I’m still tripping over old notebooks even though I thought I put most of them in the attic. It would be ok if I just let them be instead of dipping in and reading them – if I kept the lid shut. Instead, I open the box (the hardback covers) and out they fly, all these unfinished stories, bits of almost-poems, chronicles of life with my constant companion, M.E. I feel as though I am rifling through someone else’s writing, taking in the good, the bad and the ugly with a kind of dispassion. Reading old notebooks is like spying on oneself, not altogether comfortable. That person then is not this person now, but one is implicated. She was not necessarily expecting all the words to be read by another, which I now am. Grudgingly, because I want to be better than her, I admire her – particularly how she negotiates the business putting down words with being, at times, so ill that she can hardly hold the pen. She keeps trying to push on, though she shouldn’t. Some of what she writes is so overblown I want to rip out the pages. But there are lines that take my breath away and I am half tempted to nick them. I have in fact done this and cobbled together a poem from notes taken when she was in the far north of Scotland. It was the image of a brown bird on a rock, perched on a leg as thin as wheat grass. This is the image that stands at the heart of something-or-other, and my workshop group also liked this particular line. But I have now looked up wheat grass and found that it is not what I had in mind (the dry kind with some kind of kernel and whispy stuff on top) – it is green and people use it for juicing and promoting health. Bugger.