Sunday, 29 September 2013

Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music

The other day I went out for a run after a particularly hard day at work. I needed it. It had a been non-stop all day, busy from morning until late in the afternoon and despite cycling home, I felt that my body would thank me for the extra physical exertion. I was not wrong. I felt more invigorated after my seven-mile run. Moreover, at some point whilst jogging up a long and steep hill I began to think of the links that binds us humans together.

This reflection came on the back of a discussion I had heard on Radio Four that morning. The debate was about a new book about China’s supposed "Golden Age". An era that started in 1949 with the founding of the People’s Republic of China. An era that also unleashed massive economic and social reforms. An era that brought us Mao Zedong. There were two people in the studio; one was the author of the book, a British man. The other one was a Chinese woman who had carried out interviews with people who had lived through those years. The British man argued that the Golden Era in China had never really happened. The woman countered his point with empirical evidence that it had.

Mao: did he really preside over a "Golden Age"?
At the same time I was thinking about the late Chinese leader, the image of Nelson Mandela flashed before my eyes. Maybe because the ex-president of South Africa has not been well in the last few months and at some point we thought that we would lose Madiba. Or maybe because I began to think of universal characteristics that connect people like Mao to Mandela. Not ordinary features like breathing, sleeping and defecating. We all share those. I was more interested in these two men’s similarities against their many different traits.

One similarity that came to my head straight away was their historical timing. Not that they had anything to do with it. I guess that history is sometimes arbitrary. Mandela’s timing was slow-burning (after all, he spent 27 years in jail), but that contributed towards having a more positive impact on its long-term goals. Mao’s timing was more fortuitous. The PRC came into being after a century of pillaging and ravaging in China. Mao found a population craving for change and willing to do anything to bring about stability. With this in mind it is not hard to understand why so many people heeded his call to Leap Forward.

But, is understanding Mao the same as condoning his atrocious acts? Are we not excusing evil behaviour when we attempt to look beyond the pile of dead bodies his dictatorship left behind? And if it’s evil, then is it not human?

As far as I know Mandela has never overseen the extermination of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of his compatriots. I don’t even think he has ever ordered the execution of a fellow human being. It would be easy, but too simplistic in my opinion, to say that Mao Zedong was evil and Nelson Mandela is a good human being. To me the real difference, but, also similarity, paradoxically, is how they both used their inner self-worth and the cultural and spiritual factors, prevalent in their respective societies, to advance the socioeconomic cause of their countrywomen/men. Where their paths parted was on the methods they used. Mao sought to wipe out Chinese people’s individuality in order to turn it into a homogenous mass that served the interests of the new state and oligarchy. Mandela, on the other hand, wanted to wipe out the shadow that apartheid had long cast over black South Africans. He didn’t just want a fairer (or rather, fair) society, but also equal opportunities for all, black and white.

This might explain why China’s so-called Golden Age was followed by a dark period of famine and devastation. Whatever Mao’s achievements were, he forgot about empathy. And without empathy, the dignity of many Chinese took a blow. Mandela, on the other hand, wanted not just black people to empathise with other black people, but also white people to look at apartheid for what it was: a hideous system based on the supposed superiority of one race over another.

There is not right or wrong about my reflection today. Maybe you believe that Mao was right to do what he did and how he did it. Somehow, though, I have always felt when I read about his excesses, that the more you focus on the idea, the more you disregard your fellow humans and the links that bind us together.

© 2013

Next Post: “Killer Opening Songs”, to be published on Wednesday 2nd October at 11:59pm (GMT)

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Urban Diary

The first thing I notice is their heads poking above the wall. They move almost uniformly, one behind the other before disappearing down the stairs. Like plastic figures on a conveyor belt they descend en masse, the snaking, metallic, eight-coach long monster having burped them out at the station.

I am on my bike, stationery at the pedestrian crossing, letting parents and children with whom I am now quite familiar, cross. A few feet in front of me the crowd of black blazers and ties, and white shirts, thins out and becomes a single file walking on the pavement. Some stop at the cornershop (no more than two at a time a signs reads) whilst others take a right (and a wrong one at that) turn for a quick ciggie before lessons. The early morning mist merges with the hazy urban horizon. Cars swish their tails and toot their horns as they negotiate the narrow road under the bridge. Some of the black blazers spill onto the street making it difficult for motorists (and cyclists) to manoeuvre properly. Words are exchanged. Near-misses occur. We all compete for a space in this corner of London. I can see an adult muttering “One of these days...” One of these days adults will stop muttering “One of these days” when they realise that they were once the subject of oneofthesedaysery themselves not so long ago.

