One morning last week I looked out of my bedroom window into the dark, slumbering Mill Hill street to find that Jack Frost and his elfin helpers had been tripping hither and yon during the night, flicking their fairy brushes to paint trees, pavements and car windows with a dainty crystal dusting. That’s enough of …

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British Summer Time ended on October 31st . This was, for me, more of a trick than a treat because I was still waiting for summer to start. I hate having to get up in the dark: I tell myself it’ll be cold, I don’t need to get up right now; I’ll function better if I …

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I’ve had to find a new writing space. I find I can’t write in the house any more. It’s because I’m never alone and even when things are quiet, the thought that I might get interrupted distracts me. It’s not just the people (who, by the way, are not discouraging but neither do they encourage …

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My father, my writing inspiration, passed away this May. I’ve posted about him before. Here is some more, to explain why I consider him a remarkable man. He was born in Liverpool, England, and left school in 1939 to study chemistry shortly before the start of the Second World War. While a student, working as …

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Recently, my brother recommended I read The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem (1965), who’s better known for writing Solaris. The Cyberiad is a collection of stories written about two robotic “constructors”. Most of the characters are robots or intelligent machines of some type and the stories appear to aim at a deeper philosophical message. My brother …

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Last summer I graduated from the Open University with a first class honours degree in English. It was the nearest I could get to turning the clock back 36 years and doing things differently, studying arts not sciences. Since then, I’ve had a chance to step back and think about English itself. English has acquired …

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My family and other animals Some people can only read a book once, because – they say- they know what’s going to happen. There are some books I would never read again. There are some that I can’t even finish; in fact, I find the measure of a good book is how long it takes …

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It’s official – I am constipated. When it comes to writing, nothing will flow. All I manage to produce is those things that only a rabbit would be proud of…not for nothing do they call it writers block. But where is the Senokot, the cascara, even the vile castor oil, of the pen? Enough already …

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I’d swim every day if I could. I go early and try to do a kilometre, although sometimes it’s more like a mile by the time I’ve gone round the chatting, shower-capped ladies festooned with bling (swimming isn’t good for you unless you actually move) and folk who do nothing but wade. When I do get …

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You’d think it’d be easy to come up with ideas for stories when there are so many words to choose from in the English language. It has acquired the largest vocabulary of all the world’s languages, perhaps as many as two billion words, and has generated one of the noblest bodies of literature in the …

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