When I was 6 or 7, my Dad returned from a trip to Germany bringing me the most wondrous packet of felt pens I’d ever seen. They were double-ended, with a fat end for colouring large areas and a pointy end for detail. Forget previously-desirable Platignum and Pentel: in early-70s Aberdeen, this was serious Blue Petering kit. This was love.
Soon after, I announced that I wanted to be an opera singer when I grew up. Opera singers came from Germany (of course), so this would be the way (more…)
‘… 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…)
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…)
… Only this was the whirligig of space, not time. And boy, he must have been holding a serious grudge against me. His revenges were a surprise. And they went on a really long time.
I was bidden to Blackpool, accompanying Eleanor (goddaughter) and her friend, plus Jane and James—the abseil crew, minus Izzy—on a birthday trip to the water park. I’d been to one with Lem and Susie on the Ancient Mariner trip to Corfu, and again more recently, and had loved it both times. Water, sunshine, what film censors would probably call “mild peril”, and (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…)