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Patrick McGuinness, 3 June 2004

... after the 14th-century Flemish Form and form-giver, light and light-bearer, mistaken for air, for light by the eye, flies wingless, lighter than what it bears Stored in the eye, makes sight substance, guides the pen, the brush, thickens dimensions; shorelines hinge on it, feathers aspire to it Form and form-giver, translates the sun a bauble turns ...

Taken for a ride

Patrick Hare, 19 August 1982

... After a while we saw the addition Our travelling made to the glass of shops. As the shadow of a train goes cheering Itself across the countryside In mockery of continuity, We rode like facetious conquerors Along the excited front of ourselves. Startling mannequins, robbing banks. We galloped at a Faustian pace. Competitors in our dare-devil seats We dwarfed the mirrored monuments, Careered through churches ...

At the Butcher’s

Patrick Cotter, 19 October 2017

... The sheep’s severed head seems merely disembodied; floating, not hanging from a hook; eyes creamy and dozing in a sheen of deep thought, as if she remembers the pastures, the smell of shook clover, hedges to be jumped over, the raptures of mad rams later dismembered. A stumped man following his wife to the butcher’s shop stares into the sheep’s lifeless eyes, his moist nose inches from her muzzle; his puzzlement in gazing not as if he would eat but befriend; as if social censure is all that stops him from rending the sheep a kiss, stroking her brow, missing an appreciative bahful greet lopped from the bodiless being ...

The man whose portrait they painted

Patrick Procktor, 12 July 1990

A Life with Food 
by Peter Langan and Brian Sewell.
Bloomsbury, 128 pp., £16.99, May 1990, 9780747502203
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... and artists warmed to him, as did taxi-drivers, policemen and women. He once said to me: ‘Patrick, you’ve got a high gloss.’ I was flattered, like some polished banister. His own story begins with particularly vivid descriptions of boyhood in Clarecastle. The sex is hilarious and the recipes are inspiring and clear. On preparing mussels: ‘If ...

Two Poems

Patrick McGuinness, 27 June 2002

... Morning One house next next again pert green lawn white garage sprinkler muted nothing out of order no thing untoward wraparound sound, sigh of fridge door city tightening the mountains seem not to move have texture pavement empty, road adrift, the car shining safely the neighbour hood coming to a slow coming to a rolling boil No The police stations seamless, riveted and sealed, foreign as spacecrafts; still the place grows around them ...


Patrick McGuinness, 11 February 2010

... It’s not why Rimbaud left that mystifies, though this new year the Place Ducale sports ice rink, carousel, and a waffel-stand from nearby Belgium. It’s why he kept returning. On ne part pas: he answered it himself, ‘we never leave.’ After Harar, he thought his home town was a desert by other means, and everywhere he walked he walked on sand; sinking and finding his footing were the same ...


Patrick McGuinness, 16 March 2023

... It grew in the hallway beside the pot plant,the ashtray, and the Yellow Pages left ajar.It started under floorboards, unspooledbetween the carpets and their waferings of underlay.It tracked the skirtings, spined down corners,knew the smell of slippers, insoles crumblingat the heel or toe; it knew the frayed shadowsthat we threw: the address book’s fading numbersand the crossed-out friends; the names trussed upin angry biro or speared by one calm line of ink;the half-there, the less-and-less … the care home‘Hotline’ and the ads for stairlifts, window cleaners, takeaways ...

The Cooling Towers of Didcot

Patrick McGuinness, 4 May 2023

... It was the inattentive eye that saw them best:breeze-block vases with their tapered waists,their smoky pouts. They were modest,middle-distant; they had the permanenceof grey things: seen but rarely noticed;or, if noticed, only once.When the dynamite sapped them, a rippleclimbed their flanks; their mouthswere trying to say something difficult.They hesitated, as if falling was a choice,and when they fell they sleevedtheir outlines, peeled themselvesoff the air that wouldn’t quite let them go,that even seemed to try to hold them up ...


