Monthly Archives: August 2018

Full Circle

I have just finished reading JRR Tolkien’s ‘The fall of Gondolin’ in the beautiful edition created by Christopher Tolkien and illustrated by Alan Lee.

I prepared for it well, having this year re-read after a rather long interval: The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, and the twelve volumes of The History of Middle-earth.

This is what Christopher Tolkien says in the preface to ‘Gondolin’ (the order of words slightly rearranged by me.)

‘Looking back over my work, now concluded after some forty years…I must now say that ‘in my ninety-fourth year ‘The Fall of Gondolin’ is (indubitably) the last.’

There has been great acclaim for this astonishing forty years of work, combining so intricately the devotion of a son to a father and the academic and creative skills they shared. I can’t help feeling there should be even more noise made about it; as Sam Gamgee would say, ‘Glory and trumpets!’

How fitting that Christopher Tolkien’s last edition of his father’s work should be this elegant volume containing the first-composed tale in what became a whole legendarium.

If every Tolkien Scholar and devotee were to write a single-page note to Christopher Tolkien expressing their admiration for what he has done in honour of his father, the man would disappear under paper.

Gandalf said: ‘All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’ What an achievement Christopher Tolkien has reached in his time; thank you sir.FAL OF GONDOLIN COVER IMAGE


I’ve failed to deliver any news of Fluff recently so thought I should offer an update.
Fluff turned 18 in June; according to several websites, some of which looked as if they might be reliable, that means he’s more or less an equivalent age to an 88 year old human.
As most cat food manufacturers use 7 or 8 to mark the age at which you should put your cat on ‘Senior’ varieties of their food, this seems really pretty old.
He does have some kidney trouble, but is remarkably well most of the time; loves food, loves sleeping, enjoys the garden, loves cuddles. Doesn’t like being groomed but then he should have been a short-hair! All of this is free of charge to him here in the gericatric haven.
On our last vet visit the vet agreed with me that Fluff’s hearing has gone. As the months pass it becomes clearer to me that his short-term memory is pretty well gone too. Both these things explain his loud and frequent vocalising – he forgets his brothers are gone, and calls them. He loses all sense of where I am, and calls me. HE ONLY KNOWS HOW TO SHOUT BECAUSE HE DOESN’T KNOW HOW LOUD HE IS.
Building on (a) previous experience of life with a deaf cat (b) my own hearing loss (c) usefuFluff tonguel tips from Jackson Galaxy, I’m slowly evolving strategies that seem to help.
I’ve stopped yelling ‘I’m over here, Fluff!’ I still talk to him when cuddling/feeding him, I maintain that if you’re speaking lovingly to your cat then your body language/general aura will be affected by that and convey to the cat that you love him/her. But if he’s downstairs yelling ‘I’VE WOKE UP AND I DON’T KNOW WHO I AM AND WHERE ANYONE IS!!!’ I leave the study, go downstairs, walk round in front of him – and miraculously the yell turns to relieved ‘prrrp,’ which seems to mean ‘O, there you are!’ He’ll follow me up the stairs in pursuit of wiggling fingers (I think they’re saying, ‘This way Fluff.’) In the study we have a little cuddle on the sofa, the I go back to work (or computer games, depends how the day has been) and he’ll have a snooze. Now and then if he wakes and looks anxiously around, I wave through the gap between my PC and my revolving book case, look into his eyes and do slow blinks until he blinks back and snoozes again.
Mad? Cat ladies? Certainly not!



every book you’ve ever read?

My Goodreads tally has just gone over 4,000 today. That doesn’t seem enough to me.

As I’ve been reading for 67 years, it works out at only 59.8 per annum (4002/67)

But for most of those years I wasn’t keeping a record of what I’d read. How can I dredge up the titles and authors of 50-60 years ago, and how could anyone ever get to the point of saying, yes, that’s the exact number?

Can anyone say that – exactly how many books you’ve read so far?

Do share it!



It’s always good to spot your name in print (even if it’s spelled wrongly!)

For a Tolkienist it’s especially good to find yourself in Tolkien Studies; even just a mention in ‘The Year’s Work in Tolkien Studies.’

