JOURNAL - 1995 - JUNE
Thursday 1 June
The day of the Energy Council but I won’t have any news of it until tomorrow. Much talk in recent days about the hostage-taking in former Yugoslavia, and the UK decision to send in more troops.
I sit at the computer for most of the morning, making a few phone calls, writing a few stories. At about 12:00 I go into the Commission, find a few papers, read ‘European Report’ and wait until about 1:15 for Leonid Kuchma and Jacques Santer (yes I get a double dose - yesterday and today - I could have saved myself the trouble yesterday). Kuchma is the president of Ukraine, and I was hoping for some revelations on Chernobyl, but very little was said of a detailed nature. I ate a quick lunch alone - tuna salad.
This afternoon I wrote more and made a few more calls. One of the most important was to Halifax Property Services. Henry told me that there had been eight bids for Ravenswood but mine was among the best - not the best, but a good one. Halifax is now asking for sealed bids on Monday so a decision can be taken quickly. I was given the impression that I would be in with a good chance even if I didn’t raise my offer. So, of course, Ravenswood has been on my mind all the time since then. Henry told me that there was a rogue brother involved who had remortgaged the property and gone bust.
B calls about 7:30, her foot is much better. She and Adam are going back to Aldershot Road tomorrow evening. I drink a huge whisky, listen to Edith Piaf, read some Llosa, and go to bed at 11:00.
Friday 2 June
I went first into the Council to collect the press release on the Energy Council and, as I feared, there was no English version of the Conclusions. I trekked out to DGXVII, and on my first trawl around the offices, I couldn’t find a single person to talk to. It was turning out to be one of those days. I walked around some more offices. Called Piers (at the UK rep) hoping he would have an English version of the Conclusions but he wasn’t at all helpful. Then I walked by all the offices again, and this time I got Fee, Busby, Piper, then Steen, Bailey. Rather stupidly, I left the Council press release at DGXVII which meant another trip into the Council. It occurred to me rather belatedly that next time I head into DGXVII straight after a Council, I could take a few copies of the press release and distribute them around. I didn’t stop in the Commission for lunch just to get a few papers and head back to the flat. During the afternoon, I made a series of phone calls before leaving at about 5:00 for the train. A boring journey. On time. Home by 8:30. B was exhausted after a week with her parents and at Wisley. We had much to talk about - what with the Ravenswood bid and the offer on Tidy Street, and a surprise visit by Peter and Tony during the afternoon.
Adam had a good time at Chessington with Rosemary and Leslie. We watched the last episode of ‘The Politician’s Wife’.
Saturday 3 June
I am up early to drive to Godalming. I still haven’t got a replacement for my spare tyre and so I shouldn’t be taking the car out. It was a relatively productive morning. I found the sorting office, the library; I bought a detailed map of the area, I had breakfast in Waitrose (and did some heavy-item shopping - why not with my car in the car park). At 9:00 I found Henry Hornby at Halifax and he agreed to take me around Ravenswood at 10:00 even though the other prospective client had opted out. I spent about 20 minutes there and reassured myself that the whole house is in better condition than we (B & I) had been talking about - that the bathroom and kitchen really weren’t that bad. I came away with an extremely positive view, and gave Henry my envelope with a bid at £205,000. I had written this letter the previous evening and it was quite difficult considering what to say and what not to say. I drove straight back to London, quite high and having a million things in my mind about the house. We talked a lot about the house during the day. I didn’t do any work. A & I went to visit Mum, because she is feeling poorly and B went to Brent Cross to buy trousers, but she didn’t, she simply had lots of hassle getting about.
Sunday 4 June
I worked solidly through this day - writing up stories for ECI-E 28. I thought that if my bid for Ravenswood were successful I would need to get the issue out of the way as soon as possible.
Monday 5 June
At 6:00, I drove down to Baker Stret and dropped off my deeds and a letter for Bateman, and on the way back a letter for Dad. I was worried that if my bid was accepted, I would need to show the money in my account and that both Dad and Beckman would have had to move fast. At 7:30 I took B to the tube station, at 8:30 I took A to school. I worked solidly through the morning. I noticed the time when it was 12:00 and from then on I willed the telephone to ring. Unfortunately for my issue, the Continent was on holiday this Monday so that meant I couldn’t check the results of the Council by phoning the counsellors. I continued to work away. After school I took Adam swimming, and had a swim myself. When, at 5:30, I got home and there was no message from Henry, I was fairly sure I’d not succeeded in my bid for Ravenswood. I rang the office but there was no one there.
