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What are they after?

William Davies: How Could the Tories?, 8 March 2018

... things apply to Johnson, but a Venn diagram of these various characteristics would also include Michael Gove, Douglas Carswell, Daniel Hannan and Jacob Rees-Mogg. The result of these disparate characteristics is a comfortable familiarity with the myths and rituals of the British state, but a blasé indifference to the impact of policy. As Ian Jack pointed ...

Not My Fault

John Lanchester: New Labour’s Terrible Memoirs, 17 July 2008

Speaking for Myself: The Autobiography 
by Cherie Blair.
Little, Brown, 421 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 1 4087 0098 3
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Prezza, My Story: Pulling No Punches 
by John Prescott, with Hunter Davies.
Headline, 405 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 0 7553 1775 2
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A Question of Honour: Inside New Labour and the True Story of the Cash for Peerages Scandal 
by Michael Levy.
Simon and Schuster, 310 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 1 84737 315 1
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... since she seems not to have had a ghost, unlike John Prescott, who was ventriloquised by Hunter Davies; Michael Levy credits a journalist friend, Ned Temko, for his ‘invaluable help, talent and patience’. You certainly don’t hear the Cherie described by Michael Levy, ‘every bit ...

His Greatest Pretend

Dinah Birch: The man behind Pan, 1 September 2005

Hide-and-Seek with Angels: A Life of J.M. Barrie 
by Lisa Chaney.
Hutchinson, 402 pp., £20, June 2005, 0 09 179539 7
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... to be both uncommitted and watchfully involved could be more easily gratified. Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, the daughter of the rakish artist and novelist George du Maurier, was married to a handsome and respectable lawyer; she was delicately beautiful, vivacious and unavailable. Still more enticingly, she had a batch of boisterous sons: George, Jack and ...

Blame it on the boogie

Andrew O’Hagan: In Pursuit of Michael Jackson, 6 July 2006

On Michael Jackson 
by Margo Jefferson.
Pantheon, 146 pp., $20, January 2006, 0 375 42326 5
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... Since being acquitted of child molestation charges last summer, Michael Jackson has been hanging out in Bahrain, enjoying the hospitality of the ruler’s poptastic son Sheikh Abdullah. Jackson is said to have become a Muslim (which is sure to please his critics on Good Morning America), but evidence would suggest he has yet to get the hang of Islamic custom ...

In the Shady Wood

Michael Neill: Staging the Forest, 22 March 2018

The Shakespearean Forest 
by Anne Barton.
Cambridge, 185 pp., £75, August 2017, 978 0 521 57344 3
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... of its inhabitants was proven, in the words of James I’s attorney-general for Ireland, Sir John Davies, by their stubborn and perverse refusal to ‘plant any gardens or orchards, enclose or improve their lands, [or] live together in settled villages or towns’. The Irish rebels, according to Davies, were ‘wild and ...

Diary

Ian Hamilton: Francis Hope, and Tom and Vic, 15 March 1984

... word, come to think of it, sprang unbidden to the lips about half-way through the first act of Michael Hastings’s play Tom and Viv, now showing at the Royal Court. The play purports to be an account of T. S. Eliot’s first marriage, to Vivien Haigh-Wood, and I had been pretty well put off it by Peter Redgrove’s letter to the TLS: ‘if Eliot’s ...

A Life of Its Own

Jonathan Coe, 24 February 1994

The Kenneth Williams Diaries 
edited by Russell Davies.
HarperCollins, 827 pp., £20, June 1993, 0 00 255023 7
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... just behave with politeness – for the rest – she’s had it.’ In his biography of Williams, Michael Freedland gives a fuller account of this incident. He explains the basis of the sketch – two spies complaining about the uselessness of their technical gadgetry – and quotes Fenella Fielding: ‘We both had death pills. I would die first leaving him ...

Rising above it

Russell Davies, 2 December 1982

The Noel Coward Diaries 
edited by Graham Payn and Sheridan Morley.
Weidenfeld, 698 pp., £15, September 1982, 0 297 78142 1
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... was boredom. Most people were interesting first time round. ‘Wednesday 9 July 1941: Lunched with Michael Foot, whom I liked very much. He hated and hates Chamberlain even more than I. His views, though a trifle too leftist, are sound.’ But they did not turn out to be permanently palatable. ‘Friday 3 October 1952: After dinner we watched a political ...

