Monday, 24 August 2009


I've been writing about i) angels and ii) asperger syndrome this month, so I have been thinking at length about memes, or cognate concepts bearing different names. I was a little surprised, then, to find that I'd been 'tagged' with a 'meme', which apparently means that I have an answer some questions and then invite some other people to answer the same questions. The tagger was my dear friend Mrs Trefusis, here, who has an inflated notion of me, for which I am very grateful. She makes the very valid point that as I'm no longer in a position to call myself a runner, then I need something else to blog about. So here goes.

What's the favourite thing you've ever written?
Milton's Angels: The Early Modern Imagination, forthcoming from Oxford University Press next February. If the question specifically designates a blog, then I have to confess that I am quite proud of some entries, while I regard others as fillers. I put much more effort into the entries on marathons. Only followers of this blog will have read the really good ones. They are:
  • The Muezzin's Call - the Istanbul marathon.
  • Five Bridges, Five Boroughs, and a Lake of Fire -- the 2005 NYC marathon.
  • New York, 5 November 2006 -- the 2006 NYC marathon, with a guest appearance by Lance Armstrong.
  • Basta problemi, on re-running the Milan marathon, was also quite good -- especially with the benefit of hindsight (the end of my 17-year marriage would begin when I got off the plane)
These were good because of the occasions. I was also quite pleased with an entry about the place that running sometimes holds in the bigger movements of your life, Recovery Runs, though that's a much more understated piece of writing.

What blog post do you wish you'd written?
Probably something by Brad Hickey -- such as this one -- because I would have liked to have had the meal (though the man isn't short of good meals, good wine and good company). I would also like to have won the Tour de France.

Choose a favourite quotation
Too many to choose from. Perhaps:

"Leaning, half rais'd, with looks of cordial love /
Hung over her enamoured"


"Hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way."


"Put me back on my bike."


"Sunt lachrymae rerum". (Because I love the economy of the Latin: "these are the tears of things" doesn't quite do it. See also: "Coelo tegitur non urnam habet.")


"Time held me green and dying / Though I sang in my chains like the sea."


"Between the thought ..."


"Who if I cried would hear me among the angelic orders ..."

How could one possibly choose?

Three favourite words
That's tough again. Are the three words linked? Are they context sensitive? In which case "Agent Provocateur Shorts" have to be right up there with the most sublime words. If we're just talking nice, fancy words, my 14-year old self would have had a proper answer: umbrageous, incarnadine, desuetude. Perhaps numinous too. These days, I like all of my words, and feel that I need to hang onto as many as I can, as the years strip the elasticity of my brain cells and the words slip beyond reach.

Do you have a writing mentor, role model, influence or inspiration
Mnemosyne and Erato. And sometimes Clio.

What's your writing ambition?
Oh, to be Shakespeare, Joyce, the usual stuff.

Now I have to recommend three bloggers, which is tricky, because Mrs T. and all her friends -- MTFF, Belgian Waffle and so on -- have already been involved in this meme. And it seems unfair to drag in others, who have better things to write about: Brad Hickey, Fat Cyclist, Chris Priestly. So I respond: no. Basta.



  1. delightful. exactly what one might have expected.
    Love all the quotations, the familiar as well as the new, and i think you should rehabilitate the word 'incarnadine', it sounds so much lovelier than flesh coloured. Flesh coloured is exactly the wrong shade for Agent Provocateur pants, though.

  2. Hello, I found you through Mrs Trefusis and have now spent much longer than I ought to reading some of your posts about running.

    I love the way you write. Your obvious passion and enjoyment - even when things aren't going to plan. And capturing that rhythm, the pace - taking us on the race with you. Thank you.

    I'm a runner too, though I hesitate to say that to you. I'm a novice who only started contemplating any kind of distance this year. I'm gearing up for my first half-marathon in September. But I've glimpsed and experienced some of the things you write about in my own small way. And that connected. Especially as I've been writing about my running experiences too.

    I'm so sorry you're injured at the moment. I hope it doesn't leave you too low and frustrated. It's just another challenge. A different kind of marathon if you like. I'm sure you'll find a way through this setback and come back stronger and more zen like.

    Thank you for some really gorgeous reading.