Tuesday 6 June
The call came at 9:00am. Henry said Ravenswood had gone to another buyer, a property developer. He wouldn’t say why but said I was second in the line and if the first buyer should pull out, he would get back to me immediately. He said he had known these things to ‘bomb down the line’, so to speak. I was really depressed all day - I had no one to share the bad news with until B phoned at lunch time. Neither did I have any information with which to whip myself. Did I fail on price? or because I didn’t supply supporting paperwork? I just don’t know. And why wouldn’t Henry tell me? To spare my feelings? Because it’s unethical? Because my own bid may have been influenced by his information to me? Because from the beginning the property developer was going to get it regardless of the other bids? The prospect of Ravenswood came down from the sky, like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, a solution to all our needs - the right place, the right price, the right timing - and then it was snatched away from us. Once upon a time I used to be lucky - the right things fell into place, but I haven’t been lucky now for so long. I buried myself in EC Inform-Energy 28, and tried to forget all about Ravenswood.
Wednesday 7 June
The bad news continued. The bid on Tidy Street has been as good as withdrawn. The lady who was buying it - well offering for it - is actually after another house in Tidy Street, but the negotiations on that house broke down, and she came to us. But now negotiations on that house have restarted.
This week also saw the first ever claim for a refund! £22.50 for one issue of EC Energy Review. And the first ever return of a report - for replacement - because the spine was broken. Also I failed to get an English version of the electricity liberalisation Conclusions and my issue suffered for that.
The 20-page issue was finished by lunchtime and I rode it into Artigraf in good time to get Adam at 3:30. I did not, though, stop working because I decided I should do a small mailing, and therefore I needed to prepare the database labels and the mailing letter.
Thursday 8 June
I had a horrible fight with Adam before school. Then I pressed on with the database and a bit of admin. I decided to check the cost of photocopying my mailing letter on the Kilburn High Road - £15. At Artigraf the same job costs £60.
The first test against the West Indies was beset by rain - England finished the day on 140 for 4.
In the evening I took A to Mum’s so that I could go out for a meal with Raoul, Andy, Rosy. We went to Earl’s Court. A pleasant evening over a Chinese meal. Rosy claiming to be much better (last time we met she cried a lot) but I can’t tell much difference. She is getting work in Spain, she says. Andy doesn’t talk much. Raoul is on good form. I drink lots of red wine and enjoy the company.
Friday 9 June
A tidying-up clearing-up day. I spent much of it sorting through papers, doing indexes, cutting and pasting for EC Energy Review, hoovering my study, tidying up round the house. I watched some of the test match, and wrote up a week’s worth of this diary. In the afternoon, I looked forward to to fetching Adam and B, but by the evening I found myself very tired and depressed. I looked through all the papers and estate agents’s details, and nothing, not one thing compared favourably with Ravenswood. I thought I had expressed all my disappointment with that loss earlier in the week, but it seems not. It kept cropping up, time and time again, in my conversation with B.
Saturday 10 June
An argument developed quickly this morning about Brighton, and both A & B went off together. I decided I would have a quiet weekend in London. In fact, I did very little. I watched a lot of television, the cricket, an early James Stewart film, ‘Superman’, ‘Bugs’. I went for a walk in the cemetery trying to find the seed of an idea for a new short story without success. I made bread. I read a few more chapters of ‘A Suitable Boy’, and went to bed about 9:30.
Sunday 11 June
Up to date at last - the sooner I get back to the old way of doing the diary the better. I am trying to focus my mind on a collection of stories to be called ‘Love Uncovered’. I have seven so far - almost ready for sending out - but I need a couple more. I read through some of them this morning, enjoyed them, reaffirmed to myself that they are of a publishable standard. This is the first time I can recall that I have ever seriously believed my fiction is publishable. I am in no hurry, I want to send a full collection out to publishers and agents. But I’m damned if I can get a peg for the next story. I have a clear week coming up, in which to get back to fiction - the gaps in the last two months newsletter cycles were filled with the school magazine. Also on the to-write shelf: ‘TomSpin’ and ‘The Pet Shop’, not to mention The Novel which I was supposed to be getting back to. The only vague idea for a story during the day was to write a kind of eulogy to Igee based on Vera’s autobiography. I skimmed through ‘Secrets of Grown-Ups’, and started skimming through ‘Laura’ also. The test match kept me interested during the day but the West Indies grabbed it before losing a second wicket. We were out-bowled as usual.
