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Alan Bennett: What I did in 1995, 4 January 1996

... now bred a strain which has no scent at all except faintly that of pepper. Considering this is a flower which is not much to look at, the whole point of which is its scent, this must be considered a triumph of marketing. 24 January. Somebody writes from the New Statesman asking me to contribute to a feature on Englishness, the other contributors, the letter ...

I, Lowborn Cur

Colin Burrow: Literary Names, 22 November 2012

Literary Names: Personal Names in English Literature 
by Alastair Fowler.
Oxford, 283 pp., £19.99, September 2012, 978 0 19 959222 7
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... political anagrams cited by Fowler are great: Shirley Williams is ‘I aimlessly whirl’, while Tony Blair MP decodes as ‘I’m Tory plan B’. There are more recent possibilities he doesn’t explore: Nicholas Clegg’s name suggests he could shift up a gear (‘I’ll change cogs’) or just slow things down (‘chain clogs leg’). Samantha Cameron ...

National Institutions

Hans Keller, 15 October 1981

The Proms and Natural Justice: A Plan for Renewal 
by Robert Simpson.
Toccata Press, 66 pp., £1.95, July 1981, 0 907689 00 0
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The Proms and the Men Who Made Them 
by Barrie Hall.
Allen and Unwin, 192 pp., £8.95, June 1981, 0 04 780024 0
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The Nine Symphonies of Beethoven 
by Antony Hopkins.
Heinemann, 290 pp., £12.50, April 1981, 0 435 81427 3
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... prejudices and all.’ My own experience is that while art will never survive a committee, it can flower in a small group of congenial minds: where is there more art than in a mature string quartet? And the International String Quartet Seasons of the European Broadcasting Union were planned by a group of three musicians under my chairmanship, two of whom knew ...

In the bright autumn of my senescence

Christopher Hitchens, 6 January 1994

In the Heat of the Struggle: Twenty-Five Years of ‘Socialist Worker’ 
by Paul Foot.
Bookmarks, 288 pp., £12.50, November 1993, 0 906224 94 2
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Why You Should Join the Socialists 
by Paul Foot.
Bookmarks, 70 pp., £1.90, November 1993, 0 906224 80 2
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... Healy’s ugly little gang (soon to magnetise the Redgraves), but it did have an éminence named Tony Cliff, the nom de guerre of a Palestinian Jewish exile born Ygael Gluckstein. Cliff was a great speaker and enthusiast and raconteur, who had laid bare the futility of orthodox Trotskyism and the persisting illusion that the Soviet Union was any sort of ...

In a Dry Place

Nicolas Tredell, 11 October 1990

On the Look-Out: A Partial Autobiography 
by C.H. Sisson.
Carcanet, 234 pp., £14.95, October 1989, 0 85635 758 8
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In Two Minds: Guesses at Other Writers 
by C.H. Sisson.
Carcanet, 296 pp., £18.95, September 1990, 0 85635 877 0
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... to print a pamphlet of poems at his own expense. It was this pamphlet that drew the attention of Tony Cronin and David Wright on the magazine X. Wright has always felt, as he has said elsewhere, ‘that the “discovery” of Chas S. was one of its main achievements’ (see Letters to an Editor, edited by Mark Fisher). It certainly helped to suggest that the ...

His Own Peak

Ian Sansom: John Fowles’s diary, 6 May 2004

John Fowles: The Journals, Vol. I 
edited by Charles Drazin.
Cape, 668 pp., £30, October 2003, 9780224069113
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John Fowles: A Life in Two Worlds 
by Eileen Warburton.
Cape, 510 pp., £25, April 2004, 0 224 05951 3
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... diaries of curates and Edwardian ladies; prisoners of conscience; Anaïs Nin; Richard Crossman; Tony Benn; Alan Bennett. But on the whole, no. And yet we can’t stop ourselves. These days, if you’re a young writer and you don’t do your own weblog you’re something of an exception, and even for the amateur, the ‘journaler’, there’s now a whole ...

Black Electricities

John Sutherland, 30 October 1997

The Collected Letters of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle. Vol. XXV: January-December 1850 
edited by Clyde de L. Ryals and K.J. Fielding.
Duke, 364 pp., £52, September 1997, 0 8223 1986 1
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by Thomas Carlyle, edited by K.J. Fielding and Ian Campbell.
Oxford, 481 pp., £7.99, September 1997, 0 19 281748 5
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... towards radical conservatism, Carlylism can also be discerned at work beneath the surface of Tony Blair’s Christian Socialism, a line which descends via F.D. Maurice and Charles Kingsley. Blair contrives to put an upbeat spin on his ‘muscular Christianity’ (‘tough’ is his favoured term) but the essence of Carlylism is gloom, its energy, as ...

