The value of letter writing

I’ve read many more letters than I’ve written. I can say this with absolute certainty. Some years ago I took on the fascinating task of editing the correspondence of Cicely Saunders, founder of the hospice movement. After sifting through an estimated 7,000 items, I put together a book of letters in which I had selectedContinue reading “The value of letter writing”

Responding to loss in the time of COVID: the Shoreline to Shoreline project

A few months after my father died in the spring of 1993, I was in north east Scotland, visiting friends. One afternoon, some of us took a walk along the banks of the River Deveron. Lingering with my younger son, we stood just where the waters become tidal, fossicking among beautiful pebbles and bits andContinue reading “Responding to loss in the time of COVID: the Shoreline to Shoreline project”

Introducing a journal of April 2020

An intermittent diarist throughout most of my life, I began keeping a journal from the start of the March 2020 Coronavirus lockdown. Like many others, I sensed the important intersection that was about to take place between what the American sociologist C Wright Mills called ‘private troubles and public issues’. I maintained my journal untilContinue reading “Introducing a journal of April 2020”

Down where the drumlins roll

In the early summer of 1969 and as soon as the dust had settled on my O level exams, I hitch-hiked out from my home in North Yorkshire and headed for Galloway. Unlike Richard Hannay,  the fugitive hero of John Buchan’s Thirty-Nine Steps, I was not using this corner of south west Scotland to hide from pursuers,Continue reading “Down where the drumlins roll”

Aspects of daily life

Many years ago I came across a photogravure by the French-domiciled Syrian artist Ghayath Al-Akhras. The image was entitled Passage Quotidien. Structured in descending bands of sepia, from light to dark, it depicted a simple scene on a flat-roofed house, where some family members were handing jugs of water from one to the other asContinue reading “Aspects of daily life”