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Pop your own abscess

Rory Scothorne: Definitions of Poverty, 22 February 2018

The New Poverty 
by Stephen Armstrong.
Verso, 242 pp., £12.99, October 2017, 978 1 78663 463 4
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Poverty Safari 
by Darren McGarvey.
Luath, 244 pp., £7.99, November 2017, 978 1 912147 03 8
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... NGO. DentAid’s UK operations began in 2015, providing a charitable alternative to what Stephen Armstrong calls ‘DIY Dentistry’. In a chapter that’s almost impossible to read without flinching, Armstrong tells story after story of individuals forced by the scarcity of public services and the cost of ...

King of Razz

Alfred Appel Jr: Homage to Fats Waller, 9 May 2002

... On the eve of World War Two, Fats Waller was, after Louis Armstrong, the jazz musician and jazz entertainer best known and most loved by the American and English populations at large. In recent years, however, Waller’s reputation has declined, possibly because the jazz canon has room for only one cut-up: Armstrong ...

Keeping mum

Stephen Sedley, 2 March 1989

The Spycatcher Trial 
by Malcolm Turnbull.
Heinemann, 228 pp., £12.95, October 1988, 0 434 79156 3
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Reform of the Section 2 of the Official Secrets Act 1911: Government White Paper 
HMSO, 16 pp., £2.60, June 1988, 0 10 104082 2Show More
Official Secrets Bill 
HMSO, 14 pp., £3, December 1988, 0 10 300989 2Show More
Security Service Bill 
HMSO, 8 pp., £2.60, November 1988, 9780103007892Show More
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... The only real difference is that the obliquity is not too well concealed in Sir Robert Armstrong’s impromptu response: in the White Paper it lies low. But there is not much to choose between Armstrong’s fluent evasion and the White Paper’s gracious acceptance of the swingeing injustice of Section 2 (which ...

Diary

Alan Hollinghurst: In Houston, 18 March 1999

... buildings there. Houston’s Pevsner, and my main means of imaginative entry to the city, is Stephen Fox, a professor at both the large and unlovely University of Houston, where I am teaching, and the élite Rice University, which has a beautiful campus laid out by the Boston architect Ralph Adams Cram just before the Great War; Cram’s original ...

Diary

Stephen Smith: On the Applegarth, 13 April 2000

... never at a loss for a Cup Final ticket. He was married to Bessie, who banged the gong for dinner. Stephen Smith, my grandfather, was in on the café venture with his brother and also had shops in New Brighton (hardware, glass). Stephen was a sidesman at the Baptist church. No TV was allowed on Sundays, except for Songs of ...

More ‘out’ than ‘on’

Glen Newey: Chris Mullin’s Diaries, 27 August 2009

A View from the Foothills: The Diaries of Chris Mullin 
by Chris Mullin.
Profile, 590 pp., £20, March 2009, 978 1 84668 223 0
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... bungles away, the Peter Principle made flesh. Other ministers – Alan Milburn, David Blunkett, Stephen Byers – briefly shoot skywards, flare and fizzle. Through the passing show Mullin is by turns wryly amused and appalled, but often just alienated, a Meursault of the red boxes. Despite his Bennite past, the alienation is not mainly ideological. Mullin ...

Crypto-Republican

Simon Adams: Was Mary Queen of Scots a Murderer?, 11 June 2009

Burghley: William Cecil at the Court of Elizabeth I 
by Stephen Alford.
Yale, 412 pp., £25, May 2008, 978 0 300 11896 4
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... standard life, by Conyers Read, is in two volumes (published in 1955 and 1960), each larger than Stephen Alford’s new book. Alford, the author of The Early Elizabethan Polity: William Cecil and the British Succession Crisis (1998), has chosen to focus his study on the controversial subject of the Queen of Scots. Mary Stuart always claimed she was the ...

A Conversation with Gore Vidal

Thomas Powers: Meeting Gore Vidal, 31 July 2014

... and if so, why? A complicated story. It happened that Vidal had information on this subject: both Stephen Spender and John Lehmann had been told by Hugh Walpole – in identical words, apparently – of an occasion mentioned by Edel. Walpole, then young, beautiful, and awed by the Master, had offered himself to James. After a moment of hesitation, James ...

Illustrating America

Peter Campbell, 21 March 1985

Willem de Kooning: Drawings, Paintings, Sculpture 
by Paul Cummings, Jorn Merkert and Claire Stoullig.
Norton, 308 pp., £35, August 1984, 0 393 01840 7
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Abstract Expressionist Painting in America 
by William Seitz.
Harvard, 490 pp., £59.95, February 1984, 0 674 00215 6
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About Rothko 
by Dore Ashton.
Oxford, 225 pp., £15, August 1984, 0 19 503348 5
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The Art of the City: Views and Versions of New York 
by Peter Conrad.
Oxford, 329 pp., £15, June 1984, 0 19 503408 2
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... on being produced in moulds which had to a large extent already been formed. De Kooning, says Tom Armstrong, director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, ‘has changed the nature of painting and our understanding of art’. He describes a film in which the artist paints a picture: ‘his relationship with the brush and paint created the sense that one was ...

