In The Skin Of Uncertainty

Ever since I first came across them, I’ve been haunted by these words from Michael Ondaatje’s In The Skin Of A Lion: “the extreme looseness of the structure of things”. I can’t remember what context they were in – I can’t even remember very much about the book – but they emblazoned themselves on my soul with what has turned out to be pretty solid permanence.

To me, the phrase has always been about embracing uncertainty, about giving oneself up to not knowing, to an absence of control, to smallness, to transience, to greyness. And I suppose that’s why I’ve been dwelling on it a great deal in recent months. Because if there’s one thing the current pandemic has flagged up – and goodness knows, it’s flagged up more than a few – it’s that some people really can’t cope with uncertainty.

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Most Influential Writers

I don’t often respond to getting tagged (umm… well, actually, I don’t often get tagged) but this particular game was too tempting to ignore. Here are the rules, as they were presented to me, complete with dodgy wording: 1.List 15 writers that have been the most influential in your life, including poets and playwrights2.Compose this list in under 15 minutes3.Tag at least 14 friends and me … Continue reading Most Influential Writers


Why do I write? The question came up again recently and, in my inability to answer it, I suspect I came across as more than a little pseudy, pretentious and evasive. The truth is that I genuinely find it difficult to come up with an honest, wholly satisfying reply. Sometimes a few possible responses offer themselves up, but before I get a chance to spit … Continue reading Reason

Plain Sailing

Another week, another talk. This time it was the turn of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, he of solo, water-based circumnavigation victories. He spent a great deal of the time talking about his frustrations with technology, which made me think how apt the event’s setting was: an old, defiantly dignified theatre – high-ceilinged and awash with smooth curves – rather inelegantly crammed with the accoutrements of modern … Continue reading Plain Sailing


Allow me to be star-struck. This evening, the Divine L and I are attending a talk by one of my favourite living writers: Michael Ondaatje. And I’m getting ever so extremely excited. Although I’m not entirely sure that I should be. Margaret Attwood – well known for her dislike of meet-and-greet situations – once said that “wanting to meet a writer because you like their … Continue reading Struck