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A twinkling in his eye
"Would you like to sit on my knee?"
The tongue-in-cheek comment was made by legendary sci-fi author Brian Aldiss, as I stood beside him in his study for a quick photo.
The commemorative snapshot was taken when I visited the author's home to talk about his artwork, which is about to go on display at the Jam Factory Gallery in Oxford.
Aldiss is 84, but is still incredibly prolific and following the publication last year of his novel Walcot, he is working on another two books.
One is the latest instalment of his autobiography.
I am a big fan of The Twinkling of an Eye, which was published at the end of the 1990s, and I got Aldiss to autograph my copy.
In an earlier telephone conversation I reminded the writer how he used to stroll the streets of St Ebbes and Headington when he couldn't sleep at night.
He replied that the furthest he ventured these days was the local Waitrose store, and boasted that people from Summertown were now coming over to sample the luxury goods.
The walls of Aldiss's Headington home are covered with his surreal collages and it will take quite an effort to transport them all to the gallery near the railway station.
On my departure the author kindly gave me a collection of his poetry, which was published in the States, and I look forward to having my mind expanded.
Following my visit, I shall now endeavour to get hold of a copy of the novel Walcot but it might take some time.
Aldiss explained that the high-end hardback production was published by an art gallery in London and not many copies were produced.
One piece of valuable advice the former Oxford Mail literary editor gave me was that you could start writing a short story not knowing how it would develop or finish.
I've heard Stephen King say something similar, so Aldiss is in good company.
I've no idea when I shall get a chance to put pen to paper - perhaps when I have finished reading Harlen Coben's thrilling Tell No One.
I think I'm going to struggle to get through this year's Booker Prize novels, judging by the offerings on the longlist.
Check out the synopsis for Lisa Moore's February: "The drowning of 84 men on an oil rig off Newfoundland in 1982 is the tragic backdrop to a novel of love and death."
I don't want to lose the will to live so I might save that one for a very rainy day.
You can find more details about the Brian Aldiss exhibition in tomorrow's Oxford Mail.
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- Antics at Hay
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