In the latest issue:

Boris Johnson’s First Year

Ferdinand Mount

Short Cuts: In the Bunker

Thomas Jones

Theban Power

James Romm

What can the WHO do?

James Meek

At the Type Archive

Alice Spawls

Where the Poor Lived

Alison Light

At the Movies: ‘Da 5 Bloods’

Michael Wood

Cultural Pillaging

Neal Ascherson

Jenny Offill

Adam Mars-Jones

Shakespeare v. the English

Michael Dobson

Poem: ‘Now Is the Cool of the Day’

Maureen N. McLane


David Trotter

Consider the Hare

Katherine Rundell

How Should I Refer to You?

Amia Srinivasan

Poem: ‘Field Crickets (Gryllus campestris)’

Fiona Benson

Diary: In Mali

Rahmane Idrissa

Virtuous WomenFiona Pitt-Kethley

Virtuous women are those who do not sell
themselves too cheap or give themselves for free.
In Solomon, the virtuous woman’s price
is set far above rubies, we all know.
What kind of rubies though? Idol’s-eye-size?
Or just small chips in an engagement ring?

A friend of mine has got this man at work –
her ‘sugar daddy’. He saves up for weeks
to take her out for these expensive meals
‘The bill came to ninety-one quid,’ she wrote.
‘I had the moules marinières – £7.
He got the cheapest thing – the chicken soup
to start.’ Next he chose sole while she had duck.
(The rest was gâteau, gin and German wine,
three coffees and two Armagnacs – both hers –
and whisky for the pianist.)

‘He wanted me to wear a Twenties dress,
but I wore armour-plated corduroy ...
He’s very unattractive with bad teeth
and pitted cheeks and greasy hair, you see.
He used to grope a lot, but since I fell
in love’ (with someone else) ‘he’s stopped ... Now he
tries the odd furtive touch on my bare skin
with his cold hands.’

Poor man, I thought. I read the letter out
to Mum. (She loves to live vicariously.)
‘The evil pig,’ she said, ‘You’d think that she’d
have given him something for his ninety quid.’

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