Passing Time is a place where I can write about the things that interest, challenge and move me.   Anything from 20th century history, literature, film and music, to politics and human rights, the plight of refugees and asylum seekers,  football or Dr Who.  Also on this site you can find links to two other blogs, neither of which is currently active, but which may still be of interest to some (Our Island Stories, and We’ve got five years).

I’m retired after many years working in higher education administration, most recently for the University of Sheffield.  I have recently been awarded a PhD on the connections between W G Sebald and Michel Butor, interrogating both writers’ representations of the city (Manchester in particular), their approaches to narrative and their musicality – and the unifying motif, the labyrinth. I am very pleased to say that Butor’s novel L’Emploi du temps, long out of print in English translation, is republished by Pariah Press: Passing Time

I am a trustee of Inspiration for Life, a charity which supports lifelong learning and public understanding of science and raises funds for local cancer charities. You can find out more about our work on our website.

I grew up in West Africa, an experience which has been hugely influential on me, and which can be evidenced not only in my enthusiastic support for Ghana’s national football team (in contrast to my often despairing loyalty to Nottingham Forest), but also in my interest in postcolonial African history and, because I lived in Northern Nigeria during the bloody preamble to the Civil War, in genocide and xenophobia wherever they manifest themselves.

I write here in a purely personal capacity. All views expressed are my own.  I tweet as @cathannabel and can be found on Instagram as @annabel5637.

  1. #1 by Terry on January 25, 2012 - 2:37 am

    How nice to find your blog! I look forward to more posts. The Stephen King novel you mention is in my “to read” pile. I’m now anxious to read it, but I have to finish Murakami’s 900+ page 1Q84 first.


    • #2 by cathannabel on January 25, 2012 - 10:10 pm

      As bizarre coincidences go, this is pretty good. When I finish Stephen King’s 740 pages (now on p. 399) the next title in my ‘to read’ pile is Murakami’s Wind up Bird Chronicles…


  2. #3 by Joe on March 10, 2012 - 2:37 pm

    I too just discovered your blog. Your life sounds like fascinating experience. I also recently finished King’s 11-22-63 and 1Q84.
    King’s novel surprised me in the end. I kept assuring the wife,who had previously read it, that I could predict the typical King ending. He surprised me in a good way.
    I enjoy Murakami quite a bit but his non fiction soars with me.


    • #4 by cathannabel on March 10, 2012 - 3:49 pm

      Thanks! Yes, I thought 11-22-63 was King at his best, and though it had all of his trademarks it did keep on surprising me, which is very promising, since he shows no signs of stopping writing (despite having ‘retired’ some years back….) I’ll certainly be reading more Murakami – perhaps 1Q84 next!


  3. #5 by decayetude on May 3, 2012 - 8:01 pm

    You might be interested in my two blogs which address Sebaldian issues; indeed are inspired by them. I am also intrigued by Butor and Sebald’s incorporation, in the Manchester/Bleston poem in “Across Land and Water”, of references to /quotations from him; also because I myself had similar experiences of the dark grimness of that city , with its psychogeogrpahical concomitant of sebaldian malaise and alienation at exactly the same time period at which the Ferber narrative ends, 1990/1991. The general thrust of the themes of my blogs are memory, an(ersatz!) Proustian attempt to recapture lost time(at least via memory) and related themes like derelict buildings and rotting department stores; though the second Utopia blog generally is more upbeat.! Anyway, i like your combination of music, Sebald and Butor, and, when i can afford it, will purchase “Passing Time” and look at the parallels myself!Steve. Here are the links to my blogs. If they don’t come up as hyperlinks, then googling Sebald and homosexuality; or “decayetude” will bring them up!http://decayetude.wordpress.com/ and http://towardsutopia.wordpress.com/


    • #6 by cathannabel on May 3, 2012 - 9:20 pm

      Many thanks for this, I have just followed both your blogs and look forward to reading them! We share a number of interests, not just Sebald but Proust (I’m currently reading vol. 3). You must read Passing Time – I just wish the translation was easier to get hold of.


      • #7 by decayetude on May 3, 2012 - 10:16 pm

        Hi cathannabel, yes, nice to find a kindred spirit, as regards Sebald and Proust anyway!:)I am a gay man living in Liverpool Uk, and a primary literary interest is the reclamation and reparative reading of lost gay texts, pre legality; and those with obvious nor less obvious sub/meta parallel texts: eg Proust, Forster, Mauriac. I also like some modern writers. Besides Sebald, who, in his vast scope and indescribably melanchollically beautiful prose, i consider to be the very greatest writer ever, my favourite recent books are Ishiguro “The Unconsoled”, Bethan Roberts’ new book “My Policeman”(I recommend- re a tripartite relationship between an openly gay man, a closeted gay man and a woman , set in 60s Brighton), Patrick White, Coilm Toibin; most of them share a vein of melancholy wistful beauty., although I am by no means a depressive by nature lol:)I mainly enjoyed volume one of Proust(on the second attempt!): i think the way he writes re recalled memories and his epiphanies, eg the hawthorns, are exquisite; I think he is also a hard author for a gay man to read, because there are layers of selfloathing there, twisted into various odd techniques, like his peephole scenes(usually of lesbians!);but, the greatness of his style and themes overrrides these issues.It would be nice to chat more:) i shall read more of your blog too!Take care Steve


  4. #8 by decayetude on May 3, 2012 - 10:19 pm

    Oh by the way, i will purchase the Butor “Passing Time”; i like the idea of the musical contrapuntal structure too! i notice translation available on Amazon for £12.80: I shall save up!You also write well on music; I love classical music, especially Romantic era; I like novels re music too. Steve


  5. #9 by Ellen Hawley on October 31, 2020 - 2:57 pm

    I found you through a comment you left on Phil Davis’s blog–and I’m glad I have.

    Liked by 1 person


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