Alan Griffin plays the alboka. Photograph: Ander Gillenea

When Alan Griffin initially encountered the alboka, the most arcane of several very distinctively Basque musical instruments, he was distinctly underw(...)

Seek out a copy of The Adventures of Shola by the Basque writer Bernardo Atxaga who wrote it in Euskera before translating the four individual stories into Spanish. Mikel Valverde’s illustrations are most expressive and the English translation comes courtesy of the great Margaret Jull Costa. If anything can succeed in hauling us through this most blue day of dark days, it is this book

Blue, blue, blue, very blue ... What’s that you’re saying? Speak up. Remove the blankets from your head. Look at me. Engage. What? So you don’t feel l(...)