In the latest issue:

Real Men Go to Tehran

Adam Shatz

What Trump doesn’t know about Iran

Patrick Cockburn

Kaiser Karl V

Thomas Penn

The Hostile Environment

Catherine Hall

Social Mobilities

Adam Swift

Short Cuts: So much for England

Tariq Ali

What the jihadis left behind

Nelly Lahoud

Ray Strachey

Francesca Wade

C.J. Sansom

Malcolm Gaskill

At the British Museum: ‘Troy: Myth and Reality’

James Davidson

Poem: ‘The Lion Tree’

Jamie McKendrick

SurrogacyTM

Jenny Turner

Boys in Motion

Nicholas Penny

Jia Tolentino

Lauren Oyler

Diary: What really happened in Yancheng?

Long Ling

Close

Terms and Conditions

These terms and conditions of use refer to the London Review of Books and the London Review Bookshop website (www.lrb.co.uk — hereafter ‘LRB Website’). These terms and conditions apply to all users of the LRB Website ("you"), including individual subscribers to the print edition of the LRB who wish to take advantage of our free 'subscriber only' access to archived material ("individual users") and users who are authorised to access the LRB Website by subscribing institutions ("institutional users").

Each time you use the LRB Website you signify your acceptance of these terms and conditions. If you do not agree, or are not comfortable with any part of this document, your only remedy is not to use the LRB Website.


