Variegation, difference and other matters

It is now decidedly Autumn. The leaves are about all turned or already fallen off their branches. The pavements have that irritating layer of sodden, rotting leaves. Our back garden has the wonderful show of brown and reddish yellow, of mustard and red pepper, of berries and the yet to be plucked speckled apples. It…

Winter Blues: I begin to discern the profile of my death

  Oliver Sacks has just revealed that he has terminal cancer. This sad news from the voice of humane medicine put me in mind of Marguerite Yourcenar’s Memoirs of Hadrian, an account of the last days of a great man, looking back and forwards, in a letter to Marcus Aurelius.     The letter opens…

Pirandello and social reality

What is reality? How are we to know what is ‘real’ and what is merely imaginary? Pirandello (1867-1936) dealt with these matters in his drama. In Henry IV, he created a character, Henry IV, who was deluded. He falsely believed that he was Henry IV. His father, Marquis Charles Di Nolli, employed a number of…

Pan(ic)demic

  What is terror? Is it that flash of white phosphorescent light that started in the innards and exploded soundlessly? First, a seizure quickened the pulse and the muscles of the heart, and then it dried the mouth, propelling every sinew, every nerve of the four limbs into a rush of running. It is definitely…

Chekhov and Love

Chekhov's (1860-1904) love stories are not romantic accounts of unrequited love or of love at first sight. Or, even of tortured love that is amplified by the agony of being unfulfilled. No, these are Chekhovian tales that surprise and intrigue our imagination. Chekhov, exactly like Ibsen, knows his characters very well. He knows them well…

Death on the Track

My journey back from Hebden Bridge this past Monday was eventful. I had risen early for me, at 6:15 am, in time to get to the train station catch the 07:08 for Manchester. This part of the journey went well. I hurried from Manchester Victoria station to Manchester Piccadilly station and was just in time…