Category: reflection

thing 49 and a quarter: ‘for the poet, what behaviour is meet?’: shades of blue

A tree falling in a forest. A book launched during a pandemic. Does either of them make any sound?

As far as I can tell, if answer there be to this question, it’s “yes and no”. There is the basic excitation of the surrounding medium/particles which, if there are receptors, would be translated into sound. But in the absence of receptors, there is no such translation. Ergo, yes and no. Aaargh. I remember now how much philosophy has always really pissed me off. I just don’t have the right kind of brain or temperament for it. As Frank or Pat Butcher might (more…)

thing 49: ‘the Hour of Lead’: letting go

Let go. Relinquish. Release, surrender, give up.

Some cognates: grieve, mourn, lament, sorrow. Accept. Deal. We’ve all been doing a lot of that.

We’ve been in a strange new world. Like everyone else, I’ve noticed it in all sorts of ways from the micro to the macro. Can’t be sitting writing this column in my favourite writing café. Can’t be (more…)

thing 48: ‘a thing of beauty is a joy forever’: Blackwell House

Of course, Keats didn’t live in the age of the halogen bulb. If he had, things might have been different.*

I was feeling the need to find somewhere lovely and just be there, with no demands, difficulties or despairs. Blackwell House is only a quarter of an hour away and I had a visitor coming for the weekend. Excellent. That would do the job nicely.

The perma-rain—fairly discouraging as far as getting onto the fells is concerned—was due to lift a bit on the Saturday afternoon, so (more…)

thing 46: ‘this, too, was myself’: reading from a book with my name on the cover

At moments of crisis Bertie Wooster often tells Jeeves that he could a tale unfold whose lightest word would harrow up the soul and cause the old knotted and combined locks to do the fretful porpentine thing (or some Woosterish version of that). For Bertie, the problem might involve an accidental engagement with some droopy girl who thinks that raindrops are God’s tears at our unkindness; or (more…)

thing 45: ‘outside falls away’: Gladstone’s Library

I now have a new way to classify the people in my life: those who, informed I was going to Gladstone’s Library for the weekend, glazed over with a sort of envious lust for books, silence and retreat; and those who looked at me with a sort of uncomprehending, slightly pitying wonderment. Admittedly, the most bewildered of the latter group had just told me she was off to Barbados for a week, so I can see that a library in mizzly north-west Wales might seem lesser by comparison. But my goodness, it was marvellous.*

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