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Diary

Peter Hill: From the Lighthouse, 6 June 1996

... trailer while the principal keeper started up the Massey Ferguson tractor and pulled us up a steep hill to the beacon. To my relief, I found that the tower of the light was surrounded by numerous outhouses in which we would live, eat and sleep. Later, I would hear tales of other lights, such as the legendary Skerryvore where the keeper lived in a tower: the ...

Most people think birds just go pi-pi-pi

James Fletcher, 4 April 1996

The Messiaen Companion 
edited by Peter Hill.
Faber, 581 pp., £40, March 1995, 0 571 17033 1
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Olivier Messiaen: Music and Colour. Conversations with Claude Samuel 
translated by Thomas Glasow.
Amadeus, 296 pp., $29.95, May 1994, 0 931340 67 5
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... which oddly passes without comment in the useful discography by Christopher Dingle that concludes Hill’s book. The Germans were not unsympathetic to these musical endeavours. The camp commander supplied Messiaen with manuscript paper, and found a cello, with one string missing, for Pasquier. A German officer gave Messiaen the complete Beethoven Piano ...

The Case for Geoffrey Hill

Tom Paulin, 4 April 1985

Geoffrey HillEssays on his Work 
edited by Peter Robinson.
Open University, 259 pp., £18, March 1985, 0 335 10588 2
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... Geoffrey Hill’s second collection of poems, King Log, was published in 1968, that year of student radicalism and disappointment. Hill’s title is reactionary in its implications and derives from Aesop’s fable of the frogs who desired a king. In my edition of L’Estrange’s royalist version of Aesop the fable runs like this: The Frogs, living an easy, free life everywhere among the lakes and ponds, assembled together, one day, in a very tumultuous manner, and petitioned Jupiter to let them have a King ...

England and Other Women

Edna Longley, 5 May 1988

Under Storm’s Wing 
by Helen Thomas and Myfanwy Thomas.
Carcanet, 318 pp., £14.95, February 1988, 0 85635 733 2
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... in The Art of Edward Thomas open out the issues, but a whiff of poet’s corner lingers on. Pace Peter Levi, it is not quite enough to celebrate Thomas as ‘certainly genuine, authentic, a true poet’. Under Storm’s Wing is a welcome reprint of Helen Thomas’s As it was and World without End, first published in 1926 and 1931. It also contains a ...

Half-Way up the Hill

Frank Kermode, 7 July 1988

Young Betjeman 
by Bevis Hillier.
Murray, 457 pp., £15.95, July 1988, 0 7195 4531 5
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... about family and school. Born at Gospel Oak, Betjeman moved up with his parents to better-off West Hill; fans will remember his touching invocation of the house there (‘Deeply I loved thee, 31 West Hill!’), as well as some very subtle verses (‘Lissenden Mansions! And my memory sifts/Lilies from lily-like electric ...

Bang, Bang, Smash, Smash

Rosemary Hill: Beatrix Potter, 22 February 2007

Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature 
by Linda Lear.
Allen Lane, 584 pp., £25, January 2007, 978 0 7139 9560 2
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... that was so tight it gave her a headache. Difficulties with clothes occur in many of her books. Peter Rabbit’s expression of resigned discomfort as his mother buttons his coat up too tightly under his chin, Tom Kitten’s wide-eyed dismay as the buttons fly off his Sunday suit, and numerous accidents to pinafores are among the details that give the tales ...

The Redeemed Vicarage

John Lennard, 12 May 1994

Pictures of Perfection 
by Reginald Hill.
HarperCollins, 303 pp., £14.99, March 1994, 0 00 232392 3
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... There was little to suggest, twenty-odd years ago, that Superintendent Andrew Dalziel and Sergeant Peter Pascoe would develop as they have, except Reginald Hill’s unusual and wise decision never to write consecutive novels about them.* Their debut in A Clubbable Woman (1970) came eight years after Julian Symons had first pronounced the ‘detective story’ dead; as late as 1989 T ...

Short Cuts

Christian Lorentzen: L is Lorentzen, 23 January 2014

... from Ellis Island – as Stratoberdha. My father believes the name means ‘military camp on the hill’; no one has spoken Albanian in my family since Elias’s generation. In A Dictionary of Albanian Religion, Mythology and Folk Culture I found a reference to an Orthodox village of that name, one of five in the vicinity of Korçë where those who suffer ...

In New Zealand

Peter Campbell: Timber-frame, 21 February 2002

... I am in Wellington, where I spent my first twenty years. I have walked, as I used to then, down the hill from Wadestown. The pines are now taller and blacker and the glossy mounded foliage of native shrubs covers the banks of cuttings more densely. In those days, after heavy rain, there were landslips. It has been very wet this year but only one yellow patch shows where a few tons of rotten rock and clay slid down to spill over the road ...

Jokes

Donald Davie, 11 June 1992

In the Circumstances: About Poems and Poets 
by Peter Robinson.
Oxford, 260 pp., £35, May 1992, 0 19 811248 3
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... It seems now that there was always something odd about Peter Robinson’s being the editor, in 1985, of Geoffrey Hill: Essays on His Work, from the Open University Press. Robinson’s sensibility, particularly as one had encountered it in his poems, pointed away from the aloofness of Hill’s attitude to his public, and away from Hill’s lofty and recherché diction, towards something plainer, more demotically awkward, more (the word presented itself) Wordsworthian ...

Short Cuts

Peter McGill: In Japan, 31 March 2011

... Liberation League (BLL) was at the top of a hilly street in central Kobe. At the bottom of the hill was the headquarters of the regional government, which in the days after the quake was surrounded by black limousines and broadcast vans from all the main Japanese media. None of the journalists walked up the hill to ...

Montereale

Christopher Hill, 6 November 1980

The Cheese and the Worms: the Cosmos of a 16th-Century Miller 
by Carlo Ginzburg, translated by John Tedeschi and Anne Tedeschi.
Routledge, 177 pp., £7.95, October 1980, 0 7100 0591 1
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... refuted and denounced them. Only in the present generation have historians like Robert Mandrou and Peter Burke seriously attempted to ascertain what was going on beneath the surface. In Montaillou Le Roy Ladurie utilised one lucky cache of evidence. Professor Ginzburg has found another. Domenico Scandella, known as Menocchio, lived from 1532 to 1599 or ...

In Walthamstow

Rosemary Hill: William Morris, 13 September 2012

... reluctant to get into a dispute with the Labour council, accepted redundancy. With the keeper Peter Cormack went thirty years’ knowledge of the collections as well as his reputation as a scholar of Morris and the Arts and Crafts. There was no one left to point out, as Cormack tried to do, that, far from being an imperialist, Morris lost much of his ...

At the Whitechapel

Rosemary Hill: ‘Black Eyes and Lemonade’, 23 May 2013

... with cinema stills and advertisements, came to be seen as a significant early moment in pop art. Peter Blake, 19 and just out of art school, also visited the Whitechapel and took note. Advertising, tattoos, commercial lettering, a lot of Black Eyes and Lemonade passed rapidly from popular art into pop art by way of Jones’s daring, humorous and too little ...

At Tate Britain

Rosemary Hill: ‘Ruin Lust’, 3 April 2014

... miraculous however closely you look, makes sunlight dapple the stone with tiny shadows of ivy. Peter Van Lerberghe, a lesser artist, catches a lesser, but no doubt more common, scene of Tintern by moonlight aswarm with tourists climbing over it with torches to make the right dramatic shadows before ticking a now hackneyed experience off the to-see ...

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