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

Close
Close

Father will be pompous but a good soul,
Mother will have her pan and grey hair
and get him out of scrapes. No he wasn’t
touching up that girl, IT WAS REALLY
a case of crossed wires! No he wasn’t
good at cooking but he did try hard.

It will last half-an-hour on empty nights.
For the rest, two white heads on parapets.
Mother will have her pan. A son and daughter
will know what we know, more than Father knows:
he’s touching her again! Here comes Mother
with crippled hands and her vague wishing look.

She takes time off from the washing-up,
to get him out of scrapes and into hobbies.
With five minutes to go he tries harder,
peoples the house with other puzzled men
in twos and threes. Who’s knocking at the door?
A man with Mother’s pan and her grey hair

on a plate of his. Son and daughter gone;
it gets funnier, the house will be brought down.
Churchmen come in gloves and solve a crime
that Father did, a killing, IT WAS REALLY
a case of crossed wires! No he wasn’t
funny but he did have the last line.

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