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 27 April 2013

first week of term, learning from students, cold again, biztro, allotment, fur, tls review

First week of term, so lots to do. Nice to see students back at the libraries and to be meeting creative writing students for tutorials. The online course I teach started this week too. I've been teaching this course since 2008, three times a year. I have to say that I still love returning to the exercises. I suppose this is because the discussions are always so different--as individual as the students in each group--and, of course, I always learn new things about the stories and issues we're looking at, as well as about how I might present my ideas. You learn from your students--one of the great things about the job.

Colder again today. Such a contrast to the sitting-out-at-the-top-of-the-garden miracle-of-a-day last Saturday. And yet spring has started and the grass, flowers, shrubs, trees and crops are all growing inexorably, all of a sudden. In the fields, the oilseed rape is just coming into flower, as the pictures above show (taken near the neighbouring village of Black Bourton).

Guests staying on two days this week, which meant a couple of visits to the excellent Biztro.

Went up to the allotment to try and get the seized-up padlock off the shed, so that I can start clearing out all the rubbish that's accumulated in there over the last decade. I need the sense of a new start to get my enthusiasm back. Then I'll prepare the ground. So late, though. After such an awful year. I've found myself wondering if the allotment is worth the effort. I dare say I'll get back into it. Wresting the padlock off was a struggle but I won in the end.

Well, demand outstripped supply as far as our dog's fur was concerned (see last week's post), once the great tits began taking it for their nests. There's only so much fur a little dog is prepared to part with!

An iffy review of A Conscious Englishman in the Times Literary Supplement this week. On the one hand I was really pleased to see the book appearing in such a prestigious publication but on the other I was disappointed by the rather cheap points the reviewer scored. The novel does divide people. Which, according to Martin Amis, is what you want in a book--it gets people talking. Still, I liked this quote from the review: 'A Conscious Englishman...turns its subject into a twentieth-century equivalent of the old-fashioned notion of Keats: a poet misvalued by his times and cruelly cut down...'

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