Author Archives: Peter Honey

A lesson learnt

I’ve always been a keen advocate of learning from experience.  I call it ‘everyday learning’ to distinguish it from ‘formal learning’ when, say, you’re studying, listening to a talk or on a course.  Most people claim to be learning all the time (‘you learn something new every day’) and that’s undoubtedly true at a subliminal level.  However, I’m always sceptical when, for example, politicians claim that ‘lessons have been learnt’.  I always want them to provide specific examples of what […]

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My Culture Fix

Every Saturday in the Times’s supplement, Saturday Review, there is a page called ‘My Culture Fix’ where a celebrity answers questions about their cultural life.  I’m waiting patiently for the Times to invite me but realising I’ll probably wait forever, I thought I’d pretend they’ve seen the error of their ways.  My answers go like this: My Favourite author or book:  William Boyd, with Ian McEwan a close second. The book I’m reading:  Old Filth by Jane Gardam. The book […]

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  In the past few days I’ve spent hours doing a course on Zoom that promised to transform my life.  Quite a promise, running the risk of over-promising and under-delivering (and so it proved).  I would be ‘emptied of all past worries and anxieties’.   I’d be a ‘new me, free to be, free to act’.  It would be ‘like opening my fridge and finding the Grand Canyon’. Heady stuff. On the course, there were many claims I found hard to […]

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Taking Stock

Taking Stock Life is divided into past-nows, now-nows and future-nows (the latter possibly including those happening after death, but of that I’m uncertain).  I had my eight-sixth birthday recently and, since I have cancer and have no idea how many more birthdays I’ll have, I thought I’d take stock of some of my past-nows.  By the way, I only mention my cancer because it’s a fact, not because I’m obsessive about it.  During  a normal day I don’t think about […]

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Short Story: The Wedding Anniversary

It was a surprise.  Sir Richard and Lady Elinger’s four children, all accomplished in their own fields, had clubbed together and arranged for them to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary at Milton Court, a manor house hotel in the Cotswolds with Three Michelin Stars.  The hotel’s strap-line was ‘Beyond Excellent, Beyond Sublime’.  The children (two sons, two daughters) had organised everything down to the last detail: a Mercedes to convey their elderly parents to the hotel in style (a journey […]

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Cancer, the bright side

Six months have passed since my cancer diagnosis — advanced prostate cancer (previously I’d always associated the word ‘advanced’ with something good!), and whilst it’s obviously better not to have cancer, there are many plusses.  Trigger warning: I’ve always been a three-quarters full person so you may find what follows insufferably cheerful. The plusses I’m experiencing, in no order of importance, are as follows: People are even kinder and more caring than they were before.  They ask, ‘how are you?’ […]

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Short Story: The Novice

Up until now, I’ve been the only person in the world to know that I cheated, not once but twice.  Quite a thought that: approximately seven billion people on the planet and I’m the only one to know. My guilty secret.  It’s almost a shame to spoil it by coming clean about what happened.  But what the hell, it was a few years ago and no one got hurt.  Well, I say ‘no one’ but who does that include?  Are […]

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Short story: The Padded Bench

There were a couple of reasons why I chose to have a bash at sketching that particular painting.  The first was laudable: I knew it would be one hell of a challenge.  The second (to me of equal importance) was the proximity of a comfortable-looking padded leather bench.  Most of the seats in the National Gallery are unforgiving wooden benches, dark brown with no back rests, presumably designed to deter people from loitering or falling asleep.  I know from bitter […]

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The Warning Sign

I’ve never know what to say when people ask me what I do for a living, at dinner parties for example.  Often I buy time by inviting them to guess and they normally plump for a lawyer, accountant or doctor – not very imaginative.  I suppose it’s obvious that I’m some sort of professional person: well-heeled, well-spoken, wife and kids, nice car, a Knightsbridge address (I’m modest too!). I usually laugh at their guesses and say ‘I wish’, flirting with […]

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The Democrat

At long last they reached the final item on the agenda, AOB.  As usual, the faculty meeting had been a rambling affair, inadequately chaired by Walter, the Professor of Psychology.  ‘Ladies and gentlemen, I’m pleased to announce that the university have entered into an arrangement with a distinguished group of professional artists.’  Walter paused, as if expecting this news to be greeted with rapturous applause.  However, the members of the faculty sat impassively, seemingly unmoved, waiting for him to continue.  […]

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