It appears to be raining. Quite heavily, in fact. We're driving along the M11 with the windscreen wipers set to "hard-core" listening to Kevin Brookes talking on Radio 4 about his book which recently won the Carnegie Medal. He tells us it took nearly ten years to get the book published. Almost every publisher turned it down because "children's stories need happy endings..." It strikes me that all great art gets rejected at some stage - often repeatedly. I think the problem with publishers, agents, producers, commissioning editors and those who make money out of raw creatives is that they have too many preconceived notions about what they believe "works", and often a ghastly misguided desire to have quite heavy creative input in the work. This, of course, waters stuff down and means the truly inventive stuff (which is ultimately what's going to be classed as great art) struggles to break through. The greatest art is driven by a single creative mind, and I think the best producers recognise this fact. Art cannot be created by committee.
Speaking of great art, we've been in Thaxted this afternoon. It's Nathan's day off, and we wanted to do something a little different to celebrate. The highlight of the visit was almost certainly my mother handing me my 40th birthday present. Before you all start wishing me a happy birthday through the highly personalised medium of Facebook, I should point out that she's a couple of months early (God knows I'm clinging on to my 30s for as long as I can!) My birthday is the 8th August.
The present she handed me was the most staggeringly-ornate, stunningly-beautiful quilt I think I've ever seen. She'd hand stitched it from scratch with 22 panels representing my career and life - which I suppose I'm lucky enough to have as two different sides of the same coin. All my compositions and films are there, alongside panels to represent my family, pets and favourite places in the world. Even Gloria Bee makes a little appearance, trying to make a nest in a television with the Channel 4 logo on it. There are panels representing Brass, Songs About the Weather, our wedding, my Grandparents... Perhaps the most impressive aspect is 100 individually quilted heads to respect my 100 Faces film. I stood for some time and stared at it in awe feeling unbelievably moved.
I believe she's been working on the piece for over a year - and my GOD, it shows. It's the sort of thing which will crop up on The Antiques Roadshow in 100 years and end up getting purchased by the V and A. It is that beautiful. Right now I feel like the luckiest and most loved son in the world.