Richard Pierce

Life, Poetry, Writing

Day 212

Two thirds through this year already, and my thoughts are already turning to what I’ll do with this next year. I am finding that my daily splurges are open to misinterpretation, that my habit of just writing down the firs thing that comes into my head can be confusing for those reading it. I don’t actually think as deeply about things as people might think I do. Perhaps next year, I’ll focus on trying to write a poem a day instead of giving a narrative (imagined or not) of my days. I could simply default to recounting factually and without any interpretation the events of my days, but I think that would be very boring, and probably even more likely to be self-censored, actually.

I’m reading an enlightening if depressing novel set in Stalinist Russia right now (Ice Road by Gillian Slovo, published in 2004!), and it’s an eye-opener, not just for the history I know every little about (despite having read my children’s history course material for their Russian Revolution modules), and also because, although our initial default thinking about the state of the UK right now is to compare it with Nazi Germany, it certainly also now smacks of Stalin’s purges and the twisting of the truth for political ends. The bottom line for me is, as always, that dictators all lie and make their own truths and inflict them on the people whose heroes they were to begin with (and whose heroes they might even remain because of a deliberate lack of education for the “masses”).

There was rain in the night and this morning. Probably about a centimetre of it, which isn’t enough but it has still brought me up short, because it reminds me of the transience of summer. And because it puts paid to some of the plans I’d had for today. Perhaps it will clear. And, despite my need for some sort of self-discipline (writing and walking routines which I need to maintain to keep myself moving forwards), I like to think Sunday is the day when I can get away with doing nothing (maybe that needs to change).

I have a partly-shaped poem swirling around in my head, and another partly-written poem sitting in pencil shapes on a piece of paper rapidly ripped out of one of M’s notebooks last night just before we turned the lights off, because my brain suddenly came up with something I needed to write down. The one in my head is about a woman I follow on twitter who lives in Kyiv and is documenting her war, and I still don’t know if the poem will materialise into something tangible and solid. Ditto the other, subject matter as yet not disclosed. I d make this point to people who has me about their writing – once something has come alive in you, it will carry on writing itself in your head even if it takes months and months for it actually to show its face on paper or screen. That’s another reason why writers’ brains are continually active with all sorts of thoughts – because writing is a continual (and often subconscious) process.

Marina sent me another draft mix of the new song yesterday – it’s divine.



It’s a silent procession that files into the living room, the fire going this late afternoon, and the sun gone, and dusk overwhelming the sky. Marit is still clinging to Aggie, as they sit down on the sofa. The room is full.

‘We’re all here then,’ Robert says, unsmiling. ‘Seems like an age since we were all together.’

Anna is sitting on the floor in front of Zac, lounging in one of the chairs. They’re smiling, incongruously, eyes somewhere else entirely.

‘Any news?’ Aggie says.

‘From where?’ Robert says, frowning.

‘Martin, for one,’ she says.

‘He’s not moved,’ Robert says. ‘I think he’s got a lot of explaining to do to his wife, about how he ended up in the state he’s in.’

‘I still wish you’d not let him go, or at least put a listening device in,’ Aggie says.

‘I didn’t say we didn’t have a listening device,’ Robert says. ‘It is rather muffled, though, bearing in mind where it is.’

Anna giggles.

Aggie shakes her head. ‘So, the plan.’

‘You have a plan?’ Zak says. ‘You surprise me.’

‘Ha. Ha.’ Aggie, very slowly.

‘Out with it then,’ Robert says. ‘I’m getting worried we’ve all come to a stand still.’

‘There’s always some waiting involved,’ Aggie says, feeling Lilibet’s eyes boring into her from the chair away from the group. ‘However impatient we are.’

Robert grunts.

‘We’re going back to Norwich, like we’d originally planned,’ Aggie says. ‘And Marit and Katharina are coming with us.’

Katharina nods. ‘That sounds like a good idea.’

‘Marit suggested it,’ Aggie says, pulls the girl closer to her, feels her still trembling.

‘And us?’ Zak says.

‘You’re Robert’s protection,’ Aggie says. ‘And surveillance on Martin.’

‘You think I’m in danger?’ Robert says. ‘I’m just a harmless old duffer who wants to get back to writing music and playing the piano.’

‘That’s why you’re in danger,’ Aggie says. ‘It’s always the quiet ones who are in the line of fire first. And Martin won’t forgive you for believing me not him.’

‘Revenge,’ Robert says, and nods.

‘It’s probably more than that,’ Katharina says. ‘You’ve unmanned him, you’ve closed down his primary avenue of destruction.’ Her eyes are clear, and her voice steady.

‘Analyst material,’ Robert says. ‘You always have been.’

Katharina smiles. ‘We all have secrets.’

‘And we’ve got burner phones to keep in touch,’ Lilibet says from across the room, her voice gentle, considered. ‘If we find anything in Norwich, like Aggie says Cassandra told her we would, then we’ll let you know.’

‘And I think we’re most likely to get Valentine to break cover,’ Aggie says, with Lilibet’s voice glowing inside her head. ‘He’ll want to know what it is Cassandra wants us to find that he couldn’t.’

‘If only she’d get in touch,’ Robert says. ‘So I would at least know she’s safe.’

‘She could be anywhere,’ Aggie says, those visions of Cassandra killing Putin vivid before her eyes. ‘Those pictures still suggest she knows a lot of people in very high up places.’

‘But no-one’s going to pull a trigger against Russia,’ Katharina says.

‘No-one but Cassie,’ Robert says. ‘And quietly.’

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