Even Uglier

Terry Eagleton: Music Hall, 20 December 2012

My Old Man: A Personal History of Music Hall 
by John Major.
Harper, 363 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 0 00 745013 8
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... repeal of the Union, O’Connell practised as a barrister, the most theatrical of the professions. Tony Blair was also a barrister, his wife is the barrister daughter of an actor, and Blair’s headmaster at Fettes remembered him as a consummate performer. Randolph Churchill, Winston’s father, was said to have an ‘almost music-hall style of ...

Getting the Undulation

Benjamin Lytal: Willa Cather’s Letters, 20 February 2014

The Selected Letters of Willa Cather 
edited by Andrew Jewell and Janis Stout.
Knopf, 715 pp., £24, April 2013, 978 0 307 95930 0
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... to celebrate its positive ideals. Her three great heroes, Alexandra Bergson of O Pioneers!, ‘Tony’ Shimerda of My Ántonia and Bishop Latour of Death Comes for the Archbishop, are practical-minded immigrants who survive in Nebraska and New Mexico because they see their very European sense of legend and personal nobility reflected in the potential of ...

Madder Men

Hal Foster: Richard Hamilton on Richard Hamilton, 24 October 2019

Richard Hamilton: Introspective 
by Phillip Spectre.
König, 408 pp., £49, September 2019, 978 3 88375 695 0
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... subjects for art’ such as ‘the interior, the nude, landscape, seascape, still life, portrait, flower-piece, and mother and child’, but he always filtered them through popular forms such as adverts, movies, postcards and commercial design. How is still life altered by the inclusion of industrial products? How has fashion photography affected the ...

Gosh, what am I like?

Rosemary Hill: The Revenge Memoir, 17 December 2020

Friends and Enemies: A Memoir 
by Barbara Amiel.
Constable, 592 pp., £25, October 2020, 978 1 4721 3421 9
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Diary of an MP’s Wife: Inside and Outside Power 
by Sasha Swire.
Little, Brown, 544 pp., £20, September 2020, 978 1 4087 1341 9
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... attempts. They went their separate ways until 2004 when, next to a picture of Amiel at the Chelsea Flower Show, the Mail on Sunday ran an interview under the headline: ‘Parents Reveal how Lady Black’s Greed Drove Her’. Her mother and stepfather are nevertheless excused as media ‘innocents’ and are among the small number of the forgiven. Amiel’s ...


John Lanchester, 16 November 1995

Sons of Ezra: British Poets and Ezra Pound 
edited by Michael Alexander and James McGonigal.
Rodopi, 183 pp., $23.50, July 1995, 90 5183 840 9
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‘In Solitude, for Company’: W.H. Auden after 1940 
edited by Katherine Bucknell and Nicholas Jenkins.
Oxford, 338 pp., £40, November 1995, 0 19 818294 5
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by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Heinemann, 406 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 434 17507 2
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Wystan and Chester: A Personal Memoir of W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman 
by Thekla Clark.
Faber, 130 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 0 571 17591 0
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... the dread of being abandoned and left alone ...    I dont envy the woman who has married Tony, if she has; she’ll have to keep the handle of a Hoover in the house. Nicholas Jenkins’s note tells us that ‘ “Tony” has not been identified,’ which is probably just as well. Another letter from three months ...


Peter Pomerantsev: In Brighton Beach, 13 September 2012

... make it by just working hard.’ Eddie, it has to be said, looks like a friendlier version of Tony Soprano – but his main source of income is a valet parking business serving Hasidic weddings. He arrived in the US from Siberia in 1990, a 22-year-old straight out of university, part of the post-Soviet influx. He spoke fast, driving through Brooklyn with ...


Alan Bennett: A Shameful Year, 8 January 2004

... I was a part of it even when I was a part of it. 16 March. One of the lowest moments this year was Tony Blair and Jack Straw misrepresenting the French and German position on Iraq in order to encourage xenophobia and get more support from the Murdoch papers. 17 March. A bin Laden associate reported as being ‘quizzed’ by American agents in Pakistan. Were ...

The Garden, the Park and the Meadow

David Runciman: After the Nation State, 6 June 2002

The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace and the Course of History 
by Philip Bobbitt.
Allen Lane, 960 pp., £25, June 2002, 0 7139 9616 1
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Reordering the World: The Long-Term Implications of 11 September 
edited by Mark Leonard.
Foreign Policy Centre, 124 pp., £9.95, March 2002, 1 903558 10 7
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... though it was their regimes that broke the link between the state and welfare. George W. Bush and Tony Blair are ‘among the first market-state political leaders’, even though one of them still talks as though the state can make provision for a kind of social security through its public services. That is all froth. Deep down they speak the same ...

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