Kinsale

I was in the south-west of Ireland recently, on business matters but with a couple of days extra in which to explore. And so I went to Kinsale. It’s a small town, not far from Cork, located at a river mouth feeding out into the sea, its harbour facing a long cove, beyond which liesRead More

Looking at paintings

There was a piece in The Times recently in which assorted experts – artists, art historians, gallery owners, critics – were asked to tell us the best way to appreciate a painting. Their responses ranged from the practical (choosing the picture you admire and devoting deep time to it), to the impractical (visit the galleryRead More

On indexes

Some years ago now I had a bright idea. It was for a mechanism which would bring together all of the indexes of digitised books to make one super-index linking back to each of those texts. Yes there would be huge unevenness between the individual indexes, and yes it had a Borgesian air about itRead More

The last library

I went to St Helena, one of the remotest spots on the planet. I flew thousands miles to get there, travelling down a continent and then across an ocean. When there I met wonderful people, saw entrancing countryside, visited historic locations, scaled heights to enjoy exhilarating views. I spent two weeks in the most exoticRead More

The walk

Does the road wind uphill all the way? Yes, to the very end. Will the day’s journey take the whole long way? From morn to night, my friend. Christina Rossetti, ‘Uphill’ When I was on St Helena, I undertook the finest walk that I have ever experienced. This is the story of that walk. ItRead More

Eagle in a cage

None of us entirely likes the stories others tell of us. The pleasure of acknowledgment is countered by the failure of comprehension. No one ever quite gets us right. This is notably true of St Helena. Aside from the misrepresentation of the far-away island by tourists such as myself, with quick opinions based on fleetingRead More