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The World Goes Bust

Adam Tooze

A nice girl like Simone

Joanna Biggs

The Arrestables

Jeremy Harding

Short Cuts: Built from Light

Daniel Soar

‘Cleanness’

Edmund Gordon

The Ghent Altarpiece

Julian Bell

You can’t prove I meant X

Clare Bucknell

At the Royal Academy: Léon Spilliaert

John-Paul Stonard

Conrad Jumps Ship

Fredric Jameson

How to set up an ICU

Lana Spawls

Poem: ‘Mayfly’

Fiona Benson

Follow the Science

James Butler

Diary: #coronasomnia

Wang Xiuying

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Back in my extra days, someone once swore
she’d seen me in the latest James Bond film.

I tried to tell her that they only hired
the really glamorous leggy types for that.
(My usual casting was ‘a passer-by’.)

I’ve passed the lot in Pinewood Studios.
It’s factory-like, grey aluminium, vast
and always closed. Presumably that’s where
they smash up all the speedboats, cars and bikes
we jealous viewers never could afford.

I quite enjoyed the books. Ian Fleming wrote well.
I could identify a touch with Bond,
liking to have adventure in my life.
The girls were something else. All that they earned
for being perfect samples of their kind –
Black, Asian, White – blonde, redhead or brunette,
groomed, beauty-parlourised, pleasing in bed,
mixing Martinis that were shaken not stirred,
using pearl varnish on their nails not red –
was death. A night (or 2) with 007,
then they were gilded till they could not breathe,
chucked to the sharks, shot, tortured, carried off
or found, floating face downward in a pool.

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