Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Letter from home

There are so many sorrows in the world - Puerto Rico, Myanmar, Las Vegas, refugees and asylum seekers all over the world - a thousand blog posts wouldn't cover them.

'Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that's what God wants.'

These are the first four lines of a poem called A Brief for the Defence by Jack Gilbert, which I return to every so often, in the same way that I return to this quote from Rohinton Mistry's novel Family Matters:

There’s only one way to defeat the sorrow and sadness of life – with laughter and rejoicing. Bring out the good dishes, put on your good clothes, no sense hoarding them. 

Sometimes for sanity's sake one has to retreat from the bad news and cherish the ordinary everyday things in life. In that spirit, here is a letter from home:

I am going away on Saturday with one brother and two sisters to stay in a cottage in Wensleydale which is five miles from where our other brother lives. We go up en masse, sans partners, and have a jolly good time. We remember what it is we love about each other and we rediscover our petty irritations. To outsiders we appear to be similar - and probably annoying - but within the family we are distinctive. We each have our role. I am the soppy unpractical one. 

But I do make nice cakes, and I emailed the other three to ask them what kind of cake they would like me to take. Please would they vote on the following: a chocolate cake, a coffee and walnut cake, or a moist, tangy lemon drizzle. Guess what? They all chose a different one.

I would love to show you an up-to-date photo of us all, but some of the sibs would object, so here is one from 1958:

The other news from home is that I am within sight of the end of the first draft of my novel. Here is a page from my favourite book about the writing life, The Unstrung Harp (TUH) by Edward Gorey, in which Mr Earbrass is writing a novel:

Last week, last Friday, to be precise, I thought my novel was utter crap. 

This week, however, this is not how I feel. I really like it. I am not unusual in these flip-flop feelings. Other writers feel the same. It's amazing that anything ever gets published.

The other news is that tonight I am going to see La Boheme with my writer friend, Chrissie (who also loves The Unstrung Harp). I don't like opera, but I keep coming across people in novels talking about La Boheme so I thought for the sake of my cultural education I should go. It will cost £10 and is 5 miles away and is streamed from The Royal Opera House, so what's not to like?


Anonymous said...

Looking forward to hearing how you got on with La Boheme!

I’m still waiting to fall in love with opera..

Sue Hepworth said...

Your best chance is to see this current production of La Boheme st the Royal Opera House. I'm going to blog about it.