In the evening I watched another episode of ‘The Governor’ and the ‘Screen Two’ film ‘Bliss’. Wrote letters to Gail, Colin, Rosa, Fiona.
Monday 12 June
I spend most of the day working on ‘The Stars Look Down - Eulogy for Igee’. I say working but it was mostly typing out extracts from ‘Secrets of Grown-Ups’. The hard part was to use exact quotations and link them together with made up questions. The 10-page story is not all that favourable to Igee because Vera never chronicles any of his successful projects and it appears as though he never really achieved much after they married. But the focus of her story is the love affair and underneath it, I suppose, a young man’s awe at the grandfather he never knew.
After school I take Adam to the library and to the swimming pool. I have a sore throat so miss my swimming. I pass the time in the library.
Tuesday 13 June
I had planned to leave early this morning for Godalming but B informed me she was going to Wisley this morning too. We left at 8 and I dropped Adam off at an empty playground. There was plenty of traffic through London and it took 90 minutes to deliver B to Wisley (including 15 minutes at Ripley to get some shopping and drop her stuff off at the flat).
I spent a couple of hours at Godalming going to each of the agents. I had a chat to Henry at Halifax. He gave me a few more details. He said there had been a bid at 208,00 which was rejected because it made too many demands; and he said that the winning bid was more professionally put together than mine. I drove around a few more areas looking at the outside of houses and got back to London about 3:00.
Wednesday 14 June
I don’t remember what happened to this day - even though it’s only Friday morning. My short term memory is going to pot - well not all of it because I still remember what I need to in a journalistic sense.
I must have begun working on ‘The Pet Shop’ and I probably did a little work on EC Energy Review 10.
Early evening I noticed Maja & Rastko were in so I decided to go out somewhere - but where? I scoured ‘Time Out’ and decided on Swiss Cottage. I could choose between theatre and the cinema. After sussing them both out, I didn’t fancy anything but nor did I want to go home. So I went to Hampstead Theatre to see a play called ‘Danti-Dan’. What a waste of time. A group of teenagers finding out about sex and things in the park. No insights, no connection to a wider world of social or political problems - just some halfways competent acting and a mediocre script based on a playwright’s own pathetic memories.
Thursday 15 June
Finished off ‘The Pet Shop’ (or a first draft any way). Tidied up a few papers. Cheese toast for lunch. I’m back reading ‘A Suitable Boy’ in the gaps of the day. Looked through all the estate agents’s details.
Played a bit with Adam after school. We learned a poem together. He so often sneers at anything vaguely related to work or lessons these days - he seems happiest reading his joke books or ‘Asterix’. But, after a few minutes, he got into it and was better to remember his lines than me. Hot dogs for supper. Before he went to be we watched a wildlife programme on TV - the fish that live in the bays of Australia. Such remarkable creatures live in the sea.
David came over later to send some faxes. We played a few games of backgammon.
Friday 16 June
This is how time slips away from me. Another weeks passes by and nothing much is done, nothing achieved. I haven’t turned the machines on yet this morning so my study is peaceful. I can hear the distant roar of trucks on the Kilburn High Road but far louder is the singing of the sparrows and blackbirds that nest in the ivy and feed off the insects and berries in the garden. I return from taking Adam into school with a heavy heart. Today I need to make inroads into ‘TomSpin’. The story has been left too long and is going mouldy.
I’ve managed to get through the day doing almost nothing. I made a start on several things but could not summon up enough motivation - I tried, for example, to reuse my database for subscriptions but as soon as I realised it was a serious job and required time and effort I let it go. Then I got out ‘TomSpin’ but couldn’t even bring myself to read it in preparation for working more on it. And then when I did read a few pages, I kept realising how difficult it was to write, and it was no good coming and going - I needed a long go at it. So I thought it would be best to leave it for the summer.