  1. By registering for access to the LRB Website and/or entering the LRB Website by whatever route of access, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions currently prevailing.
  2. The London Review of Books ("LRB") reserves the right to change these terms and conditions at any time and you should check for any alterations regularly. Continued usage of the LRB Website subsequent to a change in the terms and conditions constitutes acceptance of the current terms and conditions.
  3. The terms and conditions of any subscription agreements which educational and other institutions have entered into with the LRB apply in addition to these terms and conditions.
  4. You undertake to indemnify the LRB fully for all losses damages and costs incurred as a result of your breaching these terms and conditions.
  5. The information you supply on registration to the LRB Website shall be accurate and complete. You will notify the LRB promptly of any changes of relevant details by emailing the registrar. You will not assist a non-registered person to gain access to the LRB Website by supplying them with your password. In the event that the LRB considers that you have breached the requirements governing registration, that you are in breach of these terms and conditions or that your or your institution's subscription to the LRB lapses, your registration to the LRB Website will be terminated.
  6. Each individual subscriber to the LRB (whether a person or organisation) is entitled to the registration of one person to use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site. This user is an 'individual user'.
  7. The London Review of Books operates a ‘no questions asked’ cancellation policy in accordance with UK legislation. Please contact us to cancel your subscription and receive a full refund for the cost of all unposted issues.
  8. Use of the 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is strictly for the personal use of each individual user who may read the content on the screen, download, store or print single copies for their own personal private non-commercial use only, and is not to be made available to or used by any other person for any purpose.
  9. Each institution which subscribes to the LRB is entitled to grant access to persons to register on and use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site under the terms and conditions of its subscription agreement with the LRB. These users are 'institutional users'.
  10. Each institutional user of the LRB may access and search the LRB database and view its entire contents, and may also reproduce insubstantial extracts from individual articles or other works in the database to which their institution's subscription provides access, including in academic assignments and theses, online and/or in print. All quotations must be credited to the author and the LRB. Institutional users are not permitted to reproduce any entire article or other work, or to make any commercial use of any LRB material (including sale, licensing or publication) without the LRB's prior written permission. Institutions may notify institutional users of any additional or different conditions of use which they have agreed with the LRB.
  11. Users may use any one computer to access the LRB web site 'subscriber only' content at any time, so long as that connection does not allow any other computer, networked or otherwise connected, to access 'subscriber only' content.
  12. The LRB Website and its contents are protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. You acknowledge that all intellectual property rights including copyright in the LRB Website and its contents belong to or have been licensed to the LRB or are otherwise used by the LRB as permitted by applicable law.
  13. All intellectual property rights in articles, reviews and essays originally published in the print edition of the LRB and subsequently included on the LRB Website belong to or have been licensed to the LRB. This material is made available to you for use as set out in paragraph 8 (if you are an individual user) or paragraph 10 (if you are an institutional user) only. Save for such permitted use, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt such material in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department.
  14. All intellectual property rights in images on the LRB Website are owned by the LRB except where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited. Save for such material taken for permitted use set out above, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt LRB’s images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department. Where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, reproduce or translate such images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. The LRB will not undertake to supply contact details of any attributed or credited copyright holder.
  15. The LRB Website is provided on an 'as is' basis and the LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website will be accessible by any particular browser, operating system or device.
  16. The LRB makes no express or implied representation and gives no warranty of any kind in relation to any content available on the LRB Website including as to the accuracy or reliability of any information either in its articles, essays and reviews or in the letters printed in its letter page or material supplied by third parties. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) arising from the publication of any materials on the LRB Website or incurred as a consequence of using or relying on such materials.
  17. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) for any legal or other consequences (including infringement of third party rights) of any links made to the LRB Website.
  18. The LRB is not responsible for the content of any material you encounter after leaving the LRB Website site via a link in it or otherwise. The LRB gives no warranty as to the accuracy or reliability of any such material and to the fullest extent permitted by law excludes all liability that may arise in respect of or as a consequence of using or relying on such material.
  19. This site may be used only for lawful purposes and in a manner which does not infringe the rights of, or restrict the use and enjoyment of the site by, any third party. In the event of a chat room, message board, forum and/or news group being set up on the LRB Website, the LRB will not undertake to monitor any material supplied and will give no warranty as to its accuracy, reliability, originality or decency. By posting any material you agree that you are solely responsible for ensuring that it is accurate and not obscene, defamatory, plagiarised or in breach of copyright, confidentiality or any other right of any person, and you undertake to indemnify the LRB against all claims, losses, damages and costs incurred in consequence of your posting of such material. The LRB will reserve the right to remove any such material posted at any time and without notice or explanation. The LRB will reserve the right to disclose the provenance of such material, republish it in any form it deems fit or edit or censor it. The LRB will reserve the right to terminate the registration of any person it considers to abuse access to any chat room, message board, forum or news group provided by the LRB.
  20. Any e-mail services supplied via the LRB Website are subject to these terms and conditions.
  21. You will not knowingly transmit any virus, malware, trojan or other harmful matter to the LRB Website. The LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website is free from contaminating matter, viruses or other malicious software and to the fullest extent permitted by law disclaims all liability of any kind including liability for any damages, losses or costs resulting from damage to your computer or other property arising from access to the LRB Website, use of it or downloading material from it.
  22. The LRB does not warrant that the use of the LRB Website will be uninterrupted, and disclaims all liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred as a result of access to the LRB Website being interrupted, modified or discontinued.
  23. The LRB Website contains advertisements and promotional links to websites and other resources operated by third parties. While we would never knowingly link to a site which we believed to be trading in bad faith, the LRB makes no express or implied representations or warranties of any kind in respect of any third party websites or resources or their contents, and we take no responsibility for the content, privacy practices, goods or services offered by these websites and resources. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability for any damages or losses arising from access to such websites and resources. Any transaction effected with such a third party contacted via the LRB Website are subject to the terms and conditions imposed by the third party involved and the LRB accepts no responsibility or liability resulting from such transactions.
  24. The LRB disclaims liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred for unauthorised access or alterations of transmissions or data by third parties as consequence of visit to the LRB Website.
  25. While 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is currently provided free to subscribers to the print edition of the LRB, the LRB reserves the right to impose a charge for access to some or all areas of the LRB Website without notice.
  26. These terms and conditions are governed by and will be interpreted in accordance with English law and any disputes relating to these terms and conditions will be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
  27. The various provisions of these terms and conditions are severable and if any provision is held to be invalid or unenforceable by any court of competent jurisdiction then such invalidity or unenforceability shall not affect the remaining provisions.
  28. If these terms and conditions are not accepted in full, use of the LRB Website must be terminated immediately.
Close
Vol. 6 No. 19 · 18 October 1984
Diary

