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Mingling Freely at the Mermaid

Blair Worden: 17th-century poets and politics, 6 November 2003

The Crisis of 1614 and the Addled Parliament: Literary and Historical Perspectives 
edited by Stephen Clucas and Rosalind Davies.
Ashgate, 213 pp., £45, November 2003, 0 7546 0681 3
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The Politics of Court Scandal in Early Modern England: News Culture and the Overbury Affair 1603-60 
by Alastair Bellany.
Cambridge, 312 pp., £45, January 2002, 0 521 78289 9
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... spring and by the imprisonment of the Crown’s principal critics within it. The lecture by Conrad Russell, the dominant historian of the politics of the period, found no place for such sentiments. To him the substance of early modern Parliamentary activity lies in the grind and details of the legislative process, not in the declamatory gestures of the ...

Say thank you

Clive James: Witty Words in Pretty Mouths, 23 May 2002

Fast-Talking Dames 
by Maria DiBattista.
Yale, 365 pp., £19.95, June 2001, 0 300 08815 9
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... wartime Hollywood heroines. In her mind, I imagine, she is of their number: Jean Harlow, Rosalind Russell, Irene Dunne, Barbara Stanwyck, Carole Lombard, Katharine Hepburn, Maria DiBattista. A professor of English and comparative literature at Princeton, and published by Yale, she is heaped with Ivy League credentials but laudably determined not to be stifled ...

Even If You Have to Starve

Ian Penman: Mod v. Trad, 29 August 2013

Mod: A Very British Style 
by Richard Weight.
Bodley Head, 478 pp., £25, April 2013, 978 0 224 07391 2
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... might have been problematic. If the Oxbridgey Trads had a philosophical pin-up it was Bertrand Russell, with Freddie Ayer for real deep kicks; Mods backed the darker horse of existentialism. How much the Mod crush on continental philosophy was a pose, and how much serious engagement, is a moot point. Even as ‘mere’ pose it’s a very interesting ...

Gilded Drainpipes

E.S. Turner: London, 10 June 1999

The London Rich: The Creation of a Great City from 1666 to the Present 
by Peter Thorold.
Viking, 374 pp., £25, June 1999, 0 670 87480 9
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The Rise of the Nouveaux Riches: Style and Status in Victorian and Edwardian Architecture 
by Mordaunt Crook.
Murray, 354 pp., £25, May 1999, 0 7195 6040 3
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... speaking on the Reform Bill, enthused over ‘that immense city which lies to the north of Great Russell Street and Oxford Street, a city superior in size and in population to the capitals of many mighty kingdoms; and probably superior in opulence, intelligence and general respectability to any city in the world’. This was pitching it a bit strong, though ...

Diary

Iain Sinclair: Swimming on the 52nd Floor, 24 September 2015

... a party of dark suits and hardhats who were weighing up the commercial possibilities. Bill Parry-Davies, local solicitor, jazzman, fisherman, activist and keen swimmer, was labouring to restore the Haggerston pool to life. He put together a consortium. He contacted the richest people he knew, the ones with collections they might need space to exhibit, and ...

Haley’s Comet

Paul Driver, 6 February 1997

The Envy of the World: Fifty Years of the BBC Third Programme and Radio 3 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Weidenfeld, 431 pp., £25, September 1996, 0 297 81720 5
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... The entire Vienna State Opera decamped to London at the Third’s behest in 1947. Bertrand Russell, Isaiah Berlin, Tippett, Betjeman and Fred Hoyle became familiar voices. Louis MacNeice and Dylan Thomas made a poet’s living in what Thomas called ‘the thin puce belfries’ of the Third. Guided by the producer Douglas Cleverdon, Under Milk Wood and ...

