The Little Escape

We finally made our way out of London on Bank Holiday Monday (how can you tell during a lockdown?) and drove south for an hour or so into Kent past Churchill's house, Chartwell. It was the first time either of us had ventured more than four miles from home for 10 weeks. It felt odd…

The Old Elm Tree

Antonio Machado (1875-1939) is one of Spain’s greatest poets. Not as famous 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, 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…

Musings on retirement

As mentioned in a previous post, I joined the British Library in January 1986 and left in March 2015, retiring at the age of 60. So that's more four and half years ago (I haven't lost my razor sharp brain) and it won't be long until I am 65. I have restrained myself from writing about…

Keep on strumming

I am an enthusiastic, if very limited, musician. I don't even think of myself as a musician - and neither does anyone else! I've never been able to read music properly, I've never had a lesson and I am certainly no virtuoso on any instrument. But music means a lot to me, and not just…

La Brexoire

I didn't post in August - not once. Not because I am dead, or anything like that, but because I and my blog were on holiday in France (La Bréchoire, Charente) for the whole month... the whole blessed month! I was so busy doing nothing that I lost the will to blog. Once you stop…

So… back in August 1990

Anne and I were in France. It was the first time I'd been on holiday in France (apart from a week in Montmartre, 12 years earlier, dossing down in a friend's garret) although I was 35! Put that down to all those years studying Spanish and Portuguese. We were on our honeymoon (aw!) in Brittany.…

My friend Eric

I was delighted to see my old friend Eric last weekend. Eric and I grew up on the same street in Upton - where my parents still live. But we had not seen each other for more than 40 years. Whereas he went to Liverpool University to study law and still lives in Wirral, I…

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…

Moscow in the dark

October 1979: I was still, or again, (depending on which way you looked at it) studying at The Queen's College Oxford. The college offered me the exalted and ridiculous-sounding position of Vir Probatus (Junior Dean) if I abandoned the slum that was 41 Bullingdon Road and moved into James Stirling's (in)famous Florey Building on St…