Wednesday, 30 December 2015

grafton lock to kelmscott, exhilarating, storm frank, pillboxes, pastoral scene, log fire...


An exhilarating but exhausting walk from Grafton Lock to Kelmscott and beyond. Storm Frank was gusty to begin with then torrential on the way back. Though nothing as bad here as in the North of England and in Scotland.

Along the Thames hereabouts there are many pillboxes that would have been a defence against an invading army during the Second World War. This afternoon, thankfully, as ever they were, the scenes from them are pastoral.

Now sitting in front of a log fire - though with twinges from stiffening joints...

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

refreshing walk round barrington park yesterday, spring-like morning today, corridors of power by cp snow, then and now...





A refreshing walk yesterday round the Barrington Park estate, beginning and ending at the Fox.

A walk last done on 4th September, when we had a week or so off. I love joining the old drove road which runs north-south from Great Rissington to Great Barrington and which makes you think that you are back in pre-motor car times.

Today, I'm catching up on some work, including research. Started the day with a cycle ride - the first in a while. A beautiful, almost spring-like morning. Certainly scarily spring-like when I came across daffodils out at Black Bourton and cherry blossom at Kencot.

Christmas holiday reading includes Corridors of Power by CP Snow. I've not read him before although I remember masters being keen on him when I was at prep-school. He never interested me then. Now, though, when looking through our bookshelves, it somehow seemed like the right moment to try him. Perhaps it was the appeal of reading something that was set in the years when my parents met and married (the novel spans 1955-58). A wish to be transported back to an era I just about remember.

An era that is not much different to our own, in terms of the political class, according to an article in the Times on tomorrow's new year honours list, which begins:

'Nearly half of the recipients of knighthoods and above in 2015 attended public school, according to an investigation on the eve of publication of the new year list.

'The figure - 46 per cent - has hardly changed since 1955, when it was 50 per cent, yet only 6.5 per cent of the population goes to private school.'

I don't know much about politics but there does seem an uncanny resemblance between the world of the book and now.

Friday, 25 December 2015

veg, logs, happy christmas!!









The veg for Christmas dinner - looking serene if nobbly (the Oxford clay is pretty impenetrable!). The calmness of the photo belies the mad storm that was raging when it was taken!

After the allotment it was the Christmas log delivery - log deliveries involve Frank bringing the barrows round from the road and me taking them up the long garden to the old privy that serves as a log shed. We have our barrow and Frank brings his. This partnership has been going since 2001, with four-to-five deliveries a winter. The deliveries are one of the fundamental calendars of the winter.

The veg above join the potato - well one or two more than one, although the spud harvest was terrible this year - and the onions.

Happy Christmas!!

Saturday, 19 December 2015

brian nisbet 1959-2015: now you know chosen as one of ron butlin's books of the year


Well, the days don't get any cooler just now. Nor lighter.

Even so, a surprisingly vibrant and energising walk was had early today.

The photo above shows bare oaks along Hayway Lane against eastern skies at sunrise. Oaks are rare around Bampton itself but there are some along the lane towards the Thames.

I was so pleased to hear that the poetry collection Now You Know by the late Brian Nisbet, a former student on Oxford's Undergraduate Diploma in Creative Writing, was chosen as one of Ron Butlin's books of the year (list published in Scotland's The Herald newspaper, 30th November 2015).

You can find out more about Brian's beautiful book and read some of his poems on his website.

As readers of jtns may remember, I went to the launch of Brian's book back in April. It was a wonderful event. Ron Butlin's recognition of Brian's work is a fitting tribute to his great talent, as well as to his great humanity.

Brian's obituary was published in the Guardian on 14th August, written by Mary-Lucille Hindmarch.

Of Brian's book, Ron Butlin writes: 'One of this year’s most enjoyable poetry collections comes from Brian Nisbet (Nisbet Publications), a true poet whose poems glow with genuine wonder and joy. Now You Know is a marvellous collection I will return to again and again.'

Thursday, 17 December 2015

blur, beautiful yorkshire, hot, fungi, wild angelica, lecture room 7, facing the strange, edward thomas's birds' nests







Scenes from the last couple of difficult weeks that have passed in a blur.

Mum's funeral was in Yorkshire where Dad is buried. It was a bright sunny afternoon and the countryside surrounding the churchyard was as beautiful as it ever was.

