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Paul and Penny

Julian Symons, 25 October 1990

Paul Scott: A Life 
by Hilary Spurling.
Hutchinson, 429 pp., £16.99, October 1990, 0 09 173984 5
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Paul Scott’s Raj 
by Robin Moore.
Heinemann, 246 pp., £18.50, October 1990, 0 434 47588 2
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... and Pall Mall, to call on the Falcon Press in pursuit of money they owed me. The managing director Peter Baker had left letters unanswered and telephone calls unreturned, and sure enough he was out. I saw instead a harassed long-nosed man in a blue suit who said his name was Paul Scott, and that he was the company secretary. Things were in a bit of a ...

Dad & Jr

Christian Lorentzen: Bushes Jr & Sr, 4 December 2014

... of low expectations’. ‘Bush’s conversational storytelling makes for engaging reading,’ Peter Baker writes in the New York Times. ‘It’s folksy, sharply observed and surprisingly affecting,’ Michiko Kakutani says in the same paper. ‘A helluva good read,’ Douglas Brinkley writes in the Financial Times. ‘Bush Jr’s new memoir ...

An Actor’s War

Hugo Williams, 18 April 1985

... for Needless Discomfort in the face of Overwhelming Boredom. I had to give a cheque for £48 to Peter Baker and I doubt there’s that much in my account. Now he’s going home by air because of an appendix and taking the cheque with him. I couldn’t be sorrier to do this to you once again, but his appendix took me by surprise, as it did him. Tell ...

His One Eye Glittering

August Kleinzahler: Creeley’s Chatter, 20 May 2021

The Selected Letters of Robert Creeley 
edited by Rod Smith, Peter Baker and Kaplan Harris.
California, 467 pp., £25, March 2020, 978 0 520 32483 1
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... Logorrhoea:​ Charles Olson, Robert Duncan and Robert Creeley were all afflicted with it. I only ever witnessed Duncan’s performances – free-form, extended, mostly improvised soliloquies. The one I remember best was at the poet Carl Rakosi’s house. It was many years ago, but I think he touched on Plato, Beethoven, Milton, Tom Thumb, Lysistrata, the genus Asterias (starfish) and the song ‘Penny Lane ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 5 May 2005

... on the Doctor’s last four incarnations (in reverse order: Paul McGann, Sylvester McCoy, Colin Baker, Peter Davison), though obviously no match for Tom Baker – at the controls of a souped-up Tardis. As I write, he’s at the mercy of a gang of obese aliens who’ve long been lurking ...

If Only Analogues...

Ange Mlinko: Ginsberg Goes to India, 20 November 2008

A Blue Hand: The Beats in India 
by Deborah Baker.
Penguin US, 256 pp., £25.95, April 2008, 978 1 59420 158 5
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... that led Ginsberg to India in the first place. He was not alone. Nor is the story Deborah Baker tells in A Blue Hand – a story about the encounter between optimistic, postcolonial Bengalis and disillusioned American Beats – about Ginsberg alone. It is a dense little slice of bicultural history, collated from biographies, journals, interviews and ...

At the V&A

Peter Campbell: Among the Artefacts, 13 December 2001

... have been stabled with the goats. To take just one example, the marble portrait bust of Thomas Baker – wonderful whether it came from Bernini’s hand or just from his workshop – is shown not in stand-alone art mode but in explanatory design-history mode. Above him to the left is a copy of van Dyck’s triple portrait of Charles I. ...


Philip Booth, 20 July 1995

Drag: A History of Female Impersonation in the Performing Arts 
by Roger Baker.
Cassell, 284 pp., £35, December 1994, 0 304 32836 7
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... Nowadays it’s possible to make a career exclusively within gay journalism. Roger Baker, however, was a journalist of wide-ranging interests whose careful think-pieces were a strong feature of Gay News in the mid-Seventies, but who was just as comfortable writing for the Times. His books include studies of those gay icons Bette Davis and Marilyn Monroe, but he also published works on exorcism and Israel ...

Back to back

Peter Campbell, 4 December 1980

Edwin Lutyens 
by Mary Lutyens.
Murray, 294 pp., £12.95, October 1980, 0 7195 3777 0
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... on a political mission,’ he wrote, ‘I suppose I shall have to chuck Delhi and leave it to Baker, which will spell ruin for us.’ It was a marriage made tolerable by separation, and this means that much of what is interesting and amusing in Mary Lutyens’s book is about family life without father. Lutyens was never sent away to school: he said from ...

The Fastidious President

David Bromwich: The Matter with Obama, 18 November 2010

... and floating five ideas plausibly. Obama keeps a list of his achievements and – according to Peter Baker in a recent New York Times Magazine profile – judges himself to have accomplished 70 per cent of what he hoped in his first two years. Jay Gatsby, too, kept lists, and one may be reminded of Gatsby’s ‘Platonic conception of himself’. The ...

The Real Johnny Hall

Penelope Fitzgerald, 3 October 1985

Our Three Selves: A Life of Radclyffe Hall 
by Michael Baker.
Hamish Hamilton, 386 pp., £13.95, June 1985, 0 241 11539 6
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... is a transsexual, but the suggestion is that she wants to conform to society and can’t, just as Peter Pan, as Barrie finally admitted to himself, wanted to grow up, but couldn’t. Women are treated in The Well without much sympathy, and almost always as empty-headed. The whole book supports the view that men are naturally superior, which is why Stephen ...

Knife, Stone, Paper

Stephen Sedley: Law Lords, 1 July 2021

English Law under Two Elizabeths: The Late Tudor Legal World and the Present 
by John Baker.
Cambridge, 222 pp., £22.99, January, 978 1 108 94732 9
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The Constitutional Balance 
by John Laws.
Hart, 144 pp., £30, January, 978 1 5099 3545 1
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... for no recognised reason.In his recent Hamlyn lectures, now amplified and annotated, John Baker, the doyen of historians of English law, set out to compare the laws and legal systems of two reigns separated by four centuries and linked ostensibly by nothing more than the name of the incumbent monarch. But the comparison is more than a convenient ...

At the V&A

Peter Campbell: Art Deco, 17 April 2003

... A film clip from the mid-1920s of Josephine Baker dancing, looking as pleased as any extrovert four-year-old to be showing what she can do with her feather skirt and pretty body, is the happiest thing in the V&A Art Deco exhibition. She jokes with you. She has fun.Other good things in the exhibition suggest, as her act does, that the right style can make good times better – whether on a streamlined train, an ocean liner or in a glitzy nightclub ...

Across the Tellyverse

Jenny Turner: Daleks v. Cybermen, 22 June 2006

Doctor Who 
BBC1Show More
Doctor Who: A Critical Reading of the Series 
by Kim Newman.
BFI, 138 pp., £12, December 2005, 1 84457 090 8
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... powering the gorgeous prescience and horror of William Gibson’s Neuromancer novels, only to peter out, pretty much, by the mid-1990s, as the dull commercial reality – the real ‘consensual hallucination’, to repurpose Gibson’s phrase – of internet shopping kicked in. There was also, after 1977, the Star Wars problem, and the visual similarity ...

At the Barbican

Peter Campbell: Alvar Aalto, 22 March 2007

... there. The light and weather I remember from the novel fill out my thoughts about the building. Baker House, the sinuous redbrick dormitory building Aalto designed for MIT in 1946-49, was criticised at the time: Henry Russell Hitchcock and Arthur Drexler’s Postwar Buildings in the USA comments on its ‘complicated and bizarre contours’. But thirty ...

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