Thursday, December 07, 2006's 'Best Books of 2006'

Born On A Blue Day has been selected by the editors at as one of their 'Best Books of 2006' -


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Public Speaking

Since the launch of Born On A Blue Day this past summer I've been invited to speak in a wide range of places. I've been as far west as Devon and as far north as Edinburgh, spoken in front of both a few dozen people and several hundred, in schools and libraries and theatres.

I have quite a quiet voice so the first thing I always have to remind myself to do is speak up. I introduce myself and my book and talk about my life. Afterwards I'm asked all sorts of questions by members of the audience.

The most enjoyable part of this for me is speaking in schools for children with special learning needs, including autism. The parents and teachers who attend my talks are always very complimentary about what I have to say.

My main message in them is that difference needn't be disabling, that it's ok to be different and that everyone is unique in some way and should feel it possible to live out that uniqueness. When we do that, autistic or not, we give ourselves the chance of happiness.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Trivia Quiz

I was recently invited to join some friends at a local quiz evening and very much enjoyed myself. I have a good memory for facts and figures, which is very useful for remembering all sorts of trivia.

Here's a short quiz of my own for blog readers to try:

1. What is a baby goldfish called?
2. 'Dans Le Temps' was the French version of which famous 60s hit song?
3. An iatrophobe is frightened of going where?
4. What was President Harry S Truman's middle name?
5. Which common vegetable is a member of the nightshade family?
6. There are 5 words in English that start dw- name them.
7. What is the name of the oldest continuously occupied city in the US?
8. Which religion's governing members are known as 'hands'?
9. What is the collective noun for collective nouns?
10. In which sport do you throw stones at houses?

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Ballad of Tammet

I got an email this morning from someone in a band who have recorded a song about me. The band's name is The Madrigals and the song title is 'The Ballad of Tammet' - you can have a listen to it at:

Very interesting sound and of course I am flattered!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Public Libraries Are Important

In today's Times journalist Helen Rumbelow argues for the replacement of public libraries with millions of 'personal' ones. The fact is, she says, that books are a lot cheaper to buy than in the past and with the Internet information is far more easily accessible with a few mouse clicks than a trip to your local library. Her article (,,1072-2421353,00.html) also points out that book-borrowing has declined by 40% in the past decade.

I love books and I love libraries. As a child I would spend hours after school reading in them. When I worked as a volunteer teacher in Eastern Europe I frequently visited the neighbourhood's library as a place where I knew I could sit and read and think in peace and quiet and for free. My mother visits her local library most days to catch up on the day's news and to browse community event notices among other things.

The fact is that a lot of people can't afford to buy books and build up their own 'personal library'. The internet is a remarkable innovation, but it's not without its flaws: it can be difficult to navigate, is filled with a lot of junk information that isn't peer-reviewed or fact-checked in any way, and it costs money. There's still a fairly large percentage of the UK population who don't have a computer or internet access at home.

Then there's the fact that bookshops are subject to commercial pressures that public libraries aren't - bookshops stock what titles they think they can sell and ignore the rest. Mass-market fiction and self-help manuals take precedence over most kinds of reference books, classic literature or poetry for example. Public libraries on the other hand can stock the widest range of books: browsing the average library shelf can be a fascinating experience.

Perhaps most importantly of all, public libraries in every high street - rich and poor, modern or not, urban and rural - remind us of the fact that learning is for everyone and that it is as much a community activity and interest as it is a personal one. A mind is best used when it is linked up with many others.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Why I am a Wingnut

Perhaps my favourite TV programme of the past few years has been the American Presidential drama 'The West Wing', starring Martin Sheen as President Josiah (Jed) Barlet.

I've always been fascinated by the United States - a nation founded not on a common language or religion or culture, but an idea - and fascinated too by its office of President. I can only begin to imagine what it must be like being the leader of the free world: to make life-and-death decisions on a daily basis, be the subject of intense media attention and speculation and to be the human face of what it means to be American.

Unlike so much on television, the 'West Wing' wasn't afraid to address complex issues and contentious debates. It made room for multiple points of view and highlighted both the gifts and the flaws of President Bartlet and his administration. As a viewer, I respect and appreciate that very much.

Friday, October 20, 2006

British v. American English

My book 'Born On A Blue Day' is currently being edited for its US release in January and it's fascinating to compare the two forms of English - British and American.

