30 November 2002
Can there really be a conspiracy, to make me giggle in public at the most ungigglesome material? One would have thought not, but the evidence is mounting.
Here we are in mid-firestrike, I'm in the library, and I pick up a sheet of small-print warnings from the Tyne & Wear Fire Authority. Exercise strict vigilance, it says, and take the following actions. There's about twenty of them. Under 'Prevention: Cooking', it says 'Never put food in a chip pan.' Honestly, it really does.
Meanwhile, I had a very happy day in Sunderland, introducing two of the nation's finest, sculptor and artist, Colin Wilbourn and Bryan Talbot. We walked the (sculpture) walk and talked the talk for Bryan's amusement, while he took photos in the fog. Then we lost Colin - damn that fog - and went to the pub instead and drank Jarrow bitter; and thence back to Bryan & Mary's house, and out to Café Spice for dinner and back to the house again and there was wine and whisky all around the food and things just got foggier and foggier.
This morning Mary gave me a couple of baby fernlets plucked from the mother-fern; I have tucked them gently into beds of compost, and I confidently expect them to curl up and die forthwith, but I may be unduly pessimistic. Just that Mary's never managed to keep 'em alive, and Mary is my touchstone in all gardening matters. She doesn't know this, but she has been ever since she advised me to mist my chillies when they were refusing to set fruit. So I did, and they were fecund thereafter. Besides which, her garden's gorgeous. So is the house, actually: there's always something to look at. Often two or three somethings, placed together in an unlikely but pleasing combination. Artists, eh?
So I came home tired but fizzy, and all the way home was thinking how I really needed to start on the next section of what I hope will be my next novel, but I've been holding back a bit because a small part of me wants to tear up everything I've done and start again; so instead I started writing the novella for Pete Crowther,which turns out to be a ghost story. I did briefly think of writing it like this, as a weblog, live on the net, see if that was interesting for either party, me or you - but hell, why make myself more vulnerable than I am already? Writing is all about peeling your skin off, but you don't have to hang it out in public until it's scraped clean and tanned and prettied up a bit. No need to do it freshly, strip by bloody oozing strip. No need at all. No, no...
© Chaz Brenchley 2002
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.