Skip to main content

Birthday

I am thirty-eight today, and will continue to be - with increasing degrees - until a day before this time next year! I don't mind ageing, I mean, what's the alternative? My twenties were, for the most part, a mess. My thirties, thus far, have been all about education, writing... It is a sobering thought to realise that my Mum, who didn't have her first child until she was twenty-seven had, by my age, seven children, the youngest - twins - just two-years-old. I have none, and have had no biological calling for them; it may just be that I haven't met the person with whom I've wanted to have children - or them me. I heard someone say the other day, actually it was more of a lament, that he felt on the outside because he hadn't fathered any children. I hate this idea that just because the vast majority of us have the ability to procreate, that we should. The world is becoming dangerously over-populated - why feel bad because you haven't added to that? But let me digress - back to the one thing I suspect has been my own substitute for the maternal instinct (submerged as it has been) has been redirected into my writing, it is, after all, a conception of an idea, a gestation, sickness and kicking too for many, and then a painful and bloody birth. And if the book-baby is ugly then you'll still have people coo and tell you how proud you must be. But yes, it is my birthday, and I share it with Ernest Hemingway. I always thought, when younger, that the person with whom I shared a birthday must signify an affinity of talent, a ruse to comfort myself about my future. But then I discovered that I also share the day with Wendy Cope, the poet. I have never made any attempt to hide my disdain for what I have long considered to be Cope's mediocre poetry. I really cannot understand why she is so popular. I'm sure that she may be a lovely person, but her poetry... On a brighter note I also share the day with Cat Stevens and Robin Williams. Now, birthday or not, work, and the never-ending pursuit of it, awaits.

Location:Kew

Popular posts from this blog

Who was Mary Burns?

On 7th January 1863 Mary Burns was found dead from a suspected heart attack. She was 43 years old. Since her death Mary has received barely any attention despite the fact that she spent over twenty years as the common-law wife of Friedrich Engels, one of the world’s most influential thinkers and the co-founder of Marxism.

Born in 1822, Mary was the oldest surviving child of textile dyer and factory operative, Michael Burns, and Mary Conroy, Irish immigrants from Tipperary. Mary’s parents had married at St. Patrick’s in an area known casually as Irish Town, one of few Catholic churches in Manchester at that time. The year of Mary’s birth and her infancy were significant in that Manchester was still dealing with the aftermath of the event that became known as the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, a peaceful protest of the working-classes on the site of St. Peter’s Fields in which several people were killed and hundreds injured. The Massacre occurred when magistrates, alarmed at the size of t…

My PhD critical paper

I thought I'd upload the critical element of my PhD thesis. Hopefully, for those who are interested enough to read it, it will make sense despite the references to my creative work, which I can't upload as I'm seeking publication. And besides, at 68,000 words...

I'm also going to tweak section one of this three section critical paper with a view to journal publication because of the academic interest in the claims I make of Mary.




-Dedicated with love and respect to Dr Bruce Lloyd-


And in memory of my parents:
Thomas Valentine and Joan Theresa
Good people who taught me so much more than they realised

***


The biggest thank-you is due to Norma Clarke, Professor of English Literature and Creative Writing at Kingston University, who supervised this PhD. I never had cause to doubt my initial instincts as Norma proved to be the best mentor I could ever have wished for.

I would also like to acknowledge the generous studentship that I was fortunate to be awarded by Kingston Universi…

Midwinter Break - Bernard McLaverty

The only other book that I've read of Bernard MacLaverty was the sublime Grace Notes, published in 1997, and shortlisted for the Booker Prize of the same year. That prize was awarded to an author of another similar hiatus recently broken, Arundhati Roy, of the widely acclaimed The God of Small Things. I was certain, when buying the kindle version of Midwinter Break, that MacLaverty's first book in seventeen years (Cal, 2001, was his most recent) had made both the Booker Longlist and Shortlist - but having just double-checked - am disappointed and confused to find it had made neither. MacLaverty's prose style feels Yatesian, after the late Richard Yates, US author of Revolutionary Road, and TheEaster Parade
Midwinter Break, set in Amsterdam, is written in the same deliciously clear and poignant prose that so widely marked out Grace Notes. The husby and I have not long returned from a late summer break in that same fabulous city. With the visit to the Rijksmuseum still fre…