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My Lover

Wendy Cope, 6 February 1986

... For I will consider my lover, who shall remain nameless. For at the age of 49 he can make the noise of five different kinds of lorry changing gear on a hill. For he sometimes does this on the stairs at his place of work. For he is embarrassed when people overhear him. For he can also imitate at least three different kinds of train. For these include the London tube train, the steam engine and the Southern Rail electric ...

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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... Perhaps, in order to find Molesworth utterly hilarious, it is necessary to have read it as a child. Wendy Cope claims to ‘hav been reading this stuff and roaring with larffter since i was 11 yrs old’ (which, if nothing else, endorses Philip Hensher’s assertion in the introduction to this edition that those who attempt to imitate Molesworth’s style always ‘come a cropper ...

Here comes Amy

Christopher Reid, 17 April 1986

What the light was like 
by Amy Clampitt.
Faber, 110 pp., £4, February 1986, 0 571 13814 4
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Facing Nature 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 110 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 233 97798 8
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by Jeremy Reed.
Cape, 128 pp., £4.95, November 1985, 0 224 02346 2
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by Tony Harrison.
Bloodaxe, 36 pp., £8.95, December 1985, 0 906427 98 3
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Dramatic Verse: 1973-1985 
by Tony Harrison.
Bloodaxe, 448 pp., £20, December 1985, 0 906427 81 9
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Sky Ray Lolly 
by Fiona Pitt-Kethley.
Chatto, 64 pp., £3.95, April 1986, 0 7011 3046 6
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The Tower of Glass 
by Fiona Pitt-Kethley.
Mariscat, £3, September 1985, 0 946588 07 4
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Making cocoa for Kingsley Amis 
by Wendy Cope.
Faber, 65 pp., £7.95, March 1986, 0 571 13977 9
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... a verbose typescript by his friend T.S. Eliot, with results that are famous. More recently, Wendy Cope gave The Waste Land fresh scrutiny and decided that the job could be done pretty well in the space of five limericks. The first of these goes: In April one seldom feels cheerful; Dry stones, sun and dust make me fearful; Clairvoyantes distress ...


Blake Morrison, 21 February 1991

The Chatto Book of Love Poetry 
edited by John Fuller.
Chatto, 374 pp., £13.99, August 1990, 0 7011 3453 4
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The Faber Book of Blue Verse 
edited by John Whitworth.
Faber, 305 pp., £14.99, October 1990, 0 571 14095 5
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Self-Portrait with a Slide 
by Hugo Williams.
Oxford, 62 pp., £5.95, June 1990, 0 19 282744 8
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The Virago Book of Love Poetry 
edited by Wendy Mulford.
Virago, 288 pp., £6.99, November 1990, 1 85381 030 4
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Erotica: An Anthology of Women’s Writing 
edited by Margaret Reynolds, foreword by Jeanette Winterson .
Pandora, 362 pp., £19.99, November 1990, 9780044406723
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Daddy, Daddy 
by Paul Durcan.
Blackstaff, 185 pp., £5.95, August 1990, 0 85640 446 2
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... reclaiming the right to speak rather than be spoken for. Women’s love poems differ from men’s, Wendy Mulford argues, by not exploiting the love object or muse: instead of veneration they express cussedness and bad temper, and cut their men down to human size. Women’s erotica differs from men’s, Jeanette Winterson argues, by seeking ‘to return women ...

Uncertainties of the Poet

Nicolas Tredell, 25 June 1992

by Simon Armitage.
Faber, 89 pp., £4.99, June 1992, 0 571 16607 5
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Feast Days 
by John Burnside.
Secker, 52 pp., £6, April 1992, 0 436 20103 8
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An African Elegy 
by Ben Okri.
Cape, 84 pp., £4.99, March 1992, 9780224030069
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by Colin Falck.
Taxus, 77 pp., £5.95, March 1992, 1 873012 23 3
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Serious Concerns 
by Wendy Cope.
Faber, 87 pp., £12.99, March 1992, 9780571166589
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... be complacent. ‘I am of very fond bananas. / Am I a poet?’ This is the interrogative ending of Wendy Cope’s poem on de Chirico’s painting The Uncertainty of the Poet, or at least on a Guardian report, which she quotes as an epigraph to the poem, of the million-pound purchase by the Tate Gallery of that picture: a picture which, as the Guardian’s ...

Out of the blue

Mark Ford, 10 December 1987

Meeting the British 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 53 pp., £9.95, May 1987, 0 571 14858 1
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Partingtime Hall 
by James Fenton and John Fuller.
Salamander, 69 pp., £7.50, April 1987, 0 948681 05 5
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Private Parts 
by Fiona Pitt-Kethley.
Chatto, 72 pp., £4.95, June 1987, 9780701132064
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Bright River Yonder 
by John Hartley Williams.
Bloodaxe, 87 pp., £4.95, April 1987, 1 85224 028 8
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... own novel in verse, The Illusionists. One of the book’s best satires is a scabrous fantasy on Wendy Cope and Fiona Pitt-Kethley, who were each launched last year to huge popular acclaim. Pitt-Kethley has been the quicker to consolidate her success, and her new collection, Private Parts, shouldn’t disappoint the large following that Sky Ray Lolly ...


