The Cruellest Month

T S Eliot wrote in his poem The Wasteland ‘April is the cruellest month…’ Trees and plants burst into sharp green leaves and the first flowers appear. Intermittent sunlight; hailstorms and rainbows – a month of contrasts. Not that long ago I visited a friend. His...

A Brush with History

EM Forster Isaiah Berlin I was playing ‘ducks and drakes’ on our local pond with two school friends when I felt a shiver of apprehension. A tall man appeared suddenly and stood silently watching us. He didn’t even greet us, just stood there and...

Sunlit Uplands

Ever since I was a student, I have had recourse to the same image of hope. Everyone now must be dreaming of somewhere beyond the horizon where life as we once knew it can return – with some gentle tinkering carried out by our imagination in the meanwhile. Mine is in...

Snowdrops

Every year, whatever the weather, I go on a snowdrop walk. It is the most memorable winter one, as if there has been a woodland wedding with white confetti scattered willy-nilly under the trees, but they are delicate white petals shimmering like bells stroked by a...

Prelapsarian Truths     

Herculaneum I read somewhere that history begins fifty years ago and progresses backwards as far as there are written records. Before that, it is archaeology – stones and bones. When I was told that Mary Beard has been examining the remains left in Roman latrines, I...