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Botanic Macaroni

Steven Shapin

What made the Vikings tick?

Tom Shippey

In the Lab

Rupert Beale

Will there be a Brexit deal?

Anand Menon

Short Cuts: Under New Management

Rory Scothorne


Bridget Alsdorf

Sarah Moss

Blake Morrison

Poem: ‘Country Music’

Ange Mlinko

On the Trail of Garibaldi

Tim Parks

Art Lessons

Peter Campbell

You’ll like it when you get there

Tom Crewe

Early Kermode

Stefan Collini

‘The Vanishing Half’

Joanna Biggs

At the Movies: ‘The Truth’

Michael Wood

The Suitcase: Part Two

Frances Stonor Saunders

Poem: ‘Siri U’

Jorie Graham

Diary: Getting into Esports

John Lanchester


My cousin sent a baby doll for me –
hairless and clammy, waxen yellowish-grey
with sunken pale blue eyes and a mouth pursed
for pouring water in so it came out
through a small aperture between its legs.

I called it Peter though it had no prick –
it looked too ugly for a girl I thought.
I used to fill it up and souse my lap.
Sometimes I’d press its squashy latex head
to force the liquid out at higher speed,
yellowing the pee by adding mustard in,
or making diarrhoea with chocolate milk.
Sometimes it vomited and pissed at once.

At last, my mother took my toy away –
afraid I’d show it to some visitor.
Several days later, it was back again,
seated amongst my other dolls and bears.
She’d used half an old shoe-dye on his face,
giving him hair and beard, and togged him out
with a sharp suit of black and white checked tweed.
‘Peter’s grown up,’ she said. ‘Adults don’t wet themselves.’

His lips looked red against his blue-black beard.
You can do anything at any age,
I thought. I filled him up again. He peed,
marking his breeches with a yellow stain.

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