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Editor-in-Chief Aleona Krechetova

Contents Editor and Typesetter Katie Carr

Design Editor Barbara Pelzelmayer

Literary Editors Hayley Fenton Adam Wright Lauren Woon Diana Yu Cassandra Padget

Cover Artist Jenny Lundmark




Lord Beveridge, founder of the NHS, taking a nap in the Shaw Library c.1930



EDITORIAL With the cold, dreary, winter months looming ahead, Clare’s most recent issue seeks to ignite the imagination or at the very least, spark creativity amongst its readers. It would be fair to call the majority of the material contained within this punchy and colourful journal as ‘self-reflective’ - with our authors and artists spending less time on Michaelmas Term assignments, and more time on age-old questions such as ‘who am I?’, ‘why am I here?’ and ‘have I got enough money on my Oyster card?’ In short, we picked the brightest of colours and the most interesting of words to compile the tiny book you have before you. Let it be a pleasant reminder to everyone that no matter how long the nights, or how high the mountain of work on the table, there are little joys in life which should be cherished and memories which should never be forgotten. This season, Clare is intense, pensive and mesmerising, but most of all - she is alive. Alive with the thoughts and scribbles of her creators; alive, with paint in her hair and ink on her fingers. Time and time again she returns to Houghton Street, turns her ear to the cold brick wall of the Clare Market Building and listens -

A penny for your thoughts?

Clare Market Review The London School of Economics and Political Science East Building 202, Houghton Street London, WC2A 2AE || || VOLUME CVIII, ISSUE 1



A Way of Seeing Anushka Segal


Magic Anya Clarkson


The Tale of a Barmaid Hayley Fenton


Subplicium Vanessa Lim


The Respite of a Quarter-Life Crisis Nadya Agrawal


Beyond Sheryl Ang


The Attic Rory 21

Victoria’s Empire Gurmeet Kaur


Review of Hitchens’ Mortality Harvey Daniell


Ivory and Horn Edward Larkin


Who do you think you are? Anonymous


The Divide Elizabeth Sandell


Melancholy, Manhattan on the Side Jon Foster





Lucy Sherston


Annie Leonard

26, 27

Musfira Shaffi

6, 9, 20, 48

Jade Jackman


Theo Shilton

10, 13, 28

Anna Gavurin


Gurmeet Kaur

14, 47, 53

Elisabeth Maeier


Sheryl Ang Vanessa Woo Alice Rudge Jenny Lundmark

16 19, 42

Melissa Spillard Jenny Cox

44, 45 55, inside cover

23 25, 35, 39




‘What is art, but a way of seeing’ – Thomas Berger Rustic reds mixed with poisonous purples, They move with the slender ease of a snake Across the stark desert that stretches Incessantly ahead. Some take a turn here, some there, Evolving To become a beautiful landscape. All the while her magical wand guides them, Swaying to the rhythm of tantalising tunes. Her strokes are filled with fiery expression It is only now she feels Alive. Her eyes concentrate on nothing But creating. It is here she bares her entity, On this blank canvas.


Barmaid hated getting her hands wet. Even when it wasn’t raining she stuffed them in her pockets. She was a barmaid – one of the introverted kinds. The kind that spoke in hushed whispers and scraped her hair back into a plastered bundle. The kind whose eyes spoke of space and everything undiscovered and whose pale skin crawled with formulaic depictions of the future.

He ordered an ale. The next man wanted a beer. His eyes had this uneasy look. He wore a crisp suit, so neatly ironed it seemed to cut edges in the air around him. This man was a CitySlicker, and he knew BookshopMan, who had leapt to his feet and rushed over in utter disbelief upon seeing CitySlicker. Barmaid handed over the lager, wiped her hands dry and then melted through the floor.

So she liked to think. She hated getting her hands wet like she hated the rigidity of life. Barmaid wanted no handle on her identity. She had a name – of course she had a name – but she inhabited a world that no-one cared to know about. Barmaid exuded a stillness deeper than anything anyone could possibly imagine. Some might have said it was a devastating absence of being; some might have said she lived in a different world altogether. Tonight it was Thursday. The first man to order looked like the sort who owned a bookshop, and that’s just what he was.



‘How are you old chap? Long time, long time!’ BookshopMan’s quavering, plummy voice resounded through the pub. ‘I’m doing well thank you, fifth year in Wall Street now. How time flies.’ CitySlicker sipped his beer delicately, as if he missed the superficial fizz of champagne. ‘How are you doing anyway?’ CitySlicker asked indifferently. In the corner CitySlicker’s friends were giggling helplessly at the encounter, as if a Wall Street man had any genuine interest in a Bookshop man. ‘Are you still running the bookshop?’ ‘The bookshop still exists, of course!’

BookshopMan’s voice quivered reproachfully. Or perhaps it quivered with excitement at speaking to a Wall Street Man. Or, more likely, it was a quiver of barely concealed inadequacy. Straightening up, BookshopMan peered down at CitySlicker, analysing his crisp white shirt and slicked-back hair.

The fact was this: Barmaid was a figure in black. The attention she caught was so fleeting that perhaps it would have been better if she hadn’t caught any attention at all. Nobody saw her for long enough to recognise her inscrutability.

Barmaid watched the encounter from somewhere. She admired the contrast of Bookshop’s patchy tweed jacket, soft with enthusiasm, stale beer and desperation, and WallStreet’s sharp, capitalist blazer.

Once or twice CitySlicker looked straight at Barmaid, but he didn’t see her. CitySlickers were the blindest of them all.

How strange, she thought in her bubble of invisibility, that their two worlds should ever meet.

Barmaid liked it like this.

Someone ordered a Stella. Barmaid was sucked up out of the floor. ‘Inside or outside, sir?’ Barmaid went unheard. She pulled the

pint into a plastic cup. Then she melted back into the other world. ‘I knew you’d make it big. Boy, you had it in you; you always had it in you!’ BookshopMan and CitySlicker’s encounter continued. ‘Believe me; it takes no real effort finding work in the advanced capitalist society we live in.’ ‘Oh yes, yes, yes, but you know some have it easier than others. Look at me – stuck in a bookshop for thirty years. I remember the days when you and your friends would stay in my bookshop for hours, just reading and reading and reading! Fascinating!’ ‘Would you like my business card?’ CitySlicker wanted to avoid the topic of BookshopMan’s bookshop; how the hours spent in the bookshop were hours spent peeling off security stickers. ‘Oh yes!’ ‘Oi, luv, what the fuck is this?’ It was StellaMan. Barmaid was sucked from her identity-less world and thrown back into the sticky, sweaty mess of reality. ‘Stella, sir.’ Pause.

StellaMan placed one bleary eye level with the beer. He swayed precariously as he studied it. ‘I don’t want my beer in a shitty plastic cup. I’m a man! I drink out of pint glasses!’ Stella Man concluded triumphantly. ‘Sorry sir, but we don’t allow glasses outside and I didn’t know whether you’d be outside or insi-’ ‘Pour me another one. A proper one.’ He threw the plastic beer over Barmaid. Dripping with sticky lager, she reached for a pint glasses and pulled down the tap. She hated getting her hands wet. She was stuck in this world when her hands were wet, as if the dampness was gluing her to reality. To pass time and to please her boss, Barmaid went to collect dirty glasses. She didn’t see the puddle of beer on the floor. Slippery, sweet, golden beer. It watched her step closer. It didn’t warn her of its presence. Barmaid slipped. She flung out her arm to steady herself, flinging out with it the stack of glasses she had gathered. Pint glasses crashed to the floor as they splintered and smashed everywhere. Barmaid landed on her back with a heavy thud, the wind gushing out of her


and shards of glass raining down on her, piercing her soft skin.

room. Other people don’t see, because they’re too busy pretending to be busy.’

The music kept on playing. Talkers kept on speaking. Listeners went on hearing.

‘Most people are nothing special’, Barmaid agreed.

Barmaid was bleeding.

Beat. The world froze.

‘I can see you.’

‘You have it too’, Barmaid said, ‘that’s why you haven’t ordered a drink.’

The voice came out of nowhere. It came from behind her and all around her; it came from a man in an orange jacket, and it was true: he saw her. OrangeJacketMan helped Barmaid up. He held out a towel for her to dry her hands on. The smashed glass disappeared. ‘I can see you’, he repeated. Pause.

‘I’ve not come here to get a drink.’ ‘Why are you here?’ ‘We’re going away.’ ‘Away?’ ‘Away. Away to the place you’re trying to get to inbetween your gambols with reality.’ ‘I’m not supposed to be here.’ Barmaid wasn’t sure if it was a statement or question.

‘You have it.’ ‘No you’re not.’ Time slowed down.

‘How do you know?’ Barmaid smiled coyly.

‘I can’t stay there permanently. I sink through to the place – to your world – and then I leave. I can’t help it, it’s like being in a vacuum. Inside I’m screaming and screaming for them to let me stay, but every force in the universe pulls together and drags me back up here. To reality.’

‘I see it. I see your presence half in this world, half in mine; it’s the only thing that lights the

‘There’s no such thing as reality.’ OrangeJacketMan smiled. Barmaid

It? The ground trembled.



suddenly realised he didn’t have eyes.

slurred from above her.

‘Follow me.’