We shall not be moved

John Bayley, 2 February 1984

Come aboard and sail away 
by John Fuller.
Salamander, 48 pp., £6, October 1983, 0 907540 37 6
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Children in Exile 
by James Fenton.
Salamander, 24 pp., £5, October 1983, 0 907540 39 2
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‘The Memory of War’ and ‘Children in Exile’: Poems 1968-1983 
by James Fenton.
Penguin, 110 pp., £1.95, October 1983, 0 14 006812 0
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Some Contemporary Poets of Britain and Ireland: An Anthology 
edited by Michael Schmidt.
Carcanet, 184 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 0 85635 469 4
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Nights in the Iron Hotel 
by Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 48 pp., £4, November 1983, 0 571 13116 6
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The Irish Lights 
by Charles Johnston and Kyril Fitzlyon.
Bodley Head, 77 pp., £4.50, September 1983, 0 370 30557 4
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Fifteen to Infinity 
by Ruth Fainlight.
Hutchinson, 62 pp., £5.95, September 1983, 0 09 152471 7
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Donald Davie and the Responsibilities of Literature 
edited by George Dekker.
Carcanet, 153 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 9780856354663
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... most. This may beg a lot more questions, but except to critics it is clear enough. When W.H. Davies says he saw the wind dragging the corn by her golden hair into a dark wood, the startling and exciting information goes straight inside us. Complex reactions then occur; theorists of rhetoric can tell us how the effect is achieved; but the truth of the ...

Loadsa Serious Money

Ian Taylor, 5 May 1988

Regulating the City: Competition, Scandal and Reform 
by Michael Clarke.
Open University, 288 pp., £25, May 1986, 9780335153817
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Regulating fraud: White-Collar Crime and the Criminal Process 
by Michael Levi.
Tavistock, 416 pp., £35, August 1987, 0 422 61160 3
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... the extraordinary sums of money involved,1 were quickly followed by the prosecution in Britain of Michael Collier. Chairman of Morgan Grenfell, the largest securities firm in the City of London, for making an instantaneous profit of £15,000 on the purchase of shares in a company he knew was about to be taken over. A steady series of cases involving ...

Short Cuts

Tom Crewe: Colourisation, 22 March 2018

... by Retrographic: History’s Most Exciting Images Transformed into Living Colour, edited by Michael D. Carroll (Carpet Bombing Culture, £19.95) – is a marker of our level of estrangement. Take Marina Amaral’s brilliant rendering of a photograph of one of Ulysses S. Grant’s councils of war in 1864, the Union command seated on pews carried out into ...

Diary

Tam Dalyell: The Belgrano Affair, 7 February 1985

... inside a Department – as in the case of what came to me from Clive Ponting. A careful look at Michael Heseltine’s lengthy broadcast evidence shows what exactly was taking place in the Whitehall stratosphere during the month in which Hilda Murrell was murdered. On 6 March Denzil Davies wrote to the Prime ...

Ponting bites back

Tam Dalyell, 4 April 1985

The Right to Know: The Inside Story of the ‘Belgrano’ Affair 
by Clive Ponting.
Sphere, 214 pp., £2.50, March 1985, 0 7221 6944 2
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... by Mr Ponting, of the meeting on 30 March 1984 to decide how to answer the letters from Denzil Davies and myself, dated 19 March. It got going just before 10 a.m. and lasted until nearly one o’clock. Anyone who knows Michael Heseltine knows that he is a rapid dispatcher of business, even by senior ministerial ...

Modernity

George Steiner, 5 May 1988

Visions and Blueprints: Avant-Garde Culture and Radical Politics in Early 20th-century Europe 
edited by Edward Timms and Peter Collier.
Manchester, 328 pp., £29.50, February 1988, 0 7190 2260 6
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... in these attitudes which was all-important and which, as I noted above, is passed over. Judy Davies makes one of the most convincing contributions in her survey of Marinetti and early Fascism. Even as her fine chapter appears, Marinetti and Boccioni seem to be coming back into fashion. The piece on ‘sexual politics and the avant-garde’, on the other ...

Last Stand

Stephen Smith, 8 May 1997

Solidarity on the Water front: The Liver pool Lock-Out of 1995-96 
by Michael Lavalette and Jane Kennedy.
Liver Press, 147 pp., £5.95, December 1996, 1 871201 06 3
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... their dole is reduced correspondingly.’ In Solidarity on the Waterfront, a docker called Jimmy Davies recalls starting work at the age of 18 in 1960: At that time they were still operating a casual system and I went into pen number eight, which dealt with all the coastal traffic to Ireland. There were about 2000 men in that control area and the boss would ...

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