Our Works and Days

What we lost.

The interior love poem
the deeper levels of the self
landscapes of daily life

from Buried 2 (iv) by Michael Ondaatje


There is little that survives of my grandparents on both sides, or indeed my father. I did not meet any of them. What I have pieced together is through the distorted reflection of what my mother remembers as seen in others. My nephew has something of the precision of my father, my cousin shares the earnest, naive idealism of my maternal grandfather, I have something of my maternal grandmother’s gift of making.

I walk and laugh like my father, my brother inherited his enormous sense of responsibility.

It is these touches that endure, fragments of other lives that find their reprise in a syncopated, mutated form generations later, only recognised by those who form the bridge and can remember the stories.

The ankle bracelets in the picture belonged to my maternal grandmother. Little else survives from that era. My wife was given these when we married, and as we are preparing wills she needs to decide where they will go next. Fortunately there is another pair of similar weight from my wife’s family, so we will be able to arrange something equitable for our two daughters. To them my grandmother is just a portrait that hangs in my brother’s house.

More difficult to bequeath will be the family treasure. My brother is custodian of the decoupé art of my ancestor Abu Jaffer (and before you begin planning a heist, it’s not actually worth anything). The family legend is that the girl Abu Jaffer loved married someone else, and he spent the rest of his days a bachelor. There is some suggestion that he may have been a skilled poet, but among my ancestors that at least is not a peculiar distinction (if only a couple of poets could instead have been born with the ability to manage estates and make good decisions, but that story is for another day).


He had no children, he lives on only in these beautiful but fragile bits of paper, and a half remembered romantic tragedy. Or perhaps not, it has been remarked that most of my own stories are romantic tragedies. Perhaps a little of him endures in the family line after all.


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Feeling My Way


Another from Leeds Castle: a detail from the gatehouse door.

Studded Door

Studded Door

and then in the cellar there were these, to which also put me in mind of “A Sowing of Seeds”


Recall the ancient wine presses
Stacked up against the wall
My fingers in the ruby grain
Stained by centuries of juice and strain


Ruswa Fatehpuri

 IMG_9979_80_81although of course a barrel is not a wine press, there was a congruity to the image.

The Snap of Leather on Willow

Summer means the cricket season, and although my body can no longer stand up to the rigours of playing I do still love to watch the game. On Thursday I was lucky enough to watch a NatWest T20 Blast game from the pavilion at Lord’s – the home of cricket. Both Middlesex and Surrey brought big international or ex international names to the fray, and the game went down to the last ball.

Eoin Morgan being bowled off a nick (grateful to good fortune that I got the bails flying up)


Eoin Morgan

Azhar Mahmood bowling (very tidily as it happened)


Azhar Mahmood

Tillakaratne Dilshan who didn’t trouble the scorers with his batting, but also bowled a tidy spell

Tillekeratne Dilshan

Tillakaratne Dilshan

I also caught the moment he nicked the ball behind:v2-9699

KP was there too, and with Alistair Cook’s woes who knows what KPs international future may be; here being bowled to by another ex International player – Stephen Finn


Australian Dan Christian is Middlesex’s overseas player this year:




Of course the star of the show was Lord’s itself:


Reviving Relics

London is a city that is continuously evolving, I love seeing old buildings being brought back into use, and also the glimpses of the past that remain painted on odd corners.

I used to look across the river everyday at Bankside Power Station while I was at school, it was a desolate sight. It is now the Tate Modern, and people throng the tree lined walkways around it.  IMAG0131

Another view of this landmark from Travel with Intent here.

And if you wander round the slowly gentrifying back streets of Southwark, you can still see the signs of its previous lives. IMAG0117


Contrast and Glass



I took my camera gear into my office yesterday hoping to do some shots across London but the engineers weren’t available to get me onto the gantry. On the plus side I got to play tourist in my home town and snap some contrasts on my walk through the City and West End on the way home.


Sometimes it would be rude to refuse the shot just because it is obvious.

The walk started with this near St Paul’s, it pits earthly love in contrast with heavenly love. I’m now toying with this image as an alternative cover for Older Gods.

Young Love

Young Love