At the head of this black blazers’ column travels the Year 7 contingent. You can tell they are the new ones. Their clothes are two sizes too big, their shoes haven’t yet lost their early September shine to impromptu football matches in the local park and they haven’t adopted the sullen look that their elder counterparts sport. Their short stature contrasts with the three high-rises past which they walk. There is another reason why these temporary dwarves are easy to spot: they walk in a hurry. They seem to drag their bags on the pavement as they rush to a new but, to them at least, safe environment. I guide my bike away from the crowd of black blazers and ties, and white shirts. But only until tomorrow.

© 2013

Next Post: “Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music”, to be published on Sunday 29th September at 10am (GMT)

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music

One of the oddest phenomena I’ve come across in schools, and yet it’s quite common, is that of students’ perceptions of themselves and of their limitations. At the moment I am teaching German to a group of ten pupils as part of an initiative in the school where I work to provide a (mostly) staff-led, skills-based programme to students from Years 3 to 6.

This “college” idea, which has been going for a few years now, aims to offer opportunities to students to which many of them would not normally have access because of their economic background. At the same time it encourages staff, both teaching and non-teaching, to make use of skills they already possess and which they want to share with pupils. Occasionally, you find a member of staff developing their career further as a consequence of having taught at our college. Because this “college” takes place only once per week in the afternoon, the atmosphere is more relaxed when you walk around the school. It was this idea of alternative, fun, teaching that led me to join in this year.

Before I carry on, though, a disclaimer. I am writing in a personal capacity and this post in no way reflects my employer’s opinions.

What I have found out in my first two weeks with this group of students is that some of them have already internalised other people’s perceptions of them and allowed these people to place limitations on their learning. I don’t know whether this comes from home via their parents or carers, or if it is their teachers labelling them, or if, perhaps, their classmates have a role to play in this situation. What is real is that these are very young children, between 8 and 11 years old, with a low opinion of themselves. To make matters worse, a new consultation led by Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg and David Laws, schools minister, won’t help these kids.

Tarring and feathering: do we want the same for our children?
Under new proposals the government aims to tell parents of 11-year-olds where their child’s precise scores are in English and Maths tests. Parents will, then, find out where these scores place their child in the national range of attainment, how much progress their offspring has made since age seven and...

... and cue horror and panic. Because, you would, wouldn’t you? You would panic if someone told you that your little Johnny or little Jenny is not up to the level s/he should be. Basically, what these tests will be telling is that s/he’s thick. Clegg’s argument, that this new proposal will raise standards, is nonsense. You don’t raise standards by labelling children, especially at that young age. You raise standards by going out of your way to make sure that children get an all-round education.

An all-round education for me is not just knowing what a metaphor is, but how certain situations are metaphors for how we relate to people in life. An all-round education is developing ways in which children learn how to choose a friend, the qualities that make a good friendship and how important it is to think of your other half as your friend. An all-round educations aims to raise awareness of the cycle of life, making it clear to children that wrinkles, loss of hearing and poor eyesight are natural processes and that some people go through these stages and others don’t. Above all, an all-round education is one where students are not passive recipients but active agents. Agents for the acquisition of knowledge and the reasoning of it. Having a critical mind is fundamental to understanding the world in which we live.

We know that there are children who lag behind. They don’t need a tag, they need support. They need education to come to them sideways, since maybe the full frontal approach doesn’t work. The last thing they need is a sign hung around their necks that reads, “not secondary school ready”.

I look at the ten pupils whom I teach every week, their hands up in the air wanting to answer a question in German or about a German-speaking country and I wonder: which one will succeed? Which one will fail? And what do “succeed” and “fail” mean in this context? Maybe one of them will end up working in a bakery, waking up at 3 o’clock in the morning to make the dough, earning a pittance but happy because s/he has a partner who is supportive, their own place and a cat. Who knows? And the place where the scene above will take place: Austria. Or Switzerland. Or Luxembourg. In that case they’ll realise that the German they learnt for those five or six weeks was worth their time and effort.

