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The Word from Wuhan

Wang Xiuying

‘The Man in the Red Coat’

Luc Sante

Is it OK to have a child?

Meehan Crist

Short Cuts: Ubu Unchained

August Kleinzahler

Bury that bastard

Nicole Flattery

Surplus Sons

Clare Bucknell

Oliver Lee Jackson

Adam Shatz

The Servant Problem

Alison Light

Poem: ‘1 x 30’

Anne Carson

The Old Bailey

Francis FitzGibbon

Jiggers, Rods and Barleycorns

James Vincent

More Marple than Poirot

J. Robert Lennon

On Rachael Allen

Matthew Bevis

Like a Ball of Fire

Andrew Cockburn

The Staffordshire Hoard

Tom Shippey

Blessed Isles

Mary Wellesley

At the Movies: ‘Jojo Rabbit’ and ‘A Hidden Life’

Michael Wood

Redeeming Winnie

Heribert Adam

Diary: A Friendly Fighting Force

Nick McDonell

I wishMark Ford
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you would please spare me your Western logocentrism!
Isn’t it clear I’m the sort who rejoices when the Queen Mother
chokes on a fish-bone? I’d shine a harsh,
piercing light on the damage indiscriminately wrought
by the tinkling music of the spheres. Our errands merely seem
average and natural: every second is underwritten
by an invisible host of dubious connections; like phantoms
they flit and soar, then render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.

Others – I am not the first – have found themselves standing
on a seemingly solid patch of cliff that suddenly
starts to slide: as the knees tense and the hips swivel, the winding
path is transformed into a slalom. Through a blizzard of loam
and pebbles, oaths and jests, I tumbled towards the proverbially
treacherous soft landing. A flock of seagulls squawked
and fled, and I remembered a man who claimed he could speak
their language fluently: ‘Screeek!’ he’d wail, ‘Screeek, screeek!’

As any newsagent will explain, it is only, alas,
when their businesses collapse en masse that they
themselves are the news. The public-spirited tear
open the serrated pages in search of names
long wreathed in puzzling, clinging mists, now ablaze
with fame. The print smudges the fingers. Streams
of disjointed syllables cleave the air, and threaten
the passer-by who passes by, wrathfully, without flinching.

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