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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

Fifteen days from now

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

EucalyptusHugo Williams
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I suggested a brave new form
of entertainment, one based entirely
on the emotions – hope and fear
for example, the idea being
to do whatever you want,
then describe your feelings afterwards.
My whole body tingles with excitement
because it’s my turn to be ‘it’.

Can you guess what I’m thinking?
I open my wallet twice
and look at my list of excuses.
It’s obvious to everyone present
that something funny’s going on,
but my face remains a blank.
I’m in the dark myself.
I don’t have any feeling in my feet.

When I’ve worked out what I’m going to do
I don’t do it straight away,
I wait till it’s too late,
then do something different.
I leave the house, slamming the front door,
and make it down to the shop.
Or else I forget all that
and my body falls back on the bed.

I lie there stiffly most of the time,
watching the air moving around
in the eucalyptus trees, or the trees
moving around in the air.
Either will do to describe
the sensation of watching television,
as one day leads to another
in an endless round of pleasure.

My favourite type of activity so far
is collecting eucalyptus leaves
and threading them on strings
the way we used to in Australia,
or sticking them together with glue
to make sailing ships.
I half close my eyes
and imagine them bursting into flames.

My room is full to the brim
with all manner of representations,
but the lighting’s not too good.
I see the outline of something useful
bobbing about on the surface
and a look of interest passes across my face.
I rise to my toes at the top of the stairs
and my body passes before my eyes.

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