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.

Saturday 30 April 2011

bluebells, wild chervil and may, benjamin and iris, beryl and georgie

Only a short working week but I felt I really needed to get out on the bike this morning.

Saw this lovely patch of bluebells on the verge towards Black Bourton--framed by wild chervil (Cow Parsley) and may blossom. Is it my imagination or are the verges round Bampton richer in wild flowers than they used to be? I remember going to an Arvon writers retreat in deepest Devon at Totleigh Barton not long after we'd moved to Bampton. The Devon verges were stuffed with wild flowers and I thought, Why aren't ours like that?

There's a theory that long-dormant wild flower seeds will come back once the council and the farmers stop spraying insecticides and herbicides so much. Maybe it's true.

Read an interesting article in the Times today about depression by the psychotherapist Benjamin Fry. When he himself suffered depression after a financial crisis, Fry found that not only his own expertise but that of fellow professionals was of no help. I was struck by these lines, 'I tried another expensive psychiatrist, a leader in his field. He thought that I woke up early because in the Stone Age my weakness would have required me to get up before other predators to find easy kills. I began to realise that no one knew anything, yet everyone had an opinion.' [My italics.] That sentence in italics reminded me of the conclusion one reaches at the end of Iris Murdoch's A Fairly Honourable Defeat. When somebody we know goes through a crisis, so many of us--me included--have an opinion but often don't really work hard enough at thinking about what is really appropriate for the person. For Fry, real help was found at the Mellody House clinic in Arizona.

Was pleased that Master Georgie won the Best of Beryl Booker. Voted for this title myself. Not just because some of my words used to appear on the back cover (maybe still do) but because it is such a fine novel. (I posted my Evening Standard review of the book to justthoughtsnstuff.com last year, when Dame Beryl Bainbridge died.)

I had to go to work yesterday, so missed the wedding. Did check out the balcony scene later online, though (the best bit?). I was surprised by how little interest there seemed to be in celebrating in Oxford, Witney and Bampton.


  1. Cow Parsley? I have been calling it Queen Anne's Lace. Is it the same thing, or have I been mis-identifying it.

  2. A lot of people call it Queen Anne's Lace, although I think that QAL used to refer to wild carrot rather than wild chervil--the former having a denser flower head with a tiny magenta spot in the middle. Having said that, meanings change and as so many people call wild chervil QAL, perhaps that is what it is now!