Virginia Barton

Prize-winning snail in an empty goldfish bowl

Only one’s own jealousy is interesting. Other peoples’ is not – at least not 336 pages of it. Sin is boring if it is totally isolated from virtue – think of the bald, unmitigated lust that constitutes that most boring of literatures, pornography.

Calcutta on our doorstep

Mother Teresa’s message is simple, as direct as a laser-beam, and is contained within the first two commandments. And we don’t have to up-sticks and go to Calcutta because the lonely, neglected and the poor are with us always, even within the confines of our own families.

Heroine’s thoughts borne out of truth

Simone Weil died regretting that people were more attracted to her person than to her thoughts. She was convinced that her ideas contained nuggets of pure gold and she wanted people to ask the question: “Is what she says true?”

Short (stories) and sweet but not in weight!

Short stories may be called the Cinderellas of literature in that they are the least rewarded and least regarded and yet, apart from Poetry, I believe them to be the most difficult literary form to execute perfectly.

Invitation to the country’s waltz

Heaven forbid one should actually have to get up at 4:30 am to do the milking, or brave the elements of a winter night to bring the sheep to safety, but thank God there are people who do these things so that we may have milk on our doorstep, roast lamb for Sunday lunch and honey still for tea!

Rare and welcome winter guest

Patrick White is quoted on the jacket: Robert Liddell is “one of those novelists who sits quietly writing classics over a lifetime”. I hate to disagree with the ghost of one of my favorite novelists.

Bookery Nook: Pilgrims, Pugwash and a mother’s pain

I ordered the Suchet tapes of St John’s gospel as an Easter present for a daughter; they have now been lent to a hospital patient to play on a Walkman. I wish they’d been available years ago when my mother was housebound and almost blind.

Bookery Nook: More time for juggling the turkey

Had I not been flat on my back in October, I would have alerted you to the 70th birthday of distinguished Orkney writer George Mackay Brown. All his work has a powerful spiritual undercurrent, but “Magnus” is probably the most overtly ‘religious’. I am an unashamedly ardent fan.

7 July 2013: A super-generous host and some thoughtful poultry

“There were some thin, thoughtful, canting cocks, and serious low-church hens, respectfully listening; and chickens of tender years so well brought up, as scarcely to betray in their conduct the careless levity of youth. The Vice-Consul stood for a moment quite calm, collecting his strength . . .”

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