Tuesday, 12 April 2016

clanfield cross-country, bird's nest, sheldonian, 2016 mogford prize, why we write about ourselves



Walked to Clanfield cross-country on Sunday. We said it would be the last time we would do so for a while because from now on we would be working in the garden or on the allotment at weekends. But the weather is so changeable and I doubt the allotment at least will dry out for some weeks yet. Oxford clay and all. The garden, though, is free draining light soil over gravel.

Spring is springing but the landscape still looks quite bare. Saw the old bird's nest over the ditch in Marsh Lane near Clanfield.

Last week was unusually social. On Wednesday, I attended the Department for Continuing Education's degree ceremony at the Sheldonian Theatre, It was great to see Certificate of Higher Education and Undergraduate Diploma students receiving their awards. Tried to capture a flavour of the ceremony with this tweet and this one. Very enjoyable buffet supper followed at the newly refurbished common room at Rewley House - tremendous improvement on the old décor.

Thursday I went to the annual Mogford party at Quod in Oxford High Street, at which Martin Pevsner, an Oxford author, was awarded the 2016 Mogford Prize for Food and Drink Writing for ‘Çay’, which you can read online. I'd not been invited to the party before. It was a wonderful evening. Saw many old friends and some faces from the distant past. I loved the bound copies of the story that were handed out to guests. At £7,500 and with over 600 entries, this is a significant prize.

Came across a thought-provoking article about life-writing via a friend on Facebook, entitled Why We Write About Ourselves. The piece is linked to a new book called Why We Write about Ourselves: Twenty Memoirists on Why They Expose Themselves (and Others) in the Name of Literature (Plume Books, 2016), which I intend to buy. Since completing Trust: A family story - and indeed in relation to writing jtns - I have become increasingly interested in why people write memoirs and autobiography and the article provoked further contemplation. Is life-writing therapy, for example? Or part of a therapeutic process that can seem anything but therapeutic to begin with?

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