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 26 July 2014

dog-walking, thames valley, nft, lff, wonderful times, polanski at the rac, repulsion, spider

‎Dog-walking this morning rather than cycling.

Saw the scabious above as I set off down the gentle slope into the valley from the village. Just before I saw it, I had walked up the rise from the old ford by Primrose Cottages and suddenly the land had opened up, the Thames Valley stretching ahead at least two miles to the escarpment below the Berkshire Downs.

In the valley the corn is ripening. Such a joyous time of year.

Spent some of today continuing the preparations for the Creative Writing Summer School at Exeter College. Bringing the course materials up-to-date and adding a bit about Digital Humanities and creative writing. Would you expect anything else, after DHOxSS last week (although I'm still too close to that to make full sense of everything!)?

Last night, watched Roman Polanski's Repulsion, starring Catherine Deneuve. The last time I saw that film must have been the late 1970s. And before that I'd read the screenplay. I can't remember where I saw the film last but it could well have been the National Film Theatre.

I was at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester then and drove the M4 regularly to screenings at the NFT and, in autumn, at the London Film Festival...

...I remember attending the premier of the restored print of Abel Gance's Napoléon at Leicester Square and the premier of Cream in My Coffee - sitting next to its director, Gavin Millar, in the bar at the NFT afterwards; so exciting. But then there were gems like Hitchcock's Number Seventeen and Grierson's Man of Aran in the retrospective seasons. I loved choosing the films I was going to see at the festival from the programme, sending off my application and planning my campaign - a Hungarian film at the NFT, then a frantic tube ride to Leicester Square for the latest Truffaut. Wonderful times. The autumn sunshine on the motorway on the way up. The darkness on the way back...

...It was all in name of narrative - of understanding the different ways people tell stories. ‎The story of my life, the study of this...

‎...I remember seeing Polanski's The Tenant at the NFT and then getting it for the Agricultural College film club - I was the projectionist and could occasionally choose the films. Well, what a film that was - Polanski starring himself, putting on make up and women's clothing and throwing himself of a balcony. The audience was surprisingly quiet but not irreverent that night. I was heartened and surprised...

Seeing Repulsion last night was fun, actually. A disturbing film - more so now, I think - but wonderful in terms of its boldness; its direction and its performances. So fascinating too in terms of its images of London in the early 1960s!

Meanwhile, the heatwave continues. (Btw, look for the spider in the second-from-top photo above.)

Sunday 20 July 2014

dhoxss, whizzing ideas, relaxing, water lily, water flask, old ways

Had a great week at the Digital Humanities Summer School at Wolfson College Oxford.

Over 70 sides of handwritten notes taken, some of which I'll use for my report but most of which I'll be going through in order to follow up ideas and think through what was talked about. Such fascinating talks and workshops.

I'll blog about some of the things I learnt in due course.

This weekend has been about doing some preparation for summer teaching but has mostly been about relaxing and letting the whizzing thoughts post-summer school settle.

Took the photo of a water lily in our pond earlier - look at the flies in the centre.

Up on the allotment this morning it seemed slightly surreal to be sipping water from a Canadian Digital Humanities Summer Institute water flask (one of the giveaways at the Oxford summer school), a pair of buzzards circling above. But then, as was emphasised by a number of speakers at the summer school, the digital humanities remain all about the study of what it means to be human and aren't divorced from the old ways.

Saturday 12 July 2014

compasses, beckford, howard's, more marking, digital humanities summer school

‎Had some great days staying at the Compasses, Lower Chicksgrove, Wiltshire.

Long walks to the Beckford Arms and Howard's House Hotel for lunch.

More marking earlier, though returning to holiday mode now.

Next week it's the Digital Humanities Summer School at Wolfson College, Oxford - all week. Lots to find out about. Lots of notes to be taken. Report for Humanities Libraries to be written at the end of it.

Saturday 5 July 2014

heavy rain, tour de bampton-tour de yorkshire, guided retreat, sunny week

It was raining heavily at 5 this morning and it only began to ease off when I was about half-way round my cycling circuit (mercifully somewhat flatter than the Yorkshire Dales stage of the Tour de France with its Buttertubs Pass and whatnot).

Speaking of the Tour, there was an excellent episode of Radio 4's Open Country (Tour de Yorkshire) this morning about the history of the landscapes that the cyclists will be bombing through, including the folklore behind the Buttertubs name.)

Moved at a gentler pace this morning, even taking time out to photograph the meadow cranesbill flower above.

Just a few pages more to read for the MSt Guided Retreat that starts tomorrow before returning to undergraduate portfolio marking for the rest of today.

Luckily, given the workload, I won't have to head for the allotment to do the watering. Though it has been a treat to be out there for half-an-hour in the late evening all this sunny week, watering, weeding and tidying.