Being Close While Staying Apart

 As creatures of habit, at four o’clock each day we drink tea with our neighbours. In the same spirit, two or three times each week we now share a sit-down meal with family or friends. Dealing with the government’s demand for social-distancing in public is difficult, even harder is being separated from those whom we…

A Mysterious Man in the Waiting-Room

With the news about the Coronavirus pandemic so bleak and threatening, my mind returns repeatedly to thoughts about staying safe, about the welfare of family and friends and about the future of society at large. My wife, Rohan, and I talk together about all of these issues but, we also feel the need to reminisce.…

Talking with Owls

Being influenced, indeed being changed, by my wife Rohan has been one of the most fulfilling parts of my life. This blog tells of an example of such influence. It was minor in the grand scheme of things, but still important. It relates to Rohan’s love of owls and how, gradually, this has become part…

“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…