Private Alex Stringer, of the Royal Logistic Corps, was 20 when he was blown up in Afghanistan: "The reason I lost my left leg so high up is because the burning paint cooked my left leg all the way down to the bone. But if I hadn't set myself on fire, I would have bled out and died – as a result of it, all the arteries became cauterised".
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Friday 17 June 2011
In his excellent new book, The Psychopath Test, Jon Ronson examines the 20 key indicators of a psychopath – they're manipulative/ cunning, they lack remorse or guilt, and so on. Pinkie Brown, Graham Greene's enduringly vile hoodlum, just about ticks every psychotic box, and Richard Attenborough was sensational as the juvenile gangster-by-the-sea in the Boulting brothers' peerless 1947 adaptation.
Friday 29 April 2011
In the year of its author's 100th birthday, an Argentinian classic joins Penguin's modern hall of fame. Published in 1948, this brief, fierce breakthrough novel by a writer who trained as a physicist belongs among the existential landmarks of postwar fiction.
Friday 25 March 2011
Comedy: I liked Roisin Conaty at the Soho Theatre. She won Best Comedy Newcomer at Edinburgh. She was her own support act, so supporting a character she played who was nothing like her real self.
Friday 04 March 2011
The Boulting brothers' 1947 adaptation of Graham Greene's gangsters-by-the-sea thriller is exquisite for many reasons – its tangy Greene and Terence Rattigan script, a turn by the original Doctor Who (William Hartnell) as Dallow, and its horribly effective ghost-ride slaying – but mostly for Richard Attenborough as psychotic Pinkie Brown. Dickie is a match for Jimmy Cagney here as the small-time hoodlum who takes on the police, the Mob and an impressionable café waitress, Rose, in Thirties Brighton. The way he snarls when Rose clings to him is particularly memorable in this precursor to the likes of Badlands and The Long Good Friday.
Sunday 27 February 2011
Friday 18 February 2011
Sunday 06 February 2011
Saturday 05 February 2011
I lived in Vienna once, when I was an astrophysicist: an apartment between Grunangergasse and Blutgasse; my coffee at Diglas; my dinner customarily at Oswald & Kalb or Da Capo; the 11 o'clock Mass at the Stephansdom, in the Unterkirche – so much more austere and elegant than the 10.15 musical jamboree for tourists. It was a city turned towards its past, a living chiaroscuro, stark sudden light on wet cobbled streets, a city seen through a haze of tobacco-smoke, a city which no longer exists, and never did exist, nor was I ever an astrophysicist. I never lived in Vienna, not once.
Friday 04 February 2011
Friday 28 January 2011
Wednesday 10 November 2010
Well he could have called it Burning Bush, but that would have drawn attention to his hearing God's voice in his head; or Beating About The Bush, but that suggests prevarication; or Bush Telegraph, only that implies a primitive approach to communications technology; or Bush Tucker but that's too closely connected to grubs and weevils. So they (you just know a committee of advisers came up with it) settled on Decision Points, the world's blandest title for a political tell-all. It suggests pages of quasi-intellectual chat – debating points, discussion points – with a hint that there's a tough guy around, who'll Make the Decision and send in the bombers.
Sunday 31 October 2010
Monday 04 October 2010
Thursday 23 September 2010
Paradise Lost it most definitely is not.
Friday 09 July 2010
This 1942 Ealing thriller, directed by Alberto Cavalcanti, is one of the most remarkable slices of wartime propaganda ever filmed.
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