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Four Poems

Hugo Williams, 11 October 1990

... mother appears like a new sun from behind a cloud. She is smiling radiantly, as if to welcome me home. ‘I won’t wait, darling. You know how I hate goodbyes. You’ve got your comics and your cars. I’ve written to you ...’ She has a porter in tow: nothing can save me now. A last gasp of Moment Supreme as she leans over me, then nothing at all but the ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Buffy!, 7 March 2002

... bunch of goofy friends, prominent among them Rupert Giles, the school librarian (played by Anthony Stewart Head, whose career, before Buffy, had peaked with those Nescafé Gold Blend ads), and Angel, a vampire cursed with a soul, who now has his own spin-off series. It sounds fairly crappy. People who’ve never seen it tend to think it’s crappy. But they ...

Five Poems

Hugo Williams, 15 April 2004

... a racing bike that wasn’t a Raleigh. We went to see Shane together, starring someone like James Stewart. We could reel off the names of all the cowboys’ horses. The Time of Our Lives The future can go and be bloody terrifying on its own for all I care. Me and my girl are stepping out for the past. We’re putting our best foot backwards, heading for ...

Sterling and Strings

Peter Davies: Harold Wilson and Vietnam, 20 November 2008

... and in March 1964, and again in June, pressed the Conservative prime minister, Alec Douglas-Home, to advise President Johnson against extending the war into the North. Following his election victory in October that year, Wilson was advised by the Foreign Office that, with regard to Vietnam, ‘ministers should agree to support the United States in this ...


Nicholas Spice, 15 March 1984

The Fetishist, and Other Stories 
by Michel Tournier, translated by Barbara Wright.
Collins, 220 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 00 221440 7
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My Aunt Christina, and Other Stories 
by J.I.M. Stewart.
Gollancz, 207 pp., £8.95, May 1983, 0 575 03256 1
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Mr Bedford and the Muses 
by Gail Godwin.
Heinemann, 229 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 0 434 29751 8
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Alexandra Freed 
by Lisa Zeidner.
Cape, 288 pp., £8.95, January 1984, 0 224 02158 3
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The Coffin Tree 
by Wendy Law-Yone.
Cape, 195 pp., £8.50, January 1984, 0 224 02963 0
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... the short story from being short.’ ‘A Return to the Glens’ is the strongest story in J.I.M. Stewart’s collection My Aunt Christina. Andrew Pringle, a retired barrister and widower, on a walking tour in Scotland, revisits the scene of an early love affair. He pictures to himself the possibility of a lasting reunion with Elspeth, whom he had abandoned ...

Ethnic Cleansers

Stephen Smith, 8 October 1992

Four Hours in My Lai: A War Crime and its Aftermath 
by Michael Bilton and Kevin Sim.
Viking, 430 pp., £17.99, May 1992, 0 670 83233 2
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Tiger Balm: Travels in Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia 
by Lucretia Stewart.
Chatto, 261 pp., £10.99, June 1992, 0 7011 3892 0
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... non-combatants would be out at the market at that time of day, leaving only the Viet Cong at home. The question of whether an order was given to kill unarmed villagers remains unresolved; several of Medina’s men including Calley claim to have heard one but Medina has denied the allegation. The brute methodology of the ‘body count’, by which the ...

Other Things

J.I.M. Stewart, 2 February 1984

Soor Hearts 
by Robert Alan Jamieson.
Paul Harris, 166 pp., £6.95, January 1984, 0 86228 072 9
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The Life and Loves of a She-Devil 
by Fay Weldon.
Hodder, 240 pp., £8.95, January 1984, 9780340332283
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by Raymond Carver.
Collins, 230 pp., £8.95, January 1984, 0 00 222790 8
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The Cannibal Galaxy 
by Cynthia Ozick.
Secker, 162 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 0 436 35483 7
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The Collected Works of Jane Bowles 
introduced by Truman Capote.
Peter Owen, 476 pp., £10.95, January 1984, 0 7206 0613 6
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Let it come down 
by Paul Bowles.
Peter Owen, 318 pp., £8.95, January 1984, 0 7206 0614 4
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... a mother (‘a part-time whore of a mother’) whom she has ruthlessly dumped in a disagreeable Home for aged persons; she contrives that the smelly old lady shall go on a visit to her daughter and then be refused readmittance to the Home on the score of an incontinence which Ruth has cleverly faked. Bobbo is an ...

