Skip to main content


Showing posts from December, 2010

Happy New Year

It is the last post of the year, and what a year it has been! I wish you all a 2011 full of dreams and action, because one without the other won't go. I am not a great one for celebrating New Year and shall spend the evening reading poetry and counting my blessings. It's been a great year for finding my own poetic voice - I've discovered that some things can only be said through poetry. I've had my first poem published on Beat the Dust and a second one due to appear on US site Used Furniture Review. Here's to 2011, then.


I was meant to spend the day in the library but managed only two hours - not counting stopping for sandwich and coffee(s). Despite taking ginkgo and ginseng, which I'm told improves concentration, I have little focus on the PhD stuff right now. So I left the library, telling myself I need to work from home in order that I may ruminate aloud - i.e. talk to myself; maybe even gee myself along! No sooner had I left the library I was mooching around in Waterstone's. I bought The Forward Book of poetry 2011. As soon as I got home I read a couple of Heaney's, which I knew from The Human Chain. I also read some of Lachlan Mackinnon, which were real gems. I then felt moved enough to write one of my own, which I have tentatively titled 'Reciprocation'.

End of year round-up 2010

2010 end of year round-up

The Barbarians at the Gate (or the door of 10 Downing Street, to be more precise)

What a year 2010 has been, considering it also seemed to fly by. I arrived in Bath today – as I did last year – to stay at the typically Georgian hotel my sister and her partner run. They may not be in Bath next year so I shall miss this traditional Christmas jolly if they are not here next year. What has become more of a tradition, however, is my end of year literary round-up. It’s funny to look back to January and how the year has been bookended by the UK wide carpeting of snow and how many services that we depend upon come to a standstill – or, as others would have it, simply a more civilised pace of life.

2010 got off to a good start when Colm Toibin’s sparsely and perfectly-prosed novel,’Brooklyn’, was awarded the recognition it deserved when it won the Costa novel award. A poignant tale of a young girl having to leave Ireland for America, as so many millions of others have…

50 books

OK, this is less a jotting down of favourite books, than an exam! BBC Economics Correspondent, Paul Mason, has blogged that he has relaunched a mental exercise first started by Hollywood scriptwriter and columnist Ben Hecht in the 1930s. You have to make a list of the 50 books that you would have bound and put in a library if that was ALL you could have. Apparently, the key is to do it from memory. That's right - no google, no Amazon! I cheated and checked a few on Amazon. But then so did Paul Mason! So, here's my one and only library:

Bertrand Russell     History of Western Philosophy
Jean-Paul Sartre     Being & Nothingness
Nietzsche               Beyond Good and Evil
Kant                       The Critique of Practical Reason / Critique of Pure Reason / The Critique of Judgement

Spinoza                   Complete Works
Steven M. Nadler     Spinoza: A Life
Feurbach                 The Essence of Christianity
Schopenhauer          The World as Will and Representa…

Paris Metro Murder and Cicero's Letters

This week's TLS has many tempting reviews that make me want to rush out and buy the books in question, which include 'Murder in the Metro' by Gayle Brunelle and Annette Finley-Croswhite. The book tells of the case of Laetitia Toureaux who was found alone and murdered on the Paris Metro in 1937. Political intrigue and double espionage ensues. There is also Peter White's 'Cicero in Letters', reviewed by William Fitzgerald. I was in total ignorance of Cicero's letters until reading this. There are 950 of them. White seeks to discover Cicero and his society, which prized urbanitas (cityness) - a sophisticated wit and a light touch', and dignitas. It was all about saving 'face' - deeply aware, if not hypervigilant, of each gesture and communication and the possible consequences. Fitzgerald wonders, as many have so often in the past decade, whether letter writing or 'epistolary relations' have come to an end with facebook et al. He concludes: …

Arthurian ms sold for 2.4m

The Independent today reports that The Rochefoucauld Grail, a 14th century Arthurian manuscript has sold through Sotheby's for 2.4 million. Illuminated, it contains what is believed to be the oldest surviving account of King Arthur. It is one of the principal manuscripts of the first significant medieval work of secular literature.

New Larkin poem found

I'm not the biggest fan of Larkin's poetry but thought it worthwhile to mention the recent discovery of 'Dear Jake', a poem that has come to light whilst making a documentary on him and his relationship with his secretary of 28 years, Betty Mackereth, now 87. It will be broadcast on Tuesday at 8pm on BBC4.

The People's History Museum

I wrote for The Guardian's CIF on the importance of Manchester's People's History Museum, in light of government cuts: