Miracles and games

Some hours ago I went for a walk. I put on a podcast about pilgrimage (a subject pertinent to the project I was avoiding) and played a childish game: if I took the long route to the two-shelved mini-library three roads away, I might discover a book that would help. Stories of pilgrims filled my … More Miracles and games

An Education

Months and years of hard work and hope, flamed and scattered in post-exam joy. Dreams of a long summer whipped up in the park. In a matter of seconds, probably. Most of it is science: hydrogen and chromosomes; sclera and retina; by the anode; velocity; mitosis. Decimals, Dates, Formulae. Headings highlighted and thereby promoted. Words … More An Education

2021

Happy New Year.

Milestone Words

I asked my friend, Fitta, to give me a proverb. I’ve been hunting for proverbs in books, magazines and online. I’ve consulted sugar sachets from Spain; I’ve discovered the wisdoms of the Akans; and I’ve learned that these clever turns of phrase which express universal truths may not themselves be universal. My recent interest in … More Milestone Words

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

The Lady

Last time I was in Cambridge I ran past a lady. A ‘lady’ because she held herself so. It was a bright Sunday morning, early and quiet, and I had emerged from the secret gardens alongside Vicar’s Brook – a magical land of giant daisies and squashes, sweet peas and potatoes – to a prosaic … More The Lady