Alan Hollinghurst, 18 February 1982

Sea to the West 
by Norman Nicholson.
Faber, 64 pp., £3, June 1981, 0 571 11729 5
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Out for the Elements 
by Andrew Waterman.
Carcanet, 151 pp., £3.95, October 1981, 0 85635 377 9
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Between Here and Now 
by R.S. Thomas.
Macmillan, 110 pp., £5.95, November 1981, 0 333 32186 3
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Poetry Introduction Five 
Faber, 121 pp., £5.25, January 1982, 0 571 11793 7Show More
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... in individual style: the actual machinery is efficient, but seems directed to no particular end. Wendy Cope makes fun of this and other fashionable modes in a series of ‘Strugnell’ poems – works of a fictional bard who is notionally the most chameleonic of all in this book, turning out his versions of Crow, haikus and ‘Mr Bleaney’ as well. She ...


Andrew O’Hagan: Pukey poetry anthologies, 4 November 2004

Poems to Last a Lifetime 
edited by Daisy Goodwin.
HarperCollins, 308 pp., £18.99, October 2004, 0 00 717707 0
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All the Poems You Need to Say I Do 
edited by Peter Forbes.
Picador, 197 pp., £10, October 2004, 0 330 43388 1
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... and Yeats, but nothing too early and strange in Auden and nothing of Yeats and his gyres. It likes Wendy Cope and Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, Robert Lowell and Thomas Hardy and the lullabies of Housman. It prefers poets whose speakers say how they feel, and feel what they say, while never running out of rhythm and never speaking in ...

His Greatest Pretend

Dinah Birch: The man behind Pan, 1 September 2005

Hide-and-Seek with Angels: A Life of J.M. Barrie 
by Lisa Chaney.
Hutchinson, 402 pp., £20, June 2005, 0 09 179539 7
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... as that of the unruly boy. He was slow to accept that girls could be children: they were, like Wendy, really mothers in waiting. An anxious idealisation of his own forceful mother shaped his personality from the first. The story of his life seems almost too transparent in the clues it offers to his distinctive mind. Born in 1860 to a handloom ...

Short Cuts

Rory Scothorne: Class before Nation, 14 December 2017

... stifled more utopian aspirations for social justice and self-determination. The political theorist Wendy Brown has argued that when devolution becomes a function of ‘governance’ rather than democracy, it ‘frequently means that large-scale problems, such as recessions, finance-capital crises, unemployment, or environmental problems, as well as fiscal ...


James Meek, 5 April 2018

... history starts to crowd it out. In September​ last year, in Lutterworth in Leicestershire, I met Wendy Warren. She was born in Kent in 1935 and moved to Leicester just after the Second World War when her father, an engineer, found work there. She did well at school and was set to go to college, but her father lost his job and she chose to help her mother by ...

Dream On

Katha Pollitt: Bringing up Babies, 11 September 2003

I Don't Know How She Does It 
by Allison Pearson.
Vintage, 256 pp., £6.99, May 2003, 0 09 942838 5
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A Life’s Work: On Becoming a Mother 
by Rachel Cusk.
Fourth Estate, 224 pp., £6.99, July 2002, 1 84115 487 3
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The Truth about Babies: From A-Z 
by Ian Sansom.
Granta, 352 pp., £6.99, June 2003, 1 86207 575 1
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What Are Children For? 
by Laurie Taylor and Matthew Taylor.
Short Books, 141 pp., £6.99, January 2003, 1 904095 25 9
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The Commercialisation of Intimate Life 
by Arlie Russell Hochschild.
California, 313 pp., £32.95, May 2003, 0 520 21487 0
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... helplessly boyish’. Even a truly vile and racist humiliator of women is ‘more sad than bad’. Wendy, meet Peter. One reason we can accept Kate’s disillusion with her work is the poignancy of her daughter’s need for her. (‘This is my mummy. Isn’t she lovely and tall?’ Emily says proudly when Kate comes with her to school.) Another is that her job ...

Wolves in the Drawing Room

Neal Ascherson: The SNP, 2 June 2011

... Canada is the supreme example of how first past the post can explode into madness when it has to cope with more than two contending parties. In Quebec, the Bloc Québécois got nearly 24 per cent of the votes but only 5.3 per cent of the seats. In Saskatchewan, the NDP won almost a third of the vote – and no seats at all. That’s the insult to democracy ...

Krazy Glue for All Eternity

Jessica Loudis: Mrs Escobar, 18 June 2020

Mrs Escobar: My Life with Pablo 
by Victoria Eugenia Henao.
Ebury, 544 pp., £12.99, August 2019, 978 1 78503 992 8
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... Isabel), fled Colombia, went into hiding and fought lawsuits, blackmail and media attacks. To cope with the stress, she studied for a diploma in ‘leadership and ontological coaching’ and came to rely on the services of an astrologer to Latin America’s elite, Mauricio Puerta, who has written the introduction to her book. (He attributes Escobar’s ...

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