3rd May 2021

John Aubrey was a remarkable English antiquarian and natural philosopher whose life encompassed much of the meat of the seventeenth century. A scholar of some renown he is probably best remembered for a collected of entertaining short biographies, presented in the volume ‘Brief Lives’, although his profoundly detailed works on folklore and antiquary, particularly west country stone monuments, are worthy of attention. His colloquial reminiscences are of little material import but are without doubt as good a representation of life and reputation remembered as can be imagined. His tales are best taken with a pinch of salt, often open ended and seemingly pointless apart from his glee in the telling, but do paint fine cartoons of the late Elizabethan, early Stuart, and Commonwealth reigns.

I take much of my writing style and attitude from Aubrey’s shining example, we both are inclined to believe that the exact truth should never interfere with the relating of a good story. Facts make remarkable good building blocks but the mortar that hold the construction together is made of far less-stern stuff. Recollections are by their nature transitory, liable to change over time through simple regurgitation or more complex reconsideration. On any given day I am quite capable of giving at minimum two distinct versions of the same circumstances without even drawing an extra breath, a skill I would suggest lies not particularly deep in the purse of most conversationalists. Adding a little extra spice to a previously used recipe is never a bad thing, just suitably peps the whole dish up.

The passage of time is without doubt the biggest cause of us changing plots and subplots, for that is what our life experiences are, simple outlines that guide the veracity of our words. Every moment we endure is carefully copied into the vastness of a seemingly endless memory bank, to be recalled, reconditioned, and spat out as and when the suitable occasion arises.

As with Aubrey the punchlines to my tales are by choice decidedly vague, for the final versions of each tragedy, comedy, or history have yet to be published and performed.

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