Thursday, 26 August 2010

Book Prize

Last Friday I went to Edinburgh for the award ceremong of the 2010 James Tait Black Memorial Prizes. The James Tait Black is the oldest literary prize in Britain and has two sections, one for fiction and one for biography, each worth £10,000. After sitting through a nail-biting discussion, in which Ian Rankin and the chairs of the two judging panels assessed the shortlisted books, I was delighted to find that my life of William Golding had won the biography prize. Golding won the fiction prize in 1979 with Darkness Visibe, and I think he'd have been tickled pink to achieve a double. A.S. Byatt won the fiction award.


Wednesday, 18 August 2010


On 10 October I'll be at the Cheltenham Literary Festival in an event with Julian Baggini and Anthony Kenny, where we'll be talking about ideal commonwealths and perfect worlds and choosing our favourite literary and philosophical utopias. It will be at 6.00 in the Parabola Arts centre.


Wednesday, 4 August 2010


One of my hives still seems to be queenless, so on Saturday I took a frame with uncapped brood (and quite a lot of capped brood) in it from one of the other hives and transferred it to the queenless hive (replacing it in the "robbed" hive with a frame of store from the queenless hive). If the hive really is queenless the bees are meant to make a queen from one of the uncapped brood cells - so the bee books say, and looking back through my bee diary I find I did this successfully on several occasions in the 1990s. So when I check the hive at the end of the month there should be some brood in it. We'll see. While I was moving the frames there was a lot of agitation among the bees, and this was made worse because I took the opportunity to put wasp/mouse guards on the entrances, as there were a few wasps about. This always puzzles the bees at first, I find. But they soon settled down.