You get fan mail at the bar?

People just write “Ian Rankin, Scotland” on the envelopes and somehow they magically end up at the Oxford bar.

I always thought the opening line of ‘Wild Horses’ was ‘Tired of living,’ though I now discover that it is ‘Childhood living.’ What I am getting at is that the words are certainly important in creating the general climate of emotion, but it is the tune that always gives the words their potency. It is the tune you hum and dance to, and most of the ideas for the tunes seem to have come from Keith.
Keith has spent decades slurping, shooting and snorting such prodigious quantities of chemicals that he looks as though the stuff has taxidermied his tissues, like some Inca mummy; and all that while he has produced work of such quantity and originality that he had changed the face of rock music as decisively as he has changed his own physiognomy.
My understanding of the Mick-Keith arrangement was that Keith was the genius of the Glimmer Twins, who managed for years to hold the Number One spot on the New Musical Express list of Rock Stars Most Likely to Die - and yet who contrived to sleep with some of the most exotic women of the Western world: Uschi Obermaier, Anita Pallenberg, Patti Hansen, you name it.
It’s a hummingbird bathing orgy. I chortle in delight at the bizarre poses the birds strike as they revel in their first real bath. Who would imagine that hummingbirds would Iie down on their breast and scoot along like penguins, roll on their sides, or close their eyes and rub their faces on the damp leaves like luxuriating cats?
This once skittish bird seemed to have completely lost his fear of us, and he’d bathe merrily in the birdbath as I weeded less than ten feet away. On my hands and knees, I could feel the spray flying from his fluttering wings. A bird will not bathes if it feels the least bit threatened, because wet feathers spell vulnerability to predators.
There are a lot of raptor rehabilitation facilities around but very few places that will take songbirds. The simplest reason is that raptors need to be fed once a day. Most of the songbirds that get in trouble are orphaned nestlings, and they need to be fed every twenty to forty-five minutes, dawn to dusk, for a period of weeks.
… I stop for a red light and watch a starling on the wire overhead. It is flying repeatedly down to a spot in the middle of the intersection. I wonder what food could so entice it to dodge traffic again and again. Drawing closer, I see it walking tight circles around another sterling, just killed. It steps aside as the cars roar past, then returns to the dead bird’s side. It can only be the sterling’s mate. An hour later, I see the bird, still sitting on the wire, still watching what is now just a paste of feathers, unrecognizable to any but it’s mate.
Among the take-aways of ‘People Who Eat Darkness’ is that Japan is not a good place to be the victim of a terrible crime. This book is a scorching indictment of bumbling law enforcement there. ‘Japan has the cuddliest police in the world,’ Mr. Parry writes, comparing them to ‘a tribe of earnest Boy Scouts.’ The Tokyo force’s mascot, he notes, is not a stern hawk ‘but a cheerful orange fairy named Peepo.’

I know it’s strange to be thinking about October right now, but whenever I write, in a way that’s always where I am. Growing up in Connecticut, it always held a special place in my heart — “a rare month for boys,” as Ray Bradbury begins Something Wicked This Way Comes.

It was everything: The way the dying leaves clung to tree branches and crunched underfoot. The first wisps of chimney smoke that wafted in the evening air. The promises of free candy and a good World Series. These were the miniature miracles of my 12-year-old life.


But for me, the true horror of the book wasn’t the carnival or its soul-swallowing ringmaster. It was a hard truth — the truth that our parents weren’t always the heroes we needed them to be.

Bradbury’s adults were weak with temptation and worn down by regrets. They were real, and that was the horror of it all.