The Old Elm Tree

Antonio Machado (1875-1939) is one of Spain’s greatest poets. Not as famous internationally as his younger and more flamboyant contemporary Federico García Lorca, his (later) work owes little to the startling, often violent imagery we associate with Lorca and more to a calm contemplation of nature that goes back, via Wordsworth, to Virgil, Theocritus. Etc,…

Keeping your pecker up

It’s a fortnight since I wrote my last blog on - you guessed it - Coronavirus, which certain persons close to home suggested was alarmist, depressing, over-reactive etc. But it wasn’t hard to guess that where Italy led we would follow - even if we are a few paces behind. If I sound like a…

Avoid it like the plague

Last week I visited Arrowe Park Hospital (A.K.A. Coronavirus Central) with my father, who'd been sent for an X-ray. Our visit was enlivened by the sighting of a rat making its way swiftly and confidently along the corridor. Eventually the poor wee thing was cornered and forced to surrender to overwhelming force, i.e. a woman…

Inside Story

Memories of 1980s Oxford, for the second time this month. In the same week in which I received an invitation to the Osma Centenary Symposium, Andrew informed me that he'd turned up a cassette tape from 1982 while looking (inevitably) for something else. He digitised it and emailed the tracks to Bernard and me. The…

Osma Centenary Symposium

Symposium, amongst other things, can mean "a one-day conference". Who knew? (Not Plato - or me.) Last week I was invited to a symposium at Oxford's Bodleian Library. A year ago I blogged about my trip to Madrid at Easter 1980 when I was 25 years old. This memorable experience was made possible by the…

Wirral we go?

Regular readers (both of you) know that I come back to visit The Wirral, or just "Wirral", as some prefer, most months of the year. This is where I went to school, and where my parents still live. I sleep in the same room I slept in when I was six. Space is the depository…

May we prosper in 2020

I have been flying under the radar since I last posted (before Christmas). If that seems a long time ago, it's probably because it is. And starting a new year turns the previous year into ancient history. You buy a new calendar and throw the old one away. On the whole I was glad to…

The Brexit-Bar

I've had the flu this week (if this is just the masculine version, God help women) so I am not in a musing frame of mind. Methodist Church Hall, Herne Hill Like you, perhaps, I always think the latest General Election is the worst ever - in terms of candidates, shenanigans and dumbing down -…