Wednesday 4 April 2012

Books and Bees

Last week at the Oxford Literary Festival I interviewed the veteran science-fiction writer Brian Aldiss about his new book An Exile on Planet Earth. It's been published by the Bodleian Library (partly as a thank-you to Brian for donating his manuscripts to the Bodleian), which means, I think, that it may not be widely distributed. It's a series of autobiographical essays, and really marvellous. There's a piece about living in an Oxford slum called Paradise Square, when Brian was down on his luck, an account of a tour of Yugoslavia with his wife Margaret in the 1960s, living like gypsies, a visit to Turkmenistan - and much more. Warm, humane, touching, funny and beautifully written - quite short too - you can read it in an afternoon. Don't miss.
Last time I looked at the bees - three weeks ago - they were going great guns, roaring out of all three hives, taking in pollen by the bushel, and eating the candy I had given them at a great rate. This cold snap will have quietened them down, but at least they have all survived the winter - so far. Oilseed rape in the Cotswolds is coming into flower - about a month early.