‘Well’, OrangeJacketMan’s voice resonated from somewhere inside Barmaid’s head. Clear and loud he spoke, ‘are you coming or going?’

The world remained frozen; pint glasses, half a metre away from smashing onto the floor; hovering cigarette butts, waiting to be blown away by a stationary gust of wind; open mouths with menial words caught in the back of throats, waiting to be set free. The world remained frozen but the man moved. Setting his backpack down on the bar surface, he walked. Faster and faster he walked until he was a blur that hazed between the crowds of people.

Barmaid brushed her arms. The blood smudged against her skin. The only person to ever see me had no eyes. She stood up. The postman of happiness. ‘Oi, darlin’, a pint o’ Stella!’

Except he wasn’t walking between the crowds: he was walking through them. Each person rippled with the aftereffect of OrangeJacketMan’s path. The whole room was rippling with people being walked through; a haze of human blurs that stretched and wobbled like smoke. And just as Barmaid was on the verge of crying out for it all to stop, OrangeJacketMan walked towards a wall and disappeared. The room snapped to life again. People stopped rippling and words started flowing. Glasses crashed and cigarette butts drifted to the floor. Barmaid was still on the floor. ‘One pint o’ Stella please darlin’.’ A voice

Barmaid looked at StellaMan and smiled. Or maybe it was a frown. It was impossible to tell. Silently, she walked towards the wall furthest away from her. Sure enough, people rippled out of her way. StellaMan watched dumbstruck as Barmaid strode towards the furthest wall and melted through it. A minute later she had left his memory. And Barmaid lived forever in her forgotten existence.


THE RESPITE OF A QUARTER-LIFE CRISIS NADYA AGRAWAL Here’s a postmodern romance for you: For all you fuckers and cynics I tell you it does exist. I remember seeing him on the street Walking with his back to the sunlight So it shone through the back of his head Like a halo in the summer. I remember how he lay against me Breathing so slowly I thought he’d died against my side Barely alive and quiet in the night. And when I got ready for work in the morning And he made breakfast with only a t-shirt on I remember the thought that went through my head: ‘This is unoriginal. This has happened to everyone before. This is love.’ And then I shut the door and walked to the bus stop. He sends me emails every day He says he likes whiling the time away between assignments By thinking about me. I think about him too. All the time. I don’t think about thinking


About him. I just do. And when I come home, when I step off the bus and open the door, When I see him on the couch, or at the desk, or when my phone rings In my bag and he’s on the other end telling me he’ll be home soon, I feel like I’m stepping back into myself, and my heart hurts a little. Because this is perfect and he’s perfect and now I’m perfect. So if you thought for most of your life Or if you thought for most of your twenties That it’s not there, that marriage is unnecessary in today’s world, That romance cannot survive the exchanging of partners, I’m telling you, you need to get up and move your arms. Test the senses in your fingertips. Romance is there in our post-postmodern world: it’s sitting on lips, And within your hips, and at the edge of your fingertips.



Watch the silence outside the window My head is pouring gas Turn off the lights Windmills turn around me I am lost in your thoughts We are statues on a beach Listening to the rain I can fear you I can hear you The ghost of you and I will never part We are lost in this moment together

REVIEW OF HITCHENS’ MORTALITY HARVEY DANIELL ‘Myself, I love the imagery of struggle. I sometimes wish I were suffering in a good cause, or risking my life for the good of others, instead of just being a gravely endangered patient. Allow me to inform you, though, that when you sit in a room with a set of other finalists, and kindly people bring a huge transparent bag of poison and plug it into your arm, and you either read or don’t read a book while the venom sack gradually empties itself into your system, the image of the ardent soldier or revolutionary is the very last one that will occur to you.’ Mortality collects the last essays Christopher Hitchens wrote before his death. They comprise an honest account of what it’s like to die of cancer, from the first feeling of being ‘shackled to [one’s] own corpse’ until it’s ‘hello darkness my old friend’. Those familiar with Hitchens’ writing often report the intimate relationship the author develops with his reader, a feeling that the words are addressed to you and you alone. Never is this truer of Hitchens than when he takes us into his hospital room, and into the mind of a man facing his imminent demise. Nothingness is


a state that awaits us all, and Hitchens doesn’t hold back from telling us bluntly what it feels like to approach it consciously. Happily, the essays are a testament to the power of great writing. The opening line of the first essay characterises perfectly the sardonic wit Hitchens maintains through hell and high water: ‘I have more than once in my time woken up feeling like death.’ The many sparks of humour in these essays are set in sharp relief against the dark backdrop of a violent cancer. The fluidity with which Hitchens passes between the two is a marvel to behold. In response to one particularly vicious claim that God gave Hitchens oesophagus cancer because the throat was ‘the one part of his body he used for blasphemy’, Hitchens reasons thus (and demonstrates once again his peerless feeling for bathos): ‘If you maintain that God awards the appropriate cancers, you must also account


