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Speaking British

Thomas Jones, 30 March 2000

The Third Woman 
by William Cash.
Little, Brown, 318 pp., £14.99, February 2000, 0 316 85405 0
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Greene on Capri: A Memoir 
by Shirley Hazzard.
Virago, 149 pp., £12.99, January 2000, 1 86049 799 3
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... does, and the edifice collapses. In order to coincide with the opening of the movie, one suspects, William Cash’s The Third Woman appears to have been rushed into print. He was burrowing around in the archives at Georgetown University only last summer, and the idea for a book about Greene’s relationship with Catherine Walston occurred to him as ...

William Rodgers reads the papers

William Rodgers, 19 February 1987

The Market for Glory: Fleet Street Ownership in the 20th Century 
by Simon Jenkins.
Faber, 247 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 571 14627 9
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The End of the Street 
by Linda Melvern.
Methuen, 276 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 413 14640 5
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... free or cut-price offers of dictionaries and flower-pots in the 1930s have given way to bingo and cash prizes. As for content, most of the popular papers are as cheap and nasty as ever, apparently as indifferent to a more educated public as they are contemptuous of the Press Council. When it comes to politics, they are happy to use selective reporting to turn ...

Cape of Mad Hope

Neal Ascherson: The Darien disaster, 3 January 2008

The Price of Scotland: Darien, Union and the Wealth of Nations 
by Douglas Watt.
Luath, 312 pp., £8.99, January 2007, 978 1 906307 09 7
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... and the yuppie so thrilled with early success that he persuades himself that the company’s cash is his own. Here are the grave, respected men of substance who dare not admit to one another that in financial reality they are total ninnies, unable to read profit or loss off a stallholder’s pocket calculator. All these types dance through the ...

Newton reinvents himself

Jonathan Rée, 20 January 2011

Newton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World’s Greatest Scientist 
by Thomas Levenson.
Faber, 318 pp., £9.99, August 2010, 978 0 571 22993 2
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... but he had none of the poise and magnificence that were supposed to go with a royal pedigree. William, Prince of Orange was a mousy, middle-aged sociophobe, famous for combining blatant adultery and sanctimonious piety, and loved by no one except, maybe, his docile wife, Mary. But he was a skilful practitioner of the political arts, and over a period of ...

That sh—te Creech

James Buchan: The Scottish Enlightenment, 5 April 2007

The Enlightenment and the Book: Scottish Authors and Their Publishers in 18th-Century Britain, Ireland and America 
by Richard Sher.
Chicago, 815 pp., £25.50, February 2007, 978 0 226 75252 5
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... 1776, James Boswell and Samuel Johnson visited Pembroke College, Oxford and called on the master, William Adams. According to Richard Sher, Boswell wrote in his journal how dismayed he had been to see in the master’s library a copy of the quarto edition of David Hume’s Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects of 1758, handsomely bound in morocco ...

Feuds and Law and Order

William Doyle, 14 September 1989

Conflict and Control: Law and Order in 19th-Century Italy 
by John Davis.
Macmillan, 308 pp., £8.95, July 1988, 0 333 28647 2
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Feuding, Conflict and Banditry in 19th-Century Corsica 
by Stephen Wilson.
Cambridge, 565 pp., £45, September 1988, 0 521 35033 6
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... cultural norms came into play. Blood must be avenged with blood. Nothing else, and least of all cash compensation, was honourable. Thus the virtually inescapable cycle of vendetta began. One of its consequences was that other characteristically Corsican phenomenon, banditry. Ever since Eric Hobsbawm identified bandits in the Fifties and Sixties as social ...

Miracle on Fleet Street

Martin Hickman: Operation Elveden, 7 January 2016

... Would it be any more or any less improper to pay someone for handing over a photograph of Prince William wearing a bikini? The court cases were scarcely covered by the Fleet Street newspapers, save to complain that they were taking place at all (the Daily Mail described Elveden as ‘a disgraceful attempt by police and prosecutors to intimidate ...

