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Camden New Journal - One Week with JOHN GULLIVER
Published: 15 March 2007
Style and substance which ran in this literary family

WITH the death of Jack Gaster on Monday has gone the last link with a host of great writers and literary lions of the last century who gathered at both his Hampstead home as well as that of his father-in-law, the superb essayist Robert Lynd.
Lynd, an undeviating Irish Republican – his daughter Moira married Jack in the 1930s – came to England around 1900 and soon established himself as a very talented journalist, ending up with a regular column for the New Statesman.
In my opinion, they are on par with George Orwell’s articles in his ‘I Please’ column for the left weekly Tribune.
Robert lived first at 9 Gayton Road, until he and his wife settled at 14 Downshire Hill and later 5 Keats Grove where such eminent figures as HG Wells, JB Priestley, James Joyce and the publisher Victor Gollancz would turn up along with Louis McNeice.
An ardent socialist Lynd rallied to the defence of Sir Roger Casement who had been accused of treason and organised a petition for his release. He was heartbroken when his hero was executed.
Lynd, wrote all his essays in an almost indecipherable spidery handwriting, which gave his publishers a constant headache.
Two or three years after this newspaper was first published in 1982, his daughter Moira began to send regular letters for publication promoting the cause of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) – and all of them were in a slanting, spidery style. It must have run in the family.

Levy set up as the honours fall guy?

WHILE I do not for one minute believe that anti-semitism is driving the cash-for-honours scandal, there are some Jews who think that in the kind of nudge-nudge reports in the media, the spotlight is being turned on Lord Levy, who appears to being set up as a fall guy! While some people are certainly too thin-skinned, the portrayal of the Jewishness of Lord Levy can be sniffed at in the tabloids, certainly in the Daily Mail.
The editor of the Jewish Chronicle, David Rowan, writing in The Independent on Saturday, is concerned that Lord Levy is being lined up as the “personification” of the “financial lust” that has contaminated New Labour. He draws on a character in Trollope to make his point.
What comes to mind more is the main character of one of the great novels of the last century, Jew Suss, written by Leon Feuchtwanger, who fled from Hitler and died in the United States.
Brilliantly, he creates a character, Josef Suss Oppenheimer, who assimilates himself as a Jew in Germany of the Middle Ages and rises as the right-hand financial man for the prince of Wurttemberg.
In the end, the prince turns on him, and he is cruelly executed. The Jews in Germany in the 1930s suffered the same fate though many thought they had been safely assimilated.

The man to lift labour out of the mire?

IS Jon Cruddas the man to drag the Labour Party out of the mire?
Frank Dobson MP seems to think so. At a meeting organised by Gospel Oak Labour Party members in Haverstock School last night (Wednesday) Dobson said he was backing Cruddas’s campaign to succeed John Prescott as Deputy Leader.
Fresh from the Labour rebellion in the Commons Dobson entered the library with Cruddas and told the 30 or so people: “We are both late because 95 have voted against Trident and if we had got here on time there would have been only 93. I would never have dreamt of that result. It shows that a long term commitment to the anti-nuclear programme remains in the Labour party from 25 years ago.
“I think of all the candidates for the Deputy Leader Jon is the only person raising issues that bother Labour Party members, supporters and voters. What disappoints me is that none of the candidates have any intellectual rigour. This man has rigour to his arguments that are welcome and important.”
Mr Cruddas, a strange blend of Old Labour optimism and New Labour pragmatism, said: “I believe the Labour Party has lost its way. We must return to our core values and rebuild the party in our communities.”
Pictured: Jon Cruddas with Frank Dobson.

Battle continues over historic buildings

ONE of the great guns of academia, James Stevens Curl, has been turned on the machinations of both Camden Council and the developers of the King’s Cross scheme who appear eager to demolish two historic buildings, Culross and Stanley.
Curl, a professor of architectural history and senior research fellow at Queen’s University in Belfast, unloosed a salvo recently in a letter to The Times, pleading the case for the retention of these two “sturdy and handsome” buildings which “compare very favourably with modern so-called affordable housing”.
Known for his scholarship and style, he writes: “One block is likely to be demolished, the other will suffer ‘embedment’, a hideous word disguising a ghostly fate.”
What is needed, he pleads, is a plan which will ‘retain and sensitively conserve these works incorporating them within a scheme worthy of the site and of the great Victorian buildings that adjoin it.’
Last night (Wednesday) the battle continued over the fate of these buildings at a special council committee meeting where a deputation, led by former councillor Ernest James, a lawyer, fought the good fight.
The campaign to save Culross and Stanley is rich in irony.
Spearheading the campaign’s legal team is a well-known QC, Jeremy Sullivan. It was he who fought and lost a legal battle by Camden council to try and stop McDonald’s opening in Hampstead High Street in the 1990s. He had been recommended for the brief by James, then chairman of the council’s planning committee.
Sullivan’s fees, I hear, were £45,000 – a sum that upset James’ colleagues and caused bad blood that later led to a change in the committee’s chairman ship.

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