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28 May 2003

I guess I owe the University of East Anglia an apology, in a grudging sort of way. At the end of last year, I applied for the David T K Wong fellowship, to spend a year at UEA writing a novel set in the Far East (guess where...?). I was shortlisted, and asked to submit extra material, which I did before the end-of-January deadline. Since when, nothing, not a peep; and for the last six or eight weeks I've been muttering in my beard about the bad practices or just bad manners of academic institutions, on the principle that they must have decided by then and just hadn't bothered to let me know that I hadn't got it.

Not so; it really has taken them four months to decide. All that time, and they still go and make the wrong decision. Extraordinary...

Or in other words, I was right, I haven't got it. And I am deeply, guttingly disappointed. It's much easier this way, I don't have to worry about moving my life down to Norwich for a year, and how best to look after Misha, and the house up here, and all my new plants and so forth; and I don't have to deal with new people, I don't have to learn a lot of new names and new faces and smile and shake hands and be unremittingly charming for months on end.

But it would all have been terribly good for me. I do have this dreadful tendency to rut, to dig myself into a hole and stay there, here I squat and here I remain. Being tipped out into another landscape, another city, another society for a year would have been challenging, scary and immeasurably beneficial. And it's not going to happen, and I really bitterly regret that.

There is, I suppose, next year; my desire to write about Taiwan is not going away. But I suspect it's one of those awards that accumulate negativity, where if you don't get it the first time you're less likely to succeed in later years. And the last thing I want to be is a serial applier, Oh God, it's him again, that Brenchley, every year he tries and there's just no point, we don't even read the material any more...

Perhaps I'll ask them, if there's any point renewing my application. Or perhaps I'll just sit here and sulk. Most likely, though, I will go out and shop away my disappointment. I found this remarkable pair of glasses, not like anything I've ever seen before; I'm going back tomorrow for a serious consultation, find out if they can fit my prescription to those frames. It's always an issue, alas; but if they can, oh lordy, I shall feel so cool...

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© Chaz Brenchley 2003
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.