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Tea with Medea

Simon Skinner: Richard Cobb, 19 July 2012

My Dear Hugh: Letters from Richard Cobb to Hugh Trevor-Roper and Others 
Frances Lincoln, 240 pp., £20, October 2011, 978 0 7112 3240 2Show More
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... joyous exchange of fire. Edward went with quiet deliberation into the kitchen to put on another kettle, and having, with care, poured himself out a fresh cup of tea, he came back unhurriedly into the room and threw the contents of his full cup over his mother’s face which, under the impact of Earl Grey became even more blotched than usual. It was the ...

Who was he?

Charles Nicholl: Joe the Ripper, 7 February 2008

The Fox and the Flies: The World of Joseph Silver, Racketeer and Psychopath 
by Charles van Onselen.
Cape, 672 pp., £20, April 2007, 978 0 224 07929 7
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... burned in the fireplace, which bore evidence of a ‘fire so large as to melt the spout off the kettle’. More probably it was taken away by the killer. This is another of Jack’s signatures: what is known in the lexicons of Ripperology as the ‘harvesting’ of body parts. This murder scene is the most gruesome even by the Ripper’s standards. Kelly ...

Snakes and Leeches

Rosemary Hill: The Great Stink, 4 January 2018

One Hot Summer: Dickens, Darwin, Disraeli and the Great Stink of 1858 
by Rosemary Ashton.
Yale, 352 pp., £25, July 2017, 978 0 300 22726 0
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... Haydon approaches a crisis in his unhappy career. Browning annoys Jane Carlyle by putting a hot kettle down on her new carpet. Haydon takes his own life. So, from day to day and street to street, the sublime and the ridiculous appear in the proximity they occupy in life. This is surely one reason for the rise of microhistory, that it brings the texture of ...

The Playboy of West 29th Street

Colm Tóibín: Yeats’s Father in Exile, 25 January 2018

... many suggestions he made that evening was that, when I was in Dublin again, I should go and see Michael Yeats, the son of the poet, who might be glad to meet someone who was interested in his grandfather as much as his father – and to spend time with someone who was brought up, as I was, in a Fianna Fáil family (Fianna Fáil being at the time the main ...

Heir to Blair

Christopher Tayler: Among the New Tories, 26 April 2007

... told the Conservative party conference last year. ‘In fact he wrote me a letter about it. Dear Kettle, You’re black. Signed Pot.’ On issues ranging from civil liberties to aviation, Labour has assailed the Conservatives from the right: ‘If they are helping us define ourselves on the centre ground of British politics,’ George Osborne, Cameron’s ...

Brexit and Myths of Englishness

James Meek: For England and St George, 11 October 2018

... tea (the lie had its basis in an unrealised EU proposal to ban the most power-hungry category of kettle as an anti-climate change measure). It’s the violence of the language, the attempt to whip up fear and hatred of a pitiless alien force that won’t listen to reason, that has no concern with national tradition or culture: the idea that Brussels wants to ...

Enemies For Ever

James Wolcott: ‘Making It’, 18 May 2017

Making It 
by Norman Podhoretz.
NYRB, 368 pp., £13.98, May 2017, 978 1 68137 080 4
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... to lick his wounds. He would keep licking them for decades, nursing his grievances into a fine kettle of vendettas. Meanwhile, Making It would go down in legend and out of print, a sunken landmark of sorts. To mark​ the fiftieth anniversary of Making It, NYRB Classics has revived Podhoretz’s battle-scarred memoir with an innocuous new introduction by ...

Call me Ahab

Jeremy Harding: Moby-Dick, 31 October 2002

Moby-Dick, or, The Whale 
by Herman Melville, edited by Harrison Hayford and Hershel Parker.
Northwestern, 573 pp., £14.95, September 2001, 0 8101 1911 0
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Mariners, Renegades and Castaways: The Story of Herman Melville and the World We Live in 
by C.L.R. James.
New England, 245 pp., £17.95, July 2001, 9781584650942
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Hunting Captain Ahab: Psychological Warfare and the Melville Revival 
by Clare Spark.
Kent State, 744 pp., £46.50, May 2001, 0 87338 674 4
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Lucchesi and the Whale 
by Frank Lentricchia.
Duke, 104 pp., £14.50, February 2001, 9780822326540
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... choices, very difficult after a long ‘sleighride’ behind the whale, bouncing around like a tin kettle ‘at the tail of a mad cougar’ – as Stubb, the Second Mate, says. To cut the line was to lose the catch. Not doing so could mean being plunged bows-first below the waves and dragged still deeper – losing the boat, and perhaps the men, to the ...

Mother One, Mother Two

Jeremy Harding: A memoir, 31 March 2005

... whose names were a constant struggle for her. ‘You know, darling the actor!’ she’d say of Michael Caine. ‘The curly-haired one who kills all the nignogs with the hay tutus and enormous spears in that film your father likes, I call him Alfie.’ She sold arrangements to Jean Shrimpton, Alec Guinness, Tony Blackburn, and others whose names she got ...

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