Category Archives: Inspiring

A few questions a few answers

I received an email this morning which reminded me of an interview I did for the lovely Louise Owens, an Australian books blogger in 2015. Looking back it feels a million years ago; it was around the time a friend committed suicide, before my parents died, before I started work on this new book (more about that when I’ve written more of it). But although it seems as if it has come from another planet there are some nice answers and great questions there, so I thought I’d post it here, just three years late.

Colours Travel Through a PaintboxWhen you go into a bookshop, which department do you head straight to? The one with the sofas. My favourite bookshops are independent ones with chairs in them, and people who love books, and a bit of organised chaos. A few weeks ago I was in Shakespeare & Co in Paris with a few hours to spare. I went to the top floor (which has a cat, several sofas, a little desk with typewriter that Hemingway would have loved no doubt) and I found a second hand version of Vita Sackville West’s Thirty Clocks Strike the Hour. And I read the title story and was transported then to the Boulevard des Italiens where her great-grandmother had a vast corner house with twenty windows on the boulevard and where, one night, the young Vita hid in shadows and watched her grandmother, walk slowly through all those grand rooms until she reached one with thirty clocks… When I left the shop a couple of hours later I had moved into another dimension. I’ll go to any bit of any bookshop to find the books (which could be in science or music or fiction or art or memoir or travel) that will do that.

Looking back, which experiences, jobs and personality traits do you think have really helped you? Continue reading

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Eulogy for my father

Patrick 5x4My father’s funeral was three months ago last week, and as several friends have told me strictly, it’s about time I posted HIS eulogy to go with my mother’s. His funeral was on December 9, and he died on November 26, three months and a day after my mother. I miss them both so much.

My brother and I accompanied both our parents to the furnace: it needed planning, but after I had conducted a funeral service myself, I had seen how the coffin was left in a corridor waiting for the furnace to be lit and I decided I didn’t want my parents to go the last few yards on their own. For our mother’s cremation, it went smoothly. My brother and I left the church together after the funeral for the crematorium, accompanied by the funeral director and the vicar; he said a few prayers including a most wonderful psalm, I rested my cheek against the coffin, the funeral director said “they are ready” and we went behind the scenes, through the kitchen, and waited while the coffin was pushed pneumatically into an oven so hot that when it went in there was a shot of fire as if by God. It was raw and it was holy. Continue reading