Seneca and Books

In Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic he wrote […]this reading of many different authors and books of every description. You should be extending your stay among writers whose genius is unquestionable, deriving constant nourishment from them if you wish to gain anything from your reading that will find a lasting place in your mind. To…

Neruda at St Brides

  I have been re-reading Pablo Neruda, in a collection that Jan bought for me in the USA in July 1982. We were married later in October of that year. The trip to Philadelphia, Washington and New York followed a successful trip to the West of Ireland. At the time I was still obsessed with…

Café society

  At Caffé Nero, on Thursday mornings, there's a chance to see a slice of the world sit in varying poses, attired in the daytime frocks of winter. Today, two young men with their computers and headphones, a single woman dressed in black sipping her coffee, and a middle aged man reading Girl With a Dragon…

Spittoons of light

Abracadabra, well that’s a word to conjure with! Words are all like that, magical and like charms, conjuring visions and images and sometimes like talisman, fending off demons. Another way of putting this is to say that words are concrete objects, that they have a taste, a texture, a shape that fills the mouth, distorting…

Pendle Witches Walk

  Jan and I completed the Pendle Witches Walk this past Saturday, all 23 miles of it, in 10 hours! Phew! It was a bright, dry midsummer’s day with a light breeze. We started in Lancaster and first drove by coach to Laidburn where the actual walk started ending at Lancaster Castle, retracing the steps of the Pendle…

The Journey In My Head

  In 1931, probably in November, Bernardo Soares daydreamed during ‘the journey between Cascais and Lisbon’. He said I went to Cascais in order to pay the tax on a house my boss Vasques owns in Estoril. I looked forward eagerly to the trip, an hour there and an hour back, a chance to watch…

Prayer and melancholia

That human life must be some kind of mistake is sufficiently proved by the simple observation that man is a compound of needs which are hard to satisfy; that their satisfaction achieves nothing but a painless condition in which he is only given over to boredom; and that boredom is a direct proof that existence…