Land of my fathers


Came across these genuinely epic photos by James Morris at Beetles + Huxley last month. A large print (at least a metre and a half wide and a metre high) was between £2,400 and £3,600 framed, which seems a good deal to me for modern art. Yes it’s expensive for many, but it’s not oligarch millionaire territory either. I like the first image especially.

Images from the BBC Wales website and, both of which ran features on Morris.

The heron-priested shore

It was my thirtieth year to heaven

Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood

And the mussel pooled and the heron-priested shore

The morning beckon

With water praying and call of seagull and rook

And the knock of sailing boats on the net-webbed wall

Myself to set foot

That second

In the still sleeping town and set forth.


The first verse of  “it was my thirtieth year to heaven” by Dylan Thomas.

Kings Lynn


Blown away by the size and elegance of Kings Lynn Minster and St Nicholas’ Chapel when I visited in August.


And how are these cobbled streets and flint facades not better known in period dramas? On the plus side it means the town is still nice and quiet, and the choppy sells cod roe and jacket potatoes for £1.35 with tea.


All photos August 2016.

Reasons to be cheerful

“Being rather silly, and porridge oats” – part of Ian Drury’s lyrics, that made me smile.

I like the patter too of:

Some of Buddy Holly, the working folly /

Good Golly Miss Molly and boats /

Hammersmith Palais, the Bolshoi Ballet /

Jump back in the alley, add goats


Backlisted is a podcast I’ve recently become so hooked on that I am forcing it on everyone I meet. Three friends in publishing meet every two weeks to talk about what they’ve been reading and a forgotten or neglected book that their guest has chosen.

The result is what can only be described as a rollicking 60 minutes of childhood memories, barely-legal gossip, and laughter. Matthew Clayton’s embittered memories of childhood trips round the south England folk scene had me nearly crying with laughter, whilst the authors they choose seem to have specialised in outrageously unbelievable lives. Erskine Childers was hailed as a true patriot by Churchill and later killed by firing squad as a traitor, Denton Welch decided to go into drag in 1930s China whilst visiting his dad on an escape from boarding school, and Nigel Balchin found time between working on national food policies and writing a novel for NASA to produce the Aero, the Kit-Kat, Black Magic and the screenplay for Cleopatra.

In between such gems are insights into publishing life, heated debates on how to make a really good pastiche, and a pile up of possible memoir titles: Devastating Boys,  Bourbon and Surnames and A Puffin in my Porridge are all on standby.

Dry as bone

There’s something about British humour that can best be summed up by one of the regular tweets on the Very British Problems feed, namely “let’s not get carried away.” The purpose is to deflate, whilst savouring the ridiculous. Here are a couple of gems:

“Friend plucks a flower and says to Alan, ‘This flower is to show my secret torment.’ Alan Bennett: ‘Right-o’

from Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe

Fraulein Mosebach followed her, but lingered to say heavily over the bannister to Margaret “It is all right – she does not love the young man – he has not been worthy of her.”

“Yes, I know, thanks very much.”

“I thought I did right to tell you.”

“Ever so many thanks.”

“What’s that?”, asked Tibby. No one told him and he proceeded into the dining room to eat Elvas plums.

Howards’ End (a much funnier book than I anticipated)

Alan Bennett’s adaptation of Wind in the Willows meant all the actors were sent to a body movement class to learn to walk like weasels and so on. On the second day, Alan Bennett noticed that Michael Bryant, who was playing Badger wasn’t there and rang him up. “Well you see, I made the most amazing discovery,” said Michael, “This Badger turns out to walk exactly like Michael Bryant.”

Another gem from Backlisted (the Martin Amis episode)

Lyme Regis


Lyme Regis: 3 hours from London by train and bus, and a former port and major fishing town. Now a mix of old cottages, bookshops, fossil museums and beach-huts, set amongst the cliffs.


photos from my Bank Holiday day trip to the Jurassic Coast, August 2016.