In the latest issue:

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

At the Movies: Pasolini’s ‘Teorema’

Michael Wood

Whitehall Spookery

Neal Ascherson

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

Father and SonRaymond Friel
Close
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Unbearably buoyant the night before
My return to Blairs, I’d be brought back down
To earth by Dad’s Polonius routine.
He’d been there in the black and white Forties,
And had to leave, he said, only because ...

Now, in the grey-skied secular Nineties,
Home with a girlfriend who’s not a Catholic,
I psych myself for one of our wee talks.
A curt ‘she’s lovely,’ though, is not the fierce
Sectarian wrangle I’d predicted.

Thin-armed in his vest, fishing a tea-bag
Out of a garish SCOTTISH POWER mug,
He urns to theology ... the garden
He’s pottered in since the leaden handshake.
‘It’s the only chance I get,’ he mock pleads.

I’m beat but listen, behind the big sighs
I always did; deep down, like him,
A believer in the examined life; and God knows
He’s put the hours in: steeling himself
For the strange revelations of the king.

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