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Loathed by Huysmans

Julian Barnes

Too early or too late?

David Runciman

Short Cuts: Five Victorian Marriages

Tom Crewe

Society as a Broadband Network

William Davies

Fifteen days from now

Thomas Jones

In 1348

James Meek

The Yorkists

John Guy

At the Movies: Pasolini’s ‘Teorema’

Michael Wood

Whitehall Spookery

Neal Ascherson

Poem: ‘The Bannisters’

Paul Muldoon

Clarice Lispector

Rivka Galchen

Marius Petipa

Simon Morrison

At the Foundling Museum: ‘Portraying Pregnancy’

Joanne O’Leary

Gordon v. O’Connor

Rupert Thomson

Revism

Joe Dunthorne

Poem: ‘The Reach of the Sea’

Maureen N. McLane

Diary: Where water used to be

Rosa Lyster

Western BlueDouglas Dunn
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The Navy groaned through its traditions.
Fats Domino sang ‘Blueberry Hill’;
It came through a hatch from America.
The mothballed minesweepers pretended to be
A chorus line of the Western World,
Young ladies fallen into disrepute.

This dusk is that dusk, its perfect duplicate,
Down to the four swans, an evening mist
That turns the conifers to Western Blue.
They’ve closed the jetty down as ‘dangerous’;
But I have nothing to lose, and I walk it,
An admiral of water, mist and dusk.

I waited on that hand of salty planks;
The air was the fingertips of loneliness.
A boy in the Valhalla of the age,
In an oily fo’c’sle, I listened to
Purred tedium in a Cold War anchorage.
My kit-bag was a pillar of salt with my name on it.

And I have turned to look back on a life
That has happened and died, most of it with mine.
Varicose barnacles have more grip than I have.
I take a salute of pine-cones and lolly-sticks,
The flotillas of flotsam. Four swans depart
The way they did in 1957.

I hear the rhetoric of the depot ship,
Its propaganda filtered through
Its cups of radar, its mesh of aerials.
I shall transmit my elegies from here –
This station at the place called Western Blue –
A thousand messages beside the point.

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