‘Ils ont oui les clliochs des egllises de paraisse.’     (They have heard the bells of the parish churches.)   It begins. Almost as if a great god somewhere has sighed, and in that celestial outpouring a reluctant nip tide rolls slowly into the waiting bay, the turpentine water …






In the small Staffordshire village where I live there once lived a local conservative politician named Tarquin Seabag-Anatole. The villagers were already highly suspicious of him because he had various physical deformities –  specifically, one leg shorter than the other, a hump on his back and only one eye – …






Sometime in the early 1940′s, a woman named Pauline Coomer traveled from Kentucky to a small town in middle Tennessee called Gainesboro, where she wound up working for my maternal great-grandparents on their small tobacco farm. My great-grandparents gave Pauline a place to live in exchange for killing chickens, cooking …






My personal experience with books began before I remember, but the first I remember is a story about a tiger lost in the woods.  This was followed by a longtime love of Uncle Remus and Grimm’s Three Billy Goats Gruff, where my father provided the voices, and I yearned for …






Books have always just been there. Loads of them, spilling over their allotted space on shelves, stored in the garage, the loft and the spare room in my family’s house. My most intense memories of my mother are of her reading to me, which she did each night at bedtime …






From where I’m sat in my front room, on the right of the bay window I can see a pile of four books. There’s a Tim Vine joke book. I usually buy a myself a joke book at Christmas, a kind of reserve fund of emergency fun. There’s a baking …






The treasure trove under the stairs was our first port of call when we visited our aunt’s house as children. We always found it full of bales of books brought home by our uncle who worked in a paper salvaging plant . Hours were spent in front of the fire …