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An Ordinary Woman

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Pankaj Mishra

Short Cuts: John Bolton’s Unwitting Usefulness

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Mrs Oliphant

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Tippett’s Knack

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At Tate Modern: Steve McQueen

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Churchill’s Cook

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Paid to Race

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Poem: ‘Traveller’s Tales: Chapter 90’

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The Soho Alphabet

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Old Tunes

Stephen Sedley

Victor Serge’s Defective Bolshevism

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The Murdrous Machiavel

Erin Maglaque

Diary: Insane after coronavirus?

Patricia Lockwood

LarkinesqueIan Hamilton
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Your solicitor and mine sit side by side
In front of us, in Courtroom Number Three.
It’s cut and dried,
They’ve told us, a sure-fire decree:
No property disputes, no tug-of-love,
No bitching about maintenance. Well done.

All that remains
Is for the Judge to ‘wrap it up’, and that’s how come
We sit here, also side by side
(Although to each of us we are ‘the other side’),
And listen to Forbes-Robertson and Smythe,
Our champions, relax.
                     It turns out, natch,
They went to the same school,
That neither of them ever thought
The other had it in him to ... and yet,
Well, here they were, each peddling
Divorces for a crust. Too bloody true.
And did not each of them remember well
Old Spotty Moses and his ‘magic snake’,
Mott Harrison’s appalling breath, Butch Akenside’s
Flamboyant, rather pushy suicide?
Indeed. Where were they now? (Aside,
That is to say, from Akenside.) Ah well.

‘And you, old man, did you, well, take the plunge?’
No bloody fear: Forbes-Robertson, it seems,
Keeps labradors, and Smythe keeps his relationships
‘Strictly socratic’. When you’d seen
What they’d seen ... and so on.

Their rhythms were becoming Larkinesque
And so would mine if I were made to do
This kind of thing more often. As it is,
The morning sun, far from ‘unhindered’, falls upon
The hands I used to write about with ‘lyric force’.
Your hands
Now clutching a slim volume of dud writs.

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