Half a prayer

Half a prayer

A perfect example of mercurial Greek god behaviour. No rhyme or reason, I grant this, I grant that, I refuse one thing, and not the other. May your prayers be granted, in whole or in part, but if in part, let it be the right part. ‘God heard his prayer and...
Fortune’s favour

Fortune’s favour

This reminds me of an anonymous Elizabethan verse which I cite from memory:   ‘Lift up thy heart and courage eke, Be bold and of good cheer; For Fortune most doth favour those Who all things least do fear.’   So, go forth and fear not! This is from...
Wait your turn!

Wait your turn!

This observation of a family of swallows over 150 years ago struck me, along with another surprising tale by Thoreau. Apart from the impressive behaviour of the birds on both counts, in reading these immediate, living accounts, I wonder whether Thoreau had any idea...
Airborne support

Airborne support

This touching account in Thoreau’s journal has a swallow, injured by a shot from a gun, being given airborne support by another swallow. The duly contrite swallow-sniper thereafter showed reverence towards these lovely small birds. I hope the injured one...
Hospitality protocol 101

Hospitality protocol 101

Homer is awash with examples of great hospitality and generosity between hosts and guests, even uninvited ones washing up on the beach. Here is a pithy proverb summing up the responsibility of each. Logue’s magnificent rendition of several books of the...
To charm, to change …

To charm, to change …

Odysseus is a tricky hero, part noble, upstanding and brave, part slippery, trickery, too-clever-by-half.  He is a compelling orator, and it is hard to tell if his apparent shuffling shyness is a feint to lull his audience, or win their sympathy. This is from...
Singing a stone-song

Singing a stone-song

Water is the principal element in Williamson’s assiduously researched, powerfully imagined life of an otter. I loved the idea of its singing a song by flowing over stones on its way to the sea. ‘The water sang its stone-song in the dark as it flowed its...
The law of life

The law of life

We need water for life, and life and water share a fundamental law: change.  They may also share another, apparently contradictory quality, that of being always different and yet somehow the same. ‘The law of life was also the law of water – everlasting...
Ferrari on aerodynamics

Ferrari on aerodynamics

This is of course an outrageous statement, but I loved it when I saw it spray-painted on the wall of a motor museum in the Netherlands.  Ridiculously macho approach, breezily dismissive of working with the power of physics to add speed.  No, you work with the power of...

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