Skip to main content

Hockney, dialysis etc.

I must get a ticket to the Hockney exhibition. This week's cover of the TLS was one of his paintings created on the iPad. My sister, an art history graduate, doesn't like Hockney. I've no real opinion either way. He's always been one of those cultural figures you take for granted. He's just always been there. But, to be in your mid-seventies - having moved back to native Yorkshire (the house where his mother died, no less) from LA - and to have an exhibition that's causing excitement, that's something. It's because it's mostly new material. This is no mere retrospective. And then there's the engagement with technology. The iPad paintings. Anyway, I intend to see it.
I've also got to try and get my phd novel 'out there'. It needs to find a home. I have a preferred publisher reading it, but it's always such a long shot. Having a previously published book makes it no easier. I had some very uplifting comments in the examiners reports of it though. My external examiner, the writer Francis Spufford, said it was a work of considerable emotional and imaginative power. Is this enough to keep me pitching? I would carry on regardless. Running, though, is another matter. I went for a lovely run this evening - the cold night air was just perfect. I was faster. But I didn't run for as long. Apparently this is normal. I always get to a point where I think, I'm going backwards! But then, running is not linear. It's a strange process. All processes are. We live forwards, but we learn backwards. It makes me value my health, at least. Last October I could barely run a minute! Poor old Hugo Williams isn't having a great time of it. In the current TLS he described his dialysis process. He described a scene, to a certain extent, of defamiliarisation. Cultural defamiliarisation. It had its moments, helped along by an extrovert dandy type fellow patient. My Dad had to have dialysis because the Crohns' Disease caused kidney failure. It's a shocking disease, Crohns. It attacks all the organs. It killed my Dad in the end - two weeks after his 59th birthday. I also read this week that it was the very condition that Prince Albert, Victoria's husband/consort, died from - plunging her into her decades long grief.
Anyway. Onwards.


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…