I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Saturday, 12 November 2016


Despite an intensely funny half-hour of Have I Got News For You, the UK’s long-running satirical telly programme, VR didn't want to talk about Trump or Brexit any more. Wanted to blot them both out.

In my mind's eye we're on the dangerous dirt road to Port Underwood, a tree-covered fiord on NZ's South Island, the most beautiful place in the Universe. Two days with the welcoming and sophisticated Rousches.

We're emerging from St David's Hall, Cardiff, having heard Herbert Blomstedt conduct the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in Brahms’ third symphony - as if the music had been composed there and then, for the first time, just for us.

Anniversary dinner at Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons and the sagacious sommelier is offering VR a loan of his spectacles to read the wine list.

A family inspects our house in Kingston-upon-Thames. It's a hot day, the French windows are open, the little fountain (based on a stone mill-wheel) tinkles in the garden, and our daughter, Occasional Speeder, lolls in an easy chair. The family's father says, "I'd like to live here." and we know we've made a sale.

We've driven VR's mum, Edna. who's notoriously anti-Wales, up through the Elan Valley past the reservoir and on towards Rhayader. Edna says, "I'm so sleepy but I have to stay awake. It's so lovely."

I've read Patrick O'Brian's twenty-novel Jack Aubrey-Stephen Maturin series three times, VR twice. One of us, it doesn't matter who, is saying, "Do you remember when Stephen..." We laugh in recognition.

VR’s been in the kitchen while I’ve manhandled English in my study. I come down and there’s Eggs Mornay for dinner. Unexpectedly.

February 2012. Or 2013. Or 2014. The cough’s gone.


  1. What beautiful pictures you paint Robbie. Am now turning my mind to my own 'bolt hole's.

  2. Ah, that's a good bouquet of memories. I'm very tired of politics and am glad to wander (and not bold) through your portals. All will be well. Or if not well, there is still tea and poetry and wine and beautiful scenes.

  3. Blonde Two: I suddenly bethought myself - perhaps these are the only good things that have happened. Decided there'd been others.

    Marly: But how long dare we wait?

  4. How lovely, all of them. This deserves to be a meme, though I'm not sure you would remember or sanction that concept in this context. We'll see.

    I have to say I do rather envy a marriage where you both talk about Stephen Maturin as if he were a much loved friend of the family.

  5. Lucy: We had a raucous family do last night, much drink, even more shouting. In the midst VR asked me, "What is a meme?" I said Lucy had once defined a meme (probably back in 2009) and I'd quickly forgotten the definition - probably had never truly grasped it. I've just looked it up again and already the sense is slipping away; I wouldn't however have any complaints about it being used.

    It struck me in compiling this list that the events, memories, things said, needn't be apocalyptic, only close-woven into our lives.

    I fear both Stephen and Jack are far more real than our next door neighbour. I've just been downstairs and asked VR to come up with something - anything - she instantly recalls from the novels. As she began to speak I knew immediately the passage she was going to refer to.

    A little background for those who don't know the novels: Jack is a bluff, Tory-voting commander of various wooden-wallers during the Napoleonic wars, seemingly lacking in imagination but an expert with ships. Stephen is the ship's surgeon, of Irish stock, well-read, well informed, scientifically inclined, an internationalist and committed to human rights. During long voyages they play music together, Jack on violin, Stephen on cello.

    The passage, which VR has often alluded to, occurs late in the series. Stephen approaches Jack in his observatory at night and hears Jack playing the violin. And realises for the first time that Jack is aeons ahead of him in musical understanding, sympathy and interpretation, a revelation that is at odds with both men's comparative intellects. The implication being that this previously unrecognised difference is part of the glue that holds them together as friends.

    I'm warmed, in turn, by the depth of your comment.

  6. Thank you, Robbie. We're travelling, home very soon, and it's been part distraction and joy, part like a waking nightmare to watch and listen long-distance.(Of course we voted for the losing team.) But life does go on, and much of it is made of the sort of memories you share here: thank God. I'll write more soon. In the meantime, love to you and VR.

  7. Beth: I can't decide whether it would be worse to receive the news remotely as you did, or minute to minute watching the telly as it happened. As you say things have moved on and Trump seems keen to suggest that not all the things he said while campaigning were true - which of course confirms he is an opportunistic liar. Welcome back, both of you, to your new - somewhat edgy - world.