Saturday, 17 December 2016

Swirling mist

Little Michelle popped in this morning on her way to a singing lesson. The three of us went to the local spoon for breakfast, and had a lovely natter. She's had a very busy few weeks. She's bought a house and done lots of auditions for music colleges. Nathan went to work, I walked Michelle down the hill and we parted company near the entrance to Parkland Walk, which I strolled back up to the Boogaloo Pub.

I did some more work on Em today. I'm trying to really bring the script into focus and getting slightly paranoid that I'm not writing well enough. The perception of me in the industry seems to be that I should be left alone to write lovely music, but that my script-writing needs a little more attention. Because I lost a whole heap of confidence as a writer on Beyond The Fence, it's rather easy for me to fall into the trap of believing everything I write is substandard and not fighting for what I know to be good. Writers are deeply complicated, somewhat fragile creatures. It doesn't take many knock-backs before we start to derail.

This evening I drove to Milton Keynes to work on another quiz. Whilst driving I was listening to Radio 4, which reported the somewhat staggering statistic that English students are likely to leave university with twice the amount of debt of students from elsewhere in the U.K. Scottish students don't pay academic fees. Northern Irish students have their fees capped at £3k and Welsh students are offered an almost staggering amount of state bursaries, which they're not expected to pay back. There's something pretty awful about that. The English are forced to spend so much of their time apologising just for being English to the extent that we somehow put up with this yawning chasm of inequality. It's profoundly unacceptable.

I, like I'm sure most of the readers of this blog, continue to feel utterly helpless when I read and hear accounts of the mayhem in Syria. I know the UK seems utterly intent on navel-gazing at the moment but I worry that if we bury our heads in the sand for any longer, we're going to end up with an enormous amount of blood on our hands.

The quiz went well. In fact it was rather a lot of fun. The crowd was up for it. There were only a few teams, so everything felt relaxed. The food was sensational. The pudding I was given was a sort of dense chocolate mouse with a raspberry coulis and little shards of honeycomb. It was insane.

I drove the quiz master, Lesley, back to Windsor after the quiz. We drove through banks of thick, driving mist. It was unbelievably spooky. It seemed to swirl around street lamps, causing a curious helter-skelter illusion. Under halogen lamps, the mist looked like pipe smoke, or ghostly, beckoning nicotine-stained fingers. Clouds of the stuff would suddenly be dispersed by passing lorries. It was all rather hypnotic.

I dropped Lesley off and took myself for a little drive down the beautiful high street in Windsor. It really does look very lovely at this time of year, with glorious white Christmas lights which seem to drip onto the tarmac below.

I got home late to find Nathan asleep on the sofa underneath his enormous knitted hap. A hap, by the way, is a cross between a blanket and shawl, which, I think, originates in either the Highlands or Orkney.

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