The support of family and close friends was so very much appreciated.

Around Oxford, the days have mostly been lightless but hot. Fifteen or even seventeen degrees. A boon for fungi - and it seems, wild angelica.

The lost glove looks jollier than I must have done recently.

Amidst the sadness, though, there have been good times. I loved working with the undergraduate students during my seminar series, which finished last week. I first started teaching it in Lecture Room 7 in 2007. The door isn't exactly Brideshead, perhaps, but it's mine - at least for two and a half hours a week for five weeks as autumn gives way to winter.

I also finished copy editing what we're calling the uncorrected proof edition of Facing the Strange at the weekend, and the printed proof arrived today. Although an advocate of ebooks, you can't beat a real book!

At Mum's funeral I read Edward Thomas's poem Birds' Nests:

The summer nests uncovered by autumn wind,
Some torn, others dislodged, all dark,
Everyone sees them: low or high in tree,
Or hedge, or single bush, they hang like a mark.

Since there's no need of eyes to see them with
I cannot help a little shame
That I missed most, even at eye's level, till
The leaves blew off and made the seeing no game.

'Tis a light pang. I like to see the nests
Still in their places, now first known,
At home and by far roads. Boys knew them not,
Whatever jays and squirrels may have done.

And most I like the winter nests deep-hid
That leaves and berries fell into:
Once a dormouse dined there on hazel-nuts,
And grass and goose-grass seeds found soil and grew.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

a week, the profound beauty of human kindness, the gatehouse literary forum, lac 50th on iguanalista, open data: the golden age of discovery


It has been, I should say, a shocking week.

Yet it has also been, as every week is, no matter how bad, a week of beauty. Of beautiful nature and the profound beauty of human kindness.

--

Meantime, here is a really interesting new site, which is edited by a graduate of the Oxford MSt in Creative Writing. It's called The Gatehouse Literary Forum Oxford. The About us section explains:

'The Gatehouse Literary Forum publishes works by guests of the Gatehouse drop-in centre in Oxford, England. These include personal essays, short stories and poems. Some pieces are partially inspired by writing prompts provided at the drop-in centre on Literacy Fridays. Others are developed by the guests in their own time.

'The purpose of this website is to provide a forum for expression and to highlight one critical point: no one can be defined solely by how they appear, how they speak, where they’re from, nor by their current living situation. We are all far more complex than any one statement could possibly convey.'

Also, some pieces I wrote on the Latin American Centre's 50th anniversary have just been published on América Latina Portal Europeo's Iguanalista blog: Oxford University Latin American Centre's 50th anniversary and Bodleian Latin American Centre Library 40th.

Yesterday, I attended the Research Data Management Delivery Group communications workshop - a great event. By the by, there's an excellent Oxford University podcast on Open Data: Open Data - the Golden Age of Discovery. Well worth checking out!

Saturday, 28 November 2015

lyme regis, branscombe, dearest friends



Met up with friends in Lyme Regis yesterday and had an excellent lunch at the Volunteer - a wonderfully old-fashioned pub.

Stayed at another gem of a pub, the Masons Arms at Branscombe. Delicious, almost apricoty Summa That from the Branscombe Vale Brewery.

We'd arranged this meet up months ago and it came at the right time - giving a cheering and warm-hearted end to what has been a difficult unhappy week.

It was lovely to catch up with our dearest friends.

I know that part of the West Country hardly at all - we visited Lyme last in 1986 - and it was great to explore it a little.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

mum



Worked in Oxford yesterday at the Taylor.

When I was out getting in the bird feeders to fill them at 5.15 yesterday morning, it was beginning to snow but it soon passed. Hungry birds, though, this year. Not many berries on the trees - at least in west Oxfordshire.

I got off the bus at First Turn and did the Wolvercote, Godstow, Thames path, Binsey walk into town and had one of those amazingly powerful set-you-up-for-the-day Americanos that they serve at
Maison Blanc before going to work.

An extraordinary morning of gloom, bright sunshine and almost sepia Tim Buton horror landscapes.

Met someone in Maison Blanc who I have bumped into only once since days at the Red Lion, Steeple Aston around 1984. Lovely to see you again, James.

