"We do not distribute the results of our work in an equitable way"by Prospect Team / April 11, 2017 / Leave a comment
Published in May 2017 issue of Prospect Magazine
First historical event you can recall?
The Festival of Britain of 1951, when I was five years old. I can remember going into the Dome of Discovery and standing alongside a beautiful blue diesel-electric railway engine, which towered over me. It all seemed magical and I hoped that I would be alive in 2051 for the next one.
The book you are most embarrassed you never yet read?
Bleak House. I can’t explain why not. I haven’t read all of Dickens by any means but what I have read I’ve enjoyed massively. About 10 years ago, I would have answered this question with some other books, but that year I made a list and worked through such things as the Odyssey and Jude the Obscure to make up some gaps. I missed out Bleak House, though!
One bit of advice you’d give to your younger self?
Read Bleak House. OK—I know that sounds facetious but what I mean is that between, say, the years of 14 and 22, of course it’s great to footle about, not doing much apart from wondering why you’re not doing much, but if you’re halfway interested in doing something to do with writing, then the best apprenticeship is reading like crazy.
What is your favourite saying or quotation?
“I am soft sift/in an hour glass.” This comes from “The Wreck of the Deutschland” by Gerard Manley Hopkins. Hopkins invented a new way of writing poetry, which he created out of experiments with Milton, Anglo-Saxon poems, nursery rhymes and Welsh poetry. This line expresses to me those moments when you are both constrained (“in an hour glass”), under compulsion to do something (flow like sand in an hour glass) and yet without a structure.