The Big Mystique

William Davies: Central Banks and Banking, 2 February 2017

The Courage to Act: A Memoir of a Crisis and Its Aftermath 
by Ben Bernanke.
Norton, 624 pp., £27.99, October 2015, 978 0 393 24721 3
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The End of Alchemy: Money, Banking, and the Future of the Global Economy 
by Mervyn King.
Little Brown, 448 pp., £25, March 2017, 978 0 349 14067 4
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... eat into public and private debts and stimulate spending; it might also unleash some of the vast cash reserves currently sitting on corporate balance sheets. But no matter how many central bankers believe this, none would ever say it. King takes an arcane policy suggestion that central banks ‘promise to allow inflation to go above their normal target at ...

Collect your divvies

Ferdinand Mount: Safe as the Bank of England, 15 June 2023

Virtuous Bankers: A Day in the Life of the 18th-Century Bank of England 
by Anne Murphy.
Princeton, 275 pp., £30, May, 978 0 691 19474 5
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... engagement in the Nine Years’ War. It was a huge battle, more than 100,000 on each side. William of Orange was in personal command of the allied forces and was making headway against the French, but he had run out of cash to pay the siege workers. A delegation from the fledgling bank zoomed across the Channel to ...

Short Cuts

John Lanchester: The Art of Financial Disaster, 15 December 2011

... measures how safe a bank is: it is in effect the bank’s margin for error, showing how much cash of its own the bank has. The higher the percentage, the safer the bank; British banks must have a Tier One ratio of 10 per cent. Virgin has promised that the new combined bank will have a ratio of 15 per cent, way down on the margin currently held. That ...

Why Bull was killed

Victor Mallet, 15 August 1991

Arms and the Man: Dr Gerlad Bull, Iraq and the Supergun 
by William Lowther.
Macmillan, 298 pp., £15.99, July 1991, 0 333 56069 8
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... apartment with five shots from a silenced 7.65mm pistol. The assassin left behind $20,000 in cash which Bull had in his pockets. Two days later a Belgian newspaper ran a one-paragraph story headlined Meurtre d’un Américain. An extraordinary career had come to an abrupt end. Hélène Grégoire, the friend who found Bull’s corpse moments after his ...

Cat Poems

Gavin Ewart, 25 October 1990

... nips into the house. She’s sitting pretty – last year $1 million – her total for 1988!    Cash, silver, jewellery and other expensive goods. Diamond rings and other heirlooms. Her profits are great.   But she’s not one of your ordinary modern hoods. She’s more like a pirate. Lives in New Brunswick, they believe. And every year pops down to ...

Pissing on Idiots

Colin Burrow: Extreme Editing, 6 October 2011

Richard Bentley: Poetry and Enlightenment 
by Kristine Louise Haugen.
Harvard, 333 pp., £29.95, April 2011, 978 0 674 05871 2
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... in the Bentleian Stile and Manner’, which the hack publisher Bernard Lintott produced in 1712 to cash in on the fame of Bentley’s Horace. Bentley’s notes were translated in a way that deliberately exaggerated the crabby vigour and indecorum of his style: ‘Since then I was satisfy’d, that Horace did not write this, but that it was foisted in by the ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Second Novel Anxiety Syndrome, 22 August 2002

... or rather his first published novel (he’d already had two rejected). On the back of it, however, William Heinemann offered Greene a three-book contract that was lucrative enough for him to leave his job as a subeditor at the Times. The Name of Action (1930) and Rumour at Nightfall (1931) weren’t up to much, and it wasn’t till Stamboul Train (1932) that ...


Frank Kermode: What Went On at the Arts Council, 4 December 1986

... off. So Shaw had to deal with a mutinous directorate as well as with a difficult chairman, Sir William Rees-Mogg, and a series of unsympathetic ministers. He has lost no time in his retirement in giving an account of what went on. Apart from the business of deciding what is culturally valuable and what isn’t, the Council’s main concern is of course ...

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