Then I thought I should work on another short story and the sun came out so I went for a walk in the cemetery. It was lovely. I sat down several times and enjoyed the sunshine but would any ideas come? Nothing. I couldn’t pin down in my mind any characters for a story nor any plot. It was like a blank. Sometimes, I’m so fertile with ideas but now I’m in the rough. The one vague idea I squeezed out was that of a bride-to-be thinking over a passionate affair of the past on the night before her wedding. This would allow for some straight loving sensual sex which the collection lacks, and a debate between marrying for sex and all the rest.
Saturday 17 June
From the moment I wake up, I am waiting for the post. It is not so much the possibility of orders for the book or newsletter because there have been all too few of those of late, but of getting the ‘Surrey Advertiser’ with its house ads. This morning, however, the post does not come on time, indeed it doesn’t come until after 11:00. I spend some time doing lessons with Adam, and some time hoovering. When the post does come, I scour the pages for any new properties - there is a feature on wings of large houses! and there are one or two featured which might be interesting. Later, we look them up on the map, but there situations are not very good. It is very depressing now to realise I cannot get moved in time for the start of the September term. This really cocks up all our plans. For the rest of the morning, I play with Adam, sorting out his Meccano, and building a model. He was very keen to sort out the pieces according to size so I didn’t discourage him. Salad, quiche and pasta for lunch.
After lunch I listened to a radio play. This was the first halfway decent play I’ve heard for ages - about a soldier who switches allegiance from Catholicism to the Cathars because of his love for a woman. I tidied up, bathed, and did yoga while listening. A&B went out to the shops.
In the evening I thought I might go out, but ended up reading some of the stories from ‘Love Uncovered’ to B. She liked ‘The Rollercoaster Week’ and ‘Nancy’s Graves’. For about half an hour I sat at the computer, and found a possible structure for a new story, and a beginning. It will probably contain a bit of sex, but then a book about love is unlikely to be free of sex!
Sunday 18 June
I woke up all groggy and thirsty, although I’m not sure why. I wanted to get up and make tea, but I was instructed to stay put. When I did get up, I found a banner in the kitchen which Adam had made: HAPPY FATHER’S DAY. There were also several bunches of flowers and a giant bar of chocolate - about two foot wide and one foot long - it was a VE Day special Adam had found at Woolworths. He must have calculated that he was bound to get some off-cuts from a bar that big. Since the weather was fine, I thought I would take Adam for a walk. We drove up the M1 to St Albans - it took less than 20 minutes - and I parked the car down some side street. With the aid of a rather old Ordnance Survey map, we walked around the outskirts of the town but instead of fields we found a large park with playgrounds and tennis courts. Still it was pleasant enough. I had worked out a circular route using the map but we ran into a major difficulty because the first part was on private land and an estate worker lost no time in racing out of his house to shoo us off. We ended up having to walk a couple of miles along a road - that was horrible - but we talked most of the time, and the time went by quickly enough. Then we found a track that led us through the heart of the Gorgambury estate. The walk was full of interest (even if for half the way we could hear the roar of the motorway). There were the ruins of an old Roman building, there was the mansion house itself, and there were the lovely green wheat fields which Adam likened to waves when the wind billowed through them. There was also an odd-looking contraption we found near the house with four long metal arms that wheeled around a central point in the ground. Each arm held a large rubber paddle that revolved when the wind blew. When emerged out of the estate, we found ourselves near the Verulamium museum and theatre, and we chanced on a waffle house near by the water mill so indulged in tea and ice cream and waffles. After that we walked along the river, through the park again. We explored the abbey church and cathedral which is such a mismatch of styles and additions that quite ruin any charms the church might have otherwise. This is where I used to come on the Easter pilgrimages when a teenager.
Monday 19 June
I take B to the tube station at 6:30, she is to be in Wisley during the first half of the week. I take A in to school at 8:30. I spend most of today and Tuesday on a new story called ‘Sandy’. This is the one I was trying to germinate last week, and it finally took root on Saturday evening. The story concerns a woman on the eve of her wedding. It appears as though she is having a conversation with another woman, Sandy, in her bed, but as the conversation progresses it becomes clear that Sandy is just an alter ego. There is a delicious play on the word ‘sandy’ which is never made fully spelled out.
