The Planets

A book packed with incredible detail which Mrs. D. has thoroughly appreciated being told about, especially when watching television, reading a book of her own or settling down to go to sleep.

My knowledge of the solar system had changed little since the nineteen-sixties. I mentioned this at home, and for my birthday there appeared a brand new copy of The Planets by Andrew Cohen with Brian Cox, published in 2019 to accompany the television series of the same name.

Let me pick just a few of the snippets Mrs. D. so much enjoyed hearing about, to try on your loved ones in deciding whether or not to get the book yourself… (read full post on Blogger)

Olympus Mons

Penelope Lively: Moon Tiger

Yet another Booker Prize winner not read at the time: from 1987 in this case, sought out after reading Treasures of Time and A House Unlocked which we inherited from my mother-in-law. Moon Tiger is highly regarded, and rightly so. I was not disappointed.

(Read full review on Blogger)

Fort William

I was a bit apprehensive when we set off for Fort William last week. It is thirty years since I was last there and when your age begins to begin with a seven you wonder what you can no longer do. Was I still up to walking in the Scottish Highlands? Did I have the stamina? Would my legs and back last out? How would I cope with the long drive?

I used to go there a lot… (read full post on Blogger)

New Month Old Post: Hi there Duggy!

A student sends an awkward email to an eminent professor.

Early in the nineteen-nineties, I came across a strikingly enlightening piece of research that suggested that girls who learn things together, remember much more than boys. It was an experiment in which pairs of eight-year-old children explored an interactive videodisk.

I stumbled upon this as a new lecturer in a recently upgraded northern ex-polytechnic, hoping to carve a niche for myself by devising innovative courses about emerging technologies. I asked students each to lead a small, short seminar about a published research paper from a list. One student chose the paper about the pairs of children and the videodisk… (read full post on Blogger)

The Song Book


Around 1960, my father came home with a copy of The News Chronicle Song Book given to him by an acquaintance who lived in the East Riding village of Asselby. It was in a terrible state, but he stuck it back together and fitted a brown paper jacket on which he wrote: “This book was paper backed and repaired on a wet Thursday afternoon February 25th 1960 by [him, me and my brother]”. A father on his half-day off keeping his two children occupied during school half-term… (read full post on Blogger)


Earlier this month, Sue in Suffolk mentioned on her blog that there are two full moons in October this year. The first was on the first: the Harvest Moon.

Two or three days later, we were taking Mrs. D.’s new Fitbit out for an evening walk. She commented how white and bright the moon looked but that it did not seem quite full. I was able to respond that the full moon had been on the first of the month – “the Harvest Moon,” I said knowledgeably – and that there would be two full moons in October this year.

There ensued a discussion about how you could tell whether a moon was new or old … (read full post on Blogger)

Clive James: Unreliable Memoirs

An extremely funny memoir, immensely enjoyable, but I had to overcome two obstacles.

The first was that Clive James was very learned. At times I had no idea what he was on about…

The second was his television persona. He used to sit behind a desk like a greased potato in a tight blue suit, leering and smirking in his unctuous antipodean baritone…

But gradually, the wit and the brilliance won me over…

(read full review on Blogger)

New Month Old Post: Peyton Place and Top Deck Shandy

Indian summer is like a woman. Ripe, hotly passionate, but fickle, she comes and goes as she pleases so that one is never sure whether she will come at all, nor for how long she will stay.

“What rubbish?” was my fifteen year-old self’s first thought, but something in that luxuriant opening sentence and the sensuous description of New England’s “lovely womanly Indian summer” enticed me to read just a little further. By the end of the first few pages, with their sprinkling of references to whores, peckers and venereal disease, I decided it might be prudent to study it more discreetly. I looked up the meaning of Indian summer and read on by torchlight under the bedclothes. (read full post on Blogger)