I love giving talks. After all, I can sit down to write any time I want, and put up a post any time I want, but to give a talk a man has to be invited to give one in the first place. So I was particularly pleased to be invited to speak on the subject of "Blogging and Literature" at a convention of media students in Manipal a few days ago.
Also, as writing is all labour, premeditation, slowness, and revision, I find that the experience of speaking extempore, letting each sentence find the next, can be quite a liberating one.
And as summer arrives outside my window, so, I find, do thoughts of England: the country half-glimpsed under low scudding clouds from the plane window; waiting for the coach to Cambridge at Heathrow airport; the beautiful faces of old friends; babies newly born, or on the way, or grown beyond belief between the last time and this time; walks by the Cam river, the grass bright with ducks in lines almost as orderly as those of people in stores and stations; the world floating by on a punt; hours in secondhand bookshops and warehouse sales; rare books hunted down in libraries, four-digit PINs in ATMs; shopping in Sainsbury's; proliferating pleases and thank yous; precious invitations to high table; the chatter of people outside Trinity Great Gate; cricket in whites under a blue sky on a green field; water drunk straight from the tap; the smell of grass and pollen; the continuously changing light; loamy beer in dim and woody pubs; memories of women loved, or only admired from a distance; nights of conversation and catching up and old tales retold; long journeys on the top deck of London buses; crooked lanes and sculpted hedges; the Sunday papers fat as sheep; the pleasurable accents and stresses of many kinds of musical English; Scotch eggs, rashers of bacon, trifle, cheesecake, scones with cream, ginger ale, and lambrusco; washing up, because there are no maids; samosas at Baker Street station; phone calls to newspapers and magazines asking for work — new footprints on old sand.
'Tis time to be buying a ticket.
And some other past-centred posts: "A Harold Pinter story", and "Memories of a Borges book, and the old Twentieth Century bookshop".