After school we go to the library, and then swimming. It is a hot day, the first one for a long while, although yesterday was quite nice too, and I really enjoy my swim. We mess around at home, fighting and laughing. Then I cook mince sauce for pasta.
Tuesday 20 June
I get details of a house in Elstead that looks a distinct possibility. Oddly it is again from the Halifax. For all their sumptuousness and highly polished details, Hamptons, Mayer, Clarke & Gammon don’t seem to come up with interesting possibilities, but the dull old Halifax which seems to specialise in estate house has another eye-catcher. I ring Henry and arrange to visit it on Saturday. Meanwhile details of local schools and surveyors came back in after my batch of letters sent out last week.
The weather has turned splendid and I have the hammock on the roof. David comes over because ‘The Independent’ has asked him to write 700 words on the Arsenal purchase of Dennis Bergkamp. He is supposed to be one of the best players in the world but after leaving his home country of the Netherlands he never made good in Italy. David’s article is based on his Dutch contacts and will be one of several on the signing. He stays for supper and then comes back later for some games of backgammon. Our session, like the last week, ends at midnight with us on dead even scores.
Wednesday 21 June
I left the fiction behind today and focused on the energy business. I got the indexes up to date, for example, and the subs admin out of the way. But the orders have ceased. I haven’t had a book order or subscription order for a couple of weeks, and with the summer coming its going to be a dry time financially. I went through all the editorial papers and sorted stuff out for Brussels. For once, my trip to Brussels carries no stress - I am simply travelling for the Club de Bruxelles conference with no pressure to find stories or fill pages. On the other hand, it is a couple of days I might have used for my fiction writing.
I went to pick Adam up. B came home about 4. I talked through a few things with her and left for Waterloo. On the Eurostar train I had a mini carriage to myself and was able to read, write, and go through papers at leisure. I still felt quite lively when I arrived at the flat around 10:00, so I decided to race round to the cinema. Unfortunately, it was nearer 10:30 (my clock was 15 minutes out because of a power cut) when I got there, and I’d missed the start of all the films. My mail was all piled up in the box. I don’t know what’s happened to the concierge.
Thursday 22 June
I spent most of the day at the Club de Bruxelles conference in the centre of Brussels. The Energy Commissioner Papoutsis spoke first - quite succinctly but saying nothing new. His speech was well written, I thought, and I endeavoured to ask Joulian or van Steen if they had written it, which of course they had. The interpreters into English were fast and competent, and the earphones not too uncomfortable, but I was not impressed at the quality of the debate afterwards. There were a lot of Commission officials on show, and the calibre of speakers was high - but the audience was lacking. There was not enough time for debate at the end of each panel, and the panel chairmen were not from the industry so they had no means to provoke debate on any of the key issues. Mostly during the day I took notes and talked to my old mates in DG17 in the coffee breaks. I did a run to the Commission to pick up papers, and to the EP to look for flats advertised on the noticeboard but without success.
When I got back to the flat about 5:30 I put on Radio 4 for ‘Test Match Special’ to find England’s wickets falling like ninepins, as usual, against the West Indies bowling, but the commentators mentioned in passing that John Major had resigned! At 6:00pm UK time, Radio 4 LW made an excellent decision to abandon the test match (which was due to go on until 7:00) and rejoin FM. This meant I could listen to the news, and I did so avidly.
Fed up with speculation about a challenge in November, Major has taken the Eurosceptic bull by the horns and resigned as leader of the party so as to precipitate a leadership election. It is a bold move and may well improve his chances to survive as leader - by November he may have had no chances left. But, regardless of the outcome, it will only weaken the Conservative Party. I mean what antics is this that the PM has to resign to prove his worth, and will the right-wingers stop speaking out if he is re-elected? I think not. Major has played this game for too long - he should go to the people. The people want a different government.
I go to a buffet reception in the evening, and spend it nattering to Michael Jefferson, Andrew Warren, and an ex-Shell guy, who provided some insights into the debacle over Brent Spar.
Friday 23 June
Still no gas in my flat. Engineers are working in the streets on the pipes but I don’t believe it’s right that I am without gas for two days. I woke up with a bit of a thick head because I drank too much wine last night.