A lot of it comes down simply to spelling, to 'z's instead of 's's as in 'realize' (where I would write 'realise') and absent 'u's ('color' and 'harbor' instead of 'colour' and 'harbour'). Words of foreign origin are also spelled differently: 'synesthesia' where in Britain it is 'synaesthesia'.

More interesting are the different words, some of which I didn't realise/realize were used in that way. For example the American for 'pram' is 'carriage' (an old-fashioned word to British ears), a 'conker' is a 'chestnut' and a 'plaster' is a 'bandage' (something a British hospital would only use for serious wounds, not just a scratch or bruise).

George Bernard Shaw was perhaps right when he observed that England and America were 'two countries separated by the same language'.

Friday, October 13, 2006

How Much Of The World's Water Is Contained In A Cow?

This is one of the questions asked by interviewers of applicants for a place at Oxford or Cambridge University. It's claimed that with more and more students obtaining A grades at A-level universities are finding it increasingly difficult to choose between candidates, so make use of 'lateral thinking' questions like the one above.

I wonder if any of the readers of this blog would like to attempt an answer? I can contribute that a cow must hold quite a lot of water, because of the French expression: 'il pleut comme vache qui pisse' (It's raining like a cow pissing).

Friday, October 06, 2006

French Course Now Available

The Optimnem French course is now available. Find out more and try the first lesson for free at

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Debt As Negative Money

Recent media reports have highlighted the growing problem of personal debt levels in the UK. According to one, the average household debt is £7,754 excluding mortgages and £48,209 including them. The average owed by each adult in the UK is £25,545.

Part of the problem is how easy it has become for people in the UK to borrow heavily with loans and credit cards. Other countries, such as France, have much stricter rules regarding borrowing/lending money and a culture which is naturally suspicious of banks and their advertising.

Thought of most simply, debt seems bizarre - a form of money that makes you poorer. Imagine eating a food that made you hungrier. Yet borrowing is going up and up - the UK's total debt is rising by a million pounds every 4 minutes.

The effects of this can be devastating, including family breakdown, homelessness and suicide. More, such a culture deemphasises the virtues of thrift and self-control and makes it easier for society to ignore the plight of the most economically vulnerable for whom debt is often the only way they can make ends meet.

I think of debt as 'negative money' - a person with a debt of £10,000 has minus 10,000 pounds. Such a person would probably have to work for a couple of years just to pay off the debt and get back to '0'. Imagine that, working and earning for years just to reach the point where you have a fortune of zero!

The answer is to avoid debt as far as possible. Use a debit card instead of credit and save for things rather than take out loans. Overpay on your mortgage to save thousands in interest long-term. Spend within your means and discover the creativity in thrift. After all, any one can simply spend money but it takes skill and thought to save and use it wisely and carefully.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Richard Dawkins and 'The God Delusion'

Professor Richard Dawkins is currently giving media interviews for his latest book 'The God Delusion'. In a recent one with the BBC's 'Newsnight' programme, Professor Dawkins made several erroneous comments. He spoke about a religious person's belief in a universe containing a god, whereas Christianity (the religion the professor singles out for criticism) explicitly argues for a God *outside* of the time and space He created. It is like asking where the poet is in his/her poem or to expect an artist to be in his/her own picture. All creation is an act of separation.

Secondly, the professor said that religious people did not give their beliefs much thought. This implies that religion and thoughtfulness cannot go together, something I disagree a great deal with. I came to Christianity only after a very large amount of thought and reasoning. So did and do many other religious people.

The interviewer Jeremy Paxman likewise made a distinction between a 'religious culture' and a 'rational culture' but this is only a false distinction. Religion can be rational - some of the greatest thinkers and scientists throughout history were deeply religious (Sir Isaac Newton for one). It is true that religion asks ultimately for a 'leap of faith', but no leap is possible without first some firm foundation from which to jump.

Again Professor Dawkins erred when he stated that Christianity was an invention of Saint Paul's. Paul taught at a time when many still lived who had been eyewitnesses to Jesus and his original teaching. The early Christian community would not have tolerated the misrepresentation of ideas and beliefs that many among them had themselves been witnesses to.

