passive-digressive

There are two kinds of people* – those who like forewords, introductions, prefaces, author’s notes, footnotes, appendices, bibliographies, notes on the text, maps etc, and those who don’t. But we’ll get back to that shortly. * there are more than two kinds of people. Possibly…

the book even of my secret soul (about books, again)

I love books. I want books. Post-Christmas I’m in the enviable position of having – not money, but in a way even better, virtual money that can only be spent on books. What I don’t have though, is a lot of space for books. So,…

2024 – welcome to the/a future(s)

  Another year – and the actual name of the year itself gets ever stranger and more unlikely and exotically futuristic, if you grew up in the era when the film 2001: A Space Odyssey was still set in the future. And here’s the annual…

jack told him about the thing – updating children’s books

  There’s a strange moment near the beginning of the 1982 Puffin Books edition of Robert Westall’s Fathom Five (1979): Dad never talked about Life and its Meanings; only fried bread and thrushes.‘What’s got you up so early?’Jack told him about the thing in the…

a portrait of the author as a young arse

      Between the ages of 19 and 21, I wrote a series of notes (the longest is about a page, so somewhere between a sketch and a mini-essay I guess) that made up a kind of summary of my worldview at the time….

church, going*

But superstition, like belief, must die, And what remains when disbelief has gone? Grass, weedy pavement, brambles, buttress, sky, A shape less recognisable each week, A purpose more obscure. Philip Larkin, Church Going (1954) Given that Christianity seemed to be – in the sense of…

cycle; woods and fields and little rivers

  With apologies to Paul Gorman, whose beautifully written accounts of bike rides partly influenced this article, although Paul actually knows about cycling and I don’t; this is essentially a surrogate fast walk. I thought I’d take to the roads early (just before 7.30 am)…

ghost cities of cyberspace

  Tell me now, I beg you, where Flora is, that fair Roman; Archippa, and Thaïs rare, Who the fairer of the twain? Echo too, whose voice each plain, River, lake and valley bore; Lovely these as springtime lane, But where are they, the snows…

inside the doll’s house

The dying man glows with sickness in his mildewy-looking bed, the light seeming to emanate from where he sits, crammed into the airless, box-like room. He signs his will while his friend looks on intently with concern and restrained grief. The artist who painted Thomas…