“and finally some words of warning ….”

This story revolves around my love of lectures, a feeling that almost certainly started when, for several years, my father took me to the Christmas lectures at London’s Royal Institution. These lectures, which are part of a tradition going back almost 200 years, are mainly for children - my first visit would have been when…

Questions of Convention

This blog tells how, in two very different circumstances, ditching convention helped. The first instance is contemporary and relates to my playing chess; the second occurred in the early twentieth century when the artist Véra Pagava changed her style.  Once a week I play chess and it is a challenge I treasure. Just recently,  with the adoption…

Two Stories that Don’t Stand Up

It has been a busy month for museums. Our son Joshua, our grandson River, Rohan and I visited the Science Museum and then some weeks later the Natural History Museum. After a few days I went back to each one by myself. During his visits River, who was mesmerised, had the expression of child in…

Every Audience Plays a Part

Audiences fascinate me. There is something intriguing about how groups of people at theatres or concert halls ‘coalesce’ as they respond both to the performers and to the performance. In all this, their behaviour seems to follow sets of rules that depend very much on a local culture and, as an occasional audience member, these rules are…

Rod Stewart Versus the O2 Millenium Dome

It can take days before I finally decide whether or not I like a film, a play or even a concert. Whatever my initial feelings, all can be reversed as I re-run what I saw or heard and ponder over key elements that I realise I had missed or perhaps misinterpreted. Most often it is…

A New Home for a Much-Loved Elephant

Our grandson River, who is not yet two, seemed to know what was about to happen. The Christmas presents this year were piled up on the floor rather than under the tree and River sat himself in touching distance. There were packages of all sizes but amongst them one dominated. Compared with the others it…

A Beguiling Christmas Pig

When Rohan discovered that ‘Peppa Pig’s Best Day Ever’ would be  on in London’s West End over Christmas, the next steps were inevitable. Texts were exchanged, parental approval received, tickets bought and our grandson River was invited to his first trip to the theatre. A Peppa Pig doll is one of River’s favourite toys. He also owns George Pig, her brother, and umpteen Pig accessories.Moreover, like any reasonable toddler, River, who is not yet two, watches videos of Peppa Pig when he can…

A Magical Duet for Guitar and Whistle

I am an inveterate whistler. I have been a ‘siffleur’ for years, whistling happily to myself when I am alone and, more particularly, if out walking. The pattern is fairly routine - I step outside, stand on the pavement and start up. It is automatic. I don’t plan what tune will emerge, although at the moment it…

Safe in my Mind’s Eye?

Once a week Fahar and I play chess. Recently I arrived feeling sad and in the same coat and hat I had just worn at a friend’s funeral. Fahar and I always chat as we set out the pieces, so I had a moment to explain what had happened. After offering his condolences he commented…