Welcome to justthoughtsnstuff

I started posting to jtns on 20 February 2010 with just one word, 'Mosaic'. This seemed an appropriate introduction to a blog that would juxtapose fragments of memoir and life-writing. Since 1996, I'd been coming to terms with the consequences of emotional and economic abuse that had begun in childhood, and which, amongst other things, had sought to stifle self-expression. While I'd explored some aspects of my life through fiction and, to a lesser extent, journalism, it was only in 2010 that I felt confident enough to write openly about myself. I believed this was an important part of the healing process. Yet within weeks, the final scenes of my family's fifty-year nightmare started to play themselves out and the purpose of the blog became one of survival through writing. Although some posts are about my family's suffering - most explicitly, Life-Writing Talk, with Reference to Trust: A family story - the majority are about happier subjects (including, Bampton in rural west Oxfordshire, where I live, Oxford, where I work, the seasons and the countryside, walking and cycling) and I hope that these, together with their accompanying photos, are enjoyable and positive. Note: In February 2020, on jtns' tenth birthday, I stopped posting to this blog. It is now a contained work of life-writing about ten years of my life. Frank, 21 February 2020.

New blog: morethoughtsnstuff.com.

Tuesday 16 March 2010

i remember, i remember

This afternoon at the LAC library I felt as if I was beginning to achieve something--for the first time since I started my new job, back in September.

It was the simplest thing that made me feel that way. I was just taking batches of weeded books off the shelf and marking their flyleaves in pencil so that I knew where each was destined. That this part of the weeding project had been completed seemed like a small triumph.

Then I thought about my first library, which I set up many years ago.

As a boy I was a compulsive--and, I have to admit, pretentious--reader. (Balzac's Black Sheep at ten... Did I understand it? Only a little, I suppose...) By the time I was in the 5th form at prep school I had about fifty books and I added them to the small collection that was kept in our classroom and was known as the Upper School Library. I got a notebook from the stationery cupboard so I could keep track of who the books were lent to.

A lovely profession, librarianship, I have to say. I'm glad I ended up going into it.

Thinking about my little library reminded me of my friends at Heatherdown, including Andrew. He was not my best friend but we got on well and he was in any case hard to ignore.

Did he use my library? Maybe, but I can't remember him doing so at all. (Andrew and I vied for 11th and 12th place all through our school careers and it must have seemed so odd to the masters, thinking about it, that I loved books so much).

We started at the school on the same day, mum and dad and all the other parents lining up in James Edwards' curiously sterile white drawing-room to meet Andrew's mum. My dad looking like a schoolboy--just like all the other dads, whether banker or marquess.

Rupert my cousin was there--his mum, Aunt Meg, had been, or still was, a lady-in-waiting.

Such a strange place, looking back, my prep school.

I remember Andrew, James S and me hanging from the hot pipes in the drying room like baby orangutans. We were trying to square our story, having been reported to the headmaster. The energy we put into that; the scenarios we created...

Not that we'd done anything serious. What we'd done was so innocent. Today, parents would laugh if they were told.


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