Category: reflection

thing 32: ‘how pleasant it is to have money, heigh-ho!’: Mary King’s Close

Framily. Prinks. Twixtmas. Hmmm. Every so often I hear a new word which makes me cringe but which I have to admit does usefully convey meaning.

Okay, prinking (= pre-drinking = priming with cheap[er] at-home alcohol in order to achieve required degree of intoxication while out, without having to take out a loan) isn’t often a thing I need to talk about, but the point still stands. So I find myself telling you that during Twixtmas this year (more…)

thing 31: ‘the year is going, let him go’: tidying up

I know. Sounds most unlikely as a special or celebratory act, right? But stay with me. It’s been a pretty thorough tidying up, with some surprisingly lovely and unexpectedly profound things involved.

It all started when my landlady was getting people in to quote for redecorating my house, and one of the decorators thus consulted had a look in the front room where all my books and bookbinding equipment and supplies live—and we are talking a lot of paper here, friends—and said, ‘Hmm, when we’re done, you’ll have a chance to put things back nicely, won’t you?’. Patronising git. (And he left the seat up, too.) (more…)

thing 30: ‘we are the wood drake’: reading together

‘… and then you’d think aha! something interesting is going to happen and then someone would mention Derrida and it would all be over…’

Thus my friend Simon, speaking about his time reading English at Oxford and the death-by-theory thing which can so often happen during formal study. I know what he means. In my very first group supervision at Cambridge we were issued copies of a poem—I have repressed the knowledge of what it was, if I ever knew—and the Director of Studies’ opening gambit (more…)

thing 29: ‘one person, and they’re talking to you’: a radio interview

A few years ago I was interviewed in a sort of rent-a-therapist slot on Radio Cumbria; they wanted someone in the biz to say something vaguely intelligent for a “dealing with difficult events” programme. Getting the phone call from some BBC gofer I’d thought it was a wind-up, but there I was, about an hour later, sitting in my study being invited to pronounce on a variety of things down the telephone—and live on air. Surreal. ‘Ah yes, (more…)

thing 28: ‘into the new place out of the blue’: a tale of two bridges

Unknown territory, of which I could definitely say there be dragons. I was going to Wales.

On my only previous visit I’d toiled up Snowdon in a whiteout (cloud, not snow), been put out to discover that some entirely able-bodied people had taken the train up (I mean, really) and then, that evening, shared with Susie a quantity of intoxicants sufficient to leave us spending what felt like hours in front of the telly, watching in a state of rapture the finest programme ever produced. When the credits rolled I don’t know if we were more disturbed to (more…)