for the numbers of infants who contract leukemia. Devout persons have died young and in pain. Bertrand Russell and Voltaire, by contrast, remained spry until the end, as many psychopathic criminals and tyrants have also done. These visitations, then, seem awfully random. My so far uncancerous throat, let me rush to assure my Christian correspondent above, is not at all the only organ with which I have blasphemed.’ In Mortality, Hitchens covers a large range of topics, bound together only insofar as they relate to his life in ‘Tumortown’. Religion, friendship, and politics all get treatment from the Hitch. But it is the examination of cancer, mortality and its etiquette that is most illuminating: ‘I was fairly reconciled to the loss of my hair, which began to come out in the shower in the first two weeks of treatment, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the way that my razor would suddenly go slipping pointlessly down my face, meeting no stubble. I feel upsettingly denatured. If Penelope Cruz were one of my nurses, I wouldn’t even notice. The loss of Eros is a huge initial sacrifice.’ In particular, Hitchens details with perception and clarity the different ways in which people respond to him and his illness. Moreover, he gives a devastatingly honest account of his own reaction to the different ways in which people respond


to him – the response to the responses, as it were: ‘Telling someone, with deliberate realism, that once I’d had a few more scans and treatments I might be told by the doctors that things from now on could be mainly a matter of “management”, I had the wind taken out of me when she said, “Yes, I suppose a time comes when you have to consider letting go.” How true, and how crisp a summary of what I had just said myself. But there was the unreasonable urge to have a kind of monopoly on, or a sort of veto over, what was actually sayable. Cancer victimhood contains a permanent temptation to be self-centered and even solipsistic.’ Mortality is the coda to a lifetime of polemicism from Christopher Hitchens. The day his latest book hit the bestseller list was the day he received ‘the grimmest of news bulletins’ – a double irony, since that book was his memoir. It was cruel of nature to strike him down with such a painful illness just as he had reached the height of his readership and popularity (or should that be notoriety?) We are thoroughly fortunate, however, to have been given this thoughtful, personal and moving collection of essays from a man confronting his own death. Mortality is, thankfully, free from self-pity and selfcentredness, and full of the literary style that had become very much synonymous with ‘the Hitch’.



The man in my dreams stands on street corners. He has a white, sallow face; eyes that look like they’ve been scooped out and replaced with pale, glazed marbles. His small lips are pursed as he stares at me. I’m walking past the corner shop and I see him leaning against a lamppost – looking. My pace quickens as the rhythm of the music in my ears sweeps me forward. Several hundred yards away, I see him standing by a shop window – looking. He has a large dark-grey turban that is wrapped around his cold head, the wisps of white hair that whip in the wind and his old, fragile body. His tall frame and his blank expression move in tandem with mine. He answers the horror that rises in every nerve in my body with a look that is asking me something. I run round corners; I swerve into the alleyways smelling of piss and duck into a coffee shop. My breath is heavy and I can feel the sweat curl around the contours of a face belonging to one who is being hunted. I quickly order a coffee, hoping that I’ve lost him. My back is turned from the window and the comfort of a young waiter warms me slightly as I pray that I am alone. The coffee arrives at the counter and I sit down by the window, hidden behind a sign. I look around outside, wary of the man in my dreams. As my face searches, inches from the glass, I look through the pane and am suddenly face-toface with the man. He does nothing, just looks and asks. I hear him speak for the first time and his voice is seething. His face curdles into a series of twisted, sour wrinkles. His eyes darken as they narrow – and he looks. He says, ‘Who the fuck do you think you are?’ He is the alter-ego; he is the man in my dreams looking at me. Asking. Who do you think you are?



One clean cut down the middle And the pieces bend and peel in opposite directions (They’re only getting further apart) Time passes And pieces wither (They’re only getting harder to reconcile)


He leans against black iron railings, gazing at the shimmering reflections of toxic orange streetlights glistening on the river. The water is calm and the growing buzz from the party causes him minor annoyance. Slowly, he sips the Manhattan he ordered simply to be pretentious while his peers indulge in a variety of cheap ales. Nearby, drunken teenagers only add to his growing agitation. He catches himself pondering the depth of the river and its suicidal potential while examining the black and white bridge leading out of the grassy park and away into town. Once again his thoughts race around this topic, which, while startling to many, is completely normal to him. He doesn’t know why he feels like this, why he feels that plunging his body into ice-cold water until it fills his expanding lungs, and ultimately saps the life from him would be a good idea. He often thinks it is his arrogance that produces these thoughts: the suicidal teen whose class-mates consider him clever, always on top, constantly busy. Is having these thoughts purely a defence mechanism?


