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At Pallant House

Eleanor Birne: Pauline Boty, 6 February 2014

... lead in Darling, before Julie Christie came along. She danced on Ready Steady Go!, modelled for David Bailey, introduced Bob Dylan to London, broke Peter Blake’s heart, was part-owner of a frock shop in Carnaby Street, married and gave birth to a daughter all before dying in 1966 at the age of 28. Her story was remembered but her pictures weren’t: most ...

Short Cuts

Nick Richardson: Lord High Spanker, 8 October 2015

... I was​ the head of the Piers Gaveston Society, which is the society that David Cameron allegedly stuck his dick in a pig for. I never did that. According to Lord Ashcroft’s unofficial biography of the prime minister, Cameron did what he did as part of an initiation ritual, but the society in my day (late 2000s) didn’t have initiation rituals because it wasn’t a proper society ...

Quod erat Hepburn

John Bayley, 3 April 1986

Katharine Hepburn: A Biography 
by Anne Edwards.
Hodder, 395 pp., £12.95, March 1986, 0 340 33719 2
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... waiters, until it becomes their proper nature. It is the same with writers and artists. Byron or David or Robert Lowell cannot slink off and become their ordinary selves in the intervals of being poets and painters and men of the age. Greta Garbo is always Greta Garbo, once she has found the part. But there is quite a different category of actor, as of ...

Prosecco Notwithstanding

Tobias Gregory: 21st-Century Noir, 3 July 2008

The Lemur 
by Benjamin Black.
Picador US, 144 pp., $13, June 2008, 978 0 312 42808 2
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... square of black velvet topped with a few wisps of what might be spun sugar.’ ‘She was wearing the grey silk kimono that some Japanese bigwig presented to her when she visited Kyoto as a UN Special Ambassador for culture.’ ‘She was wearing what he thought of as her Jean Seberg outfit: black ...

Nairn is best

Neal Ascherson, 21 May 1987

Nairn: In Darkness and Light 
by David Thomson.
Hutchinson, 303 pp., £12.95, April 1987, 0 09 168360 2
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... Some sixty years ago, when David Thomson was a boy, he suffered from a condition that badly affected his eyesight. He could see, but poorly. He read Braille and, though this was forbidden, the printed page. On two occasions, when the condition grew worse, he was condemned to spend six weeks at a time lying on his back in a darkened room ...

What’s going on, Eric?

David Renton: Rock Against Racism, 22 November 2018

Walls Come Tumbling Down: The Music and Politics of Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone and Red Wedge 
by Daniel Rachel.
Picador, 589 pp., £12.99, May 2017, 978 1 4472 7268 7
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... to be gaining a presence not just in politics but in pop culture too. That same month, May 1976, David Bowie was photographed at Victoria Station on his return to Britain after two years in North America. Standing in an open-topped Mercedes, he appeared to give his fans some kind of open-handed, straight-armed – possibly fascist – salute. Soon afterwards ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: War Talk, 6 February 2003

... since John Major, shipping our boys out to the Gulf, boots or no boots, his rhetoric at least is wearing steel toe caps. ‘We are going to be in the front line of this whatever happens,’ he told the Commons Liaison Committee, meaning not, as you might think, that we’re going to invade Iraq regardless of public opinion and even if the UN weapons ...

Buildings of England

T.J. Clark, 19 March 2015

... of Bethlehem or the pig Doing something unmentionable on the misericord. Ruby’s patience was wearing thin. Crisps and blackcurrant in The Victory Were no longer enough to keep the demon boredom at bay. And Ruby’s boredom was a force, a power of blackness, that all of us feared. Where were we, exactly? I’m no longer sure. Maybe we’d stopped to see ...

All about Me

Kevin Kopelson: Don Bachardy, 9 April 2015

by Don Bachardy.
Glitterati, 368 pp., £45, October 2014, 978 0 9913419 2 4
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... near the house. Bachardy had walked – or perhaps sprinted – down there from home. He was wearing what I assumed were gym clothes. He had a full head of long, smooth and very silvery hair. He had long, thick and somewhat less silvery eyebrows. He had long, thick and even paintbrush-thick eyelashes. These, though, were a very dark brown. (‘They’re ...