Patrick Wormald, 19 November 1981

Roman Britain 
by Peter Salway.
Oxford, 824 pp., £19.50, August 1981, 9780198217176
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Roman Britain 
by Malcolm Tood.
Fontana, 285 pp., £2.95, May 1981, 0 00 633756 2
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... have nothing from the pens of known British provincials before the Christian writers, Pelagius and Patrick, from the last years of the province’s history. A simple comparison of the English and French languages shows that Romanitas was eventually lost to Britannia in ways that it was not to Gallia. Yet again, Roman Britain can look very modern. It was the ...

Roaming the stations of the world

Patrick McGuinness: Seamus Heaney, 3 January 2002

Electric Light 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 81 pp., £8.99, March 2001, 0 571 20762 6
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Seamus Heaney in Conversation with Karl Miller 
Between the Lines, 112 pp., £9.50, July 2001, 0 9532841 7 4Show More
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... the evocation of verticality and upswing. In ‘The Loose Box’ Heaney writes:On an old recording Patrick Kavanagh statesThat there’s health and worth in any talkaboutThe properties of land. Sandy, glarry,Mossy, heavy, cold, the actual soilAlmost doesn’t matter; the main thing isAn inner restitution, a purchase come byBy pacing it in words that make you ...

On Rosemary Tonks

Patrick McGuinness: Rosemary Tonks, 2 July 2015

... the allure of city life, the exoticisation of its underside (what she calls, in a line that evokes Patrick Hamilton, ‘the flavour beneath the flagstones’ of London), the push-pull of fascination and disgust – what emerges most strongly from reading her is that she shares their fascination with decay; or, more exactly, the cusp of decay. It’s what the ...

After Zarqawi

Patrick Cockburn: Another spurious turning point in Iraq, 6 July 2006

... The history of the American and British intervention in Iraq has been littered with spurious turning points over the last three years. The latest is the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the best publicised of the insurgent leaders, by US laser-guided bombs on 7 June in a house in Diyala province, north-east of Baghdad. The career of Zarqawi in Iraq was very strange ...

Outside in the Bar

Patrick McGuinness: Ten Years in Sheerness, 21 October 2021

The Sea View Has Me Again: Uwe Johnson in Sheerness 
by Patrick Wright.
Repeater, 751 pp., £20, June, 978 1 913462 58 1
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... before the referendum that ensured the UK’s continuing membership of the European Community; Patrick Wright was researching The Sea View Has Me Again: Uwe Johnson in Sheerness as the 2016 referendum took the UK out of the European Union. The histories Wright unfolds go far beyond those bookend dates and far beyond Johnson’s bleak last years. The ...

Celtic Revisionism

Patrick Parrinder, 24 July 1986

A Short History of Irish Literature 
by Seamus Deane.
Hutchinson, 282 pp., £15, March 1986, 0 09 161360 4
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The Peoples of Ireland 
by Liam de Paor.
Hutchinson, 344 pp., £15, April 1986, 9780091561406
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Portrait of Ireland 
by Liam de Paor.
Rainbow, 192 pp., £13.95, May 1986, 1 85120 004 5
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The Complete Dramatic Works 
by Samuel Beckett.
Faber, 476 pp., £12.50, April 1986, 0 571 13821 7
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The Beckett Country: An Exhibition for Samuel Beckett’s 80th Birthday 
by Eoin O’Brien and James Knowlson.
Black Cat, 97 pp., £5, May 1986, 0 948050 03 9
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... mythology. From his revisionist viewpoint Yeats’s championship of the Protestant Ascendancy and Patrick Pearse’s sentimentalisation of the Spirit of the Gael are equally deplorable. Instead of a continuous national tradition, Deane’s sense of Ireland’s cultural history is of a series of discontinuous, and heavily ideological, historical ...


Patrick Cockburn: The 1956 Polio Epidemic, 7 May 2020

... echoed by the UK government’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, and chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, in the early stages of the epidemic this year.The city fathers in Cork were determined not to let their hotels and shops be ruined by the epidemic and largely succeeded in preventing damaging information getting out. They were helped by their ...

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