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The Great Neurotic Art

Steven Shapin: Tucking into Atkins, 5 August 2004

Dr Atkins’ New Diet Revolution: The No-Hunger, Luxurious Weight Loss Plan that Really Works! 
by Robert C. Atkins.
Vermilion, 542 pp., £7.99, January 2003, 0 09 188948 0
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Atkins for Life: The Next Level, Permanent Weight Loss and Good Health 
by Robert C. Atkins.
Pan, 456 pp., £7.99, December 2003, 0 330 41846 7
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The South Beach Diet: The Delicious, Doctor-Designed Plan for Fast and Healthy Weight Loss 
by Arthur Agatston.
Headline, 278 pp., £10.99, May 2003, 0 7553 1129 9
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... on their plates. I needn’t have asked, but I did anyway: some of them told me they were ‘doing Atkins’ and others that they were ‘doing South Beach’. Dietary virtue, it was apparent, lay incongruously between the buns. Even asking the question elicited a torrent of second-hand expert commentary – on glycemic indices, net carbs, insulin-resistance ...

One Minute You’re Fine

Eleanor Birne: At what point do you become fat?, 26 January 2006

Fat Girl: A True Story 
by Judith Moore.
Profile, 196 pp., £12.99, June 2005, 1 86197 980 0
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The Hungry Years: Confessions of a Food Addict 
by William Leith.
Bloomsbury, 296 pp., £10.99, August 2005, 9780747572503
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... on the label, rather than the issue of size’). He flies to New York to interview Robert Atkins a few weeks before Atkins dies of a heart attack. He visits a McCain chip factory and stands on a platform poised over a vat of bubbling fat to watch a chip taster at work, his ‘small bright eyes darting ...

Two Men in a Boat

Ian Aitken, 15 August 1991

John Major: The Making of the Prime Minister 
by Bruce Anderson.
Fourth Estate, 324 pp., £16.99, June 1991, 9781872180540
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‘My Style of Government’: The Thatcher Years 
by Nicholas Ridley.
Hutchinson, 275 pp., £16.99, July 1991, 0 09 175051 2
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... water on the side of a narrow-boat during a family holiday with another Tory MP, the somewhat wet Robert Atkins. During that trip he asked Mr Atkins point blank whether there was any realistic possibility of him becoming prime minister. Anderson records that the two men decided there and then that there was, but that ...

Making a Costume Drama out of a Crisis

Jenny Diski: ‘Downton Abbey’, 21 June 2012

Downton Abbey: Series One and Two 
Universal DVD, £39.99, November 2011Show More
Upstairs Downstairs: Complete Series One and Two 
BBC DVD, £17.99, April 2012Show More
Park Lane 
by Frances Osborne.
Virago, 336 pp., £14.99, June 2012, 978 1 84408 479 1
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Habits of the House 
by Fay Weldon.
Head of Zeus, 320 pp., £14.99, July 2012, 978 1 908800 04 6
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... two extra hours of Downton-free life. This latest crop of period narratives probably began with Robert Altman’s film Gosford Park (2001): at best, a mildly amusing self-conscious pastiche, though it wasn’t clear why a film-maker who could produce Nashville and Short Cuts would bother. The writer credited with Gosford Park was the now ennobled Julian ...

It’s already happened

James Meek: The NHS Goes Private, 22 September 2011

... Each element got its overall allowance, paid its staff, obtained its equipment and supplies, and co-operated, sometimes well, sometimes not, with the other elements, according to an overarching plan. The aim was fairness, an even spread of care across the country. In a monopoly healthcare system, competition had no place; on the contrary, it seemed sensible ...

All hail, sage lady

Andrew O’Hagan: ‘The Crown’, 15 December 2016

... 1952. His abdicated brother returns for his funeral and is met by his mother, Queen Mary (Eileen Atkins), who announces very greyly that he mustn’t mention ‘that woman’s name’. David, or the Duke of Windsor as the lapsed Edward VIII is now to be called, is a benumbed and bitchy mummy’s boy (played here by Alex Jennings, a seasoned royal ...

Mr Lion, Mr Cock and Mr Cat

Roger Lonsdale, 5 April 1990

A Form of Sound Words: The Religious Poetry of Christopher Smart 
by Harriet Guest.
Oxford, 293 pp., £35, October 1989, 0 19 811744 2
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... experience. These include Abel Evans, Elizabeth Rowe, Aaron Hill and Joseph Trapp, and even Robert Lowth, whose The Genealogy of Christ (1729) was written when he was still a schoolboy at Winchester, and the much-derided Sir Richard Blackmore. Johnson later respected Blackmore’s The Creation (1712), which for Guest illustrates the route to divine ...

Rongorongo

John Sturrock: The Rosetta Stone, 19 September 2002

Keys of Egypt 
by Lesley Atkins and Roy Atkins.
HarperCollins, 335 pp., £7.99, September 2001, 0 00 653145 8
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The Rosetta Stone: The Story of the Decoding of Hieroglyphics 
by Robert Solé and Dominique Valbelle, translated by Steven Rendall.
Profile, 184 pp., £7.99, August 2002, 1 86197 344 6
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Lost Languages: The Enigma of the World’s Undeciphered Scripts 
by Andrew Robinson.
McGraw Hill, 352 pp., £25.99, June 2002, 0 07 135743 2
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The Man who Deciphered Linear B: The Story of Michael Ventris 
by Andrew Robinson.
Thames and Hudson, 168 pp., £12.95, April 2002, 0 500 51077 6
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... In the shopping precinct that now clings to the skirts of the old Reading Room, a table is laid with portable derivatives of the Rosetta Stone. The number of them hints at a BM merchandising frenzy: for sale, and I may have miscounted, are a mug, a mouse-mat, a ceramic tile, a tie, a teacloth, a scarf, a T-shirt and two sizes of replica, all of them stamped with a presumably random excerpt from the Stone’s inscriptions ...

The way out of a room is not through the door

Christian Lorentzen: Charles Manson, 7 November 2013

Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson 
by Jeff Guinn.
Simon and Schuster, 495 pp., £20, August 2013, 978 0 85720 893 4
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... entered the federal prison on McNeil Island in Puget Sound, where he discovered Scientology, read Robert Heinlein’s science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land, and first heard the Beatles. From Scientology, he took ideas that he would combine with Carnegie’s: let the other fellow think he was an immortal spiritual being; exploit his traumatic ...

Not to Be Read without Shuddering

Adam Smyth: The Atheist’s Bible, 20 February 2014

The Atheist’s Bible: The Most Dangerous Book That Never Existed 
by Georges Minois, translated by Lys Ann Weiss.
Chicago, 249 pp., £21, October 2012, 978 0 226 53029 1
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... for his own profit, because the Lad was so profane to carry it on a Sunday, by ‘Alderman Atkins, Shit-breeches’. The Jacobite attack on the Whigs in A Catalogue of Books, of the newest Fashion, To be sold by Auction at the Whig’s Coffee-House at the Sign of the Jackanapes in Prating Alley (1693), articulates satire through imaginary titles such ...

The Olympics Scam

Iain Sinclair: The Razing of East London, 19 June 2008

... minutes to Olympic glory, a corkscrew clock tower (with broken clock), a steam engine called ‘Robert’ (home to dozens of incontinent pigeons). Beggars, junk-dealers and God-ranters have been expelled from more salubrious districts. Across the road is a labyrinthine mall-tunnel of Poundland bargains, sachets of Calf’s Pizzle at £1.99 a hit. And an ...

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