Thursday, April 28, 2011


Today started well.  While I brewed my kick-start coffee, the liquid fluting notes of Golden Oriel song poured in through my open window.  I looked out to see a small flock of them gathered in the high branches of a nearby tree and could hear distant others in the valley below.  Gorgeous flashes of rich deep-yellow breasts contrasting the iridescent black feathers of their backs; a soul touching sight.  Although on the limit of the capacity of my snap-shot camera, it was a hazy and overcast morning, I chanced a photograph.  It has registered a record but can not be expected to convey anything of the emotion of hearing and seeing these spectacular migrants as they pass through here each spring.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Pen Friend

Some years ago enjoyed reading Ciaran Carson’s, “Last Night’s Fun”.  I can not now find this book on my shelves.  I have probably culled it to a book fair.  Recently I stumbled upon the same author’s, “The Pen Friend”.  “Last Night’s Fun”, I can remember enjoying but remember little of the book, “The Pen Friend”, I believe, will endure in my memory for a long time and will be re-read sooner rather than later.  An exceptionally clever, thought provoking story - if story it is - that at many times during my reading had me insecure about my position in the strange relationship between reader, book and author.  Reading Fowles’, “The Magus”, I remember, had a similar effect on me; Sebald too, particularly in his “Rings of Saturn”, often had me wondering quite when and how I had been carried from one scene into another.
“The Pen Friend” is a literary tapestry with which haunting images have been created from very unlikely and diverse threads; collections of scent bottles, stamps and vintage pens skillfully interwoven with Esperantists, Spiritualists, Security Organisations, Terrorists; with Belfast, London, Paris, York and New York and many other incidental elements to fashion a picture of a seemingly beautiful love affair which the reality of life ultimately corrupts.  Or does it?  Is awful reality ultimately transcended?
For me, my first reading of “The Pen Friend” has been as much an experience as a read, Carson’s ideas, lurking now in the deeper, darker recesses of my mind, have already begun to haunt me.