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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

TwitchersAdam Thorpe
Close
Close

For every booming bittern there are ten,
for every cliff-stacked gannet mass

there is at least one with his clingfilmed
lunch-pack, wringing his socks on St Kilda.

This is surety of sorts. That the index finger
will go on twitching till the loch

gives up its greylag, the moor its merlin,
that even the chough has its hangers-on

grim-jawed on outcrops where the breakers’ sting
assures Him that all the aeons’ messy fuss

holds some of them in thrall, despite the mockery.
When the Trumpets sound, drowning the guillemots,

when the souls rise like a billion fulmars
discarding behind them the stink of cerements,

when even the dotterel has shrilled its last
over the wrathful tussocks of Beinn Bhreac Mhor

He’ll be there with his binoculars and notebook
spotting them: the Chosen, the ones who bothered,

the twits who noted His miraculous exactitude
all day in everything He could throw at them.

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