In the latest issue:

Botanic Macaroni

Steven Shapin

What made the Vikings tick?

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

Sarah Moss

Blake Morrison

Poem: ‘Country Music’

Ange Mlinko

On the Trail of Garibaldi

Tim Parks

Art Lessons

Peter Campbell

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

Lock Me AwayClive James
Close
Close

In the NHS psychiatric test

For classifying the mentally ill

You have to spell ‘world’ backwards.

Since I heard this, I can’t stop doing it.

The first time I tried pronouncing the results

I got a sudden flaring picture

Of Danny La Rue in short pants

With his mouth full of marshmallows.

He was giving his initial and surname

To a new schoolteacher.

Now every time I read the Guardian

I find its columns populated

By a thousand mumbling drag queens.

Why, though, do I never think

Of a French film composer

(Georges Delerue, pupil of

Darius Milhaud, composed the waltz

In Hiroshima, Mon Amour)

Identifying himself to a policeman

After being beaten up?

But can I truly say I never think of it

After I’ve just thought of it?

Maybe I’m going stun:

Dam, dab and dangerous to wonk.

You realise this ward you’ve led me into

Spelled backwards is the cloudy draw

Of the ghost-riders in the sky?

Give me the deb at the end

With an angle on the corridor,

So I can watch this world you speak of

Go by in the right redro, Dr La Rue.

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