In the latest issue:

An Ordinary Woman

Alan Bennett

Anglo-America Loses its Grip

Pankaj Mishra

Short Cuts: John Bolton’s Unwitting Usefulness

Mattathias Schwartz

Smells of Hell

Keith Thomas

Mrs Oliphant

Tom Crewe

Tippett’s Knack

Philip Clark

At Tate Modern: Steve McQueen

Colin Grant

Catherine Lacey

Nicole Flattery

Churchill’s Cook

Rosemary Hill

The ‘Batrachomyomachia’

Ange Mlinko

On Dorothea Lange

Joanna Biggs

Paid to Race

Jon Day

Poem: ‘Traveller’s Tales: Chapter 90’

August Kleinzahler

The Soho Alphabet

Andrew O’Hagan

Old Tunes

Stephen Sedley

Victor Serge’s Defective Bolshevism

Tariq Ali

The Murdrous Machiavel

Erin Maglaque

Diary: Insane after coronavirus?

Patricia Lockwood

Days of 1985Michael Hofmann
Close
Close

Warm air and no sun – the sky was like cardboard,
the same depthless no-colour as the pavements and buildings.
It was May, and pink cherry blossoms lay and shoaled
in the gutter, bleeding as after some wedding ...

Broken glass, corrugated tin and spraygunned plywood saying
Arsenal rules the world. Twenty floors up Chantry Point,
the grey diamond panels over two arsoned windows
were scorched like a couple of raised eyebrows.

Tireless and sick, women hunted for bargains.
Gold and silver were half-price. Clothes shops
started up, enjoyed a certain vogue, then
went into a tailspin of permanent sales,

cutting their throats. A window waved Goodbye, Kilburn,
and Everything Must Go. The Last Day was weeks ago –
it didn’t. The tailor’s became Rock Bottom.
On the pavement, men were selling shoelaces.

A few streets away, in the renovated precinct,
girls’ names and numbers stood on every lamp-post,
phone-booth, parking-meter and tree. Felt tip on sticky labels,
‘rubber’, and ‘correction’ for the incorrigible.

At night, the taxis crawled through Bayswater,
where women dangled their ‘most things considered’ from the kerb.
A man came down the street with the meth-pink eyes
of a white rat, his gait a mortal shuffle.

A British bulldog bowler hat clung to his melting skull.
... Game spirits, tat and service industries,
an economy stripped to the skin trade, sex and security:
Arsenal boot boys, white slaves and the SAS.

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.

Read More

Sign up to our newsletter

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

Newsletter Preferences