Tell Me a Story

Close your eyes and listen to the music. Imagine yourself by the water: there is soon a story unfolding in your mind.

When the music is over, tell me the story of the water.



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The Life She Thought She Wanted

To her mother, it must have looked as though she could do anything she wanted to do. She could move from one end of the country to another, change her name, live on her own, sleep with whoever she wanted to without marrying them, drink tea at the Ritz, make babies disappear overnight, probably bringing them back again, if she felt like it. And it was true, she could. But it seemed to her that to take advantage of all these opportunities, she had to turn something off inside her. She had to pretend that nothing mattered, as long as she got the life she thought she wanted.

Nick Hornby — Funny Girl

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From a friend, via email:

Your soul doesn’t need salvation: it’s enough to watch you play, your body, to know you’re saved.

This means so much more to me than any praise for my technique (of which I have very little) especially taking into consideration that I positively hate to see myself play.


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Catlike Unctuousness

Larry was designed by Providence to go through life like a small, blond firework, exploding ideas in other people’s minds, and then curling up with catlike unctuousness and refusing to take any blame for the consequences.

Gerald Durrell, on his brother Lawrence — My Family and Other Animals

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Felicities of Touch


I can’t say I am an avid reader of E. M. Forster; I read and liked Howard’s End and a Passage to India among others but maybe at too early an age to fully appreciate the wider context.

These days however a multitude of threads seem to capriciously weave a cathedral of wonder pulling me in. A subset of them is discovering that Forster not only visited Alexandria and wrote a guide to the city, but that he actually then met Cavafy, whose work he helped to introduce in England. What’s more, the guide’s introduction is written by — of course — Lawrence Durrell.

This work is something more than just a work of literary piety devoted to that strange and evocative city called Alexandria… it succeeds in being a small work of art, for it contains some of Forster’s best prose as well as felicities of touch only a novelist of major talent could command.

Lawrence Durrell — Introduction to E. M. Forster’s Alexandria: A History and Guide.

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To Emote

As a person who can often go to inappropriate lengths to annoy those around me with the Goldberg Variations, I couldn’t agree more with this piece (except maybe for the Deep Purple and King Crimson bit).

We don’t talk about music enough. As someone who’s never felt he’s had the technical language at his fingertips, I feel all I can do is talk about it in whatever English I have at my command. I want to emote about how I feel. After a concert, I want to grab people by the lapels and tell them how lucky we are as a species that, out of all the hundreds of billions of us who ever lived, one of us managed to come up with the Goldberg Variations. But I don’t, because that’s not the done thing. So instead I mention that the cafe downstairs does some fabulous chocolate éclairs.

Armando Iannuci — Classical music, the love of my life

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Theodore had an apparently inexhaustible fund of knowledge about everything, but he imparted this knowledge with a sort of meticulous diffidence that made you feel he was not so much teaching you something new, as reminding you of something which you were already aware of, but which had, for some reason or other, slipped your mind.

Gerard Durrell — My Family and Other Animals

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Ad Libitum

I’ll just contemplate the landscape and not do anything or say anything.

Some moments are for not knowing.

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