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Tramlines

Oliver​ Reynolds

23 November 1989
... go out and look at the city, it’s not bound, cities can’t be bound. No, tramlines are 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 ...

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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... Roosevelt Mr Johnson writes: ‘In terms of political show-business he had few equals and he had an 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 ...

Juliet

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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... and 1857. Her acquaintanceship with the novelist lasted till his death in 1880, but the nature of the 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 ...

The Third Suitcase

Thomas Jones: Michael Frayn

24 May 2012
Skios 
by Michael Frayn.
Faber, 278 pp., £15.99, May 2012, 978 0 571 28141 1
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... in Noises Off, the cast of a touring theatre company, are preparing to put on. It’s the night 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 ...

A Salvo for Malawi

Douglas Oliver

23 June 1994
... attacking by lake and landfrom the North, long lines of porterscarrying munitions on their heads,dying 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 ...

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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... of the advice in The Thrift Book is sensible and boring: shop locally and daily, and/or online, but always 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 ...

In the Garden

Peter Campbell: Rampant Weeds

26 April 2007
... not be popular. ‘Not easy to eradicate, regrowth occurs from root fragments,’ the Pest and Weed Expert 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 ...

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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... into the American heartland and twiddle the dial, those figures will begin to make sense. The preachers, 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 ...

Short Cuts

Matthew Beaumont: The route to Tyburn Tree

20 June 2013
... Sheppard, the most charismatic and popular thief of the time, who twice escaped from Newgate, and 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 ...

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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... will form their own opinions about the book’s frequent references to ‘old-fashioned, middle-class’ 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 ...

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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... retort (or so he claimed) was ‘Pray, sir, are you a justice of the peace, or the mayor of this city? 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 ...

The Whole Point of Friends

Theo Tait: Dunthorne’s Punchlines

22 March 2018
The Adulterants 
by Joe Dunthorne.
Hamish Hamilton, 173 pp., £12.99, February 2018, 978 0 241 30547 8
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... of cans of looted beer from ‘a large man with badly executed neck tattoos’. Some time afterwards, a billboard appears featuring a huge photograph of Ray drinking the beer, smiling and ‘picnic-ready’, next to the words: ‘Shop a looter.’ From this point on, his fate as a comic scapegoat seems assured. The Adulterants is brief and accessible, but very carefully crafted: it is Dunthorne’s ...

There’s Daddy

Michael Wood

13 February 1992
Flying in to Love 
by D.M. Thomas.
Bloomsbury, 262 pp., £14.99, February 1992, 0 7475 1129 2
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JFK 
directed by Oliver​ Stone.
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... them by himself; and we are entitled to ask why his mentality should not, like everyone else’s, have a history and a context. But this is not the sort of answer we get from either D.M. Thomas or Oliver Stone. Their suggestion is simpler. There is no paranoia, or paranoia is everywhere. For Thomas, this means anything goes (‘since fiction is a kind of dream, and history is a kind of dream, and ...

Uplift

Nicholas Canny

24 May 1990
The Emancipist: Daniel O’Connell, 1830-1847 
by Oliver​ Mac Donagh.
Weidenfeld, 372 pp., £20, October 1989, 0 297 79637 2
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... biography of Daniel O’Connell deserves close attention, if only because the subject was such a colossus in his own time. This particular biography calls for even greater respect because its author, Oliver Mac Donagh, has established himself as the most incisive and (with the late F.S.L. Lyons) the most prolific Irish-born historian of his generation. The compound is preferred over the simple adjective ...

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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... an environment where royal duplicity could flourish likely to have been one where faction could flourish 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 ...

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