Intimations of radiance

Intimations of radiance

Listening time: 3 minutes.An intricate description of the effect an ancient temple can work on the spirit – a falling away of complication and anxiety and a spilling over of clarity and hope.  I had such a feeling when a handful of us were allowed to roam...
The past as precious

The past as precious

The opening lines of a less well known novel, Mary Webb’s engaging Precious Bane.  She opens her foreword with a defence of the mute and invisible past before telling the story as a recollection by the protagonist. The past is only the present become invisible...
And I shall teach the boy

And I shall teach the boy

Listening time: under 4 minutes.The Countess of Gormenghast ponders her personal curriculum for her newborn son Titus, soon after despatching him to a régime of nanny-care for the first five years of his life.  She clearly has higher hopes for him than for his...
Meet the Barone

Meet the Barone

Listening time: under 4 minutes. Casting back across the sweep of history, there is only a handful of creatures, human and otherwise, whom I regret not being able to meet, pending the perfection of the time travel machine I’m building in the (mental) shed.  Of...
Playfulness across the divide

Playfulness across the divide

Listening time: under 5 minutes.We play with dogs and cats and some other creatures.  I used to play with a fox in our garden in London: he made a show of taking my abandoned fleece delicately in his mouth and began pulling it off the table where I’d left it,...
The components of story

The components of story

This idea keeps coming back to me, and even though I question the components featured, intuitively it sounds right.  Another pithy commentary on the nature of stories. What story can be conceived without a tear, without song, without a book or a prayer? See also our...
Made up and yet true

Made up and yet true

A piercing rationale for the arts, if a rationale is needed.  They are made up, but …The paradox of the arts is that they are all made up and yet they allow us to get at truths about who and what we are or might be.  Source: Seamus Heaney, Finders Keepers:...
Brotherly bonding

Brotherly bonding

Maxim Gorky had a brutally hard childhood, captured vividly in the first of his three memoirs.  Among other losses, he saw two baby brothers die, one soon before the arrival of a second half-brother. This baby, needing in his turn some medical care, is given an...
The assignations of stories

The assignations of stories

An interesting way to present the connectedness of stories and their meeting points, and curious about the meeting at corners as opposed to other places.  I also like the idea of story-stones accreting on a river bed. No story sits by itself.  Sometimes stories meet...
Lasting love, changing love

Lasting love, changing love

A touching description of how love can be constant and yet changing.  This is a long standing and quietly happy marriage, and over time the fulcrum has shifted.  And the love they share sets things to rights when they have an off moment. And he loved her too, but his...
Silence or story?

Silence or story?

Ivan is the protagonist of Grossman’s novel Everything Flows, apparently modelled on his brother in law.  This is an account of a man who spent three decades in a gulag and then one day found himself back in ‘normal’ life. By telling the story of one...
A country or a farm

A country or a farm

A profound distinction, in my view, between a sum of parts and a sum of gifts.  And does this just apply to a country or a farm?   Perhaps you could say the same for a culture, a community, or a person. Wise Antoine has nailed it again. A country – or a farm...

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