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A Little Bit of Showing Off

Adam Phillips: Isherwood’s 1960s, 6 January 2011

The Sixties: Diaries 1960-69 
by Christopher Isherwood, edited by Katherine Bucknell.
Chatto, 756 pp., £30, November 2010, 978 0 7011 6940 4
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... sustained his rather dutiful-sounding devotion to his swami – in a shrewd preface to the diaries Christopher Hitchens speaks of Isherwood’s ‘amazing willingness to put up with the swami’ – which seems to have replicated something of his irritated devotion to his family, while the relationship with Bachardy became his true ‘means of ...

Cocoa, sir?

Ian Jack: The Royal Navy, 2 January 2003

Sober Men and True: Sailor Lives in the Royal Navy 1900-45 
by Christopher McKee.
Harvard, 285 pp., £19.95, May 2002, 0 674 00736 0
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Rule Britannia: The Victorian and Edwardian Navy 
by Peter Padfield.
Pimlico, 246 pp., £12.50, August 2002, 0 7126 6834 9
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... its history as ‘the pre-eminent sea-fighting force of the post-1500 world’, in the words of Christopher McKee, resonated still in school history books, comics and war films (Officer with mug: ‘Cocoa, sir?’ Officer with binoculars: ‘Good man, Number One!’). The most popular cigarette brands suggested that seagoing manliness and smoking were one ...

The Last Years of Edward Kelley, Alchemist to the Emperor

Charles Nicholl: Edward Kelly, 19 April 2001

... real name is revealed: in his next appearance in the diary he is, for the first time, ‘E. Kelly’. A fragmentary entry, 1 August 1583, also seems to be about Kelley – ‘a Worcestershire man, a wicked spy, came to my house: whom I used as an honest man and found nothing being as I used’. Dee also found that Kelley had been snooping through his ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1996, 2 January 1997

... its journey to judgment, lucky, I suppose, not to be seen off with a cheerful message from Henry Kelly. With it being Gerontius I’m surprised the whole thing isn’t a plug for Saga’s ‘specialised insurance for those of 50 and over’. Excepted from these strictures about Classic FM is Michael Mappin, who keeps the bad jokes to the minimum, isn’t ...

‘Someone you had to be a bit careful with’

David Sylvester: Gallery Rogues, 30 March 2000

Groovy Bob: The Life and Times of Robert Fraser 
by Harriet Vyner.
Faber, 317 pp., £20, October 1999, 0 571 19627 6
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... Richard Hamilton says that ‘Robert’s was the best gallery I knew in London,’ Ellsworth Kelly that ‘he was a very courageous and flamboyant dealer,’ Claes Oldenburg that ‘Robert really had an eye for draughtsmanship. Very few dealers have.’ He also had a great flair for presentation. To begin with, when he first opened a gallery, he chose ...


David Bromwich: I met a Republican, 7 March 2019

... and on 30 January he tweeted a denunciation of his intelligence chiefs Dan Coats, Gina Haspel and Christopher Wray: they were ‘naive’ for telling the Senate that Iran wasn’t working on a nuclear weapon. Half of Trump’s argument for exiting the agreement Obama signed with Iran in 2015, along with the UK, France, China, Russia and Germany, was that the ...

What Is Great about Ourselves

Pankaj Mishra: Closing Time, 21 September 2017

The Retreat of Western Liberalism 
by Edward Luce.
Little, Brown, 240 pp., £16.99, May 2017, 978 1 4087 1041 8
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The Fate of the West: Battle to Save the World’s Most Successful Political Idea 
by Bill Emmott.
Economist, 257 pp., £22, May 2017, 978 1 61039 780 3
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The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics 
by David Goodhart.
Hurst, 256 pp., £20, March 2017, 978 1 84904 799 9
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The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics 
by Mark Lilla.
Harper, 143 pp., £20, August 2017, 978 0 06 269743 1
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The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam 
by Douglas Murray.
Bloomsbury, 343 pp., £18.99, May 2017, 978 1 4729 4224 1
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... English style’. The only alternative was populist nationalism. In 2010, Gavin Kelly, former deputy chief of staff to Gordon Brown, defined this project in Prospect: to complement ‘“materialism” with a national popular project, embedded in the cultural aspirations and attachments of the British people’. Brown seemed up to the job ...

