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Out of the darkness and the bouillabaisseof nebulae and swirling gas we come,out of the toxic argon wilderness,seeking a sanctuary and a home. Be kind. Love one another. The frogs are dying. The old copper beechfesters in acid rain. The sky corrodes,contaminated birds are robbed of speechand, wrapped in fumes, Antarctica implodes.Be kind. Love one

A tapestry’s rich life

Listing page content here The Bayeux tapestry records pictorially in a series of 56 panels, stretching for 70 metres, the last successful invasion of England. It reveals that the invasion of 1066 was a combined operation involving the building of 800 ships to transport an army of some 12,000 men and 2,000 horses across the

Toughing it out together

Listing page content here Since the Suez debacle, the chemistry between American presidents and British prime ministers has helped determine the ‘special relationship’s’ potency. Between Harold Macmillan and John F. Kennedy, as with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, it was dynamic. Between Edward Heath and Richard Nixon, John Major and Bill Clinton, it was inert.

Anxieties on and off the stage

Listing page content here On the face of it the actress Anna Massey’s life would seem to have been a charmed one. The child of distinguished theatrical parents — Raymond Massey, the powerful Canadian actor, and Adrienne Allen, the original Sybil in Private Lives — Miss Massey was steeped in the world of the stage

Fragments of village life

Listing page content here Brick Lane, Monica Ali’s first novel, sold a great many copies and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. It was also criticised by those guardians of the public conscience who write letters to newspapers on the grounds of cultural tourism. Despite her impeccable Bangladeshi origins, these detractors alleged, the Oxford-educated

Jack the lad

‘Coming out’ had a different meaning in 1938 to what it has today. Nearly 70 years ago the London Season followed much the same pattern as it had before the first world war. For a small section of people there were three frantic months of entertainment. For 18-year-old girls and their young men friends there

The art of the matter

Listing page content here Peter Carey’s ropy, visceral prose casts a powerful spell. It has a swarming, improvised quality which besieges and easily overwhelms objections, including any reluctance to credit his convoluted, sometimes outlandish plots. And yet those plots remain a problem. They somehow bring a hint of affectation and conceit to a sensibility, a

A late beginner

Sometimes at book festivals I am asked which historical novelists I most admire and enjoy. ‘Alfred Duggan,’ I say first, and am usually met with a blank response. This is not entirely surprising. Duggan died in 1964 and most of his books are out of print. Some will know of him as a friend of

One who got away

Listing page content here Rather late, we have here the recollections of a then young German army staff officer, who saw Hitler almost daily for the last nine months of the second world war. As Guderian’s ADC, it was Freytag von Loringhoven’s duty to attend the daily Leader’s Conferences at which Hitler continued to direct