Early Morning in the Library

I love these early mornings here in the university library. Getting the bus before the into work and school rush and squash begins. Then into here before it begins filling up for the day. Knowing I’m part of that filling up. Yet still, early on like now, the place feeling like mine. Like I’ve come to inhabit it. An essential moment in your time with any great library. When it becomes your place.

The moment you know roughly how it works. Continue reading “Early Morning in the Library”

The Sociological Imagination

Nearly four weeks into my University of Liverpool Sociology and History studies now, and for the first time sending out a brief blog post from inside the library where I’m spending much of my time.

I’m here in the library mid-afternoon on a Tuesday, having been in and around the university since early this morning, mostly reading generally and otherwise getting ready for the next few day’s lectures. And mostly done now, giving me plenty of time to carry on with reading the last lot of stuff for this Thursday’s ‘Philosophy of Social Science’  titled ‘The Sociological Imagination’ and about the works of C. Wright Mills and Howard Becker.

Suggested chapters by and about both of these have been suggested by this week’s lecturer, who’s also suggested we might, now or sometime soon, like to read the whole of ‘The Sociological Imagination’ by C. Wright Mills as ‘It’s a wonderful text.’


Thus encouraged I started reading it yesterday and it is – wonderful, readable, clear and opinionated. What’s more, involved in it as I am, this is the first day in my nearly four weeks that I haven’t brought a novel in with me as well, for my occasional relief-reading. This being good enough on its own to read like a ‘proper’ book!

I think I might be starting to feel at home here? Continue reading “The Sociological Imagination”

“Brief Lives” & two perfect paragraphs

I’m not sure if you’re supposed to do this really. Include whole paragraphs as quotations on a blog post about a particular book. But they’re such a perfect bookends to everything in between them that I’m going to go ahead and do just that anyway.

Since Kate Rodenhurst and I wrote our joint piece, about a different Anita Brookner novel in this ‘books’ corner of the blog I’ve been having trouble settling into novels by anyone else. Hence picking up her ‘Brief Lives’ before setting out on my Sunday walk this week. Yet another book having been abandoned in disinterest the day before.

I don’t entirely blame the authors of this failed sequence. In recent weeks I’ve been doing a lot of reading, but of academic books, so perhaps that’s put me off my fictional stride? Maybe so but either way I was happy and confident to set off early in the afternoon with an Anita Brookner in my bag, on a grey and quiet Sunday that  would have suited so many of her characters and their situations.

I walked in the opposite direction to my more usual city routes. Knowing there would be giant puppets and their attendant crowds towards the city centre and a Liverpool FC and Manchester City game further north I walked up Mossley Hill and down the other side, along mostly empty streets.

Reaching Sefton Park at the Aigburth end I bought some coffee from the café by the lake, sat down to read and by page 16 I’d found this perfect paragraph about a Sunday afternoon in the main character’s childhood. Continue reading ““Brief Lives” & two perfect paragraphs”

In a Quiet Corner: Getting Going

No apologies for not having written anything on this blog for nearly two weeks now, I’ve been busy. After months of looking forward I’ve started university . And it’s making me so happy I thought I’d write a bit about it, in a quiet way.

Much of my life is fairly quiet at the moment in fact. In quiet corners of this great big library in between Myrtle Street and Abercromby Square. In Abercromby Square itself, having a peaceful lunch from the very good (non-corporate) lunch shop on Oxford Street near the Sports Centre. And in lectures listening carefully to, well, more about them in a bit.

I’ve been thinking mostly. Continue reading “In a Quiet Corner: Getting Going”

Life is short: Happy Birthday to me

My partner Sarah’s just had a birthday, one due to be spent doing something she loves, being out in her beloved sea kayak off the coast of Wales. Well as you’ll read, that didn’t happen. Instead she spent two happily quiet days walking on a beach, gardening and reflecting on life and death.

‘The fact that I work with death informs me with an urgency and impatience which does not compel me to rush, it compels me to slow down – even more. To be happier with less. Not more.’


A birthday reflection. By understanding the meaning of death, we shall come to appreciate fully the meaning of this life – which is unrepeatable and so to be treasured above all else. 

If I were to simply share this photo then the viewer might (correctly) assume that I had been to a beach for my birthday. And yes, that it true, but – for me – it doesn’t fully tell the story behind the photo and also the reflections that birthdays bring.  Continue reading “Life is short: Happy Birthday to me”

The Long and Winding Road

I keep singing the song quietly, I think, to myself. This week as things change for me and I set off on something new, I keep singing the song.

It’s in me like bone, like heart and soul. Like it has been since I first heard it the best part of fifty years ago, and would set off to walk the five miles to where my first girlfriend lived, singing the song. It’s on my walks, it’s when I go somewhere new and when I start something different.

More than a soundtrack, more like a guide, a compass, a longing. It’s the sound of longing and it always has been. The song of trying out new things, which always lead me back to the long and winding road. Continue reading “The Long and Winding Road”

A Global Sense of Place

September 7th, 2018

Things are getting real now with starting my MA/PhD at the University of Liverpool.

This week, having paused at least for now on much else that I’m doing, I’ve been spending more time around the university. Not that there are many other students around, I’ve just been getting myself acclimatised to the place again. Forty years after I last spent very much time here.

I’ve been reading mostly. Things my two academic supervisors in Sociology and History have recommended.  And it was while sat in this coffee shop reading ‘A Global Sense of Place’ by Doreen Massey I noticed an email float across my screen from the university. Not one of the general ‘Welcome to Liverpool’ messages I’ve been getting lately, but a very specific one from the administrator of the department I’ll be joining the week after next. Containing details and times like “1pm on Tuesday 18.” And a list of modules to pick from. This MA I’m needing to do being partly a taught thing, compared with the the PhD that will follow.

So it’s all getting real now, which is good.

Anyway, back to the reading.

Continue reading “A Global Sense of Place”

Living, Thinking, Looking: A day to myself

In Granby Street by now
The gazebos will be rising
Like smiles to meet the day

I’m up and out early looking forward to a day to myself, a day with no appointments of any kind to do exactly and only what I feel like. Mostly walking and reading then, but also calling in on my friends at the Street Market.

The market’s already getting busy, just after 10. Continue reading “Living, Thinking, Looking: A day to myself”

Starving To Be Alone

No offence is meant here to the people I know and love, or to anyone else. But sometimes don’t you wish you were on your own?

Not because of unhappiness, anger or any other feelings of bitterness. But just because. Because you want to be on your own? I do and I think I always have.

Back when I was nineteen years old this feeling was defined for me by a song I’d never heard before.

It’s November 1973 and I’m sat in the Empire Theatre in Liverpool watching Neil Young for the first time. Continue reading “Starving To Be Alone”