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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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... good, then the way has been re-opened for all manner of planning controls designed to conserve the environment. In the introduction to the collection of her reprinted essays Clichés of Urban Doom, RuthGlass 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 ...

Revelation

Ruth​ Padel

5 January 2012
... A ladder’, 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 ...

Scotch

Ruth​ Padel

14 November 1996
... The fox you didn’t know you had in your front garden is craning his velour neck from the 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 ...
3 December 2009
... 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 drinkthe fresh and perfumed wine of Alsace à ta santé.Tous les jours que tu n’es pas l ...

Two Poems

Ruth​ Padel

12 March 2009
... the savannah comes to claim me. Thirty females and their calves in search of a leader. Shaggy manes down each nape. White cheeks and that dagger of kohl down the nose. Vibrissae, strands of black glass under a pure white chin. Nefertiti eyelashes, each aching hair standing proud from each whiffy pelt. That ready-to-flee gaze which unleashes the epinephrin in me – and in my phantom rival, who ...

Two Poems

Ruth​ Padel

28 April 2011
... his hands in a marble trough by the ten-foot gate. Swallows, just arrived in Africa, write new calligraphy 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 ...

Slices of Toast

Ruth​ Padel

8 March 2007
... in the dark without heating. December 3rd and feeling warm, almost too warm, I hear the window give 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 ...

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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... protagonist is the ultra-modern house on what looks like Martha’s Vineyard, the place you 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 ...

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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... back to Iowa so that it’ll feel like fifty’), and there she marries a man and enters the state so many of Moore’s characters live in, that of disappointed making do: ‘It was life like a glass of water: half-empty, half-full. Half-full. Half-full. Oops: half-empty.’ In ‘Which Is more than I Can Say about Some People’, Abby marries Bob after her dog dies of kidney failure, and the ...

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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... but the version of Hudson I am thinking of is given adequately enough by his epitaph: ‘He loved birds 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 ...

Sugar-Paper Blue

Ruth​ Fainlight

16 December 1993
... who didn’t hear them, but carried the manuscript     in her handbag for years, until     it split at the folds and fell apart. iii I was probably not more than 12 when, in my aunt’s glass-fronted mahogany bookcase –       dusting its elaborate clawed feet,       the swagged garlands of leaves swathing       the hips of the female torsos       that surged from ...
22 February 2007
... Vroooom Roars the Triceratops, like Texas thunder They keep the tape-loop going through the night Always 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 ...

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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... mother’s orders. The next day, two cans of milk are returned because they taste of tobacco. Undeterred, 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 ...

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 ...

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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... while still a student had been for a series of pen and ink drawings to illustrate a volume of ballads and other poems on fairy mythology; his first serious income as an artist came from the stained glass windows he began to design for James Powell and Sons in the late 1850s. He turned out hundreds of such designs over the course of his working life, most of them for Morris & Co. In a frenzy of ...

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