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Drab Divans

Miranda Seymour: Julian Maclaren-Ross, 24 July 2003

Fear & Loathing in Fitzrovia: The Bizarre Life of Writer, Actor, Soho Dandy, Julian Maclaren-Ross 
by Paul Willetts.
Dewi Lewis, 403 pp., £14.99, March 2003, 1 899235 69 8
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... Trapnel remarks at the beginning of a long monologue on the art of biography. Placed beside Paul Willetts’s oddly spiritless biography, Powell’s portrait seems remarkable. ‘I’m a master of disguise,’ Ross once boasted to a friend, after delightedly – and wrongly – spotting a version of himself in one of Iris Murdoch’s early ...

Two Poems

Sam Willetts, 17 December 2009

... halting of a car at the junctions on that homely uncompromising grid. Outside the shops, my friend Paul, Bogside-born, says Look at the floor: the pavement’s overlaid solid with pale-coral, ivory, dove-grey chewing-gum. Welcome to the city of the grinding jaw. Behind us a watchtower bristles, stuck thick as an African nail-fetish head with suspicious ...

Seventy Years in a Colourful Trade

Andrew O’Hagan: The Soho Alphabet, 16 July 2020

Tales from the Colony Room: Soho’s Lost Bohemia 
by Darren Coffield.
Unbound, 364 pp., £25, April 2020, 978 1 78352 816 5
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... we see him standing at the bar of the Wheatsheaf in Rathbone Place, dressed, as his biographer Paul Willetts writes, ‘in either a camel-hair coat or an astrakhan-collared alternative, together with a pale suit and a brightly patterned tie, augmented by a cane, cigarette-holder, snuff box and dark glasses’, a slave to hard booze and ...

Dear Mohamed

Paul Foot, 20 February 1997

Sleaze: The Corruption of Parliament 
by David Leigh and Ed Vulliamy.
Fourth Estate, 263 pp., £9.99, January 1997, 1 85702 694 2
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... supervised by the Tory Whips office, in particular by two young MPs, David ‘Two Brains’ Willetts and Andrew Mitchell, whose father, David Mitchell, is also a Tory MP, and once chose Neil Hamilton to be his Parliamentary Private Secretary. The Guardian had told a bit of the story. Parliament had uncovered none of it. And that might have been an end ...

Corbyn in the Media

Paul Myerscough, 22 October 2015

... the poll tax; or that the policy editor of Newsnight, Chris Cook, used to be an adviser to David Willetts; or that Nick Robinson, shortly to replace James Naughtie on Today, was once president of the Oxford University Conservative Association. Doubtless most of the time these men do a bang-up job, suspending their personal beliefs in the service of ...

Heir to Blair

Christopher Tayler: Among the New Tories, 26 April 2007

... a title, sometimes claims to be less posh than Cameron on the grounds that his public school, St Paul’s, is in London, and he didn’t board. Both sowed the seeds of tabloid merriment by joining a ludicrous club for rich boys while at Oxford, and even Cameron’s much advertised fondness for 1980s bands like The Smiths is best understood, his biographers ...

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