Is it to make him more interesting? Is it at attempt to gain more attention? The one who seems to be loved by many, but feels like he isn’t close to a single person in the world. That’s what goes through his mind. That’s what others will think if he says any of this out loud. But he knows his thoughts aren’t all arrogance because while he’s stood outside in the rain, the others are falling about inside in an intoxicating mix of alcohol, enjoyment and teenage romance. He’ll stop thinking this. For now and for good. He’ll outgrow this stupidity in a week, a year – maybe five years. Five Years. Five years of this and he might go through with it. The giggling of a nearby girl pulls him away from this train of thought. She is slowly led away by an over-amorous male he recognises from somewhere he isn’t interested in recalling. He pours himself once more into his thoughts. Soon someone will come, pull him back inside, and let him forget these thoughts. Yet he knows the lingering thought of his own death is sure to outlast the music of the party he’s attending. He

waits; he waits for someone to come. For minutes he waits, stewing in his cocktail of melancholy and self-pity. It slowly dawns on him that no-one is coming. What does he do now? Meander back into a party that’s struggling to hold his attention? Or plummet into a peaceful grave consisting entirely of water? Meet party-goers or a God he’s fairly sure he doesn’t believe in? Hesitantly, he takes the first step.



There are many ways to understand the things we don’t understand. Some people are content to chalk it up to their own ignorance: there are, after all, so many things to know in the world that we cannot possibly know them all. So why fret over the things we don’t know when we could simply rejoice that we know anything at all? Some people view not understanding to be a failure on their part: everything happens for a reason and that reason would be discoverable if you’d only try hard enough to discover it. These people are generally sadder than their blissfully ignorant counterparts. There are those who fear things they don’t understand – and if we’re all honest with ourselves, I suspect each of us falls into this category just a little bit – because if we don’t know, how can we ever know? And if we don’t know, how can we know what to do when what we don’t know happens? Or doesn’t happen. Uncertainty is so… uncertain. But there is one other way we can understand what we don’t understand. And that is to know that what we don’t understand, just like everything else, is

simply magic. When I say magic, put down your automatic thoughts of wands and wizards and eye of newt. This is not what I mean; I’m not appealing to the fairy tale ideal of conjuring delights from thin air: what I’m grasping at is a flicker of an idea of something bigger, wider, further. The idea of magic as something inexplicable, incomprehensible –something we know exists but cannot fully articulate. Magic is brilliant because magic makes the impossible possible and the possible beautiful. It gives everything purpose and unpredictability at the same time. You can understand everything and nothing all at once. You can banish fear and embrace the unknown. The world becomes incredible, which is a much more exciting state of affairs than if you knew everything. However, not a lot of people understand this. Evalina had been born with the innate understanding that everything was magic and everything that had happened to her had only served to confirm this. The result was that this extraordinary girl grew up with an extraordinary view of the world. She was fully aware that there


were as many stars in the sky as there were things she did not know. She did not know, for example, how many stars were in the sky. But rather than being afraid, she was comforted because it meant that there was unlimited magic fizzing around the universe that wanted nothing more than for her to discover it. Every single thing she learnt had the same effect as lighting a firework too close to other fireworks: sparks flew in all directions, setting her mind ablaze with infinite potentiality. It was an incredible way for a mind to work. But the problem is, you see, that when no one else believes everything is magic you can sometimes feel very alone. Evalina herself was magic. It was in the way that heart pumped blood the whole way round her body, even when she hung upside down; in the way that her bones were made from the same stuff as milk and that the swirls on the tips of her fingers would never be seen on anyone else’s. But it was also in the way that, sometimes when she saw something so unjust, so horribly wrong that her anger nade her shake, the ground would shake with her. It was in the way that when she walked past a fire it would burn just that fraction brighter; in the way that if you happened to glance into her eyes when you were talking to her, you would be struck by the idea – an idea seemingly


from nowhere –that if you looked closely enough you would see that her eyes didn’t end where they should, but rather would appear closer to what infinity might be like. Just a glint, a shimmer; a spark that told you she was more than just an unknown. Evalina grew up and her mind grew out and she could feel the magic around her shivering.