Operation Backfire

Francis Spufford: Britain’s space programme, 28 October 1999

... the pleasure of working with very high levels of energy. John Scott-Scott was a hydrodynamicist at Armstrong Siddeley Rocket Motors at Ansty near Rugby, who worked on conventional turbine engines before switching to rockets. He invented a turbo-pump incorporating a floating ‘cavitation bubble’ which could turn at 100,000 rpm. ‘The thing that makes it ...

Festival of Punishment

Thomas Laqueur: On Death Row, 5 October 2000

Proximity to Death 
by William McFeely.
Norton, 206 pp., £17.95, January 2000, 0 393 04819 5
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Death Row: The Encyclopedia of Capital Punishment 
edited by Bonnie Bobit.
Bobit, 311 pp., $24.95, September 1999, 0 9624857 6 4
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... to the death penalty today,’ he says, ‘is the contemporary equivalent of abolitionism.’ Stephen Bright, the lead counsel at the Southern Center for Human Rights, whose archives were the starting point for McFeely’s exploration of the way capital punishment actually works, sees himself as belonging to a tradition that goes back to the early days of ...

Iraq, 2 May 2005

Andrew O’Hagan: Two Soldiers, 6 March 2008

... combat zones – ‘and turned into an area known to us as “India”,’ says Lance Sergeant Stephen Phipps. ‘We then made our way through the al-Mukatil al-Araby district. I’m not sure if we drove to Green 5 – the streets were getting quieter.’ The patrol was about forty kilometres from Camp Abu Naji and the vehicles trundled along a dimly lit ...

My Darlings

Colm Tóibín: Drinking with Samuel Beckett, 5 April 2007

... Street, which I do regularly, I hardly ever think about Leopold Bloom and the Kilkenny People or Stephen Daedalus and the ghost of Hamlet’s father, even if I decide to walk the route down Kildare Street and past the National Library. I studied in the National Library almost every weekday between 1973 and 1975, and it is easier to wonder who stole my yellow ...

Excellence

Patrick Wright, 21 May 1987

Creating excellence: Managing corporate culture, strategy and change in the New Age 
by Craig Hickman and Michael Silva.
Allen and Unwin, 305 pp., £12.50, April 1985, 0 04 658252 5
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Intrapreneuring: Why you don’t have to leave the corporation to become an entrepreneur 
by Gifford Pinchot.
Harper and Row, 368 pp., £15.95, August 1985, 0 06 015305 9
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The IBM Way: Insights into the World’s Most Successful Marketing Organisation 
by Buck Rodgers.
Harper and Row, 224 pp., £12.95, April 1986, 0 06 015522 1
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Innovation: The Attacker’s Advantage 
by Richard Foster.
Macmillan, 316 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 333 43511 7
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Ford 
by Robert Lacey.
Heinemann, 778 pp., £15, July 1986, 0 434 40192 7
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Company of Adventurers: The Story of the Hudson’s Bay Company 
by Peter Newman.
Viking, 413 pp., £14.95, March 1986, 0 670 80379 0
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Augustine’s Laws 
by Norman Augustine.
Viking, 380 pp., £12.95, July 1986, 9780670809424
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Peak Performers: The New Heroes in Business 
by Charles Garfield.
Hutchinson, 333 pp., £12.95, October 1986, 0 09 167391 7
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Going for it: How to Succeed as an Entrepreneur 
by Victor Kiam.
Collins, 223 pp., £9.95, May 1986, 0 00 217603 3
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Take a chance to be first: The Secrets of Entrepreneurial Success 
by Warren Avis.
Macmillan, 222 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 02 504410 9
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The Winning Streak 
by Walter Goldsmith and David Clutterbuck.
Weidenfeld/Penguin, 224 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 297 78469 2
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The Roots of Excellence 
by Ronnie Lessem.
Fontana, 318 pp., £3.95, December 1985, 0 00 636874 3
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The New Management of Local Government 
by John Stewart.
Allen and Unwin, 208 pp., £20, October 1986, 0 00 435232 7
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... new heights of achievement as they shared in the great patriotic adventure that would put Neil Armstrong on the Moon. Convinced that a person doesn’t have to be an astronaut to reach for the sky, Garfield set out to show that the ‘improvements in performance’ to be seen in the LEM project can ‘occur in everyday life’. His roster of peak ...

Come and Stay

Arnold Rattenbury, 27 November 1997

England and the Octopus 
by Clough Williams-Ellis.
CPRE, 220 pp., £10.95, December 1996, 0 946044 50 3
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Clough Williams-Ellis: RIBA Drawings Monograph No 2 
by Richard Haslam.
Academy, 112 pp., £24.95, March 1996, 1 85490 430 2
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Clough Williams-Ellis: The Architect of Portmeirion 
by Jonah Jones.
Seren, 204 pp., £9.95, December 1996, 1 85411 166 3
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... and blankets for Spain; Patrick Hamilton deserted satirical realism for dystopia and allegory; Stephen Spender meandered Forward from Liberalism, crabwise; Sybil Thorndike joined the board of the Daily Worker; Dylan Thomas insisted that his ‘Ceremony after a Fire Raid’ must first appear as part of a socialist Mayday feature in 1944. Doris Lessing, so ...

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