Figs and cyclists

All I wanted was figs.  So I cycled to the market – a twenty-minute bike ride that culminates in the heart of Cambridge, where all (or no) traffic rules apply.  (When I drive my car, cyclists teem out of every street corner. Unpredictable and quick like bats and birds, they dart and swoop, and at … More Figs and cyclists

Extreme listening

The first thing anyone said to me one morning recently was: “He never listens to a word I say.”

‘He’ was the speaker’s dog. The speaker was a young woman, instructing her dog to cross the road, but he was too busy sitting on the pavement watching the world go by. The young woman had headphones on, and I wondered if the dog was trying to make a point. … More Extreme listening

12th May

A year ago, I wrote that the curators of the Mass Observation Archive were making their annual appeal for our 12th May diaries. Here we are again, twelve long yet quick months later, and the Project is keen to know how we have fared. Its aim remains to collect glimpses of our lives on one … More 12th May

Memories and Daffodils

(A short walk through a Sevenoaks churchyard) Hestor was a wife. She was remembered with love by her husband, after she died in 1802. Her gravestone still stands and her name is still legible, despite the threat of a colony of white spots. Other names are invisible, swept away by the elements. Or have dates … More Memories and Daffodils

(Bewitched by) Nuns

Perhaps it started with Sister Laurie at St Joseph’s School in North Battleford, right in the middle of the Canadian prairies.  Sister Laurie was petite and neat and the gentlest soul. When I was six and the new girl from the Old World, she was my teacher. She welcomed me into her classroom and nobody … More (Bewitched by) Nuns

Meeting Strangers

The doorbell rings and there’s a stampede on the stairs: “I’LL GET IT!” Whose face will it be – the face of a stranger or a face we know and love well? It’s the postman (a new face), standing in the rain. From beneath the brim of his dripping hat, he looks at us with … More Meeting Strangers

Coffee Strength

My son offered me a coffee this morning; he likes to make it strong. I accepted, knowing what I might be letting myself in for. Half-way down my mugful, I realised that it was stronger than strong. I carried on drinking, wondering if this was a sensible thing to do. I drank down to the … More Coffee Strength

Luck Under the Bridge

I was brought up to be superstitious. I was also taught not to believe everything I was taught, which leaves me in the fortunate position of being able to pick and choose my charms. Such as blowing an eyelash and making a wish, or seeing the joy in two magpies. However, leaving a dropped knife … More Luck Under the Bridge