Arriving in León

Spain in 1975 was very different from England and quite different from what it has become today. I felt it, as much as saw it, as soon as I got off the plane. Of course it was hot and dusty. Policemen carried machine-guns, and there seemed to be a lot of them about. There were…

Portuguese Wrestling

I was all ready to start at Queen's College to read Modern Languages. The only problem was, I wasn't. I was to be billeted in the famous Florey Building Wasn't at all ready, that is. I'd done Spanish at A Level, but I needed a second tongue to go with it. I could not bear…

What’s for Tea?

We sat at long tables, arranged by house. The housemaster sat at the head of the table, with the senior boys around him. They dished out bangers, mash and beans, or connective-tissue stew with colourless cabbage and crumbly over-boiled spuds. Or mince, or generic white fish in white gunge with tasteless white mash and cabbage…

Association with Football

Grampa Hugh Wight was always smiling. I have a photo of him as a goalkeeper with his local amateur team, in the ubiquitous jersey and cap. My grandparents lived in King’s Park, Glasgow, less than a mile from Hampden Park, where cup finals and international fixtures were held. At one time it was the biggest…

Surabaya Johnny

In 1961, at the age of six, I was introduced to the English school system for the first time. No-one in our family had ever lived in England before. I had a generally happy time at Overchurch, a popular and forward-looking state primary around the corner from where we lived in Upton. My new classmates…

Useless Information

When I was 10, my father's cousin (more like an uncle to me, as they'd both been brought up by my grandmother in Glasgow) became engaged to an English girl, a bold deed previously unheard of within our family. The wedding was to take place in Hemel Hempstead on 31 July 1965. As it was…

Je ne regrette rien

That Anne and I have had a holiday home in Charente for nearly 20 years is no secret. It is a source of constant, ineffable smugness. I wonder if we would have had the guts to do it today. With Brexit looming (I have avoided mentioning it in this blog until now), we would almost…

The Scholar and the Red Dragon

I've been at it again, No, really. Mrs CW doing a bit of raking I've been too busy sunning myself in France - and watching Anne slaving away in the garden - to have a well-considered, witty little blog to hand for the edification and entertainment of my readers (and thanks to both of you,…

Don Javier Marías Franco

Easter 1980: having been awarded the lucrative De Osma Studentship, I was obliged to spend at least six weeks in Madrid on a study trip. Not that I was exactly complaining. I immediately spent most of the money on a Shergold double-neck, as you would. Another of my fellow sufferers in the Florey Building was…

Now I’m 64

“What popular song includes the following in its lyric: losing my hair, Valentine, birthday greetings, bottle of wine, 64 and Wight?” If you don’t know the answer, there’s really no hope for you. Would you Adam and Eve it? That day, for me, has finally dawned. Once you're south of 25 it becomes difficult to…