The Birthday Tree

There was a cherry tree in the front garden of the house in Cheshire where I grew up.  Every year in spring, when the delicate white blossom would appear suddenly, as if snow had fallen overnight, I would sense that brighter, longer days were on the way. It later succumbed to poisoning from a poorly sealed-off gas mains. Later, … Continue reading The Birthday Tree

The ruins of Kefalonia

Ruins are plentiful on the island of Kefalonia – not surprising, given that humans first settled on the island in Palaeolithic times, and important communities arose in the Mycenaean and Classical eras. Of all the ruins, the most atmospheric and poignant must be those that remain following the devastating earthquakes which struck the island in August 1953. Arriving on the island soon after the earthquake … Continue reading The ruins of Kefalonia

Fred Wiseman in the National Gallery

The other day I caught up with Frederick Wiseman’s epic documentary about the National Gallery, shown recently on BBC 4.  In characteristic fly-on-the-wall style, Wiseman spent much of 2012 prowling the corridors, boardrooms and backrooms of the National Gallery, having been given exclusive access to film anything that took his fancy. Myself and Fred Wiseman and I … Continue reading Fred Wiseman in the National Gallery

In The Shadow Of Kafka: the prophet of Prague

To mark the anniversary of the publication one hundred years ago of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, Radio 3 offered a week of varied and interesting programmes, collectively entitled In The Shadow Of Kafka which examined the legacy of the novella, with contemporary writers and dramatists exploring Kafka’s life and work. The season opened with In the Shadow of Kafka: Prophet … Continue reading In The Shadow Of Kafka: the prophet of Prague

Voyage to Ithaca

Always keep Ithaca in your mind. To arrive there is your final destination. But do not rush the voyage in the least. Better it last for many years; and once you’re old, cast anchor on the isle, rich with all you’ve gained along the way, expecting not that Ithaca will give you wealth. – from ‘Ithaca’ … Continue reading Voyage to Ithaca