So I’m happy to forgive the misspelling and share with you Edith L. Crowe’s note:

‘After a long list of publications on Tolkien’s prose, the appearance in 2013 of a volume on his poetry has brought us Sue Bridgewater’s (sic) comparison of Tolkien and Yeats in “What is it but a dream? Tolkien’s ‘The Sea Bell’ and Yeats’ ‘The Man who dreamed of Fairyland'” (Eilmann and Turner 117-51). Faerie is traditionally located over the sea, west, underground, or in a forest. Bridgewater reviews aspects of Faerie and notes how they are applied in Tolkien-for example, time difference, dream vision. Both poems have a sonnet-like ‘turn.’ “The vocabulary of margins, of liminality, forges a strong point of similarity between the two poems: shores, seas, sands, fish, ships, things that live or move between elements” (128). “The chief thing these poems have in common is the ambiguity of their typological status, or to state the same idea more positively, the rich mixture of tradition blended into each work” (140). Curiously, both Tolkien and Yeats were unsatisfied with the poems in question.’

Tolkien’s Poetry

Tolkien Studies 13

Tolkien's poetry cover image.jpg  TS 13 cover image


more a cry for advice.

My current Family History project is to get some work by my late cousin Tony Tapson into some sort of electronic form so I can share it online.

The document consists of A4 paper in a plastic binder, all sheets easily separable for scanning. The quality is variable, especially with the photographs all of which look like photocopies.

I had hoped to scan the photo pages as jpeg and the OCR the text. However, a lot of the text is in columns and my previous experience both of downloading and scanning columnar text is that it loses its shape and the columns appear as a long thin ribbon of text down the left-hand side.

The present standard of my IT skills is such that the only solution I can work out for myself is to scan each page separately, each one as a jpeg, paste them into a Word docx then convert that to a PDF. I can improve clarity and contrast on most of the pages after scanning, and in some cases rescan photos from copies I have myself. The big problem is that the text is uneditable in jpeg format, which means the updates and corrections I know of (which will still leave it out of date, these things always are) are written in. It doesn’t look great but it’s bearable.

Before I tackle this any further, can anyone suggest (in simple terms please for I am a bear of very little brain and IT acronyms bother me) any simpler approach? All suggestions welcome.

Great Granddad Tapson (John Charles 1st) d.1913


It’s not really the case that I don’t want to write something new or develop some of the half-written things lurking in my study.

It’s just that there’s so much to do in the garden, which is too big for me and constantly threatened by ivy-attack.

While the weather is suitable I must prioritise that – mustn’t I? After all I can’t manage more than about 20-30 minutes a day, otherwise all my joints gang up on me and refuse to allow me to do any for the following 2-3 days.

But I wonder what excuse I’ll think of in the winter?

Anyway, one of today’s garden jobs was to finish remodelling my Cat Memorial Corner.

How important is that? Well, very important to me and a nonsensical waste of time and resources to some, I daresay.

But that’s what I’ve done.

Cat Memorial Corner 2018


It’s been a long wait but volume 2 is here! The forces of darkness plus creative inertia combine to block the triumph of art, words, music – but they will never succeed, not while there’s chocolate and gluten-free ice cream!


Fluff’s haircut

The gripping tale of this morning.

First, Fluff is seized and thrust into his carry-basket by his guardian.

Then he is seat-belted into the car and driven, catnapped, along endless roads.

33% of the way to the groomer, Fluff produces a remarkably smelly poo.

Guardian finds a layby, manages to clear up the damage and drives on.

66% of the way to the groomer, Fluff regurgitates breakfast.

Guardian manages to find something vaguely resembling a layby, but not one that pleases passing drivers. Manages to clear up the the second lot of damage. Drives on.

At the groomer’s, guardian sips thankfully at cuppa while Fluff howls, squeals and vigorously objects to every inch of shaving and every flick of the comb. But now and then indicates he quite likes these people really. He looks so sweet when trimmed that he is photographed for the website.

Carry-basket is relined with clean liners, and Fluff inserted therein. He sits and smiles at us, then floods clean liner with considerably impressive amount of wee for a cat so resistant to drinking.

Liner removed and Fluff has to go home on his fortunately only slightly damp towel.

Fluff tongue