As a novelist, says Anna Burns, her job is “to show up and be present and attend. It’s a waiting process.” She “just had to wait for my characters to tell me their stories.”
(Interview by Alison Flood in The Guardian, 16 Oct ’18)
This obviously worked for Anna Burns as she has just bagged the Booker Prize with her novel Milkman.
I, however, have spent a lifetime waiting for characters to turn up and write themselves into a book but they haven’t done so yet and I’m rather starting to fear they never will. I go to bed having put out my finest stationery but masterpieces come there none. Not so much as a shopping list; not so much as a tweet. Perhaps the characters have used up all their best ideas writing other people’s books. They have no more twists.
“In those days, there was usually an intermission between each act during which the audience – and the actors – would get refreshments. One night, the great actor Edmund Kean was giving his Hamlet but by the end of the fourth interval found himself so refreshed that he couldn’t remember Act V. He could, however, remember Act V of Lear – which he’d done the previous week – so they did that instead.”
Can you hear me, mother? Have to keep the noise down: I find myself at the centre of a supersize game of Sardines. If anyone else twigs that we’re here and tries to join us, the density levels may prove fatal.
“So, have you been to the Minack before?” I ask, when we have a lull in the programme selling.
“Oh yes, lots of times! A few years ago, we did The Producers. As we were bringing in the props – crates of swastikas and Nazi banners and so on, we passed a party of German tourists.” FellowProgrammeSeller grimaces a little. “It was all a bit awkward, really. Would you like a programme?”
I’m safely on home territory now; more in danger of rust than sunburn. You know where you are with rain. Siestas confuse me.
It’s going to rain tomorrow: storms, they’ve promised storms. A real proper-promise with little pictures of thunderbolts and lightening, very very frightening me, Galileo, galileo . .. Actually, can you have a picture of Thunder? Whatever – they’ve promised storms.
Which will be very welcome because here in London it’s been toasty warm of late. What’s that? Passed you by, did it? Easy to miss, I know; hardly been on the news at all. I’m writing this in the garden, in the dark, at ten o’clock at night; inside it’s still thirty degrees. But that’s ok because tomorrow, it rains.
On which basis, ActorLaddie and I have been addressing our butts in preparation for said promised rainstorm.
“There’s a woman who comes to all ‘The Bridge’ related events dressed as Saga – leather trousers and everything. She even has the same car!” (Sofia Helin)
Now, I adore Detective Saga Noren as much as the next person and would love her to end the series living happily with Henrik and his ghost children – though I’m not holding my breath. But there’s fandom and then there’s weird. Reading interviews and blogs is OK; dressing in leather trousers and following the actor who plays her, borders on the obsessive.
Gavin and Stace?!
Gavin and Stace?!
You’ve never seen Gavin and Stace?!
What’s with the disbelieving face?
I’ve never seen Gavin and Stace.
Yes, that’s the truth.
Yes, that’s for real.
Somehow the show just don’t appeal
It being our wedding anniversary – since you ask, thirty five years – well, quite: not even time off for good behaviour – anyway, in view of the day, we’d decided to use the voucher for afternoon tea given to me on my last birthday by our lovely friends, the Vestibules.
We’d booked to have the tea in one of the London hotels with a view to then doing something afterwards; a play or whatever. The hotel was on the edge of Hyde Park and the menu outside promised tea with sandwiches, cakes and ‘warm home-made scones’.
I’ve recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. If you were me – which research project or trial would you volunteer for?
This question is being asked by a woman in – oh, her early thirties? She’s near the front so it’s a bit difficult to see from my chair at the back. Although, being by a window, I do have an amazing view of the misty city’s domes and spires. From the ninth floor of the Bentley Institute building, we are looking down on St Paul’s. We’d spent a little time before the meeting started picking out landmarks and talking with one of the staff. ActorLaddie asked if they had a roof garden. No, apparently they had a domed roof. So not the best shape for a roof garden. Unless, I suppose, a hanging one.
So that you don’t burst with suspense, I’m going to tell you now that the answer to the woman’s question was, in essence, it depends.