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…)
‘Think it possible that you may be mistaken’. This is the final sentence of number 17 of the Quaker Advices and queries (a key text in Quakerism). Is there anyone, anywhere, any time (pass the Martini!) who couldn’t benefit from sitting with that idea for a while?
Here I was, arriving from Oxford at Didcot Parkway on the way to a Quaker Enquirers’ course at the splendidly-named Charney Manor. I was emotionally exhausted after the morning’s encounter with lost youth, and physically exhausted after having a run (flatter than Kendal, but muddier also), wandering round town for miles, and lugging a large backpack whose hipbelt, I discovered too late, was no longer operational. And friends, there’s a lot of train stuff at Didcot Parkway. I mean, a LOT. What with that, and (more…)
Call me Ishmael.
Don’t worry, though. I’m not talking harpoons or shotguns here. It’s just that I do get possessed, each spring, by a need to find and gaze upon lambs—the wobblier and boing-ier the better. The obsession comes on really strong in early February and lasts till Mayish, when wild-swimming fever takes over. So there was never any question that lamb-hunting would be a Thing.
And now it’s time! It is a bright cold day in February and the flocks are dotting the green. Well-swaddled, I (more…)
In Notes from a Small island, Bill Bryson puts it like this:
‘I counted thirty-three people there ahead of us, huddled among the fog-whitened boulders with sandwiches, flasks and madly fluttering maps, and tried to imagine how I would explain this to a foreign onlooker—the idea of three dozen English people having a picnic on a mountain top in an ice storm—and realized there was no way you could explain it’. And you can see what he’s saying. However. Whether it’s Britishness, or nature, or nurture, in the end it (more…)