© 2013

Next Post: “Urban Diary”, to be published on Wednesday 25th September at 11:59pm (GMT)

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Food, Music, Food, Music, Food, Music... Ad Infinitum

Last week I cooked a version of my spiced chicken with dates and I included lamb for the first time. Slowly, but surely, I have been weaning my children on lamb meat. I love it myself. It's so tender and the way it sizzles on the pan is a joy to watch. That's why I am posting the recipe below tonight. This will be my next challenge. The recipe is by Angela Hartnett, who is the chef patron at Murano restaurant. The photograph was taken by Linda Nylind for The Guardian.

Lamb and aubergine with gremolata

8 lamb chops
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp of chopped mint
1 tbsp of chopped flat-leaf parsley
Rind of 1 lemon
½ tsp English mustard
150ml olive oil
100g feta cheese, crumbled
1 small aubergine, sliced lengthways

Season the lamb chops, place them in a large tray under a hot grill, for three or four minutes on each side, making sure the fat renders down to become nice and crispy.

Meanwhile, mix the garlic, lemon rind, mint, parsley and mustard with about four tablespoons of oil.

Remove the lamb chops and rest them somewhere warm.

Add the rest of the oil to the grill pan. Season the aubergine and grill on medium for a few minutes either side until soft (if necessary, give them a couple of minutes in the oven at 180C).

Place the chops and aubergine on a serving dish, scatter the feta on the aubergine, then spoon the mint and parsley dressing over the whole dish

The music tonight is as crispy as and nice as those lamb chops. That's why I am opening with Bonobo's Cirrus, a funky, groovy number that'll have your head bobbing up and down. Enjoy.

I mentioned lamb's tender meat before and Edie Brickell And New Bohemions remind of my tender, younger years. Oh, those were the days!.1988, I was seventeen and listening to What I Am in parties in Havana. One for the oldies.

My next guests tonight have Eurovision Song Contest stamped all over their Chechen, Serbian, Bosnian and Herzegovinian foreheads. Yet, when I first heard this track I couldn't stop tapping my foot. In the same way that the combination of garlic, mint, parsley and mustard work wonder, so does DelaDap's Crazy Swing. C'mon, just get up and dance, you know you want to!

Introduced on this blog last weekend and brought back tonight to close this celebration of food and music. This song was also the closing number at the Rich Mix this summer gone when I first saw Katey Brooks. I love the way scenery, music and voice blend together to provide a magical moment. B****, Don't Kill My Vibe is a special melody to welcome autumn, one of my favourite seasons. Thanks.

Next Post: "Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music", to be published on Sunday 22nd September at 10am (GMT)

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music

You don't so much make a grand entrance upon arrival in Shropshire as tip-toe into it. In fact, you are already in the West Midlands county by the time you realise. One minute you find yourself on the M40 coming from London, the next you are driving on the M42 and before you know it you’re sandwiched by country lanes. Beautiful but dangerously narrow country lanes. Tooting your horn before each bend, alerting other drivers of your presence.

I had an absolute ball in Shropshire. Having been to Wales before, three years ago, this time my wife and two children spent eight days next door. And I mean next door. One day I went to Knighton with two of my brothers-in-law to do some shopping. The first thing I noticed was the accent of the folk in the little town. After I enquired about it I was told that I was now in Wales. That was a permanent feature of my sojourn in Shropshire. We kept crossing into Hereford and Wales and back into Shropshire.

Not that it mattered. We were all looking for relaxation, pure air and fun activities. We got those three things by the bucketload. First of all, we stayed in a converted barn that ought to be featured in one of those property programmes Channel 4 is so fond of producing. The Barn at Ryecroft is a picture-perfect, idyllic place to in which to spend your holidays. This – very reasonably priced - hay and stable conversion has solid pine beams, a wood burning stove (which we lit one night, well, you had to, really, although it never got chilly), two bedrooms (with a top bunk bed for the lucky child) and plenty of attractions nearby. This is the sort of rural retreat I could see myself buying in a few years’ time when I have enough money (yeah, right, dream on, my boy).