This has been a week - since Wednesday, at least. Since the policeman came to the door. I never saw this coming. He told me that my Mum had died. She had collapsed in the street and could not be revived. I imagine her getting up that morning and going about her day, then setting off for the shops. I am pleased that she didn't suffer and enjoyed good health till the last.

Our relationship hadn't been easy during the nineties and the early years of this century but over the last couple of years I think she was happier than she had been for many decades and we'd had some lovely chats about the old days and the happiest times we'd shared.

And however difficult the journey, you can't sever that special bond that you have with your mum. Well, I might have thought that it had been severed at some time in my life but now the end has come I know it hadn't been. I remember as a kid performing magic tricks in front of my parents - and the dogs (though I don't think they were concentrating quite as hard as they might). I had one of those packs of cards that you flick in a certain way and it is just normal, with all the suits and values, but flick it a different way and all the cards are the ace of spades. It's easy to look back at the difficulties but there were downs and ups, and I owe so much to Mum for the ups.

I think that although it didn't seem like it at the time, getting a lot of difficult subjects out into the open some time ago was a good thing. It left us with a lot of knowledge of one another and few illusions and in these last years there were times of ease and happiness that set the world to rights.

She was a woman one could never forget. She can not but live on in the memories of those that knew her.

I have tried to keep working as much as possible since she died to try and stop myself thinking about what has happened - though the feelings come at you in waves anyway.

When I got to Binsey and Bossoms boat yard this morning, the wind was making the cords tap against the masts of the dinghies. I recorded the sounds - somewhat blowy but here they are, for better or for worse.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

philadelphus in flower!, conspiracism, arvon courses


Having written about the inexorable creep of winter yesterday, today I noticed that the philadelphus is in flower in our garden. Six months early...

Read a rather fascinating book review in the Sunday Times earlier about conspiracism. The book is called Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories (Bloomsbury Sigma) and is written by academic psychologist Rob Brotherton.

The concluding sentences of the review give a flavour of the whole:

'He does admit that conspiracism is more common among people less satisfied with life, or those who feel they have less control over it. And he does regret that “you can’t win when you’re fighting a conspiracy that doesn’t exist”.

'As for fighting conspiracism in ourselves, we can try to compensate for our brain’s reflexes with evidence and reason, but we are unlikely to win. If three people were on a desert island, Brotherton says, it wouldn’t be long before each was “wondering if the other two were up to something behind their back”.' Review by James McConnachie.

Just been thumbing through the Arvon creative writing courses book for 2016. I went on an Arvon course in 2002 at Totleigh Barton in Devon with David Flusfeder and Louisa Young as tutors and Patrick Gale as guest author. It was a magical, enriching experience. You can find out about the courses on the Arvon website too.
--
About justthoughtsnstuff

Saturday, 14 November 2015

winter, not-quite and on tip-toe, vibrancy, meeting the new students


How stealthily relentless the winter is. The rains haven't been especially heavy and winds have rarely been fierce, despite recent warnings - at least not in west Oxfordshire.

Yet leaves cannot but fall, many trees are all but bare, garden and allotment die back and the ground is not far off being saturated. A long not-quite winter that gets closer on tip-toe.

The absence of heat from a strong sun and the shortening days mean the land can't resist the progress of the season.

Week by week the difference just a few days make is astonishingly, and unnervingly clear as I cycle through the countryside.

Still, there is vibrancy and beauty amongst the drabness.

Meantime, it was great to meet the new students on Thursday night.
--
About justthoughtsnstuff

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

ash and sycamore, chats, felting repairs, celebration of the life of john bayley, 8th seminar series, bodleian's 12 millionth book, songs of data


It was great to see Frank again on Sunday when he delivered the first load of logs of the season. We have a good system - he unloads a barrowful as I trundle another up the long garden path to the old privy that serves as the woodshed. As we swap full and empty barrows we chat. Four or five deliveries a season, this the fifteenth season. A lot of logs, a lot of chat.

This time the logs were mostly ash and sycamore. The former logs being denser and longer-burning. Amazing the difference in texture and weight.

