Back to Normality

These are weird historical times. I like to keep snapshots of how we’re managing transitions back to more ‘conventional’ reality.

On Sunday 19 September 2021, I spent the first night away from my family for over two years.

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Speech for Axel

There is a Jewish custom of writing an ethical will in which we convey our hopes and concerns to our children. I wrote a speech when my son, Leo, was born, expressing my hopes for his life. I’m doing the same for my second son, Axel, on his first day of school.

Axel, you’re going to school today. A big moment for your mum and dad, and for you.

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And introduction to The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton

Radio 4 is running a series of programmes about The Anatomy of Melancholy in the coming days. Here is a speech I wrote in the late 1990s about the book.

Robert Burton was a man who knew a thing or two about depression. He wrote three volumes, nearly 1500 pages, about its causes, symptoms and cures. His book is called The Anatomy of Melancholy, and he devoted almost his whole life to writing it. He was born in 1577, making him a contemporary of Shakespeare. He went to Oxford University in 1593, and never ventured much further than the library, until his death forty-seven years later.

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