Blog - People In Mind

Darkness

Young man seated under a tree by Isaac Oliver The dreaded moment has come! Clocks have gone back. An extra hour of light in the morning when I am still sleeping while others are rising with the sun. It used to be said that the extra hour of morning light was to enable...

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Moss

The season of blue skies and abundance of green is slowly drawing to a close. Walls, made of stones cleared from uplands to allow grass to grow, deter flocks of sheep and the occasional goat from straying off the upland slopes onto roads and farmland. Moss clings to...

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Open Spaces

Every year I bid farewell to summer by seeking a wide-open space. There I can let it go by flinging my farewell into any blue sky I can find, preferably from the top of a hill - there are no mountains in Yorkshire - as a plea for a good number of them to come even as...

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Pecking around the petals

There is a touch of sadness in July at harvest time. A friend calls it the untidy season of petals shed like hopes. The scattered petals are untidy, to be brushed out of sight into a pile to be made into compost. School holidays are attuned to nature’s requirements....

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The Sport of Kings

The races are back! Yorkshire has so many racecourses that I have lost count – York, Ripon, Richmond, Doncaster, and Beverley. Maybe others. A fine day, brisk breeze and the horse boxes are lining the road outside the Beverley course. There are ugly dogs, fortunately...

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Sorting Out

Sorting, an act of destruction of past memories, or a clearing of debris from treasures hidden beneath? Meaningful books emerge to make the act of rejection, of discarding, of throwing away part of one’s past unbearable. Almost like an injury to one’s past...

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Phobias and Fears

As a child, my biggest treat was to go to Chessington Zoo. I would look at the sky to see whether there was enough blue to make a pair of sailor’s trousers. If there was, we would board a train and then a bus to convey us to the promised treat. What was it that...

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Hurly-Burly

A medley of tinny sounds. A babble of voices interspersed by screams of delight. Smells stinging one’s nostrils sweetly. Easter. The pier has sprung into life. The one at Hastings is new. The old one caught fire and burnt down. There is something special about a...

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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...

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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 watched. I felt uneasy,...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Unbelievable

I’m perplexed. Not too many years ago it would have been thought unbelievable that the so-called ‘heart of modern democracy’ – the capitol building at the end of the Mall in Washington in the state of Columbia, U.S.A. - could be assaulted by a horde of irate people...

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Status

There is a strange stillness before the first frost dusts the mown grass white. In time past, before central heating, there was surprise and delight when one threw back the eiderdown into the freezing morning to find frost had painted delicate, spidery leaf patterns...

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Worthy

Worthy

This is the word that immediately springs to mind to describe Joe Biden, the next president of the USA. Worthy. Should I feel a tinge of guilt as well as relief? I should perhaps be more enthusiastic. Well, there is the question of age, and the irritating sequence of...

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Ballast

Some years ago in Norfolk, I wandered through the ‘piano nobile’ of Houghton Hall, built by the first prime minister of England, Robert Walpole, my thoughts warmed by the vibrant hue of mahogany furniture that soon was to become firmly out of fashion. The golden-toned...

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Mellow Fruitfulness

The consolation of an autumn prelude to winter is the return to a poem I can never forget since I chanced upon it as a teenager. ‘Season of mellow fruitfulness Close bosom-friend of the retiring sun…’ Keats, so young, so unaware that his life would be tragically...

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Heralding Autumn

The autumn equinox approaches the northern hemisphere with turbulence heralding winter. Now, as when I was a student returning from a summer to practise my tenuous knowledge of French, or Spanish or Italian, the travellers might still crowd the decks of cross-channel...

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Drizzle

High up on my list of pleasurable experiences is one involving drizzle or light rain. An ideal bedroom is one right under the roof so one might have the lullaby of the patter of rain on the roof tiles or slates. It provides the thin curtain outside the window as I...

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