Favourite Subjects

J.I.M. Stewart, 17 September 1981

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien 
edited by Humphrey Carpenter and Christopher Tolkien.
Allen and Unwin, 463 pp., £9.95, August 1981, 0 04 826005 3
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Tolkien and the Silmarils 
by Randel Helms.
Thames and Hudson, 104 pp., £5.50, September 1981, 0 500 01264 4
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... the somewhat narrow field of comparative philology. This cardinal fact about him comes forcibly home in a letter to his son Christopher dated 21 February 1958. Christopher had read a paper to a college society on the heroes of Northern legend as seen in different fashion by Germanic poets and Roman writers. His father, having heard the paper, went straight ...


Karl Miller, 2 March 1989

A Disaffection 
by James Kelman.
Secker, 344 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 0 436 23284 7
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The Book of Sandy Stewart 
edited by Roger Leitch.
Scottish Academic Press, 168 pp., £15, December 1988, 0 7073 0560 8
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... at Pat but Pat looked away. Nor was Pat going to say anything further because he was fucking off home as soon as he swallowed what he had lying. There was no point sitting here yapping to a bunch of fucking prejudiced rightwing bastards. And Gavin turned on him once more: What d’you mean ye deny ye get long holidays?    I deny I get long ...

Sahib and Son

J.I.M. Stewart, 22 December 1983

‘Oh Beloved Kids’: Rudyard Kipling’s Letters to his Children 
edited by Elliot Gilbert.
Weidenfeld, 225 pp., £10.95, October 1983, 0 297 78296 7
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... a confident and aggressive public stance with being a good deal managed, protected and cosseted at home. Something of all this must have rubbed off on John, but what the boy was chiefly subjected to was his father’s gospel of the day’s work. I do hope you will go up a form this term ... You are quite all right if you will only think; when you don’t ...


Rory Stewart: In Afghanistan, 11 July 2002

... so bad there was little danger of a campaign inflaming other Muslims or provoking terrorism at home. None of this was true of the recent campaign. Yet the coalition seems to have avoided disaster so far. This may be due to the technological superiority of the West, or because their ignorance of the Taliban was surpassed only by the Taliban’s ignorance of ...

Jungle Joys

Alfred Appel Jr: Wa-Wa-Wa with the Duke, 5 September 2002

... plunger was wielded most wondrously by Nanton, whose sound-effects, according to the cornetist Rex Stewart, ranged ‘from the wail of a new-born baby to the raucous hoot of an owl, from the bloodcurdling scream of an enraged tiger to the eerie cooing of a mourning dove. Tricky had them all in his bag of tricks and he utilised them with thoughtful discretion ...

Fellow Freaks

Sam Thompson: Wells Tower, 9 July 2009

Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned 
by Wells Tower.
Granta, 238 pp., £10.99, April 2009, 978 1 84708 048 6
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... set in present-day America, is narrated by a middle-aged Viking. Harald would much rather stay at home with his wife than set off on yet another bloodthirsty raid, but on Lindisfarne there is a monastery to sack and villagers to disembowel, and a man can’t turn down a job. Harald employs a modern American idiom, and the story initially presents itself as a ...

I met murder on the way

Colin Kidd: Castlereagh, 24 May 2012

Castlereagh: Enlightenment, War and Tyranny 
by John Bew.
Quercus, 722 pp., £25, September 2011, 978 0 85738 186 6
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... When I go home to the Ayrshire town where I grew up, I’ve noticed in recent years that even the dowdiest and most traditional hotels, where the outer limits of exoticism used to be a round of tinned pineapple on top of a gammon steak, have embraced fusion cuisine. Multicultural eclecticism, from food to fashion, is the norm in today’s Britain, and not just in the big cities ...

My Old, Sweet, Darling Mob

Iain Sinclair: Michael Moorcock, 30 November 2000

King of the City 
by Michael Moorcock.
Scribner, 421 pp., £9.99, May 2000, 0 684 86140 2
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Mother London 
by Michael Moorcock.
Scribner, 496 pp., £6.99, May 2000, 0 684 86141 0
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... a scarfed and hatted Fagin surrounded by smooth-cheeked, bare-headed acolytes – Tony White, Stewart Home, Steve Aylett, Steve Beard, China Miéville. What you are getting is a frame from Moorcock’s comic strip, The Metatemporal Detective, showing a traditional ‘hell’s kitchen’ where ‘Old Man Smith’, the piratical ruler of the ...

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