Crying in public: about my overhydrated eyes

I know, I know, it’s been a fortnight… But I’ve been busy, alright?! If you want to see what I’ve been up to, have a look at the line-up pages on Larmer Tree’s website – I wrote/edited almost everything under the headings of Literature, Food and Workshops.

Now to continue my experiment where rather than just recounting stuff I’ve done, I edge perilously close to the territory of the Personal Essay. I’d like to have substantiated my musings by finding some of the actual sources I’ve read back in the hazy past, but I don’t have time and this is not intended to be remotely scientific. Soz. Regardless, here’s some thoughts on crying.

I’m a crier. I cry very easily, and very often. Here’s a small sample of the many things I’ve cried about as a fully fledged adult:

Continue reading

Pub life: How I learned to love home

This post is mainly about the second of my three ex-jobs: bartending/waitressing at the Royal Arms. It’s one of those weird posts that was written in instalments over a period of great change – I started it last week, and since then, I’ve moved house, started a job, and become prime minister (spot the odd one out). That all entails a certain amount of inconsistency, but I’ll try and make it vaguely coherent.

On Friday I had my last shift at the Royal Arms before moving down south, and it felt like a little piece of my heart was painfully crumbling into sappy, nostalgic dust. To get the terrible clichés over with, my local is the sort of pub that has a fantastic sense of community spirit. There’s something about watching fifteen regulars standing around the bar and the fireplace, all chatting and laughing together, that warms the cockles of my cynical heart until I start unironically saying things like ‘community  spirit’. Playful banter and the odd bit of genuine hostility abound, of course, but everyone knows more or less everyone, and it’s clear that people will pull together when something goes wrong.  Continue reading

Working with your hands: A risk assessment

 As promised, here’s the final version of one of the many semi-posts that was languishing in my Notes app until recently. This is about one of the three jobs I’ve been doing in my sort-of gap yah, and why it’s the perfect counterbalance to Oxford; similar ideas are discussed in this post. The other two jobs, by the way, are bar-tending and tutoring, both of which I might write about later. 

Over the last six months and many summers, I have worked as a carpenter’s assistant and general dogsbody at Hollow Ash Shepherds Huts. This involves odd bits of Actual Carpentry, with complicated measurements and the like, plus occasional on-the-hoof conferences about seemingly impossible problems such as how to get an 18-foot shepherd’s hut out from between two load-bearing poles that are around half that distance apart, with no manoeuvring space (hint: it involves an approx. million-point turn and quite a lot of swearing).


And, occasionally, a tractor.

Continue reading