Wednesday, June 15, 2011

7/7: His Latest Period of Absence

'It is a decision for you and you alone,' counsel explained, 'we need an answer.' Unyielding, apparently unmoved, the client continued to stare into the oak beams, it dawning on counsel that no decision would - or perhaps could - be forthcoming.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

6/7: Light at the End of the Estate

Chimneys drawn sharply against the darkening sunset, the sky bade goodnight. Under a flat roof on the edge of town, shift worker and machine bathed in halogen daylight.

Monday, June 13, 2011

5/7: Hours after Mam's service

Her parents had moved 200 miles north such that an adoption, 'at their age', could be effected. Now, overlooking a blustery North Sea, she clasped the hand tight - the good man, the one who would not get away, the one who had already decided to leave.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

4/7: I think, therefore it is

With the utter conviction of one who had never been inclined to reason, the emerald dress leaned forward with an inelegantly raised hand. 'Thing is,' she whispered, 'I happen to know someone who works in a college just like that, and believe me, many of these kids are lost from day one.'

Saturday, June 11, 2011

3/7: The Giveaway

Barely perceptible, but there, a flicker of something - no doubt about it, the eyes flashed alert. Half-baked hypotheses now queuing to be made sense of, the older man rose, made his excuses, and headed out onto the street.

Friday, June 10, 2011

2/7: At 54 m.p.h.

Cutting corners was made easy by the low hedges. Dropping left, eyes darting right, a buzzard perched atop a telegraph pole was the last thing he saw.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

1/7: White Behind the Hedge

Looking up from his screen, Frank glanced across to the 9-shot CCTV feed - all quiet. Except, the image from Camera 8 had changed.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

An Exercise in Pairing

General Readerly Scouting - plotter and one-time mentee of Colonel Terjero, led me to a short feature on Dan Rhodes, whereupon I read of his collection, Anthropology - 101 stories, each of 101 words. That, I liked. The playfulness provoked me into scheming a short wordish game. Thus, the precept: two sentences, posted here, each day from tomorrow, for the next week.

Monday, June 06, 2011

The Anatomy of a Week-Long Moment

Just back from a fractured week in Powys and Herefordshire, where Alex and his young cousin playfully broke up the otherwise Proper Grown Up stuff of the Hay Festival, and my breathing in of the lush green hills of Presteigne, in old Radnorshire - home of the very well-groomed (albeit naive) Pristine Christine, the best green teen of Presteigne.

Hay-wise, with my mother in mind (she be a fan), on the first Saturday evening I'd elected to go and listen to Paul O'Grady in conversation with Sandi Toksvig. Sure enough, as he waxed lyrical on the second volume - The Devil Rides Out - of his memoir, his wit, warmth and self-effacement beguiled the thousand-plus audience in the pavilion. On the back of previous Hay experiences (below par interviewers and chairs), Toksvig pitched perfectly.

The following day, I committed only to Javier Cercas' session, intelligently and generously chaired by Jon Gower. I knew little of Cercas, but from listening to his appearance on World Book Club a few months ago, I expected sufficient hooks of interest. The particular quality of his that drew me in, was his appetite for forensically unpacking social and cultural 'moments', or actions - the title of his session, The Anatomy of a Moment, saying as much. The historic thread that ran through much of Cercas' discussion concerned the transition in governance of Spain. At the heart of this was the failed coup d'etat of Colonel Tejero, of 23 February, 1981 - during Spain's shift to a liberal democratic state. And, phew.

Monday began with an air of gaiety - which many of the audience (of about 300) may not have expected from 'The Lost City of Stoke-on-Trent' - primarily, a sales pitch for Matthew Rice' book of the same name - an aesthetically pleasing document of the city's industrial cultural heritage, and traces thereof. With his wife, the potter Emma Bridgewater, opening the discussion with an account of her recalling her first experience of Stoke-on-Trent - a wave of mixed emotions and the thought, 'I didn't know that places like this existed', I had a feeling that I was about to be taste-challenged. From 'those who should know better' (the plummy, the well-bred), I struggle to tolerate that kind of socio-environmental ignorance. Gladly though, bottom line interests aside, both speakers turned it around, and chair Tristram Hunt batted well for the city, too. It was especially pleasing to gauge that the vast majority of the audience were not Stokies on sabbatical (or holiday, or parole), but more broadly interested vultures of socio-industrial culture - the end-of-session questions from the floor were, as my sister would say, top-notch. From that, I moved on to listen to Catherine O'Flynn ('The News Where You Are') and Mark Watson ('Eleven') speak of their most recent novels, both of which centre around characters who are on big personal quests, that see them ask gentle philosophical questions. Again, this was well-chaired, by Stephanie Merritt - no cloyingness, just walking the main protagonists through a well-balanced discussion of their works - as separate entities, albeit with big thematic cross-overs.

Otherwhere, culturally-speaking, there's a feature on Lady Gaga, written by Stephen Fry, and published under the FT banner. It's over a week old now, it's fannish but good, and it's here. And I'm really liking In Treatment - the talking therapy drama, from HBO, with Gabriel Byrne and a strong supporting cast - not least of whom, Hope Davis' Mia is spookily well written and acted.

Otherwise, otherwise.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


I'll not bore you with the whys and wherefores of why and wherefore I happened to be reading up on schools in the Bangor (north Wales) area, but let me share my delight in finding some very subtle tweakings to the wikipedia site of one of those schools, here. Note the beginning of paragraph three, and the delicate amendment to the Band Jazz Ysgol Tryfan heading.

I'd heard of wikipedia being open to falsehoods and general nonsensemongering, but I'd never knowingly encountered such suchness before.

Young people - so wonderful, so creative.

Unrelated: It's recently occurred to me that the meaning and function of my blogging has changed enormously, once more. With Alex now being so much more grown up than in the early days of my writing, here, and my confidence in my position in his and Emma's lives growing a lot, this largely safe and supportive space for reflection has become a bit redundant. I'm not saying that I'm done with blogging - I'm not, but things have changed.

Hope this finds you well.