Thursday, 31 March 2011

The Glums

What I am thinking now is that there are times when everything just seems to drain away. No energy, no ideas, this horrible empty space. At which time, the white eye of the PC (I don't do lap top or smart phone) leeches onto mental space. Upstairs, my son is shouting at Call of Duty (enemy soldier failed to die despite his Big Gun); on the floor above my daughter is probably playing the disturbing truth game that appears to be a Facebook offshoot. Hell knows. Their dad is at yoga. At least someone is waving the flag for mind, body and spirit.

I'd be sitting in the bath listening to Radio Two if it was still Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie, but now it's gone all Jo Wiley, so I sit here, staring at the white eye, all flumped out.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011


It being spring and everything I suddenly feel as if the Writing should recommence. Long train journey overland to Brunel University, during which I felt fluey and peculiar, imbibed industrial quantities of Vitamin C infused smoothies, and read James Shapiro's "Contested Will".  The first chapter is about the deification of Shakespeare. I was dimly wondering why we are so quick to assume that genius is more than human. Looked out of the SW Trains window at burgeoning back gardens, greenly tinged, mostly featuring standard issue trampolines.

Great quote from Diana Wynne Jones, who died this week, to the effect that we are all geniuses, but it can take a while to find out what we are geniuses at. Tragically, some of us never find out. My genius might be for whinging rather than writing. Only time will tell. It certainly isn't for knitting, dieting or moderate drinking, that's for sure.

Monday, 28 March 2011


It is exactly seventy years since Virginia Woolf's "death day" and I think we should morbidly celebrate that fact. Perhaps we should make more of the final days of great writers, even those who decided to end their own lives. We are too squeamishly polite about death, as if it was somewhere in between saying "pardon" instead of "excuse me" and fornicating with the vicar at the village fete.

And we also seem to assume that each day of a suicide's life must have been bathed in shadow, whereas in fact Woolf was a wry, sociable, practical person. There even are photos of her laughing in a swim suit (which I must admit is a bit disconcerting).

She wrote about walking in London, the smell of a spring day, the joys of polishing silver.  And her writing voice is eminently sane and sensible. She seems easily as cheery as - say - Beryl Bainbridge or Kingley Amis, and we don't see their departed selves as being particularly sombre. Her madness, as she called it, was one facet of her character, not her whole identity. Her industrious application to developing her craft strengthened her writing muscle, as she knew it would.

Am I the only person who loathed the N.Kidman portrayal in "The Hours", all grim prosthetic nose and drooping ciggie? I would rather have let Emma Thompson have a go, which is saying something.