: Red Ambassador to the Court of St James’s 1932-43 
edited by Gabriel Gorodetsky, translated by Tatiana Sorokina and Oliver Ready.
Yale, 584 pp., £25, September 2015, 978 0 300 18067 1
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... There​ is a striking photograph of Ambassador Maisky, elegantly dressed in a three-piece suit, balding on top as distinguished diplomats often are, standing in front of a life-size portrait of Stalin, who is wearing a simple army jacket. The photo is from the late 1930s, probably taken after Maisky was rebuked by Moscow for not keeping enough Stalin icons in his London embassy ...

A Salvo for Malawi

Douglas Oliver, 23 June 1994

... in a two-thirds majorityover the whites, their only democracy.It’s unjust, but they’re not ready for any other.As Miss Marguerite Roby said in her recent book:‘It is conceivable that the coloured man in Central Africawould be happier if left entirely to himself;but the march of progress is not to be arrestedand when the conquering white enters a ...

Dignity and Impudence

Oliver Whitley, 6 October 1983

A Variety of Lives: A Biography of Sir Hugh Greene 
by Michael Tracey.
Bodley Head, 344 pp., £15, September 1983, 0 370 30026 2
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... attitudes and values. It appears that, like the concept of public service itself, they were ready for decent burial, so that their place could be taken by people and ideas younger, classless and professional. As one worked with Greene on the problems that crowded in day by day, it didn’t seem as simple or as dismissive as that. He had close Tory ...

The Third Suitcase

Thomas Jones: Michael Frayn, 24 May 2012

by Michael Frayn.
Faber, 278 pp., £15.99, May 2012, 978 0 571 28141 1
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... before they’re due to open at the Grand Theatre, Weston-Super-Mare, and they’re nowhere near ready. Act Two (or, as the script has it, the second Act One, since we don’t see any more of Nothing On) takes place backstage halfway through the run; Act Three, on stage again, is the calamitous last night in Stockton-on-Tees. It’s a virtuoso piece of ...


D.J. Enright, 18 September 1980

Flaubert and an English Governess 
by Hermia Oliver.
Oxford, 212 pp., £9.50, June 1980, 0 19 815764 9
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The Letters of Gustave Flaubert 1830-1857 
edited and translated by Francis Steegmuller.
Harvard, 270 pp., £7.50, March 1980, 0 674 52636 8
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... acquaintanceship is in dispute. The most tender of Flaubert’s affairs? Or a non-affair? Hermia Oliver believes that Juliet was ‘almost certainly’ Flaubert’s mistress: but the present book, a record of indefatigable research and meagre revelations, is stuffed with ‘probably’s’, ‘may’s’, ‘if’s’ and ‘just possible’s’, a case of ...

Wild Words

Stuart Hampshire, 18 August 1983

A History of the Modern World: From 1917 to the 1980s 
by Paul Johnson.
Weidenfeld, 832 pp., £16.50, April 1983, 0 297 78226 6
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... enviable knack of turning problems into solutions.’ About William Temple he writes: ‘a jovial, Oliver Hardy figure, with an appetite not merely for carbohydrates, but for social martyrdom’. About the Bloomsbury group: ‘the influence of Bloomsbury had reached upwards and downwards by the 1930s to embrace almost the entire political nation. Among the ...

Be Rapture Ready! The end times are nigh!

John Sutherland: Armageddon - out of here, 5 June 2003

Armageddon: The Cosmic Battle of the Ages 
by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.
Tyndale House, 398 pp., £15.99, April 2003, 0 8423 3234 0
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... who share local radio time with country-music strummers, all thump out the message: Be Rapture Ready and, if you are left behind, be sure to be on God’s side in the great battle to come. American evangelicals, with their congregational instinct, have been alert to the usefulness of the World Wide Web. On his site,, Todd Strandberg ...

In the Garden

Peter Campbell: Rampant Weeds, 26 April 2007

... says. Weeds follow the spade and the plough and flourish under open skies on broken soil. Oliver Rackham, in his History of the Countryside, says that many weeds ‘could not survive in the wild: they cannot withstand shade and have little power of competition’. They are, in the most general sense, unwanted plants, an uncultivated horde that invades ...