One Summer in America

Eliot Weinberger, 26 September 2019

... a for-profit run by a military contractor, Caliburn International. The anti-immigrant zealot John Kelly – once considered the only ‘adult’ in the White House when he was chief of staff – joined Caliburn’s board immediately after leaving government.*In a televised interview with Vice President Pence, the host reads from an article about the camps in ...

What’s It All About?

Tom Lubbock, 6 April 1995

Shark-Infested Waters: The Saatchi Collection of British Art in the Nineties 
by Sarah Kent.
Zwemmer, 270 pp., £19.95, November 1994, 0 302 00648 6
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The Reviews that Caused the Rumpus, and Other Pieces 
by Brian Sewell.
Bloomsbury, 365 pp., £12.99, November 1994, 0 7475 1872 6
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... of the art world’, the letter was signed by Marina Warner, Michael Craig-Martin, Christopher Frayling and George Melly, also several artists and dealers, and as with all round-robins it wasn’t perhaps the letter any one of them would have written individually. Still, as a tactic, it showed blessed unworldliness, as surprising as it is ...

Something Rather Scandalous

Jean McNicol: The Loves of Rupert Brooke, 20 October 2016

Rupert Brooke: Life, Death and Myth 
by Nigel Jones.
Head of Zeus, 588 pp., £12, April 2015, 978 1 78185 703 8
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Fatal Glamour: The Life of Rupert Brooke 
by Paul Delany.
McGill-Queen’s, 380 pp., £28.99, March 2015, 978 0 7735 4557 1
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The Second I Saw You: The True Love Story of Rupert Brooke and Phyllis Gardner 
by Lorna C. Beckett.
British Library, 216 pp., £16.99, April 2015, 978 0 7123 5792 0
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... on Skyros: it was ‘as though one were involved in the origin of some classical myth’, F.S. Kelly, who would survive until the Somme, noted in his diary. Brooke and his fellow officers, all public schoolboys who’d studied Greek, had been carried away by the Homeric echoes of their journey: ‘Do you think perhaps the fort on the Asiatic corner will ...

The Bayswater Grocer

Thomas Meaney: The Singapore Formula, 18 March 2021

Singapore: A Modern History 
by Michael Barr.
Bloomsbury, 296 pp., £17.99, December 2020, 978 1 350 18566 1
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... is enshrouded in seventy years of mythologising, but no less impressive for that. As John D. Kelly has emphasised, a Singaporean cultural identity was forged within a decade: Malays in Singapore went overnight from being the Bumiputera – the chosen sons of the soil – to a minority; Indians had to forget memories of their prowess in the Indian ...

Bloody Sunday Report

Murray Sayle: Back to Bloody Sunday, 11 July 2002

... one so far – well over two million words, and much more to come. Counsel assisting the Inquiry, Christopher Clarke QC, acting as a kind of master of ceremonies, opened the proceedings by saying that everyone present had read my various witness statements (and, later, Derek Humphry’s) and that he and other counsel representing interested parties had some ...

Walk on by

Andrew O’Hagan, 18 November 1993

... I laughed, imagining the guy in the bus with the microphone, the tour operator, pointing to Sir Christopher Wren’s construction, on the left, and on the right, pointing to me, Baroness Thatcher’s. I felt edgy at that corner though; it was too open; I was getting a lot of looks and the City is notoriously tight with beggars, indeed with everyone. I ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 June 2018

... team and put them all to work. He got to Sergeant Helen Tilbury at 5.30 a.m. PC Emma Hicks and PC Kelly Hicks, contacted a bit later, went to the rugby trust building in Walmer Road while Tilbury and PC Dave Pullan went to another temporary relief centre, Clement James in Treadgold Street. ‘Because we were in uniform,’ Rumble said, ‘we were seen as ...

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