One of the local attractions was cycling. We searched online for cheap bicycle hires and Wheely Wonderful Cycling came out on top. Easy to see why; they had the works and their rates were affordable. Located in the Petchfield Farm, Wheely offered a wide range of routes on, mostly, traffic-free roads. The first time we got our bikes we went to Leintwardine, an old village with plenty of Roman history behind. We had our lunch on the banks of the River Teme on a day when the temperature was neither warm nor cold, just perfect. The second time we ventured further afield and chanced upon Hopton Castle, which played an important role in the English Civil War, on our way to the Rocke Tea Rooms. These were highly recommended by the people who ran Wheely Wonderful Cycling. And you know what, my lovely readers and fellow bloggers? The hype was justified. I had the best coconut and blueberry cake I’ve ever had in my life.

Another attraction was the town of Ludlow. I have a soft spot for quaint British villages and towns. In Ludlow’s case, besides having souvenir and antique shops, it has also gained a reputation over the years as a gastronomic haven. I must admit at this point that Michelin ratings do nothing for me. Give me pub grub anytime. Still, the Hindu couple who run The Plaice on the high street makes one of the better kebabs I’ve ever eaten. Plus, it was put on naan bread as opposed to pitta. Kudos for that.

After four days on our own as a family at the Barn at Ryecroft we joined my wife’s brothers and mother for a big reunion to celebrate the latter’s 80th birthday. Her big eight-oh was actually back in February but this was the first time this year that he whole family came together. Eighteen people in a spacious, luscious and picturesque farm in the middle nowhere. Not even a phone signal could you get in Orchard House, a converted cow byre in Hicks Farm. There was however access to Wi-Fi, one of those modern quirks that I can’t quite figure out. There was even an indoor swimming pool which delighted children adults alike.

Like the Barn at the Ryecroft, Hicks Farm offered plenty of activities within walking distance. That word, “walking”, was key. I love going for a wander whenever I find myself in a rural area and there was no shortage of places to visit. One day we all got into our cars and drove all the way to the Long Mynd, one of Shropshire’s natural wonders. Once there we went for a short walk. Around us a sea of heather stretched well beyond our field of vision. Another time I took a stroll from the Hicks Farm down country lanes to a nearby second-hand bookshop I had seen a few days before when we had been riding our bikes. The physical effort was complemented by the smell of moth-eaten books, some of them with dog-eared, yellow, stained pages. I bought a very basic step-by-step guide to drawing (long story, no time to explain now) and after a while headed back to the farm.

If there was a downside to our holiday (and really, nothing stood out as negative) it was the length of it. I wish we had stayed longer at the Barn at Ryecroft. And the second minus was an outing we took to Kingsland to eat at a pub called The Angel. The food, although nice, was too pricey and we felt ripped off. Plus, one of the waitresses was somewhat rude.

I will never forget Shropshire, its rolling hills, its narrow lanes and rich history. I would strongly recommend all the places where we stayed to anyone wanting to get acquainted with the British countryside. Believe you me, it was a very enjoyable experience.

© 2013

All photos taken by the blog author

Next Post: “Food, Music, Food, Music, Food, Music... Ad Infinitum”, to be published on Wednesday 18th September at 11:59pm (GMT)

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Food for Thought on a Summer Sunday Morning (and Music, too!)

For several weeks now Radio 2 presenter Jeremy Vine has explored one of those issues that we all take for granted and to which we rarely pay any attention: what makes us human? Parallel to the Radio 2 series, the New Statesman has been asking leading writers, comedians and artists the same question. Author P D James's recent contribution to the magazine is one I hope you will enjoy. The article is reproduced here without any permission. My blog-vacation has come to an end and I will be returning to my cyber-lair next week to share with you all a good, old cup of steaming coffee, my reflections on the world in which we live and music of the same high quality as the clip today.

Who are you calling animal?
What makes us human is the brain which enables us to ask just this question. We are aware how much we share with the animal kingdom and how close our DNA is to that of the higher mammals. We increasingly hear how much we all have in common with animals. Animals often show at least an equal concern with looking after their young. We know that elephants can grieve, that chimpanzees and other apes learn to use tools and even to share them, so there is the beginning of what we think of as unselfish sharing for mutual benefit. But animals, even those whose DNA is closest to ours, cannot make or control fire.

