Monthly Archives: November 2013

The Middle of Nowhere

I live in the middle of nowhere.  There is nothing for miles.  (And by ‘nothing’ I mean hills, fields, farms, streams, clouds and sheep).  There are no other houses, no shops, very little traffic.  I drive to work and rarely meet anyone coming the other way.  I drive home and stare into the setting sun.  At night the house creaks like an old ship.  In the mornings, in the summer, there is no better place to live.  In the winter, when everything freezes up, the track to the house becomes an ice slide, we can’t get out, and nothing can get up here. We’re marooned.  And if the water supply shuts off and the boiler breaks down, we might as well be living in a tent. So I watch nature’s clock for the tell tale signs of spring: the snowdrops, the daffodils, the first green buds on the hawthorn.  And when everything explodes into blossom, it is symphonic and sublime, and then the cold brutality of the dark months is at last seen off and life never feels so good.

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The Frailties We Share

This Monday, on R4’s Start the Week, Andrew Marr, Jeanette Winterson and John Tavener talked about the soul, about their spiritual journeys. I am in awe of all three; they share a willingness to share their uncertainties, their frailties.  Too often the public sphere seems to be made up of people who exude confidence and self-belief; most of us are not like that, but we’re often unwilling to make it known.  It’s an astonishing edition of the programme, made poignant by Marr’s return to broadcasting after a stroke, and Taverner’s death the following day.

It’s here, 11 Nov, 2013 –

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Ten Again

It’s strange that even though I’m drawn to experimental art, to people and theories that challenge the status quo, again and again I come back to same things that I loved when I was about ten years old.  I was bewildered as a child, I didn’t know what was going on. I still don’t know.  I loved mountains and history, I loved music and football.  And here I am, decades on, after fancying myself as a rock and roll singer in my twenties, and an avant garde artist in my thirties, I’m back to the child I was, staring at the stars in complete astonishment at being alive.  I’m fortunate, I know, to have enough of what I need not to care about those things, so I am able to spend time just being in awe.

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