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Openly reticent

Jonathan Coe

9 November 1989
Grand Inquisitor: Memoirs 
by Robin Day.
Weidenfeld, 296 pp., £14.95, October 1989, 0 297 79660 7
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by Kenneth Branagh.
Chatto, 244 pp., £12.99, September 1989, 0 7011 3388 0
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Storm over 4: A Personal Account 
by Jeremy Isaacs.
Weidenfeld, 215 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 297 79538 4
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... of most public figures, it seems, when the exhortation of agents and publishers becomes too much to resist and there is nothing for it but to start writing books about themselves. In the case of RobinDay (Sir Robin, I suppose, if one is not to repeat Mrs Thatcher’s famous gaffe) that time has come at the age of 68; in the case of Kenneth Branagh, at the age of 28. Make of that what you will ...


Stephen Sharp: The ‘Belgrano’ and Me

7 May 2014
... My problems began​ in 1984 when I wrote letters to Francis Pym and Sarah Kennedy about the Falklands War and Sir RobinDay’s part in it. Sarah was presenting a radio programme and I thought she was talking about me when she spoke of a young man who had just lost his mother. Francis Pym said, ‘Guns fire from Number 10 ...

This Charming Man

Frank Kermode

24 February 1994
The Collected and Recollected Marc 
Fourth Estate, 51 pp., £25, November 1993, 1 85702 164 9Show More
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... is aggressively tense. Clive Jenkins is a smiling serpent, Muggeridge has an accusing face and defensive hands. Betjeman, looking amusingly miserable, is on his knees. Among the bull’s-eyes are RobinDay, Ian Paisley, David Owen, Douglas Hurd, Kenneth Baker, David Mellor, Alan Bennett. There are a few outers: Jonathan Miller, Stephen Spender, Alfred Brendel, Melvyn Bragg – but even in these he ...
18 February 2016
... world do so only through the prism of professional thinkers, and ignore the persistence of myth in everyday thought and speech, the interpretations will be deficient. This is the importance of the Robin Hood myth. It’s the first and often the only political-economic fable we learn. It’s not a children’s story, although it is childlike. It contains the three essential ingredients of grown-up ...

Images of Violence

Phillip Whitehead

17 September 1981
The Media and Political Violence 
by Richard Clutterbuck.
Macmillan, 191 pp., £15, July 1981, 0 333 31484 0
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... be guaranteed at Board of Management level and at the level of the General Advisory Council (to which the General belongs). The book ends with some very rum suggestions. They are too much for Sir RobinDay, who writes the foreword, and they are too much for me. After some anodyne advice to the forces of light that they must be at least as adept as the forces of darkness in using the media, the ...

Circus on Calton Hill

Robin​ Robertson

18 April 1996
... Edinburgh burns below us, this blazing day where flame’s invisible, a dark wave lapping at the petrol’s grain, as the fire-eaters assuage their thirst. The fanned embers of the city rustle like the wrappers of sweets; heat tinkering in ...

Three Poems

Robin​ Robertson

6 September 2001
... All night, the industry of erasure, effacement, our one mouth working itself dry. * But even a god can’t stop the light that finds us, annealed, fruitless, two strangers broken on the field of day. In the window-box, the narcissi come up blind. Nightdriving Straight on through the rifled dark, the headlights film the road: light pools ahead as the land dips – the skid and slur of sodium ...

Being Greek

Henry Day: Up Country with Xenophon

2 November 2006
The Long March: Xenophon and the Ten Thousand 
by Robin​ Lane Fox.
Yale, 351 pp., £25, September 2004, 0 300 10403 0
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The Expedition of Cyrus 
by Xenophon, translated by Robin​ Waterfield.
Oxford, 231 pp., £8.99, September 2005, 0 19 282430 9
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Xenophon’s Retreat: Greece, Persia and the End of the Golden Age 
by Robin​ Waterfield.
Faber, 248 pp., £17.99, November 2006, 0 571 22383 4
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The Sea! The Sea! The Shout of the Ten Thousand in the Modern Imagination 
by Tim Rood.
Duckworth, 272 pp., £12.99, August 2006, 0 7156 3571 9
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... prose. It’s not surprising that he was known in antiquity as ‘the Attic bee’, while Hazlitt praised the ‘clearness of style and modesty of temper’ he found in the Anabasis, a judgment that Robin Waterfield’s new translation doesn’t traduce. Xenophon’s relatively simple sentences, preference for the vivid present tense, and use of third-person narration inevitably invite comparison with ...

Beyond Dubh-Chladach

Robin​ Robertson

23 May 2019
... of clover at the marram’s edge where he tilted his head to hear, like a bird; watched, as I picked spring flowers – marsh marigolds, buttercups, pansies, primroses, silverweed, vetch, ragged-robin, yellow rattle, eyebrights, thrift. It was a false spring, though, that year; the cold held on, deep-rooted in the ground. We walked a lit candle three times round the crib; washed him three times in ...

Female Bandits? What next!

Wendy Doniger: The incarnations of Robin​ Hood

22 July 2004
Robin​ Hood: A Mythic Biography 
by Stephen Knight.
Cornell, 247 pp., £14.50, May 2003, 0 8014 3885 3
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... In the 1964 film Robin and the Seven Hoods, when someone compares ‘Robbo’ (Frank Sinatra) to Robin Hood, one of the gangsters asks: ‘Who’s Robin Hood?’ And another replies: ‘Well, he was a hood, some Englishman who lived long ago and had an operation going for him in the forest. And I guess the "robin” means he stole birds.’ Robin is ...

Two Poems

Robin​ Robertson

15 December 2005
... when blackbirds fish the salt-sea wave and the rabbit picks at the buzzard’s heart when seals come walking up from the bay and nightfall begins with the morning dew when daffodils open on Christmas Day and you see a crow as white as a dove I will return to you, my love, I will return to you ...

Two Poems

Robin​ Robertson

20 January 2005
... What the Horses See at Night When the day-birds have settled in their creaking trees, the doors of the forest open for the flitting drift of deer among the bright croziers of new ferns and the legible stars; foxes stream from the earth; a ...

The Coming God

Robin​ Robertson

13 September 2012
... to be petted, harnessed in. By his boyhood’s end he was dressing in their skins: the tiger’s tree-line stripe, the fallow deer speckled like a fall of stars, the pricked ears of the lynx. One day he came upon a maddened she-bear and reached out his right hand to her snout and put his white fingers to her mouth, her teeth, his fingers gentle at the bristled jaw, which slackened and drew in a ...

Born Again

Phillip Whitehead

19 February 1981
Face the future 
by David Owen.
Cape, 552 pp., £12.50, January 1981, 0 224 01956 2
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... I am afraid that the bleak honesty of the thought, like the clumsy redundancy of the language, crops up again and again in this book. It was quite clear from their recent television discussion, with RobinDay trying to play the parson and Frances Morell as a disdainful bridesmaid, that any marriage between David Owen and David Steel is a long way off. For one thing, Steel is in danger of being rumbled ...

Two Poems

Robin​ Robertson

20 July 2000
... l’oeil room of personal effects: his toilet-bag and shoes, his watch, his cigarettes; and the drawn skull of my father, dispersed. Waking up the next morning into a wet brightness and hugeness of day, the miniature figures going to work, and the world around them, carrying on. I can hardly walk, I am so frightened. These days are scored through, one by one. The ward-plan wiped clean for another ...

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