The Old Elm Tree

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

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…

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…

Second chance

How often do you fail at something important, and get a second chance? As previously recounted in Useless Information, when I was a postgrad at Queen’s, back in 1983, I was picked for the University Challenge team. I've always been a fan of the show and I was fortunate to (still) be at college when…

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…