Sometimes the most mundane things take on a curiously beautiful life of their own. Son the Youngest thrust my coloured pencils at me recently, and demanded they all be sharpened. I keep a tin of them (an old Illy coffee receptacle for those who care) on the kitchen table, and I reckon there's about 80 in all. They're difficult to keep track of because I keep finding them tucked under pillows and in use as props in Dr.Who games. So I got out the sharpener and set to work. Normally I would stand over the waste bin or next door's garden, but there were so many I thought I'd just let the shavings fall on to the table. Which was very satisfying, because not only was it a job done that was long overdue, it was also fascinating to see how big the pile was at the end. Well, I thought so anyway.
John (Patrick) Byrne: Creative polymath
17 hours ago