Ian Patterson

Ian Patterson is a life fellow of Queens’ College, Cambridge.

‘Since this trouble with my back, I’ve read all the detective stories there ever were, I should think,’ a character says in Agatha Christie’s Peril at End House. ‘Nothing else seems to pass the time away so quick.’ My back is OK but I’ve spent the last 15 months reading detective fiction, most of it written between the late 1920s and the mid-1950s, an...

Two Poems

Ian Patterson, 19 March 2020

Marsh Air I

Its very silhouette was an echo of fancy paintapproached on time, I thought, to drive hands downthe throat in a second with nothing much to tell

Off in a whistle soon she was forced to write his typeso what must scarcely exist was drawn and died freeof air and local looks back into the time of this.

Better ventures rock in flat belief and he loves thefeeling used by lines to remind...

My Books

Ian Patterson, 4 July 2019

I’ve always needed​ to have books around me, quantities of them, ever since I can remember. There may be something pathological about it. When I was a boy, the eldest child of literate but not bibliophile parents, in a big enough house in suburban Cheshire, most of my pocket money went on books – Billy Bunter, Jennings, William, War Picture Library, Biggles, Arthur Ransome, bird...

Sexy Robots: ‘Machines Like Me’

Ian Patterson, 9 May 2019

There’s​ a very short story by Diane Williams which came into my mind while I was reading Machines like Me, Ian McEwan’s 15th novel. It’s called ‘Machinery’ and it’s 104 words long. It ends: ‘For some idea of the full range of tools at his disposal, one would have to know what human longings are all about, a calm voice says calmly.’ McEwan has...

Poem: ‘Saturday’

Ian Patterson, 13 September 2018

Empty air is a distraction         cut out of another void                 scissored away from cypress avenues and dusty white roads too far         below to see anything in it...

The Thing: Versions of Proust

Michael Wood, 6 January 2005

What was it Proust said about paradise? That all paradises are lost paradises? That the only true paradise is a lost paradise? That it isn’t paradise until it’s lost? That paradise is...

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May ’88

Douglas Johnson, 21 April 1988

In April 1984 President Mitterrand gave a press conference unlike any that had previously been held under the Fifth Republic. He did not sit at a sombre bureau Louis XV decorated with red, white...

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