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SUMMER READING

WHAT TO READ THIS SUMMER …? So that’s it – at last the final lesson has been taught and timetables discarded for the forseeable future and it is time to prepare for a couple of months of freedom – and as we claw back a lot of our sorely lost freedoms this summer it seems...

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ANCESTORS & ANTECEDENTS – real & imagined

Recent lockdowns have led many people to turn against the present to find relief in the past. Our personal pasts, that is. Knowledge of grandparents is usually sound, but trawling back further can be fascinating – for acquiring a bit of family history as well as learning a little about domestic and social history. What...

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Novel Memories and Moments

I am taking you back to the month of May 1991. No doubt unless you experienced something significant in that month 30 years ago you won’t have a particularly strong memory of it. But I have.  And do you know what? The weather in May 1991 was terrible. Cold, wet, unseasonal. (which is a foolish...

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SPRING IS LIKE …

A perhaps hand – or so ee cummings said in his poem – he of the absence of capital letters and punctuation school of thought. And this year, this particular spring, his poem seems more pertinent than ever before. We seem to have lived with Perhaps for the past 12 months, after all. Perhaps we’ll...

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MOTHERS IN LITERATURE

When you start thinking about it, there are an awful lot of absent mothers in literature. So many heroines in classic novels seem to be without a mother which is not surprising given the mortality rate during childbirth in the 19th century. Let alone the lack of prenatal and antenatal care around in the days...

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Words – Words – Words …

They betray us, words. Our vocabulary and daily usage hooks us inevitably to an age and an era. Just as our understanding of phrases and even the function of objects are escapable giveaways of the decade into which we were born. There’s a kind of social history attached to words that we are not particularly...

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Lockdowns without Letters …

It would have seemed unimaginable to previous generations. This past twelve months or so have, after all, deprived us of much, but gifted us – or some of us – chunks of time that are elusive in the normal scheme of things. And people have been responding. Homemade bread has evidently become ‘a thing’ with...

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How Fictional Can Fiction Be?

I am not by nature a particular, precise sort of person. Indeed, quite the opposite. Give me a recipe that requires 10 different ingredients and I’ll probably substitute half of them for whatever is handily in the cupboard and proceed to ignore the prescriptive method to go my own way. I am hopeless at following...

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Those Were The Days My Friend …

Groping my way in the darkness towards the alarm this morning, sliding into the shower vaguely conscious and casually cladding myself in garments that mean I appear at least somewhat respectable from the waist up to my online students, I remember other January mornings of other Spring terms – and however undesirable our particular current...

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My Unwritten Retrospective Diary of 2020 …

I don’t write a diary. It seems to me that if life is going spectacularly well, there is no time nor point in transcribing that happiness to paper. And if life is bleak – well, who wants to squander time in morose self-obsession that, read later, will seem simply that. So no diary for 2020....

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