One wonders how this powerful tool was first discovered, perhaps by primitive man constantly rubbing two dry sticks together in a moment of boredom and producing a spark that lighted a pile of dry leaves. With this apparent miracle a significant step in the long rise to humanity was taken. Fire could be used to frighten away predators, provided the warmth which enabled early man to survive extreme cold and gave him the ability to cook meat and render it more digestible and life-sustaining. The making of fire was one of the most important discoveries which set human beings on the path to domination.

But most people, when faced with the question of what makes us human, give thought to a wider dimension than the difference between Homo sapiens and the animal kingdom, a dimension which includes ethics and morality and the recognition of responsibility for other than the immediate family or species. An animal has no concept of reality outside its own life and that of its young, and its place in the herd. Because we have the capacity to imagine and sympathise with the emotions including the pain of others, surely that implies a responsibility to alleviate suffering and promote well-being among all sentient creatures, including the animals of which we make use for our sustenance, convenience and pleasure.

To describe a person as acting like an animal is an insult, while the expression, “crime against humanity”, implies that there is some behaviour regarded as so appalling that the perpetrator is offending against a recognised code of what is acceptable from human beings. If the offence is committed by a single individual he is commonly labelled a psychopath, a diagnosis which it is seldom possible to follow with effective treatment. If the outrage is committed by a country, as with genocide, international opprobrium and a system of reparation, where this is possible, usually follow. We have the ability, both internationally and at home, to militate against behaviour we view as unacceptable and to make it illegal and punishable by law. We set up complicated legal and social contrivances designed to enable us to live together in peace and safety and which, in all civilised societies, are accepted and incorporated in words. The extent and richness of a country’s language is among the most important measures of its civilisation, and it is primarily language which makes us human.

When we think about what it means to be human, often we are considering what personal preoccupations, ambitions and conduct to others make us unique creatures on the planet. Unlike animals, human beings occupy their minds with concerns outside the compulsions of sex, food, shelter and the herd: the creation of our universe, the possibilities that other planets might sustain life and that eventually we shall make contact with other intelligent beings and communicate with them. We create gods ranging from tribal images in wood and stone to complicated theological arguments, and set up organisations to accommodate these deities and define the obligations of belief and worship.

But in the end the simple difference remains. Over millions of years the Darwinian process of evolution which has given us a Newton, a Shakespeare and a Mozart, has resulted in the human capacity to think, to wonder, to create and to invent. The capacity which enables us to use science to destroy each other in wars is also used to conquer disease, with the risk that we reproduce in numbers which inevitably outstrip the natural resources on which we depend. Unlike animals, we have the means to destroy Planet Earth by our greed, or to make it a safer place in which all living creatures can live.

How should we relate to each other? How do we deal with those aggressive impulses which seem to be in our nature? How do we tolerate people who are different, especially when they come to live among us? How should we educate our young? Is the nuclear family the only right pattern for marriage and parenthood? How can we save the planet which we alone among living creatures have the power to destroy? This is the ultimate question which faces us as humans and it is one of which the animal kingdom is oblivious. It is our responsibility, and it is this responsibility that makes us human.

Next Post: "Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music", to be published on Sunday 15th September at 10am (GMT)

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Food for Thought on a Summer Sunday Morning (and Music, too!)

The following essay by the writer Jhumpa Lahiri is an example of how an author writing about her or his craft is as pleasant as reading one of her or his books. First published in The New York Times as part of Draft, a series on the art of writing, Lahiri's piece is posted here without any permission. I hope you enjoy it. I'm still on cyber-vacation.

My Life’s Sentences- by Jhumpa Lahiri

In college, I used to underline sentences that struck me, that made me look up from the page. They were not necessarily the same sentences the professors pointed out, which would turn up for further explication on an exam. I noted them for their clarity, their rhythm, their beauty and their enchantment. For surely it is a magical thing for a handful of words, artfully arranged, to stop time. To conjure a place, a person, a situation, in all its specificity and dimensions. To affect us and alter us, as profoundly as real people and things do.

I remember reading a sentence by Joyce, in the short story “Araby.” It appears toward the beginning. “The cold air stung us and we played till our bodies glowed.” I have never forgotten it. This seems to me as perfect as a sentence can be. It is measured, unguarded, direct and transcendent, all at once. It is full of movement, of imagery. It distills a precise mood. It radiates with meaning and yet its sensibility is discreet.

