Add water and stir…

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In the beginning it was just “when the elder G. asks him about his plans to leave, Tom demurs.”

That’s all it was. A half line in Draft 0. Thirteen words in all. I thought it would be a very tiny scene, little more than a transition, a little coda to establish that Tom wasn’t leaving after all.

Then on Saturday morning… Continue reading

Dumas on counting words

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This one is for T.

I’m always a little amused at being reminded that, in my corner of the world, measuring a written text in words, is still a somewhat alien notion. No, really. I still run into people who go round eyed and ask how on earth are they going to keep count – and are genuinely amazed to discover that any word processor will do it for them… Continue reading

On Mikhail Gorbachev

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What was your greatest fear as children, o Readers?

Mine, between the ages of six and twelve, was nuclear war. In the early Eighties the eventuality was a heavily discussed subject in the news and everywhere. Besides, a career officer father and a whole family very keen on international politics meant that I heard a lot of mealtime discussion of what the USSR and the States might do to each other over our heads. In addition there was a spate of fiction and nonfiction stories about it – and I had a knack for watching and reading what I should not. Oh, the nightmares I got out of watching The Day After! And I saw those Soviet leaders on the news, so hard-eyed and grim, and they rather looked like people who’d have little qualms in destroying the world… At one point I even wrote a letter** to the then General Secretary of PCUS Andropov,  explaining to him how bad it was, and could he please not bomb us? Yes well – but I must have been eight or nine. Continue reading

Further in summer than the birds

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So this morning I woke up with the tiniest bit of end-of-summer blues – and I was put in mind of this poem of Emily Dickinson’s.

Because, really, few things are better than poetry for the blues, and one can almost always trust Emily to have written something that will fit the occasion. In truth, what I mostly remembered of this one was “August burning low”, and off I went on a morning quest to unearth it. I can think of worse ways to start the day. Continue reading

Stamps

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StampDo you have any particular liking for postage stamps, o Readers? I don’t, I must say.

My father was a stamp collector. When I was very young, he tried to share the hobby with me – and failed. All I remember are endless sessions sitting at a table covered in green felt, being scolded for breathing too hard on the silly little paper squares… Continue reading

Then came the plague

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I’d somehow managed to dodge it for more than two years and a half, but at last the plague caught me – or, in other word, I caught Covid at last. I suppose it was just a matter of time – and that I caught it at the theatre was just as inevitable as it was fitting.

Last Friday, more or less from one moment to the next, I found myself with a very sore throat and a temperature above 39° C. Within hours a rather fierce cough and a cold joined the company – and there I was. Continue reading

The Small Writer and the Huge Deadline – an instructional tale

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Once upon a time, there was a Small Writer with a Huge Deadline.

The Huge Deadline was still rather far away – and that was perhaps the heart of the problem. Had it been looming large, roaring nearer and nearer, the Small Writer would have been writing like mad, and piling up a nice daily wordcount, and biting her nails, and drinking tea by the gallon, and generally doing what she was supposed to do… Continue reading