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Jam Tomorrow

F.M.L. Thompson

31 August 1989
Clichés of Urban Doom, and Other Essays 
by Ruth Glass.
Blackwell, 266 pp., £25, November 1988, 0 631 12806 9
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Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design in the 20th Century 
by Peter Hall.
Blackwell, 473 pp., £25, November 1988, 0 631 13444 1
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London 2001 
by Peter Hall.
Unwin Hyman, 226 pp., £17.95, January 1989, 9780044451617
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The Big Smoke: A History of Air Pollution in London since Medieval Times 
by Peter Brimblecombe.
Routledge, 185 pp., £12.95, March 1989, 0 415 03001 3
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New York Unbound: The City and the Politics of the Future 
edited by Peter Salins.
Blackwell, 223 pp., £35, December 1988, 1 55786 008 4
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The Idea of a Town: The Anthropology of Urban Forms in Rome, Italy and the Ancient World 
by Joseph Rykwert.
MIT, 241 pp., $15, September 1988, 0 262 68056 4
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... environment. In the introduction to the collection of her reprinted essays Clichés of Urban Doom, Ruth Glass offers a forceful, eloquent and polemical expression of the view that planning, along with all the basic values and institutions of the modern democratic welfare state, has been uprooted and up-ended since 1979 by a gigantic conjuring trick which ...


Ruth Padel

5 January 2012
... the master whispered, ‘of nucleic acid.’ This was the first we’d heard of it. Rain nosed the glass; wind lashed the trees outside. ‘Four hydrogen-bonded nucleotides locking on like mating damselflies, but each a different size, pulling the ladder’s sides into a twist, like serpents on the sign outside a chemist who for old time’s sake gives lodging ...


Ruth Padel

14 November 1996
... hedge at two in the morning to see what he doesn’t often get a glimpse of, that moonspark on a glass of Scotch he doesn’t often smell being more at home with fish-heads and the rinds of Emmental: trainspotting to his fox-astonishment a tumbler doing the rounds of his own beat about heart-height in the ...
3 December 2009
... Like Matisse, bending over ink and watercolour on a shut-in terrace to sketch the only wineglass on his table. Its coiled, thick stem. The row of blobs below its bowl a choker of pearls for a bony throat. The candyfloss smudge of thinning pink within. Its need to know the worst but hope for more. He’s writing, small and black beside the pale-rose tint he’s given to particles of water drying on a letter, 6th May 1947, This is the glass in which I drink the fresh and perfumed wine of Alsace à ta santé ...

Two Poems

Ruth Padel

28 April 2011
... in a haze of cold spring sky. Breathing Hebrew to himself, he pours water, two delicate glass stamens from a copper cup, over his girlfriend’s fingers. A prayer she is too shy to ask him about. Lone Ranger When all this is over, said the princess, this bothersome Growing Up, I’ll live with wild horses. I want to race tumbleweed blowing down a ...
8 March 2007
... that rattle-burp it only ever does when the wind is fierce outside. Black raindrops flame on the glass. Light from across the back gardens, one lone yellow oblong, someone up early on a winter morning. And I think of my parents putting radiators in their home, dark slices of metal toast in every room. Before, it was so cold of a morning I’d leave the next ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Ghost Writer’, ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’

22 April 2010
The Ghost Writer 
directed by Roman Polanski.
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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 
directed by Niels Arden Oplev.
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... get to if your car moves when the ferry docks, a luxury barracks built of sandy blocks and sheet glass, and a picture of wealth and power as modes of infinite discomfort. It belongs to a high-powered American publisher, and is inhabited when the film starts by a former British prime minister, locked away writing his memoirs. Or rather … That corpse on the ...

A Predilection for the Zinger

Rebecca Mead: Lorrie Moore

10 December 1998
Birds of America 
by Lorrie Moore.
Faber, 291 pp., £9.99, November 1998, 0 571 19529 6
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... I was standing very close’ – then blames her bad parenting skills for the incomprehensible truth: Just once, before he was born, she said: ‘Healthy? I just want the kid to be rich.’ A joke, for God’s sake! After he was born she announced that her life had become a daily sequence of mind-wrecking chores, the same ones over and over again, like a ...

O cruel!

Michael Mason

16 June 1983
Far Away and Long Ago 
by W.H. Hudson.
Eland, 332 pp., £3.95, October 1982, 0 907871 25 9
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W.H. Hudson: A Biography 
by Ruth Tomalin.
Faber, 314 pp., £13.50, November 1982, 0 571 10599 8
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... and green places, and the winds on the heath, and saw the brightness of the skirts of God.’ Ruth Tomalin’s active interest in Hudson is of long standing, for she wrote a biography of him as long ago as 1954. She is obviously deeply acquainted with her subject. But her response to the special problems of writing about Hudson is not always ...
22 February 2007
... have done, no one knows why The Bible Store respires in its sanctum As if in an outsize black glass humidor This is a sacred ground, a holy place 4 a.m. in a sacred place I can tell this is a sacred place, I needn’t be told It’s in the air I feel it This old heritage hotel, this is a sacred place The tour buses are lined up outside it Awaiting the ...

Not in My House

Mark Ford: Flannery O’Connor

23 July 2009
Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor 
by Brad Gooch.
Little, Brown, 448 pp., £20, May 2009, 978 0 316 00066 6
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... Asbury tries out another means of bonding with the incommunicative pair. He pours himself a glass of fresh milk from one of the cans, and drains it. Randall watches him: ‘She don’t ’low that,’ he said. ‘That the thing she don’t ’low.’ Asbury poured out another glassful and handed it to him. ‘She ...

Family Life

Penelope Fitzgerald

25 March 1993
Poet and Dancer 
by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.
Murray, 199 pp., £14.99, April 1993, 0 7195 5189 7
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Peerless Flats 
by Esther Freud.
Hamish Hamilton, 218 pp., £14.99, February 1993, 0 241 13385 8
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... The poet is not a poet in Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s new novel, and the dancer is not a dancer. ‘Although her movements were always the same – she waved her arms above her head, she ran now to the right of the room, now to the left – her audience obligingly saw what she wanted them to see. She was pleased, she ran faster, she attempted to spin round; her tread was not light, and she was flustered and breathing hard ...

Oh! – only Oh!

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Burne-Jones

9 February 2012
The Last Pre-Raphaelite: Edward Burne-Jones and the Victorian Imagination 
by Fiona MacCarthy.
Faber, 629 pp., £25, September 2011, 978 0 571 22861 4
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...  ...

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