World Wars Re-Numbered
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   January 28, 2021

Most of us grew up thinking that there were two World Wars, the first in 1914-18, called the Great War, which became World War I, when its successor of 1939-45 qualified as Number Two. But let me tell you how I came to question that whole idea. My father’s elder brother, Mortimer Brilliant, was, like […]

No Dumping
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   December 31, 2020

Like most of us, I can’t help noticing the signs and notices people put up, even if they don’t apply to me. One which inevitably catches my eye is on a white picket fence I pass every day, while walking to or from my office. It’s a probably store-bought sign, and says simply, “No Dumping.” […]

 

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Declaration of Dependence
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   December 24, 2020

If life is a swimming pool, look for me at the shallow end. I’m not (by my own standards) a very adventurous person – and advancing years have not made me any braver. But what they have done is make me increasingly aware of how many different things I depend on, just to keep going […]

Power
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   December 17, 2020

One of my most popular epigrams (which is why I made it the title of one of my books) says: “All I want is a warm bed, and a kind word – and unlimited power.” I suppose we’d all like to be able to control things a little more than we can – starting with […]

Magic
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   December 10, 2020

We all know that there is no such thing as real “magic.” As performed by “magicians,” it’s all trickery and deception, the best of which fools us in ways we like to be fooled, and takes advantage of our own weaknesses and susceptibilities. But science and technology have become so clever and adept that it’s […]

Away From Home
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   December 3, 2020

As an experienced traveler (though not lately), I’ve always said that travel would be much more easy and pleasant, if only we didn’t have to eat and sleep. Others will, of course, argue that it is all the things relating to food and accommodation which make travel enjoyable. But to me, they are generally a […]

Out the Window
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   November 26, 2020

There are many things we don’t have words for – and if asked, you’d probably never have thought there was a word for throwing somebody out of a window – but there is such a word, and in fact I’ve known it most of my life, although I have never had any pressing occasion to […]

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Diaries
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   November 19, 2020

My birthday happens to be in December (on the 9th), so my numerical age stays the same practically all through the calendar year. On my tenth birthday, in 1943, one of the presents I received was a “Five-year Diary,” with each small page representing the same calendar date on five succeeding years. So, each day […]

The Beauty of It
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   October 21, 2020

It took the Greeks to turn beauty into a science. They called it aesthetics – a word and concept we’ve been stuck with ever since. It’s not enough just to enjoy a starry night, or a fine piece of architecture, or a good-looking girl. We have to ask why. We feel the compulsion to analyze, […]

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Anger
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   October 13, 2020

As you probably know by now, one of my favorite poets is A.E. Housman. And his whole outlook is summed up rather neatly inA these four lines: “The troubles of our proud and angry dust Are from eternity, and shall not fail. Bear them we can, and, if we can, we must – Shoulder the […]

Play Time
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   October 1, 2020

I’ve told you I’m a realist. But that’s not the whole story. Reality is too hard to face all the time. That (I presume) is why we have sleep and dreams. But even when I’m awake, I like to think of life as a game. Games create their own reality. Within the game, nothing outside […]

Bored of Education
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   September 24, 2020

You may find this hard to believe, but it wasn’t until after I had gone all the way through the British school and college system, and emigrated to the U.S., with a bachelor of arts degree in history, that I became aware of the fact that “education” is a subject which can itself be studied […]

Tea for You
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   September 17, 2020

Having been brought up English, I was a tea drinker from an early age. But I didn’t realize that I was actually an addict, until my doctor told me to cut out all caffeine from my diet. Only then did I learn what is meant by “withdrawal symptoms” – which in my case were very […]

Hear and Now
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   September 10, 2020

The 1964 Simon & Garfunkel song “The Sound of Silence” must seem redolent of an ancient era to many of my younger readers – but the haunting melody, combined with its poetically poignant words, resonates as powerfully today as when the song was born. To me, the part which has always been most meaningful proclaims […]

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