Mixed Messages

The Joy of Guardian Prose

compilationed by Simon J. Whitechapel


But the kernel of a message black Britons had been trying to hammer home for decades suddenly took centre stage.

“Riots are a class act — and often they’re the only alternative”, Gary Younge, 14 November 2005, The Guardian.


Not since Philip Larkin has a living British poet straddled the commercial and critical arenas with such finesse.

“Prize-winning poet with a strong work ethic”, Xan Brooks engages issues around lesbian poet Carol Ann Duffy, 20 January 2006, The Guardian.


Now, they exist on all sides of the political spectrum.

“Out and proud?”, Philip Hensher, 27 January 2006, The Guardian.


From then on she became best known for the occasional declamatory remark: “America is founded on genocide”; “the quality of American life is an insult to the possibilities of human growth”; and “the white race is the cancer of history” are just three sparky sentences she threw into the tinder box of an America at war with the world and itself in the mid-60s.

“The risk taker”, Gary Younge engages with issues around Susan Sontag, 19 January 2002, The Guardian.


I don’t criticise Greer and Wolf, given their superb track record in defending women’s rights, for wanting to step into a different sphere. But their shift is symptomatic of a wider problem: the way feminism has bowed out of the political arena, leaving, for many women, a gaping hole…. But after the book’s publication I didn’t engage angrily enough with the gap between what I had said and what people assumed I had said.

“My part in feminism’s failure to tackle our Loaded culture”, Natasha Walter, 26 January 2006, The Guardian.


Betty Friedan was the spark that set the whole 20th-century ablaze in terms of the gender revolution…. [S]he hammered out the only real gameplan for change for women in western democracies: radical analysis followed by reformist pressure from both within and outside the system. — Naomi Wolf.

She was the match that caused the spark for other feminists like Gloria Steinem and Carol Gilligan. — Katharine Whitehorn.

“ ‘I felt like falling to my knees and thanking her ghost for all she did’: Feminist writers pay tribute [to Betty Friedan]”, 7 February 2006, The Guardian.


There is a toxic loop-hole in British employment law, which 1.5 million people have been lassoed by.

“The battle for Labour’s soul”, Johann Hari, 18 February 2008, The Independent.


The cause of free speech is worth defending. But the right of fascists and racists to be heard without being filtered through the media’s lens is something that cannot be supported…. The dry tinderbox of poverty, race and social deprivation was lit, with help from the far right, last summer when riots erupted between Asian and white youths.

“This voice should not be heard: it is wrong to give racists a platform”, Randeep Ramesh, 15 April 2002, The Guardian.


Many spurn the voting process because they see it as a choice between two inevitable and hardly differentiable outcomes, especially now that the two parties cynically fight for the centrist ground that maximally satisfies the largest attainable demographic.

“A more democratic Britain”, Letters page, 28 February 2006, The Guardian.


This year’s calendar to celebrate Beckett’s 100th anniversary is crammed with literary events celebrating the life of the modern age’s most lovable pessimist, most of them, one imagines, awash with talk of the timeless human condition portrayed in his work…. Yet there is also a distinctively Irish quality to Beckett’s deflation of the florid and high-flown, just as there is something recognisably Irish about those starved, stagnant landscapes where, like colonial victims, you do nothing but sit and wait for deliverance.

“Champion of ambiguity”, Terry Eagleton, Professor of Cultural Theory at Manchester University, 20 March 2006, The Guardian.


In a series of poised, plangently autobiographical novels about gay life and love, White has wed top-shelf material with highbrow prose…. In a novel clamorous with memorable characters, Cora is outshone only by a splendidly buffoonish Henry James.

“On fire with desire”, Hephzibah Anderson engages issues around Edmund White, 19 August 2007, The Observer.


