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How Jeans Got Their Fade

Peter Campbell: Mauve and indigo, 14 December 2000

by Jenny Balfour-Paul.
British Museum, 264 pp., £19.99, October 2000, 0 7141 2550 4
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Mauve: How One Man Invented a Colour that Changed the World 
by Simon Garfield.
Faber, 222 pp., £9.99, September 2000, 0 571 20197 0
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... and prepared as balls or cakes, was the exportable product. To use it, the dyer ground up the ball of dye and dissolved it in a vat of alkali. This reduced the indigo to leuco-indigo. The solution did its magic as before. The cloth when taken from the vat of greenish dye turned blue on exposure to the air. In Indigo, Jenny Balfour-Paul glosses these ...


Ian Buruma, 13 May 1993

Gower: The Autobiography 
by David Gower and Martin Johnson.
Collins Willow, 256 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 00 218413 3
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... Australians, and Gooch will escort him off the field, brawny arm wrapped around delicate shoulder. Simon Heffer, in the Evening Standard, wrote a more ill-tempered piece, in which he deplored the fact that Mr M. Atherton (Manchester Grammar and Cambridge) was frozen out of Gooch, G.’s secondary-modern circle. The likes of Gooch – the dependable sergeant ...

The Hooks of her Gipsy Dresses

Nicholas Penny, 1 September 1988

Picasso: Creator and Destroyer 
by Arianna Stassinopoulos Huffington.
Weidenfeld, 559 pp., £16, June 1988, 0 02 977935 9
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... pseudo-archaic proverbial sagacity, fails to disguise self-pity. In life, he said, one throws a ball and hopes that one’s friends will form a wall that enables it to return: but it usually falls, as if it had hit a wet sheet. Huffington, concerned to help us to understand the deterioration of Picasso’s relations with Marie-Thérèse Walter, picks this ...

‘Because I am French!’

Ruth Scurr: Marie Antoinette’s Daughter, 3 July 2008

Marie-Thérèse: The Fate of Marie Antoinette’s Daughter 
by Susan Nagel.
Bloomsbury, 418 pp., £25, July 2008, 978 1 59691 057 7
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... women could still hear his cries through the prison walls. His keepers were a shoemaker, Antoine Simon, and his wife, who dressed the child as a sans-culotte, and tormented him. Marie Antoinette could sometimes catch sight of her son through a crack in the wall; this, Marie-Thérèse remembered, became her mother’s ‘sole occupation’. Marie Antoinette ...

Scenes from British Life

Hugh Barnes, 6 February 1986

Stroke Counterstroke 
by William Camp.
Joseph, 190 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 7181 2669 6
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Redhill Rococo 
by Shena Mackay.
Heinemann, 171 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 434 44046 9
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by Michael Irwin.
Deutsch, 231 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 233 97792 9
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... affection, in the gentle manner of Yes, Minister. Like Sir Humphrey in the television programme, Simon Goldstone fears action might prove ‘counter-productive’ – an odd word to choose since there isn’t any productivity to be countered. Likewise Camp’s politicians are united by suspicion of altruism or crusades. They also exhibit a paradoxical ...

Aromatic Splinters

John Bayley, 7 September 1995

The Poems of John Dryden: Vol. I, 1649-1681; Vol. II, 1682-1685 
edited by Paul Hammond.
Longman, 551 pp., £75, February 1995, 0 582 49213 0
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... mood. The immediate inspiration of Religio Laici was the work of a French Catholic priest, Richard Simon, who had written a crafty but temperate essay to undermine the basic Protestant position by investigating the obvious corruption of the Old Testament text. Reliance on Scripture as the sole authority for belief was, as he gravely maintained, compromised by ...


