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...

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...

San Rocco

Five centuries or more ago in Christians would be fervently praying to San Rocco, the patron saint of plague. He is usually painted as a scantily dressed pilgrim with a staff and sores more or less prominently painted over his body, and he is particularly popular in...

The Decameron

Historians expound many themes and often disagree, but none can deny that a plague devastated Christendom in the first half of the 1300s. It was just when literature in the language of the people – – the ‘vulgar tongue’ emerged at the same time as the new...