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The General was sitting in the debris of Christmas, with cards from the ex-wife and other relations lying flat on the mantelpiece, which was stained f(...)

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I had a meal with the icon maker one evening in a beer hall beside the university. He spoke in broken English over a plate of pierogies as we sipped (...)

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One day before Christmas, I was walking past an Asian restaurant in Warsaw. I was so hungry that I dashed inside for a bowl of chicken soup. Two bi(...)

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I wanted to have a Christmas drink with the icon maker before I left Warsaw. He said 3pm. I was in a restaurant, sitting at a small table by the wi(...)

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My therapist told me once that there is a child inside me, and, when that child feels frightened, I ought to hold him and tell him there is no need t(...)

Michael Harding. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

I was standing with thermal underwear in my hand in a queue at the pay point in Heatons one afternoon in October. I found myself facing a tray of skul(...)

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I was standing at the butcher’s counter in Cavan one day, trying to make my mind up between a spicy sausage or a single lamb chop, when the butcher s(...)

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I was reading Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes one afternoon, enjoying the savage and mythic ferocity of the terrifying poems, which open the poet’s (...)

Once upon a time a bird passed a seed through its body and it fell to the ground, and got lodged in the soil and went to sleep. Then the following yea(...)

“I could have listened to Jeanette Winterson all day, but it was a very brief interview. So I got up and brushed my teeth.” Photograph: Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Getty Images

Sometimes nobody calls for days. But you can’t complain if you live in the hills. We’re all isolated up here. I have neighbours scattered around th(...)