TLM Issue

The Rain Horse

From our archives – this short story was first published by The London Magazine in February 1960. As the young man came over the hill the rst thin blowing of rain met him. He turned his coat-collar up and stood on top of the shelving rabbit-riddled hedgebank, looking down into the valley. He had come [...]

My Father’s Job Book

Rippled by snow, the cover’s blue rose into crests. At nine, he drew it from the sideboard drawer. Scrubbed, late tea cleared, grey blanket smoothed, he wrote every load. Farm lorry driver, he noted tonnage, crop name, date. ‘Led wheat from Bole.’ He still said ‘lead’, from Shires he harnessed at fourteen. Round as a [...]

Ikey’s Bones

- What was your offence? - Receiving stolen property. - And who is with you? - I have one girl, seven, one girl, ve, one boy, nine, and one boy, three years old. - Where are your other children? - I have two sons gone to Sydney to settle there as gentlemen, John, aged twenty-one, [...]


The name we went by when we shared an address @compuserve. you thought of it. Straight away, I adored its wit, its mischief, its nerve, its mongrelness. In a word, we became – for each other – a marriage myth of the cybersphere. Then you died, and with much administrative bother and wear and tear [...]

Faithful and Disappointing

The Importance of Elsewhere - Philip Larkin’s Photographs, Richard Bradford, Frances Lincoln, 2015, 208pp, £25 (hardcover) Memorability is one of the most striking features of Philip Larkin’s poetry. Certain lines and images from his work remain indelibly fixed in the minds of his many admirers. From the philosophically elevated – ‘What will survive of us [...]

One Night Only

Too few saw you in your last theatre role, the affected hero of La Forêt mouillée, Victor Hugo’s seldom-performed verse play. Cross-dressed, in white face, top hat and cutaway – from my late father’s wardrobe – you stole the show. No, that’s not it; that wasn’t your style; you simply took rightful possession of the [...]

Spare Room

Trees scratch at the panes with bony branches Tap away time, and its second chances. Strange. This bed is disused, a saved-for-best Mentality, a housewife’s favourite test Of pride. Endurance. She walks in with clean Linen, smiles, her lips overstretched and lean. I remember when she was full, bee-stung, Fat with time, children like sticks [...]

Mocking Gods

Lost in the library of Alexandria, proof Selene the moon goddess mocked Apollo her sun god twin, each mocking the other about mortal offsprings— off-summers, off-autumns, off-winters. More than ‘divine,’ an inadequate human word for speaking about gods, all words are mostly useless. A messenger whispered, ‘That’s why prayers and sacrifice were invented.’ Without Apollo, [...]


Crammed up against the end of the carriage on the Hammersmith & City, as we head underground I hear an amateur magician passionately telling the woman he’s with the tricks he’s going to do and as he does, I turn into The Great Jady again, with my dark velvet black-against-black tube beneath Madame Tussaud’s beyond [...]

Beach Towels

‘Maria Spends 20 Minutes Folding Towels’: Why Millions Are Mesmerised By ASMR Videos “We’re all hugely different in what we find relaxing”, says Nicholas, AKA PaperWhispers. Fans claim these repetitive moments, often accompanied by white noise, create a ‘tingle’ [...] - The Independent, 21st July, 2012 Steeling myself against the bald itch of idleness, impatient for the wave to [...]


That’ll be my heartbeat clicking in my throat as we cartwheel to our expiry date. Are you trying to be the sea? And what is expected of me with this packet of panic I’m handed? I watch as my thoughts fall to the floor. For the last time, I become a puppet, it’s tongues and [...]

Wishing Tree at the Dargah of Hazrat Moosa Suhaag

To Heba Ahmed for the story Many wishful bellies Offer their bangles, Green, not with envy But melancholy, Of childless labour Tied around the saint's Body of bark, Perhaps not his body But his aroma, Hollow body girdled By hollow bangles, A hollowness full of Pregnant absences, Each absence a prayer Waiting to be born, [...]

The Ideal Conditions for Reading this Poem

You’ll be sitting in a bar that used to be a brothel or at least that markets itself as such with a continental beer that is new to you and will briefly be a favourite. There’ll be no-one else there but an attractive man or woman – delete as applicable – working behind the bar, [...]

My London

Jennifer Johnson has always lived in London, except for a few years spent in Brussels and Oxford. She is currently studying at Birkbeck, University of London, for the MA in Creative Writing. This is the 14th article in our regular series “My London”. London has many meanings for me. I was born here, have lived [...]

