Dressed to Kill?

Words can jolt and, for me, an armed policeman’s reply did just that. This story, which is about his riposte, has three key strands; my conversation with the officer as he patrolled London’s City Airport; my dress sense, or lack of it; my habit of exchanging pleasantries with those in authority. When walking in busy…

It’s For You, Professor Collier

Two memories of our visit to Nepal fifteen years ago stand out, one magical, the other unsettling. My wife, Rohan, and I were staying in the Himalayan foothills at a hotel just outside Nagarkot. I was there at a conference. The magic occurred on a clear day when, after an hour’s stroll, the view we sought suddenly appeared. Far…

My Struggles with Anna

This is the story about me and chess, and culminates in well over a hundred games played against Anna over Christmas.  She always won, often very easily, and I could never fathom out exactly how she did it. Playing so many games over such a short period is a new experience, but I was hooked.…

The Piano Teacher

Well before our trip to St Petersburg (see ‘Family Ties’, ‘joecollier.blog’; 29 April 2018) we had decided that on one of our evenings we would go to a concert. After some negotiation, tickets were booked for a piano recital; my preference was that it should include work by Tchaikovsky. We soon learned that our concert…

A Misunderstanding

There can be little more irresistible than the sight of a baby staring into ones eyes and smiling. At around three months most will look at people’s faces and it is clearly a view they find captivatung. Those early stares are not exclusively directed at their parents. Over the past few weeks I have been stared…

Alone with Thomas Tallis

  There is something overwhelming about being a tiny and inconsequential part within a giant canvas. Just looking up at the Milky Way always does this for me (“Sartre had an answer”. joecollier.blog. 3 September 2017), and there have been other, very specific occasions, too. I could not have felt smaller and more in awe…

Art Provocateur

  There was a time when works of art that others might see as sad or frightening simply left me cold. Well, that all changed a few weeks ago when we visited a Scottish sculpture park. There, two of the installations did what art is supposed to do - they provoked emotions - and the…

An Orchid with Coquettish Tendencies

Bee orchids have small flowers, short stems and, in meadowland, are easily missed. They are also rare, protected and are seen as one of nature's great mimics with flowers that have an uncanny likeness their insect namesake. If put together as a rectangle, our garden in France, with its orchard, spinney, fruit and vegetable patches,…

Sam for all seasons

Just after Christmas, my wife and I went for a week to our cottage in Brittany. Our key aim was to begin to prepare the garden for 2017. As usual, we stopped over for a day in Paris. There, the streets had the same tell-tale trappings as at this time every year. Dumped on the…

Was that a white rabbit?

It's confession time. Earlier this year I wrote that I was a compulsive chatterbox whenever travelling on busses or trains and that I had resolved to give the habit up [Pipped at the post, Greyhares, 5 May, 2016]. I failed. My silence only lasted a few weeks and I was soon chatting again at full…