Writing On Literature

  • There aren't many upsides to being a regular visitor to hospital, especially if you work there. This is the message I sometimes received from the nurses last year when I was in the Oxford JR to have my knee sewn back together. This year, I ensured my regular summer bed on Ward 2A by breaking apart the other knee. I thought after a year of economic stagnation the situation might have deteriorated. Maybe the curtains hadn't been washed since last July (my enduring memory of a year 2000 birth at RUH Bath was of bloodstains on the curtain. Not the one round the bed. The one at the window). In fact the John Radcliffe Trauma Ward had been restaffing

    Jul 10,
  • Eleven months ago, I jumped high into the air to catch a cricket ball. When I landed, without the ball in my hand, I ruptured the patella tendon in my right knee. This meant that the top half of my leg was no longer connected, in any active sense of the word, to the bottom half. I had an operation, and wore a leg brace for twelve weeks, but as a keen sportsman I know the strength to be gained from cliché. It’s how you bounce back. I could return stronger than I ever was. Yes and no. After Christmas I got myself fit – a bit of running, a spot of cycling. I started the cricket season at

    Jul 03,
  • The ball is dark and already falling from the blue summer sky.   Like a minor, tragic, ill-fated character in a futuristic totalitarian novel (set in the kind of world where adjectives spread berserkly) I am conditioned to run.  I run.  The ball is a long way to my right.  The boundary rope is inches to the side of the soles of my cricket boots.  If I leap and stretch out my hand the moment of glory will surely be mine.  Though watch the ball.  I have to watch the ball!  First rule of cricket. Which means Im not looking where I leap.  The foot lands and then the knee somehow snaps, with an audible crack.  And my first thought?  I have not caught the ball.  Later, when

    Aug 02,
  • I was scheduled to make an appearance on Sky Sports News today to discuss England's feeble capitulation in the last Test of the Ashes series.  The interview was arranged on Friday morning.  The last time I was on, a couple of weeks ago, I was marking the three-year countdown to the London Olympics.  I was there to give my views on whether British athletes could expect triumph or disaster, though I suspect my role was to make the case for disaster. I am the Loss Correspondent.  I am the why-oh-why man.  Something must be done.  Don't know what?  Ask me.  Where are the medals?  I know where to find them. This is because in 2005 I went to Australia to look

    Aug 23,
  • The latest news from England’s leaky cricket camp is that before the Headingley duckshoot Freddie Flintoff declared himself fit.  Captain Andrew Strauss, acting on the advice of doctors, disagreed and decided not to include him in the team.  Given Flintoff’s participation at Edgbaston, where supposedly his knee felt no worse, that doesn’t seem very fair of Strauss.  Given the opinion of the doctors, it doesn’t seem very honest of Flintoff. This isn’t the only subject on which Flintoff and Strauss disagree.  When interviewed, Strauss buys himself time to think with the thoughtful preface ‘to be fair…’.  Flintoff, on the other hand, prefers a bluffer, salt-of-the-earth ‘to be honest…’ Both players have perfected their own preferred stalling mechanism through sheer repetition.  Strauss is

    Aug 11,