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Heart-Stopping

Ian Hamilton

25 January 1996
Not Playing for Celtic: Another Paradise Lost 
by David Bennie.
Mainstream, 221 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 1 85158 757 8
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Achieving the Goal 
by David Platt.
Richard Cohen, 244 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 1 86066 017 7
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Captain’s Log: The Gary McAllister Story 
by Gary McAllister and Graham Clark.
Mainstream, 192 pp., £14.99, October 1995, 9781851587902
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Blue Grit: The John Brown Story 
by John Brown and Derek Watson.
Mainstream, 176 pp., £14.99, November 1995, 1 85158 822 1
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Kicking and Screaming: An Oral History of Football in England 
by Rogan Taylor and Andrew Ward.
Robson, 370 pp., £16.95, October 1995, 0 86051 912 0
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A Passion for the Game: Real Lives in Football 
by Tom Watt.
Mainstream, 316 pp., £14.99, October 1995, 1 85158 714 4
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... 1953 defeat by Hungary, and a new epoch for English soccer: more money, higher status, fewer wins. Kicking and Screaming is admirably undecided on the matter of which epoch it prefers. Less useful is TomWatt’s A Passion for the Game, which pokes about ‘behind the scenes’ of week-to-week league soccer, interrogating the game’s faceless servants, from club secretaries to groundsmen to tea ...

Dephlogisticated

John Barrell: Dr Beddoes

19 November 2009
The Atmosphere of Heaven: The Unnatural Experiments of Dr Beddoes and His Sons of Genius 
by Mike Jay.
Yale, 294 pp., £20, April 2009, 978 0 300 12439 2
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... In 1794 Robert Watt, an Edinburgh wine merchant, together with a few associates, was arrested for allegedly framing a plot to seize the Edinburgh post office, the banks and the castle, and to issue a demand that George ...

On the Threshold

Tom​ Nairn

23 March 1995
Frameworks for the Future 
Northern Ireland Office, 37 pp., February 1995Show More
Northern Ireland: The Choice 
by Kevin Boyle and Tom​ Hadden.
Penguin, 256 pp., £6.99, May 1994, 0 14 023541 8
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... peace walls’ and patchwork division. The consequences have been outlined and commented on in another admirable analysis which appeared just before the Framework Document, Kevin Boyle and Tom Hadden’s Northern Ireland: The Choice. The authors point out that any new agreement on governing Northern Ireland hinges on a choice between fully acknowledging this existing separation or trying ...

The Reptile Oculist

John Barrell: On the trail of the mysterious John Taylor

1 April 2004
... The edition was paid for by nearly four hundred subscribers. There were Tory grandees such as George Canning and Lords Eldon, Liverpool and Sidmouth. There were fellow poets such as Felicia Hemans, Tom Moore, Samuel Rogers, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Southey; artists of various kinds including the gifted amateur Sir George Beaumont, Francis Chantry, John Constable, Thomas Lawrence, James Northcote ...

Diary

Tom​ Paulin: In Donegal

8 October 1992
... Corny Island, in fact. Taking Joyce Cary’s cue, I could disguise the names of people and places, make Lough Foyle into Mannanen, the longest sea lough in Ireland, and turn Ernie McCleery into Sam Watt or the Bubble. Was it Rankin’s Hotel I mentioned? Not at all, it was the Dolmen Bar – named for the famous dolmen in Kilclooney, a place so small it’s hard to find on any map. ‘Would ...

Diary

C.K. Stead: A New Zealander in London

18 October 1984
... Flying to London from New Zealand, you spend 24 hours in the air. Even with a break of two days in Los Angeles it takes most of a week before your inner time-switch stops turning you on like a 100-watt light-bulb at two or three in the morning, and plunging you into darkness in mid-sentence over lunch. But it wasn’t the inner time-switch that woke us a few nights after our arrival. It was a ...

Moments

Marilyn Butler

2 September 1982
The New Pelican Guide to English Literature. Vol. I: Medieval Literature Part One: Chaucer and the Alliterative Tradition, Vol. II: The Age of Shakespeare, Vol. III: From Donne to Marvell, Vol. IV: From Dryden to Johnson 
edited by Boris Ford.
Penguin, 647 pp., £2.95, March 1982, 0 14 022264 2
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Medieval Writers and their Work: Middle English Literature and its Background 
by J.A. Burrow.
Oxford, 148 pp., £9.95, May 1982, 0 19 289122 7
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Contemporary Writers Series: Saul Bellow, Joe Orton, John Fowles, Kurt Vonnegut, Seamus Heaney, Thomas Pynchon 
by Malcolm Bradbury, C.W.E. Bigsby, Peter Conradi, Jerome Klinkowitz and Blake Morrison.
Methuen, 110 pp., £1.95, May 1982, 0 416 31650 6
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... are indoctrinated into a belief in national unity and identity, greatness and purpose, through the values elicited from the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales and Henry IV Part One, Keats’s Odes and Tom Jones, Emma and Tess. It is still happening, even after we have got historians to stop drilling them in the battles we won, and when geographers no longer offer them maps in which the Empire is ...

