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My Real Name is Stanley Kubrick

John HartleyWilliams, 9 April 2009

... It was Thursday and the skeletons were out dancing as was their custom in the beetroot and the wintry sun shone down on their fragile paleness and the earth crunched under bony feet. No film made by actresses with bad breath could rival their dialogues of ‘Boo!’ and ‘Gotcha!’ In this film scripted by a weather forecaster everyone misremembered their lines ...

I Inspect the Storm

John HartleyWilliams, 22 May 2014

... Is that geezer in a suit really a weatherman? He’s dry as a dead tooth and shiny. The prince rides a boat down the lane. Grab his pearls of vapour. Ask him what he does when his bushes rage and bending firs threaten his roof. No, don’t bother. Clouds have engulfed the earth. Wind tears branches off trees. Light has been removed and I’m alone on a hilltop with flashes of zip and thunder groaning blue murder ...

The Kirmes Parade

John HartleyWilliams, 8 July 2010

... The flies are devoted to this appassionata. The church tower has magnetised the mob. Nothing but jugglers, stilt-walkers, flame-spitters, the thrashed bells’ lingering throb. Why do they all love that farcical clanging? Christ, we were going to stay in bed today! It feels as if the world is splitting open. They’re putting all its molecules on display ...

My Way

John HartleyWilliams, 3 March 2011

... I was delighted to be taken out and shot. It made my day. The following week I was savagely attacked by a gang of what would have been ruffians, but for my welcoming courtesies. They beat me up and left politely. I was charmed. On Friday I was exquisitely arrested, divinely humiliated at my place of work, forced to acknowledge the theft of a period of time in numerous small increments of minutes, seconds even, and all the pretty secretaries wept and my discomfiture thrilled to the raps of the judge’s hammer ...

The Blind Dog

John HartleyWilliams, 3 July 2008

... In the Hotel Egalitarian the taps drip, here are containers to catch the water, the bath tub is big enough to hold a dog, but the dog is blind and bumps its nose against the taps and the beds are too short. In the Hotel Egalitarian the grapes festoon the balconies from which it is forbidden to make wine. don’t make wine from the balconies it says in large letters ...

On the Money

John HartleyWilliams, 9 March 2006

... Art’s story) When I was young, I coveted the money and the woman, kept coaxing busy blood drops from my reluctant thumb, grumbled out the spell-cracked poems of a sorcerer’s apprentice. No rich. No fetch the ladies, either. Then I saw an ad: ‘Join La Table Ronde,’ it said, ‘accrue the benefits of debt.’ I wrote for details. A pile of bumf arrived, a plastic card ...

Two Poems

John HartleyWilliams, 7 June 2007

... America O America, I feel like Superman going weak from proximity to Kryptonite Something has spread a small Donatello of urine Over the tessellated floor of the execution chamber ‘It’ll all be over in a flash,’ they murmur Be quiet this morning, America, be quiet Is this the telephone call of my last-minute reprieve? ‘In America when someone says “I feel happy,”’ she tells me, ‘They really mean it ...

Requiem for a Princess

John HartleyWilliams, 22 September 2005

... i) A penguin, a donkey, a piano. Their tinkle-plonky grief. A station trolley rumbling over pavement slabs carries the deceased. Black hearse, black iceberg in a warm dissolving ocean, it sails toward the gulf that it will occupy. The flag is folded small, the folding of a child. Smoothed from the national laundry is a crease. The penguin. Its raised beak ...

Two Poems

John HartleyWilliams, 7 September 2006

... Interview Why do you write poetry? Petals, aardvarks, goulash – there is no end to it. I’m sorry . . . ? I, too, am sorry. I am sorry for Petula Misericordia, her unrequited love for Dan Splendid, the mishap with the steam traction engine, for the question that comes next. Obviously poetry is a passion to you? By no means. What is it, after all – a collection of bombazine dildos, lemon-flavoured aertex shirts, letters to the editor and prunes ...

Two Poems

John HartleyWilliams, 16 November 2006

... Near Luton Airport Its crest should bear a drinker kneeling, weeping in an hourglass: The Wigmore Arms is not convivial; its smeary panes admit October sun. On the wall, a picture of a tree whose earth is ceiling. Was it spite? Revenge? Or for a laugh? Simple inattentiveness? Or was his face on upside down, the man who screwed it there? frown! you are on camera! ‘A member of our staff’ has brought the food ...

Memory of the Night of 4

John HartleyWilliams, 11 March 2010

... after Victor Hugo Two bullets to the head, the child had taken. It was a clean, honest, humble, quiet place. In blessing, above a portrait, hung a palm cross. His aged granny stood there, trembling, lost. In silence, we removed his clothes. His mouth hung open, pale, the eye-life drowned in death. Each arm fell useless from its socket. A boxwood spinning top came spinless from his pocket ...

Dan Dare at the Cosmos Ballroom

John HartleyWilliams, 8 July 2004

... amor vincit omnia Venus lies ahead – ball of mists and disenchanted fruitfulness, too hot for charity, too steamy for reproach, my mission crystalline as snow: to conquer what has always conquered us. Airlock doors slide open. They reveal the Mekon, president of Love Unexpurgated, a peagreen Humpty Dumpty on a flying plate, vestigial legs suggesting toxic misadventures at the antenatal stage, the sonic scalpel of his voice sharp inside my brain: Welcome to the planet humans dream of on their cold blue ball ...

Out of the blue

Mark Ford, 10 December 1987

Meeting the British 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 53 pp., £9.95, May 1987, 0 571 14858 1
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Partingtime Hall 
by James Fenton and John Fuller.
Salamander, 69 pp., £7.50, April 1987, 0 948681 05 5
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Private Parts 
by Fiona Pitt-Kethley.
Chatto, 72 pp., £4.95, June 1987, 9780701132064
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Bright River Yonder 
by John HartleyWilliams.
Bloodaxe, 87 pp., £4.95, April 1987, 1 85224 028 8
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... enjoyed the public-school master Mountgrace-church MacDiarmid’s taste in literature: Selected John Ashbery, Schuyler, O’Hara, Gravity’s Rainbow, and End as a Man, Young Torless, Cavafy and others bizarrer, Lord Weary, Das Schloss, Lady Windermere’s Fan ... The nymphomaniac pensioners in ‘The Sexy Old Ladies of Havergo Hall’ are less ...

Fat and Fretful

John Bayley, 18 April 1996

Foreign Country: The Life of L.P. Hartley 
by Adrian Wright.
Deutsch, 304 pp., £17.99, March 1996, 0 233 98976 5
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... The only time L.P. Hartley met E.M. Forster they did not get on. Too much politeness, and mutual wariness. And what a comedy in contrasting physiques: Forster sharp, quizzical and birdlike; Hartley plump, vacant, moustached and apologetic, half walrus and half melting snowman, pipe in mouth ...

The big drops start

John Bayley, 7 December 1989

Coleridge: Early Visions 
by Richard Holmes.
Hodder, 409 pp., £16.95, October 1989, 0 340 28335 1
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Wordsworth: Romantic Poetry and Revolution Politics 
by John Williams.
Manchester, 203 pp., £29.95, November 1989, 0 7190 3168 0
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Sara Coleridge, A Victorian Daughter: Her Life and Essays 
by Bradford Keyes Mudge.
Yale, 287 pp., £18.95, September 1989, 0 300 04443 7
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... could and should depend upon keeping the past alive on its own terms. The valuable thing about John Williams’s book on Wordsworth’s poetry and politics is the way it accepts, perhaps without meaning to, the historicity of its subject, and examines it with a care and insight that are not in the least concerned with our own contemporary needs and ...

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