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Silly Buggers

James Fox, 7 March 1991

The Theatre of Embarrassment 
by Francis Wyndham.
Chatto, 205 pp., £15, February 1991, 0 7011 3726 6
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... other Sixties figure, had been hired to tame it – was the final meeting between McCullin and Andrew Neil, Murdoch’s Editor on the Sunday Times, when McCullin was sacked. His images were no longer needed at the beginning of the That-cherite Eighties: they were an embarrassment in the age of greed and getting, and he was hanging around, unused, in ...

Weasel, Magpie, Crow

Mark Ford: Edward Thomas, 1 January 2009

Edward Thomas: The Annotated Collected Poems 
edited by Edna Longley.
Bloodaxe, 335 pp., £12, June 2008, 978 1 85224 746 1
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... its most potent sense of Thomas’s elusive selfhood at the very moment that self nears the brink of dissolution. This dissolution is far from the ‘extinction of personality’ recommended by Eliot in ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’, which came out two years after ‘Old Man’ appeared in An Annual of New Poetry. Eliot argued that the ...

What did her neighbours say when Gabriel had gone?

Hilary Mantel: The Virgin and I, 9 April 2009

Mother of God: A History of the Virgin Mary 
by Miri Rubin.
Allen Lane, 533 pp., £30, February 2009, 978 0 7139 9818 4
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... on, reimagined. Sometimes these imaginings have great sweetness. The eighth-century preacher Andrew of Crete pictured the Angel Gabriel hesitating on the brink of annunciation, wondering how to enter the Virgin’s room: ‘Shall I knock on the door? And how? For this is not customary for angels.’ Neither woman nor ...

Gove or Galtieri?

Colin Kidd: Popular Conservatism, 5 October 2017

Crown, Church and Constitution: Popular Conservatism in England 1815-67 
by Jörg Neuheiser, translated by Jennifer Walcoff Neuheiser.
Berghahn, 320 pp., £78, May 2016, 978 1 78533 140 4
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Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy 
by Daniel Ziblatt.
Cambridge, 450 pp., £26.99, April 2017, 978 0 521 17299 8
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Edmund Burke and the Invention of Modern Conservatism, 1830-1914: An Intellectual History 
by Emily Jones.
Oxford, 288 pp., £60, April 2017, 978 0 19 879942 9
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Kind of Blue: A Political Memoir 
by Ken Clarke.
Pan, 525 pp., £9.99, June 2017, 978 1 5098 3720 5
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... diehard anti-Home Rulers appeared to flirt with insurrection and civil war. The Tory leader, Andrew Bonar Law, declared in a speech at Blenheim in 1912 that he could ‘imagine no length of resistance to which Ulster can go in which I should not be prepared to support them’. The Curragh Mutiny and Larne gun-running incident in the spring of 1914 showed ...

The Magic Lever

Donald MacKenzie: How the Banks Do It, 9 May 2013

... preferred image of itself. The figure made its first, understated appearance in March 2010, when Andrew Haldane, the Bank’s Executive Director for Financial Stability, included it in a talk in Hong Kong, then reappeared later that year in a chart buried at the back of the December issue of the Bank’s Financial Stability Report. The figure was the size of ...

Alas! Deceived

Alan Bennett: Philip Larkin, 25 March 1993

Philip Larkin: A Writer’s Life 
by Andrew Motion.
Faber, 570 pp., £20, April 1993, 0 571 15174 4
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... of course, not hers. Eva died in 1977 aged 91, after which the poems more or less stopped coming. Andrew Motion thinks this is no coincidence. Larkin pinpointed 63 as his probable departure date because that was when his father went, turned by his mother into ‘the sort of closed, reserved man who would die of some thing internal’. Sydney Larkin was the ...