Priapus Knight

Marilyn Butler

18 March 1982
TheArrogant Connoisseur: Richard Payne Knight 1751-1824 
edited by Michael Clarke and Nicholas Penny.
Manchester, 189 pp., £30, February 1982, 0 7190 0871 9
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... at the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester, and by the collection of specialist studies which doubles as a catalogue. Knight’s background had something in common with that of men like Wedgwood and Watt. He sprang from a Shropshire and Herefordshire family of ironmasters, and kept the vitality, the eye for detail and the eclectic curiosity of his fathers. A brother was a horticulturist; Knight’s ...

Highlight of Stay So Far

Stefan Collini: Beckett’s Letters

1 December 2016
The Letters of Samuel Beckett Vol. IV: 1966-89 
edited by George Craig, Martha Dow Fehsenfeld, Dan Gunn and Lois More Overbeck.
Cambridge, 838 pp., £29.99, September 2016, 978 0 521 86796 2
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... than writing was failing to write, and the only thing worse than that was not writing ever again. Announcements of the end of his writing life abound: ‘Not a shadow of work apart from translating Watt. Perhaps it will come back. But unlikely.’ This comes from 1967: still to be written were Not I, That Time, Footfalls, Company, Rockaby, Ill Seen, Ill Said, Worstward Ho and much else, as well as ...

Wizard Contrivances

Jon Day: Will Self

27 September 2012
Umbrella 
by Will Self.
Bloomsbury, 397 pp., £18.99, August 2012, 978 1 4088 2014 8
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... idea that modernity simply cannot be accommodated in such securely cosy forms. When people say a contemporary novel is modernist they usually mean that it is set in the early 20th century – like Tom McCarthy’s C – and contains one or more of the following: a narrative distancing which makes us work hard to assign thoughts, feelings and perceptions to particular characters; an unwillingness ...

Wolves in the Drawing Room

Neal Ascherson: The SNP

2 June 2011
... Greenock is struggling into recovery now. It is a place built for outward vision and hope, a big theatre in which tier on tier of streets look out across the estuary to the mountains. Not only James Watt, but many painters, novelists and poets began here. After utter collapse, small citizens’ groups are trying to rub the old town back to life, to restore hope: a new theatre, the restoration of the ...

Better than Ganymede

Tom​ Paulin: Larkin

21 October 2010
Philip Larkin: Letters to Monica 
edited by Anthony Thwaite.
Faber, 475 pp., £22.50, October 2010, 978 0 571 23909 2
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... he was ‘quite polite’ about it (he didn’t like the use of ‘blent’). In a letter written after hearing ‘Mr Bleaney’, with its complaints about rented rooms (‘Bed, upright chair, sixty-watt bulb, no hook/Behind the door, no room for books or bags –/“I’ll take it.”’), on the radio in 1955, Monica tells him it sounded so very like you – yr catalogue of the room’s ...

Damsons and Custard

Paul Laity: Documentary cinema’s unsung poet

3 March 2005
Humphrey Jennings 
by Kevin Jackson.
Picador, 448 pp., £30, October 2004, 0 330 35438 8
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... described in his journal in 1936 how Jennings dominated a meeting of the English Surrealists, ‘as usual … boiling over with energy and excitement’. He reported, too, the scene when Jennings and Tom Harrisson met to discuss the formation of Mass-Observation: ‘He was at one end of the mantelpiece talking at the top of his voice, and Harrisson was at the other end, doing exactly the same thing ...

Memories of Frank Kermode

Stefan Collini, Karl Miller, Adam Phillips, Jacqueline Rose, James Wood, Michael Wood and Wynne Godley

23 September 2010
... congeal into myth); but the realist in him also insisted on fiction’s ability to be about something more than itself, insisted on its contaminated but victorious description of the world (what Ian Watt called ‘the literal imagination’). In beautiful words, he writes that if fictional forms appear in shapes preposterously false we will reject them; but they change with us, and every act of ...

My Darlings

Colm Tóibín: Drinking with Samuel Beckett

5 April 2007
... space he made behind his father’s shop, which I think is part of the shop now, or is a store, and the sadness of that, because this is the space that changed all our lives. His father, Tom Funge, like my uncle and grandfather, had been involved in the struggle for Irish independence, so when Paul founded his Art Centre in Gorey in 1970 or 1971, it was easy for me, aged 15 or 16, to get ...

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