Listers never break


After much searching, I found the boat that I wished to call home. Dawn, for it was she, was moored in Staffordshire. My father and I both booked precious time off work and, after testing the suspension and kicking the tyres, we set off for the week-long journey. Destination: Oxford.

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Remembering Barbara Newman

Barbara Helen Newman was my grandmother. She died aged 99. I would like to write a few things down to celebrate her life, keep her stories going and tell you a bit about her. Of course her personality and presence is what really counts, but I’m not sure I have the ability to adequately distill a description of her character out of the day-to-day interactions I had with her. Her quips and word-play were quick off the tongue but just as ephemeral.

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A year squeezed between summers: 2018 retrospective

altmetrics parenting annual

They say the skies are bigger Up North. I’ve recently witnessed this natural phenomenon first-hand. It’s true. The best theory I have so far is that the sky expands, inching out and pressing down toward the horizon. Meeting abrupt and solid bedrock, it flexes and springs up, vault-like, forming a dome. As any structural engineer will tell you, this paraboloid is capable of supporting and holding back crushing weights. The arch transfers the load deep into its footing, pushing downward and outward.

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How's the baby?


People ask me ‘how’s the boat?’. There are two easy answers to that, neither of them particularly satisfactory. The long answer involves sacrificial anodes and hinges, topcoats and oil changes, weeds and invasive species…

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Another Year Again: 2017 this time


This time last year I came to the conclusion that it’s better to celebrate new year in the summer than the winter. See what you’re dealing with. Get it over with in the daylight where you can see the thing clearly rather than stumbling around for it in the dark and probably knocking it over. And whilst there is something to be said for huddling around a cauldron of mulled wine bubbling on the stove, sacrificing ritual resolutions to ourselves to Do Better This Year so that the sun will rise again, I find that I can see so much further in the daylight.

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Annointing the Threshold

A couple of years ago I fished a large chunk of wood out of the river. It had a very satisfactory heft, oblongularity and poise. A piece of timber solid not only in body, but in character. In short: a perfect doorstep. I spotted it floating in a weir and thought ‘that would make a fine doorstep’. We shan’t dwell on the story of how I hoisted it out of the river and, in exchange, lost my brand new, favourite, and first ever, pair of sunglasses.

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Why I'm giving up on Facebook

One of my new year’s resolutions is to try and be more intentional about the way I lead my life. That includes a close look at habits and deeply wired-in behaviours. Last year I had the epiphany that whilst chocolate, ginger nuts, IRN BRU and sugary comestibles were very enticing and almost unthinkable to give up, I’m far better off without them in my life. I’ve known this for at least 15 years, but last summer I actually did something about it.

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Snowing now, is it?

My wife sent me an email. It conveyed words to the effect:

It is snowing!

I replied:

Is it now

We make a point of sending each other grammatically ambigious emails.

And that made me realise that in the sentence

“Now it is snowing”

has at least two levels of word-order to contend with.

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First Honey

I’m not in it for the honey. A refrain I’ve repeated for a year and a half. Bees are the most incredible creatures. I think humans are hard-wired to find fascinating what bees are hard-wired to do. A social insect, forming colonies from which intelligent behaviour seems to emerge. An insect which, on an individual basis seems to have enough character to be charming, but when viewed in great numbers is inescapably prone to anthropomorphism.

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