The Satoshi Affair

Andrew O’Hagan, 30 June 2016

... was already in administration and, with the ATO closing in, ‘all related entities were on the brink of collapse.’ Before signing the deal, MacGregor, sources say, tried to assess the value of Wright’s research, commissioning a ‘high-level overview’ of the companies. MacGregor instructed Matthews to be in Sydney on 24 June 2015, when a final ...

Act One, Scene One

David Bromwich: Don’t Resist, Oppose, 16 February 2017

... nominee for health secretary, owes his appointment to his agitation for the repeal of Obamacare. Andrew Puzder, the CEO of the fast-food franchise Carl Jr, chiefly known for his opposition to raising the minimum wage, is Trump’s pick for labour secretary. The most ominous appointment for the laws and liberty of the country is the new director of the ...

Diary

David Bromwich: The Establishment President, 13 May 2010

... the libertarian party of Jefferson to the party of territorial expansion and property rights under Andrew Jackson and Stephen Douglas; while the Whig party, once associated with John Adams, under the new name of Republicans extended the cause of liberty beyond the right of property. ‘I remember,’ Lincoln wrote in 1859, once being amused at seeing two ...

Diary

Tom Paulin: Trimble’s virtues, 7 October 2004

... head west for about 40 kilometres into the Gaeltacht: we’re to have lunch with an old friend, Andrew, in the Beehive Bar near the coast. He’s there in the car-park having a smoke. I manage to refuse his offer of a Sweet Afton, and as I do so he notices my copy of Dean Godson’s biography of David Trimble, Himself Alone, lying in the back seat with ...

The money’s still out there

Neal Ascherson: The Scottish Empire, 6 October 2011

To the Ends of the Earth: Scotland’s Global Diaspora, 1750-2010 
by T.M. Devine.
Allen Lane, 397 pp., £25, August 2011, 978 0 7139 9744 6
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The Inner Life of Empires: An 18th-Century History 
by Emma Rothschild.
Princeton, 483 pp., £24.95, June 2011, 978 0 691 14895 3
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... century, when Scots – admitted to equal rights in what was now a ‘British empire’ on the brink of enormous global expansion – learned to take full advantage of their chances. To the Ends of the Earth retraces that early period and carries on into Scotland’s paradoxical Victorian apogee of industrial triumph and mass emigration. Then Devine asks ...

Mise-en-Scène for a Parricide

Angela Carter, 3 September 1981

... while Second Street itself saw better days some time ago. The Borden house – see ‘Andrew J. Borden’ in flowing script on the brass plate next to the door – stands by itself with a few scant feet of yard on either side. On the left is a stable, out of use since he sold the horse. In the back lot grow a few pear trees, laden at this ...

It’s already happened

James Meek: The NHS Goes Private, 22 September 2011

... services, imposed from Whitehall.’ Two months later, the new health secretary, the Conservative Andrew Lansley, announced his plans for a top-down reconfiguration of England’s NHS services, imposed from Whitehall. The patient whom Porter was about to operate on was a 60-year-old woman from the Wirral with a complex prosthesis in one leg, running from her ...

Be grateful for drizzle

Donald MacKenzie: High-Frequency Trading, 11 September 2014

... and the combination of so many computers and all that air conditioning makes for a lot of noise. Andrew Blum, author of a fine book on the physical reality of the internet, describes visiting a data centre as ‘like stepping into a machine … as loud as a rushing highway’.2 There are four main share-trading data centres in the US. The New York Stock ...

What was it that drove him?

David Runciman: Gordon Brown, 4 January 2018

My Life, Our Times 
by Gordon Brown.
Bodley Head, 512 pp., £25, November 2017, 978 1 84792 497 1
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... choose from. Some, though, are already taken. Alistair Darling, for instance, starts Back from the Brink, his 2011 account of what it was like being Brown’s chancellor, on Tuesday, 7 October 2008, when Sir Tom McKillop, the chairman of RBS, called him to announce that his bank was about to go bust and to ask what the government planned to do about it. ‘It ...

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