Joe Dunthorne

Cold Call


It looks like you’ve recently been in an accident
involving an opaque body of water, is that right?
And you never received compensation, is that right?
And the creature responsible had skin the texture of
a waterproof banknote? And when it held you under
the bubbles that poured from your lips looked like a chandelier
as they rose? And you were led in an old-timey dance, a tarantella
or a skip jive, is that right? And you did not know this meant
you were married and would have to lie together forever
in the lakebed? And you were happy for a while,
you concede, but now your mattress, soft as it is, groans
with those mulched before you? And you fear that one day soon
you shall join them, forced to listen to your replacement,
some wild swimmer, fabulous lungs, gasping and writhing
and getting hitched in the same poorly-lit cathedral?
If any of the above applies to you, press one and an adviser
will join you shortly. Apologies for the bad line.
It will sound like you’re underwater.


Joe Dunthorne was born and grew up in Swansea. His debut novel, Submarine, was translated into twenty languages and adapted for film by Richard Ayoade. His second, Wild Abandon, won the Encore Award. His latest is The Adulterants. A collection of his poems, O Positive, was published by Faber & Faber in 2019.

‘Cold Call’ appears in the December/January 2022 issue of The London Magazine – click here to buy a single issue. 

Buy a single issue of our April/May edition of The London Magazine.

Subscribe to The London Magazine and receive a copy bi-monthly.

For exclusives from our archive and more, visit our online shop.

To discover more content exclusive to our print and digital editions, subscribe here to receive a copy of The London Magazine to your door every two months, while also enjoying full access to our extensive digital archive of essays, literary journalism, fiction and poetry.

Dearest reader! Our newsletter!

Sign up to our newsletter for the latest content, freebies, news and competition updates, right to your inbox. From the oldest literary periodical in the UK.

You can unsubscribe any time by clicking the link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or directly on Find our privacy policies and terms of use at the bottom of our website.