When I am experiencing a complex story or novel, the broader planes, and also details, tend to fall away. Rereading them, certain sentences are what greet me as familiars. You have visited before, they say when I recognize them. We encounter books at different times in life, often appreciating them, apprehending them, in different ways. But their language is constant. The best sentences orient us, like stars in the sky, like landmarks on a trail.
They remain the test, whether or not to read something. The most compelling narrative, expressed in sentences with which I have no chemical reaction, or an adverse one, leaves me cold. In fiction, plenty do the job of conveying information, rousing suspense, painting characters, enabling them to speak. But only certain sentences breathe and shift about, like live matter in soil. The first sentence of a book is a handshake, perhaps an embrace. Style and personality are irrelevant. They can be formal or casual. They can be tall or short or fat or thin. They can obey the rules or break them. But they need to contain a charge. A live current, which shocks and illuminates.

Knowing — and learning to read in — a foreign tongue heightens and complicates my relationship to sentences. For some time now, I have been reading predominantly in Italian. I experience these novels and stories differently. I take no sentence for granted. I am more conscious of them. I work harder to know them. I pause to look something up, I puzzle over syntax I am still assimilating. Each sentence yields a twin, translated version of itself. When the filter of a second language falls away, my connection to these sentences, though more basic, feels purer, at times more intimate, than when I read in English.

The urge to convert experience into a group of words that are in a grammatical relation to one another is the most basic, ongoing impulse of my life. It is a habit of antiphony: of call and response. Most days begin with sentences that are typed into a journal no one has ever seen. There is a freedom to this; freedom to write what I will not proceed to wrestle with. The entries are mostly quotidian, a warming up of the fingers and brain. On days when I am troubled, when I am grieved, when I am at a loss for words, the mechanics of formulating sentences, and of stockpiling them in a vault, is the only thing that centers me again.

It's never too early to start building sentences
Constructing a sentence is the equivalent of taking a Polaroid snapshot: pressing the button, and watching something emerge. To write one is to document and to develop at the same time. Not all sentences end up in novels or stories. But novels and stories consist of nothing but. Sentences are the bricks as well as the mortar, the motor as well as the fuel. They are the cells, the individual stitches. Their nature is at once solitary and social. Sentences establish tone, and set the pace. One in front of the other marks the way.

My work accrues sentence by sentence. After an initial phase of sitting patiently, not so patiently, struggling to locate them, to pin them down, they begin arriving, fully formed in my brain. I tend to hear them as I am drifting off to sleep. They are spoken to me, I’m not sure by whom. By myself, I know, though the source feels independent, recondite, especially at the start. The light will be turned on, a sentence or two will be hastily scribbled on a scrap of paper, carried upstairs to the manuscript in the morning. I hear sentences as I’m staring out the window, or chopping vegetables, or waiting on a subway platform alone. They are pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, handed to me in no particular order, with no discernible logic. I only sense that they are part of the thing.

Over time, virtually each sentence I receive and record in this haphazard manner will be sorted, picked over, organized, changed. Most will be dispensed with. All the revision I do — and this process begins immediately, accompanying the gestation — occurs on a sentence level. It is by fussing with sentences that a character becomes clear to me, that a plot unfolds. To work on them so compulsively, perhaps prematurely, is to see the trees before the forest. And yet I am incapable of conceiving the forest any other way.

As a book or story nears completion, I grow acutely, obsessively conscious of each sentence in the text. They enter into the blood. They seem to replace it, for a while. When something is in proofs I sit in solitary confinement with them. Each is confronted, inspected, turned inside out. Each is sentenced, literally, to be part of the text, or not. Such close scrutiny can lead to blindness. At times — and these times terrify — they cease to make sense. When a book is finally out of my hands I feel bereft. It is the absence of all those sentences that had circulated through me for a period of my life. A complex root system, extracted.

Even printed, on pages that are bound, sentences remain unsettled organisms. Years later, I can always reach out to smooth a stray hair. And yet, at a certain point, I must walk away, trusting them to do their work. I am left looking over my shoulder, wondering if I might have structured one more effectively. This is why I avoid reading the books I’ve written. Why, when I must, I approach the book as a stranger, and pretend the sentences were written by someone else.

Next Post: "Food for Thought on a Summer Sunday Morning (and Music, too!)", to be published on 8th September at 10am (GMT)


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