The aftermath of 9/11 left some westerners falling into the trap of interpreting world events through the prism of a single global struggle against radical Islam. And then Afghanistan, and more particularly Iraq, left many Muslims viewing the west as waging an imperialist crusade, leaving them angry and hyper-sensitive. The result is a global tinderbox whose capacity to ignite was seen clearly last year in protests after the publication of Danish caricatures of Muhammad, which after a slow start reached violent heights.

“Faith in each other”, 18 September 2006, The Guardian.


On the original investigation — the so-called offence of cash for honours — it defies belief that Mr Blair was utterly out of the loop in terms of whatever fundraising ruses Lord Levy was up to.

“Silence from No 10”, 13 March 2007, The Guardian.


Progressive politics will lose one of the few high-profile voices prepared to carve out a space well away from the inanities of post-Blairism; and the tyranny of the moronic “centre ground” will only deepen.

John Harris, “No Country for old Ken?”, 4 March 2008, The Guardian.


…though she has only been publicly recognisable for a year, a year and a half tops, she is already being talked about in terms of her iconic-ness.

Nick Duerden engages issues around Agyness Deyn, 17 May 2008, The Independent.


In terms of the full parameters of what happens next, I advise (as usual) that we take a calm, loving, and reasonable approach … Wikipedia is built on (among other things) twin pillars of trust and tolerance. The integrity of the project depends on the core community being passionate about quality and integrity, so that we can trust each other. The harmony of our work depends on human understanding and forgiveness of errors.

Wikipediarch Jimmy Wales engages issues around an editor’s faked identity, March 2007.


I was very taken by Polly’s language in terms of a need for a legend for the left.

Ed Balls M.P. engages issues around Polly Toynbee during The Smith Institute Seminar entitled “Towards a Progressive Consensus: Telling it like it could be: The moral force of progressive politics”, 22 March 2005.


Justly celebrated as the creator of the “Wall of Sound”, his famously unstable relationships with stars like George Harrison and John Lennon often overshadowed his achievements…. A teetotaller for much of his life, Spector’s descent into drugs and drink led an increasingly imbalanced talent to withdraw from the mainstream until he became a virtual recluse.

Catherine Sevigny reviews Mick Brown’s Tearing Down the Wall of Sound, 6 May 2007, The Observer.


It was the first red card of Ferdinand’s career but served as a microcosm of United’s defensive indiscipline on a night when David Bentley’s hat-trick not only highlighted Mark Hughes’s knack of reviving careers but illuminated the fault lines in Sir Alex Ferguson’s rearguard.

“Ferdinand is sent off as Bentley’s hat-trick sends United crashing”, Louise Taylor, 2 February 2006, The Guardian.


As a bottle of paint-stripper bourbon is passed around the cast, it becomes the most tangible link between present and past, an alcoholic umbilical chord connecting everyone on stage.

“Drunk in the act”, Andrew Dickson, 3 February 2006, The Guardian.


Ultimately, though, they see Khayam as the casualty of a ballooning clash of cultures that is being played out in Bedford, London, and across the world.

“I’m proud of my son — whatever’s said about him”, 12 February 2006, The Observer.


Above all, they would tap into a well of genuine Muslim mainstream sentiment that has been demoralised by the Government’s danse macabre with Islamic radicalism.

“Already hooked on poison”, Dean Godson, 8 February 2006, The Times.


Wharton, who died last month at ninety-two, wickedly satirized the absurdities of the politically correct, sanctimonious British establishment through a steady stream of fictional characters and events whose preposterousness was perfectly calibrated to mirror the preposterousness of their real-life counterparts…. With Peter Simple, Michael Wharton consummately ventriloquized such egregious imponderables. He possessed perfect pitch for bombast, and commanded the rhetorical skill to twist it, ever so slightly, so as to expose it to the astringent sanity of ridicule.

“Peter Simple, R.I.P.: On the passing of the inimitable Peter Simple”, Roger Kimball, The New Criterion.


This has been a mid-term week in terms of the school holidays.

Charles Kennedy, Any Questions, BBC Radio 4, 21 February 2003.


Paradigms Loused

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