Writing, First Thing

I like to start writing as early as I can, when I’m closer to the night. When I do I feel the brakes are off and anything can happen. If I don’t I find everyday realities, plausibilities and distractions claw in and leave me struggling to write anything I’d like to read. At the end of the day, when I ride the train home from London there’s a similar situation. Then, I’m letting go; letting the day that’s been slip through my fingers and, like dreams I suppose, some of the day resurfaces in what I write but often barely recognisably so.
        Just as I’ve woken most things feel strange, even the floor under my feet. I listen to something, uncertain what it is or where it’s come from: some birds, maybe, in a tree. A fox or the first train of the morning.


I was talking to someone about having to complete a form. It was the first one I’d filled in by hand for some time, and returned to someone who checked it, who looked at whether I was eligible for something, who sent it back to me with a request to fill in another form, which I then returned, signed, so it could be passed to another person, to sign and stamp and return it to me, so I could post it off to its final destination, an organisation I needed to join. The first form arrived in a manilla envelope. My address was written in small, spidery letters slightly offset from where I’d normally expect to see my name and address on an envelope. As soon as I saw the envelope I wondered … what was it about the process I was getting into that started with such a trace of humanity. I could almost sense a pulse. Continue reading “Touch”

This is a Cul-de-Sac

I lived in London for years. I shared a house just off the Kings’ Road, another near Brick Lane, one in Greenwich, and there was the family home further south, in the suburbs. This place, though, and I’m sitting in the garden now, looking up at the sun on the back of the house, on all that old Victorian brick, this place is the one where I’ve been happiest.
        That strikes me as odd as I can’t stand the town I live in (it calls itself a city, of course). Some of the noises I could leave – but not the birds. Not the sound of the students on the playing fields, and I like the traffic when it’s like this, generally distant without being a hum, the odd car sounding as if it’s lurching towards me as it comes off the main road, and the train a decipherable clatter. Motor cycles in the night, and you can always hear a breeze blowing the leaves, or the branches in the middle of winter. Continue reading “This is a Cul-de-Sac”

The Truth Isn’t Out There


I used to enjoy watching the X-Files. Perceptive cynics might draw a link I’d find hard to dismiss between my early attempts at being a psychotherapist and writer and Fox Mulder’s approach to life … (and there’s so much an ellipsis can contain). Whatever. One thing I can say with certainty is that the truth really isn’t ‘out there’. It’s always close at hand, a hair’s breadth away. Whatever gets between it and the world can, however, take  long time to understand. If you’re talking to me and you’re lying, or if you believe you’re saying something truthful and then change your mind, or if you think back and realise you said something truthful and that still seems to be the case don’t expect me to know the difference in that: your information. I will, however, hopefully come to know a difference in you. That’s what we can talk about. The truth is your responsibility. My connection to it is what I think and feel. But you know, only sometimes, perhaps, not quite yet.

The Seaside


I realised yesterday, on my way to Brighton, that for the last thirty years I’ve lived within touching distance of the sea. Now, I’m possibly as detached as I have been – but if I walk up the hill at the back of our house and climb to the top of the university library that stands there in amongst the heinousness of the other university buildings (it isn’t a place I like) there’s an aisle of books I’ve found from where I know I can see the coast. Continue reading “The Seaside”