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 22 November 2015


Worked in Oxford yesterday at the Taylor.

When I was out getting in the bird feeders to fill them at 5.15 yesterday morning, it was beginning to snow but it soon passed. Hungry birds, though, this year. Not many berries on the trees - at least in west Oxfordshire.

I got off the bus at First Turn and did the Wolvercote, Godstow, Thames path, Binsey walk into town and had one of those amazingly powerful set-you-up-for-the-day Americanos that they serve at
Maison Blanc before going to work.

An extraordinary morning of gloom, bright sunshine and almost sepia Tim Buton horror landscapes.

Met someone in Maison Blanc who I have bumped into only once since days at the Red Lion, Steeple Aston around 1984. Lovely to see you again, James.

This has been a week - since Wednesday, at least. Since the policeman came to the door. I never saw this coming. He told me that my Mum had died. She had collapsed in the street and could not be revived. I imagine her getting up that morning and going about her day, then setting off for the shops. I am pleased that she didn't suffer and enjoyed good health till the last.

Our relationship hadn't been easy during the nineties and the early years of this century but over the last couple of years I think she was happier than she had been for many decades and we'd had some lovely chats about the old days and the happiest times we'd shared.

And however difficult the journey, you can't sever that special bond that you have with your mum. Well, I might have thought that it had been severed at some time in my life but now the end has come I know it hadn't been. I remember as a kid performing magic tricks in front of my parents - and the dogs (though I don't think they were concentrating quite as hard as they might). I had one of those packs of cards that you flick in a certain way and it is just normal, with all the suits and values, but flick it a different way and all the cards are the ace of spades. It's easy to look back at the difficulties but there were downs and ups, and I owe so much to Mum for the ups.

I think that although it didn't seem like it at the time, getting a lot of difficult subjects out into the open some time ago was a good thing. It left us with a lot of knowledge of one another and few illusions and in these last years there were times of ease and happiness that set the world to rights.

She was a woman one could never forget. She can not but live on in the memories of those that knew her.

I have tried to keep working as much as possible since she died to try and stop myself thinking about what has happened - though the feelings come at you in waves anyway.

When I got to Binsey and Bossoms boat yard this morning, the wind was making the cords tap against the masts of the dinghies. I recorded the sounds - somewhat blowy but here they are, for better or for worse.

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