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Operation

David Craig, 22 January 1998

... The condition (cancer) and the person (myself) Reeled towards each other over the years, Capsules slowly converging. Now they have docked – ‘Raped!’ the Soviet spacemen used to shout As the new arrival fitted in.                                               The surgeon Is using homely words: ‘We will take away Everything except the nerves and muscles’ (That’s sound, just what I would have done myself ...

‘A Pint of Milk’

David Wheatley, 19 May 2005

... leaving behind     only yourself and     the door unlocked venture down     the avenue for the messages     becoming the street as you go          and keeping an eye out for a hole in your shoe     the dog’s first word a bundle of rye     tomorrow’s paper a pub with no beer     a hole in the sky they ...

Two Poems

David Craig, 25 September 2008

... would do better, A tiny refined-alloy sleeve Inserted deep in the pulsing darkness. It might be still better if they invented In some far century to come An entire person of titanium. Watching the Angiogram A creature struggles under ice, Black spider twitching, bunching Its spiny legs while shoals of its young Come clustering round it, spawned From its ...

Two Poems

David Harsent, 22 June 2006

... Feverish After Yannis Ritsos Small squares on the move, merging, pulling apart, building bricks unbuilding, a city of windows inside a city of windows, everything hanging on two right-angles, free-standing, out of whack but somehow holding, somehow safe you decide at the very moment they crack and start to collapse (in utter silence) all of a heap where three fleabitten dogs set off at an easy lope going first through one small square then another, and etcetera, the scent of the alien dead ripe in their nostrils ...

Abandoned Christmas Tree Plantation

David Morley, 12 February 2009

... a bullfinch song for a goldfinch chime. We speak through the wind and only then in murmurs. By dusk we are whispers and secret playtime rhymes. We stretch our limbs into the wind and catch at birds. Our tree rings are school bells that peal in December bartering a bullfinch song for a goldfinch chime. By dusk we are ...

Savage Rush

David Trotter: The Tube, 21 October 2010

Underground Writing: The London Tube from George Gissing to Virginia Woolf 
byDavid Welsh.
Liverpool, 306 pp., £70, May 2010, 978 1 84631 223 6
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... a hint of pleasurable speculation in her glance, too, an assessment, perhaps, of what he might yet be encouraged to amount to. And that’s it. She departs from the film as abruptly as she entered, taking with her pretty much all that’s rich and strange about it. To a greater extent than any other form of mass transit, underground railways create an ...

Skipwith and Anktill

David Wootton: Tudor Microhistory, 10 August 2000

Travesties and Transgressions in Tudor and Stuart England 
byDavid Cressy.
Oxford, 351 pp., £25, November 1999, 0 19 820781 6
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A House in Gross Disorder: Sex, Law, and the Second Earl of Castlehaven 
byCynthia Herrup.
Oxford, 216 pp., £18.99, December 1999, 0 19 512518 5
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... Both David Cressy and Cynthia Herrup believe they are writing microhistory, a word coined by Italians, but used to describe above all the work of Natalie Zemon Davis (The Return of Martin Guerre, 1983) and Robert Darnton (The Great Cat Massacre, 1984). Microhistorians have turned to the verbatim records of interrogations kept in the law courts of early modern Europe (or at least those parts of Europe where Roman law procedures were followed) to reconstruct the detailed stories of individual trials ...

What’s going on, Eric?

David Renton: Rock Against Racism, 22 November 2018

Walls Come Tumbling Down: The Music and Politics of Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone and Red Wedge 
byDaniel Rachel.
Picador, 589 pp., £12.99, May 2017, 978 1 4472 7268 7
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... The Sun ran it as a front page story: ‘Scandal of £600 a week Asians’. The Mirror followed up by condemning a ‘New Flood of Asians into Britain’. The Express warned that 145,000 further migrants might follow. Supporters of the National Front rushed to Gatwick to chant: ‘Don’t unpack, you must go back.’ In local elections on 6 May (the same day ...

