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Loathed by Huysmans

Julian Barnes

Too early or too late?

David Runciman

Short Cuts: Five Victorian Marriages

Tom Crewe

Society as a Broadband Network

William Davies

Indefinite Lent

Thomas Jones

In 1348

James Meek

The Yorkists

John Guy

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Michael Wood

Whitehall Spookery

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Poem: ‘The Bannisters’

Paul Muldoon

Clarice Lispector

Rivka Galchen

Marius Petipa

Simon Morrison

At the Foundling Museum: ‘Portraying Pregnancy’

Joanne O’Leary

Gordon v. O’Connor

Rupert Thomson

Revism

Joe Dunthorne

Poem: ‘The Reach of the Sea’

Maureen N. McLane

Diary: Where water used to be

Rosa Lyster

On BroadwayAlistair Elliot
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There are some small shops left. The name
over the door was half a physics textbook.
A little bell announced me. I began
by showing that my watch, or time itself,
had worn away its strap, the animal skin
that holds the disc of Chronos where I see it.

The man was older than me, and grey
where I am reddish, the pommettes not ripened
by glances of the sun: a prisoner
of commerce in his twilit glass-walled cell,
spied on all day by the faces of unsold watches.
I found his straps too dear, and shyly said so:

‘You see, I live by writing verse.
One poem beds and boards me for two days,
but who can write a poem every day,
or every other?’ He was a poet too,
but not for money. We compared our work.
‘I write about the cost of watch-straps.’ He wrote

on German concentration camps.
‘When I was twelve, my father had me taught
to understand the works of watches: people
would always want to know the time. One day
we were all arrested. After that, I fixed
the broken watches in twenty-one different death-camps.’

Few can have made so grand a tour
of infamous places. Should I have enquired
about his horrible itinerary?
I could imagine him in small bureaux
returning life to fine machines, alone,
unable to enquire about the customers.

‘The commandants transferred me like
a football-player; I earned my life, but not
my father’s or my mother’s or the others’ ... ’
He made me take a sixteen-dollar strap
for nothing. We shook hands, for one moment
Landau & Elliot, the old firm, family poets.

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