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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

Good to Think With

Helen Pfeifer

Poem: ‘Muntjac’

Blake Morrison

The Inequality Engine

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

InterregnumKathleen Jamie
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So I’m moving between rooms
with a tray, advertising
McEwan’s, the kind we took sledging
those distant snow-bright afternoons

– or funereal lacquer, with peonies,
or that classic of my mother’s:
a view of Windsor Castle
inside a wicker pale. Whatever

– a tray, and on it:
two glasses of Vouvray, or better:
croissants and cafetière, my lover
outstretched on the duvet:

or – dream on – pizza for one
and Prime Suspect.
No matter, I’m at the door now
looking round wildly,

trying to find someplace
to set the thing down,
looking round madly;
and I realise exactly

how I’ll end up:
one-legged, unbalanced
trying to hold level
this jigsaw, this haggis

this model-to-scale
of the SS Balmoral,
while howking toward me
the so-called ‘occasional’ table,

and swiping it clear
of Spot on the Farm
for the sake of this precious
whatever-I’ve-brought

from the place I’ve just left,
– a clear space
I can’t very well
turn round and reclaim,

because it won’t now exist.
Besides, that’s a trifle
defeatist, besides,
what’s the point of a tray?

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