On the shoulders of giants

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Charles Davis, the unofficial official photographer from '76 onwards, also took cinefilm. My father, the archivist, has transferred much of it from Super 8 to DVD. In his travels through the images he found this gem from 1969. Can you work out who the various people are? 

The Trog Tales

Friday, 30 June 2017


It's no secret that I owe much of this book to my parents and, in particular, my father. He's been going to the Summer School for more years than seems possible. He valiantly took on the archive a decade ago and has done an amazing job filing and indexing and digitizing many of the resources. But some of the best stuff is in his head, which is why I'm looking forward to another week of music and long…

Women in Music

Friday, 2 June 2017


This is a cross post from a piece just published in Cut Common, which is a great online (and soon to be in print) magazine run out of Tasmania. (Some of the best things come from Tasmania.)

There’s been a great deal of talk – and a bit of action, too – about improving gender equity in the field of composition in the last 12 months. Musica Viva’s Hildegarde Project, Ensemble Offspring’s punchy year…

Mayday, Mayday!

Sunday, 28 May 2017


Hello all! Just a quick heads up. Every so often Unbound goes a bit doolally and starts giving things away. And for the next three days, till the end of May, it's all go. Pledge for any Unbound book, (including Sanctuary) before 1st June and you get 2 ebooks** the next working day absolutely free.

They're also offering 15% off the whole fiction list until the end of May. Just enter the promo code…

Oh no! Nono!

Thursday, 4 May 2017

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A letter from William Glock to John Amis, dated July 1962

Dear Johnny

The worst has happened. I’ve been trying desperately to get in touch with you.

Nono has finished his piece.

I think he stayed away from Darmstadt (‘ill’) in order to finish it, and anyway I feel we must do our best to put it on.

But... It’s for soprano, viola, cello, d.b., celesta, keyboards, 1 tam-tam, 12 crotales…

A Birthday Gift

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Tell me again

Unbound are turning six! Six years ago, three crazy-mixed-up kids came up with an idea. They pitched it to investors. They designed a website. They told their stories. And, lo, it worked. People came. They pledged. They bought books. And Unbound brought out beautiful, special editions, bringing the voices of prize-winnning authors to the world. 

Actually, it was probably rather more unglamorous…


Thursday, 16 March 2017


Digging through an archive is a bit like piecing together a puzzle. Most of the bits are there, but they need putting together, and once you have put them together you realise that something is missing. It's like the yarning, cryptic crosswords and QI (mixed in with a fair amount of drudgery.) But every so often things fit together in new and exciting ways.

I was intrigued to find out more about…

Fundraising: a few dos and don'ts. Mostly don'ts.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

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Hello all,

Welcome to all the new arrivals in the shed! Still plenty of room in here, but determined to get to my target eventually.

I don't want to go on about fundraising, but I have to share with you a letter I found in the Summer School archive from T E Coade, headmaster of Bryanston School, to William Glock. It's dated 1 July 1950. T E Coade was a great supporter of the Summer School but…

Singing in the Choir: more D-cup, please!

Monday, 9 January 2017


One of my favourite sounds in the world is listening to the Summer School choir warm up as I walk across the courtyard. The noise filters through the 500 year old stone walls, taking the edge off the chortle and squeak off early morning voices.

I wasn't always outside. Sometimes I was in there, with them, chortling away myself. In fact, as soon as we could be trusted to sit for an hour without…

Goulash and Macaroni, anyone?

Monday, 28 November 2016

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Greetings, Shedlings,

I've been digging in the archives again. I confess it's very compulsive, and the strangest things grab my attention. This book is all about art and passion and music and people, but it's also about where we've come from, so no apologies for posting this little beauty, a menu from Bryanston 1951.

I am reliably informed that there were slugs in the lettuce, but considering…


Saturday, 19 November 2016

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Hello everyone. Welcome to the shed. Squash up there, please, because it's getting a little crowded. Which is a nice problem to have!  I'm building an extension so that we'll all fit in.

Something like this, perhaps. Or is that just over ambitious?

That was last week, before a performance of "Sydney Opera House: the Opera".

Catchy title, huh?

In fact, the opera in question, with music…

A Telegram

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

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John Amis was the first administrator at the Summer School, working alongside William Glock from 1948 through until 1982. He died in August 2013 at the age of 91. When I heard the news I got in contact with the love of his late life, Isla Baring, and she invited me to visit her at John’s flat in Eccleston Square in London’s Belgravia. The flat is on the very top floor, almost in the eaves of the once…

Welcome to the Shed

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Hello. Welcome. Do come in. Sorry, it's a bit messy. Sort of bat cave meets laundry basket. Yes, of course, feel free to move that pile of books. It might be difficult to sit down otherwise.

When I signed up with Unbound one of the things I was most excited about was having my very own writer's shed. I'd be just like Roald Dahl, with a box full of well-sharpened pencils, reams of virgin paper and…

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