Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Other Writings

 In my previous post I wrote about some of my writings before I recently became Simon the Writer. Here are some more I have dug up.

Even before I became an English teacher, I studied Scandinavian Literature at the University of East Anglia and University College London in the 1970s. This article dates from those days. It was originally published in the literary journal Scandinavica in 1982 but was resussitated more recently on the official Olav Duun website: http://olavduun.no/aktuelt/characterisation-and-narrative-structure-olav-duun (accessed 18/08/2020).

This won’t be of great interest to many people outside my circle of friends in Norway. This is for them.

 Another obscure piece of writing of which I am trotzdem stolz - nevertheless proud - is this review written in German of George Orwell’s 1984: http://www.marxists.de/culture/orwell/andrewde.htm (accessed 18/08/2020). It orininally appeared in the February/March 1984 issue of Klassenkampf (Nr.21). It was resussitated here by REDS- Die Roten on 04/05/2002. 


 Anyone there who reads German? With a left-wing mind frame?

 My third offer - possibly a little more accessible - is an account of the development in American popular culture of the legend of Stagger Lee: The story of the story of Stagger Lee – International Socialism. It was published in issue 154 of the International Socialism Journal and posted here online on 05/04/2017 (accessed 18/08/2020). 

{Fron the Music Enthusiast blog}

 I originally used the idea for a content-based lesson for teaching English as a foreign language and it appeared in Humanising Language Teaching Year 11; Issue 1 February 2009

 That version is no longer directly available online.

Saturday, 8 August 2020


I was at first rather puzzled to receive this comment about my last blog:

 I find it all very interesting. You have a very interesting life where you live. I envy you. Life there sounds very exciting. I cannot report anything so interesting to you. My intellectual life has ground to a standstill, dried up as a result of the lockdown and being unable to travel and meet freely.

I couldn't see how Jan got the idea that I lead an enviably interesting life here in Granada. Since I got back from Vietnam in the middle of February I have been living in almost total isolation. First I locked myself away writing and publishing my ebooks. The imposed lockdown came within a month, and the tentative relaxing of restrictions soon showed itself to have come too early. By then I had committed myself to a long-distance teaching assignment for the University of Birmingham. So since the middle of July, I find myself tied to my computer teaching a virtual class of postgraduate students scattered all across eastern China on Zoom. I am preparing them in academic English for a course at the University of Birmingham, which is supposed to be starting in situ this autumn. It’s a rather weird experience, if you think about it.

The course runs until 21 August. By then, my life will have been restricted largely to a virtual online reality for a full six months. As a result, I am developing an aversion to my computer and a reluctance to open it for anything that is not strictly necessary and I have a great need to take up contact with the outside world again.

So I could not imagine how anybody could see that life as interesting, and even less as exciting.

But re-reading the post, I realise how my fascination with Granada and the city’s great poet and playwright and the complex relationship between the two has been a great stimulus for me over the years. And I can see how it has been an impetus for a rich interior world which comes to manifestation in my Granada la bella website.

It has taken shape over a large number of years, some of it going back to the 1990s, soon after I got my first computer and internet connection. It was an engaging hobby.

If you want to be kept up to date with developments in my new life - though not so new, after all - as Simon the Writer, sign up for my newsletter by filling out the subscription form on my new Writer webpage

View from my high window, next to which I sit in splendid isolation, teaching my Chinese students on zoom, or writing my ebooks, or working on my Granada la bella website, or messaging my friends, or writing this blog ...


Friday, 24 July 2020

I may have not openly declared myself as Simon the Writer until I was on the point of publishing my first three ebooks, but of course I had been writing since long before that. 

One place where I published my writings before that date was on my Granada la bellawebsite.  The name hints at the dual nature of the city where I live, its light and dark sides, la bella and la bestia sides. Because while the Beauty of Granada is undeniable, it can also reveal itself as the Beast.
An example of how Granada succumbs to the beast in its breast can be seen in the way its Gran Vía de Colónbulldozers its way through the heart of the old city with no regard for historical or aesthetic considerations.
There is also a portal into my Granada la bella blog which frequently deals with the issue. 

But perhaps the most impressive aspect of the website is the chronology of events: TheLife, Times,and Works of Federico García Lorca, starting with the arrival of Vicenta Lorca in the village of Fuente Vaqueros, a few kilometres out side Granada, in 1892. Six years later, she would give birth to the poet.

The chronology ends, for the time being, with an account of recent developments in the fruitlesssearch for the poet’s mortal remains 

This failure is one of the darkest aspects of the city’s dual nature as la bella and la bestia. The city that is today happy to cash in on the glory of Lorca’s achievement and name is the same place that allowed the poet to be murdered by right-wing thugs while proving incapable or insufficiently willing to locate his corpse. 
Labrad, amigos,
de piedra y sueño en el Alhambra,
un túmulo al poeta,
sobre una fuente donde llore el agua,
y eternamente diga:
el crimen fue en Granada, ¡en su Granada!
- Antonio Machado
Free translation:“Let us build in the Alhambra, friends, from stone and dreams a memorial to the poet above a spring where the water weeps and enternally complains that the crime happend in Granada, - in his Granada!” - Granada la bestia.

 La bella./ Beauty
La bestia / the Beast