Sunday, 8 September 2013

trap grounds, graffiti, bedroom window, serge doubrovsky, autofiction, hero of herat, cuba

I worked in Oxford yesterday and beforehand diverted to the Trap Grounds nature reserve while walking along the Oxford Canal (last visited on 13th July). Signs of autumn, with brown and orange-coloured leaves strewn on the walkways and spiders' webs in the trees and strung between the stems of plants. Grasses and reeds seeding.

Further down the canal I came across a footbridge stantion painted with graffiti.

Today, I finished brushing the last coat of gloss onto our front bedroom window. Painting this has been one of my holiday projects. It's been quite tricky, what with having to use a different undercoat for each of the two colours, dark blue and bright white, and lots of masking. This was the one window we didn't paint a couple of years ago and it needed doing, although the hardwood frames--over a hundred years old--seem as tough as iron.

My other holiday project--done during the first stage of the break, the week before this one--was re-felting a pitch of the allotment shed roof. Again, finishing off something started a couple of years ago. A fun, satisfying thing to do, if a little over-designed to the professional, I dare say.

Last week, I spent time researching Serge Doubrovsky on the bus to and from work. He is a French novelist who coined the term 'autofiction'. I'm interested in looking at the different ways that authors have approached the fictionalisation of biographical events because I want to write about what has happened to me in recent years. I don't, however, think I would like to have a fictional Frank Egerton and create fictional versions of family members, as Doubrovsky does, but would prefer to distil human truths from my experiences and develop imagined scenarios from those. We'll see.

Midweek, a friend sent me a scan of a book chapter about Eldred Pottinger, one of my ancestors, known as the Hero of Herat. Fascinating to read about his exploits--and indeed about his uncle, the first governor of Hong Kong, and his cousin, Frederick who ended up in Australia. (I'm looking forward to visiting cousins descended from Frederick in Canberra soon).

Lastly, there's a good article on free-enterprise reforms in Cuba in the Sunday Times today--for those with access beyond the paywall.

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