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The American Virus

Eliot Weinberger

The Home Life of Inspector Maigret

John Lanchester

Story: ‘Have a Seat in the Big Black Chair’

Diane Williams

The Last Whale

Colin Burrow

In Beijing

Long Ling

Princess Margaret and Lady Anne

Rosemary Hill

At the Movies: ‘Arkansas’

Michael Wood

Ruin it your own way

Susan Pedersen

At Home

Jane Miller

The Ottoman Conundrum

Helen Pfeifer

Poem: ‘Muntjac’

Blake Morrison

Piketty’s Revolution

Geoff Mann

Short Cuts: In Tripoli

Jérôme Tubiana

Coetzee Makes a Leap

Christopher Tayler

At Auckland Castle: Francisco de Zurbarán

Nicola Jennings

Drain the Swamps

Steven Shapin

Diary: In the Isolation Room

Nicholas Spice

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              He was an economist
              so he believed in growth.
‘You can’t have economics without growth.’
              The word ‘development’
              frequently filled his mouth.

              It made a nasal sound,
              the way he said
‘infinitely expandable finality of wealth.
              Gentlemen, nothing is
              impossible on this earth.’

              Positive emphasis brought his
              angina some relief.
The dizzy glass air of his office
              inspired analogy:
              ‘Fiscality, in brief,

              is like breath
              to the body politic.’
After the conference dinner, sitting with his wife,
              watching the traffic
              bend through his balloon glass,

              he formulated a playful
              back-up philosophy.
‘Consider your body, or even mine, Edith.
              We grow until we
              stop growing, don’t we?

              Take an animal,
              take any plant or tree:
growth gets it to a point where death
              sets in negatively,
              so to speak. Frankly,

              natural models won’t do
              for the economy.’
He stopped to contemplate the abstract of his faith,
              the exponential increase
              filling in, overcoming

              now this, now that waste
              space on the world graph.
Competing lights in his brandy made him laugh.
              Though his arm ached painfully,
              he was proud of himself.

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