Friday, August 18, 2017


To the South Bank last night to hear Teju Cole talk about his new book Blind Spot.

I went with Jean Morris, Rachel Rawlins and Dave Bonta, all of us old friends of Teju's, part of a group of about a dozen bloggers who met online around 2003, when blogging was a new, uncrowded and exciting platform. Somehow we found each other's blogs via common interests in reading, writing, art, ourselves, seeing and interpreting the world through rainbow-coloured glasses. Then we met in real life, in New York, in London, and over the years followed each other's lives and work.

Teju Cole's career took off with Every Day is for the Thief in 2007, soaring steadily ever since and there's no doubt at all that he's headed for the stratosphere. Unsurprisingly, fame hasn't changed him a bit and I mean that in a good way. His warmth, humour and insightfulness are always genuine and of-the-moment. When he answers an interviewer's questions he takes his time, thinking on his feet, coming up with answers which you know are born right then and there. This is a quality I particularly appreciate when so many public utterances, on any subject, are so often calculated soundbites, selfie salestalk or rehashed re-heated rehearsed rhetoric.

Teju Cole and interviewer, Royal Festival Hall, 17 August 2017

Teju Cole, Royal Festival Hall, 17 August 2017

Photo by Teju Cole from Blind Spot

Clouds above the Thames, from the Royal Festival Hall, 17 August 2017

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


I was in Costa this afternoon paying for my coffee at the counter. A man who had been sitting at a table facing the entrance comes up to me and shakes my hand politely. I look at him, wondering if I know him. I don't. He sits down again.

I take my coffee and sandwich and sit at a table towards the back where I can observe him. He's a small, thin, balding man with glasses, nothing remarkable about him, except that he suddenly breaks into a recitation in a high, sing-song voice. I can't make out the words but it sounds like a multiplication table that a classroom of children might recite in unison. The man repeats exactly the same refrain every ten minutes or so, the palms of his hands resting flat on the table, as an obedient schoolboy might do, sitting up with straight back. He's not agitated but calm and concentrated on his ritual, looking into the distance. 

I thought he might go up to other people who enter the cafe and shake their hands but he doesn't. I seem to be the only one he chose for that gesture.

Obviously the man has mental problems. I feel enormous compassion, almost affection for him. I imagine the reasons why he ended up like this - perhaps he was beaten in school or at home for not keeping up with the others... or perhaps... There's no way I can know his story. I wish I could give him a hug but that might not be what he needs. I don't do anything at all.

A rage overwhelms me about those parents or other adults who abuse children in so many ways, unaware or not caring that they may be wrecking their lives forever. Those mothers or fathers I often see in supermarkets slapping and shouting and berating their little kid for some minor misdemeanor, or for nothing at all.

By the time I finish my coffee and sandwich the man is gone. I'll never know his story. But he did shake my hand.

Monday, August 07, 2017


Born at midnight on this date long long ago in some distant galaxy.

Sunday, August 06, 2017


Another short update to the autobio. I'm just going to keep adding to it in small chunks like this rather than wait until I've got many more pages.

Painting in T's kitchen

Monday, July 31, 2017


Have added part 25 to the autobio and also altered parts 21-22. There's so much editing to do and so much digging into the pile of old diaries, photos etc. that I can only proceed at snail pace and in short installments.

One of the difficulties is to decide how confessional to be and I'm hopeless at making up my mind about this. How to be a censor/editor of one's own life? Any advice from you writers out there?

There are links to each installment on the starting page so you can click on wherever you left off, if you've been there before:

Sunday, July 30, 2017


The following incident took place on 25th July. I described it on Facebook where it elicited quite a few kind comments, concerned that this might mean I was having a stroke, or a detached retina, or some other variety of disaster. They urged me to get to A&E asap. All of which was perfectly plausible and sensible but instead I went to Google and found an explanation which fitted my experience precisely. I had witnessed an Entoptic Phenomenon  and fascinating it was too. I have had similar visual experiences before but never as startling as this one.

Couldn't sleep last night, drank coffee after dinner, foolish. Stayed up writing until 3 or 4 am then went to bed. Pulled the sheet over my head to hide from daylight, closed my eyes, couldn't sleep. Opened my eyes. OMG what am I looking at?

A dense black and white pattern, like and unlike flowers or insects, slowly moving, pulsating, not going anywhere but contained, like something observed under a microscope, thin fronds around the edges gently swaying. I'm looking at this with my eyes open, not asleep, lying on my right side, right cheek pressed against the pillow (thin pillow, better for the back) left hand under the sheet. I move the hand to see if the 'vision' will disappear. It doesn't. But what the hell is it? Sort of beautiful but also scary. Why is it moving? An optical illusion, a trick of the light? I bring my hand closer and now the hand metamorphoses, turns into a pulsating pattern of dark and light layers, the solidity of the hand is gone, as if it was never there, but the moving, floating layers of plasma remain. 

I'm astounded,  I raise my head up and look around the room - full daylight, everything normal. After a while I manage to get a few hours sleep. When I wake up, I put my head under the sheet to see if the phenomenon is still there but more like a reconstruction of light effects.

Here's a Youtube video explaining the phenomenon scientifically in great detail which is probably more than we want to know but interesting nonetheless.

Friday, July 21, 2017


I'm working slowly on updating the autobio. But meanwhile, nuggets of poem-like things suddenly pop into my head. I might or might not illustrate them. Here's the latest.


That one
wears his heart on his heart
like a badge.
It says

But if you believe it
and turn away
the badge stabs
its sword
into his heart
and he cries.