Giulietta’s balcony

We are in Italy and have travelled two and half hours through olive groves, vineyards, oleander and the occasional maize crop. The road from Milan to Malcesine is a drive on roads sandwiched between the Alps and the country and then between the Alps as backdrop and Lake Garda on one side and the dramatic…

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…

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…

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…

Trees stand their ground

    Trees stand their ground whatever the weather. Overladen with snow. Chilled to the sap, the pith frozen and aching, trees do not withdraw their roots, fold them and then move to a different clime. They stand. Is this what duty is to trees? Pumping out oxygen so that we  breathe it in and…