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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Day 1851

Today does not mark anything particularly special, but nevertheless there is an 8o per cent chance that today is a special day: I must increase measurement sensitivity, be alert to abnormal behaviour.
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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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Like a Fleeting Shadow

That’s the irony with photography: photos can halt time or slow it down, but they can also let time pass with merciless speed. In Sanguinetti’s work, Guille and Belinda grow up in seconds.
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She

He loved her so much he doesn’t believe it now; he laughs about it, a long, hard and cynical laugh. It is the laugh of someone who has lost.

Of Immediate Interest

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Teaching by Example

'When I met Professor Sebald for our first tutorial, I was immediately struck by how different he was from the mostly aloof, self-important professors that I was used to at Munich University.'
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Death of the Birch-tree

'Lean is the dull steel flashed white in the sun / Like a sudden lifting of the white-leaved abele, / Flushed from the raw thongs of the birch-tree / The white wood flies through the mists of morning.'
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The Quaking of the Aspen

'Desperate to get away from his now too voluble spouse, he hurried out to the moor with the aspen leaves crushed in his fist. To his surprise, the same green-gowned lady came riding by.'
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What Was It Like? I’ll Tell You

'He sipped like a hummingbird drinking dew from a curled leaf; his face was long enough to wrap twice around his neck.'

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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