Perhaps I should just give up going to bed on a Sunday evening and officially declare every Sunday night Official Weekly Insomnia Night. I got all of three hours sleep last night. I was tired, went to bed at the time we go to bed if we need to get up at 6am when M is on earlies. It was her first day back after 2 weeks hols today, so it was really important to me that I didn’t rock the boat. Lights out, no sleep. Wait for a while, and do meditation breathing. Nothing. Wide awake. Got up and read for a while, sat in the warm night, and looked at the moon until I felt very tired indeed. Back to bed. Nope. Not even an inkling of sleep or tiredness. More of the same exercises. Then my right foot started hurting again. Out of bed again. I ended up sitting in here and recording a song I’d heard a few days ago so I had a copy of it, and finally dragged myself upstairs in the dark, past one sleeping cat and one hyperactive one-eyed cat. It took me another half an hour or so to finally fall asleep. Craziness.
Hours since I wrote the above.
The library is taking shape. The comfy chairs have left the office, and a big old Persian rug one of the storage sheds, and found their way into the library, and a reading standard lamp from in here has also joined them, so we’ll have a nice little reading corner for M and myself in our dotage (before we move to AN, of course). And all M’s work (and the pic). I have just sat at this desk since 06:30, and gone for my walk, and not much else. Greek, of course.
And M even found time to cut my hair just now. Aging writer in front of less than glamorous shed showing off water butt arrangement. It’s just so rock ‘n roll. Honestly. But actually that brings me to one serious point. So many people think I have such a cool life, and many even think I just sit on my backside every day doing nothing. That being a writer (as well as an employee, actually, remember) is just that, sitting around, waiting for words to come, and waiting for the world to come to me. It doesn’t actually work like that. I would still like to be able to peddle my views and my words and my works on national media (yes, M calls me a media whore). Yes, I’d like to be able to write reviews for a living, and novels for a living. But that’s not my real life, not right now. And that’s not real life for 99.9% of authors or painters or poets or songwriters or singers. And even the 0.1% who’ve made it big can’t just sit back and do nothing. The need for publicity and marketing never stops. And I think many of us just think we’ll settle for the being creative bit and just earn our living some other way.
Having said that, I just heard earlier today that, after almost three long years away from the hallowed studios of BBC Radio Norfolk, I’m able to go back in there to share a few moments of my friend Stephen Bumfrey’s show on Thursday at 14:30. I’d take that any day over being in the BBC national studios, because the first time we met, he was just a voice down an ISDN line, and the first time we met in person I had ten minutes to plug Dead Men, and after that we grew into being proper friends, men who have each other’s mobile phone numbers and can call each other late at night if they need to. And I’ll get to plug Marina’s new song, and this blog, and talk without having to think about the levels on my mike the way I have to do when I’m standing in my studio here. And, in truth, I’ve missed him, the way you miss good friends. We are fortunate in our friends.
AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 180
In Aggie’s black and white night vision, there’s a faded grandeur to the cathedral, and as the creep slowly out from under the altar, she wonders what the significance is of this tunnel, the tunnel that draws its path way beyond the cathedral, she knows that. Why does it surface here, right in the middle of what would have been an even more hallowed place when the tunnel was dug, when it would have seemed almost an irrelevance for anyone who just took the ferry across the river to Pull’s Ferry and alighted on this part of the city that seems like an island at times. And why would it start in the very house that Cassandra bought for herself with some of her money and a lot of Robert’s and then moved in her traitorous husband?
Aggie stands up, wipes the dust from her clothes, holds her breath, listens for any sounds, anything that might sound like someone less amateur than Zav is stalking her, waiting to pounce on her, to end this right now, her snooping, her rooting around in things she shouldn’t be involved in. And how is this linked to those folders in the cellar, those innumerable murdered albino children, those experiments. Perhaps it isn’t. As she takes a step, she’s painfully aware that she’s walking on dead men right here right now, bones secreted in the floor of this place, and that, by living, she’s walking over all the dead bones of all those children. She steps to one side to avoid the tomb stones in the floor, walks straight down the nave to the West Window, relatively new by the standards of the rest of this place. Nothing. No sound, no movement, no instinct warning her of imminent danger. She makes a circuit of the whole place, along the cloisters to the side of the nave, along the outside of the Choir, around the Ambulatory, stops off at the small chapel where she and Zav first made their acquaintance (the door to the outside is locked, she’s glad to note), and round the other side of the cathedral, until she’s under the West window again, at the end of the nave, right by the massive oak doors that are opened for processions and high celebrations.
Aggie realises she’s waiting for something to happen, for something that might take her by surprise, something that will take her another step along this journey into the unknown she’s on. And when nothing happens, she feels lost, like she’s become addicted, over the course of a few days, to the adrenaline that fighting and fearing bring with them. She starts moving back towards the altar and the slightly displaced ochre cloth she could tell the colour of by touch, somehow, slowly, measuredly, one small silent movement at a time. She feels tiny in here, something she’s thankful for when most of her life is spent grieving about the size she perceives herself to be. And then she sees it. The Pulpitum, the screen behind the the altar that separates the nave from the Choir, from the rest of the inner sanctum of this breathing stone building. And she sees the slight unevenness in the stone arch just below the screen, to the left of the path which takes the true and worthy worshipper through into the Choir. It could be nothing, but it’s now, right now, that the hairs on her arms stand on end, and she throws herself to one side of the nave before the thought even enters her head.