Book

He’d stuck a tiny post-it note to his bedside lamp – ‘bulb gone, light kaput’. They are fiddly to change. You have to manoeuvre them out. I tut a little. But what beautiful little things they are. The glory of such inventions. Edison and his 1,000 goes.

Mrs Gaskell is dead. I missed her this morning at breakfast. She died suddenly without warning, falling into Meta’s arms. A heart attack. Instant death. She was only 55. She was happy, life was full, the serialised editions of Wives and Daughters had been well-received and her secret house, The Lawns in Hampshire, had just welcomed them for the first time. (Though she had yet to introduce her husband to it. The first time he sees it will be after her death and he never lived there.) She is long gone. Perhaps she has returned. Either way may she be at peace. What pleasure she has given me.

Harriet Vane and eventually Lord Peter Wimsey are to replace her. I’ve yet to warm to the book. Give it time. Uglow’s biography after all was put down for over five years before you picked it up again and persevered.

I tell him of my dreams and he marvels at what he calls their coherence. Are they coherent? Last night I was looking for a book. Well not looking. I was rummaging through a huge retail outlet full of antiques and ancient things. It was dark, no natural light and I came to an antiquarian bookshop and reached up to shelf to bring down a set of encyclopedias. I often try to read in my dreams. It is a difficult thing to do, at least it is for me. The letters move about or I just can’t recognise them. I was trying to read its title, thinking I could memorise it and try and find another edition slightly cheaper. After all, I told myself I don’t need it in such good condition. I also tried to read the price. It was in pencil and looked like it was in the thousands. It was perfect. Just was I was looking for, full of black and white illustrations, some with huge mouths. Then I was outside and rifling through another book stall where cheaper versions of similar books were stacked. Then I was in a cafe and my friend A was there with her grandchildren. (These are a fiction for now, as she has none.) I had meant to tell her that that cafe had the necessaries for sterilising bottles and warming up baby food. I was glad that she’d found it. Babies and feeding mothers dotted about the place. I was still obsessing about the book when I woke to my alarm.

He told me that ‘one can over think’. Can one? I want to understand. That’s all.

I began it. And there is power in the beginning of something, according to Goethe. And I shall do more today. It’s my world, I can write it as I choose. I get tense at the thought of it and long for tea to lift me. Not yet. Not till Monday. Be strong. To work. Herb tea will have to suffice.