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... sort of doubt about Cain’s wife, or the Old Testament miracles or the Consecration of Archbishop Parker ... No, it was something deeper than that. I couldn’t understand why God had made the world at all.’ Catholicism explained to Waugh why the world was as evil and horrible as it was. Catholicism explained the vile bodies in it. It also explained to him ...

The Departed Spirit

Tom Nairn, 30 October 1997

... his mother were chiefly preoccupied with making life more tolerable for him by navigating Camilla Parker-Bowles back into public acceptability. Without offending the wish of two divorcees for a decent life together, one can surely point out that, set against the landslip going on around them, that preoccupation was probably futile. It served to isolate ...

Only in the Balkans

Misha Glenny: The Balkans Imagined, 29 April 1999

Inventing Ruritania: The Imperialism of the Imagination 
by Vesna Goldsworthy.
Yale, 254 pp., £19.95, May 1998, 0 300 07312 7
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Imagining the Balkans 
by Maria Todorova.
Oxford, 270 pp., £35, June 1997, 9780195087505
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... further south; Poland and Finland further east; the Adriatic is a stone’s throw away. Perhaps, Tony Blair calls it a ‘doorstep’ because Albanians are predominantly Muslim. The Government repeatedly refers to Serb atrocities which, George Robertson teaches us, Europe has not seen the like of ‘since the Middle Ages’. Isuppose if you overlook the ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Where I was in 1993, 16 December 1993

... papers are full of the latest scandal, the bugged phone call between the Prince of Wales and Mrs Parker-Bowles. I read none of it, as I didn’t read the earlier Diana tapes, not out of disapproval or moral superiority, just genuine lack of interest. I wish it would all go away. Sickened by the self-righteousness of the newspapers, which, though it takes a ...

That Wild Mercury Sound

Charles Nicholl: Dylan’s Decade, 1 December 2016

The Bootleg Series, Vol. 12: The Cutting Edge 1965-66 
by Bob Dylan.
Columbia, £60, November 2015
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... unknown to the wider world. The tape was recorded in Minneapolis by an old friend of Dylan’s, Tony Glover, in December 1961 (a month after the recording of his first album). It’s generally known as the ‘Minneapolis Hotel’ tape, though it seems ‘hotel’ is an in-joke and the songs were recorded at the apartment of another friend, Bonnie ...

At the White House’s Whim

Tom Bingham: The Power of Pardon, 26 March 2009

... and permits a president to pardon himself, should we understand the same rule to apply here? If Tony Blair had been charged with selling honours for cash, could he (or John Reid, or Jacqui Smith, or whoever was home secretary at the time) have procured the grant of a pardon in the name of the queen? I can’t think any British lawyer would give an ...

Tell us, Solly

Tim Radford: Solly Zuckerman, 20 September 2001

Solly Zuckerman: A Scientist out of the Ordinary 
by John Peyton.
Murray, 252 pp., £22.50, May 2001, 9780719562839
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... a decade earlier. In New York, Peyton writes, he fell in with the Gershwins. He met Dorothy Parker and got to know Tallulah Bankhead well enough to pick up the friendship again in London. During the Blitz, in between mapping the impact of bombs, he dined at the Savoy with Alfred Hitchcock. That friendship, too, continued for a lifetime. As a lecturer at ...

My Heroin Christmas

Terry Castle: Art Pepper and Me, 18 December 2003

... an authentic American genius. One of the supreme alto saxophone players of all time – Charlie Parker included. A deliriously handsome lover boy in the glory days of his youth. A lifelong dope addict of truly satanic fuck-it-all grandeur. A natural writer of brazen, comic, commanding virtuosity. A proud long-term denizen of the California prison ...

Barely under Control

Jenny Turner: Education: Who’s in charge?, 7 May 2015

... for a boutique-hotel jolly for senior staff. The school was ‘a wonderful inspiration’, Tony Blair had said in 2006, and whatever her errors, Shuter talked to the Today programme in March with exemplary tact about her former pupil Mohammed Emwazi, who’d just been identified as ‘Jihadi John’. Shuter has the right to apply for a rethink on the ...

Swoonatra

Ian Penman, 2 July 2015

Sinatra: London 
Universal, 3 CDs and 1 DVD, £40, November 2014Show More
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... up against the wall and fucking well better stick together.’As with Elvis Presley and Charlie Parker, you feel Destiny’s real leg-up was provided by the ferocious will of Sinatra’s mother. Most people seem to have regarded Dolly as the real man about the house: Sinatra’s father, Marty, an easy-going ghost, barely registers in most biographies. As an ...

Mothers

Jacqueline Rose, 19 June 2014

The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women 
by Elisabeth Badinter, translated by Adriana Hunter.
Picador, 224 pp., £10.99, June 2013, 978 1 250 03209 6
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Are You My Mother? 
by Alison Bechdel.
Jonathan Cape, 304 pp., £16.99, May 2012, 978 0 224 09352 1
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A Child of One’s Own: Parental Stories 
by Rachel Bowlby.
Oxford, 256 pp., £20, June 2013, 978 0 19 960794 5
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Mothering and Motherhood in Ancient Greece and Rome 
by Lauren Hackworth Petersen and Patricia Salzman-Mitchell.
Texas, 274 pp., £16.99, April 2013, 978 0 292 75434 8
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Sinners? Scroungers? Saints? Unmarried Motherhood in 20th-Century England 
by Pat Thane and Tanya Evans.
Oxford, 240 pp., £24.99, August 2013, 978 0 19 968198 3
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I Don’t Know Why She Bothers: Guilt-Free Motherhood for Thoroughly Modern Womanhood 
by Daisy Waugh.
Weidenfeld, 240 pp., £12.99, July 2013, 978 0 297 86876 7
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... imperative mode: ‘Be good!’ – a demand, a trap. Women like Rich and Cusk, and also Rozsika Parker and Lisa Baraitser, who lay bare the complex run of emotions to which motherhood gives rise, are issuing a political corrective, sourced in but reaching far beyond the domain of motherhood itself. The idea of maternal virtue is a myth that serves no ...

The Strange Death of Municipal England

Tom Crewe: Assault on Local Government, 15 December 2016

... by 2020. In Taking Power Back, his 2015 book calling for a renewal of local democracy, Simon Parker describes the consequences as ‘perhaps the biggest shift in the role of the British state since 1945’. There is currently a very real risk that Brexit will distract from austerity – no longer the disaster du jour – which will nonetheless grind ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2000, 25 January 2001

... in the recent RA exhibition is hard to understand. 17 January. The Prince of Wales and Mrs Parker-Bowles come to The Lady in the Van. Normally royalty is guaranteed to put a frost on an audience but their presence peps things up and it’s a very good house. This is because, unlike most royal persons, the Prince of Wales actually laughs and loudly too ...

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