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High on His Own Supply

Christopher Tayler: Amis Recycled, 11 September 2003

Yellow Dog 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 340 pp., £16.99, September 2003, 0 224 05061 3
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... Reviewing a new edition of Ulysses in 1986, Martin Amis had a few reservations about the book’s popularity with scholarly intermediaries. James Joyce, he concluded, ‘could have been the most popular boy in the school, the funniest, the cleverest, the kindest. He ended up with a more ambiguous distinction: he became the teacher’s pet ...

Men in Aprons

Colin Kidd: Freemasonry, 7 May 1998

Who’s Afraid of Freemasons? The Phenomenon of Freemasonry 
by Alexander Piatigorsky.
Harvill, 398 pp., £25, August 1997, 1 86046 029 1
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... Mystery of Freemasonry Discover’d (1724) and Samuel Prichard’s Masonry Dissected (1730) to Martin Short’s Inside the Brotherhood: Further Secrets of the Freemasons (1989), the dominant genre in Masonic literature has been the ‘exposure’. Rituals, passwords, oaths, handshakes and symbolic imagery pique the curiosity of the uninitiated, or ...

Squeamish

Peter Clarke: Lloyd George versus Haig, 3 April 2003

Lloyd George: War Leader 
by John Grigg.
Allen Lane, 670 pp., £25, October 2002, 9780713993431
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... published by the National Portrait Gallery to accompany the BBC series of the same name, Brian Harrison, the editor of the forthcoming Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, observes that we are hardly alone ‘in placing the great at the centre of our national myth’: If Lloyd George and Winston Churchill epitomise national resistance to ...

The Person in the Phone Booth

David Trotter: Phone Booths, 28 January 2010

... of privacy in public which includes rather than excludes the acknowledgment of strangers. Tony Harrison’s ‘Changing at York’ takes place in a phone booth in York railway station, where he has gone to inform his son that his train has been delayed. The booth is replete with phobic objects and sensations: a vandalised directory, the smell of alcohol ...

Hard Beats and Spacey Bleeps

Dave Haslam, 23 September 1993

Will Pop Eat Itself? Pop Music in the Soundbite Era 
by Jeremy J. Beadle.
Faber, 269 pp., £7.99, June 1993, 9780571162413
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Present Tense: Rock & Roll and Culture 
edited by Anthony DeCurtis.
Duke, 317 pp., £11.95, October 1992, 0 8223 1265 4
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... have sampled car doors slamming, Eastern tablas, disco bass-lines, astronauts talking to NASA, Martin Luther King’s speeches and Donny Osmond singing ‘Someone Help Me’. And, thanks to an Akai S900 sampler (cost price around £2000), the KLF’s album Chill Out includes the sound of sheep baaing. The KLF (or the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, as they ...

Mighty Merry

E.S. Turner, 25 May 1995

The Diary of Samuel Pepys. Eleven Volumes, including Companion and Index 
edited by R.C. Latham and W. Matthews.
HarperCollins, 267 pp., £8.99, February 1995, 0 00 499021 8
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... his lord is not yet up. So what’s to do? ‘I went out to Charing cross, to sec Major-Generall Harrison hanged, drawn and quartered – which was done there – he looking as cheerfully as any man could do in that condition’ It was powerful street theatre: the regicide’s head and heart were held up to ‘shouts of joy’. Having witnessed this ...

Steaming Torsos

J. Hoberman, 6 February 1997

Westerns: Making the Man in Fiction and Film 
by Lee Clark Mitchell.
Chicago, 352 pp., £23.95, November 1996, 0 226 53234 8
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... These sweeping generalisations are underscored by a number of errors. Westerns attributes Martin Ritt’s Hud to Arthur Penn and the well-publicised love of ‘Home on the Range’ to Theodore Roosevelt rather than Franklin; it imagines that cameras possessed zoom lenses in 1939 and that the blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo’s defiance before ...

Red Pill, Blue Pill

James Meek, 22 October 2020

... of conspiracist discourse is never lost for words or answers. It is mimicked by foot soldiers like Martin, whom I met in Trafalgar Square. Like Dominic, Martin didn’t match the cliché of conspiracy theorists as unkempt eccentrics, hippies, stoners, ragged and unbarbered and decked with badges. He was a graphic designer ...

Rough Trade

Steven Shapin: Robert Hooke, 6 March 2003

The Man Who Knew Too Much: The Strange and Inventive Life of Robert Hooke 1635-1703 
by Stephen Inwood.
Macmillan, 497 pp., £18.99, September 2002, 0 333 78286 0
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... years before Parliament paid out about five times that amount to the ‘lone genius’ John Harrison in 1773 for the magnificent marine chronometer that provided a working solution to the longitude problem. The patent Hooke wanted was a type of ‘Letters Patent’ – literally ‘open letters’, sealed but not sealed up, conferring the special ...

Just one of those ends

Michael Wood: Apocalypse Regained, 13 December 2001

Apocalypse Now Redux 
directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
August 2001
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Marlon Brando 
by Patricia Bosworth.
Weidenfeld, 216 pp., £12.99, October 2001, 0 297 84284 6
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... to end,’ the gung-ho Colonel Kilgore played by Robert Duvall says in the film. Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) later repeats the line, thinking how happy the young men travelling upriver with him will be when that day comes, and they can go home. ‘The trouble is,’ Willard adds, ‘I had been back there, and I knew it just didn’t exist any more.’ The ...

Diary

John Lanchester: A Month on the Sofa, 11 July 2002

... Precisely. Cooper’s other good remark, about the desperately low quality of opponents for Audley Harrison, the boxer whom the BBC has paid one million pounds: ‘they keep on diggin’ up dead bodies for ‘im to knock dahn.’ 30 May. First day of the Second Test against Sri Lanka. Was away for the First Test so this is my first chance to see some cricket ...

Karl Miller Remembered

Neal Ascherson, John Lanchester and Andrew O’Hagan, 23 October 2014

... gripped his arm. ‘There’s always friends,’ she said.) The LRB published ‘V’ by Tony Harrison, first fictions by Amit Chaudhuri and Romesh Gunesekera, reflections and memoirs and poems by everyone from A.J. Ayer to Fiona Pitt-Kethley. We often used to argue about Pitt-Kethley’s super-sexually frank work in the office. Karl was a believer and ...

Robin Hood in a Time of Austerity

James Meek, 18 February 2016

... highest of all in the United States. The line ‘There’s one for you, 19 for me,’ in George Harrison’s song ‘Taxman’, released by the Beatles in 1966, referred to the 95 per cent tax rate paid by the very richest fraction of the British population, which included George Harrison. At one point in Britain in the ...

Walk on by

Andrew O’Hagan, 18 November 1993

... for the longest hour, remained undisturbed. Then I got two pound coins in quick succession.St Martin-in-the Fields Day-Centre, at Trafalgar Square, was due to open at 6.30 the evening I went. I arrived there just after five and already there were two dozen people waiting around outside. An elderly man in a grey coat, with white hair and beard and no ...

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