The first time I ever visited a place I’d read about in a travel book was when my family took a holiday in Hong Kong in 1993. I was twelve, and I’d found and read a yellowing edition of Ian Fleming’s Thrilling Cities only the previous year. In Hong Kong, the inaugural stop on his itinerary, Fleming received a Tiger Balm massage, messed around with chopsticks, played fan-tan in Macau, and discussed the Bretton Woods agreement. Given my age, I could partake in only one of these thrills. I concentrated hard, during my trip, to see if the city felt in any way like Fleming’s Hong Kong, but in vain. Much later,
Recommended Reads | Spring
The Secret Loves of Flowers
‘The flirtations of insects and plants are furtive, hidden and often so brief that if you literally blink you might miss what exactly is going on.’
Dino J. Martins on moths and orchids, from Granta 153: Second Nature.
‘The origin of the dysfunctional family: spores. / Friend or foe? True fern or ally?’
Poems by Sylvia Legris, author of Garden Physic.
One Muggy Spring, Thanks, Dot and Secretly Try
‘And the trees were safely tucked in. Their roots were rallying in the soil, in this coil. Would the woman also take a turn for the better in her last decade?’
Three stories by Diane Williams.
Ladies! Be Your Own Grave
‘walking alone down a country road – / distracted by the slightly annoying and toxic / first green of spring, eyes overflowing’
A poem by Emily Skillings.
‘Whatever the aftermath, you won’t see the city again except through the agency of absence, recalling this semi-emptiness, this viral uncertainty.’
From 2020: China Miéville on the UK government’s response to coronavirus.