Some harvesting on the allotment - and some repairs to the felting on the shed roof, after the Saturday gales - but no digging. The rains of last week have saturated the Oxford clay and made it horribly sticky and unworkable. Fortunately, there are only one or two tiny pieces that still need attention and most is ready for the winter,

Yesterday I went to the celebration of the life of John Bayley at St Catherine's College. It was a very genial, warm and nicely humorous event with reminiscences from nine friends from different walks of John's life, including the chef Rick Stein who was a student at New College and was taught by John. Richard Eyre, who made the film of John and Iris, spoke in a pre-recorded video. John Fuller read his witty poem of glimpses of John's life, Haiku for John Bayley (actually a series of stanzas in free Haiku form). Katherine Duncan-Jones gave a lovely account of being interviewed by John for admission to Oxford. The event concluded with an extract taken from John in conversation with Anthony Clare on In the Psychiatrist's Chair.

It was wonderful to be there with people that knew and loved John. As I said in my post, written shortly after he died, 'Thank you, John. Thank you so very much.'

On Thursday, I begin my long fiction seminar series for the Undergraduate Diploma in Creative Writing. The eighth time I have done this. The time has passed so swiftly. Very much looking forward to meeting this year's students.

Exciting to discover the title of the Bodleian's 12 millionth book!

Signed up for, Songs of data: an introduction to sonification by Iain Emsley at the Centre for Digital Scholarship, Weston Library, Friday 20th November.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

such a warm day!, bronzed and coppered and yellow leaf-fall, i am the man who lives in a shoe, decades, narrative, ux, ugdip




Such a warm day! We sat out at the pub as if it was summer and I dug the allotment in a T-shirt.

Strange to be cycling through an autumn landscape with bronzed and coppered and yellowed leaf-fall in such weather. Part of you wonders if the sights you are seeing can quite be right.

Revisited my life-writing book, I Am the Man Who Lives in a Shoe (formerly, Trust: A family story), this week. The text was 'finished' a while back but inevitably time means that one sees it in a different light and there are things to change and strengthen, not least as far as the typesetting is concerned. I think that after this week's work it is substantially there now. It is in a fit state to run past people in the professional writing world to get feedback.

It's been curious to re-read it this week. Partly because the reading of it creates connections in one's mind and reveals new insights into the events of the last three decades or so. Partly because one watches the players in this sad drama and wishes so much that one could intervene and stop them from damaging themselves so deeply.

It was interesting to read an excellent article on life-writing narratives, focusing on Doris Lessing and Alison Bechdel, in the excellent Narrative magazine - October issue (available to University readers via OxLIP+).

Fascinating day at Imperial College mid-week learning about Ux (User Experience) surveys.

Preparing for my Undergrad Diploma in Creative Writing seminars - a course I have been teaching since 2007. Very much looking forward to meeting the students week after next.

Monday, 26 October 2015

last runners, other harvests



Last runner beans and other harvests.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

marking finished, rare weekend, digging, final final harvest?!, loved the visualization intro!


Finished finals marking on Thursday and so have a rare weekend of just doing not too much before I start on preparations for a seminar series and some publishing-related work.

Went up to the allotment at first light. There looked to have been some rain in the night but the ground was OK to dig. Did an hour and a half before the heavy rains came.

It's still so warm, though! I noticed there were runners to pick. Tomorrow must be the final harvest, mustn't it! The day the clocks go back. An extraordinary autumn.

Loved Alfie Abdul-Rahman's intro to visualization at the Bodleian Centre for Digital Scholarship on Thursady - see last week's post!

Sunday, 18 October 2015

library, last of the runner beans?, log fires, marking, introduction to visualization in digital scholarship





As I tweeted, yesterday I worked at the library and had a lovely walk into town along the Oxford canal beforehand.

Today I went to the allotment early to do some digging and tidying. Also harvested what really must be the last runner beans. They have done wonderfully well this year - amazing to think that there still haven't been any frosts. At least in west Oxfordshire.

Nevertheless, we have at last started having log fires, though we haven't yet turned on the central heating.

Over the past ten days a fair amount of time has been taken up by finals marking. Not long to go now, however.

Looking forward to attending Alfie Abdul-Rahman's talk at the Weston Library's Centre for Digital Scholarship on Thursday: Introduction to Visualization in Digital Scholarship.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

rising sun, leaves turning, last apple, first fire - not, ipm, digital bodleian


Gorgeous, rich, egg-yolk rising sun - seen from Cowleaze Corner this morning.

A few days ago it was difficult to spot the autumn in the trees but today leaves are turning or rippling and spinning from their twigs.

