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Diary

Peter Hill: From the Lighthouse

6 June 1996
... with a woman, but I could never see the connection. The three of us and the dog hopped onto an old 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 ...
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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... Etienne Pasquier, who was later to play on the record Messiaen made of the Quatuor – a fact 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 ...
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 ...

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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... and the velvet hair ribbons ‘fastened with a bit of elastic looped over a button behind the ear’ 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 ...
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 ...

Short Cuts

Christian Lorentzen: L is Lorentzen

23 January 2014
... in America 1908-58 lists the birthplace of his maternal grandfather, Elias Mitchell – the surname is 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 ...

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 ...
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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... his vital tie with Frost, but obscures his different affiliations to Yeats and Hardy. A few essays 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 ...
7 July 1988
Young Betjeman 
by Bevis Hillier.
Murray, 457 pp., £15.95, July 1988, 0 7195 4531 5
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... a man of parts, was at times quarrelsome and censorious. Mr Hillier’s book is stuffed with detail 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 ...

Sucking up

Michael Rogin

12 May 1994
Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War 
by John MacArthur.
California, 274 pp., £10, January 1994, 0 520 08398 9
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Live from the Battlefield: From Vietnam to Baghdad – 35 Years in the World’s War Zones 
by Peter​ Arnett.
Bloomsbury, 463 pp., £17.99, March 1994, 0 7475 1680 4
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... ground – to substitute for war the image of war. That effort, failing in Vietnam, produced the news reporter as American hero – Neil Sheehan, David Halberstam, Seymour Hersch, Jonathan Schell, Peter Arnett. They reported not only the war the government did not want its citizens to see, but also the government efforts to invent a war for domestic consumption. ‘Part of the Vietnamese Seventh ...

Strange, Angry Objects

Owen Hatherley: The Brutalist Decades

17 November 2016
A3: Threads and Connections 
by Peter​ Ahrends.
Right Angle, 128 pp., £18, December 2015, 978 0 9532848 9 4
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Raw Concrete: The Beauty of Brutalism 
by Barnabas Calder.
Heinemann, 416 pp., £25, April 2016, 978 0 434 02244 1
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Space, Hope and Brutalism: English Architecture 1945-75 
by Elain Harwood.
Yale, 512 pp., £60, September 2015, 978 0 300 20446 9
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Concrete Concept: Brutalist Buildings around the World 
by Christopher Beanland.
Frances Lincoln, 192 pp., £18, February 2016, 978 0 7112 3764 3
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This Brutal World 
by Peter​ Chadwick.
Phaidon, 224 pp., £29.95, April 2016, 978 0 7148 7108 0
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Modern Forms: A Subjective Atlas of 20th-Century Architecture 
by Nicolas Grospierre.
Prestel, 224 pp., £29.99, February 2016, 978 3 7913 8229 6
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Modernist Estates: The Buildings and the People Who Live in Them 
by Stefi Orazi.
Frances Lincoln, 192 pp., £25, September 2015, 978 0 7112 3675 2
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Architecture an Inspiration 
by Ivor Smith.
Troubador, 224 pp., £24.95, November 2014, 978 1 78462 069 1
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... For us​ ,’ Steffen Ahrends told his son Peter, who was born in Berlin in 1933, ‘the history of architecture started with the Soviet 1917 revolution.’ It wasn’t entirely a joke. For many designers in the Weimar Republic, and for subsequent ...

Memories of New Zealand

Peter​ Campbell

1 December 2011
... chair, being talked to by Ilse Jacoby, my father’s secretary. Ilse was one of that cohort of refugees from Germany that did much to transform intellectual life in New Zealand. Her husband, Peter, worked as a statistician in the Education Department. There were also the Dronkes, the Steiners, the people who founded the chamber music society. There was Karl Popper. Mostly they were reduced to ...

Ruling Imbecilities

Andrew Roberts

7 November 1991
The Enemy’s Country: Words, Contexture and Other Circumstances of Language 
by Geoffrey Hill.
Oxford, 153 pp., £19.95, August 1991, 0 19 811216 5
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... On 11 November 1990 Geoffrey Hill published a Remembrance Day poem entitled ‘Carnival’, in the Sunday Correspondent. The occasion, and the appearance in a national newspaper, suggested the sort of work that a poet laureate might ...

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 ...

Narco Polo

Iain Sinclair

23 January 1997
Mr Nice: An Autobiography 
by Howard Marks.
Secker, 466 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 0 436 20305 7
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Pulp Election: The Booker Prize Fix 
by Carmen St Keeldare.
Bluedove, 225 pp., £12.99, September 1996, 0 9528298 0 0
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... flat, a few streets from his old place in Cathcart Road, and well within crawling distance of the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, where, unknown to him, his high-life associate, the film-maker Peter Whitehead, had been taken, after suffering a heart attack. It was one of those mornings of indulgent sunshine, filtered through gauze. Lilies and bell-shaped purple flowers. Twigs. A long pine table ...

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