Virginia Barton



In 1720, in a Letter of Advice to a Young Poet, Jonathan Swift wrote:

“. . .A commonplace book is what a provident poet cannot subsist without, for this proverbial reason, that ‘great wits have short memories:’ and whereas, on the other hand, poets, being liars by profession, ought to have good memories; to reconcile these, a book of this sort, is in the nature of a supplemental memory, or a record of what occurs remarkable in every day’s reading or conversation. There you enter not only your own original thoughts, (which, a hundred to one, are few and insignificant) but such of other men as you think fit to make your own, by entering them there. . .”

The “few and insignificant thoughts” are exactly what will be found here in Commonplaces.

14 December 2018: Refuge

Have you been displaced? Slung out of your home with just half-an-hour to collect your things? BH knew all about it; and about arriving here to an uncertain welcome.

30 November 2018: Cherishing your Oldies

We aged ones have been called many things: dustys, crumblies, wrinklies, crinklies, old bats, etc. and many much ruder names I wouldn’t dream of typing. The scoffers forget that very likely they, too, will be an old trout one day.

16 November 2018: The Long Road to Sainthood

On November 8, 2018, Blessed Michał Giedroyć was officially confirmed, with his Feast Day fixed on May 4th. Always known as “Blessed” Mike in the family, the inverted commas can now be omitted.

9 November 2018: Armistice Day

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month the Armistice was signed to end the First World War, one-hundred years ago.

2 November 2018: “A Huge Number Impossible to Count”

We all know of people who are not formally canonised and who by our reckoning should be. Can I put in for my late mother-in-law and a host of her friends who suffered at the hands of the Soviets in the wastes of Siberia during the last war?

19 October 2018: The Audio Version

I read BH’s book “Crater’s Edge” so many times, both when he was writing it and later after it was published, I reckon I know it almost by heart. Now I am listening to it, a very different experience.

12 October 2018: Corrie ten Boom

“Forgiveness is not an emotion. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”

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