A New Zealander in London

C.K. Stead

Finding the sun pouring in through our London kitchen window K puts a chair in place and settles with a book. She expects the sun to rise to the left where there is plenty of sky. It doesn’t. It goes off to the right and disappears behind trees. When you come from the Southern Hemisphere you’re used to the idea that the seasons are reversed – summer in August, winter at Christmas. You’re prepared for it before you ever cross the Equator. All the literature tells you of it – the seasons as they occur in books rather than in ‘reality’; and our Christmas cards in New Zealand still sometimes show fir trees and snow. But in all the years of coming half-way around the world (I’ve now crossed the Equator 17 times) I don’t remember noticing this peculiar habit of the Northern sun. Because I’m not of a scientific bent it takes some hasty diagrams to convince myself that we haven’t made a mistake. But of course it’s true. If you imagine a stick figure in the Northern Hemisphere looking down the globe towards the sun’s path around the Equator, the sun moving east to west rises at the figure’s left and sets at his right hand. A corresponding figure in the Southern Hemisphere, looking north to the Equator, will see the sun rise from the right and pass over to the left – hence K’s (and my) expectation in our London kitchen.

With our two teenage daughters we have rented the house for five weeks. It belongs to a couple who are taking their holiday abroad. He is a retired civil servant (knighted); she has been a tutor in literature. His study is lined with books on economics and politics; hers with books I am entirely at home with, though in rather better order and condition than mine. The house is on four floors, counting basement flat and attic bedroom. It is compact, more solid, and in most respects better appointed, than our own in New Zealand: but to get in and out of it we have to operate an array of keys, bolts and locking devices, not to mention time-switches to bring light and sound on and off at strategic times when we’re absent. It’s a Victorian house looking out on a small square (more accurately an oval) with an enclosed garden and tall trees. We were told there is a viscount next door, and somewhere not far away a grandson of Winston Churchill. There are also crows, squirrels and a goat, which strike me more immediately and ingratiatingly. The house has its own garden, at the back, and I enjoy watering the beans and tomatoes, picking spinach and herbs and roses, and listening to the pears dropping.

This enclave of affluence sits more or less midway between the Brixton Road and the Clapham Road – hence, I suppose, the locking and timing devices. No doubt there’s much to be said, and not all of it simply wishful, about working-class energies, the fruitful mixing of cultures, the melding of black and white. What strikes the visiting eye is the squalor and the distress.

Flying to London from New Zealand, you spend 24 hours in the air. Even with a break of two days in Los Angeles it takes most of a week before your inner time-switch stops turning you on like a 100-watt light-bulb at two or three in the morning, and plunging you into darkness in mid-sentence over lunch. But it wasn’t the inner time-switch that woke us a few nights after our arrival. It was a scream – or rather, screaming. It went on at length. I’ve never heard anything quite like it. K was out of bed and over to the window almost at once, while I lay staring at the ceiling trying to remember where I was so I could make sense of that terrifying noise. There were shouts and the sounds of a chase. A black youth came into view down in the street, pursued by two white youths. He went up and over the wire fence enclosing the garden in the square, and vanished among the trees. His pursuers circled about the garden, shouting: ‘Come out you black bastard.’ Meanwhile, like most other occupants of the enclave, we were staggering downstairs and out to our front gate. Information passed up and down the street. A young woman had been mugged. She was unhurt, and being comforted. Audibly the police were on the way. Soon there was the sound of their boots as they raced from their squad-cars and vans. I had heard that sound last during the Springbok tour of New Zealand, when it came to represent the Enemy. It’s hard to like the police, or to do without them. We were standing around now, watching their torches flashing among the trees. I admit to hoping the black youth would escape. After ten minutes or so he was caught, not among the trees but in a private garden on the far side of the square. His shouts didn’t last as long as his victim’s and weren’t as blood-curdling, but they were full of fear, and I had no doubt a little instant justice was being meted out.

