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His Generation

Keith Gessen: A Sad Old Literary Man, 19 June 2008

Alfred Kazin: A Biography 
by Richard Cook.
Yale, 452 pp., £25, March 2008, 978 0 300 11505 5
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... began to produce books. In the library Kazin sometimes sat across from his friend the historian Richard Hofstadter, who was also writing his first book, and their simultaneous composition was also a form of becoming. The battle Kazin had all his writers fight in On Native Grounds was a battle against an uncaring America, a vast industrial civilisation. He ...

Benetton Ethics

Nick Cohen: Treachery at the FO, 2 July 1998

First Annual Report on Human Rights 
by Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
56 pp., April 1998
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The Great Deception 
by Mark Curtis.
Pluto, 272 pp., £14.99, June 1998, 0 7453 1234 9
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... were still cheering contrasts between the old and new regimes. The leftish Australian writer, Richard Neville, was quoted with approval: ‘There is perhaps an inch of difference between an Australia governed by Labour and an Australia governed by the right, but, believe me, it is an inch worth living in.’ Or as Charlie Whelan, Gordon Brown’s spin ...

Winterlude

Janette Turner Hospital, 1 August 1996

Talking to the Dead 
by Helen Dunmore.
Viking, 224 pp., £16, July 1996, 0 670 87002 1
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... sex. Consider these passages from Talking to the Dead, her fourth novel. Here is Nina cooking for Richard, her lover (he also happens to be her sister’s husband), her thoughts full of sexual innuendo: We’ll eat together, in the dark, cool dining-room. I’m going to bake the salmon, very slowly, with dill and juniper berries ...   This morning I took ...

Britain’s Thermonuclear Bluff

Norman Dombey and Eric Grove, 22 October 1992

... obituary, in the Biographical Memoirs of the Fellows of the Royal Society, of Sir William Cook, scientific director of the Grapple test series; some recent disclosures on the part of John Ward, who was employed at the British nuclear weapons laboratory at Aldermaston for six months during 1955; and a group of declassified US documents obtained by ...

Sightbites

Jonathan Meades: Archigram’s Ghost, 21 May 2020

Archigram: The Book 
edited by Dennis Crompton.
Circa, 300 pp., £95, November 2018, 978 1 911422 04 4
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... Archigram was an out-of-hours architectural band of six men – Peter Cook, Warren Chalk, Ron Herron, Dennis Crompton, Michael Webb and David Greene – whose day jobs were with big commercial practices and local authorities. They formed in the early 1960s and over the next decade or so produced thousands of designs for ‘cities of the future’ that were highly original, sometimes on the money, sometimes woeful, often funny, reliably coarse ...

A Serious Table

Christopher Driver, 2 September 1982

Simple French Food 
by Richard Olney.
Jill Norman and Hobhouse, 339 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 0 906908 22 1
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Living off nature 
by Judy Urquhart.
Penguin, 396 pp., £5.95, May 1982, 0 14 005107 4
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The Food and Cooking of Russia 
by Lesley Chamberlain.
Allen Lane, 330 pp., £9.95, June 1982, 0 7139 1468 8
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Food, Wine and Friends 
by Robert Carrier.
Sphere, 197 pp., £6.95, October 1981, 0 7221 2295 0
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The Colour Book of Fast Food 
edited by Alison Kerr.
Octopus, 77 pp., £1.99, June 1981, 0 7064 1510 8
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... name is Glasse discovers his métier by the camp fire and is assured by his mentor that ‘a good cook, even on Board of Trade allowance, has brought many a ship to port that ‘ud otherwise ’ave mut’nied on the’igh seas.’ For a hundred and fifty years, ever since the best jobs in London kitchens began going to Frenchmen and later Italians, the ...

Made for TV

Jenny Diski, 14 December 1995

Fight & Kick & Bite: The Life and Work of Dennis Potter 
by W. Stephen Gilbert.
Hodder, 382 pp., £18.99, November 1995, 0 340 64047 2
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Dennis Potter: A Life on Screen 
by John Cook.
Manchester, 368 pp., £45, October 1995, 0 7190 4601 7
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... the author to provide something more than a lesson in how to suck eggs. Stephen Gilbert and John Cook (along with just about everyone else) would agree that Potter reached his reflexive nadir with Blackeyes, in which the story of the eponymous model based on the central character, Jessica, is related as a novel authored by Jessica’s uncle, but rewritten by ...

