Welcome to justthoughtsnstuff

Welcome to justthoughtsnstuff.com (jtns), which I've been writing since 2010. Most of its 680 or so posts are about day to day things - highlights from the previous week, books read, places visited - accompanied by photos of what I've seen. There are some posts, though, that deal with emotional and economic abuse that went on for several decades and that came to a head in autumn 2010. Writing jtns became in part a way of coping with the consequences of the abuse and exploring them openly. This aspect of jtns is discussed in jtns an introduction and life-writing talk, with reference to trust: a family story. Writing jtns has also helped me to keep going. Now that the pain of the past years is easing, the frequency of jtns posts is beginning to lessen and in 2020, when the blog turns ten years old, they will stop. I hope that visitors enjoy reading the posts and looking at the photos and take a little from them. Frank, October 2018
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Sunday, 25 February 2018

east wind, defining sunshine, the horseman and the wanderers by tim pears - spring reading!























Bitterly cold east wind. Yet there is also amazingly rich and defining sunshine.

Snowdrops are beginning to go over in the garden. Crocuses are in their prime.

Read a review in the TLS the other day of Tim Pears' latest novel The Wanderers, the second part of a trilogy that began with The Horseman. I have to confess that in the midst of last year's busy-ness, I missed the publication of the latter novel and am now really pleased to have been alerted to both. (Links above take you to Guardian reviews of the books.)

Set in the West Country during the early part of the twentieth century, the novels sound intensely alluring, with their promised evocations of the countryside and rural ways of life. Oxford vacations are never that much less busy than term times but there is perhaps a fraction or two of time to spare in the evenings and at weekends. I have found my spring reading!

Saturday, 17 February 2018

frosty mornings, spring sunlit days, poem
























Frosty mornings and spring sunlit days. Very uplifting and optimistic.

The daffodils ringing the bases of the lime trees along our street are all ready to flower.

I wrote the poem below this week. It is, of course, personal but I hope that something of it connects with readers. It stands alone but is also intended to be the start of a longer work.

The incident described happened a long time ago but it - and others around that time - cast a long shadow.

That phrase 'You'll get nothing' was so unexpected, so baffling. Even now, when I understand the strange thought processes behind it much more, it seems utterly bizarre - and terrifying. And prophetic - though in a way that wasn't intended.

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You'll get nothing

October 1992

Mum opens her eyes and fixes me,
brow dark, lips disdainful.
'You'll get nothing, Francis.'

At lunchtime, there was no sign that
she might make such a statement.
When afterwards she fell asleep
watching the racing she seemed OK.

As so often, her words ambush -
but quite what the purpose is,
or whether I am really the intended victim
are impossible to say.

The benefit of hindsight -
time brushing the soil from the truth
at its inscrutable pace -
will give insights.

It is as if there is another me in the room.
Someone to whom the words,
'You'll get nothing, Francis,'
seem appropriate.

I know these wrong notes,
have known them all my life.
And they do ambush you, every time.
Strike you dumb.
Not sure if you've heard right.
Self-anaesthetised, protected,
you get through the moment.

Mum observes her imbecile son,
shakes her head.
'Never mind, never mind.
Are you going to make the tea, Francis?'

Sunday, 11 February 2018

rich spring sunlight, hedge, waterlogged ditch, celendine, hail
























Rich spring sunlight this morning, giving life to everything it lit, whether the brickwork of the old piggery or the first primrose beside the pond.

Out cycling, I stopped to photograph the hedge bounding a field near Lew that I've revisited in this blog a number of times since January 2012.

A short section was laid each year and now the whole roadside boundary is done.

But today the light wasn't right and I decided not to take a picture. Then I looked across the lane and saw the waterlogged ditch and field beyond. Beside where I had set down my bike a celendine was almost out. Both in their way images of early spring.

By the time I was home the hail was starting.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

balmy january, freezing february, melodious birdsong, cruellest month?, educated by tara westover, eight goldfinches!























Brrr! Pretty chilly these past few days.

Sometimes the views are gorgeous and the light can be full of spring and hope but the cold really gets to you.

All the worse because the balmy days of late January made me think that we'd got through winter and, hey presto, it was all birdsong and budding trees.

I always forget freezing February.

Though I have to admit that the lengthening days do make you feel like the world is waking up in spite of everything. There is, in fact, a lot of melodious birdsong accompanying amorous skirmishes, with flappings of wings, plumage boldly defined and luminescent.

TS Eliot thought April the cruellest month but I can't help feeling that the first days of February can have their sadistic moments.

Read a terrific review of a new memoir on Sunday. Educated by Tara Westover (Hutchinson, £14.99) is written by a woman who recently graduated with a PhD in intellectual history from the University of Cambridge, despite having had no formal education up to the age of seventeen. Brought up in a survivalist family in a 'jagged little patch of Idaho', she, as Helen Davies writes in the Sunday Times:

'...showed the most remarkable resilience in the face of extreme poverty, rigid religious beliefs, violence and family betrayals. It is a beautifully written account of how she grasps the sheer enormity of the world - and struggles to find her own place within it. The result is a memoir that is fit to stand alongside classics by the likes of Jeanette Winterson and Lorna Sage, Andrea Ashworth and Patricia Lockwood.'

Wow!

Of course, the Sunday Times piece is behind the paywall... So, here's an open review from Kirkus.

Returning to birds, a better tally than last year during the Big Garden Birdwatch, including eight goldfinches! Eight! Not that I think of the BGB as a competitive sport or anything...