I've always been into writing, but secondary school lessons put me off poetry. It wasn't until I found TS Eliot's Four Quartets in the school library (I was about 17) that I realised poetry could actually be about interesting things.



I started writing seriously soon after that and now belong to Fire River Poets which is a group of poets from the Taunton area. We have a website where you can read some of my poems. You can contact me through Val's genealogy link. This is the link to the website




Favourite Poets?

That's a difficult one. I like lots, ancient and modern. There are some that I find difficult to warm to: Gerard Manley Hopkins and Louis MacNeice of the moderns leap quickly to mind. But that's just me. Below is a link to some of my favourite poems written in English (in alphabetical order of poet). They should give you an idea of who some of my favourite poets are, though don't assume they are all top of the list. It's a long list. Please click on the image, and with luck, the list should come up, it is an Acrobat document.

poetry link










I read fiction, but I'm not up-to-date with modern taste. There is such a lot published every year that it is hard to discriminate, and I am poorly read when it comes to the classics, though I have read most of Jane Austen and a good deal of Trollope together with some Dickens and, inevitably, I suppose, Vanity Fair by Thackeray. Tom Jones by Fielding and Jane Eyre by one or other of the dreaded Bronte sisters. I never remember which one wrote which book. And I've read Middlemarch by George Elliot which is probably the best of the lot.

I have read none of the 20th Century classics - no EM Forster, Graham Greene, Somerset Maugham, etc....unless you consider Louis de Bernieres to be a classic. Not yet, I suspect. Anyway, I have read quite a lot of him. And some Americans: F Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Saul Bellow, John Updike. And I suppose I have to own up to liking Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre, though I thought the ending was just a bit too American for my taste.

In mitigation of this very poor showing, I can say that I have read almost all the 19th century Russian classics, e.g. Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Gogol, Chekhov, Pushkin, Lermontov, having read Russian at university though I own up to not having read them all in Russian. And there are the odd novels here and there from other languages, mostly in translation which I have enjoyed, though these are mostly 20th Century. I am particularly impressed by Mario Vargas Llosa and Gabriel Garcia Marquez from South America.



I quite liked history at school, though I nearly failed O-Level, didn't do that marvellously at A-Level, either and it wasn't until I'd left school that I started getting really interested. Naturally enough, I am mostly into European history given the bias in my education which was wholly Europe-orientated - and the fact that I live in Europe. I have come to like biography, though having had to read some pretty dire biographies for my university course. I was a bit disillusioned with the genre and didn't read any for many years.

Here is a link to books I have really enjoyed, this is an Acrobat document.


books link



Science (in my day, that meant Physics and Chemistry) was something I failed at when doing my O-Levels but I like to think this was poor teaching rather than lack of interest. I have always been interested in science. But I have not got much aptitude and the calculations were always tricky. So no academic books for me! I'm into popular science or if not popular, then philosophical (no Maths). In particular I enjoy

  • astronomy and astrophysics
  • biology and genetics
  • neurophysiology and psychology
  • archeology

OK, psychology and archaelogy may not be as scientific as the others, but they are more scientific than the sorts of things I am good at!






I listen mainly to classical music. I like some kinds of jazz (predominantly New Orleans) and what I term genuine folk (ie not commercial), but my main love is classical - from medieval to modern, though my CD collection is mainly focussed on the period 1750 to 1950. Particular enthusiasms? Very fond of Britten and Tippett of the British 20th Century composers; Bartok, Stravinsky, Sibelius, Prokofiev among the Europeans of the 20th Century; Brahms, Bruckner, Dvorak and Wagner of the late Romantics; Schubert, Beethoven, Mozart - and further back still, Bach, Monteverdi, Palestrina. And almost everyone else. It's really quite difficult to discriminate. Not fond of the more bombastic side of Liszt and there are aspects of Mahler I can really manage without, too, but on the whole, once you get to know it, most of the great music is ..... well, great.



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