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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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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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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A Small Planet

When you move house, you move the stuff with you. Beneath a few notebooks and rubber bands, there’s a letter from a former lover. You no longer see each other.
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Four Poems by Mustafa Stitou

On leaving the bar I heard / a painter say that astronauts / often grew up without a father.
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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.
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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

Of Immediate Interest

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Five People Talking About One Thing

On jokes. Featuring Tom Basden (Fresh Meat, Peep Show), Hephzibah Anderson, David Essig, and a guy eating fermented soy beans. Music by Faunaflage.
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Why Birches Have Silver Bark

'Birch trees did not always have silver bark. There was a time when their trunks were the grey-brown of most other trees. It was sex that changed things. It always does.'
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The Collected ‘Maxims’ of W.G. Sebald

'He had weary eyes that made it tempting to identify him with the melancholy narrators of his books, but he also had a gentle amiability and wry sense of humour.'
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Amsterdam

'Tucked among books, look, a long-ago letter, / long ago lost, thanks me for poems – for one / especially in which she’s named.'
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The Freedom Writer

To mark their 80th anniversary, the advocacy group Liberty delved into their sizeable list of contacts and got hold of 79 of the world’s bes... Read more
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The Stickiness of Lime Trees

'People were careless and clumsy, always letting things slip through their soft fingers, and the trees made it their business to make sure these things were not lost. They carefully stored empty crisp packets.'

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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