Finding a face in a marathon race

I WOULD run a marathon but I’m ashamed of getting overtaken by a man dressed as a gorilla in a tutu. Or even worse, being overtaken by a toilet. Still, looking for a face – now, that’s a proper challenge. (This post was first published in January 2017) You see I’m trying to find a…

Mistakes on a train: a helpful traveller goofs up

Travelling can bring out the very best in us; we help each other with heavy luggage; we give up seats; we share food, books and mobile phone chargers; people once strangers can become life-long friends after a few plastic meals together on a flight. There is though one type of travel where that kindness doesn’t…

Moonlight on the Waves

When lovers first meet on a chance encounter, there’s usually a chain of random events unfolding up to that moment. The less likely, the more meandering the route, the more remarkable the story. For my Uncle Chris to meet Auntie Rose, events conspired to involve a wrecked ship, being stranded on a coral reef for…

Getting engaged in Paris

I had always said to my then girlfriend Sarah that I would never propose to her in Paris; ‘it’s too cliche,’ I had said, but it was a ruse, a little white lie, that ensured a certain element of surprise. I wanted it to be a surprise for Sarah had hardly dropped any hints about…

The Revenge of the Typo: How a Print Error Nearly Ended My Career

We all make typos don’t we? Of course we do, because we bloggers are human and proofreaders are luxuries. Nevertheless, they’re so annoying, the way they play hide and seek, like little germs, taking refuge in our blogposts till  we hit the big blue ‘Publish’ button, after which point they come crawling out of the…

What is Cambridge blue?

Last weekend we went for a long punt in Cambridge; we glided on the glinting River Cam in a  flat-bottomed boat, a punt, pushing ourselves with a pole, drifting lazily past ancient sandstone colleges and perfect lawns which spilled in to the riverbank. The University of Cambridge is my alma mater so we popped in…

The Little Fish Mystery 

This is a true mystery that happened in my kitchen – it involves multiple murders, male-only breeding, a sex-change and suspected cannibalism. It’s also about my pet fish. It had all started so well: a glass fish tank, pure white sand, aquatic plants, ornamental rocks, a bubbling filter and a small heater that kept the…

The fox in the box

One evening a fox was dying in my back garden. Its fur was patchy, its eyes were sad and watery, and it sniffed pitifully amongst the bushes. I have mixed feelings towards foxes. One part of me, the idealistic, romantic side, likes them. They are beautiful, shy creatures of sharp senses, swift and playful, with…

Going bald: the journey through pain and pleasure 

Once, when I had hair, I revelled in it joyously; I had a quiff that sat up proud like a duck’s bum, sometimes spawning a rebellious love-curl; my side-burns dropped to the bottom of my earlobes; my back and sides were ‘grade one tapered’; the rest, back-brushed in to a bouffant coiffure. I thought I…