Yet still strangely warm. Haven't had that first fire, though at the beginning of September the temperature dropping at nights made me think it wouldn't be far off.

Before I went cycling, and while sipping tea and munching on the last apple from our first tiny harvest - oh and going through email (it is the start of term and there's masses of it) - there was a fascinating interview on iPM with a man from north Oxfordshire who traced his GI father and warm-hearted step family decades after the end of the Second World War. Well worth a listen!

Also, well worth exploring is the Digital Bodleian website, recently launched!

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

somerset, three horse shoes batcombe - good as ever, autumn colour, library tours



Lovely break in Somerset, staying at the Three Horse Shoes at Batcombe, As good as ever.

Beautifully sunny on the first day but wet on the second. Terrific walks both days, though.

Trees not turning as fast as they are in west Oxfordshire but there was some vivid autumn colour.

Tomorrow the library tours for freshers begin.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

last summer harvest?, winter veg, oxford noughth week, mst residence


This is probably our last harvest of summer vegetables. The runner beans and the many varieties of Italian courgette are pretty much over now.

Still, there are carrots to come, beetroots and parsnips, spinach and some late-sown winter radishes and salads, and spuds and shallots and onions in the shed.

A beautiful mellow morning spent on the allotment. A haven before Oxford Noughth Week and the arrival of the students.

Loved the MSt Residence earlier this week.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

chilly, mist over the thames valley, hounds and horn, mst residence, department for continuing education open days, doing the police in different voices...





Cold start - probably just above freezing, according to the forecast. Certainly felt like it! Shock!

The landscape was autumnal - leaves turning, tilled fields and mist over the Thames Valley, towards the Berkshire Downs.

Along Calcroft Lane, four-wheel drives were parked up, their occupants on the edge of the fields staring towards the far-off woods. In the distance as I cycled on came the sound of hounds and a hunting horn.

I've never been hunting, although members of my family are keen, and for anyone like me who grew up on a farm in hunting country, the sound of hounds and horn in the distance on a chilly clear-lit morning can't help but stir memories of far-off days.

Tomorrow and early next week, it's the MSt in Creative Writing residence. Looking forward to starting the year's work in earnest with the students I'm supervising.

Yesterday I did a creative writing event at the first of two open days being held by the Department for Continuing Education. The group was terrific and I loved working with them - hope they enjoyed it as much as me! For those living in or around Oxford, there are still some places available at today's events:

https://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/students/openday/index.php.

My event - called, I think, a 'taster session' in official terms - was called Doing the police in different voices and had the following blurb:

'Why is voice so important in fiction? In this hands-on creative writing workshop we will first look at an extract from a novel that uses voice in an entertainingly compelling way before trying this technique for ourselves in a writing exercise. We will then examine a further extract that helps us to explore the relationships between voice, character and the shape of fiction. We will conclude by glancing at a page from an experimental novel, watching a short video and writing a second exercise that brings what we have learnt together. Please note: this workshop lasts one-and-a-half hours and participants should come prepared to discuss, to write and possibly to read out the work they produce during the session.'

So, where does the original line that the event's title makes use of come from - and for bonus points, who thought of making use of it for the title of a later work?

Saturday, 19 September 2015

misty start, bright colours in j's early-autumn garden, latin american gems


Misty start today. Loved how bright it made the colours look in J's early-autumn garden.

I thought the mist would soon clear but it lingered well after I got back from cycling. Should be a summer-like afternoon, though, they say.

Last night I chaired the first event of the Latin American Centre's 50th anniversary weekend: Latin American Gems in the Bodleian Collection: Ancient Mesoamerican Manuscripts.

Fascinating talks from all the speakers - Virginia Lladó-Buisán, Head of Conservation and Collection Care at the Bodleian Libraries, Professor Maarten Jansen and Mrs Gabina Aurora Pérez from Leiden University and Dr Halbert Jones who runs the North American Programme at St Antony’s College.

There will be a podcast of the event available at some point and I'll post the link on jtns.

Professor Jansen's talk focused on the magnificent Selden Roll, which is on display in the Bodleian Proscholium till 1st November. The exhibition can be viewed during library hours and is free.

Here is my intro to the event:

It is a great honour to be chairing this event at the start of the weekend’s celebrations of the Latin American Centre’s 50th anniversary.

