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.

Wednesday 31 March 2010


On a bus tootling through west Oxfordshire, Kings of Leon rocking through phones. Flatlands, Thames Valley lands glimpsed over high hedges, sheep nibbling roots scattered round their troughs, twenty-to-thirty swans devastating a patch of spring corn. A landscape that has been familiar in its Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire manifestations for thirty years.

Unusually, I don't have my nose buried in a short story that I'm marking, nor in some other work-related document. Yes, the assignments were returned last night and I am, at last, in post-teaching mode for a few weeks, after which...

And coming up is Easter, which I can't wait for.

Post-festival too, although Oxfringe 2010 still has a long way to run (see http://writersinoxford.org for WiO involvement).

Loved the tiny bit of the festival and fringe that I was involved in--the Blackwell's reading, the Initiate launch (a terrific event) and doing the WiO festival'n'fringe website pages. A huge thank you to Jane Bingham for organising the WiO introducers this year.

Uh-oh Use Somebody's just kicked off--not surprised it won that big US best humdinger of the year award.

Of course, I'd have liked to see more at the festival but work got in the way. Next year. Would have especially liked to see Philip Pullman, who was everywhere, but had to content myself with an excellent profile of him on Radio 4 last Sunday morning at 5.45 am and Bryan Appleyard's interesting article in the Sunday Times.

I meet Philip every so often at WiO and Oxford-related events but can't say I know him. He always knows he knows me but doesn't know where from. We meet, he asks me whether, say, I am reading at this year's festival too (he always over-promotes me), I explain that I'm editing the WiO newsletter or chairing the society but next time it's just the same. My happiest memory of him is of a hazy evening whisky tasting at his house that was led by the late drinks writer Michael Jackson. I love the way Philip has kept up his involvement with WiO after his big (big? humongous!) break. On the R4 profile it was said that he is a loyal person, which he is.

Nearly at Oxford. Looking forward to working on StreetBooks this afternoon and the coming weeks (http://www.streetbooks.co.uk). Not to mention the new novel.

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