Friday, 14 February 2014


I've mentioned before that I am sent a great many books. There is space to mention about 8 or 9 of them  in my monthly column in  The Literary Review.
My little study (rather an old fashioned word - perhaps I should say office or workroom) fills up quickly, and I have to get rid of  paperbacks, hardbacks and proof copies. Hardbacks  go to a private subscription library in Penzance, and some paperbacks to  the  Oxfam bookshop in Truro, where  I'm told  "nobody wants to buy  hardback thrillers these days". But proof copies come with the injunction "Not for sale or distribution" and quite properly Oxfam won't sell them. Nor ought they to be put  on library shelves.  I can't bear the idea of chucking a book out with the garbage and the very idea of burning books - as they did in Nazi Germany - makes me feel quite sick. So what on earth should  I do with them? Any suggestions gratefully received!

Saturday, 8 February 2014



 This picture of "our" lighthouse shows the size of  the waves hitting the south-western coasts of Britain.And the photo of the railway line at Dawlish, dangling in the air because the storm swept its underpinning away, shows why Cornwall feels like an island today. This last was another week in which getting myself to London (as I'd planned) would be so difficult and slow that I cancelled all engagements. The same thing happened twice in 2013 (though the damage wasn't as bad as it is now) and in 2012 too. This time, it will be many weeks, not days, before trains can run west of Exeter. No wonder  so many businesses that start in or  or come to Cornwall leave again. No wonder conferences keep clear;  no wonder an influential medical seminar, started by a Cornish doctor and attended by people from all over the UK and abroad, moved to Bristol last year. Their participants won't come unless they are sure they can leave. And even when everything goes  according to plan, it's  a long,slow journey. It's quicker to get to Edinburgh  by train than to Truro, which  is exactly one hundred miles nearer London. 
What's the point of this whinge? Just to say how sickening that so much money is earmarked for the new high-speed link from London to Birmingham. Think how many miles of sea defence that money would buy!