Five Dials

A free literary magazine from Hamish Hamilton

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NW11

It’s a painstaking process, a learned performance. I spent years making small, conscious modifications to my character, to be more British when I was in London, more Brazilian in Rio.
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The Zen of Eminem

In the face of this kind of misplaced hysteria, good rappers don’t back down. They defend the right to use words in the same way any novelist or filmmaker is free to do. They tell their personal truths.
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Remembering Roger Deakin

Item 19. A research file with cuttings on Apple Day, anti-road protests, Abergavenny carving, Wendell Berry, Bristol trees, fruit-fly flight, feltmakers, Barry Lopez, parakeets and silkworms
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Days of Shame

He started right in yelling, ‘Not my president! Not my president!’ His voice was high and clear and loud. He was fearless. Whenever he said, ‘Not my president!’ the people near them smiled coldly and said, ‘Yes, he is. He is now.’

Of Immediate Interest

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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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Michael Pietsch

'We communicated through letters. And through a form of communication that I thought of as a Dave speciality, the phone message left on the office answering machine hours after everyone had departed.'
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W.G. Sebald

'As a Suffolk man I have a special affection for The Rings of Saturn, although the Suffolk coast Sebald evokes is nothing like the Suffolk I know.'
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Estuary

On the night of the summer solstice I made my way to Hermitage Moorings just east of London’s Tower Bridge. There were about a dozen other vessels in the harbour when I arrived, tugs and Thames Barges mainly, which had all been lovingly restored by a community of passionate enthusiasts.
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Five Paintings

'With all of us wondering now, in our world of computer screens, "What’s real and what’s not real?" or "What has value and what doesn’t?" painting can be an ideal place to test out these questions.'
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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

Our Town

Dispatches from London

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NW11

It’s a painstaking process, a learned performance. I spent years making small, conscious modifications to my character, to be more British when I was in London, more Brazilian in Rio.
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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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