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 20 April 2010


It is a singular period. The time when he can climb the Bourbon Tower's spiral staircase and step across the top of the brick wall as if there are still floorboards. Oblivious to the drop, save for the times an image from a film flashes into his head. For a moment he is in Kidnapped, the actor playing the character, camera mounted above, the well of the tower even deeper than this one, rocks falling as he treads.

It wasn't always like this, even though from the moment he realised that boys could climb out onto the tower's roof, he was fascinated, head spinning with an excitement that could never match the truth. For months, maybe even a year, the feeling and its imagery existed like ideals--magical perfected expectations.

Before he found the courage to cross, he trod the steps up to the wall several times, more than once going part-way down again before returning, willing himself to try. He took a step, then another, then was paralysed, cold, sweating, legs trembling, his mind filled with his own stupidity, his pointlessness, the certainty that he both didn't want to die and wanted to reach the other side.

Just a year after leaving Stowe he returned to the tower and crossed again for the last time. It was a cold day but sunny. The tower seemed smaller, his feet bigger. Stepping across took more courage than expected but was no big deal. Falling, for that goal, didn't seem worth it. He never crossed again.

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