Irish Backstop

We kill one hundred head of cattle each week explained the old man sitting back in his chair, a Presbyterian from the south with an ecumenical constitution and a paper napkin tucked over his tie so that crumbs from his cream bun scatter onto the boardroom table. And pigs to china: we send tonnes of […]

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To the river Avon via Grateley station

Beyond Wandsworth the Salisbury train gathers speed, the bright red upholstery putting up a stink in the July heat. A parched park gives back brown space between high-street shopfronts playing gold against the faces of bare-shouldered men and women queuing easy for evening fried chicken. Summer gardens snap open and close London purses showing their […]

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Raising boys

Against the mountain weather Jake is wearing a balaclava. Braced, completely concentrated, he is inching down the piste, Jake is eight and his thighs are wobbling with the effort, so that sweat licks down his red hair and his little skis rasp on the ice. Keep going Snake! I shout. You’re a beauty. Waiting for […]

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Leaving Switzerland

Beneath luminous mountains runs the black autobahn. It is dawn and I am going along with my right hand on the steering wheel and my left reached back to hold my daughter’s hand. She is sitting still, staring through her dark window looking out for the year ahead, thinking of what has just been, of […]

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New Year’s Day

Today, right at the beginning I hung the heavy bag. I bought a good jute rope and slung it over a high branch of the yew, my boys helped me out. I found the bag loaded with pain and a generosity all of its own, a guarantee of what life may give up if you’re […]

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Boxing Day morning

Lying in bed listening to my liver sing to my kidneys songs of destruction and of joy. Listening to the shallow breathing of the girl in my bed, the baby girl, our Christmas girl who I did not drop last night nor did I offend her after most of a bottle of champagne burgundy, three […]

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A night detour to avoid the steep sides of the Downs

Blindfolded by your mother you do not see the high moon, whole villages behind pickets of wasted trees, their captive churches. The white road slow between the darkness and the Christmas lights. Without God or fear we carry you, and each mile brings us closer to a motorway junction, the black hospital approaches swept and […]

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