In the latest issue:

An Ordinary Woman

Alan Bennett

Anglo-America Loses its Grip

Pankaj Mishra

Short Cuts: John Bolton’s Unwitting Usefulness

Mattathias Schwartz

Smells of Hell

Keith Thomas

Mrs Oliphant

Tom Crewe

Tippett’s Knack

Philip Clark

At Tate Modern: Steve McQueen

Colin Grant

Catherine Lacey

Nicole Flattery

Churchill’s Cook

Rosemary Hill

The ‘Batrachomyomachia’

Ange Mlinko

On Dorothea Lange

Joanna Biggs

Paid to Race

Jon Day

Poem: ‘Traveller’s Tales: Chapter 90’

August Kleinzahler

The Soho Alphabet

Andrew O’Hagan

Old Tunes

Stephen Sedley

Victor Serge’s Defective Bolshevism

Tariq Ali

The Murdrous Machiavel

Erin Maglaque

Diary: Insane after coronavirus?

Patricia Lockwood


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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