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The Pendulum Years: Britain in the Sixties

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The book is an easy read - it came to my attention through a walking magazine, as one section is dedicated to rambling - city or county - particularly a walk he completes in London criss crossing the bridges.

According to John Grigg, the official historian of The Times, they shared a passion for civil and religious liberty and for "a good journalistic row". There can have been few modern columnists whose words have prompted governments to take out full-page adverts in a rival newspaper by way of reply. In 1956, Levin found himself in irreconcilable disagreement with Truth's support of the Anglo-French military action in the Suez Crisis.Levin's regular pieces in The Times and later the Spectator commenting on everything, from the latest Royal Opera House production of Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutti to milk jiggers in motorway service stations, made him the literary equivalent of Boxer. Henry Bernard Levin CBE (19 August 1928 – 7 August 2004) was an English journalist, author and broadcaster, described by The Times as "the most famous journalist of his day".

In other words, mosquitoes don't mind varying the straight and narrow with a bit on the side when they can get it: not, you will agree, an attitude entirely confined to mosquitoes". When he arrived to pick them up, he brought with him a spray of flowers which they had to pin on their dress, or sometimes, even more embarrassing, a garland for their hair. Levin resigned, and immediately received offers from The Guardian and The Times to join them as a columnist.

He was offered the post of "general editorial dogsbody, which was exactly what I had been looking for". He became an important figure on BBCs late Saturday-night satire show, That Was The Week That Was, and later on its less renowned successor, Not So Much A Programme More A Way Of Life. Henry Bernard Levin, CBE (London School of Economics, 1952) was described by the London daily The Times as "the most famous journalist of his day". In this series he encountered extremes of wealth and poverty, and met a wide variety of people, some famous (such as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Donald Trump) and some not (including a sword-swallowing unicyclist, and a bag lady in Central Park).

And the reason is that it offers, in addition to great technical skill and great cinematic excitement, a view, and a view, moreover, of great richness and plausibility. But the media organisation with which he became most closely identified was the Times, particularly under the editorship of William Rees-Mogg in the 1970s.Bughouse concludes that 'while Aedes aegypti may copulate repeatedly with only one male over a period of days under strictly monogamous conditions, under normal laboratory conditions this species is a polygamous insect'. After a year, Evans left and was succeeded by his deputy, George Scott; Levin was promoted in Scott's place. In 1980 he wrote extensive accounts in his column about his visit to the Indian commune of the meditation teacher Osho. In the bedroom he was enthusiastic, but excessively modest, always locking the bathroom door when having a bath, never letting a girl see him naked.

In 1981 Levin took a sabbatical from The Times after Rupert Murdoch bought the paper and Harold Evans succeeded Rees-Mogg as editor. It helped that I share many of his enthusiasms - reading, walking, art, cities, landscapes - but even when I didn't, I enjoyed his passion for his subject. He was a bright child and won a London County Council scholarship to Christ's Hospital, the charity boarding school in Horsham, West Sussex, where he was to experience, for the first time, being mocked in the street and to encounter strong attacks on his opinions. Inglis invited Bernard to be his deputy, together gradually building up a distinguished band of contributors, including Karl Miller as literary editor, Brien as theatre critic and arts editor, and Cyril Ray, the wine expert. For over a quarter of a century he wrote two, sometimes three columns a week for The Times on subjects as diverse as smoking bans, Britain's electoral system, the decline of West End theatre and the government of Singapore.Another scholarship, in the late 1940s, took Bernard to the London School of Economics where he was much more at home in the pervading leftwing atmosphere. The Levin household was not especially musical, though it had a piano which Judith was taught to play; Rose Levin bought her son a violin and paid for lessons, convinced that he was "destined to be the next Kreisler or Heifetz".

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