To the conference at 9:30. I sit through sessions which are largely dull. The debate has never caught fire, and I’m not at all sure that DG17 will have learnt anything at all from it. I have lunch with Rex Bailey. I like Rex, despite my initial opinion which was to dislike him. Each time I meet him, I learn a little more - he’s a nervous talker and there are few silences. Last time I learned he drives a 750cc motorbike; this time I found out he keeps chickens in his garden. He’s also a skilled organist apparently. We eat at a pizza house in the centre of the city. Most of the conversation is about Major and Brent Spar.
At 3pm, I go to the Breydel building, to look through papers and do some photocopying. I pick up press releases from the Council. I hope to talk to Ramon about the Environment Council but there is no one around.
At the flat there is still no gas, so I have to make tea using the electric coffee machine. It is a fiddly process but works OK in the end. My flat is full of papers, and I do my best to sort through them so as not to carry too many home.
I go round the corner to the big block of flats that I can see from my front window. There are some apartments to rent, one one-bedroom and one two-bedroom. The concierge tells me the small one is FFr18,000, about what I pay now, and the larger one is BFr30,000. This is too much so I opt just to look at the smaller flat - it is far smaller than my current pad and, even though the facilities might be a little more modern, they are tacky.
Soon after I leave to catch the train. I work and read on the train and spend an hour or so talking to Hilfra Tandy. She is very grey now, but her spirit is one that will still drink all night and chase a story at any cost. A hyke if ever there was one - cross between dyke and hack. Hilfra Hyke. No disrespect. She, too, runs a one man newsletter but hers is so different from my operation.
Saturday 24 June
I put the alarm for 6, but didn’t get up until 7. We left a little after 8 for Godalming. At 9:30 we visited a house called El Rosco in Elstead which is only a hundred yards from the school. Last night B & I had looked over the details which had arrived from the Elstead school and, frankly, we were disappointed. It is only beginning to take juniors having been an infant school previously, and all the teachers are women. All the information about the school makes it feel amateurish and not dissimilar from Emmanuel.
El Rosco proved a disappointment. I had hoped, from the details, it would be THE one. But. . . but . . . well, in general, the house did not have a good feel - the rooms were rather ugly, the extension had not been done with any character, and I dislike the leaded windows which restrict the light considerably. I talked a lot about it with B because she really disliked the house. I tried to pin down what was really wrong with it. It does have a lot of space, the garden is large but very boring. One side is lined with ugly pine trees, there are rhododendrons at the front, and there is a wood at the back. Unfortunately, the garden does not feel very large although it is described as one-third of an acre.
The drive down to Brighton was laborious, and then over lunch B & I argued. A & B went out. I watched cricket and went to the beach for a swim. The test match was quite exciting today, and England retrieved some pride and hope. The rugby world cup came to an exciting conclusion with South Africa beating New Zealand by a drop kick in extra time. This was a fitting result. I watched more cricket with Adam, explaining the rules of the game. In the evening, I took a stroll down to the pub and drank some cool cider while reading the paper.
The news on Major died down over the weekend. Lamont has the look of a man that might stand, and Redwood is the only cabinet minister who has failed to say he won’t stand against the PM.
Sunday 25 June
A lazy morning, a lazy day. I woke before 7 but opted to stay in bed and read the ‘Sunday Times’ which Adam fetched from the paper shop. I enjoy reading all the gossip, tittle-tattle and speculation on Major. Andrew Neil, the editor, calls on Major to go. There is a growing sense (from the papers and through the day) that Redhead might run against Major. A heavyweight candidate is required by the right, but could suit the left too. I spent some time writing up my diary, some time making paper aeroplanes. A & I went up to the market. Usually, we have a fruitless visit and we don’t go very often. But this time we found some cheap annuals. Adam bought one, a ‘Valiant’ annual from 1971. I used to get the ‘Valiant’, but a bit earlier than 1971. I bought a few extra annuals for a birthday present - at 30p each they were good value. I also bought a wrought iron stand with an attractive bevelled mirror for £3. Adam bought a pot of pinks for B. I watched cricket until play stopped at 1:00. Smith and Hick knocked up well, as did Thorpe.
We lunched in the garden as usual, then later A & I went the beach for a swim. Unlike yesterday when the weather was still quite cloudy, the sun beat down today and we were able to bathe both in the water and in the sun. Back at the house, B was busy either taking some sun herself in the garden or painting the discoloured wallpaper in the upstairs cupboard. More time with the cricket but by the end of the day we had only taken one wicket in West Indies’s final innings.