What does one come to London for? Long ago there was the sense that it was the centre of the world, but it was not ‘reality’. (‘Reality’ was more mundane, less supercharged, less like literature and the News.) That sense passed, partly because the world changed, and partly as London acquired its own mundaneness. Now it is, I suppose, for me, a shameless culture-feast – theatre, music, galleries, but not museums, not architecture, not history. When I was a child I was always bored by museums. Later I was ‘good at’ history, but it was history, I now recognise, as causal narrative, as fiction, even as romance. The events we studied were removed not only in time but in space. There is a cliché about people from the New World (used most often as a way of putting Americans in their place) that we lack a proper historical sense. It may be true. The New Zealand poet Charles Brasch wrote poems looking forward to a time when we, too, would have a landscape littered with ruins. ‘The plains are nameless and the cities cry for meaning,’ he wailed. I think he may have been remembering New Zealand from his rooms in an Oxford college, forgetting that if there were indeed any nameless plains they were nameless only to the European settler – and not for long. As a child I used to play on the slopes of the small volcanic hills with which the Auckland isthmus is dotted – each of them about five hundred feet in height, their slopes visibly terraced by what were once Maori fortifications. It was easy to imagine the far-distant tribal wars that had been fought up and down those slopes. But that was not our own past. Our European past existed only in books, and on the far side of the world. New Zealand men went away and fought in wars there, and came back and seldom talked about it, thus increasing its mystery and its romance. Certainly I feel quite remote from those serious English couples who wander into churches with guide-books, point out architectural features to one another, and murmur dates.

As a day-to-day environment London strikes even the visitor who knows it very well and feels at home in it as a city in which it is incomparably difficult and time-consuming to do even the simplest of tasks – to acquire a travel-card, for example, since one is living in SW9. First you need a photograph. The coin-operated machine at Stockwell tube station is jammed. We are told Brixton is the nearest station with a machine. There we wait with half a dozen others. Slowly it becomes clear that the machine, which shows all the signs of being in good working order, is producing photographs sometimes, not always. Two of the four of us achieve a photograph, though all four pay. Next day I try at Victoria. Again a queue, but this time success. I take the photograph to the ticket-sales counter. There are three queues – two for regular sales, one for travel-cards and red-rovers. The queues are long and move slowly. When I am close to the window the man in the next window closes, directing his queue to join ours. There is a fierce and quite wordless war going on between those who have waited in the travel-card and red-rovers queue, and those who have waited in the other and don’t believe they should be sent all the way back to the tail to wait again. Meanwhile the man who has closed his window is inside the booth still, laughing and chatting with his mates. The wait is long, the tempers short, blood pressure high, though there is a corresponding sense of achievement when you finally get your ticket. It is supposed to save money. It has cost me the price of two photographs and two tube-train journeys in addition to my £4.70. Should I now phone or write to Photo-Me of Walton-on-Thames who are responsible for the machines? Of course not. I would only experience the same frustrations all over again. This is a very tedious recital, but it is truly representative. Every visitor to London has a stock of such stories. And with Thatcherism it has all got worse. With three million unemployed, post-offices, shops, cafeterias, every facility requiring a staff to serve the public seems undermanned. If you think post-office queues are long in the West End, try SW9. Are the poor not supposed to write letters? Like Marie Antoinette urging cake on the masses, the Post Office recommends long-distance phone-calls.

In New Zealand just before I left we got a Labour government into office after three terms (nine years) of National (i.e. conservative) rule. It happened convincingly, because there was complete accord between the moderate Left, represented by the present leadership of the Parliamentary Party (both the new PM and his deputy are lawyers) and the trade unions. Even the Socialist Unity (i.e. Communist) Party supported Labour. That accord, and the fact that it held, owes a lot to the personality and strengths of David Lange: but if the Left had split, as it has split here between socialists and SDP, we would have had yet another term of the execrable Muldoon and the yes-men he gathered around him.

In our SW9 house there is evidence that our landlord and his wife have joined the SDP. Also I notice that among the runs of periodicals they keep in the attic, the New Statesman was discontinued in 1983. It’s easy to see how it happens. In The Real Thing, Tom Stoppard turns some of his best verbal fire against the kind of cant and half-truth to which the Left is prone. The mistake he makes, or the play makes, it seems to me, is confusing the cant and the cause. His playwright hero defends brilliantly and wittily his conviction that to be a writer you need, not a cause, but the skills of a writer. His adversary is permitted to put, but with no comparable eloquence, the counter-statement that to have the skills of a writer and nothing to say is not exactly a position of strength. What comfort will there be for those who attack (as Stoppard’s play does) the failings of the language in which the anti-nuclear argument is put, if that argument proves nevertheless to be correct? Looked at from a long way off – I mean from New Zealand, which is as far as you can go before you start coming back the other way – it still sometimes seems a possibility, remote, but too real to be taken lightly, that the ‘unreality’ of Europe will one day become actual.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

letters@lrb.co.uk

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.