Some years ago, while we were on holiday together, my mother gave me this little statuette. It’s the Rooster of Portugal: a symbol of good luck.


I once planned a trip to Portugal myself,
hoping to bring my mother back her own Portuguese rooster.
The trip never happened; on bad days, I think perhaps it never will.
You think you can keep tabs on it — predict the things you can and can’t do —
but then there is the passage of time
and of fear.
Still, I have my rooster,
and the memories of that holiday with my mother.

Reading Elizabeth Taylor (again)

Other people’s words

I’ve talked before about the writer Elizabeth Taylor: her pithy, devastating prose.

How’s this?

The town seemed to her to be England at its worst, full of people trying to enjoy themselves and not managing it for various reasons — perhaps chiefly those of the weather and the deeply-rooted dullness it had caused.

from ‘The Soul of Kindness
by Elizabeth Taylor

One sentence says so much, doesn’t it?

Reading Elizabeth Taylor

On the lonely horror of writing

At the thought of work, of the book he was writing, must finish, his stomach lurched, just as if he had come unexpectedly on something repellent. He was scared, too. Nowadays, he was so frightened of sitting down to work that he had to drive himself to grapple with it.

from ‘The Soul of Kindness
by Elizabeth Taylor

I love Elizabeth Taylor’s novels.

Her observations about people, (English) society and life are  acute, pithy and devastating.

Try her sometime!


Two people drew my attention to the writing of the English novelist, Elizabeth Taylor, who died in 1975. One was my mother, an inveterate and highly intelligent reader. The other was one of my favourite bloggers, Jane Brocket.

What does stage-fright mean to you?

Other people’s words – Part V

… it means not putting so much energy into making something go away. Anxieties like stage fright, at bottom, are a turning against the self. I think it’s much more fruitful to try to be on good terms with every side of one’s personality.

Stage fright: classical music’s dark secret
Daily Telegraph, 3 July 2014


Life is a stage sometimes, I think.

It sounds good, doesn’t it? — living without turning against yourself.

I’d like to thank my mother for alerting me to this article, and in particular this quote from it.


Irises for my mother – Part I

– May 2014 –

Some years ago, I planted these irises for my mother.

Irises for my mother - Part I

Every year, they reappear.
And then I watch them grow.

This is the first in a series of posts about the irises I planted in my garden for my mother, who is a great iris-lover. I’ll be photographing their growth and flowering as the year passes.