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One Small Moment

Christopher Tayler: Michael Frayn, 21 February 2002

Spies 
by Michael Frayn.
Faber, 224 pp., £14.99, February 2002, 0 571 21286 7
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... model is L.P. Hartley’s The Go-Between. Like Hartley’s narrator, Leo, Frayn’s protagonist, Stephen Wheatley, is tormented by a schoolboy code prohibiting sneaking, blubbing and emotional expression in general. Leo is bullied by ‘Jenkins and Strode’, Stephen by ‘Hanning and Neale’. Both boys worship the family ...

Poor Stephen

James Fox, 23 July 1987

An Affair of State: The Profumo Case and the Framing of Stephen Ward 
by Phillip Knightley and Caroline Kennedy.
Cape, 268 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 224 02347 0
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Honeytrap: The Secret Worlds of Stephen Ward 
by Anthony Summers and Stephen Dorril.
Weidenfeld, 264 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 297 79122 2
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... throw episodes you would rather have forgotten. But the Profumo case, which should be called the Stephen Ward case, will not go down. The longer it is around, the uglier it gets. It is a shocking story, which will continue to discredit its participants, all the more so for as long as they pretend, like Lord Denning, that there was no injustice perpetrated ...

Restoration

Stephen Wilson, 4 November 1993

... When the silvery powder is brushed away, we can see exactly what you fingered; a textured print of small circles, like suckers on an octopus tentacle, softly formicate under our ...

No Law at All

Stephen Sedley: The Governor Eyre Affair, 2 November 2006

A Jurisprudence of Power: Victorian Empire and the Rule of Law 
by R.W. Kostal.
Oxford, 529 pp., £79.95, December 2005, 0 19 826076 8
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... and torts. This was the analysis put forward by the criminal lawyer and jurist James Fitzjames Stephen, who was retained by the Jamaica Committee in its endeavour to get Eyre and some of his officers convicted. Its attraction as a workable constitutional theory in a common law polity was instantly recognised by Bagehot and by the end of the century had ...

Real Things

Barbara Wootton, 5 April 1984

McNee’s Law: The Memoirs of Sir David McNee 
by David McNee.
Collins, 256 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 0 00 217007 8
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Police and People in London. Vol. I: A Survey of Londoners 
by David Smith.
Policy Studies Institute, 386 pp., £7.40, November 1983, 0 85374 223 5
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Police and People in London. Vol. II: A Group of Young Black People 
by Stephen Small.
Policy Studies Institute, 192 pp., £4.60, November 1983, 0 85374 224 3
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Police and People in London. Vol. III: A Survey of Police Officers 
by David Smith.
Policy Studies Institute, 216 pp., £6.20, November 1983, 0 85374 225 1
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Police and People in London. Vol. IV: The Police in Action 
by David Smith and Jeremy Gray.
Policy Studies Institute, 368 pp., £7.40, November 1983, 9780853742265
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... Fifty-eight years ago the man we now know as Sir David McNee was born in dire poverty in a Glasgow tenement. His father was a railwayman, and a staunch tradeunionist who rose ‘through a variety of jobs’ to be driver of many famous trains, including the ‘Royal Scot’. His mother was the daughter of a railwayman. In this book Sir David reports how he has often had occasion to refer with pride to these facts in later life, in face of suggestions that, as Metropolitan Commissioner of Police, he had no real insight into the problems of working-class life with which that office so often brought him into contact: ‘the lessons learned in Glasgow streets and tenements ...

The First Protest

Stephen Frears, 24 May 2018

... the only Englishman there. I remember interviewing the American director Nicholas Ray in his small hotel room – he began the interview by sweeping his dressing table clear of all his pill bottles – and I remember a meeting in a cinema in Paris. Renoir was there, bald-headed and wearing a mac, and Truffaut and Simone Signoret with Pierre Prévert, the ...

Small Special Points

Rosemary Hill: Darwin and the Europeans, 23 May 2019

Correspondence of Charles Darwin: Vol. 26, 1878 
edited by Frederick Burkhardt, James Secord and the editors of the Darwin Correspondence Project.
Cambridge, 814 pp., £94.99, October 2018, 978 1 108 47540 2
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... my age … it will be the more prudent course … to use my remaining strength in studying small special points.’ These were chiefly botanical and contributed to his last major publication, The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms, with Observations on Their Habits. Published in 1881 shortly before his death, it was one of ...

