Going to bed with Jeanette Winterson

I’ve never read any of Jeanette Winterson’s fiction, a shocking admission for someone who (against all the evidence) considers himself mildly well-read. That there are - I hope -  still years ahead in my life to read Jeanette Winterson, ironically, may be thanks to her anyway. In February 2008 I tried to end my life. My cat was in the garage with me. I did not know that when I sealed the doors and turned on the engine. My cat was scratching my face, scratching my face, scratching my face. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal, by Jeanette Winterson. In February 2012 I thought my life had ended. My intelligence told me that that was ridiculous, but my heart thought it anyway. Which is truer, in any case? The mind’s truth, or the heart’s truth? I’d gone through a chain of circumstances, dismal and not very interesting to relate, stuff we all go through, the same old divorce and bereavement, moving house,...
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Up the Thames with a flat-coated retriever

Up the Thames with a flat-coated retriever

In Memory of Millie, the Dog of the Title, who died in June 2016. It had been the wettest April for a hundred years. We knew that, but we’d been planning this boat trip for months. We were going to take an open Canadian canoe, tents, cooking gear and a retriever called Millie upstream from Oxford to the source of the Thames. By mid-May the unseasonal rain had swollen the river as far up as the Gloucestershire Cotswolds. What should have been an easy glide on almost still waters had turned into some sort of triathlon event. The Thames was not living up to its description of ‘a pond between locks’. When we set off, from Pinkhill Lock near Oxford, the sun had come out, but the ‘lay-bys’, landing stages where you step ashore to open the lock gates, were flooded. Waterlilies, normally sunning themselves on the banks, were drowning in the deep water. Further upstream, the Environment Agency had opened weir...
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