What can I say of love that hasn’t already been said more eloquently and more beautifully? The thing is that all words about love—regardless of their aesthetic quality, finesse, wit—are ultimately clumsy and poor because we have no nomenclature for the divine, no adjective for skin-on-skin, nouns for a shared breath or verbs for the act of my fingers worshipping your lines: only compounds and fragments stitched together, Inadequate utterances whispered in an imitation of holiness. The hours drag their feet through this house and like a small stubborn child it refuses to leave this bed, replacing the warmth of you with a shroud cast over everything: this cup, this bowl, these hands, these sheets. I am praying for your return and your remembrance of me. Perhaps one person did get it right after all, I think Donne who said ‘this bed is our sphere’ and in a two-sphere universe there would only be the stars and us and nothingness, The way it should be. But what can I say of love, normatively, That hasn’t already been said? It should be intense and selfless and passionate and all-consuming. They say tropes of fire and light and incandescence. But what would we know of fire if not for the gods? How do you speak of something that defies understanding? Of something revelatory, and when I say this I mean the moment I realised that I (don’t) love you? What are these words but a desperate prayer? We are all seeking salvation, bartering blood sacrifice for answers and hoping that there is meaning. There are words and then there is scripture, the holy writ of our bodies in the dark. When I speak of love I speak of divinity, of a life inarticulate, and if there is a stake here I now confess freely, so let me burn.




We were beneath the milky moon that night, As an unbound Andromeda danced her Slow-dance across the inky infinite plane And forgot the pains of former fights. We lay in the pastures of ignorance And innocence: a thousand cool, tiny Razors and you, slicing the different shades of perfection: White and rose red, both blooms of the flesh to draw The vivid vermillion river that was Sustenance before you entered this realm. We will writhe and slowly wither away Under the eternal stars whose names We know but who hardly know of our own Existence. Stars to whom time is nothing but a Concept as incomprehensible To a circle as the third dimension. Time fades or passes (we do not know And cannot ascertain which) just as the stars in Their unspoken cells, like us, Go on wondering; longing always for A poison to taste, a liquor to burn.


Flaking plaster off the ceiling, Scratching off the surface, Queen Vic opened the box; Pandora unleashed.

Trapped in the rubble Of her own created trouble, Her popular Empire Collapsed.

A bombshell fell. Across a thousand skies The Middle East cries And the time has come For South Asia to rise.

The atlas in her hand, She sees her subjects of adoration Like a mother watching children Going their own way.

The cracks in her ceiling Ripping off the plaster: On her face fell The heavy, burdening bricks Suffocating her affection  Deeper into her grave.

Forming their own path, Leaving behind a shattered map Of a past colonial world; Vic’s vision of imperial perfection.



Russell and Ivory left the theatre silent, the way people always do after seeing great movies, subdued into contemplation by those initial moments when you think you might actually change your life because of what you’ve just experienced. * * * They hadn’t seen each other for a few months – not since a subtle month-long courtship had been consummated on an unusually warm December night last semester. What had been a study session on Virgil for the final exam, ENG 411: Dreams in Greco-Roman Epics, had taken a turn for the carnal in the early hours of the night. They hadn’t talked since. Following that night in December, Russell had wanted to play it cool for a few days before texting her: Joey had told him that girls liked it when you acted like you didn’t care and that if he stayed strong and didn’t contact her she would inevitably come running. And Ivory had been laid-back and assumed Russell would text her if he expected it to be anything more than


a one-night tryst: Madison had told her that guys didn’t like clingy girls. After the ensuing few days of checking his phone anxiously, Russell became resentful that Ivory hadn’t contacted him and promised himself that he would not be the first one to cave. After a similarly spent few days, Ivory decided that Russell clearly wasn’t interested enough to make it anything serious and so she had determined to leave it there. After having had a few experiences like this, she didn’t want to go through the degradation of having another guy treat her with that excruciatingly awkward post-coital sense of obligation, as if she were some sort of land mine that had to be diffused with the utmost care; the sort of thing where he would respond to texts with a few too many exclamation marks and then take her out to dinner at a relatively nice restaurant but would intentionally talk about superficial topics and give elaborate excuses to check the time on his phone. Maybe he would make some pathetic, clumsy attempt at the end of the dinner to bed her again, presumably thinking that since they had already done it once there existed some sort of fast-track



queue that gave him easy access with little or no effort.

that felt flattered and for some reason she wanted to go. So she accepted his offer.

And so finals had come and gone, along with winter break, and come January there was no ENG 411 to afford casual encounters. That was the last time they had seen each other. (Actually Russell had spotted her walking down to the quad but had pretended to change the song on his iPod as she neared. Ivory had looked up and noticed him a few seconds later, but had intentionally looked off to her left as he passed).

