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Diary

Paul Foot: The Buttocks Problem, 5 September 1996

... them to lie on his sofa while he spanked their bare buttocks. In his Introduction, the author Mark Peel pays tribute to Trench’s ‘common touch’ without referring to his most common touch of all: the sensuous fingering of his pupils’ buttocks before and during the interminable beatings. He goes on to describe Trench’s ‘contribution to the ...

Two Poems

Lucy Anne Watt, 23 May 1985

... Then, she’d pick from lifted trays, like any marketeer, fenestrated rose transparencies to mark (under ‘peel’) from ten. On the tables blue bowls of vanilla slices, each purse of six cloves relaxing in the ovens’ pre-heat. Breaking the drought Not counting the last tank’s thirty gallons, we took an old ...

You’re only interested in Hitler, not me

Susan Pedersen: Shirley Williams, 19 December 2013

Shirley Williams: The Biography 
by Mark Peel.
Biteback, 461 pp., £25, September 2013, 978 1 84954 604 1
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... Mark Peel organises his serviceable authorised biography of Shirley Williams around an ostensible conundrum. Why didn’t Williams achieve more politically? Why did the polarising, hectoring Margaret Thatcher, rather than the consensus-seeking, appealing Williams, become Britain’s first woman prime minister? This is a common question ...

They both hated DLT

Andy Beckett: Radio 1, 15 April 1999

The Nation’s Favourite: The True Adventures of Radio 1 
by Simon Garfield.
Faber, 273 pp., £9.99, October 1998, 0 571 19435 4
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... he gruffly liked to be known). Travis was having a party at his home, and decided to invite John Peel, then the only DJ at Radio 1 with a serious interest in the music he played. Peel, who was much older, and held a far more marginal position in the station’s daily schedule, went along out of curiosity. Looking around ...

Dig, Hammer, Spin, Weave

Miles Taylor: Richard Cobden, Class Warrior, 12 March 2009

The Letters of Richard Cobden. Vol. I: 1815-47 
edited by Anthony Howe.
Oxford, 529 pp., £100, November 2007, 978 0 19 921195 1
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... gerrymandered and signatures forged on petitions, and even an assassination attempt on Robert Peel, the prime minister. The young and impressionable Engels, whose daily walk to work took him past the Manchester offices of the Cobden brothers’ calico empire, was impressed. For the rest of his life, Engels was convinced that Cobden was the archetype of ...

To Live like a Bird

Mark Rudman, 1 June 2000

Approximately Nowhere 
by Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 77 pp., £7.99, April 1999, 0 571 19524 5
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... a chained monkey who bites. He lives, as I do, on Coke and bananas, which he doesn’t trouble to peel. ‘Postcard from Cuernavaca’ is an oblique homage to Malcolm Lowry: Under the Volcano is set in Cuernavaca. In ‘Shivery Stomp’, Hofmann spells out his identification with Lowry and how ‘it produces a strange adjacency,/to have visited so many of ...

Small America

Michael Peel: A report from Liberia, 7 August 2003

... bags, which stood in grotesque technicolour contrast to the atrocities they were committing. In Mark Huband’s The Liberian Civil War (1998), the author describes his growing disillusionment with all the rebel leaders, including Taylor, who spoke of his uprising as a grassroots response to the shame Liberians had felt in the face of the Doe regime. Several ...

Half-Infidels

Mark Mazower: Greece and Turkey’s Population Exchange, 3 August 2006

Twice a Stranger: How Mass Expulsion Forged Modern Greece and Turkey 
by Bruce Clark.
Granta, 274 pp., £20, March 2006, 1 86207 752 5
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... the region? Lausanne was hailed as a potential model for Palestine during the 1937 debates on the Peel Commission’s transfer proposals, by Hitler in the German population exchanges of 1939-41 and by Churchill (among others) for dealing with Eastern Europe’s German minorities after 1945. Today, it is invoked by political scientists and propagandists with ...

