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Break your bleedin’ heart

Michael Wood: Proust’s Otherness, 4 January 2024

Swann’s Way 
by Marcel Proust, translated by James Grieve.
NYRB, 450 pp., £16.99, June, 978 1 68137 629 5
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The Swann Way 
by Marcel Proust, translated by Brian Nelson.
Oxford, 430 pp., £9.99, September, 978 0 19 887152 1
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... deal of chance in all this. [Lydia Davis]There is a great deal of chance involved in all this. [Brian Nelson]It’s true that the first English version, Scott Moncrieff’s, has ‘There is a large element of hazard in these matters,’ but this has to be a mistake, or a visit from a linguistic false friend, since hasard is the ordinary French word for ...

Particularly Anodyne

Richard Norton-Taylor: One bomb in London, 15 July 2021

The Intelligence War against the IRA 
by Thomas Leahy.
Cambridge, 356 pp., £18.99, March 2020, 978 1 108 72040 3
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... says, and was ‘outside the group of leading Republican strategists’. Two informers stand out: Brian Nelson and the agent known as ‘Stakeknife’ (his identity has never been verified, but is suspected to be Freddie Scappaticci). Both were recruited by the FRU: Nelson to infiltrate the Ulster Defence ...

Not bloody likely

Paul Foot, 26 March 1992

Bloody Sunday in Derry: What really happened 
by Eamonn McCann, Maureen Shiels and Bridie Hannigan.
Brandon, 254 pp., £5.99, January 1992, 0 86322 139 4
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... to Northern Ireland to investigate contacts between the security forces and terrorists, arrested Brian Nelson, a Protestant paramilitary, Nelson told him he had killed four Catholics because they were Catholics and had a part in the killing of at least thirteen others. Stevens insisted that ...


Ronan Bennett, 16 December 1993

De Valera: Long Fellow, Long Shadow 
by Tim Pat Coogan.
Hutchinson, 772 pp., £20, October 1993, 9780091750305
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... high explosive. This time British intelligence intercepted the freight. But what about last time? Brian Nelson, a Loyalist terrorist and army double agent, was jailed last year for his part in the murder of several Catholics. In January 1988, while acting as a British intelligence agent – and with the full knowledge of his army and MI5 handlers ...

The Party and the Army

Ronan Bennett, 21 March 1996

... of Sinn Fein councillor Bobby Lavery – within twelve months they had also killed his son; Brian Nelson, a British military intelligence agent, described in court by a Colonel J as a ‘hero’, conspired to murder, among others, Belfast city councillor Alex Maskey – that Brian Nelson escaped multiple ...

Notes on a Notebook

Andrew O’Hagan, 30 September 1999

... your own advice. 2. Last April I began to write an account of the life and death of Rosemary Nelson, a 40-year-old solicitor in the town of Lurgan in County Armagh. At 12.40 p.m. on 15 March she got into her car outside her house at 5 Ashgrove Grange. As she drove away a bomb went off in the car. She lost both legs and suffered fatal abdominal ...

At the Duveen Galleries

Brian Dillon: ‘The Asset Strippers’, 18 July 2019

... You enter​ Mike Nelson’s installation The Asset Strippers, Tate Britain’s latest commission for its Duveen Galleries (until 6 October), through a pair of wooden swing doors salvaged from the old Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital on Bolsover Street. For several years, Nelson has been acquiring industrial machinery and related artefacts from online auctions and liquidation sales; the first object in the exhibition is a wheeled pneumatic paint sprayer: a thing of tubes and cylinders, coiled rubber hose and steel nozzle, all caked in dark red paint ...


Colin Wallace, 8 October 1992

The Red Hand: Protestant Paramilitaries in Northern Ireland 
by Steve Bruce.
Oxford, 326 pp., £25, August 1992, 0 19 215961 5
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... national security against another.’ The current debate surrounding the case of a former soldier, Brian Nelson, jailed earlier this year for offences committed during his time as an Army Intelligence agent inside the UDA, and the High Court action taken by the Chief Constable of the RUC against Channel 4 over allegations of a murder squad within the ...

Mother and Tata

Stephen Smith: The Mandelas, 21 March 2024

Winnie and NelsonPortrait of a Marriage 
by Jonny Steinberg.
William Collins, 550 pp., £25, May 2023, 978 0 00 835378 0
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... to deal with, but had impeccable township credentials and, as everyone knew, held the key to Nelson’s heart.When she was sober and had the measure of herself, she was an asset on any occasion. Her visits to South Africa’s poorest slums – stepping out of her Mercedes in high heels, a designer dress and colourful turban – were rightly regarded as a ...

Magical Socialism

R.W. Johnson, 5 August 1993

... Communist Party leader Chris Hani was the belief that Hani was the most likely successor to Nelson Mandela as head of the ANC – and thus the next-President-but-one of South Africa. It’s an interesting thought partly because its airing in an ANC paper signals both that the matter of the succession is in the air and that it is now publicly thinkable ...

Scenes from British Life

Hugh Barnes, 6 February 1986

Stroke Counterstroke 
by William Camp.
Joseph, 190 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 7181 2669 6
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Redhill Rococo 
by Shena Mackay.
Heinemann, 171 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 434 44046 9
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by Michael Irwin.
Deutsch, 231 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 233 97792 9
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... other blithely, into Mrs H-J or Mrs S; and trendy Christians daub their surroundings – a Ricky Nelson poster comes in for special punishment, a macabre touch – with the graffito ‘GOD RULES OK.’ You get from the novel what you don’t expect: Pearl Slattery (Mrs S) strikes a radical blow against the State. Towards the end she turns up for work at ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Miami Vice’, 17 August 2006

Miami Vice 
directed by Michael Mann.
August 2006
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... often look like music videos, an effect enhanced by guest appearances from Phil Collins, Willie Nelson, Little Richard, Miles Davis and many others. But the other, complementary theory of the series’ origin names a news story about vice cops using repossessed goods as a glossy cover for their assumed criminal characters. This is why Don Johnson drives a ...

Never Mainline

Jenny Diski: Keith Richards, 16 December 2010

by Keith Richards, with James Fox.
Weidenfeld, 564 pp., £20, October 2010, 978 0 297 85439 5
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... rather desirable white frock and all those hypocritical butterflies for the newly dead unlamented Brian), Richards’s reiterative narrative of Stones songs, gigs and internal warfare in Life was all news to me, and not all of it riveting. I see that this makes me an unlikely reviewer of Keith Richards’s autobiography. Perhaps I should have recused ...


Mary-Kay Wilmers, 10 November 1988

The Faber Book of Seductions 
edited by Jenny Newman.
Faber, 366 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 571 15110 8
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Journeys to the Underworld 
by Fiona Pitt-Kethley.
Chatto, 226 pp., £10, October 1988, 9780701132231
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... sex. And later he caught a bus and she a train And all there was between them then was rain. Brian Patten’s perfunctory verse is included in Jenny Newman’s anthology in order to make the same sort of point: seductions, which begin with fine words and end with desperate recriminations, are a thing of the past. ‘You cannot seduce anyone when ...

How many nipples had Graham Greene?

Colm Tóibín, 9 June 1994

... Canal to another journalist friend: ‘Five rows in front of me all in a row were Kissinger, Nelson Rockefeller, Ladybird, Ford, Mrs Carter and Mondale. Somehow these political stars all seem to be like dwarfs when you see them in the flesh. However, I had a wonderful suite at the Shoreham and everybody seemed to use Tanqueray in the Dry Martinis.’ He ...

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