* * *

* * * The thaw finally came in the form of Gladiator, a movie that critics were rumbling about far before the early May release. By the time late April arrived, he decided that since he was regularly hooking up with another girl (Susan Delgado) and thus the fate of his masculine self-estimation did not depend on how Ivory responded to him, it would be safe to text her and ask her if, as a fellow student of ENG 411, she might want to accompany him to the premiere on 5 May. At this point, Ivory was officially going steady with the president of the class (Chris Boulieris) and thus felt no particular romantic excitement at the thought, but there was still a part of her

The post-movie haze began to wear off as they adapted to the dawning understanding that reality remained for the most part unchanged. But even after these more grandiose notions dissipated, there perhaps remained that lingering effect that makes viewers feel marginally more heroic than usual. This lingering effect may or may not have made Russell break the silence: ‘So I’m not sure what you’re up to tonight, but I’m going to grab a quick dinner. Want to join me?’ And this lingering effect may or may not have made it so that after Ivory had checked her phone and seen that it was only 9:18pm and that she had no new texts from Chris, she decided that it wouldn’t be a big deal: ‘Sure. I’m pretty hungry anyway.’ They walked for another minute and eventually, for lack of a more appropriate option, decided on Romana, a trendy little Italian restaurant that quite frankly seemed a bit too exclusive for their wallets and a bit too romantic for their situation. Russell and Ivory were thus forced to make an important decision early on in


their meal: did either of them harbour any sort of sexual expectation? Neither of them was necessarily consciously aware of this decision, but both were completely subconsciously fixated on it and unknowingly each could feel that the other was fixated by it too. It was clear after a few minutes that the answer was no: Ivory had mentioned her boyfriend twice and Russell assumed that this was intended to send an implicit message to him not to press his luck, and that her accepting the dinner invitation was far enough. He had responded by dropping into the conversation his casual arrangement between himself and Susan Delgado. Ivory accordingly assumed that he wasn’t interested either as she knew Susan to be a stunningly attractive blonde whose dad was rumoured to be a hedge-fund manager. So neither was anticipating anything. This was unfortunate in a way, as the setting would have been perfect for the blossoming of a hushed affair, what with the candlelight, wine and a suggestively small table.

gets lost in the flirtatious banality and antiseptic appraisal of every statement to make sure every word incrementally improves and does not jeopardise the likelihood of ending the night intertwined. Their conversation turned to the two annoying guys in front of them who had been talking for half of the movie – just loudly enough to irritate everyone in the theatre but low enough to make shouting at them an overkill. * * * ‘I have a theory about this, but I’d like to hear what you think. Why do you think people get especially irritated when other people talk in movie theatres?’ he asked. ‘Well obviously it’s because they’re ruining it for everyone. It’s really annoying when you’re trying to actually become one with the movie if there’s a constant reminder of the outside world’ Russell smiled impishly. ‘Come on. It’s way more than that.’ ‘How so?’

But in another way it was liberating. After engaging in a few pleasantries they started down a conversational road that would have been completely impossible had either harboured any kind of sexual expectation; the sort of deep talk that


‘Well it’s always just one or two people talking in a theatre of probably hundreds.’ ‘So?’


‘The fact that it’s only two people is sort of funny, right? If you really tried, you could still pick up on what’s going on in the movie. It’s not like everyone is talking. The problem is the knowledge that in a theatre of hundreds, only two or three have to be talking to completely fuck things up for everyone.’ Even though the sexual expectation was gone, he still loved playing the role of enlightened intellectual, especially as Chris Boulieris was, in his humble opinion, a resumébuilding droid. ‘OK. But still, the thing they are fucking up is understanding the movie, right?’ ‘No, Ivory. What they are fucking up is secondary. The fact that they are fucking it up is primary. It’s like what 9/11 did with flying. Like what Oswald did with riding in a convertible in a motorcade, presumably. There’s the knowledge that all it takes is a really small number of people to really fuck something up. One weird, sad man climbs up to the sixth story of some old building and kills the leader of the free world. A handful of poor extremists crash a couple of planes, kill 3000 people, and change an entire nation’s psychology for the foreseeable future. Every time you get on a plane there are a few seconds where you think about 9/11 – no matter what. It’s the filter through which you judge every single person you see on the plane. It’s because 9/11 revealed an incredibly uncomfortable fragility at the centre of the world. It only takes a couple of people.’


‘Hmm. I can sort of see what you’re saying, but the comparisons seem a bit over the top, Russell. There’s no need to dramatise it. I still think that people are just annoyed that they can’t truly hear themselves in the movie,’ she replied. But Russell was undeterred. ‘Next time someone talks in a movie, try to be self-conscious about your reaction. You won’t even try to listen to the movie. You’ll try to listen to them. You’ll strain to listen to them, to hear what they’re saying, to stoke your own sense of outrage.’ The two glasses of wine added a modicum of color to his cheeks. ‘It’s like a morbid fascination, the knowledge that a few people can ruin something that affects so many more people. Whenever someone talks in a movie I get an almost profound respect for the world and how we’ve been able to achieve so much when a few idiots can end it all so easily.’ ‘I can see where you’re coming from, but I still think it’s a little grand a point to make from something that’s pretty trivial.’ ‘Don’t you feel awestruck after the President isn’t shot in the head after every big speech he makes?’ ‘I hadn’t until now, no.’ ‘But think about it. He gives a speech in front of around 10000 people. All it takes is a 0.01% chance for one person to do something crazy. Doesn’t that say something beautiful about humanity that nobody actually does it? That maybe we’re actually not all that bad after all?’