Scarisbrick’s Bomb

Peter Gwyn, 20 December 1984

Reformation and Revolution 1558-1660 
by Robert Ashton.
Granada, 503 pp., £18, February 1984, 0 246 10666 2
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The Reformation and the English People 
by J.J. Scarisbrick.
Blackwell, 203 pp., £14.50, March 1984, 0 631 13424 7
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... recent wave of ‘revisionism’. The revisionist historians of the Stuart period, led by Conrad Russell with Kevin Sharpe in support, have sought to persuade us that, contrary to what most English historians have led us to believe, the first two Stuart kings were on the whole a good thing, the Parliamentarians a bad thing. Perhaps even more important than ...

Hug me till you drug me

Alex Harvey: Aldous Huxley, 5 May 2016

After Many a Summer 
by Aldous Huxley.
Vintage, 314 pp., £8.99, September 2015, 978 1 78487 035 5
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Time Must Have a Stop 
by Aldous Huxley.
Vintage, 305 pp., £9.99, September 2015, 978 1 78487 034 8
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The Genius and the Goddess 
by Aldous Huxley.
Vintage, 127 pp., £8.99, September 2015, 978 1 78487 036 2
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... of men’s trousers and a battered hat with a brim that hid her face’; the visiting Bertrand Russell; Christopher Isherwood; and Huxley’s favourite mystic, Krishnamurti, accompanied by a retinue of Theosophists and vegetarian catering ladies in saris. While his guests looked like pixies ‘on a spree’, according to Loos, Huxley himself resembled a ...

In Bloody Orkney

Robert Crawford: George Mackay Brown, 22 February 2007

George Mackay Brown: The Life 
by Maggie Fergusson.
Murray, 363 pp., £25, April 2006, 0 7195 5659 7
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The Collected Poems of George Mackay Brown 
edited by Brian Murray.
Murray, 547 pp., £18.99, October 2006, 0 7195 6884 6
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... Robert Frost was a Californian who entrenched himself in New England. T.S. Eliot, for all his Russell Square papistry, came from St Louis. These poets grew to be associated with the territories they adopted and which adopted them. The idea that a place or community might actually speak through the poet, or co-produce the poetry, may be a primitive one ...

Diary

W.G. Runciman: Dining Out, 4 June 1998

... when one’s baby-sitter is a cabinet minister one realises one is really old! 21 May 1997. Howard Davies is appointed chairman-designate of ‘SuperSIB’ (or, as it is later christened by Gordon Brown, the Financial Services Authority), as much to his surprise as everyone else’s. He had been on his way to South America in his capacity as deputy governor of ...

Wall Furniture

Nicholas Penny: Dickens and Anti-Art, 24 May 2012

... or twenty strong, by contract’ (an early example of the package holiday), which includes a Mr Davies, who, tracing ancient Roman inscriptions with the ferrule of his umbrella, says ‘with intense thoughtfulness: “Here’s a B you see, and there’s a R, and this is the way we goes on in.”’ This is the sort of humour in which Punch ...

What are we telling the nation?

David Edgar: Thoughts about the BBC, 7 July 2005

Uncertain Vision: Birt, Dyke and the Reinvention of the BBC 
by Georgina Born.
Vintage, 352 pp., £10.99, August 2005, 0 09 942893 8
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Building Public Value: Renewing the BBC for a Digital World 
BBC, 135 pp.Show More
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... an increasing homogeneity of casting (the ‘anything with Tara Fitzgerald’ syndrome). Andrew Davies withdrew his adaptation of Angela Lambert’s A Rather English Marriage from the BBC when Alan Yentob insisted that an aristocratic ex-Battle of Britain pilot be played by David Jason; ITV loved it, but made similar demands. Eventually, back at the ...

Into the Underworld

Iain Sinclair: The Hackney Underworld, 22 January 2015

... are lifted from the ground, I can see the soil beneath it glinting like moist flesh.’ Bill Parry-Davies, taking time off from a court battle with Hackney Council over the treatment by the developers Murphy of the last rind of Georgian façades on Dalston Lane, blew his saxophone from the pit in feisty lament. He’d told us earlier: ‘The conservation ...

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