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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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... book at a fair price has taken eight years to cross the Atlantic.) Mr Olney, like but unlike Robert Carrier, is an American who has exported himself to countries where there is no damned nonsense about democracy in matters cultural. He is a cook and a teacher of cookery who commutes between Provence and London, and he takes his craft with intense ...

Under the Staircase

Robert Neild, 1 April 1983

War Plan UK: The Truth about Civil Defence in Britain 
by Duncan Campbell.
Burnett, 488 pp., £12.95, November 1982, 0 09 150670 0
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With Enough Shovels: Reagan, Bush and Nuclear War 
by Robert Scheer.
Secker, 279 pp., £8.95, February 1983, 0 436 44355 4
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... of Defence for Research and Engineering, Strategic and Theatre Nuclear Forces, that Robert Scheer heard the phrase from which he took the title of his book: ‘if there are enough shovels to go around, everybody’s going to make it.’ The shovels, Mr Jones explained, were for digging holes in the ground. These would be covered somehow or other ...

Where mine is at

Gordon Burn, 28 May 1992

Outerbridge Reach 
by Robert Stone.
Deutsch, 409 pp., £14.99, May 1992, 0 223 98774 3
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... When Robert Stone’s best-known novel, Dog Soldiers, was published in 1974, there was a small but significant overlap of material with The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe’s souped-up, superheated journalistic account of the beginnings of the counterculture, published six years earlier. The coincidence of material was in many ways inevitable ...

American English

Robert Ilson, 6 May 1982

Oxford American Dictionary 
Oxford, 816 pp., £9.95, March 1981, 0 19 502795 7Show More
Longman New Generation Dictionary 
Longman, 798 pp., £3.95, July 1981, 0 582 55626 0Show More
Funk and Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary 
Harper and Row, 890 pp., £4.95, February 1981, 0 06 180254 9Show More
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... Robert Burchfield, Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, made a bid to unite two nations divided by a common language by unveiling the Oxford American Dictionary, which includes such words as gridlock (“urban traffic jam”). ’ So proclaimed the Sunday Telegraph Magazine. British and American English do indeed differ in all sorts of ways, as the following list of equivalent pairs will remind any doubters: lift/elevator, push-chair/stroller, bonnet/hood, boot/trunk, windscreen/windshield ...

Steaming like a Pie

Theo Tait: ‘Going Postal’, 4 December 2003

by J. Robert Lennon.
Granta, 483 pp., £15.99, October 2003, 1 86207 625 1
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... are watched and treated carefully (a fair number of ex-military join the USPS). Being a ‘postal carrier’, to use the current term, is one of the most sought-after blue-collar jobs in America, secure and relatively well-paid. Postal employees are no more likely to be assaulted by their colleagues than anyone else; statistically speaking, ‘going ...

The Old Feudalist

D.A.N. Jones, 3 July 1986

Out of Africa and Shadows on the Grass 
by Karen Blixen.
Penguin, 351 pp., £3.95, January 1986, 0 14 008533 5
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Out of Africa 
by Karen Blixen.
Century, 288 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 7126 1016 2
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Isak Dinesen: The Life of Karen Blixen 
by Judith Thurman.
Penguin, 511 pp., £3.50, April 1986, 9780140096996
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... movie, which is full of stock English types, one of them lazily played by the American sex-object, Robert Redford. He should have taken lessons in the British accent from the hard-working Marlon Brando. Firmly hooked to the movie, this elaborate Century edition of Out of Africa is packed with illustrations which will appeal to nostalgic movie-weepers but have ...

Monsieur Mangetout

Walter Nash, 7 December 1989

The Guinness Book of Records 1990 
edited by Donald McFarlan.
Guinness, 320 pp., £10.95, October 1989, 0 85112 341 4
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The Chatto Book of Cabbages and Kings: Lists in Literature 
edited by Francis Spufford.
Chatto, 313 pp., £13.95, November 1989, 0 7011 3487 9
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... and bizarre: high jumpers, cliff divers, roller-skaters, the grower of the largest swede, the carrier of the heaviest hod, the baker of the deepest apple pie, the confectioner of the widest ice-cream sundae, bottomless eaters, legless drinkers, throwers of the farthest ball, peelers of most potent onions, Uncle Tom Cobbleighest winners as far as the eye ...

