4TH JANUARY 2020
New Year is a time for reflection. This particular new year, I pass a numerically tidy, yet otherwise insignificant personal landmark. Today, I am 20,000 days old. Thanks for the card.
At 08:45 GMT this morning, as all five digits on my personal odometer advanced one click, it was sobering to realise the next time that happens—if I make it that far—I’ll be 82 years old. I certainly won’t see a fourth five-digit turnover.
To quote Philip Larkin in a similar context, ‘It makes me breathless’… Twenty-thousand days! That’s 169 in giraffe-years!
Virgil was right: tempus does indeed fugit. I’d better carpe the diem while I still can…
Some stuff I thought worth sharing:
- I was delighted to hear my mate Julian Hoffman’s excellent essay on the chambered nautilus, The Spiral Windings, has been nominated for the John Burroughs Nature Essay Award.
- The always fascinating CGP Grey points out the importance of posing the right question. In this case, the right question happens to be, Which planet is the mostest closest to the earth? I guarantee you’ll be surprised by the answer.
- Episode 105 of the excellent Backlisted Podcast recently discussed one of my favourite books, WG Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn.
- During the launch of her latest book, Surfacing (see Recent Reading below), Kathleen Jamie gave an interesting interview with the Herald newspaper. I’m very much looking forward to seeing her in conversation with my pal Amy Liptrot at the Caught by the River event in Farsley in February.
- Talking of Caught by the River, Tim Dee provided them with some poignant end-of-year reflections.
- As a long-time subscriber to the London Review of Books, I enjoyed this video discussion about its 40-year history by some of those who were there.
- The LRB also recently published the latest extracts from Alan Bennett’s diary, entitled What I did in 2019.
- Also filed under ‘what I did in 2019’, here’s my ninth annual video slideshow.
by Kathleen Jamie
A third collection of wonderful essays from my favourite writer.
The Laws of Thermodynamics
by Peter Atkins
I had the temerity to touch on the Laws of Thermodynamics in my book On the Moor. This short introduction covers the subject far better than I could in my single, inexpert chapter.
Notes From Walnut Tree Farm
by Roger Deakin
The ‘jottings’ of a wonderful observer of nature’s minutiae. (I love jottings.)
First You Write a Sentence
by Joe Moran
Excellent advice on how to string a sentence together.
My ‘Darwin book’ continues at a pace that makes glaciers look positively hasty. But I guess glaciers have grown pretty hasty these days, so perhaps there’s hope for me yet. The book is about looking at the world through Darwin-tinted spectacles. Lately, I’ve been writing about autumn leaves and dippers (the birds, not the pickpockets). For a Darwin groupie, everything has a Darwin connection. If you’re inexplicably champing at the bit for more of my writing, keep checking out my regular Sideline jottings.
Wishing you all a great 2020.