Strange Little Woman

Ferdinand Mount: First and Only Empress, 22 November 2018

Empress: Queen Victoria and India 
by Miles Taylor.
Yale, 388 pp., £25, August 2018, 978 0 300 11809 4
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Eastern Encounters: Four Centuries of Paintings and Manuscripts from the Indian Subcontinent 
by Emily Hannam.
Royal Collections Trust, 256 pp., £45, June 2018, 978 1 909741 45 4
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Splendours of the Subcontinent: A Prince’s Tour of India 1875-76 
by Kajal Meghani.
Royal Collections Trust, 216 pp., £29.95, March 2017, 978 1 909741 42 3
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... and a passionate humanitarian. But she was never quiet. In all her mutations she left her own mark on minds and events. It is not too much to say that this strange, self-educated, self-propelled little woman deserves a place among the makers of modern India. The temptation is to draw a continuous line from the first royal charter granted by another ...

Fuss, Fatigue and Rage

Ian Gilmour: Two Duff Kings, 15 July 1999

George IV 
by E.A. Smith.
Yale, 306 pp., £25, May 1999, 0 300 07685 1
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... could hardly be gayer,’ noted a peer, and the Times reported that there was ‘not a single mark of sympathy’ in the congregation. It seemed, wrote Mme de Lieven, that George IV had ‘never seriously inspired anyone with attachment’. Later observers viewed him no more favourably, Thackeray catching the prevailing flavour in 1855 and fixing ...

77 Barton Street

Dave Haslam: Joy Division, 3 January 2008

Juvenes: The Joy Division Photographs of Kevin Cummins 
To Hell with Publishing, 189 pp., £200, December 2007Show More
Joy Division: Piece by Piece 
by Paul Morley.
Plexus, 384 pp., £14.99, December 2007, 978 0 85965 404 3
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Control 
directed by Anton Corbijn.
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... The Fall. They flicked through my record collection and asked me about the band’s frontman, Mark E. Smith, and his lyrics. ‘What is “mithering”?’ they wanted to know. ‘And what is “cash and carry”?’ Smith, Curtis and Morrissey created a version of Manchester that journalists and photographers began to define and refine. ‘Joy ...

The Right Kind of Pain

Mark Greif: The Velvet Underground, 22 March 2007

The Velvet Underground 
by Richard Witts.
Equinox, 171 pp., £10.99, September 2006, 9781904768272
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... band than in anything captured on record. Yet they all do. David Fricke, in his notes accompanying Peel Slowly and See, the Polygram reissue of their four albums with out-takes, quotes Morrison, Reed and Tucker all complaining about the failure to capture their live work, and he alludes to unrecorded work like ‘Sweet Sister Ray’, a sometimes ...
Whatever Happened to the Tories: The Conservatives since 1945 
by Ian Gilmour and Mark Garnett.
Fourth Estate, 448 pp., £25, October 1997, 1 85702 475 3
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... cannot be unalloyed. Whatever Happened to the Tories, a book he has written with Mark Garnett, is an account of how all this came about: how the party which recovered so quickly after the 1945 defeat almost disintegrated fifty years later. Although it is subtitled The Conservatives since 1945, this is not a conventional history. It is ...

Diary

Jean Sprackland: In the Mud, 6 October 2011

... fragments I’d seen before, deep, and made up of many strata. If you broke off a piece, you could peel the layers apart; they were as flexible as rubber. Within each stratum were countless micro-strata, each one representing a twice daily silt-laden tidal incursion over a period of two and a half thousand years. I was at one of the four main sites in an area ...

Do, Not, Love, Make, Beds

David Wheatley: Irish literary magazines, 3 June 2004

Irish Literary Magazines: An Outline History and Descriptive Bibliography 
Irish Academic, 318 pp., £35, January 2003, 0 7165 2751 0Show More
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... up again until the 1890s. Yeats had spent long enough stepping over ‘the dirty piece of orange-peel in the corner of the stairs as one climbs up to some newspaper office’ to know what he was facing when he took on Beltaine in 1899 and Samhain in 1901. Around the same time, the country’s first student magazine, St Stephen’s of University College ...

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