I can’t say I did much else for the rest of the day. I went for a stroll down along the beach enjoying the warm summer evening. We drove back at about 10:45 arriving at midnight.
Monday 26 June
I worked on EC Inform editorial today in the gaps between watching the cricket and listening to the news about John Redwood standing for the leadership of the Tories. Both events were fun to watch. England played steadily and surely, never losing faith that they could do it, and always getting a wicket before the West Indies score accumulated too much in their favour. And the media went absolutely berserk over Redwood. His candidacy was widely respected, and he was said to have stolen a march on Portillo. What I find astonishing is that there is no news from the left of the party, it is remaining almost silent.
At the tea interval, England had taken eight West Indies wickets, and look set for victory, unfortunately I could not be there at the television’s side because I had to take Adam swimming. I, too, went swimming - for the third time in three days, but it is not the same in the dirty old swimming pool. When we got back, we found England had won - glory hallelujah. I cooked a mixed-up supper, watched ‘Eastenders’, carried on with a bit of work, walked up the road for a drink at the The Black Horse where Holly Penfield is still playing on Mondays.
Tuesday 27 June
A horrible day. Moping around the house. Not a day goes by without my thinking of Ravenswood - how my life would now be so different, so hopeful, so active if it had gone ahead. Instead, I am sitting here seeing valuable free days disappear - disappear into the sludge of lethargy. I should be working on one more short story for my collection. I think of one idea, to write a story based on a scientist studying paternalism in primates!!! But I don’t get far - even after the required walk around the cemetery. I am stuck in a quagmire unable to do anything.
Wednesday 28 June
The days have been getting hotter and hotter and hotter, and it is harder to work, one wants to laze around. This morning I put together my collection of stories (seven altogether not including ‘Old Pepper Face’ or ‘Sandy’), bound them up in a file, and posted it off to Serpent’s Tail with a covering letter. I was fed up of waiting so I sent them. I don’t know much about Serpent’s Tail but it is listed as a publisher of short stories in ‘The Artists and Writers Yearbook’ and I found quite a few of their books in the library. Which reminds me, I have still not heard from the Unicorn about my children’s play - I must chase them up. Once I had put the short story package together, I let the rest of the day fritter away. My car is at the garage being serviced and MOTed. Don’t ask me how I have wasted the afternoon, I don’t know. No more news on the Tory election - still only two candidates.
My car is not ready at 3:30 so I cycle to school and walk home with Adam - on the downhill bits he sits with me on the bike - we enjoy the bumps and he always want carry on rather then get off.
In the evening, I go to the school for the last meeting of the 150yr committee. I leave Adam there at home because B is returning shortly and I still don’t have any car. We discuss allocation of the monies from the Souvenir Programme and from the sale of the plates and not much else.
Thursday 29 June
Henry rings from the Halifax - contracts have been exchanged on Ravenswood!!! I tell him what’s wrong with El Rosco and he tells me another large house in Godalming may be coming on the market.
Friday 30 June
Last evening, I went to the school to read Adam’s report, and to talk to his teacher. Adam played in the playground. The report is good overall, and there are no problems in any subject. However, there is one constant criticism recurring throughout - lack of concentration, lack of care in doing his work. Adam must be careful, Miss Oliver said, because others may not recognise the quality of his work for lack of concentration in presenting it. However, Miss Oliver said that Adam is one of the cleverest children she has ever taught! This is all as I thought and confirms my own worries with regard to Adam’s learning. Afterwards I had a long talk with him, but it doesn’t make any difference. He brings home a lot of words for spelling practice so badly written that he could barely tell the spelling. This is a difficult issue for me. I am not anxious for Adam to get brilliant marks at school, on the other hand it does seem necessary to try and direct his work to having more discipline. It is clear that in Andy’s class presentation was less important than imagination. But Adam really needs good quick handwriting and he needs a more careful and considered approach to problems.
I spend the day working on EC Inform-Energy 29. Life is so much easier when I have to get on with normal ECI business. I write up a conference report from the Club de Bruxelles, so that’s one feature in the bag already. And I do a lot of briefs and shorter stories too.
Paul K Lyons
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