Blow-Up

Richard Fortey, 2 October 1997

Volcanoes: Crucibles of Change 
by Richard Fisher, Grant Heiken and Jeffrey Hulen.
Princeton, 344 pp., £25, July 1997, 9780691012131
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... instability of the volcanic environment demands such numbers of superlatives. In 1779, Captain Cook made landfall on the Pacific island of Iwo Jima – nowadays the beach on which he drew up his dory is 40 metres above sea level. Imagine if South-East England were such a geological rocket: it would not be many centuries before St Paul’s Cathedral began ...

A Bed out of Leaves

Richard Wollheim: A dance at Belsen, 4 December 2003

... I had spent profitable time in the library, and, on this occasion, I found myself sitting next to Richard Meier, the uncompromising Modernist architect. Meier, who had just won the commission to build the new complex on top of the Santa Monica mountains, was expanding on the content of his brief, and momentarily I must have forgotten whom I was talking ...

Diary

Thomas Jones: Death in Florence, 21 June 2012

... British Consulate in Florence on 29 September 1913, a Monday. According to his death certificate, Richard Roberts, a 67-year-old Justice of the Peace and builder, staying at the Hotel Londres & Métropole in Florence, died at the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova on Saturday, 27 September 1913. The consul, Alfred Lemon, was informed of the death by R. Ellis ...

Half Bird, Half Fish, Half Unicorn

Paul Foot, 16 October 1997

Peter Cook: A Biography 
by Harry Thompson.
Hodder, 516 pp., £18.99, September 1997, 0 340 64968 2
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... I was a friend and devoted admirer of Peter Cook for thirty years but I never realised until I read this book how much our early lives had overlapped. We were born in the same week into the same sort of family. His father, like mine, was a colonial servant rushing round the world hauling down the Imperial flag. At one stage both fathers were ensnared in the argument about the most appropriate capital for the West Indies Federation: an argument as vexed as it was futile since the Federation lasted only a few months ...

Haleking

John Bossy: Simon Forman, 22 February 2001

The Notorious Astrological Physician of London: Works and Days of Simon Forman 
by Barbara Howard Traister.
Chicago, 260 pp., £19, February 2001, 0 226 81140 9
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Dr Simon Forman: A Most Notorious Physician 
by Judith Cook.
Chatto, 228 pp., £18.99, January 2001, 0 7011 6899 4
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... society’, like ‘institutional racism’, is an idea too metaphysical by half. Judith Cook’s Dr Simon Forman: A Most Notorious Physician has a similar title to Barbara Traister’s, reports much the same events, and comes to much the same conclusions if we leave out patriarchal society, but it does so in a narrative framework, beginning at the ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: The Queen, 11 May 2006

... badges.’ Fergus: (treacherously) ‘He’s hardly got any.’ The Queen: ‘What fun. And do you cook sausages and things?’ Fergus: ‘Aye. In a fire.’ Me: ‘We’re going to the ice-rink.’ Fergus said she looked nothing like her postage stamp, but I was already examining my digital watch, and a full 70 minutes passed before we saw skates. Billy ...

Matters of Taste

Peter Graham, 4 December 1986

On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen 
by Harold McGee.
Allen and Unwin, 684 pp., £20, September 1986, 9780043060032
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The French Menu Cookbook 
by Richard Olney.
Dorling Kindersley, 294 pp., £12.95, September 1986, 0 86318 181 3
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Out to Lunch 
by Paul Levy.
Chatto, 240 pp., £10.95, November 1986, 0 7011 3091 1
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The Good Food Guide 1987 
edited by Drew Smith.
Consumers’ Association/Hodder, 725 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 340 39600 8
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... to Europe, it causes pellagra. Most of the time, though, it is science which has much to teach the cook. McGee explains exactly why, for example, vegetables put in large quantities of already boiling water and cooked uncovered for a few minutes will keep their greenness. We learn how to make iced tea that is not cloudy and sauces that do not curdle. The great ...

A horn-player greets his fate

John Kerrigan, 1 September 1983

Horn 
by Barry Tuckwell.
Macdonald, 202 pp., £10.95, April 1983, 0 356 09096 5
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... late as 1772, the distinguished naturalist Sir Joseph Banks fell out, preposterously, with Captain Cook because Cook would not let him take an entourage which included two french-horn players to the South Seas on board the good ship Resoultion. (Banks and his musicians went to Iceland instead.) Exotic and a little ...

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