In the latest issue:

Boris Johnson’s First Year

Ferdinand Mount

Short Cuts: In the Bunker

Thomas Jones

Theban Power

James Romm

What can the WHO do?

James Meek

At the Type Archive

Alice Spawls

Where the Poor Lived

Alison Light

At the Movies: ‘Da 5 Bloods’

Michael Wood

Cultural Pillaging

Neal Ascherson

Jenny Offill

Adam Mars-Jones

Shakespeare v. the English

Michael Dobson

Poem: ‘Now Is the Cool of the Day’

Maureen N. McLane

Tativille

David Trotter

Consider the Hare

Katherine Rundell

How Should I Refer to You?

Amia Srinivasan

Poem: ‘Field Crickets (Gryllus campestris)’

Fiona Benson

Diary: In Mali

Rahmane Idrissa

Father and SonRaymond Friel
Close
Close

Unbearably buoyant the night before
My return to Blairs, I’d be brought back down
To earth by Dad’s Polonius routine.
He’d been there in the black and white Forties,
And had to leave, he said, only because ...

Now, in the grey-skied secular Nineties,
Home with a girlfriend who’s not a Catholic,
I psych myself for one of our wee talks.
A curt ‘she’s lovely,’ though, is not the fierce
Sectarian wrangle I’d predicted.

Thin-armed in his vest, fishing a tea-bag
Out of a garish SCOTTISH POWER mug,
He urns to theology ... the garden
He’s pottered in since the leaden handshake.
‘It’s the only chance I get,’ he mock pleads.

I’m beat but listen, behind the big sighs
I always did; deep down, like him,
A believer in the examined life; and God knows
He’s put the hours in: steeling himself
For the strange revelations of the king.

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