David Robbins: Voices of the past speak to me from the strangest places
When the great (and relentlessly bitchy) American writer Gore Vidal published his memoirs under the title Palimpsest, I thought: what a pretentious, puffed-up, showy word to use.
That was partly because I didn't know what a palimpsest was, and partly due to an innate Irish resistance to anything overtly intellectual.
A palimpsest is an old parchment from which the original writing has been erased and which has been used again. It conveys a layering up of meaning, a overlaying of the new upon the old.