In Praise of Punk

I don’t care how nice a person you are, I don’t mind betting you occasionally have a bad thought. What distinguishes us is how we deal with the feeling: how we expend it.

Back in the day, while working on a supermarket cash register during my school holidays, I noticed that the well-to-do lady I was serving was visibly sneering at a couple of punks who had joined the queue behind her. They were a boy and a girl obviously in love: classic, charismatic punks, with torn clothes and spiky hair.  Continue reading “In Praise of Punk”

Sixteen Snippets Of Happiness In Trying Times

Be happy in trying times

The International Day of Happiness is on Friday 20th March in 2020 – happiness has never seemed so important or elusive.

I’m sharing sixteen more of my favourite happiness quotes as a gesture of solidarity. Every little helps as we try to reach out as cheerfully as we can to others, in a world where society is hunkering down.

Please join in and commemorate the day if you can. Continue reading “Sixteen Snippets Of Happiness In Trying Times”

March Giveaway: Two Free E-books from Hinterlands Press

I rarely reblog – this is only my second time in seven hundred posts. Regular readers may have noticed Laurie Graves’s insightful and unfailingly supportive remarks in my blog’s comments section. Laurie, a talented writer, is offering us the chance to download the first two ebooks in her Great Library Series of YA fantasy novels free of charge on Amazon until March 14th 2020. Continue reading “March Giveaway: Two Free E-books from Hinterlands Press”

20 Quotes from Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

20 quotes from Marcus Aurelius

At one time, I kept a Roman Emperor’s ‘Meditations’ on the corner of my desk at work so I had ready access to a consoling or restraining line from a wise and gentle counsellor. Flicking through the pages at random for a minute or two could always give me the boost I needed. 

Marcus Aurelius ruled in a time of currency devaluation, war, flooding, starvation, infectious diseases, plots and coup attempts. His wife gave birth to at least 13 children. Only five were alive when he died. His words are directed to himself: we overhear them and can interpret them as we choose. I have always liked the idea that he lived at the extreme end of a bell curve – he understood glory, sadness, responsibility, politics and power and held on to his humanity under pressure that dwarfs anything I hope to understand or experience. Here are some of my favourite Marcus Aurelius quotes:

1. You will not easily find a man coming to grief through indifference to the working of another’s soul; but for those who pay no heed to the motions of their own, unhappiness is their sure reward.

2. Dig within. There lies the well-spring of good: ever dig, and it will ever flow.

3. Your mind will be like its habitual thoughts; for the soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts.

4. Today I have got myself out of all my perplexities; or rather, I have got my perplexities out of myself, for they were not without, but within; they lay in my own outlook. Continue reading “20 Quotes from Meditations by Marcus Aurelius”

Abbotsford: Sir Walter Scott’s Home In The Scottish Borders

Wide flower borders in front of a castle-like house

You would have thought that with scenery like this, I’d have come home with some first-rate pictures of Abbotsford, the castle-style home Sir Walter Scott built, but as I spent the time there in a weird state of literary reverie, this is as good as I could muster.

I read Waverley, as a youngster, but I’m ashamed to confess I have forgotten it. The Bride Of Lammermoor, a romantic horror story, stays with me.  Continue reading “Abbotsford: Sir Walter Scott’s Home In The Scottish Borders”

The Last Living Thing

A bird on the edge of the Grand Canyon

Transformed into a silhouette, its beak open, the bird on the edge of the Grand Canyon seems more symbol than living creature: something we’ll each interpret under influences as consistent as temperament and experience or as fleeting as a mood. Long time followers may recognise a similar, more uplifting shot, taken nearby.

Coming across the picture and the short poem, Requiem by Kurt Vonnegut, in quick succession, it seemed fitting to put them together here, today.   Continue reading “The Last Living Thing”

Magic And Water

A child in waterproofs plays in a circle of water jets

Wonder is not only a thing of childhood, although that’s when everyday things seem most miraculous. The child has been waterproofed by adults, but it is the hand with the missing glove he attends to.

We sense the mystery as a caterpillar turns into a butterfly, but there’s a magic in the way some writers use language that we rarely attend to.  Continue reading “Magic And Water”