Deal of the Century

David Thomson: As Ovitz Tells It, 7 March 2019

Who Is Michael Ovitz? 
byMichael Ovitz.
W.H. Allen, 372 pp., £20, September 2018, 978 0 7535 5336 7
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... By my count​ , of the 37 photographs of Michael Ovitz in this book there are 19 in which his mouth stays shut – while he’s smiling. That isn’t intended as a hostile remark. His mouth stayed closed when he smiled because he was concentrating. You may not have heard of him, but for maybe a decade and a half starting in the mid-1970s no one in the motion picture business was more focused than Michael Ovitz ...

Apologia pro Poematis Meis

David Craig, 9 July 1987

... south in Kirkby and Walsall Punks with spiky Mohicans, Skins in thick-soled Doc Martins, Pose to be snapped in grainy photos. The choice could be epic or lyric, It could be tabloid or graffito. The antique options chose me Not in the study this morning But nearly a century past When my ...

Words washed clean

David Trotter, 5 December 1991

From Puritanism to Postmodernism: A History of American Literature 
byRichard Ruland and Malcolm Bradbury.
Routledge, 381 pp., £35, August 1991, 0 415 01341 0
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... When Wyndham Lewis described the Men of 1914 as a ‘youth racket’ invented by Ezra Pound, he presumably didn’t mean to be complimentary. Pound, however, might be said to have had the last laugh, since it is now customary to regard the whole of American literature as a gigantic youth racket ...

Short Cuts

David Runciman: The Dirtiest Player Around, 10 October 2013

... in the Mail, thinks the way to understand Damian McBride’s relationship to Gordon Brown is by analogy with the Third Reich. McBride didn’t need to take direct orders from his boss because he already understood the violence that Brown wished on his enemies. The underling was working towards the Führer. Alastair Campbell, speaking on Andrew Neil’s ...

Notes on the Election

David Runciman, 21 May 2015

... better to have a government that can pass legislation and take decisions when it needs to than to be stuck with one that stumbles on hand-to-mouth from vote to vote. We seem to prefer certainty to confusion. But why? What evidence is there that majority governments are better at governing? The fundamental long-term problems this country faces ...

Short Cuts

David Runciman: The Corbyn Surge, 27 August 2015

... the membership. In 2007, Lib Dem members chose Nick Clegg over Chris Huhne as their leader by the narrowest of margins. Given that Huhne was to end up in jail in 2013 you might think this was the wise choice. But none of the voters (bar two) could have known Huhne’s vulnerability on that score. By choosing Clegg ...

By Sennen

David Harsent, 4 June 1998

... After a painting by Jeremy LeGrice … in London, of course you are, landlocked in your kitchen, but just a step, after all, from the door into the hall, and then just a step from the door into the street where the cabbie is more than happy to wait by the slip-road that takes you out through the wrecked hulks of tower blocks, happy to stop- start-stop in the backed- up traffic, its tide-race of tail-lights, its surf of crap and slop, letting you out with a minute or so to spare for the westbound train, a minute or less, so you scarcely believe you’ve done it, except landing-lights in the bare backs of houses are slipping past too fast for counting, while some sudden, clear, cold wind is shaking the fire-escapes like rigging, and that sky-high blur of dark cloud laid on darkness is the test of where you are, of what you’ll come to next, which is why you fall asleep from fear or habit, which is why you wake up with the ghost of kitchen-whiskey, why the first and last shreds of memory hold only the best and worst of what you first intended, as your fist strikes the window, as your foot slaps the platform, putting you just a step, a step or two, from the cliff path and the path that goes from the cliff to the beach, wind ringing your ears almost as much as the cries of seabirds which fast become the birds themselves, afloat on the massive uprush of air that flows from the root of the cliff and up over its lip, which makes you think, ‘Bird’s-eye view: myself just pate and boot and little salt-white hands,’ while you trample out the pith and bladder of seaweed, setting off the unholy stink from its silky, liverish reds, beyond which lies nothing, lies nothing at all, unless it’s the sea that cheats the eye, the sea that gives endless accounts of itself, running green and green-and-white, and a deeper green beneath; you can hear it, can’t you, that low-in-the-throat, that hysterical hiss; you keep your eye on the fault-line, don’t you, where sea and sky squeeze out a line of light; you’ll stay there, won’t you, fronting the weather, learning it all by rote? – Bird’s-eye view: myself almost out of sight, little salt-white… And that deeper green beneath to prompt you ...

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