What to Wear to School

Jeremy Harding: Marianne gets rid of the veil, 19 February 2004

... values in France delivered its recommendations, no one was surprised to hear that a ban on the wearing of all ostentatious religious symbols in schools, the Muslim hijab or veil above all, was high on the list. The deliberations were really about Islam and its inroads into French secular culture. The ban will become law before the next school term; the ...


Anne Enright: Bombings in Baghdad, 10 June 1999

... He sat in the chair opposite mine, sideways to the desk, and said he had been up all night. He was wearing a blue shirt. I said I had given up at three o’clock and gone to bed. He looked at me, helpless and accusing, as if to say: ‘Don’t you know there’s a war on?’ As if nobody cared, and it was up to him to care for all the people who were being ...

Our Soft-Shelled Condition

Katha Pollitt: Corsets, 14 November 2002

The Corset: A Cultural History 
by Valerie Steele.
Yale, 204 pp., £29.95, September 2001, 0 300 09071 4
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Bound to Please: A History of the Victorian Corset 
by Leigh Summers.
Berg, 302 pp., £15.99, October 2001, 9781859735107
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... In this light, almost anything a woman does can be seen as empowering, if not subversive – wearing a chador or going topless, having a facelift or embracing one’s inner crone, becoming a nun or joining the Klan. The corset – fascinating, alluring, enraging – has been a beneficiary of this revisionism. In the standard view, shaped by 19th-century ...


John Lanchester, 11 July 1991

Serial Murder: An Elusive Phenomenon 
edited by Stephen Egger.
Praeger, 250 pp., £33.50, October 1990, 0 275 92986 8
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Serial Killers 
by Joel Norris.
Arrow, 333 pp., £4.99, July 1990, 0 09 971750 6
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Life after Life 
by Tony Parker.
Pan, 256 pp., £4.50, May 1991, 0 330 31528 5
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American Psycho 
by Bret Easton Ellis.
Picador, 399 pp., £6.99, April 1991, 0 330 31992 2
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Dirty Weekend 
by Helen Zahavi.
Macmillan, 185 pp., £13.99, April 1991, 0 333 54723 3
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Silence of the Lambs 
by Thomas Harris.
Mandarin, 366 pp., £4.99, April 1991, 0 7493 0942 3
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... for works by artists as different from each other as P.D. James, DV8 Physical Dance Theatre and David Lynch. Stephen Egger, an American academic and former policeman who wrote the first doctoral dissertation on the phenomenon, gives a definition/description of serial murder in Serial Murder: An Elusive Phenomenon: A serial murder occurs when one or more ...

Why Goldwyn Wore Jodhpurs

David Thomson, 22 June 2000

The Way We Lived Then: Recollections of a Well-Known Name Dropper 
by Dominick Dunne.
Crown, 218 pp., £17.99, October 1999, 0 609 60388 4
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Gary Cooper Off Camera: A Daughter Remembers 
by Maria Cooper Janis.
Abrams, 176 pp., £22, November 1999, 0 8109 4130 9
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... movies and now the video footage. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I was working on the life of David O. Selznick, the man who produced Gone with the Wind, Rebecca and Duel in the Sun. It was a great help, yet a daunting obstacle, that Selznick had kept virtually every bit of paper that passed through his office. But the family archive had other ...

At the Grand Palais

Andrew O’Hagan: The Lagerfeld Fandango, 18 July 2019

... flung open on the white stage and the actress Tilda Swinton – madcap muse du jour – came on wearing a tweed peplum jacket, bloomers and a huge claret bow. She read an extract from Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, said to be Lagerfeld’s favourite novel. Celebrations of the image don’t always show imagination – think how banal the Oscars can be – but ...

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