"No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees.
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds
If anyone knows the rest of the poem, then again could please let me know. It just about sums the whole horrid time up.
It's particularly horrid for people like me who are early risers. I get up at six every day and go for an hour's walk on the Common with my dogs Or rather, my dog, we only have one at the moment, but there is one in the wings, so to speak. I think. We do like to have two, they keep each other company) That's actually when I start work, I stomp round plotting, thinking about my characters and what might be happening to them that day. I know everybody I meet (although often only by their dogs' names, those of you who have dogs will understand this) and we have very brief conversation. This is not because I, and certainly not they, are unfriendly, just that everybody knows that I'm working. People actually say to me "I won't keep you because I know you're working" Which is very kind and must seem quite funny to anyone who doesn't know the form the work takes.
Anyway, I can tell you that walking across a completely black common is not a lot of fun; although I do kind of walk into the light, (which sounds slightly biblical, seeing it written) But I still do it, because sitting in a nice warm study staring at the screen just doesn't work in the least. And anyway, that's it for the day, exercise done; and I get back to really excitingly literary things like putting on the washing machine, but---my head full of ideas.
However, we did escape to the warmth and light of Barcelona and Madrid for a few days (which made November here seem even worse) We were very cultured and did all --well most of-- the museums, but also sat in the sunshine quite a lot, and ate some lovely food, including lunch at what is the oldest restaurant in the world, Botin it's called, in Madrid, and if you go to Madrid do please have a meal there. It is incredible, been open 300 years, so they obviously know a thing or two--including that their original stove does better than any modern nonsense, and there it is, an amazing cast iron range-y thing, which I actually saw. I fear Health and Safety would have it whipped out in minutes if they were there; thankfully they're not. It's a literary place too, is Botin,in a way, actually mentioned by Hemingway in Fiesta; we didn't quite match his lunch, which was suckling pig, their speciality and a bottle of Rioja--well we managed the Rioja-- but I felt pretty excited to be there at all.
I also had a lovely escape the other night to a most wonderful literary party--my ex-editor, Harriet Evans, known to all as Harrie, has decided she'd rather write her own books than edit mine, can't imagine why--and her latest was launched last week. It's called I Remember You and it's wonderful. Harrie manages to be funny and moving and page-turning all at the same time; no easy feat. Anyway, it was a very smart affair at a very smart London club called One Alfred Place; although Harrie and her editor, Lynne Drew, kicked off their killer heels and stood on the sofa to make the obligatory speeches, (rather than mounting a podium) which was rather heart-warming. Harrie was presented with a cake-stand (again apparently rather non-literary, but turns out the heroine of I Remember You, Tess, has a thing about cake stands) As well as being rather a grand party--Harrie's agent, the eternally youthful, eternally handsome Jonathan Lloyd was there, and so were a lot of her friends and ex-colleagues from my publishers, including Martin Neild, the ultra-charming MD, and we all got very misty eyed and said how proud of her we were and how much we missed her. And also there were her parents, (her mum, Linda Evans, is an incredibly important editor, and one of the nicest people on the planet) and so was her sister, Clare, (who I discovered is a good friend of a good friend of my Number Four daughter, small world) so there was a great family feel about it all as well. Which is just as it should be. Go buy the book!
And here's to the end of November.