Five Dials

A free literary magazine from Hamish Hamilton

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We Do Not Use The Word Lightly

For years I have been an illicit cultivator of neglected patches of public land. I ‘fight the filth with forks and flowers’ and until now had never been confronted with the choice between arrest and retreat.

Number 41 | How Can This Be Possible?

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How The Light Gets In

If you really want to encourage people to read literature, you’re better off adding a certain mystique. Because the secret the writer is faced with, the secret of language and of reality, is shared by the reader.
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Table Talk

Table Talk (consisting of three poems) 1 When people talk about people they say ‘they’. They do it over the starters. You’re sitting betw... Read more
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Do Not Pet

Nothing better to put a broken heart into perspective, I think to myself, than the inanity of the llama, the enlightenment of the sloth, the opportunism of the chimpanzee.
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Invisible Books

I still get asked about it on the odd occasion. By the handful of people who saw me selling books at the Small Publishers’ Fair. By peers wh... Read more

Of Immediate Interest

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A Change of Climate

'Snubbed by her cheerfulness like a loud door / how can I greet her without adjustments? / So when she’s gone I always stray / after her temperament, her air – / hoping to keep step with her in her absence.'
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The Ideology of Dinner

'The dinners at the commune were an excuse to convene, to solve problems and, most importantly, to be together.'
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Don DeLillo

'Infinity. This is the subject of David Wallace’s book on the mathematics, the philosophy and the history of a vast, beautiful, abstract concept.'
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Excessive Innovation and the Anxiety of Influence

'Most people have an ear for the best new bits of language they come across – a better or richer or just smarter-sounding way of expressing ideas which are anyway always slightly beyond language’s grasp.'

Our Town

Dispatches from London

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My Father’s House

Every summer we were ordered out into the garden with machetes to chop down the grass, which grew above our heads. We loathed having to spend summer days in manual labour, but we never dared question our father’s authority.
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The Fight for Broken Britain

For a place teeming with the ghosts of empire, hard labour, hard liquor, sailors and prostitutes, it’s almost unbearably tranquil. This Britain isn’t broken: it’s just quiet to the point of being unsettling.
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What Goes Around

'Riding past a crowded pavement on a hot day, swallowing consecutive gusts of perfume, sunscreen, cigarette smoke, and sometimes even halitosis, you realize just how helplessly intimate we all are in this city.'
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Virginia Woolf in the Bomb-scarred City

'This was her grandest bid to bring something back from the ruins. She was not reading despite the bombs; she was reading with them, and the two – reading and bombs – are jumbled together in one of her last letters.'
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Yates Lane, NW8

'Escapees from St Mary’s, Paddington: expectant father smoking; old lady wheeling herself in a wheelchair, smoking; die-hard holding urine sack, blood sack, smoking.'
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Out of Windows

'Last Halloween, a woman was thrown out of a fourth-floor window in Marylebone. I was heading back to my flat on Chiltern Street with the intention of watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a film that I had always avoided.'
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