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27 June 2016


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Hear hear. And, all the general madness and ghastliness of our current national pickle apart, I am really very sorry to hear of the loss of your lovely old gentleman. I know deeply one feels such a loss.
Wishing you better health and happier times to come.

Such a rich and thoughtful post, and there's so much in it that speaks to what I hope Britain gains from Europe and vice versa. Feels like such a betrayal that this should be compromised in any way by fear and mistrust and outright racism, and of course, beyond the immediate context of the Brexit vote is the horrifying reality that this is increasingly the way the technologies of democracy seem to be working -- changing media, new approaches to and uses of literacy, a public increasingly unskilled in filtering information. . .

And amidst all this, the sadness of your lovely canine friend, whom I've gotten quite fond of over the years of reading your blog. I'm so sorry to hear this, and to hear that you've not been well. I hope this continues to improve, and perhaps I might selfishly hope that as it does, you will continue to post here occasionally. I do enjoy your writing so!
(also, thanks so much for keeping up your reading list -- I'm just perusing it now, and I see some titles I must get -- Thin Paths looks just what I want!)

I am so sorry to hear about the Edinburgh Boy. My goodness, he was stalwart though, wasn't he. And I hope you are now on the mend yourself after your bronchodilator-pneumonia. It seems to take much longer to recover from these knocks these days. I just hope you are easing yourself back gently and don't find yourself overcome by recent events., depressing though they are. I've been indulging in some easy read escapist hefty novels (Maggie o' Farrell, Kate Atkinson) and John Le Carre on the radio to settle my disquiet. Also wondering why crime - novels, TV- has the capacity to comfort.

Bronchodilator?..Predictive text strikes again!

I couldn't agree more.I would like to think that my grandchildren would live in a multicultural, tolerant and more peaceful world and I have watched the news over the last week with feelings of great sadness and fear for their futures

I must search your blog for a place to add myself to your list of subscribers.

As a German with decades of living in the UK I have been doing my own railing and ranting. On the blog and elsewhere. I simply cannot believe how this could have happened. We could rehash the miserably mendacious campaigns over and over; enough though, I’ve been obsessed with Brexit to the point of making myself ill.

I follow both German and French articles and comments and TV commentaries and the view from the other side doesn’t look quite as simplistic and easy to solve as our politicians here make out. Hard times ahead.

I like this country (well, most of the time) and I hate to accept that I am now part of a Little Englander enclave.

Thank you all for such thoughtful and reassuring comments - and welcome to those of you who are new to writing not drowning. It is very heartening to hear from you.

Kate - you understand, only too well, the loss of a dear companion. I still can't get used to the Labrador-shaped hole he has left in our lives. At the moment, the time is not right to have another dog but I am certain that, sooner or later, there will be another Lab, here at the heart of our home.

Colleen - I know that you have been out of action too; do hope you are recovering. I too have been pondering the unexpected comfort of the crime/thriller genre. Maybe it's because it deals in archetypes (reassuring!) and, generally speaking, right triumphs over might and justice prevails

Frances - yes, what the Brexit vote appears to have unleashed is so frightening. We just have to keep standing firm and to hold fast to the values that matter to us. There have been some wonderfully uplifting campaigns launched in the wake of what has happened and that gives me hope. On the subject of books, you will love Thin Paths. If I can find my copy, I'm going to post an excellent quote from it on the right-hand sidebar.

Chris - it has been like a bereavement, with the attendant cycle of emotions: shock, deep sadness - and now anger. Like you I cannot believe what has been done to the expectations and hopes of younger people.

Ursula - we have very dear German friends in Ludwigsburg; they are like family. Their immediate reaction on hearing the results was to send love and to reassure us that they will always see us as family . . . and European. Their kind words moved us to tears.

Ursula - apologies, when I redesigned my blog, it looks as if I forgot to include the email subscription link (via Feedblitz). Now reinstated on the right-hand sidebar.

I'm so happy to see you return to blogging - I missed reading your posts. Sorry to hear about your loss, and hope your health improves. I'm writing from Poland - a country severly (and sorely) divided, the dividing issues including also attitudes towards EU). It is so sad to see the demise of rationality, as pointed out by Frances. Thank you for your thoughtful post; I'm grateful to and for people like you. Teresa

Teresa - so very good to hear from you again. And, believe me, we are very grateful to and for friends like you. I am so sorry to hear that Poland too is experiencing such deep divisions. If it doesn't sound flippant, the best dentist I have ever had, by far, is from Poland. She worked for a good many years in Devon and was very happy here - I was her patient throughout that time - but she recently had to return to Poland for family reasons. I can't bear the thought that, in the future, it might not be possible for her to come back to the UK. Her patients miss her, her colleagues at the practice miss her . . .

