Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Happy New Year!

The turn of the year. A time for looking back and giving thanks - see the eloquent post 'To Glorify Things Just Because That Are' on this great blog (December 28). My year was, abundantly, one of discoveries - among them Shirley Hazzard (this time last year I had not read her! It seems incredible...), William Maxwell, the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop, Rebecca Goldstein's extraordinary Betraying Spinoza, the late novels of Penelope Fitzgerald, the critical essays of V.S. Pritchett (The Essential Pritchett is surely one of the most richly rewarding single volumes of the 20th century). Then there has been much rereading and rediscovery - including the delight of finding The Leopard as great and as magical as I remembered it from my teenage years.
Other discoveries include, miscellaneously, the Musée Angladon in Avignon, the wide-skied beauty of Dutch Zeeland, Birdsong radio, the paintings of Robert Dukes, the Carmenere grape (and Menetou-Salon, and the Spanish aperitif Pacharan), the King of Shaves Azor (a mad new razor which has given me much simple pleasure) - and, of course, the joy of cravats. Along the way I've had, despite the grim summer, some wonderful butterfly experiences, including a thrilling encounter with a purple hairstreak in my own garden... And I was happily and amazingly reunited with two old friends I hadn't seen in more than 35 years. And, of course, this was the year in which I finally started my own blog. I have not for one moment regretted it.
More than enough to be thankful for there (along with health, loved ones and paid employment). What strikes me is how much of what I've enumerated has been related in some way or another to the great wide world of the web, and in particular to the circle of like-minded souls in the blogosphere who have sent me off in so many rewarding directions and, as a result, hugely enlarged my experience and enjoyment of life. Whatever may be said against blogging, in the right hands and minds it is hugely enriching (in a non-material sense, needless to say) and, in the best sense, educative. It is now for me an essential element in a vital life-enhancing, life-enlarging process of endless discovery and rediscovery. As I look back thankfully, I thank all you out there who have contributed so much to my year, and I hope you have found my thoughts and hints and recommendations as rewarding as I have found yours.
Oh and my Book of the Year is Me Cheeta. I think it was the only newly published book I read, actually...
A Happy New Year to all who read this!


  1. Happy New Year, Nige. I think I got most pleasure out of riding my bike in the past year, particularly one gloriously sunny weekend in the Derbyshire Peak District. About the only sunny weekend of the year. Not that many books, and among them 1599 by James Shapiro and The Lodger by Charles Nicholl stand out, as will Travelling Heroes by Robin Lane Fox which I've only just started. It's been a good year for the kindness of strangers, those seemingly random encounters that somehow mean more and enrich one's confidence in human nature. So one goes on one's way feeling it's darn good to be alive. This category trumps all others, imho.

  2. Nige, It's been good to discover your blog although I bet irl you'd think to yourself ' what an uncultured peasant old French Fancy is'. Here's hoping 2009 sees you finding many good new books to read.

  3. Oh French - never! Thanks for your wishes though - and your cheering comments Mark. I found Robin Lane Fox's Pagans and Christians one of the most illuminating historical books I've ever read - must look into Travelling Heroes...

  4. Beautifully put, Nige. I look forward to another year of your good company.

  5. Happy New Year to you, Nige, and to everyone else who frequents this blog. May there be many more purple hairstreaks in your future, Nigel, and continued sightings of kindness and kinship among the rest of us who flutter by here.

    Mark, you rock. Don't fall off the bike!

  6. Michael Burleigh1 January 2009 at 13:52

    Happy New Year Nige.

  7. A bit late but Happy New Year, Nige. You deserve an MBE at the very least for what you've accomplished in the last year.