I had no intention of blogging tonight. I should be on my way to bed, it’s an early start tomorrow. But I read Outward Hounds latest and it reminded me of why I have stuck this blogging mularky for so long. There are bloggers out there whose writing is sublime. Their pages may not garner as many hits, likes or comments as others, but bloody hell, it’s amazing to be able freely to read their output.
I love the way that the internet has put me in touch with people from the other side of the world, people who I shall probably never meet, never have a conversation with other than via the keyboard, yet with whom there is a connection. Thank-you Tim Berners-Lee.
The novel I am reading is The Gap of Time by Jeannette Winterson. A year or so ago Celia and I trekked across London to the rarified heights of Notting Hill to hear her speak about the book, part of the Shakespeare 400 celebrations. I think I may have blogged about it. Anyway it was amazing. Less a reading than a performance. I decided then and there that I wanted to read her version of A Winter’s Tale. So now I am. It’s not her best book, and I am a fan of her early work, but it has its moments. I am two thirds of the way through my library copy. For a writer who is so precise, I find some of it quite rushed, quite crude, as though she hadn’t the time to rewrite and smooth out her prose. But she is obviously enjoying herself as she writes, and I think that is what has kept me reading.
All the same, I am looking forward to starting one of my other two library books, one by Kate Atkinson, the other – inevitably, after The Tidal Zone – by Sarah Moss. Reading is a gift. Novelists are spinners of dreams and articulators of hopes and fears. I cannot imagine what it is not to read, not to immerse myself in a story well told, to have that parallel world to dip in and out of.
Yet today I met up with someone who was a friend when work was rough. She sews, does amazing embroidery, creates wonders from nothing. She also works as a play specialist in a leading teaching hospital in London. She told me about a child, a very sick child, who does not want to hear stories, who has no interest in reading. We sat with our coffees between us, unable to understand what had happened to that child to cut her off from stories. Because stories are what make us human. They are how we explain and understand the world. Obviously not the only way. My friend’s needlework is another. I gave her a box of cloth hankies and she has made them into a blind. She has promised me a photo. She has also developed an app for children in hospital who are unable to speak. I haven’t downloaded it yet, but I had a play on her ‘phone. It’s free, just look for Amelia’s Little Heart, or maybe paediatric communication. We both thought it could be something that could be adapted for people with learning difficulties or those with dementia.
We live in an amazing world and at an amazing time. It’s worth remembering that when we look at Brexit and Putin and Trump. They and their supporters do not own the future.