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Robert Crawford

Robert Crawford

27 October 1988
... You’re interrupted in the book of the film By someone ringing who’s just seen your name As the title of an opera. You remember that doctor in Mallaig Born long before Disney and baptised Donald Duck. What could he have felt? Normality’s strange – Always more of it gets delivered in cartons With the names washed off. Maybe next century We’ll have extra labels: a noun for the sensation Of hearing Philip Glass while being driven in a Citroen Or of sitting down to eat a bag of chips With two historians of mesmerism near Inverkeithing ...

Robert and Randy

Carey Harrison

27 June 1991
Curtain 
by Michael Korda.
Chapmans, 415 pp., £14.95, May 1991, 1 85592 005 0
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... fleeting (as Korda draws it) liaison between Olivier and Kaye, the unmistakable originals of ‘Robert Vane’ and ‘Randy Brooks’: and truth in it? And if there were? Do the recent revelations of Lawrence Durrell’s relations with his daughter alter our attitude to Durrell’s books? Our understanding of them? The revelations in question are ...
27 October 1988
... There seem to have been several Oliver Norths. There was Oliver North the Patriot, whom Robert McFarlane would describe as ‘an imaginative, aggressive, committed young officer’, Ronald Reagan’s personally approved ‘hero’. There was Oliver North the Man of God, the born-again Christian from the charismatic Episcopal Church of the Apostles who believed that the Lord had healed his wounds and who – in the words of one former associate at the National Security Council – ‘thought he was doing God’s work at the NSC ...
4 January 2001
... madness? It took you and left us Burns of the Night. Many jubilant returns: this at last is Robert Fergusson ...
21 August 1980
We and They, Civic and Despotic Cultures 
by Robert Conquest.
Temple Smith, 252 pp., £12.50, April 1980, 0 85117 184 2
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The Recovery of Freedom 
by Paul Johnson.
Blackwell, 232 pp., £8.50, August 1980, 0 631 12562 0
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... In reviewing one of these books, I must ‘declare an interest’. Paul Johnson’s is a volume in the Mainstream Series of which I am an editor, although I have had no connection with this collection of essays other than strongly approving in principle that he should publish some of his most pungent and vigorous articles, which would otherwise have remained buried in journals and newspapers ...

On Robert Silvers

Andrew O’Hagan: Remembering Robert Silvers

19 April 2017
... When​ I was young it was possible to feel you’d made it as a writer simply by getting a phone call from one of four editors. When it came to ambition, very few of the writers I knew really gave a fuck about being in Who’s Who, being named an honorary fellow or having one of the queen’s gongs, or a million quid advance. What they wanted was for the phone to ring and for Bob Silvers to be on the line ...
3 October 1985
... Our objective,’ said President Botha of South Africa on 9 September of the aims of his National Party-dominated government, ‘is peaceful reform. Reform can only be retarded by outside attempts to interfere.’ Both statements are false, and calculated to mislead. But they may well flow from a genuine failure on the part of South Africa’s ruling oligarchy to understand the depth and breadth of that country’s continuing crisis ...
22 March 2001
... A bleary chiel, monger o targes an dirks redds his windae. Neist Holyrood Kirk a shop chock fu o fudge. Taxis judder on the setts. Naething mixter- maxter here: some douce sea-maws tak these white-washed wa’s for a new Bass Rock; a kiltie tour-guide on an open-top bus intones ‘Mary, Queen of Scots …’ to a wheen toorie-hattit tourists, huddlt and snell ...
19 May 1983
Robert Lowell: A Biography 
by Ian Hamilton.
Faber, 527 pp., £12.50, May 1983, 0 571 13045 3
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... Robert Lowell is not difficult to represent as the mad poet and justified sinner of the Romantic heritage. He is the dual personality who breaks the rules, kicks over the traces: he did this in the course of a series of manic highs which came and went from maturity, if not before, until the end of his life in 1977 at the age of 60 ...
21 January 1988
... Dalswinton Loch. A landscape painter, Alexander Naysmith Perches on deck beside his good friend, Robert Bums. It’s a calm, clear morning. The painter will later invent The compression rivet, and work out the axial arrangement Between propeller and engine. The poet will write about the light Of science dawning over Europe, remembering how Cold sun struck ...

Blame Robert Maxwell

Frederick Wilmot-Smith: How Public Inquiries Go Wrong

17 March 2016
... This is the process, named after a legal battle involving the disgraced media mogul Robert Maxwell, whereby those criticised in the first draft of a report are given an opportunity to respond. Chilcot hoped to begin this process in 2013, but negotiations over the publication of minutes of cabinet meetings and the correspondence between Tony ...

Bard of Friendly Fire

Robert Crawford: The Radical Burns

25 July 2002
Robert Burns: Poems 
edited by Don Paterson.
Faber, 96 pp., £4.99, February 2001, 0 571 20740 5
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The Canongate Burns: The Complete Poems and Songs of Robert Burns 
edited by Andrew Noble and Patrick Scott Hogg.
Canongate, 1017 pp., £40, November 2001, 0 86241 994 8
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... Aberdeen philosopher Thomas Blackwell was writing that Homer was a ‘stroling indigent Bard’. Robert Burns liked that idea. In ‘Love and Liberty’ a bard sings alongside prostitutes and tinkers, and pronounces himself ‘Homer like’. Burns’s footnote (Burns enjoyed footnotes) points out cheekily that ‘Homer is allowed to be the oldest ...

Two Poems

Robert Crawford

12 November 1998
... here, he waits to meet my mother, For a first date at St Martin in the Fields. Here, his father, Robert, catches light On his own deathbed, pipe and Press and Journal Combusting in a way none can control. Manse rooms huddle, fill with Shetland ponies, London tubes. There is no here. Here goes. En te oikia tou Patros mou monai pollai eisin: In my Father’s ...

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