It's a closed-in grey Sunday with the usual raindrops pendant on the semi-transparent clothesline, a pair of blue tits dodging in and out of the leaf-cover, the sun behind those veils of grey making periodic efforts to penetrate them.
It's the long season moving in, asserting its right of possession, bedding down in the yard, draping itself over everything.
It has been a full week to say the least.
I teach Mondays and Tuesdays till about 6pm and after. Monday night saw the welcoming dinner for the new international writer fellows, Tuesday night was the launch of the UEA anthology that I was down to introduce, Wednesday evening was the delayed celebration dinner for the Wymondham Words Festival to which C was going to come until summoned as emergency family baby-sitter, Thursday was London to introduce and converse with Noémi Szécsi on the occasion of the publication of The Finno-Ugrian Vampire, the English translation of her first book of 2002. Friday morning was the postponed university class I had missed right at the beginning of the year, followed by an appointment at the Writers Centre, and Saturday was the Wymondham launch of In the Land of the Giants.
Bad bad night on Friday. Sometimes I feel like a ghost in my own life. Occasionally the ghost wakes up and runs around the shadows in my head until there is no option but to get up and watch Bad Television. Hours of it. As I do so other ghosts appear - the ghost of Peter Falk as Columbo for instance, the news flickering into ghostly life on various channels, an almost empty House of Lords with its sanguinary red upholstery and its ghostly vacancies. There is the panoply of night goods, panel games, poker, phonesex, sitcoms, death goods. There is no more alien hour than 3am in one of the forgotten lunar pockets of the empire.
This house is over four hundred years old. Lives have passed through it, soaked themselves into the walls and floors. Our lives are doing so right now.
A week full of Events.
I find myself launched into events with my event face on, with the event voice, the event wit, the event bonhomie. On Monday conversations about Arthur Miller, local politics, the passage of time. On Tuesday the inner-cigarette-lighter glow of playing host to new writing. On Wednesday the determined glitter of the good party, to make the good sing and feel good about itself. On Thursday the wariness and nerviness of acting as sub-TV chat show host to a literary celeb, a job I am told I do well, but which feels like a sentence every time, and which is never as good as either host or guest would like. Friday, the slightly smaller delayed class in a different room, the boosting of intellectual adrenalin, the Lance Armstrong aspect of the bright class, then lunch, wondering afterwards whether I have put things the right way. Yesterday, knowing how to read those tiny little poems, doing the old trooper with a leaven of gaiety. ( It was lovely being there, thanks to Robert, with cups of wine and friends long unseen, and family and children, and people back at the house... I am an extraordinarily fortunate man, and the knowledge of that is something that runs, puffing and panting, beside me.)
And this life is in the midst of all those other lives. The classes, the colleagues, the committee, the friends, the visiting writer and the organisers and the audiences. The other hosts, the friends who appear - their own thoroughly substantial lives and worlds, through which I shimmy as though blown by this or that gust - and the life of the imagination that produces both marvels and monsters and, occasionally, just silence.
In between, scribbling, quipping, pushing poems on, reading, reading. Writing this. Watching the spider outide the window, curled up, swinging in the breeze at the centre of her web.
Some music for the evening later. Maybe a filmclip?