People are finding words to talk about the war. “Those poor people,” being the three most common words used. Those poor people are so nearby. Those poor people are our near neighbours. Those poor people are two and a half hours away by plane. They could be us. We might be them. Ubuntu: An African … Continue reading How People Cope
“In the sunset of dissolution, everything is illuminated by the aura of nostalgia, even the guillotine.” Isn’t that a lovely line? It’s from The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. It makes me think about reframing awful things in a different way. Maybe this (insert whatever your trouble is) isn’t so bad after all. And if to reframe … Continue reading The Sunset of Dissolution
I have become accustomed to the online life; even those things I thought I would hate to attend virtually – like an online book festival – it turns out I rather like. Last month, I joined some talks by writers organised by Liverpool’s Writing on the Wall annual festival. One speaker was Ben Okri. There … Continue reading Doubt
The weather, the grass, and emerging from lockdown.
Without success, I am trying to write an ending. I have selected some novels from my bookshelf to see how they do it. Welsh (Trainspotting, 1993), Wilde (The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1890) and Woolf (The Waves, 1931) are huddled together at the end of one shelf. I decide that, between the three of them, they should … Continue reading Thinking of Ending It
Gabriel Byrne, the Irish actor, had a book out last year, I heard him talk about it on a radio interview. I didn’t know it was him at first, I just thought, ‘there’s a man with a lovely accent who knows how to tell a story’, and so I kept listening, mostly because of that … Continue reading The Best We Can Do Is Move On
Step 1: Have a cup of tea and two slices of malted sourdough with crunchy peanut butter (not too much, pretend there are only scrapings left in the jar) and thinly sliced banana. I will eat and drink slowly whilst chewing my food for longer than seems necessary, for this not benefits not only my … Continue reading Overcoming Writer’s Block: Four Steps
I recently came across the dictation function on my computer, a find that, initially, gave rise to much excitement. My excitement was dashed, however, when I set about using it and realised it was hard of hearing. What other reason could there be for how appallingly it transcribed my flowing, spoken words? My rolling Northern Irish accent … Continue reading Finding My Way
By the entrance to Edinburgh’s Modern Art Gallery, you will find the first of a series of six Anthony Gormley cast iron sculptures; those well-known life-size male figures that stand straight as soldiers, arms by their side. The peculiar thing about this particular one, however, is that it is buried to its chest, just above … Continue reading What Does It All Mean?
Small consolations. That’s what the last year has been full of. We are told to observe them, to remember that life is made up of them, a series of tiny moments, most of which we dismiss as inconsequential. Yet the more we take notice of the small consolations, the more apparent it is that they … Continue reading A Year of Consolation