Helluva Book

Mark Lawson, 3 September 1987

Love is colder than death: The Life and Times of Rainer Werner Fassbinder 
by Robert Katz and Peter Berling.
Cape, 256 pp., £12.95, June 1987, 0 224 02174 5
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... Of the initial meeting between Robert Katz, investigative hack and would-be screenwriter, and the late film director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, the former now records that the latter ‘seemed terribly annoyed’. To be honest, admits Katz, Fassbinder was in something of a bate throughout their brief acquaintance: his abiding image of the director is of someone ‘irascible, whining ...

Above it all

Stephen Sedley, 7 April 1994

Suing Judges: A Study of Judicial Immunity 
by Abimbola Olowofoyeku.
Oxford, 234 pp., £27.50, December 1993, 0 19 825793 7
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The Independence of the Judiciary: The View from the Lord Chancellor’s Office 
by Robert Stevens.
Oxford, 221 pp., £25, November 1993, 0 19 825815 1
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... well-known fact that all a working man would ever do with a large award of damages was buy a pub. Robert Stevens in a footnote cites a nice antidote from a law lord in 1833: ‘Here is a contract made by a fishmonger and a carrier of fish who know their business, and whether it is just and reasonable is to be settled by me ...

Is this the end of the American century?

Adam Tooze: America Pivots, 4 April 2019

... Trump personifies, but it goes well beyond him. In October 2018 the giant Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman unexpectedly pulled out of the Eastern Mediterranean, where its planes had been bombarding IS’s positions in Syria. It sailed into the Atlantic and then suddenly and without warning headed north. Aircraft carriers don’t do ...


Tam Dalyell: Yesterday’s News, 18 September 1986

... by Sir Lewis Namier had more patronage at his disposal than Mrs Thatcher has enjoyed: and Sir Robert Walpole and his successors were vulnerable to visits from grandees, who called on him with the word that it was time for a change. As a friend of mine, a Conservative Privy Councillor, put it when I said post-Westland that I was not asking for a general ...

Towards the Precipice

Robert Brenner: The Continuing Collapse of the US Economy, 6 February 2003

... programme and, in particular, the agenda of the great banks. Under the watchful supervision of Robert Rubin, who, having been CEO at Goldman Sachs, was made Clinton’s Treasury Secretary in 1993, the already disintegrating barriers between investment banks, commercial banks and insurance companies – originally erected by the New Deal, in response to the ...


Ian Hamilton: New New Grub Street, 3 February 1983

... Blackheath with their holdalls, or nipping round the corner from the Telegraph with a fistful of Robert Hales or Arthur Barkers. One esteemed figure at the Times used to order a taxi for noon on Friday and when it arrived he would have a flunkey load it up with art books and American encyclopedias. He would then squeeze in beside his booty and, with ...

Belfast Diary

Edna Longley: In Belfast, 9 January 1992

... should say that I have been a member of Fortnight’s advisory board for five years.) Robert Johnstone, who edited the anthology’s ‘Cultural World’ section of Troubled Times, describes Fortnight as originating in ‘dark days when publishing or anything mildly progressive culturally was a novelty in strife-stricken, bomb-blasted, war-weary ...

Iraq, 2 May 2005

Andrew O’Hagan: Two Soldiers, 6 March 2008

... long and can carry 5500 personnel; its motto Vis Per Mare, ‘Strength from the Sea’. A major carrier is more like a floating town, often surrounded with smaller ships serving as warehouses. Major Spahr and his colleague Marine Captain Kelly Hinz had their orders: they would fly into south-central Baghdad and support the marines on the ground, many of ...

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