In the course of the interview Professor Dawkins refers to people with religious beliefs as 'faithheads'. The professor knows better than this. Name-calling is no substitute at all for rational and sincere debate.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Personalised & Autographed Copy of Book Now Available Worldwide

We've restructured the webpage offering personalised copies of my book 'Born On A Blue Day' to accept payments worldwide. Makes a great Christmas gift idea!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Probability Problem

A person is tested for an illness that affects 1 in 10,000. The result is positive, however it's known that the test gives an erroneous positive result in 5% of cases. What is the percentage chance that the person really does have this illness?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sracmbeld Wrods

A fienrd rcnteley snet me a msgaese sohiwng how it's psblosie to raed sracmbeld wrods so lnog as the fsrit and lsat ltretes are in thier rghit psitonios. Tihs is bcuseae radineg ivlonves wrod rgcoentioin and ctxonet.

Hovewer tihs efceft is at laest prtaly rliaent on the coiche of wrdos and dtrsitibuoin of ltertes. For empxale, how esialy can you raed the fllownoig sntnecee:

'gldnraiee aattiinpecs mieduuttls ciinnnaotg eeoornrus amptttes'

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Summer's Obituary - The Autumnal Equinox

The British Summer will officially end on Saturday 23rd September at 4:02am. This is the Autumnal Equinox, the point where nights reach the same length as days.

I personally like autumn very much - the fall of fruit, leaves and conkers from the trees, the crackling of log fires, the peeling and pickling of fruit and vegetables to store over winter, the cooler weather ...

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Will Humans Soon Live 1,000 Years? The Answer is No.

There have been a flurry of news reports in the past few days about the possibility that one day soon humans will be capable of living up to 1,000 years.

It's certainly true that the average life expectancy has risen dramatically in the past 100 years: in 1901 life expectancy for newborn babies was 45 for boys and 49 for girls. By 2000 life expectancy was 75 and 80 respectively.

However much of this improvement has come from large reductions in infant mortality due to better living conditions and access to medicine, and not because of any fundamental change in how humans age. There are in fact many reliable reports of long life spans throughout history: Plato (80 years), Augustus (76 years), Pope Celestine III (91 years), Isaac Newton (84 years). The ancient Greek philosopher Democritus of Abdera is reputed to have lived to the age of 109.

Indeed the maximum life span for humans has not really changed throughout human history; remaining around 115-120 years. The oldest-ever person was a French woman, Jeanne Calment, who lived 122.5 years (1875-1997).

It seems that with a healthy diet and regular exercise most people in the developed world today can expect to live somewhere between 70-90 years, with a small number living to or past 100 years. But claims of massively increased life spans in the near future are no more than pure speculation.

And, anyway, isn't quality of life more important than quantity?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

10 Consecutive Hads

As a follow-up to yesterday's post on unusual words, a grammatically correct sentence submitted by a reader with ten successive uses of the word 'had':

John, where Janet had had 'had', had had 'had had'. Had 'had had' been the correct answer.....

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Unusual Words

On the way home from Edinburgh last week I discussed the subject of unusual words with my friends. Words like 'queueing' which have 5 vowels in a row, or 'catchphrase' which contains 6 consecutive consonants.

I particularly like words that have repeated letters or dots (as in 'hijinks' or 'Fiji'). Such words include 'wallless' (having no walls) and headmistressship.

Some words seem not to fit what they describe - for example: the word 'long' is short, and the word 'short' is longer. Same for the words 'big' and 'small'.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Edinburgh Festival

Just come back from several days in Edinburgh, attending the annual International Book Festival there. My event on the 22nd was with the journalist and TV presenter Joan Bakewell. I really enjoyed the whole experience. I gave a podcast interview for the festival's website which you can listen to at:

Afterwards I attended events by the Scottish Society for Autism and the Autism Initiatives charity. It was a privilege to meet some of the people who work so hard and give so much to help those on the autistic spectrum, as well as several parents and grandparents of autistic children.

Before leaving Edinburgh I had the chance to watch several street performances by jugglers, acrobats and magicians and a comedy gig - 'Funny Women' - which I would definitely recommend as being very, very good.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Benefits of Self Sufficiency

I try to live as self sufficient a life as possible. For example, we grow many vegetables and some fruit in our garden. We make soup from the tomatoes and cider from the apples. I've even attempted to make oat milk on a few occasions and we regularly eat sandwiches made of freshly baked bread and our own peanut butter.

I don't own a single credit card or have even one loan. I budget our grocery shopping weeks in advance and spend carefully, mostly in small local shops rather than the big supermarkets. We have saved tens of thousands of pounds in interest by saving enough over several years to pay off our mortgage a decade and a half early.

