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…)
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…)
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…)
‘D’you fancy going to a theatre organ recital?’
Not the first thing I thought of, or even the fifteenth, when I asked Richard what he’d like to do on his birthday. Still, it was his birthday, so it was up to him. Besides, I thought, trying to open my mind just a teeny crack, it might be interesting. I didn’t actually know what a theatre organ was, really, and had I made the connection between those words and ‘Mighty Wurlitzer’ I might have got my mind ajar more quickly. As it was, I was thinking about Sale of the Century (“And tonight’s prizes include (more…)
Yes, I know it means dead in Godfather-speak. But it’s what makes snorkelling different from swimming: that you can see you’re swimming with the fishes. So I’m going to call thing 25 that anyway.
Crete, early September. Still around 30 degrees; sea deliciously warm, sky a cloudless forget-me-not blue. We’re towards the end of a two-week stay and unfortunately, because of some health problems (which aren’t mine and must therefore remain private) quite a lot of it has been pretty bad—a debilitating medley of stress, heartbreak, fury, frustration, exhaustion, helplessness… It’s all gone on for years and most of the time I just get my phlegm on, so to speak, and “deal”, but lately I seem to be finding it harder to do so—or perhaps am less willing. Here I am in a lovely place, on holiday and in sore need of relaxation and refreshment. Instead I find myself howling tears of desperation in the middle of tourist-crowded street while people try to sell me lunch, leather goods and windchimes made of shells. More Mike Leigh than Francis Ford Coppola (and (more…)