Category Archives: Announcement

February meeting report

The February meeting, the first of 2016, was held on Feb. 3rd. We read and discussed Robert Browning’s poem “A Toccata of Galuppi’s”.

After this, we decided we had had enough poetry for a while, and one member suggested we read some short stories by Alice Munro, a Canadian writer who is famous for her short stories and who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013, the most recent of a long list of awards and prizes.

As none of us have read any stories by this writer, I have selected the story “To Reach Japan”, which is the first story in the collection “Dear Life. You can buy it on Amazon Japan (the Kindle version is more expensive than the paperback, for some reason, but you can also buy a 2nd-hand edition for 700 yen).

Our next meeting will be March 2nd, and we will read and discuss “To Reach Japan”. One question we will no doubt be discussing is why that is the title when the story takes place in Canada and none of the characters go to Japan, plan to go to Japan or have ever been to Japan.

To change the subject, I’m getting rid of about 300 books, mostly in English but some in Japanese. They are listed on my blog and on Amazon Japan.  You are of course welcome to buy them on Amazon, but my main purpose is to find a new home for these books, so if you are interested in any of them, please let me know and I will glad to let you have them for free.

All my books are listed here (this list is constantly updated):

The books in Japanese are listed  separately here:

All profits from these sales go to charity. Both lists are updated regularly.

Enjoy this life and see you in March.

New Year’s welcome 明けましておめでとうございます

What do you see in this photo? What do you feel when you see it? What do you imagine when you see it?

photo credit:

THe Japanese for “Happy New Year” is a phrase that means congratulations on the rebirthing of the year. The year was thought to have died on Dec. 31st, and then be reborn the next day. A fortunate event, indeed, worthy of celebration, and of congratulating one’s fellow beings, those who are still around to witness it.

What does January 1st mean for you?

December reading report

In December’s reading report, we read and discussed “The Windhover”, a poem by British poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. This is a very difficult poem, and was bravely tackled by all participants. There was a lot of dictionary work today!

Next meeting: Feb. 3rd, 2016 (no meeting in January).

Next materials: “A Toccata of Galuppi’s” by Robert Browning, 1855 (click the link to read it online).

Thank you to all who took part in today’s meeting, and to all of you who have participated this year. Very best wishes to all of you for the New Year, and I look forward to seeing you in 2016.

Peace and health to you all.


November meeting report

Dear readers,

Our November meeting took place Nov. 4th. We read and discussed Dylan Thomas’ poem “Fern Hill”. (See also here)

Our December meeting will be December 9th at the usual time. We will read and discuss “The Windhover“, and any other poems from the list that we have time for.  I hope you can make it.


Until then, best wishes. And here are some blogs by some of our readers:

This blog got 3,300 views in 2012 – where did our visitors come from?

You can see the stats for this website for 2012 here. Scroll down and you will see a world map with the numbers of visitors from each country. If you click the  + sign in the top left corner of the map you can make the world bigger.

Probably not surprisingly, visitors from Japan were the most numerous – 1,057, with the U.S. (1,019) & the United Kingdom (268) not far behind.

But there were visitors from 64 other countries! Including 1 from Papua New Guinea. Where did they all come from? I just picked a few countries from the list, countries with which I have a personal relation or which I have just been reading about

  • There were 30 visitors from my other native country, France
  • 27 visitors from India, where Rudyard Kipling grew up (he later wrote the Jungle Book)
  • 18 visitors from Jordan, where my father spent most of his national service
  • 15 visitors from South Africa, for which the “great, grey, green, greasy Limpopo river all set about with fever trees” (we’ve just read Kipling’s Just-So story “Elephant’s Child”) makes a 600-kilometre border,  and where a young American and his wife (they were barely 18 years old) took time out from a round-the-world sailing adventure to visit a safari park… on their motorbike (not recommended)
  • 12 visitors from Germany where my ancestors (on my father’s side) came from and where I spent several happy weeks each summer for three years starting when I was 15 (I am ashamed to say I was completely ignorant of the fact that 27-28 July, 1943, RAF bombers “created temperatures of 800-1,000 degrees Centigrade over the city [Hamburg]”, destroying “214,350 homes, 4,301 out of 9,592 factories; eight square miles were burnt out completely… fatal casualties… were 40,000 or up to 37.65% of the total population”  [Johnson, Paul. Modern Times. New York: Harper Perennial Classics. 2001- see Wikipedia’s picture here] no, they did not teach us that in my British school history lessons)
  • 8 visitors from Algeria where I lived for 9 months as a child, barely 6 months after the country gained its independence and 9 months after a horrendous bloodbath in the city – no wonder my mother was nervous the whole time we were there!
  • 8 visitors from New Zealand, of which I have very fond memories
  • 6 visitors from Turkey which I want to visit some day
  • a handful of visitors from lots of tiny countries in Europe like Poland, Romania, Croatia, Serbia, Czech Republic (I once taught a class in which student was Czech and I kept referring to his country as Czechoslovakia), Lithuania, Latvia, Norway (a not-tiny country which produced heavy water, which the Nazis wanted for making a nuclear bomb, but the French stole it and smuggled it to England before the Nazis invaded – the entire world stock of heavy water at the time, in 26 cans, and stored them in the Windsor Castle library; read the story here), Bulgaria, Austria, Portugal
  • 4 visitors from Vietnam which suffered  war for 30 years
  • 3 visitors from Iceland which figures so prominently in The Way to Freedom novels
  • 3 visitors from Greece which I have visited twice, the first time alone, as a student, and where I discovered that the Greek gesture for ‘come here’ looks like the one for ‘go away’ in England (it is very similar to the gesture the Japanese use)
  • 2 visitors from South Korea, which I have visited a couple of times, once not exactly of my own accord
  • 1 visitor from Nepal and
  • 1 visitor from Papua New Guinea

Click the link to see the world map showing where this blog’s visitors in 2012 came from.