Category Archives: personal


Students are rampaging at the prospect of university fees rising to possibly £9,000 a year. I’m completely with them, and pondering how lucky I am. When I retired in 2005, after thirty-five years of teaching, I did what I would have liked to do many years earlier, and registered for a Ph. D. The fees […]


In 1915, Rudard Kipling snarled that there were “only two divisions in the world to-day – human beings and Germans.” It’s a point of view. Tomorrow  I’m going away for a week’s holiday in Germany.  A pleasant and  civilised coach-tour through the Rhineland, booked through a Guardian special offer. I shan’t be taking any Kipling […]


In Sussex last week, I took the chance of visiting Bateman’s, Kipling’s home near Burwash. It’s a splendid house, and Kipling’s study is especially worth seeing, with its crowded bookshelves and the large table (by a big window looking out onto the grounds and the spread of unspoilt Sussex) at which he wrote in longhand. The […]

In a velvet cap with a tassel…

Today was degree day for the Arts and Humanities faculty at Oxford Brookes. This meant that I could  dress up in a rather dashing gown and velvet cap, to be publicly awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

Email: Change of address

Please note: Now that I have left Oxford Brookes (fully doctored) the email address by which you can contact me is I should have realised that the Brookes email address would go as soon as I completed the formalities, but instead went on holiday for a week, without saving my address book. I’m trying […]


Today was the day. My viva examination was this afternoon, when I had to go in and defend my thesis. This turned out to be a surprisingly pleasant experience. The examiners (Jon Stallworthy and Steven Matthews) indicated from the start that they were positive about what I had written. We had some enjoyable disagreements, but […]


Today was the day. I took two copies of my thesis into Brookes, had them spiral bound by the rather impressive ladies in the Print Room, and then went to the Graduate Office to hand the thing in. In the Print Room I was at the head of a small queue, and felt rather good […]

You Read it Here First

There’s a nice little piece by John Sutherland in today’s Guardian about that 1929 competition to predict the living novelists who would still be remembered and read in 2029. I blogged about the competition a couple of weeks ago, having come upon it in the Manchester Guardian archive by chance. (I was looking for references […]

Stoke, for Bennett and Wells

Technically I had been to Stoke before. Once back in the sixties, while I was at University in Manchester, I joined a coach trip to see a stirring production of Marlowe’s  Jew of Malta at the theatre there. I can still recall images from the play, but remember nothing of the town. So when I […]


So is it going to snow again? Tomorrow I’m scheduled to give a paper to the Centre for First World War Studies seminar in   Birmingham, on fiction magazines, 1914-1918. I was offered a choice of dates, and I turned down January because I thought it might be snowy. So will I be able to […]