Neat Shape?

Gimson’s Kings and Queens: Brief lives of the monarchs since 1066, Andrew Gimson, Square Peg, 2015, 256pp, £10.99 (hardback) Penguin Monarchs, various authors, Penguin, 2015, 128pp, £10.99, (hardback): William II: The red king, John Gillingham, Stephen: The reign of anarchy, Carl Watkins Why read history at all? Andrew Gimson’s sprightly canter through 40 reigns (plus [...]

Snow Ice Cream

The snow of ’88 was the one that everybody remembers. Nixxon and I had cheap, roll-up plastic sleds that endlessly recoiled like a sadistic Chinese poster trick. They took three arms and four legs to spread, but once at, they would shoot off down the slightest incline like water off a duck’s ass. Then, snow [...]

Ghostly Mentor

Complete Poems, Muriel Spark, Carcanet, 2015, afterword by Michael Schmidt, 133pp, £14.99 (paperback) Complete Poems, R.F. Langley, Carcanet, 2015, edited by Jeremy Noel-Tod, 180pp, £12.99 (paperback) Had she written only Complete Poems (and knowing her novels as we do), it would be tempting to judge Muriel Spark (1918 – 2006) a light, even a minor [...]

The Rat

The landlady watches herself in the living room mirror, phone held to her ear. In the blurred morning light her face looks young again, almost. She flicks her pale fringe from one side to the other. ‘Yes, well let’s hope it’s mice’, she says into the receiver. If only the tenant would hope too. In [...]

Infinite Archive

Disinformation, Frances Leviston, Picador, 2015, 80pp, £9.98 (paperback) Kim Kardashian’s Marriage, Sam Riviere, Faber, 2015, 112pp, £10.99 (paperback) These two volumes of poems, each a second collection following a much-praised debut, are both laudably ambitious and share a preoccupation with life in the age of the infinite archive. The formal means they employ couldn’t be [...]

Beneath the Crust

Goya – The Portraits, National Gallery, London, until 10 January 2016 To most, the mention of the name Francisco Goya seems to trigger a respectful affirmation of his dark side, namely those disturbing visions of witches’ Sabbaths, nightmarish monsters tumbling about the sky and lurid decapitations that litter the ‘Disasters of War’ etchings. Goya is [...]

Hemingway, Cézanne and the Dark Secret

 We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows. Robert Frost, ‘The Secret Sits’ In 1921 Joachim Gasquet recorded that his friend Paul Cézanne wanted to ‘treat nature by the cylinder, the sphere and the cone’. This concept was hardly new. In his book on the seventeenth-century Italian [...]

The Ritual Landscapes of Pre-Roman Britain

Many academic phrases, like much academic writing, are too awkward, verbose and cumbersome to find their way into common usage. Indeed, the jargon of archaeology often leaves me, a retired but still active archaeologist, speechless with frustration. But once in a blue moon, terms coined in the Ivory Towers do manage to filter into informed [...]

Painterly Figuration

  Eileen Hogan, Browse & Darby, London, 9 September - 2 October 2015 Julian Perry, Mascalls Gallery, Paddock Wood, Kent, until 12 December 2015 In the cacophonous plurality of styles that characterizes our image-bombarded society, painterly figuration is holding its own remarkably well. In fact, recognizable imagery seems far more genuinely popular than abstraction. But [...]

Grappling with Structure

  Giacometti: Pure Presence, National Portrait Gallery, London, until 10th January 2016 Giacometti lived a peculiarly double life, despite his lifelong quest for a ‘real’, as he put it. From the age of 21 he mixed in the dizzying artistic milieu of Montmartre, experimenting and eventually coming to terms with his own perception, pulling his [...]

Filthy with Erotic Mystery

Jonathan Bate, Ted Hughes, The Unauthorised Life, William Collins, 2015, 672pp, £25 (hardback) First, a few confessional words: I was interviewed for this book, and my name appears both in the Index, and in the lengthy list of sources acknowledged and thanked at the end of the text. I have no quarrel about the way in which the [...]

The Rhyme of the Reddleman’s Daughter (V-VII)

Part V But in the far off distance I saw a whirling wind; far out on the horizon, I saw a whirling wind! And I could hear a little thing full hearted like a wren; deep in the swirling of the storm, a droplet diadem. There somewhere inside the wind a ripple in the light; [...]