One valuable thing I learnt a long time ago was to have a way of looking at the world which gave a means of forming ideas about your life and how you want to live it. Then it's a question of actually putting those ideas into practice.

For me, independence from bureaucracy, banks and big business is very important. That way a person can have real control and freedom in his or her life. I choose what time to wake each morning and what goes into the food I eat. I select what work to do and when. I don't care about buying the next 'big thing' because possessions alone can't make a person happy.

I like listening to the birds singing as I work in the garden. I like the taste and flavour of home-made food. I like the creativity of making my own birthday cards for friends and family. I like having enough free time to spend with the people I love. I like not having to worry about sales targets or board meetings or the risk of redundancy.

The control and rituals of a self-sufficient way of living are reassuring and satisfying to individuals on the autistic spectrum. I find anxiety is much less a problem for me than before. An attention to detail helps when fixing a budget, planting seeds or darning socks. Personalised routines are easier to stick to and leave enough free time for hobbies and individual interests.

Try sites such as to find out more about living a more self sufficient way of life.

Friday, August 11, 2006

G K Chesterton and the Wisdom of Fairy Tales

I loved reading fairy tales as a small child and it was with great pleasure when many years later I read that my favourite author and thinker, G. K. Chesterton, had had very much affection for them too and believed them a source of great wisdom:

"According to elfin ethics all virtue is in an ‘if.’ The note of the fairy utterance always is, ‘You may live in a palace of gold and sapphire, if you do not say the word "cow"’; or ‘You may live happily with the King’s daughter, if you do not show her an onion.’ The vision always hangs upon a veto. All the dizzy and colossal things conceded depend upon one small thing withheld. All the wild and whirling things that are let loose depend upon one thing that is forbidden."

Chesterton believed that all people were specially shaped to experience the joy of being alive, but that happiness was ultimately something that had to be accomplished. It is conditional on our capacity to experience it - a capacity that can be naturally trained like any other.

Fairy tales teach us to feel wonder for ordinary things - rivers running with wine remind us of the marvel of rivers running with water, talking flowers reflect the beauty of all flowers and golden apples are as wonderful for being apples as for being made of gold.

In the end, the test of all happiness is gratitude - an appreciation of the little, everyday things that make up the fabric of each human life.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Claim of UK Overpopulation is Bad Maths

Journalist Rod Liddle writing in today's 'Spectator' magazine claims that the UK is catastrophically overpopulated:

"If you live in the south-east of England you will already be familiar with the iniquities imposed by overpopulation: the railway network which collapses under the weight of numbers... the waiting list for treatment at your local hospital; the bulging school rolls... the incessant angry growl of traffic during the day, the eerily pale mauve night sky, deprived of its right to darkness by the street lights; the queues everywhere, for everything... You cannot water your garden because there is not enough of the stuff to go around... the strange re-occurrence of TB in our inner cities...the lack of community in your town... and the sense of alienation which this engenders; the loss of habitat for our indigenous wildlife."

He then goes on to state:

"We can be sure that Britain is one of the ten or 15 most crowded countries on earth..."

But this just isn't true - a brief search on the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia reveals that the UK is in fact ranked 48th in the world for population density
(Wikipedia: List_of_countries_by_population_density)

Furthermore, the article is wrong in my opinion to blame 'overpopulation' for various social and environmental problems. The UK has 60 million acres, 1 for every person in the country. The 2001 National Census gives a figure of 21 million UK households - that's almost 3 acres per household (equivalent in size to an entire football pitch per household).

The real problem is the poor distribution of land ownership throughout the UK: 90% of the population of Britain live on just 10% of the land, with 69% of the UK's acreage owned by just 0.6% of the population (people like the Duke of Buccleuch who owns 270,900 acres).

The fact is that people naturally cluster together in cities, towns and villages - many like 'hustle and bustle', others prefer greater quiet and seclusion. The lack of community and sense of alienation, cited in the article as a consequence of overpopulation, has probably more to do with factors such as family breakdown: the 2001 census reported that 30% of all UK households are occupied by a single person.

The myth of overpopulation has a long history going back centuries. But the fact is that fertility rates in the UK (and across Europe) are falling: there were 1,014,700 births in Britain in 1964 compared with 716,000 in 2004. 1 in 5 British women do not have any children at all (compared to 1 in 10 a generation ago). The UK's low fertility rate ranks 153rd in the world
(Wikipedia: List_of_countries_and_territories_by_fertility_rate)

The UK has many problems and faces many challenges, but overpopulation isn't one of them.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

On Being A Christian

I think many people are surprised to hear that I believe in God and that I am a Christian. I think this is because many assume that autism and belief in God are somehow incompatible. In fact other autistic writers, such as Temple Grandin, have written about their own spiritual beliefs and practices.

