Friday, August 21, 2009

Festival Again

Off to Edinburgh again tomorrow, looking forward to all of it. Daughter is staying in London this year, bashing on with her nearly-finished musical and working. A fun shopping trip with her today (me, who usually detests shopping for clothes!) - both of us bought lots of lovely things in the high street of my nearest little town, quickly, painlessly, and cheaply. High spirits.

Son will be playing geetar in a show called Miles Ahead with other jazz musicians - at C Venue, if you happen to be there and into Miles Davis.

Ms North has been shortlisted for the Kelpies Prize with her story, Magnus Finn and the Ocean Quest and the Signses will be there at the award ceremony on Wednesday when the winner will be announced.

I will be taking the notebook along, probably not writing much in it until my return but one must always show willing, even on holiday.

There is so much auspiciousness in the air, I can taste it.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


What do writing people do when they are not writing the magnum opus? Get together with other writing people and play daft writing games; which is why I ended up with three slips of paper. The first slip said “Ringo Starr”, the second “discovering a great secret” and the third “the surface of Mars”. It's a bit like the Radio 4 programme Just a Minute where people have to speak for one minute about any subject given to them, but in this game you have to write (for a bit longer than a minute) incorporating the three disparate things written on the slips of paper. It's amazing just how much bollocks one can write in a situation like this. Perhaps it is not altogether surprising that I had Ringo, at the insistence of his wife, seeing a new-age Beverley Hills therapist with beads and feathers round his neck who calls himself Star Bird, (but his real name is Eric) and feels an immediate connection to Ringo because of the name.

My name isn't really Starr, says Ringo, it used to be Starkey.
Still has a star in it, says Eric, and it's one powerful birth name to be blessed with – having the key as well as the star. You can unlock secrets, my friend.
I guess, says Ringo, but he never felt that connection. Stark raving mad was what they used to joke about, him and his mates in the playground after school, or stark bollocks naked. Hey Starkers, they used to call – you comin' ou' toni' or wha'? Good times, they were, hanging out with the lads, ribbing each other and throwing wolf-whistles at the girls on a Saturday night (he liked the blonde ones).
Richard, says Eric – mind if I call you that?
Sure, says Ringo, whatever (christ, was that the time, they still had forty five minutes to go and already he was feeling bored, wishing he were by the pool downing a couple of Buds).
Richard – Star Key – how do you feel about having a re-naming ritual?
Ringo doesn't know about that, and his wife usually tells him how he feels about things.
We could do it right here and now, says Eric – reconnect you to your name of power, words are magic, Richard, I think we both know that. I'm a great admirer of your work, by the way.
Oh, thanks.
I'd just like you to shut your eyes and imagine you are stepping out of the body – will you do that, Richard?
Sure. He could get forty winks, perhaps, make the time pass more quickly.
You are going up into the sky, flying at the speed of light, away from earth itself. You find yourself in outer space – what do you see?
No forty winks then, he had to answer questions. Planets, says Ringo.
Planets is good, says Eric. And I wonder which planet you are going to choose. Look carefully, Richard. Venus is beautiful with all its greens and blues, perhaps it beckons you. Mercury, now there's a gem, Saturn is majestic and brings untold wisdom – and then there is Mars, the warrior's planet -
Chocolate, thinks Ringo, with soft fondant and caramel encased in its dark embrace.
Mars, he says. A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play.

You will just have to believe, as I do, that he does in fact discover a great secret.

Ok – I have been having problems: the Signs hard disc self-destructed and seeing as we hadn't backed anything up since November there has been a bit of bother, some things being quite lost, though others (mercifully) alive in hard copy. We are re-configured now and backed up to the hilt. Never trust a computer, says a friend of mine – they always let you down eventually. The notebook never does, though.
So back to it I go.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

white sky

In January I recorded in my bedside notebook:

Looking out at the black, bare branches on a thick, white sky. I love this small outlook onto rooftops and trees. Though I never see people, it makes me feel less alone, as though I am out there, a part of that piece of landscape, and the fact of my being grounded here doesn’t matter so much.

Today is the first of August, and I record:

The branches most visible to me are still black, and the sky is thick and white. I think the rain will never stop. But today I would not, in any case, know what to do with a blue and golden day, especially if it were hot. The rain and sky are therefore a kindness to me, they cover me like a blanket, similar to the light duvet I am lying under now. I spoke to a friend who is recovering from cancer. She had been out for a morning walk and the lake, the people with their dogs and all the morning runners, all the life in the park, was beautiful. Life was beautiful. Yes, I said, and yes.