Indeed this is a year of double celebration at the Centre because the Bodleian Latin American Centre Library is itself 40 years old.

What started as a few shelves of books has grown into a 16,000 volume specialist politics and economics collection, which includes a substantial history section. In addition, there are some 200 boxes of what is euphemistically called 'grey' literature. Nothing grey about this literature.

The boxes contain fascinating donations from the region which have been made over the years by visiting scholars, by students returning from field trips and, most importantly, by our alumni.

It is fitting in this celebratory year that the contents of these boxes, arranged by country, have successfully been added to the University library catalogue, thanks to the hard work over a number of years of my colleagues Rebeca Otazua and Sam Truman.

I should, I think, put my role at the Centre’s library in context. I have been there for just over a 10th of the Centre’s existence. I am enduringly grateful to the work of my predecessors Ruth Hodges and Laura Salinas who managed the library for many years and who gave so much valuable advice to me about the collections.

When I arrived at the Centre I was immediately struck by the warm and inclusive welcome from my new colleagues, both administrative and academic. It is the warmth of the family atmosphere at the Centre that is one of its most engaging strengths - and it is one that, talking to alumni, has been there since the early days, making the Centre such a supportive and positive place to teach and study, and indeed, to be a librarian.

Students at the Centre, however, have not simply our collections at their disposal. They have the immense opportunity of deepening their understanding of the subject area by consulting the wider collections of the Bodleian library and the other libraries within its group. Over the last four years or so I and my colleague at the Taylor Joanne Edwards have tried hard to promote this wide-ranging and very widespread broader collection and to point students in its many directions.

At the heart of these broader collections are the historic texts that the Bodleian has been collecting - well, since the 17th century, as it happens. It was these books that now Emeritus Fellow of the Centre Malcolm Deas and the late Robert McNeil of the Bodleian - a great Latin Americanist - did so much to draw scholars’ attention to.

At the apex of these historic books, of course, are the Gems that we are here to learn about this afternoon.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

passing rain, new academic year, windows 10 ups and downs, alan and charlotte




Some rain when I was cycling this morning but it soon passed. Quite warm and humid, though.

Oh what fun it is to play with the Blackberry editing app.

It was back to work mid-week, feeling refreshed. I started my holiday at the tail end of the old academic year and returned at the very start of the new one. Such a different atmosphere in Oxford both times. Such a different feeling psychologically too.

During the holiday I upgraded my laptop from Windows 8.1 to 10. Having a few compatibility issues - for example the only browser that seems to work with Blogger software is Firefox, although even it likes to put masses of extra spaces in between photos and text, which have to be removed manually. Again Firefox is the only browser that actually lets you attach things to emails in the university webmail client. Still, quite like Edge and Cortana - though when it (s/he?) asks what you would like 'me' to call you, that's a bit spooky!

A highlight of the holiday was having Alan and Charlotte over for a lovely lunch at the top of the garden. Alan was at school with Dad. Wonderful afternoon!

We were lucky with the South-of-France weather that day - waking up the next it was dark-grey-bleak. Very changeable just now.

Friday, 4 September 2015

windows 10, timber, spindle, never mind by edward st aubyn, sublime, potato harvest


Taking a few days off, as mentioned last time. Also getting used to Windows 10 - pretty good, though not a seamless transition, I would say!

A wonderful walk round the Great Barrington estate yesterday - passed a stand of timber that was being thinned. A lovely walk from Bampton this morning. Spindle everywhere is looking magnificent - this photo taken in the Bampton Millennium Wood.

Reading Never Mind by Edward St Aubyn. An object lesson for creative writers of how to make the supposedly obsolete omniscient narrator technique work, switching from perspective to perspective in the third person within scenes.

A Keble alum too.

Wonderful lines abound. For example: 'He had watched his father's eyes behind their dark glasses. They moved from object to object and person to person, pausing for a moment on each and seeming to steal something vital from them, with a quick adhesive glance, like the flickering of a gecko's tongue.' See post of Monday 3rd March 2014 for link to podcast of Oxford Centre for Life-Writing interview with Teddy St Aubyn plus link to post about that interview.

The people in the novel are often monsters but the writing is sublime.

Tomorrow the allotment - tidying and the potato harvest. Overwhelmed by runner beans.