Tag Archives: how to write

A bus is at its best when it’s a taxi

Dan and I are walking over the bridge to the bus stop. It’s not yet six o’clock, but the winter darkness has the river hidden. Only the streetlights can cut through the black, casting golden beams across the sodden streets. … Continue reading

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A collage of trees

My father says that he’s going to chop down the pines in the corner of the garden. They have grown beyond the space, their silhouettes distorted from pruning over the years. Still, this has never stopped the pigeons roosting and … Continue reading

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An unexpected comfort

I’ve been in pain this week. Over the weekend, someone I trusted said many hurtful things, including unkind words about my writing. I’ve noticed the days going by – a reluctance to post on my blog, even though it has … Continue reading

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The blank page is like a first kiss

I live in the student heart of Oxford. The supermarket is always filled with groups of young twenty year olds, wearing coats over their pyjamas – shopping baskets filled with jumbo bags of pasta. Some of them are discovering each … Continue reading

Posted in Essay, Memoir | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

When you find yourself in a room with two strangers, having to fake an orgasm, it’s best to leave the country and change your life

I’m in the upper gallery of the Sheldonian Theatre, watching a graduation ceremony take place in Latin. Ad honorem Domini nostri Jesu Christi, the Vice-Chancellor intones, but I’m distracted by the fact that a few hours earlier I had to … Continue reading

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The magical act of returning

The sky is beginning to drop its heavy white. Clumps of fog tumble down from the mountaintops into the valley where the cottage is. I stand by the window with my dad. I’m not sure it’s a good idea to … Continue reading

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What we write about when we write

A sheet of A4 is pinned beside the bar. It hangs loose against the stone wall. There’s an image of a four or five year old in an orange sundress. I notice a plaster at the top of her arm. … Continue reading

Posted in Essay, Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Maes Caradoc

For weeks I have been trying to explain to people how I came to be going to an isolated cottage in North Wales for a holiday. It was a friend of my dad’s who told me I had to go … Continue reading

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A place to write

Daphne du Maurier was five when she first discovered Cornwall. That summer, she had watched as the gardener caught a snake in the grass of her Hampstead home. He nailed it to a tree, standing back to watch it writhe. … Continue reading

Posted in History, Memoir | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

The story of a room

Don’t believe anything you see. This is what the curator says as I enter the Whistler Room at Mottisfont Abbey – a line he repeats as more people come and go. I can hear the pleasure in his voice as … Continue reading

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