In the latest issue:

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

Indefinite Lent

Thomas Jones

In 1348

James Meek

The House of York

John Guy

At the Movies: Pasolini’s ‘Teorema’

Michael Wood

Secrets are like sex

Neal Ascherson

Poem: ‘The Bannisters’

Paul Muldoon

Clarice Lispector

Rivka Galchen

Marius Petipa

Simon Morrison

At the Foundling Museum: ‘Portraying Pregnancy’

Joanne O’Leary

Caroline Gordon v. Flannery O’Connor

Rupert Thomson

Revism

Joe Dunthorne

Poem: ‘The Reach of the Sea’

Maureen N. McLane

Diary: Where water used to be

Rosa Lyster

How to set up an ICU

Lana Spawls

Close
Close

The gradual disappearance of one
familiar face after another,
to Manchester, or Ibiza,
or the ominous-sounding ‘New Zealand’,
fills the screen with ghosts,
who seem to exist in happier times.

The reason for their absence,
on holiday, or honeymoon, or merely
‘steering clear of the Filth’
in Southend or the Algarve,
seems fair enough at the time
and the story carries on without them.

But when, after long months
of nobody mentioning their name,
they have failed to return to their duties
or contact their families,
we begin to suspect
that we may never see them again.

Over the years, their angry little world
has replaced itself many times,
while only a few stock characters
have stuck it out like the rest of us,
no longer available
for the more exciting plot-lines.

We have learnt to live with the fact
that anyone is liable to disappear,
then turn up later looking older and tired
in the hospital drama next door,
with some incurable disease
and no memory of their former lives.

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