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Where’s the omelette?

Tom Nairn: Patrick Wright, 23 October 2008

Iron Curtain: From Stage to Cold War 
by Patrick Wright.
Oxford, 488 pp., £18.99, October 2007, 978 0 19 923150 8
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... until everyone felt the presence of the devil on the doorstep each day, just waiting his chance. Patrick Wright evokes Cold War stereotypes very concretely, beginning in Fulton, Missouri, where in 1946 Churchill first claimed to discern the curtain that had ‘descended from Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic’. His speech aimed at ...

Just Like Cookham

Neal Ascherson: Stanley Spencer in China, 19 May 2011

Passport to Peking: A Very British Mission to Mao’s China 
by Patrick Wright.
Oxford, 591 pp., £20, October 2010, 978 0 19 954193 5
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... the new Chinese regime and had played a leading part in securing the Geneva Accords. It was, as Patrick Wright puts it, ‘one of the last occasions, only two years before the Suez crisis, on which Britain exerted a decisive influence on international politics’. Zhou began to employ a ‘come and see’ strategy, inviting Western delegations to visit ...

At Tate Britain

Brian Dillon: Patrick Keiller, 7 June 2012

... down another field, diagonally, this time accompanied by a blue tractor. This pairing of views in Patrick Keiller’s 2010 film Robinson in Ruins – glimpsed again as part of his current installation at Tate Britain (on display until 14 October) – is almost too typical to be true and must, among other things, be a joke at his own expense. Since the early ...

Tankishness

Peter Wollen: Tank by Patrick Wright, 16 November 2000

Tank: The Progress of a Monstrous War Machine 
by Patrick Wright.
Faber, 499 pp., £25, October 2000, 0 571 19259 9
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... was open-minded about new inventions, prepared to back them even if they had no naval relevance. Patrick Wright’s fascinating book is a cultural rather than a military history, dwelling on images and impressions of the tank, its impact on the general public, the responses of artists and writers, rather than its evolving strategic role and its ...

The Frisson

Will Self, 20 January 2014

The View from the Train: Cities and Other Landscapes 
by Patrick Keiller.
Verso, 218 pp., £14.99, November 2013, 978 1 78168 140 4
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... With Patrick Keiller’s work a suitable place to begin would seem to be the end – specifically The End (1986), the first film by him to incorporate the subject matter and use the techniques that came to typify his mature style. Seventeen minutes long, and photographed in the autumn of 1983 by Keiller and his sometime collaborator (and full-time partner), Julie Norris, The End consists of what might be termed mises-en-scène trouvées; if by this we are to understand the fortuitous discovery by the camera’s lens of landscapes, cityscapes and their largely spectral human inhabitants ...

Lady Thatcher’s Bastards

Iain Sinclair, 27 February 1992

Class War: A Decade of Disorder 
edited by Ian Bone, Alan Pullen and Tim Scargill.
Verso, 113 pp., £7.95, November 1991, 0 86091 558 1
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... invented city, populated by cut-out symbols of oppression. Where are these phantom wine-bars? As Patrick Wright points out in A Journey through Ruins, it is a brutal ‘half-hour hike’ from the Bow Quarter fortress for anyone thirsty enough to trade life and shoulder-bag for a lime meniscus in their Mexican beer. Wine-bars in the neighbourhood of ...

Retrochic

Keith Thomas, 20 April 1995

Theatres of Memory. Vol. I: Past and Present in Contemporary Culture 
by Raphael Samuel.
Verso, 479 pp., £18.95, February 1995, 0 86091 209 4
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... British heritage industry is a loathsome collection of theme parks and dead values.’ For Patrick Wright, it is ‘part of the self-fulfilling culture of national decline’. As their country’s importance in the world diminishes, the British turn to their past for emotional compensation. How long, asks Robert Hewison, will it be before the ...

Miss Dior, Prodigally Applied

Ian Patterson: Jilly Cooper, 17 May 2017

Mount! 
by Jilly Cooper.
Corgi, 610 pp., £7.99, February 2017, 978 0 552 17028 4
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... things brought about the marketisation of the English house as a design brand, selling a concept Patrick Wright described as the world of Brideshead, ‘a countervailing and predominantly rural world based on private values and culturally sanctioned hierarchy, where history is venerated as tradition and culture is based on ancestry and descent’. The ...

The Last London

Iain Sinclair, 30 March 2017

... I was writing a novel called Downriver and walking, in dialogue, with the cultural historian Patrick Wright, who lived close to me in Hackney. We explored the territory together: the Bow Quarter development conjured from the Bryant & May match factory, the weaver’s garret occupied by David Rodinsky above a decommissioned synagogue in Princelet ...

The poet steamed

Iain Sinclair: Tom Raworth, 19 August 2004

Collected Poems 
by Tom Raworth.
Carcanet, 576 pp., £16.95, February 2003, 1 85754 624 5
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Removed for Further Study: The Poetry of Tom Raworth 
edited by Nate Dorward.
The Gig, 288 pp., £15, March 2003, 0 9685294 3 7
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... returned. He came back to England. Just in time for Margaret Thatcher. The cultural historian Patrick Wright, a man with a secret fondness for poetry (holograph Louis Zukofsky on the wall), made the trip at the same time, decanted from Vancouver. Those hazy overseas slots were vanishing and England was going mad. ‘I felt,’ ...

The Person in the Phone Booth

David Trotter: Phone Booths, 28 January 2010

... In 1987, BT’s phone box monopoly ended. So began the conversion memorably described by Patrick Wright in A Journey through Ruins (1991), of the only remaining ‘public’ element of a now otherwise privately owned service into a (privately owned) heritage industry. Boxes began to come in different shapes and sizes. Respectable neighbourhoods ...

Diary

Karl Miller: On the 1990 World Cup, 26 July 1990

... An article in the Independent of 10 July was headed with these remarkable words: ‘Patrick Barclay reflects on a World Cup which was largely lacking in drama, individual dynamism and moments to cherish in the memory.’ This is not a description of the World Cup that I have been watching. But it is a good description of the coverage of the football which was offered by Patrick Barclay, by other British journalists, and by experts and commentators who were heard from on television ...

Our Dear Channel Islands

Linda Holt, 25 May 1995

The Model Occupation: The Channel Islands under German Rule 1940-1945 
by Madeleine Bunting.
HarperCollins, 354 pp., £20, January 1995, 0 00 255242 6
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The Channel Islands: Occupation and Liberation 1940-1945 
by Asa Briggs.
Batsford, 96 pp., £7.99, April 1995, 0 7134 7822 5
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... became a national creed. Their most grotesque proponent was, of course, Margaret Thatcher, whom Patrick Wright once diagnosed as forever ‘redeclaring the Second World War’. Now, however, there is a growing unease about war memory in this country. Evident in last year’s arguments over the D-Day celebrations, it was evident again early this year in ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Wonder Woman’, 12 July 2017

Wonder Woman 
directed by Patty Jenkins.
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... and sinking plane, the Amazons repel the Germans, although not before Diana’s loved aunt (Robin Wright), the militarist counterpart to her pacifist mother, has been killed. The date is early 1918, and Trevor’s goal is to end the war that was supposed to end all wars. He means something pragmatic, like saving a certain number of lives. Diana thinks he is ...

On Richard Hollis

Christopher Turner: Richard Hollis, 24 May 2018

... form of concrete poetry, for the accompanying catalogue, which was designed by IG member Edward Wright (who went on to create Scotland Yard’s revolving sign). It was this spiral bound scrapbook, with a cobalt blue cover and cheap offset lithography, that made Richard Hollis want to be a graphic designer. Wright’s ...

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