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The Best of Punch Cartoons

In 1956 I joined other new kids on the block at Punch magazine: Quentin Blake, Ed McLachlan, Mike Williams, Honeysett, Ray Lowry, Ken Pyne, Bill Tidy, Pav, Petty, plus Gerald Scarfe and Ralph Steadman who were going to blow the world apart with their blood-and-guts drawings. While Punch’s pages were curling at the edges, up

On stage from the start

Henry: Virtuous Prince, by David Starkey Among the glories of Flanders and Swann is a long, erudite and silly shaggy-dog story about the Tudor theatre. It culminates in the appearance as from nowhere of a score for the tune known as ‘Greensleeves’ — or ‘Greenfleeves’ as Flanders and Swann have it. Someone wonders aloud who

The man with the Midas touch

The perfect timing of this book rivals the brilliance of Warren Buffett’s many invest- ment coups. For years, this true ‘master of the universe’ has highlighted the dangers posed by derivatives — or ‘financial weapons of mass destruction’ in Buffett-speak. Losses from these highly complex instruments, based on sub-prime US mortgage debt, precipitated the credit

A choice of crime novels | 8 October 2008

Alan Furst, The Spies of Warsaw George Pelecanos, The Turnaround Ian Rankin, Doors Open Alan Furst’s espionage novels have a melancholic tinge, depending, as they so often do, on the debacles of recent history and, on a personal level, on the mechanics of betrayal. His tenth, The Spies of Warsaw (Weidenfeld, £16.99), is set in

Living with a dark horse

The Horsey Life, by Simon Barnes Dolly Dolores was a big-bottomed mare with a white star on her forehead who loved to jump. Simon Barnes experienced an instant connection with her on his first ride. He had never owned a horse before, but his wife persuaded him to buy her. He spent a royalty cheque

Surprising literary ventures | 8 October 2008

Alexander McCall Smith is best known for his No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series of novels (Tears of the Giraffe, Morality for Beautiful Girls, The Kalahari Typing School for Men etc.) as well as the Isabel Dalhousie mysteries and the 44 Scotland Street series. But McCall Smith has a number of other strings to his

Terrors of the imagination

Of the four Prime siblings of the Beacon farm, Frank, the second boy, was, throughout their early lives, ‘almost invisible’. He did everything late, spent most of his time alone, and was a dunce at school, where he bemused teachers and children alike. They never knew what to make of Frank, they said; what went