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Russell Davies, 18 June 1981

Short Lives 
by Katinka Matson.
Picador, 366 pp., £2.50, February 1981, 9780330262194
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... There is nothing very mysterious about the interest we take in self-destructive personalities. To be callous about it – and we are all callous when it comes to disasters relived on the printed page – their lives make excellent biographies. Not only do they suffer in a dramatic way: they do it more purposefully than the rest of us, with our dull sense of un-satisfactoriness, can manage ...

From Papa in Heaven

Russell Davies, 3 September 1981

Ernest Hemingway: Selected Letters 1917-1961 
edited by Carlos Baker.
Granada, 948 pp., £15, April 1981, 0 246 11576 9
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... To POSTERITY, location unspecified (over Key West? Rancho El Paradiso?) Dear Pos: How the hell are you? A stupid damned question as you will be rolling along pretty much as always, my reliable friend. You will be surprised to get a letter from me but not half as surprised as Papa is to be writing a letter. I have not written a letter in twenty years ...

Coe and Ovett & Co

Russell Davies, 1 October 1981

Running Free 
by Sebastian Coe and David Miller.
Sidgwick, 174 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 283 98684 0
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... At the same moment, in the same events, in what is by some standards an athletically underdeveloped country, a combination of propitious circumstances has brought forth two world-beating runners. Nobody can hope to account for this, but the luck is worth glorying in. It embraces even the principals’ names: Coe and Ovett – as snappy as trademarks, and eminently saleable on the vowel-happy continent of Europe where the pair’s records have mostly been set ...

Lennon’s Confessions

Russell Davies, 5 February 1981

... I always wrote about me when I could. I didn’t really enjoy writing third-person songs about people who lived in concrete flats and things like that. I like first-person music.’ We didn’t enjoy hearing this in 1970, when John Lennon said it in the course of Jann Wenner’s ‘Rolling Stone’ Interviews. It was bad enough that Lennon had left the beloved Beatles to work with a Japanese-born conceptual artist, living in beds and bags and producing minimalist packages of photographs and recorded shrieks ...

Southern Belle

Russell Davies, 21 January 1982

by Albert Goldman.
Allen Lane, 598 pp., £9.95, December 1981, 0 7139 1474 2
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... My newsagent is currently selling a publication called Elvisly Yours. There’s everything here for the Elvis Presley cultist. He is offered a £369 package trip to Memphis (‘Free Trip to Tupelo – Welcoming Elvis Party with Close Elvis Friends’); or the more distant economic possibility of a ‘life-size cold-cast bronze or copper statue of Elvis’ at £25,000 ...

Rising above it

Russell Davies, 2 December 1982

The Noel Coward Diaries 
edited by Graham Payn and Sheridan Morley.
Weidenfeld, 698 pp., £15, September 1982, 0 297 78142 1
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... You may not like the book, but you will be impressed by the index. There’s Bette Davis and Joe Davis and Sammy Davis Jr. There’s Basil Dean and James Dean, Jack Warner of Dock Green and Jack Warner of Hollywood. Jayne Mansfield lines up alongside Mantovani, and Field-Marshal Viscount Montgomery is discovered between Maria Montez and Dudley Moore ...

A Life of Its Own

Jonathan Coe, 24 February 1994

The Kenneth Williams Diaries 
edited by Russell Davies.
HarperCollins, 827 pp., £20, June 1993, 0 00 255023 7
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... cultural identity, these diaries make absorbing reading on the level of spiritual autobiography. Russell Davies is to be congratulated on editing down more than four million words – 10,000 pages, by my reckoning – into this fat but manageable volume, for providing the unobtrusive annotations which steer the reader gently through forests of ...


Christopher Ricks, 2 August 1984

The Faber Book of Parodies 
edited by Simon Brett.
Faber, 383 pp., £8.95, May 1984, 0 571 13125 5
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Lilibet: An Account in Verse of the Early Years of the Queen until the Time of her Accession 
by Her Majesty.
Blond and Briggs, 95 pp., £6.95, May 1984, 0 85634 157 6
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... It is the media-men and the culturalists who run this very contemporary show: Miles Kington and Russell Davies, Alan Coren and Clive James, Malcolm Bradbury and George Melly. The parodied A’s have it: Douglas Adams (hitchhiking through a galaxy of fading stars), Woody Allen, Kingsley Amis, Anon, John Aubrey, Auden and Ayckbourn. An Auden parody is ...