Stick in a Pie for Tomorrow

Jenny Turner: Thrift, 14 May 2009

Make Do and Mend: Keeping Family and Home Afloat on War Rations 
Michael O’Mara, 160 pp., £9.99, September 2007, 978 1 84317 265 9Show More
The Thrifty Cookbook: 476 Ways to Eat Well with Leftovers 
by Kate Colquhoun.
Bloomsbury, 256 pp., £14.99, April 2009, 978 0 7475 9704 9
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The Thrift Book: Live Well and Spend Less 
by India Knight.
Fig Tree, 272 pp., £14.99, November 2008, 978 1 905490 37 0
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Jamie’s Ministry of Food: Anyone Can Learn to Cook in 24 Hours 
by Jamie Oliver.
Michael Joseph, 359 pp., £25, October 2008, 978 0 7181 4862 1
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Eating for Victory: Healthy Home Front Cooking on War Rations 
Michael O’Mara, 160 pp., £9.99, September 2007, 978 1 84317 264 2Show More
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... with a ‘properly compiled list’. Buy orange-label, go to Lidl instead of Waitrose, avoid ready meals, BOGOF, nasty things like economy mince (even the Sainsbury’s copywriters couldn’t think of a nice thing to say about theirs). Eat seasonally: ‘it’s fashionable, it’s thrifty.’ ‘Bottled water has had its day.’ Other bits are sensible ...

Witty Ticcy Ray

Oliver Sacks, 19 March 1981

... exotic disease and, not unnaturally, employed and exploited it in various ways. He had not been ready to give up his Tourette’s and (I cannot help thinking) might never have been ready without those three months of intense preparation, of tremendously hard and concentrated deep analysis and thought. The past nine ...

Is it ‘Mornington Crescent’?

Alex Oliver: H W Fowler, 27 June 2002

The Warden of English: The Life of H.W. Fowler 
by Jenny McMorris.
Oxford, 242 pp., £19.99, June 2001, 0 19 866254 8
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... both when Frank died of TB in 1918. Fowler didn’t create the need for Fowler; its niche was ready-made. He knew the public craved a dictator to lay down the laws of usage. Bad grammar had always been construed as a sign of bad character, since grammar shades into linguistic style and from there to etiquette and even morality. McMorris quotes a review of ...

Out of the East

Blair Worden, 11 October 1990

The King’s Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of Thomas Wolsey 
by Peter Gwyn.
Barrie and Jenkins, 666 pp., £20, May 1990, 0 7126 2190 3
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Oliver Cromwell and the English Revolution 
by John Morrill.
Longman, 300 pp., £17.95, May 1990, 0 582 06064 8
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The Writings of William Walwyn 
edited by Jack McMichael and Barbara Taft.
Georgia, 584 pp., $45, July 1989, 0 8203 1017 4
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... too? In one respect Gwyn’s scepticism about faction is well-founded. Historians can be too ready to explain the promotions and demotions of politicians by reference to their connections or opinions rather than to their capacities. Kings and ministers need able men to work for them. Government can function only if men of opposing interests can learn to ...

Paddling in the Gravy

E.S. Turner: Bath’s panderer-in-chief, 21 July 2005

The Imaginary Autocrat: Beau Nash and the Invention of Bath 
by John Eglin.
Profile, 292 pp., £20, May 2005, 1 86197 302 0
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... By what authority do you ask me these things?’ Richard (‘Beau’) Nash was at a loss for a ready reply. The ‘King of Bath’, as he liked to be known, was the gamester son of a Swansea bottlemaker, a heavyweight playboy whose abundant assurance, or chutzpah, had qualified him to act as arbiter of elegance at a rowdy Bethesda not yet marked out for ...

Short Cuts

Matthew Beaumont: The route to Tyburn Tree, 20 June 2013

... whose execution in 1724 drew a crowd of two hundred thousand people. Nor is there any testament to Oliver Cromwell, whose remains, along with those of two other regicides, were disinterred after the Restoration, and hanged at Tyburn in a posthumous execution. The Tyburn Tree plaque seems even more modest when compared with the elephantine public sculptures ...

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