Incidentally, at my west London convent school in the 1960s, many of the pupils were Polish, or Polish-British, the daughters of Polish airmen who had served with the RAF in WWII and who had settled here after the war. When I was a teenager, one of those airmen was our neighbour; his wife was Italian - and their British-born children could claim three nationalities! I loved having such interesting neighbours!

So sorry to read about your Edinburgh Gent. Beloved pets leave such a huge gap, in our homes and our hearts. I do hope you're properly mended soon after such a nasty infection. Still much post referendum reeling here, too, and feeling like we've just pulled up the drawbridge. I may need that box set (which sounds right up my street) as a distraction from all the worrying and hand wringing.

Liz - thank you; I know you understand this so well (the gap thing . . .). And my younger dog, Miss P, has been bereft without her old companion. As for Brexit, your drawbridge analogy is spot on. These are very strange times indeed.

From the number of visitors on your Live Traffic Feed, there are still many of us looking, hopefully not forlornly, for of your thoughtful posts. I hope that you are well on the road to recovery with your health and that there has been some easing of pain with your loss of the faithful Edinburgh Gent.

They may be few and far between these days but it would be good to see you posting again.

Politically, it continues to fall apart and the prospect of Trump is depressing but those of us of a certain age keep ploughing on.

Spiral looks interesting and I note a number of Richard Ford books have been read. If not already, do try 'Let me be Frank with You', rounds of the Frank Bascombe story nicely.

My regards

Good to hear from you, Bob, and thank you - as always, for your encouraging words. I must admit, recovering from pneumonia has taken far longer than I had hoped but I think I am now there. Anyway, tonight I'm going to be brave and rejoin the choir I so love singing with, in the hope that I CAN still sing and that I won't run out of puff.

Re the political situation, I can hardly bear to read a newspaper or watch the news. I gather that, in the US, the prospect of President Trump has had a similar effect on the number of citizens applying for Irish passports as the Brexit vote has done here . . . wouldn't it be ironic if the two factors led to an Irish diaspora in reverse?

I loved Richard Ford's Frank Bascombe trilogy and, funnily enough, have just reserved Let Me Be Frank With You from the library. Desperate to read it. Bruce Springsteen included the trilogy (and many other fine books) in his list of 28 favourite books that shaped his mind and music:

Thanks for the response.
An interesting and varied list from Mr Springsteen although as one would expect plenty of music related books. Mind you he is not a bad musician either! I like the brainpickings blog for the way it takes you down so many lines of thought.

On the page you linked, there is a mention of Rebecca Solnit and until now my reading of her has been political essays but have just finished 'Wanderlust', a study and history of walking. A deep but satisfying read (baby steps were needed) and intriguing how she linked walking to philosophy, revolution, religious festivals etc.

Good luck with the singing and have faith in yourself, you will sound good.

One of my occasional looks in the hope that you have returned to posting on the blog but sadly again no sign. How missed you are. Your writing has long been inspiring and incisive and I continue to re-read old posts to help me along life’s path.
I hope that you have returned to full health and striding around Devon singing loudly albeit without the no doubt sadly missed Old Edinburgh Gent.
Looking back at the comment I made to your last post,I think we can now say that politically, the advent of Trump and the continued presence of Boris does mean things have not just fallen but crashed and we now face a situation where it will not be about people ‘s needs that are considered but those of Corporate entities. Despite all this, I remain a lefty optimistic pacifist and, like you, a Europhile because I cannot change nor want to!
I do hope that if posting is not on your horizon, you will please keep the reading list flowing as it is another source of both inspiration and interest as is your library on Librarything.
Whatever the future holds for you, my very best wishes and thank you

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Thought for life

  • The House of Breath, William Goyen
    We are the carriers of lives and legends - who knows the unseen frescoes on the private walls of the skull?

Thinking about . . .

  • Daniel Klein, Travels with Epicurus
    I too listen to music more and more. Throughout my life, music has stirred me more than any other art form, and now, in old age, I find myself listening to it almost every evening, usually alone, for hours at a time.
  • Julia Blackburn, Thin Paths
    I began writing because I liked to write things down. I learnt foreign languages because they seemed to enter my head by a process of osmosis.
  • Joan Bakewell, Stop the Clocks
    I live contentedly alone. It's better that way and I am often thoughtful about what has been and what might have been. There are many like me.
  • Patti Smith, M Train
    Oh to be reborn within the pages of a book.
  • Patti Smith, M Train
    Why is it that we lose the things we love, and things cavalier cling to us and will be the measure of our worth after we’re gone?
  • Judith Kerr, Observer Magazine, 22 November 2015
    I don't believe in God. I find it much easier to believe in ancestors. I like to imagine they are pointing us in the right direction.

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