Across the Tellyverse

Jenny Turner: Daleks v. Cybermen, 22 June 2006

Doctor Who 
BBC1Show More
Doctor Who: A Critical Reading of the Series 
by Kim Newman.
BFI, 138 pp., £12, December 2005, 1 84457 090 8
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... is central to such a strategy. The chief writer and executive producer on the new Doctor Who is Russell T. Davies, the Welsh writer previously known for Queer as Folk (1999), Channel 4’s energetic, unusually active drama about young gay men in Manchester, and for the view, as expressed to a journalist, that the motor of ...

Like a row of books by Faber

Peter Porter, 22 January 1987

Other Passports: Poems 1958-1985 
by Clive James.
Cape, 221 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 224 02422 1
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... what by then had become, and was to remain for many years, his creed. Interestingly, this poem for Russell Davies, written while filming with Barry Humphries in Cardiff, is couched in rhyme royal, a stanza which is a Manx-cat version of ottava rima, though it may well predate it, having been used by Chaucer. Auden also decided on rhyme royal for ‘Letter ...


Blake Morrison, 30 June 2011

The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp 
by W.H. Davies.
Amberley, 192 pp., £14.99, September 2010, 978 1 84868 980 0
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... According to W.H. Davies, tramps often buried surplus items of clothing or footwear by the side of the road, knowing they could retrieve them should they pass the same way again. In his second volume of autobiography, Later Days, published in 1925, Davies lists a few of his deposits: a shirt on the banks of the Mississippi, a pair of boots in the Allegheny mountains, a coat under rocks on Long Island Sound ...

Home Office Rules

William Davies, 3 November 2016

... is Nick Timothy’s suggestion that work visas be granted only to foreign students at Oxbridge and Russell Group universities. Policy-makers may form their ideas on the basis of what goes down well in the pubs of Dorset, the comment pages of the Daily Mail or the working men’s clubs of Scarborough, but snobbery and chippiness are more troubling when they are ...


Will Self: On the Common, 25 February 2010

... Common then walk across it, thereby exercising both myself and the dog, a two-year-old Jack Russell called Maglorian, whose puppyish manner complements his diminutive stature. When he actually was a puppy he was so winsome that small crowds used to gather round him in the street; nowadays, thankfully, it is only the occasional passerby who screws up his ...

Blame it on his social life

Nicholas Penny: Kenneth Clark, 5 January 2017

Kenneth Clark: Life, Art and ‘Civilisation’ 
by James Stourton.
William Collins, 478 pp., £30, September 2016, 978 0 00 749341 8
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... of a visit to the National Gallery of Art in Washington in 1970 when he walked down John Russell Pope’s majestic central hall, the last great classical building in the Western world, with the galleries on either side ‘crammed full of people who stood up and roared at me, waving their hands and stretching them out towards me’. He was overcome ...

Holy Boldness

Tom Paulin: John Bunyan, 16 December 2004

Glimpses of Glory: John Bunyan and English Dissent 
by Richard Greaves.
Stanford, 693 pp., £57.50, August 2002, 0 8047 4530 7
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Theology and Narrative in the Works of John Bunyan 
by Michael Davies.
Oxford, 393 pp., £65, July 2002, 0 19 924240 2
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The Portable Bunyan: A Transnational History of ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ 
by Isabel Hofmeyr.
Princeton, 320 pp., £41.95, January 2004, 0 691 11655 5
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... influential writers and preachers of his age to a dull and worthy figure. Both Greaves and Michael Davies appear to accept, and even collude with, Bunyan’s diminished presence in contemporary British culture. Bunyan, however, remains an enduring presence in Ulster Protestantism. In a lecture given many years ago, ‘The Triumph of the Word of God in the Life ...

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