Archive | The Blog

20. Why there’s nothing like being there, being part of it

I’m MARK HAYSOM, the author of two novels, LOVE, LOVE ME DO and IMAGINE. In my occasional Blog, I attempt to make sense of the world for my grandson, Theo – and for myself. Theo is now 18 months old A family outing: we go to the circus. And high above the sawdust ring, beneath the stretched deep-blue dome of the big top, we take our seats and wait. Wait for the magic to begin. Laser lights play; music pounds; the tent quickly fills. All around, in an eager sea of popcorn and candyfloss, children’s excited voices bubble with laughter. Vendors work the aisles. One row all buy glowing light sabres and happily carve the air: we opt for a spinning windmill of rainbow lights. Mesmerising. Hypnotic. WHAT THE CRITICS SAY ABOUT MARK’S DEBUT NOVEL ‘LOVE, LOVE ME DO is funny and heartbreaking’ (Good Housekeeping).  The story of one traumatic day.  CLICK to […]

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19. The games we play and how they make us what we are

MARK HAYSOM is the author of two novels – LOVE, LOVE ME DO and IMAGINE. In his monthly Blog, he attempts to make sense of the world for his grandson, Theo – and for himself. Theo is  now sixteen months old +++ I was, of course, no different from any other boy. Perfectly content, utterly absorbed, I could sit on the floor for patient hours with little more than an assortment of empty boxes and cartons to play with. That was all I needed: that and the restless imagination of a child. Boxes would be stacked, arranged, aligned. New towns, futuristic cities, Manhattan skylines would be created and then – in apocalyptic scenes of appalling devastation – would be flattened, erased. Towers would be lovingly, painstakingly raised, only to be quickly, violently, destroyed. Skyscrapers would climb ever more precariously, reach unsustainable heights and then topple and fall. And I would begin again. And […]

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18. Why life’s too short for sun loungers

MARK HAYSOM is the author of two novels – LOVE, LOVE ME DO and IMAGINE. His monthly Blog attempts to make sense of the world for his grandson, Theo – and for himself. Theo is  now fifteen months old. +++ Ican hear it now: falling relentlessly, coming in a lashing deluge, tap dancing demonically on the caravan roof. It’s the one constant of all my family holidays as a small boy: rain. They say that the past is another country and all our summers were better there. Childhood memories should by rights then be bathed in golden sunshine. And there were sunny days, of course: there must surely have been. But it’s the rain I remember most. Sometimes it would start slowly, catching us unawares on the beach, drops falling like dark heavy tears, staining the sand. Sometimes it would come as a sudden downpour, sending us rushing, shivering to the car. […]

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17. There are, I think, three kinds of childhood memories …

(Note: Some of the content of this month’s Blog first appeared in an article Mark wrote last year for Gransnet.) + MARK HAYSOM is the author of two novels – LOVE, LOVE ME DO and IMAGINE. His monthly Blog attempts to make sense of the world for his grandson, Theo – and for himself. Theo is  now fourteen months old. +++ Iam walking home beside my sister and she is pushing her twisted bicycle, crying, limping. There is blood weeping from her red-raw, graveled knee. I too am crying – even though it didn’t happen to me. She is six years old and I am five. I can see it so clearly and yet it is, I think, one of my earliest memories. But why, I wonder, has this remained with me when so much else has been lost? After all, there was nothing so very unusual here. There would have been countless […]

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16. There’s magic in this tattered snapshot from the past

Mark  Haysom, is the author of ‘Love, Love Me Do’ and ‘Imagine’. In his monthly Blog, he attempts to make sense of the world for his grandson – and for himself. Theo is  now thirteen months old. +++ There’s this photograph – and, in truth, it doesn’t have much going for it. It’s battered and worn, with an ugly crease that runs haphazardly through it; it’s black and white and not quite in focus; it’s poorly composed, with some faces smudged and others obscured; it was taken in a gloomy anonymous backstreet against a grimy brick wall; and I don’t have a clue who most of the people are. And yet it’s one of my greatest treasures. It was taken eighty-eight years ago on an April afternoon in Battersea for the wedding of my grandparents – and, as far as I know, it’s the only photograph to survive from that day. Indeed, […]

