Luís de Camões

Amor é Fogo que Arde sem se ver


Amor é fogo que arde sem se ver;

É ferida que dói e não se sente;

É um contentamento descontente;

É dor que desatina sem doer.


É um não querer mais que bem querer;

É um andar solitário entre a gente;

É nunca contentar-se de contente;

É um cuidar que se ganha em se perder.


É querer estar preso por vontade

É servir a quem vence o vencedor,

É ter com quem nos mata lealdade.


Mas como causar pode seu favor

Nos corações humanos amizade;

Se tão contrário a si é o mesmo amor?

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A Woman in the Jungle

The following text is a transcription of a letter published in the Woman Weekend Book number two, 1951 (possibly 1950)

It charmed me with its impression of another age, so close to us and yet also so very distant.   It shows the innocence, or should that be ignorance, of the time. Are we so very different now? We may talk in more politically correct ways and we are more experienced in world travel and encountering other cultures but really we all have tendencies to make the same sort of judgments every day.

From the jungle.
This letter comes to you right from the middle of the jungle, in a wood camp, two hundred miles from our only town, Paramaibo, South America.
WOMAN arrives on the weekly boat, forwarded from my sister in Scotland. I settle to read it by our petroleum lamp, with all the jungle noises in the background.
My husband is a supervisor for a big timber firm, and he leads a Tarzan life, among the trees and undergrowth, though I am glad to say we see far fewer wild animals than in any Tarzan film. With the exception of monkeys, parrots and many beautiful birds, wild things are quite rare here.
I look after my little son (when he isn’t playing with his small black friends), supervise our Indian houseboy and make clothes for our visit to town (once in two months). Time gloes like a dream.
It is quiet here, but very beautiful. The people are primitive, perhaps, but peace-loving and so easily satisfied. In the evening, under a sky blazing with stars, we hear them singing and beating their drums in the jungle.
And very frequently I wonder whether they know best how to live the good life.
Mrs E. B. (Paramaibo, Dutch Guiana)

And the response…

THANK YOU for this picture of wild and placid life. With the pneumatic drills raising bedlam outside and the smell of stale summer London all around us, we envy you those stars, that river and your simple, peaceable neighbours.

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My favourite poem

A Dog Has Died - Pablo Neruda

My dog has died.
I buried him in the garden
next to a rusted old machine.

Some day I'll join him right there,
but now he's gone with his shaggy coat,
his bad manners and his cold nose,
and I, the materialist, who never believed
in any promised heaven in the sky
for any human being,
I believe in a heaven I'll never enter.
Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival
waving his fan-like tail in friendship.

Ai, I'll not speak of sadness here on earth,
of having lost a companion
who was never servile.
His friendship for me, like that of a porcupine
withholding its authority,
was the friendship of a star, aloof,
with no more intimacy than was called for,
with no exaggerations:
he never climbed all over my clothes
filling me full of his hair or his mange,
he never rubbed up against my knee
like other dogs obsessed with sex.

No, my dog used to gaze at me,
paying me the attention I need,
the attention required
to make a vain person like me understand
that, being a dog, he was wasting time,
but, with those eyes so much purer than mine,
he'd keep on gazing at me
with a look that reserved for me alone
all his sweet and shaggy life,
always near me, never troubling me,
and asking nothing.

Ai, how many times have I envied his tail
as we walked together on the shores of the sea
in the lonely winter of Isla Negra
where the wintering birds filled the sky
and my hairy dog was jumping about
full of the voltage of the sea's movement:
my wandering dog, sniffing away
with his golden tail held high,
face to face with the ocean's spray.

Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy
of their shameless spirit.

There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,
and we don't now and never did lie to each other.

So now he's gone and I buried him,
and that's all there is to it.

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An Evening of Art in a Park

When you visit Lambeth Archives you could be forgiven for thinking it’s a bit dull.  The archives are located in The Minet Library, a squat 1950s public library built to replace a more ornate Victorian building destroyed by a direct hit from a bomb in WWII.

You’ll see what I mean on our website.



On entering you’ll find the public search-room is lined with directories, electoral registers , map cabinets, card catalogues and books on the history of the South London borough it serves.  While these resources contain a wealth of information for family and local historians they hardly inspire or excite the uninitiated.  But the heart of this record office, archive and local history library is hidden beneath the ground in the rolling stacks and storage rooms.

Whilst many of the items are mundane there are amongst the boxes of files, council minutes and personal papers some real gems.  Not least of which is Lambeth’s collection of over 50,000 illustrations and photographs spanning more than five centuries.

It’s from this collection that 40 works have been selected for the exhibition I attended this evening.

While all of the images displayed are important there are three, which you can view at on Lambeth Landmark, that stand in my opinion.

A simple pencil sketch of a view of Brixton by an unknown artist showing the newly built tower of St Matthew’s church in the centre of Brixton, from the 1830s, is a dramatic contrast to the hustle and bustle of inner-city Brixton as we know and love it today

A couple of tinted photographs from the late 1930 showing people enjoying the summer at Brockwell Lido and

And another view of central Brixton, this one a water-colour, from what is now the site of Lambeth Town Hall

There is also one image which I would say is my favourite but sadly it’s not on the website yet.  It’s a 1938 black and white photo of two young girls outside The Artichoke pub in Lower Marsh, Waterloo.  One of the girls holds out a lolly which the other child pops in her mouth, while their parents are probably in the pub enjoying a beer or two.  It’s really cute and delightfully innocent.  But to see this image you’ll have to go to the exhibition yourself – or visit the archives.

The exhibition, Gems of Lambeth Archives, is being held at Brockwell Hall in Brockwell Park between Brixton, Herne Hill and Tulse Hill and it is open to the public from Friday 15 April to Sunday 17, 10:30am to 4:30pm and best of all it’s free.

The evening was a pleasant one for me, having just returned to the archives from a two year secondment it was a great chance to see some of the lovely people I’ve become acquainted with in the seven years I’ve worked in Lambeth.

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Hello world!

Welcome to my blog on

Allow me to introduce myself…

I’m a 40 something man living in London, England, and working as a librarian for a local authority library service.

I really should get out more and watch TV less – but I can’t help myself, there’s always some hypnotic trash to watch.

And boy, do I watch some trash!

I also need to work on my writing style.  As you may be able tell I’m a Twitter addict so my attention span is limited to short bursts of information…. *deep breath*… anything longer than 140 characters and my mind begins to wander.

I would say I have an eclectic approach to life and I’m open to most things.  At university my tutor called me a “philosophical prostitute”, readily giving my attention and interest to the highest bidder, easily distracted by bright, shiny and sparkly things.  I can quite happily delve into the world of science and technology one minute and then find my attention drift off to celebrity ephemera or irreverent humour via politics, religion and art.

This “hard to pin down” aspect of my nature is probably why I remain happily single.

So, this is a snapshot of me.  Hopefully over the coming days, months and years I’ll be able to paint a bigger picture, to capture my essence in words and to use my pondering and reflection to develop, grow and transform… that is, after all, why we are all here.

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