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A pencil

12th Jan 2011

A pencil

Now and again you discover the perfect pen and carry it everywhere until one day you lose it. But nothing is so universally dependable, or comes so naturally to hand as a pencil. What could be simpler? For much of my life, I have lived with one behind my ear: either to mark out saw cuts or mortices for carpentry or to scribble...

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Orwell and Clocks

16th Dec 2010

Orwell and Clocks

As something of a sequel to the last post on book beginnings, I thought it might be worth pointing out George Orwell’s reliance upon clocks as he starts his novels. Here’s The Clergyman’s Daughter As the alarm clock on the chest of drawers exploded like a horrid little ball of bell metal , Dorothy, wrenched from the depths of...

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(Books) Beginnings and Endings

14th Dec 2010

(Books) Beginnings and Endings

John Harris had a good piece in yesterday’s Guardian, dealing with celebrity memoirs. He had been set the challenge of reading 11 of them over four days – and he reported back on the awfulness of the writing, the absence of any editing and he explained why they had become so popular over the past decade. A few opening passages...

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Staffordshire in the Snow

1st Dec 2010

Staffordshire in the Snow

I’m going to give up my house in King’s Cross and move back to Staffordshire for Christmas and perhaps a week or two of January. It’s time for a little break from London life – and, more importantly, I’ve got a mini to resurrect. I hope that it still looks like this when I get home.

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The Cold Winter of 1830

28th Nov 2010

The Cold Winter of 1830

I went up to Collindale on Friday to find out a little more about the weather in early 1830. It was a bright winter’s day and it was bone cold – quite aptly as it turned out. The winter of 1814 is renowned as being one of the coldest in history. In London the Thames froze over and near Blackfriars Bridge the ice was thick enough...

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