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 […]

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 […]

Lost Lands
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   November 12, 2020

Many countries – and many families – have some tradition of territory, or property, which used to be theirs, and is now someone else’s. The memory, even though it may relate to events far in the past, is sometimes still charged with bitterness.  A classic example is the region known as Alsace-Lorraine, sandwiched between France […]

Fame or Shame
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   November 5, 2020

There are good reasons for giving names to hurricanes and tropical storms. It helps the weather-watchers avoid confusion in referring to them. But it was a bad idea to use the first names of people, because, if you happen to have that name – and especially if the event turns out to be a bad […]

Sex You All
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   October 29, 2020

You’ve all, no doubt, been eagerly waiting for me to write something about Sex – so, here it is: Has it ever occurred to you that “sex” spelled backwards is “xes,” which might be pronounced as “excess,” which, of course, means “too much.” Such considerations make me hesitate to go any further into this subject, […]

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 […]

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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I Think Knot
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   September 3, 2020

As a child, I took great delight in string. My mother, who patiently taught me how to tie bows, used to tell people, “Give him a piece of string, and he’ll be happy.” True enough, I could spend hours just tying and untying knots. I was never a Boy Scout, and never “learned the ropes” […]

Name Dropping
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   August 27, 2020

The first question I am usually asked: “Is Ashleigh Brilliant your real name?” Yes, it is. My father was Victor Brilliant, and he came from a whole family of Brilliants. The origins are Russian and Jewish. Around the time of Napoleon, Jews were allowed to choose their own surnames. Many chose pleasant-sounding names, such as […]

What If
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   August 20, 2020

SUPPOSEAll my life I’ll cherishSo much I can’t forget –The things that didn’t happen,And the girls I never met. I wrote those lines a long time ago. But for most of us, the sentiment, no doubt, remains true, no matter where we are in life. The great question of how different things might be now, […]

Licked by a Stamp
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   August 13, 2020

I have never been much of a hobbyist – but for a few years in my teens, I was very keen on postage stamps. This fizzled at about the same time I got interested in girls – but to this day, whenever I receive a letter with a stamp I haven’t seen before, I tear […]

In All Fairness
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   August 6, 2020

“Fair Play,” as I understand it, means abiding by the rules. But what if the rules are unfair? That, in a sense, is the human predicament. No matter how honorable and decent you are, a tornado (which I like to think of as God’s air-raid) can wipe out everything you have, including your life – […]

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