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.

Sunday 28 October 2012

marking finished, lie-in, warmer, blue trailer, mst blog, edward thomas' oxford, wio 20th

Finals marking finished for another year. A rewarding experience.

Had a lie-in this morning and have felt a good deal less awake than on previous Sundays when I've got up at 6 am...

Enjoyed cycling, though. Rather warmer than yesterday (top photo), which was freezing. There wasn't much of a frost but the wind was extraordinarily bitter.

The countryside was grey and fairly nondescript this morning, apart from the blue trailer.

Btw the MSt in Creative Writing now has a blog, which is exciting: http://blogs.conted.ox.ac.uk/mstcw.

And talking of blogs, Margaret Keeping's post on Friday featured the wonderful book on Oxford that Edward Thomas wrote. Published in 1903 by A & C Black, it has illustrations by John Fulleylove and the fee for the book apparently saved Thomas and his family from the 'gutter and bankruptcy'. Seeing the post made me want to reach for my first edition, only to find it not on the shelf. I have a feeling it's in the attic. I'll have to get the ladder down.

Meanwhile, looking forward to the Writers in Oxford 20th anniversary party at Worcester College in a couple of weeks' time. As the invitation says, it will be held in the room 'where it all began'. I'm wondering how many past chairs of the society will be there.

Sunday 21 October 2012

lie-in, webs, oed word of the day, hotchi-witchi

Decided to have a bit of a lie-in after all.  Feeling fresher for it.

Amazing webs in the hedges and on the fields, when out cycling!

Btw I subscribe to the Oxford English Dictionary's excellent Word of the day service (see oed site, box on right hand side). The word that appeared in my inbox the other day, complete with etymology and historic examples of its use, was 'hotchi-witchi', which is an English Romani word for hedgehog. Love that word!

Saturday 20 October 2012

oxford canal, streetbooks lock, bampton post office raid, log fire, cathy x

Lots of work this weekend, which means cycling in the dark both mornings. So, here are two photos I took yesterday, while walking along the Oxford canal.

The bridge over the last lock will be familiar to jtns regulars and features in The Lock, my first novel--an image of the bridge appears on the cover of the StreetBooks Kindle ebook edition.

It has been, sadly, another violent Saturday. This time closer to home. As I walked into the centre of the village, there was police tape cordoning off part of the square, an ambulance, many police cars and a dozen or so police officers, some interviewing witnesses. I saw a woman being led to the ambulance and our post office manager standing outside his premises.

From what I've learnt since, there was a raid about 9.30 am, involving two men. The woman who works behind the counter was badly beaten up. An incident that has left the village shocked and angry.

[Since writing the above, the story has started to appear in the local press.]

It is not the first raid on a business in the village since we've been here. As someone said, crooks must think little villages 'easy pickings'.

The day has been mostly overcast and cold--though there was some thin sun around noon. The ground is sodden from torrential rain during the week. A chill autumn day, therefore. Log fire this evening.

Thanks to Cathy x for the mention on her blog writeanovelin10minutesflat.

Sunday 14 October 2012

frost, gang warfare, typesetting, editing, landscapes

Up fairly early this morning because I'm marking finals scripts later. A misty start to the day.

There was a frost too and cycling was chilly as well as beautiful. When I had to brake because of an oncoming car along Calcroft Lane, I felt the tyres slip and the memory of when I came off last December returned to me and made me shudder. I've continued to feel twinges in different parts of my body all year and it's only recently that they've pretty much gone. Do not want to repeat the experience!

Yesterday, I worked at the Taylor. Had a lovely walk down the Oxford canal beforehand but when I turned into Gloucester Green bus station, heading for Caffè Nero, I suddenly noticed police tape across the entrance to the square. I asked the guy selling London tickets what was happening. There had been a fight between two gangs after the clubs emptied and one person lost an eye and another was critically ill in hospital with stab wounds. 'That's where it happened,' he said, pointing. 'There's the blood.' The pool was magenta and looked surprisingly fresh. I decided to get away from the scene-of-crime police and photographers and head for another cafĂ© on St Giles. As I walked along the top of the square looking at the debris and little yellow numbered markers by the discarded belts (weapons, I suppose) and other evidence, I felt very sad for the young lives blighted by the drunken evening--both the victims and the people who'll end up behind bars.

Meanwhile, I've been typesetting and editing A Conscious Englishman. Apart from anything else, I'm enjoying reading the novel again. The wonderful descriptions of nature and landscapes seem so far removed from what I saw at Gloucester Green. Btw the novel's author, Margaret Keeping, has just started a blog about her experience of the StreetBooks publishing process.

Which is about it for now.

Thursday 11 October 2012

oxford canal, a40, coal barges, snaky heron, rain

Lovely walk along the Oxford canal before work this morning. Though not as long a walk as I'd have liked because the traffic on the A40 was bad again and the bus didn't get in till about 8.15. All month the traffic has been bad. I don't remember it being this bad last year (showing my age with these curmudgeonly comments!).

Saw the coal barges above by the last lock before the city. A similar barge is referred to in The Lock, when Gerald, the Oxford don having an affair with a graduate student, visits his daughter Alison on her barge and learns about her way of life: 'His questions revealed that the stove was called a Squirrel and that it was kept going all the time in winter. As well as heating the living-area, a radiator in the bedroom was run off it. Coal was supplied by a firm from ‘up north’ who would phone when their barge was in the area.'

Also saw the heron again at the very end of the canal by Hythe Bridge Street--looking rather snake-like, as a friend remarked when I showed her the photo. I say it's 'the heron' but I think this is another one--a younger one.

Later, at about 11.30, the promised rain started and the day stayed pretty grey and damp after that.

Sunday 7 October 2012

flooding, great brook, wet feet, wet fields

Hadn't expected there to be any flooding when I set off on my bike ride this morning.

I knew the rain had been heavy but even so...

Great Brook out across the road in three places near Tadpole Bridge. Wet feet! Flooded fields.

Saturday 6 October 2012

oth week, downpours, mist, ace, streetbooks.co.uk, mellow, soft


Well, 0th Week is over for me. Busy, busy time, welcoming new students to the libraries and making sure they had all the info about how make the best use of the collections, as well as how to access e-resources.

Astonishing downpours over the last few days--at night especially. This morning there were giant puddles everywhere and a lot of mist about. Latter atmospherically diaphanous and not thick enough to make cycling unsafe.

Been doing some more work in connection with the new novel StreetBooks is publishing on 7th February 2013, A Conscious Englishman by Margaret Keeping--see above flier and StreetBooks website.

Looking out of the window, it's mellow autumn sunlight and a soft blue sky.