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An Ordinary Woman

Alan Bennett

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Pankaj Mishra

Short Cuts: John Bolton’s Unwitting Usefulness

Mattathias Schwartz

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Mrs Oliphant

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Churchill’s Cook

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Ange Mlinko

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Paid to Race

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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

Olly and TimLaurence Lerner
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Olly has a new guest. Uninvited
Tim entered his head, pushing his way,
Intending to stay.
Forty years I’ve known Olly. Who’s Tim?

Tokyo spilt over the plains of China.
As the sun set a million million midges
Stippled the sky. Leaf reached at leaf,
Overcrowding the elms, the beeches.

Flabby Olly, smoking, laughing, leching,
Won’t last till Christmas, the doctors said.
Pushy Tim, tumbling among his brain-cells,
Proliferates in his head.

Crowds of people jog and elbow and stride;
Like leaves, like midges they cover
The streets, intending to live for decades
(And the young ones, for ever).

Olly picks his last, wizened apple.
Olly fondles his last breast, tells
His last, sad joke. He hasn’t room
For all Japan in his crowded cells.

Look at that throng: so many Christmases
In front of them, so much room
In their heads. Oh Tim,
Move into one of them.

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