Yesterday morning I had a brilliant idea for today’s show on Radio Stradbroke. Play your 12-inch singles out, I thought. Can’t have more than 20 or so of them. That and a Classical Music Interlude will give you three hours of programming, no problem. You’ll be able to find them on your playout system even if you aren’t yet in a position to play vinyl because the studio still isn’t quite right (though I have re-arranged my desk for the second time in 24 hours). So I went to catalogue the 12-inch singles I have (and a couple of 10-inch ones). It turns out I have 103 of the things! Writing them all down alone took 90 minutes. At 7ish this morning, I started putting them into a playlist. By the time I got 45 of them into the playlist, I had over 4 hours of music, and that’s not even half-way. It’ll have to be a series of 12-inch programmes then, won’t it?
The downside is that I only got about 200 words (if that) done on The Mortality Code, but at least the plot is alive in my head again, and it’s just a matter of letting the words out of my head. I’m setting myself the target of doing 40k words in a week. Maybe that’s a bit ambitious, and I might need to temper that ambition a little so I don’t get discouraged.
When I was young and still green behind the ears as a business manager, I met, through a variety of corporate shenanigans going on in the business I worked for, D, who was a senior director in a business looking to take over our parent company. Tall, white-haired, very well-spoken, D was; the archetypal Englishman (picture Richard E Grant). For some reason or another, we became very good friends (just like an American I met through business who reads this blog – here’s looking at you, L), and he and his wife H invited M and me down to their London flat for dinner about 9 months after we’d met. We all got on really well. Even after the corporate shenanigans came to nothing, D and I always kept in touch, meeting up for coffee in a cafe in Leicester Street off Leicester Square (the name of which I’ve forgotten and which is no longer there) two or three times a year. I always described him as louche, a description which has always tickled him, and which he deems very appropriate.
D had worked for a long time for The Economist in Asia, so, on a few occasions, he took me for dim sum in restaurants in China Town just up the road from this forgotten and disappeared cafe, where we’d expand on the philosophical conversations we’d started down the road. It was D who was very supportive of my early writing, and who suggested additional reading material for me to look at to build my understanding of concepts of time and logic and the art of putting words together in an order which made sense. He always had a mind more logical than mine, and still does. One of the books he suggested to me was Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter, which I promptly bought and, to my eternal shame, have never fully read. I made a point of inviting D and H to the book launch of Dead Men in Lincoln’s Inn Fields in 2012, just as a part payment of my debt to him.
And yesterday afternoon I spoke on the phone with D for the first time since I’d seen him towards the end of 2019. We exchange Christmas cards, and I’d meant to call him in the gap between Christmas and New Year 2020 as he’d written a note in the card that he really wanted to talk with me, but I never got round to it. It is a sign of friendship that you can call someone after over two years of not having spoken with them and have an effortless 45-minute conversation. We both mourned the fact that we’re so far apart (he now lives in Gloucestershire most of the time which is a long ay from Norwich), and talked about how being a bibliophile can potentially bankrupt you (I’d mentioned to him that my spending on books has gone through the roof since we moved up here in May 2021), as well as requiring the strengthening of house structures (that probably being the part that would bankrupt you most). Although we are of diametrically opposed political persuasions, we always speak of each other as one of the people we know would put their hand in the fire for us, would ride to the other’s help if needed, without question). We have resolved not to leave two years between phone calls from now on, especially as I discovered that he’s 75 – why I’d never asked his age before is beyond me.
The point is – always be prepared to make new friendships, and always maintain them. You never know when you’ll not have the chance to speak again, nor when you might need that friendship, nor what fruits such friendships might bring to bear. This much I know.