Tobias Jones: Campaigning at the Ministry of Sound, 6 March 1997

... Parliamentary Candidates into the strobes, to question, canvass and press the sweaty flesh. Simon Hughes of the Liberal Democrats, the local MP for Southwark and Bermondsey, regularly boasts of his clubbing credentials, gasping for credibility each time he does so. This combination of the carefree and the caring may not be Utopian, but it’s full of ...

swete lavender

Thomas Jones: Molesworth, 17 February 2000

by Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle.
Penguin, 406 pp., £8.99, October 1999, 0 14 118240 7
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... is, I think, only transiently applicable: a classic for, rather than of, the 20th century (even if Simon Winder, editor of the new Penguin Modern Classics series launched this month, said recently that ‘there is no reason why Molesworth should not sit alongside The Trial, Mrs Dalloway and Ulysses’). As far as I can see, what takes Molesworth beyond the ...


Fiona Pitt-Kethley: The Ravine, 20 May 2004

... cast of characters including three skeletons, 15 aardvarks, Quasimodo, Vinnie the Venus Fly Trap, Simon the Sundew and Pete the Pitcher plant. In my story, an old sofa that had been dumped beneath a tree became the aardvarks’ bed. The sofa has now been taken away by the police for DNA samples. I shall never tell a ravine story again. Housing estates have ...

A Girl Called Retina

Tom Crewe: You’ll like it when you get there, 13 August 2020

British Summer Time Begins: The School Summer Holidays, 1930-80 
by Ysenda Maxtone Graham.
Little, Brown, 352 pp., £18.99, July, 978 1 4087 1055 5
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... by how hopeless the Cheltenham girls were at batting when I arrived,’ said Pat, ‘tossing the ball about.’ Aged 82 and looking not a day over 60, she stood up in my kitchen and imitated a Cheltenham girl tossing a ball into the air with a bat in an ethereal, ladylike, lightly bouncing way. ‘I’d been well trained ...

Bond in Torment

John Lanchester: James Bond, 5 September 2002

From Russia with Love, Dr No and Goldfinger 
by Ian Fleming.
Penguin, 640 pp., £10.99, April 2002, 0 14 118680 1
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... in inglorious circumstances. A girl he was chasing had a long-standing promise to go to an Oxford ball with a man; Ian begged her not to fulfil it, and said that if she did, he would bunk off to London and sleep with a prostitute. She did, and he did, and he caught gonorrhoea. The streak of recklessness and self-pity in this – the mixture of drama-queenery ...

It wasn’t the Oval

Blake Morrison: Michael Frayn, 7 October 2010

My Father’s Fortune: A Life 
by Michael Frayn.
Faber, 255 pp., £16.99, September 2010, 978 0 571 27058 3
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... who wrote wistfully of seeing Len Hutton in his prime, captained a team called the Gaieties XI. Simon Gray, David Hare and Ronald Harwood are or were known to be keen on the game, too. And Tom Stoppard, another follower, has a striking set-piece in The Real Thing in which a playwright, explaining dramatic technique, says: ‘What we’re trying to do is to ...

Keeping Score

Ian Jackman: Joe DiMaggio, 10 May 2001

Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life 
by Richard Ben Cramer.
Simon and Schuster, 560 pp., £20, April 2001, 0 684 85391 4
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... Joe said. ‘But he never won a thing.’ The Streak, the marriage to Monroe, the reference in the Simon and Garfunkel song (‘Where have you gone . . .’) and the old geezer waving to the crowd at Yankee Stadium are as much of DiMaggio as most people know – or knew before this book was published. ‘The Hero’s Life’ of Cramer’s subtitle is not to ...

Cricket’s Superpowers

David Runciman: Beyond the Ashes, 22 September 2005

... jerky bowling action (they suspect him of achieving his extraordinary bounce by chucking the ball rather than bowling it). Muralitharan didn’t disappoint either his supporters or his critics, but the Australians had the last laugh. Ponting’s team won 3-0, despite the fact that they conceded a first innings lead in each game, and despite ...


Ben Anderson: In Afghanistan, 3 January 2008

... a British soldier was killed when he drove over an IED. 26 June. I met a company commander, Simon Butt from the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters, today. He described the area we’ll be entering when a big operation starts in a few days. It’s called the Green Zone, because it’s a solitary strip of fertile land about a mile wide that follows the ...

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