Saturday, 30 November 2013

in oxford, tute, library, novella, icarus, lovely memories, shropshire

















In Oxford for a creative writing tute first then a day at the library.

Lovely walk along the Oxford canal, followed, now, by camomile tea at Caffè Nero.

Have enjoyed working on a novella this week, provisionally entitled Icarus, the first draft of which was written some time ago. It's always been in the back of my mind to rework it but I couldn't see how. Now I believe I can. The novella is about a young film maker researching a story for a script in the 1980s. The story concerns a 60s political scandal and the novella is set in both decades.

Lovely memories of last weekend in Shropshire seeing family and old friends.
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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

oak

















Working late tonight, so I don't have to be in till 11 am, and as I don't have online teaching to do (the course ended last week), I went cycling.

A dull morning but the autumn colours are all the more vivid for that! Including those of this oak tree.
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Friday, 22 November 2013

jfk

















I can't remember where I was when JFK was shot. I can't remember much about the aftermath either, although at some point I must have learnt that we were distantly related. (His sister, Kathleen, had married a third cousin (shot by a sniper during the Second World War just weeks after Kathleen's brother Joe Jr was killed when his plane exploded on a bombing mission). Some years later, Kathleen was herself killed in an air crash. Such sad stories.) I remember more about Bobby's assassination. As a boy, it seemed strange that unknown relatives were being murdered in a far off land.
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A Conscious Englishman by Magaret Keeping - StreetBooks Kindle edition published 16.08.13 - visit http://www.streetbooks.co.uk for details

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Wednesday, 20 November 2013

lovely walk, heavy rain


















Lovely walk to the south of Bampton this morning. Though heavy rain came in as we were on our way back.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

time off

































Lovely couple of days off. Yesterday, a relaxing walk along the Thames from Lechlade to Kelmscott before lunch at the Five Alls at Filkins - thefiveallsfilkins.co.uk.

Today a walk from Bledington to Church Westcote followed by a pint at the Kingham Plough - thekinghamplough.co.uk - a pub I last visited nearly 30 years ago when a land agent. In those days the lunchtime pint(s) were all part of the working day. Times have changed. For the better, I feel. How did anyone stay awake!

Off to Biztro - www.biztro.co.uk - earlier this evening. Excellent.
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A Conscious Englishman by Magaret Keeping - StreetBooks Kindle edition published 16.08.13 - visit http://www.streetbooks.co.uk for details

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Saturday, 16 November 2013

malcolm parkes, punctuation

PS During Frank Cottrell Boyce's address this afternoon, it was great to be reminded of something that Malcolm said in respect of the study of medieval manuscripts that had a profound effect on me as a writer. As Frank put it, punctuation 'brings to us the voice of someone who is absent.'
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malcolm parkes

















































On my way to Oxford and the memorial service for Malcolm Parkes (en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_Parkes) who taught me when I was at Keble.

Malcolm was one of two tutors who interviewed me for a place at Keble. For much of that half-hour, though, it was difficult to see him. He was seated in a bay window smoking his pipe and it was only when he wanted to ask a question that his hand batted away the smoke and his face appeared momentarily.

I owe Malcolm, Stephen Wall and Frank Cottrell Boyce (who marked one of my two entrance papers) so much. Sitting the Oxford entrance exam and those thirty minutes being interviewed by Malcolm and Stephen were events that changed my life.

Malcolm was a hugely inspiring academic but also a very warm, kind man. I remember how he arrived at my door the day before my first-year exams (moderations) and handed me a packet of sweets and wished me good luck.

As a tutor, he gave me a love of Anglo-Saxon and Middle English literature that will stay with me always.

The last time we met, I heard his voice first as he called out his habitual greeting, 'Hello squire!' While he was frailer than even a year before, which was a shock, he was in good spirits and it was lovely to see him. We were in Sainsbury's in Kidlington.

It's a grey misty, cocooning day in west Oxfordshire as the 18 bus carries me through the autumn countryside. A melancholy day, perhaps, when I think of how long ago that interview was. Yet a beautiful day too - and I try to remember that my time at Keble taught me to value every day and all the opportunities it offers.
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A Conscious Englishman by Magaret Keeping - StreetBooks Kindle edition published 16.08.13 - visit http://www.streetbooks.co.uk for details

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Wednesday, 13 November 2013

sunrise

















Glorious sunrise (as seen from the bus stop); gorgeous, if chilly, morning.
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A Conscious Englishman by Magaret Keeping - StreetBooks Kindle edition published 16.08.13 - visit http://www.streetbooks.co.uk for details

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Saturday, 9 November 2013

freeeezing, spoilt, what's the tree?, old friend, eagle and child

















It's freeeezing!

Still, as more than one person said yesterday, it is November.

We were spoilt having no frosts until last week.

There is some beautiful autumn colour, as the photo above shows (what's the tree, though?). A lot of leaves remain green even so.

Great to meet up with an old friend from Germany last night, who was in Oxford for a conference. Lovely chat over a couple of pints in the Eagle and Child.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

cultural evening, history in the making, jeremy hughes, wingspan

































Excellent cultural evening.

A fascinating seminar at the Taylor Institution given by Sir John Elliott, who was talking about his life as a historian and the inter-disciplinary study of early 17th century Spanish history and art (drawing on his book, History in the Making).

Then it was up to Kellogg College for the launch of my colleague Jeremy Hughes' new novel Wingspan (see pics above). The novel is published by the new Manchester-based firm Cillian Press (http://www.cillianpress.co.uk/wingspan). A terrific reading! Lovely to see colleagues and former students too.
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A Conscious Englishman by Magaret Keeping - StreetBooks Kindle edition published 16.08.13 - visit http://www.streetbooks.co.uk for details

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Sunday, 3 November 2013

ethereal skies, first frost, mowing the lawn, berkshire logs, biztro, swiss chard, breathing spaces


















First cycle ride for a couple of weeks. Beautiful day with the most amazing clear sunlight and fantastic ethereal skies.

Midweek there was the first frost of the autumn but it's still warm outside today and I cut the lawn this morning - for the last time this year, I presume. Though one never knows! A log delivery yesterday - ash, silver birch and sycamore from a few miles into Berkshire.

Another delicious meal at Biztro when our friend came to stay earlier in the week.

Just been up to the allotment to harvest some Swiss chard - the only veg growing there now.

Enjoying re-reading A Spy in the House of Love by Anaïs Nin.

Needless to say, it's been a busy week, though there are some breathing spaces coming up soon. Hooray!