Ah, yes, a day to “rise up singing”, as the song says. Endless blue sky, sunshine, the double Begonias looking pretty — and Bertrand Russell for company. What more can a bloke ask for?
Summer has indeed arrived and, because it may not be here for very long, I’ve been making the most of it — getting my 1,000 words written and then relaxing in the fresh air reading Religion and Science whilst listening to the kids out the back bounce enthusiastically on their trampoline (actually not as annoying as it might seem; the rest of our neighbours are either “getting on a bit” or just plain boring, so a couple of bouncing kids gives the place a bit of life.) I like this time of year. Not too hot, not too cold, the longer, brighter days making reading easier on the eyes.
It helps that Children of the Resolution is going well, of course. I know exactly where I am with it, what needs to be done and when it will be done by, so that when I allow myself a little relaxation time, I don’t find myself irritated by buzzing-fly problems in need of fixing. Turning off has always been difficult for me. I’m the type of writer (well, this applies to the non-writer in me, too) who will suddenly fall silent as an unsettling thought takes hold, and the only solution is for me to follow the thought to its inevitable conclusion. This can be time consuming, and not something I want happening when I’m trying to recharge. But planning this novel as methodically as I have has helped reduce these incidents to a bare minimum. I can therefore sit in peace with Bertrand, and talk to the Begonias.
Children of the Resolution is entering its darker phase, however, and I’m especially glad that the weather is such a glorious contrast to the inner landscape of my novel. I think it would be more of an emotional drain if I saw that darkness mirrored around me. Writing about the death of a friend in childhood… oddly, it’s not as difficult as one might expect. Writing is what I do. I’m involved, but (while I’m working on it, at least) it’s an involvement primarily with the project, with getting it right and being fair to the characters who inspired it. But still, it stirs a few memories: the cruelty of it all, the injustice, the “trench-humour”, the stupidity of some adults, the impossibility of — at times — saying the right thing and, perhaps most of all, the sense of a life unlived. No great insights. Not really. Just simple truths that, I suspect, are best contemplated in warm sunshine.
The real Johnny, I believe, wouldn’t have thought much of that, though. He would have sniffed his indifference and told me to put it away and finish it during the darkest days of December. “Mer-more atmosphere, that way,” he would have stammered. “Can’t ber-beat a ger-gloomy atmosphere to make you feel like you’re rer-really alive.”
And he’d probably have been right. In his own, unorthodox way, he usually was.