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.

Friday 8 October 2010


Arrived in Toronto the day before yesterday for the Latin American Studies Association congress, which is being held at the Sheraton and Hilton. Was really exciting to see the first signs of Canada--lots of tiny islands--just north of Goose Bay.

Staying at the Holiday Inn on Bloor myself, which is in the heart of the University quarter. Very buzzy and full of life, this area of town. Good pubs, cafes and restaurants, plus a mass of museums and theatres, it seems like.

I've settled on Overeasy for breakfast and Hemingway's for dinner--latter washed down with a pint or two of Tankhouse, a dark red hoppy bitter.

The half-hour walk to the congress takes me through Queen's Park with it's amazing squirrels--most of which have glossy black coats (some even have white paint stripes down their tails). What an amazing sight they are. I had no idea there were such squirrels.

Downtown Toronto is pretty impressive, especially at night. The towerblocks are like light sculptures.

A couple of coincidences. On the flight out I was sitting next to an Irish guy who now lives in Canada. It turned out that his brother is best mates with the guy who owns Hamilton's bar in Leenane--a favourite pub. It was good to chat about Galway and about Canada. Then, yesterday, as I was setting off for the conference, I caught sight of someone heading into a shop out of the corner of my eye. There was something about her. 'It can't be,' I thought. But it was--a friend from Osney days, over here to talk at another conference. She's staying at the same hotel and goes back on the same flight. Weirdly wonderful.

As well as attending the conference, I'm teaching online and marking.

It's good to have a lot to do, to be honest. No matter how exciting a new city is, there are always gaps that ordinarily you struggle to fill.

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