Girl on the Tube

Having lived in Wirral and Oxford until I was 22, I'd but rarely travelled on the Tube until I started working in Upminster. Even then, I travelled mostly by bus or I walked. It took me a while to work out where the lines were connected, how to avoid the interchanges with the longest walks,…

All over the place

How are you coping? If you feel you are coping, that is? As I noted to a friend, I veer between manic activity and shameful indolence on a daily basis.  At first, upon seeing my wife spend all day seated at the dining room table in one videoconference after another, I experienced a bout of…

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.…

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…

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…

The Scholar and the Red Dragon

I've been at it again, No, really. 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, for your unfailing support). But... Having finally…

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…

Ageing rocker

I'd had enough of working for a living, at least for a while, so I moved back to Oxford to be with my girlfriend Hilary. I joined Bernard's band, together with my old schoolmate Andrew, our fellow housemate Wiff, and a young classically-trained drummer from New College called Paul. We added a female singer, a…