She stared at him, her pale complexion flushed, a thin layer of perspiration on her forehead. He was leaning in, staring at her. Their faces were closer than they had been.

She started to say something else, but he was staring down at the table absentmindedly and she had a distinct sense that Russell was in his own world and wasn’t listening anymore.

He continued, clutching the sides of the table. ‘I’m brought to tears sometimes when I see a great work of art just sitting there in the Met on its original canvas. I mean it’s just waiting to get slashed. And it will one day. But that it hasn’t so far is beautiful.’

The conversation slowly drifted on to other things, but the climax had been reached and their discussion never quite regained the intensity it had during those few minutes.

Ivory leaned back, closing her eyes momentarily. ‘I actually really like that. It’s like we’re all in it together in a way, trying to balance this incredibly precarious thing. And what seems like something innocent like talking in a movie is actually something else entirely. A reminder of that horrible problem behind everything.’

After Russell paid the bill they walked back to campus and parted ways. She felt in herself a strange desire to text him over the next few days, but secretly hoped that he would first. He found himself checking his phone more often than usual in the days following, vaguely disappointed every time he saw that she hadn’t texted him.



Harvey Daniell

Anya goes by a false name, has a sudden affection for pandas and hates it when you touch her neck. Surprisingly, MI5 have yet to recruit her. Pending the inevitable call to Her Majesty’s Secret Service, she’s passing the time by telling people she’s a fairy. So far, only one is in agreement, but that one is highly valued.

With one year left of full-time education, Harvey has set himself the goal of traversing all three of LSE’s skybridges before his time is out. A keen but hopeless cricketer, he also enjoys fantasising about his parallel life as First Minister of his native Wales, which mainly involves avoiding the temptation to shag sheep. Harvey loves nothing better than his BSc Politics and Philosophy courses, which enable him to grow a very fashionable and well-maintained pseudo-beard.

Gurmeet Kaur Gurmeet grew up in London and is trying to balance the chaotic third year life with some sort of control. Constantly going through identity crises, she finds writing poetry affirmative or at the very least enjoyable procrastination. If seen super excited around campus, don’t be fooled – it’s just the caffeine talking.

Rory Rory writes, performs and creates art. Apart from this, he enjoys listening to music, reading or going to exhibitions and performances. He is currently working on writing short stories at the moment. He is also an avid fan of luminaries such as Andrei Tarkovsky, Ingmar Bergman and Agnes Varda who inspire him when creating pieces.


Vanessa Lim Vanessa, 20. Likes words about words.


Annie Leonard

Giulia Barcaro

Annie likes meandering through the day, drawing peacocks and taking the Jubilee line. Studying Law at LSE, she is curious of the great, evil, profound and generally intriguing stuff the world is seemingly full of.

Giulia is a 6ft2 Italian girl. She studies MSc Human Rights and enjoys photography. Her very secret plan is to mix these together in photography based on human rights, as she did in her Summer Nicaragua reportage.

Jenny Lundmark

Melissa Spillard

After spending most of her life living in Asia, she is now studying illustration and animation in London. She loves travelling but her memory is bad so she tends to need to document her life through photographs and image-making. Our lives are stories. She also love Wes Anderson, music, trees and she doesn’t know whether to love or hate Salad Fingers.

Melissa is a BSc in Philosophy, Logic & Scientific Method student. She works in various medium: photography, drawing, oils, digital.

Anna Gavurin Anna is a 5 year old fairy princess who likes chocolate and warm things. Her 20 year old self, however, is a geography student who spends most of her time in denial of growing up and in disappointment at the actual lack of colouring in geography involves.

Theo Shilton Having grown up in Cornwall, Theo used the surrounding breathtaking scenery as inspiration. Theo’s work ranges from Landscape and Graffitti, to Live Music Photography, and he has been fortunate enough to work alongside acts such as Skrillex and Andy Whitby as well as covering events for Frantic Digital. www.


Issue 1, Volume CVIII  
Issue 1, Volume CVIII  

Clare Market Review - The Journal of the LSE Students' Union. Volume CVIII, Issue 1. Winter 2012.