Diary

Stephen W. Smith: Sankarism, 30 August 2018

... his lively voice took me by surprise. We were of the same generation: he was 37, I was 30. ‘Hey Stephen, how are you these days? You know it’s really getting very tense here in Ouaga. I think you should come, it’s urgent, don’t hang around.’ These were not his exact words. But the contrived levity, the hint of imminent danger and the discreet appeal ...

Small Items with Big Implications

John Hedley Brooke, 1 December 1983

Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes: Further Reflections in Natural History 
by Stephen Jay Gould.
Norton, 413 pp., £11.95, September 1983, 0 393 01716 8
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The Great Chain of History: William Buckland and the English School of Geology, 1814-1849 
by Nicolaas Rupke.
Oxford, 322 pp., £22.50, September 1983, 0 19 822907 0
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... In the concluding essay of an adventurous collection, Stephen Jay Gould observes that most ‘classic stories’ in science are wrong. There are good reasons why he is right. In their reconstruction of the past, practising scientists have been apt to celebrate the insight of those who anticipated their own ideas, tacitly dismissing those who were blind to where the future would lie ...

Let’s to billiards

Stephen Walsh: Constant Lambert, 22 January 2015

Constant Lambert: Beyond the Rio Grande 
by Stephen Lloyd.
Boydell, 584 pp., £45, March 2014, 978 1 84383 898 2
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... was a lot more to him than one-liners and limericks; and if one thing emerges from the thickets of Stephen Lloyd’s excessively long biography, it is that Lambert had one of the finest musical minds of his generation and a critical faculty second to almost none. During his lifetime, you would have come across him as a conductor, either at the Vic-Wells ...

A Visit to My Uncle

Emma Tennant, 31 July 1997

... arrival: told that a cottage lies empty by the River Avon, I’ve come down from London in a small furniture van. My companion is the playwright Heathcote Williams; he’s just completed the play which excites the Sixties, AC/DC – and he’s brought as luggage a large radio and no more. He’s promised to help unload two beds, a table and some ...

Narrow Places

Brad Leithauser, 15 October 1987

Selected Poems 
by Molly Holden.
Carcanet, 126 pp., £6.95, June 1987, 0 85635 696 4
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The Player Queen’s Wife 
by Oliver Reynolds.
Faber, 78 pp., £8.95, November 1987, 0 571 14998 7
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The Consuming Myth: The Work of James Merrill 
by Stephen Yenser.
Harvard, 367 pp., £21.95, June 1987, 0 674 16615 9
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... brazen music to poems that might well be described as miniatures. Her poems tended toward the small in regard both to subject-manner (birds, bushes, mosses, babies) and duration. Of the 96 lyrics assembled in her new Selected Poems, only seven run to two pages; none extends to three or more. She seems by temperament to have been a direct soul. Her poems ...

Word-Processing

Stephen Wall, 12 September 1991

Hidden in the Heart 
by Dan Jacobson.
Bloomsbury, 182 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 0 7475 0981 6
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A Landing on the Sun 
by Michael Frayn.
Viking, 256 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 0 670 83932 9
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... is the last thing he proposed to himself in his Bloemfontein adolescence, reading Joyce and taking Stephen Daedalus’s intention to fly by the nets of nationality, language and religion as a guide. He is too ambitious to be content with becoming a second-rate writer (which is what the poems included tactfully indicate), and settles for a Civil Service career ...

Walking like Swinburne

P.N. Furbank, 12 July 1990

Serious Pleasures: The Life of Stephen Tennant 
by Philip Hoare.
Hamish Hamilton, 463 pp., £20, June 1990, 0 241 12416 6
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... It is worth stating a few facts about Stephen Tennant, the subject of this excellent biography by Philip Hoare, in case some readers may not have heard of him. He was born in 1906, the son of a rich industrialist, Edward Tennant, who became Lord Glenconner in 1911, and of Pamela Wyndham, one of the Wyndham sisters immortalised by Sargent in his painting The Three Graces ...

In Memory of Michael Rogin

Stephen Greenblatt, 3 January 2002

... his ever looking around or looking away when we were talking, except to light another of the small cheroots to which he was addicted. And the quality of his attention was remarkable: incidental details and chance remarks dropped away, and suddenly you found yourself confronting something at the centre of your life. Or rather, the chance remarks you made ...

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