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15. Why walking isn’t just exercise: it’s history, geography, geology…

 Mark continues his attempt to make sense of the world for his grandson – and for himself. Theo has recently celebrated his first birthday. +++ There’s a particular walk, a favourite, that leads high across the chalky rise and fall of the Sussex Downs, following a trail carved long ago by the footsteps of the wives of local fishermen. It was along this track that they would lead a small train of plodding, swaying donkeys on a journey from the struggling fishing port of Brighthelmstone to the grand neighbouring market town of Lewes. On the backs of those donkeys were strapped baskets – known as jugs – heavy with herring and mackerel, glistening from the sea. Whenever the sun rose on a warm summer morning, it was a walk that will have had the women bustling and hurrying; urging the complaining donkeys on, desperate to keep their loads fresh for […]

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14. Why what makes us extraordinary also makes us deadly

Mark continues his attempt to make sense of the world for his grandson – and for himself. Theo has just celebrated his first birthday. +++ Here’s a three-question quiz for you. Question One: Name the deadliest, most destructive animal species that our poor beleaguered planet has had the misfortune to encounter? No prizes: because you’re not stumped, are you? Not even for a second. The answer, of course, is us; you and me, man, Homo sapiens. We all know the damage we are capable of, that we have done, that we continue to do. We see it around us every day; we read about every new man-made catastrophe in the newspapers; we witness apocalyptic visions in television documentaries. War; famine; entire species hunted or driven to extinction; eco-systems destroyed; pollution; deforestation; global warming – we have much to answer for. And, in truth, we always have. Because, just in case […]

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13. I don’t believe in ghosts but, if I did, I would know them all by name

Mark continues his attempt to make sense of the world for his grandson – and for himself. Theo is now eleven months old. +++ I don’t believe in ghosts but, if I did, I would hear them in every creak of the floorboards, I would meet them on the stairs every day. Our house would be loud with them. How could it not be when there has been so much life lived here? This brave white-stuccoed house on the top of a hill has stood – loved and, at times, unloved – for 170 years. In its long history, it’s had its share of ups and downs. It’s been both proud and humble: it was a home to polite middle-class Victorian families; it served eighteen years as a small school for small boys; it’s been converted to flats and to students bedsits. And astonishingly – thanks to the long hours I’ve […]

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12. I wish I was Welsh … or Irish … or …

Mark continues his attempt to make sense of the world for his grandson – and for himself. Theo is now eleven months old. +++ I wish I was Welsh. Now, there’s a phrase you don’t see or hear very often. So, I’ll say it again. I wish I was Welsh: I really do. I lived in South Wales for seven years in the 1990s and fell in love with the place and people – the heart-on-the-sleeve passion; the grudges and dark rivalries; the secret, silent expanse of the sandy beaches and deserted cliff-tops; the haunting grey-green rolling hills; the unlovely towns; the terraced homes stretching squat and house-proud through the valleys; the raw wet cold. It’s a place of light and shadows, of sun and rapidly gathering clouds, where the past is never far away. And if I close my eyes I can still hear Wales because, of course, it has […]

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11. Why freedom is a fragile thing

The novelist, Mark  Haysom, is the author of ‘Love, Love Me Do’ and ‘Imagine’. In his Blog, he continues his attempt to make sense of the world for his grandson – and for himself. Theo was ten months old when this was written. +++ There’s this day that came to mind. We’d found sticks and cut a fearless swathe through an eye-high forest of stinging nettles. I can hear the scything swish, see the nettles topple and fall. And then, suddenly, we were through – and, just as suddenly, we were off, running and laughing. Heads back, chests out, knees pumping, we ran as fast as the wind. Faster. In the long swashbuckling history of marauding boys, no one could ever have run this fast before! On we went, running and tumbling; tripping and falling; running and rolling; cartwheeling across the up-and-down fields. The sun was on our backs, the […]

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