I hope you enjoyed the half term and the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

The weather has been generally good, a combination of sun and refreshing showers, a typical start to an English summer. Is there anything nicer than the longer days and the new colours seen in the month of June - just go outside and count the different greens in your garden, or local park.

I spent a long time reading over half term and managed to enjoy four books; I like to read, stroll and muse. I am not much of a consumer of alcohol - a pint of shandy after cricket or a glass of wine with a dinner out, but I do like pubs. The word that comes to mind is conviviality, the warm embrace of the convivial. The best thing for me would be to combine books with walking to a pub to meet interesting people to strike up conversation.

So this led me to reflect on where, in time and place, I would most like to share a drink, and who I would like to talk to. What I had in mind had to be a ‘real’ situation, and not one of those imaginary dinner parties where you invite random people around from all periods of time: Jesus, Einstein, Stephen Fry, etc. This always seems rather fatuous and a bit ridiculous to me and, on a practical level, what would you serve up for dinner?

I decided that my dream drink and company would be at the Eagle and Child Public House in Oxford in 1935; this is where the Inklings met. Just imagine listening to C.S. Lewis and JRR Tolkien sharing with you something they had just written and conversing about myth, Anglo Saxon, Norse sagas and Philosophy.

At Junior School I felt in love with Lewis’s Narnia stories and I have written before in this newsletter about how ‘The Hobbit’ was the only book my father ever bought for me. I soon discovered ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and have always loved books that you inhabit rather than just read. The green fuse of Celtic mysticism informs these books and infuses the soul at a young age; something I have never lost.

These two literary golden codgers were often joined by Owen Barfield (who is definitely worth reading) and one of my favourite writers, Charles Williams, whose metaphysical novels are not well known in England, but remain popular in America. Again, I recommend any of his books, but ‘The Place of the Lion’ and ‘The Shadows of Ecstasy’ are among my favourites. I have published some critical reviews of Williams and I hope to write more about him in the future.

Good company is one of our principles at St James and I like very much that our traditional library is a place the boys both read and meet to talk. It is a convivial space. Books are our imaginative connection to others’ thought and minds. They enrich us, make us dream and help us become more imaginative. So I encourage you to pick up an old favourite and share it with your sons and tell them why it makes your heart dance!