I struggled for a long time with the concept of God - I wasn't interested in something that I could not see or hear or touch directly. As a teenager I began to read the writings of G. K. Chesterton, an early-20th century English journalist who wrote at length about his own journey into faith and defence of Christian ideas - and found myself gradually more and more receptive to the possibility of faith.

I became a Christian at Christmas 2002, aged twenty-three. At that point in my life I had arrived at the conclusion that Christianity was true. Extremely challenging and puzzling concepts (for many if not most people) such as the Incarnation and the Trinity made a lot of sense to me. It seemed right that God would choose to come into the world, to reveal Himself to us, in a way that we could all of us relate to - as a man among men, a human life lived like other lives: as a child, a worker, a friend, a teacher, a Son.

In the Trinity there was the idea of God as being both a mystery and a reality that each person could in their own way relate to: the living, breathing personification of Love and of Relationship. God wasn't something unknowable or untouchable but a tangible presence: the idea of Trinity was something I could picture in some way in my head, and understand and accept.

Faith isn't easy - but I consider it a blessing and a gift. Quite often, in sudden unconscious moments like an awakening, I realise that I am a member of the mystical body of Christ - something far bigger and greater than I can begin to comprehend, but nonetheless something in which I do not feel a stranger, but at home.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Advice for Parents with Autistic Children

I am regularly asked for advice by parents with children on the autistic spectrum. Because autism is such a profoundly complex condition, and very personal in how it affects each individual, it is not possible to offer advice that will be equally insightful or helpful to everyone. From my own experience, I suggest the following:

Ensure good basic hygiene skills, particularly tooth-brushing (which I had considerable problems with over many years into adolescence) and which I've subsequently read is a common problem because of the sound or texture or both of the brushing action.

Help teach your child core skills to function in society: how to dress themselves, tell left from right (perhaps use 'L' and 'R' labels as my parents did with me), maintain eye contact, understand and respect the concept of 'personal space', how to ride a bus etc.

Nurture any special interests, while finding ways to use them to help your child learn more about the wider world (for example, a passion for spelling can be used to discuss the names of family members or neighbours etc).

Discourage tantrums by identifying triggers and finding ways to avoid them (for example, supermarkets can often be overstimulating, try using smaller local shops).

Have patience - progress, if and when it comes, can often be sudden but is the result of many months or years of incremental steps forward.

Most importantly of all, know that your child is capable of great depthes of feeling and of love, even if it isn't much or often demonstrated.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Cxu vi parolas Esperanton?

Mi esperantigxis unue antau kelkaj jaroj, de leganto frazojn esperantajn rete. Gxi estas interesa lingvo kaj facilega lerni, kun multaj vortoj de la lingvoj europaj. Kelkafoje mi ricevas e-posxtojn skribata esperante de uloj de tutaj partoj de la mundo. Esperanto estas lingveto, sed vere internacia! Se vi volas lerni pli pri la lingvo esperanto, skribu la vorto 'esperanto' en sercxilo kaj vi trovos multaj mil de pagxoj.

I first found out about Esperanto several years ago, from reading sentences in Esperanto on the internet. It is an interesting language and hugely easy to learn, with many words from the languages of Europe. Sometimes I receive emails written in Esperanto from people from all over the world. Esperanto is a small language, but truly international! If you want to learn more about the Esperanto language, write the word 'esperanto' in a search engine and you will find many thousands of pages.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Prime number years

I was born in 1979, which is a prime number (as are both 19 and 79). Coincidentally, Albert Einstein was born exactly one hundred years before in 1879, also a prime number. Your best chance of being born in a prime number year in the past millennium was to have been born in the 15th century (17 prime number years, from 1409 to 1499) while the lowest chance would have been the 14th century (just 11 prime number years, with a 34-year gap between the years 1327 and 1361). The next prime number year will be 2011.

