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Botanic Macaroni

Steven Shapin

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Tom Shippey

In the Lab

Rupert Beale

Will there be a Brexit deal?

Anand Menon

Short Cuts: Under New Management

Rory Scothorne

Out-Tissoted

Bridget Alsdorf

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Poem: ‘Country Music’

Ange Mlinko

On the Trail of Garibaldi

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You’ll like it when you get there

Tom Crewe

Early Kermode

Stefan Collini

‘The Vanishing Half’

Joanna Biggs

At the Movies: ‘The Truth’

Michael Wood

The Suitcase: Part Two

Frances Stonor Saunders

Poem: ‘Siri U’

Jorie Graham

Diary: Getting into Esports

John Lanchester

Close
Close

Being Met

Two cars arrived at the airport,
both of them to collect Cecil.
The two drivers stood on the concourse
outside the exit from customs,
each holding up Cecil’s name.
His bag was last on the carousel,
so when the glass door released him
only these two were waiting.
He went up to one, then the other.
He left his bag on the ground.
The two were trying to persuade him
that they were the embassy driver.
They began haranguing each other
to drive off in an empty car.
Cecil heard a song in his head
but the words were forgotten.
He felt like the rope in a tug of war.
He wanted to grab his bag and run
but each of them had it by the handle
and neither was letting go.

In the Dust

And then in the dust he drew a face,
the face of a woman, and he asked
the man drinking whiskey beside him
if he’d ever seen her, or knew who she was,
all the time staring down at her, as if
this would make her whole. And then,
at the shake of the head, he let his boot
dissolve her into a settling cloud.
He threw another plank on the fire,
drained his glass and filled it again,
watching his dog rise to its feet
and start to growl at the dirt-road
that stretched, empty, to a hilly horizon.
A shiver coincided with the dog’s first bark,
that doubled, trebled, became gunfire
that stopped nothing coming, so he stood
to confront it, but not even a wind
brushed his face, no shape formed,
and after the dog went quiet, a hand
helped him sit down and rejoin his glass.

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