Do you take a daily newspaper? We actually take two, as the farmer has always taken the Yorkshire Post and I have always taken the Times, and neither of us is prepared to give it up. I would feel absolutely bereft without my morning paper, even though the farmer has to drive into our little market town at 6.45 every morning to collect it.
Sometimes I get very annoyed by what they say. This is particularly true of the television critics. I have really enjoyed Michael Palin's trip to Brazil which the critics dismissed as flimsy and rather boring. Last night Michael Portillo was on television following Bradshaw's train routes across Europe. Again it got very poor reviews but we watched it and really enjoyed it. I suppose the moral is to stop reading the reviews and make one's own mind up. There is always an 'off' switch.
Of course you cannot believe everything you read - you only get one paper's version - there is always a political slant to start with. But the quality of the writing in the Times suits me fine and I wouldn't be without it.
Sometimes I read a snippet of information which I am very grateful for and this happened yesterday, when I read a short piece about Robert Frost and Edward Thomas. They are two of my favourite poets and two of my favourite poems are Frost's 'The Road Not Taken' and Thomas's 'Adlestrop'. How interesting to read therefore that the two were great friends and that Thomas, a troubled man at the best of times, was undecided whether or not to fight in the First World War. He decided to volunteer and as a result Frost wrote 'The Road Not Taken', As we all know, Thomas was killed at Arras in 1917 at the age of thirty-nine.
He wrote 'Adlestrop' about the blackbirds singing (and indeed in an early algebra book he wrote 'I love birds more than books') and, sadly, on the last page of the diary he kept at the front he wrote
'The light of the new moon and every star
and no more singing for the bird.'
One can't help feeling he had a premonition about his death.
Frost, on the other hand, lived to the ripe old age of eighty-eight. He is buried in the family grave at Long Bennington in New England, Long Bennington is a lovely, picturesque and peaceful village and the churchyard, at the back of a typical New England wooden church, is his final resting place. I went there some years ago and was strangely moved by standing at his grave.