Blog - People In Mind

Simplicity

People yearn for simplicity and clarity – it was ever thus. Now in the confusion surging round the whole question of Britain’s departure from the European trading group, many just want something clear-cut to happen and are fed up with what seem like unending quibbles...

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Aleppo

I did not want to paint this word-picture, but Aleppo has crept into the news again, pulling a shroud in its wake. My memories; its wake. A rugged fortress with crusader connections overlooked a vast labyrinth of streets that seemed to wriggle, half-underground, in...

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Happenstance

Most Sundays, weather permitting, I like to explore the countryside and small towns around me, my small patch on the earth’s surface. Sea-loving friends find it strange when I tell them I would never live close to the seashore though I live on an island. Having a boat...

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Conscience

‘Thus conscience doth make cowards of us all…’ Hamlet Is there a deep, unreconcilable fault line in British democracy that is snagging the conscience of many in the Westminster ‘mother of parliaments’? I did not often agree with Mrs Thatcher, but how wise she was to...

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Harbinger

Each year I see snowdrops not only as the harbinger of spring when the earth awakens from its winter sleep, but also of hope. The word ‘harbinger’ derives from ‘herberge’ or lodging, denoting protection, like the French inn, the ‘auberge’. The harbinger was someone...

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Incomers

Each year I see snowdrops not only as the harbinger of spring when the earth awakens from its winter sleep, but also of hope. The word ‘harbinger’ derives from ‘herberge’ or lodging, denoting protection, like the French inn, the ‘auberge’. The harbinger was someone...

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Terezin

I’m not often irritated by young children, but when my friend’s five-year-old kept on coming up close to look at my face and repeat ‘blood’, I thought he was just trying out a new word and brushed him off, a trifle impatiently. But though the tiny spot on my nose...

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Maelstrom

I have just spent an unsuccessful ten minutes searching for a page of the Sunday Observer that I cut out to keep. Strangely, it too was about loss – a long pink column to the right of the page, blank below the name of a female poet who was at Terezin. Some years ago...

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Shambles

Waterfalls unite beauty with a wondrous spectacle of sound and sight. Leaning perilously over a bridge or crag, such as the spectacular Iguaçu waterfall between Argentina and Brazil, the thrill of beauty laced with fear shivers through one - unforgettably. Below is...

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Fragments

This word is being used again and again for what is happening in the ‘mother of parliaments’, or, to give it another name, in the Palace of Westminster, London. ‘What a shambles!’ Indeed, but where does that expression come from? The most picturesque street in the...

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Time for What?

These fragments I have stored against my ruins’ -  T. S. Eliot’s The Wasteland (near the end) Still clear in my memory is the sense of freedom I felt as an eight-year-old when, in a class spelling bee, I went to the top of the line for remembering ‘Mississippi’...

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Trees at Christmas

Just as we were raising our glasses to usher 2019 in, with a quiver of apprehension, the illumination of the west front of the Minster outside faded into darkness. We were toasting darkness. Appropriately. Only half-admitted, the warm light of hope did not last into...

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Seasons Greetings

I thought a lot about seasons during a November visit to Ecuador ago during the spring bulb and rose season a few years ago. Close to the equator, the sun rises and sets at about six in the morning and evening all year round. While driving through a nondescript town...

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A Stylish Style

This word is being used again and again for what is happening in the ‘mother of parliaments’, or, to give it another name, in the Palace of Westminster, London. ‘What a shambles!’ Indeed, but where does that expression come from? The most picturesque street in the...

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Passages

Fingers poised, I am about to type out a lecture on the period of art styled Mannerism, but am uncertain where to start. Yes, Florence again, not in the workshops that forged the talent of young Michelangelo and Raphael in the late 1400s, but in the Florentine court...

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Memory’s  Path

Ginnels or snickets as they are often called in Yorkshire, small alleys almost tucked out of sight. People emerge out of them unexpectedly, as if from nowhere. They lead to carpet warehouses, tiny trinket or joke shops that come and go, rarely there when one seeks...

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The Military Cross

It may be the approach of winter but now, instead of looking up at a stone retaining walls beside the rutted track in Tuscany where I imagine I’m walking in the footsteps of Leonardo da Vinci, I’m looking down at what is underneath my shoes, travelling from ruts to...

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Guido and the Charcoal burners

Each year I see snowdrops not only as the harbinger of spring when the earth awakens from its winter sleep, but also of hope. The word ‘harbinger’ derives from ‘herberge’ or lodging, denoting protection, like the French inn, the ‘auberge’. The harbinger was someone...

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Temptation and Passion

I’m not often irritated by young children, but when my friend’s five-year-old kept on coming up close to look at my face and repeat ‘blood’, I thought he was just trying out a new word and brushed him off, a trifle impatiently. But though the tiny spot on my nose...

read more

Olive Harvest

‘Thus conscience doth make cowards of us all…’ Hamlet Is there a deep, unreconcilable fault line in British democracy that is snagging the conscience of many in the Westminster ‘mother of parliaments’? I did not often agree with Mrs Thatcher, but how wise she was to...

read more