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The End of British Farming

Andrew O’Hagan: British farming, 22 March 2001

... produce where we can. With carrots, for example, we want to provide economic profitability to the farmer, using the short carrots for one line of produce and the bigger ones for another.’ The Cromwell Road branch of Sainsbury’s is what they call a ‘flagship store’. It’s not only a giant emporium, it is also grander than any other store in the ...

Caruthers & Co

Simon Raven, 19 July 1984

... and upright fellow can endure. Tom is engulfed by waves of darkness. ‘Time,’ calls a jolly old Farmer with his eyes on his gun-metal Hunter. He compels the slimy Italian owner of the Booth, who has already let the match last for five and a half minutes, to hand over Tom’s prize. ‘Well done, young ’un,’ says Kildare a few hours later (little knowing ...

Diary

Tom Paulin: Ulster’s Long Sunday, 24 August 1995

... part of the province’s culture. The first night, I sit up with the film’s director, David Hammond, adding bits to the script. We’re in the sunroom, as he calls it – a big glass-domed upstairs sitting-room at the back of his house. Purple summer dark, stars, streetlights climbing Divis, or the Black Mountain, as it’s called. We stare out at ...

Your mission is to get the gun

Theo Tait: Raoul Moat, 31 March 2016

You Could Do Something Amazing with Your Life [You Are Raoul Moat] 
by Andrew Hankinson.
Scribe, 204 pp., £12.99, February 2016, 978 1 922247 91 9
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... his former partner, Samantha Stobbart, her new boyfriend, Chris Brown, and a traffic policeman, David Rathband, setting in motion a massive manhunt. You Could Do Something Amazing with Your Life [You Are Raoul Moat] is written in the Capote tradition, and Hankinson mentions Gordon Burn in his acknowledgments. The basic strategy of the genre, as Tom Wolfe ...

Overloaded with Wasps

James Wood: Tales from Michigan, 17 March 2005

The Secret Goldfish 
by David Means.
Fourth Estate, 211 pp., £14.99, February 2005, 0 00 716487 4
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... the reason novelists and short-story writers are often quite distinct breeds). The American writer David Means will have none of this. His highly original stories are coats that have been reversed to show their linings. Rather than lightly hint at an exquisite pattern or organising symbol, he likes to accentuate the pattern, to dash it in the reader’s ...

Cameron’s Crank

Jonathan Raban: ‘Red Tory’, 22 April 2010

Red Tory: How Left and Right Have Broken Britain and How We Can Fix it 
by Phillip Blond.
Faber, 309 pp., £12.99, April 2010, 978 0 571 25167 4
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... been chiming insistently with my reading of Phillip Blond’s Red Tory and my listening to David Cameron’s ‘big society, small government’ speeches. When Cameron speaks of Britain’s ‘atomised’ and ‘broken’ society, and calls for a return to a ‘broad culture of responsibility, mutuality and obligation’, or Blond writes about the ...

Disorder

David Underdown, 4 May 1989

Village Revolts: Social Protest and Popular Disturbances in England 1509-1640 
by Roger Manning.
Oxford, 354 pp., £35, February 1988, 0 19 820116 8
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... were in too much of a hurry to exploit their new estates. In one Staffordshire village a greedy farmer found that his neighbours had destroyed his grass by driving their hay-wains four abreast through it. His handling of statstics is sometimes rather wooden, but again many of the conclusions are worthwhile, showing, for example, what a small affair the ...

Dykes, Drongs, Sarns, Snickets

David Craig: Walking England, 20 December 2012

The English Lakes: A History 
by Ian Thompson.
Bloomsbury, 343 pp., £16.99, March 2012, 978 1 4088 0958 7
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The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot 
by Robert Macfarlane.
Hamish Hamilton, 432 pp., £20, June 2012, 978 0 241 14381 0
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... that Picturesque vista. Wordsworth writes his Guide to the Lakes (1835), which idealises the hill farmer as the type of the sturdy Englishman, neither drudge nor parasite. Ruskin is drawn by what he sees as the acme of terrestrial beauty and ensconces himself above Coniston Water as a grumpy sage. With Canon Rawnsley of Wray near Windermere, and following ...

Why Not Eat an Eclair?

David Runciman: Why Vote?, 9 October 2008

Free Riding 
by Richard Tuck.
Harvard, 223 pp., £22.95, June 2008, 978 0 674 02834 0
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... The real-world example Olson gave was farmers in the American grain market. If a selfless farmer, worried about the suffering of his colleagues because of depressed prices, decided to lower his own production levels in order to raise prices, it would be a pointless gesture, because overall price levels would be unaffected by a single decision of this ...

Peeping Tam

Karl Miller, 6 August 1981

... face the prospect of a lifetime’s hard labour on the land. After just such a life, his own auld farmer addressed his auld mare in these words: Mony a sair darg we twa hae wrought, An’ wi’ the weary warl’ fought! An’ mony an anxious day I thought     We wad be beat! Yet here to crazy age we’re brought,     Wi’ something yet. Burns ...

At the Pompidou

Jeremy Harding: David Goldblatt, 26 April 2018

... South Africa through a European-style industrial revolution compressed into twenty years. David Goldblatt (b.1930) began taking photographs in the gold-mining areas in his teens. Many of them, and the ones that followed, tell the story of South Africa’s labouring classes, predominantly black, in a world shaped by race laws and extractive ...

Like a Dog

Elizabeth Lowry: J.M. Coetzee, 14 October 1999

Disgrace 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 220 pp., £14.99, July 1999, 0 436 20489 4
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The Lives of Animals 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Princeton, 127 pp., £12.50, May 1999, 0 691 00443 9
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... In J.M. Coetzee’s new novel, Disgrace, which is set in a violent post-apartheid South Africa, David Lurie, a Cape Town academic, reaches a similar conclusion when his daughter Lucy is gang-raped by three black men at her isolated homestead in the Eastern Cape. ‘But why did they hate me so?’ Lucy asks. ‘I had never set eyes on them.’ ‘It was ...

The road is still open

David Wootton: Turpin Hero?, 3 February 2005

Dick Turpin: The Myth of the English Highwayman 
by James Sharpe.
Profile, 258 pp., £8.99, January 2005, 1 86197 418 3
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... became a highwayman Turpin belonged to a gang of poachers in Essex. When they robbed a 70-year-old farmer, Joseph Lawrence, in 1735, they beat him on the bare buttocks, poured boiling water over him, and sat him on the fire in order to force him to say where his money was kept. Turpin played an active part in torturing Lawrence, though not in raping his ...

Who speaks for the state?

Frederick Wilmot-Smith: Brexit in Court, 1 December 2016

... it is right that this new prime minister takes the decision about when to trigger Article 50,’ David Cameron said in his resignation speech. Few doubted that the prime minister could send the notification – the question was when it would be sent – but the claimants in Miller challenged this assumption. Treaties are agreements between states. But states ...

Heir to Blair

Christopher Tayler: Among the New Tories, 26 April 2007

... heard of him. ‘You should meet him,’ the MP said. A press officer cut in. ‘He’s a Devon farmer, who set up an amazing social programme, which Channel 4 did a documentary on, to help underprivileged black kids from inner cities escape to the countryside, so a bit like working farms or city farms …’ ‘It’s a great story,’ the MP said. ‘Came ...

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