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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
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When Ursula discovers her daughter Miri is engaged to a Syrian man living in Budapest, she is torn between generosity and fear. Miri, returning to London to visit her sick father, would rather be with her fiancé than in a city she no longer recognises


“My gardener,” Ursula said. “You remember my gardener—Shamgar?”

“Yes,” Miri said. “Sort of.”

“I think he might be gay.”

“Yeah? Why?”

Ursula laughed. “I think he might be having some sort of affair with the man who works next door.”

“Good for him,” Miri said. She didn’t seem very interested—her mind seemed elsewhere. Still, Ursula went on with it. “Once I saw the man from next door coming out of Shamgar’s room very early in the morning. I hadn’t been able to sleep and I was up before dawn and I’d just stepped outside when the door of Shamgar’s room opened—and I expected it to be Shamgar of course, but it wasn’t. It was this guy from next door. I don’t even know his name.

“Oh, hello,” I said. And he just nodded and hurried off. And when I mentioned it to Shamgar later he was very embarrassed. I didn’t pursue it.”

“It’s none of your business,” Miri said.

“I know. Of course it isn’t. He is married though. Shamgar. He has two kids back in India. I think the other guy’s married as well.”

“I’m getting married,” Miri said. “What do you feel like?” she asked, picking up the menu. “What’s the special today?”

They were in Menza, a popular restaurant near her flat in Budapest. Ursula had arrived on the early flight from Doha and had taken a taxi straight there. She said, “No, Miranda, what do you mean you’re getting married?”

“I am.”

“To someone I know?”



“Who d’you think?”

“To Moussa?”


Miranda, when her mother said nothing else, finally put down the menu. “You could at least pretend to be pleased.”

“I’m pleased,” Ursula said. “I’m surprised.”

“I can see that. Why?”

“It just seems sudden. You and… and Moussa have been seeing each other for how long? Not that long.”

“More than a year,” Miri said.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s January/February double issue: A host of writers and personalities explain what they think will be the most important thing we need to learn in the new year. From Justin Welby arguing for new emphasis on learning to forgive and Lord Neuberger on the importance of a free judiciary to Hannah Fry on AI and Cathy Newman on what happens next for #MeToo—Prospect has it all. Elsewhere in the issue: Fintan O’Toole looks at Brexit from an Irish perspective, Wendell Steavenson dishes the dirt on what really happens to the waste you want to recycle, Frank Close questions why—half a century after our last visit—we’ve not been back to the Moon. Also, Michael Blastland argues that we’re ignoring the upsides of having an alcoholic drink and Clive James explores the life of Philip Larkin.