Showing posts from December, 2019

Priestley at Kissing Tree House: An author remembered

It is fitting in the year that I read the 'Good Companions' and 'Lost Empires' for the first time and re-read the magical, 'The Magicians' again that I ended the year reading the newly published, "Priestley at Kissing Tree House: A Memoir" by his long-time secretary, Rosalie Batten. Priestley hoped she might write a book about him, knowing him better than anyone who might undertake such a task, and she did. She started it in 1986, two years after his death and it was only discovered at Batten's death by her daughter. It now appears in an edition by Great Northern Books.

It is an overwhelmingly affectionate portrait but does not spare the author his vanities nor his contradictions. He was most insistent, for example, that people spelt his name right, "Priestley" not, as often rendered, "Priestly", he was overly concerned, at the time, that he was being forgotten just as B…

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Family Scene by Kahlil Gibran

Stewart J. was the first chairperson of the Prison Phoenix Trust, a Quaker and, for many years, a probation officer in Oxford. He is the only person who 'forced' me to have a pay rise (through getting me, gently, to realize that our fund-raising was bearing fruit, we were on a roll and there was such a thing as being too careful with resources)! 
I once asked him how he lived with the challenges of his work, over so many years, given the space for continuous disappointment. He replied, "I have learnt to hope for everything because anything is possible; and, expect nothing as it may not come to be." To hope for everything in a world in which every person carries the 'inner light within' whilst recognizing that the mystery of the person always remains intact. It should never be foreclosed by his expectations, for good or ill.
I sense that this kind of open hope, itself, creates space for real change. It is an invitation for people…