Friday, July 28, 2006

A few of my favourite words

Some words are really beautiful to me, particularly nouns such as teapot and buttercup. I think in the above two examples it's because the first and last letter/sound in each word is identical or near-identical. I also like it when tall letters - like b, d, h and l - occur in the middle of a word: ode, shy, polio etc. There are even words that look like the things they describe, such as dog (imagine the d as a face and ear and the g as a tail) and look (where the two successive o's remind me of a pair of eyes). Because of the way I experience words in different colours and textures I especially like it when a word's colour matches the object it describes: raspberry is a red word for a red thing, while tan is an orange word for something that often is that colour.

Book is Top-5 at Waterstone's

The Independent's Arts & Books Review today has a chart for the best-selling hardcover non-fiction at Waterstone's for the past week. Born On A Blue Day is at #4.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Sunday Times Bestseller !

My book 'Born On A Blue Day: A Memoir of Asperger's and an Extraordinary Mind' has gone to #9 in the Sunday Times Non-Fiction Hardcover Bestseller list after its first full week of sales.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Purple Mondays, Blue Wednesdays, Aubergine Fridays...

A poster to this blog asked me to describe the different colours and textures I experience for the days of the week. This point arose from the title of my memoir: 'Born On A Blue Day' - where the blue (a rich, dark blue) refers to a Wednesday.

Mondays are purple, Tuesdays are a much warmer, orange colour, Thursdays are a bitty light yellow, Fridays are aubergine-coloured, Saturdays are curvy and Sundays are very bright and shiny.

When someone asks me to calculate the day of the week he/she was born on, I see the colours and textures in my head and translate them into the answer.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Book is on its 4th print (after 1 week!)

Sales for my book 'Born On A Blue Day: A Memoir of Asperger's and an Extraordinary Mind' have been crazy good - for the first time today are finally showing 'usually available in 24 hours' after initially running out of stock almost as soon as the book came out (after it hit #1 last Friday). I've been told that it's currently on its 4th print after one week - incredible. The talk in Dartington sold out, as has the one upcoming in Edinburgh next month. I think this must be the dictionary definition of an author's 'dream start'!

Thank you to everyone who has bought my book - feel free to send me your feedback via this site. I've had some really wonderful comments so far.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A hectic few days

I don't know that I've ever been so busy in my life, but I wouldn't want it any other way. The Ways With Words event in Devon was amazing - beautiful countryside and wonderful food and a sell-out talk! I even ran out of books to sign afterwards. After a rest day in Cornwall we (my partner Neil and I) drove to London for interviews. I appeared on Radio 4's 'Midweek' programme with other guests actor Tim Healy, comic Shappi Khorsandi and folk singer Julie Felix (if you missed it, you can hear the show here: After the show Julie gave me a copy of her latest CD. I've been listening to it today and it sounds great.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Appearance On Richard & Judy on Channel 4, Friday July 14th

I'm appearing on Channel 4's 'Richard & Judy' programme tomorrow - Friday July 14th.


'Mänti' is a created language I have worked on since I was a child. I have a fascination with words and language and this is one form of expression for me that is very personal and creative. Quite often I have a sensation or feeling that I can't find a word in English (my native language) for, so I create one in Mänti.

The name of my language comes from the Finnish word for pine tree. I chose this word because I love trees and they grow copiously in parts of Scandinavia, and I have a particular fondness for the languages of Scandinavia. Many of my words have a Scandinavian or Baltic look to them.

One of my favourite Mänti words is kellokült which means 'lateness' or 'tardiness'. Its literal translation is 'clock debt' or 'clock guilt'.

I also use a concept known as 'word pairs' to describe certain abstract words such as 'footwear' which is kõet saapat in Mänti (literally: 'shoes boots').

Though very different from English, some Mänti words are recognisable enough: nööt (night), buss (bus), kuppi (cup) etc.

I've written a whole chapter in my book 'Born On A Blue Day' about how I experience words and learn languages (I know ten currently) and include some of my Mänti words.

I'll try and write something about Mänti grammar soon...

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Appearing at Ways With Words literary festival July 16th

Ways With Words is an annual literary festival held in Dartington, Devon every summer in July. I am appearing this coming Sunday, July 16th, to give a talk about my life and book 'Born On A Blue Day'. You can find out more about the festival at

Monday, July 10, 2006

Interview in today's Daily Telegraph (10th July)

There's an interview with me in today's Daily Telegraph newspaper by Cassandra Jardine. It can be read online at:

Welcome to my blog!

I have finally entered the blogosphere. Many thanks to my friend, Ian Williams, for all his help with the new website design. I hope to update my blog regularly with news, updates and comments. Thanks for visiting and happy reading!