Clive James: Dying by Inches

Clive James: Dying by Inches Over recent months, I have been spending time in the company of Clive James, the writer, critic and poet. After a lifetime of heavy smoking and intemperate drinking, James was diagnosed with emphysema and kidney failure in 2010 as well as chronic leukemia and by June 2012 admitted on Radio […]

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Thomas Hardy and Education

Thomas Hardy and Education:   “Ah, there’s too much of that sending to school in these days! It only does harm. Every gatepost and barn’s door you come to is sure to have some bad word or other chalked upon it by the young rascals: a woman can hardly pass for shame some times. If […]

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IQ – EQ = Bullingdon Club “It is not clear that intelligence has any long-term survival value.” Professor Stephen Hawking “He’s very smart. He has an IQ.” Leo Rosten “He’s like a lighthouse in the middle of a bog – brilliant but useless.” John Kelly attrib The comments by Boris Johnson in 2013 about the […]

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In my Beginning is my End

In my Beginning is my End  “We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time. This year is the 50th anniversary of the death of T S Eliot on 4 January, 1965, a passing overshadowed at […]

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Catch the Wind

When Donovan sang of trying to ‘Catch the Wind’ in his 1960s song, its title was intended as a metaphor for the futility of attempting what was seen as impossible. Even though it hasn’t proved so, the capture of wind has proved less problematic than the ‘farming’ of it and all the associate costs that […]

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Summer Solstice

Each summer, a number of public figures are asked to offer their suggestions for an ideal summer reading list, usually by some national daily newspaper wanting to pad out their Sunday supplements. When I read the said lists, I am often left deflated by recognising so few of the books on their lists although I […]

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The English Bookshop

Driving back to St Antonin Noble Val last week to re-stock and prepare the bookshop for another season, I was reminded of just how seldom it is that an idea matches up to the reality. Owning a bookshop is one of those rare exceptions. The sentiment, so often expressed by friends and visitors who see […]

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Dylan Thomas

Browsing the shelves of our bookshop in St Antonin Noble Val, ( I was intrigued to find a book of essays published in 1956 that gave an early assessment of Dylan Thomas’s poetry after the outburst of elegies and appreciations that immediately followed his death three years before. The writer of the article, David Daiches, […]

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The Powys Brothers

Every year, I break off my holiday in France to return to England for the Powys Conference. For those who don’t know (and many don’t), the Powys family  consisted of the eleven children of the Reverend C F Powys and his wife Mary Cowper Powys, and included amongst their number a headmaster (Littleton), a talented […]

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Christian Karlson Stead

‘Reading T. S. Eliot and reading about T. S. Eliot were equally formative experiences for my generation. One of the books about him which greatly appealed to me when I first read it … was The New Poetic by the New Zealand poet and critic, C. K. Stead…’ Seamus Heaney, The Government of the Tongue […]

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