You’re only a writer when you’re doing it – at the point of the pen, said Alan Bennett on the radio yesterday.
Gosh, she’s plain, he said. That’s such a welsh thing to say. GOSH, she’s plain. Homely they call it in America. Your work is often described as homely the interviewer said to Bennett. Do you think that’s fair?
That vicar gets on my tits, he said as we got into the car. Why? I asked. He’s always scurrying about with his trolley and when he barges in front of you, or nudges you with it, he never says sorry. What’s he doing in the supermarket anyway, he said, he should be saving souls somewhere shouldn’t he? Scurry. I think about Richard Scarry. The writer and illustrator. I loved his books as a child. Spot the cat up the ladder or driving a fire engine. I think one of his books was my first library book. The first one I borrowed.
The sun is out, what a delight.
She sounded better, chattering away like a sparrow.
Some ancients believed that the wind was God’s voice. Sometimes in the early morning it seems so.
He’s got a flat over Gannet’s Bistro. He likes it. Is proud of it. Always the rolling stone, never setting down roots. Not properly. Leaving his stuff with friends, in attics, in spare rooms. Now he’s got this place they’ve returned them. Boxes everywhere, blocking the hallway. There isn’t room for it all.
He’s a bit of a bruiser, isn’t it? I said. I knew I was being uncharitable. I couldn’t help myself. He likes it when I am a little less good. Goody two shoes. That’s not like you, he says. I know. But it’s just a description. We are talking of the baby in the high chair. We’d just walked into The Granary in Hay-on-Wye for lunch. He was sitting with his mother at a table by the stairs. A great stocky child, his face covered in food. Not smiling but not scowling. Just staring. I tried to say hello to him, he said, but he was too busy putting food in his ear.
The mother brings him upstairs later to change his nappy. She beamed with pride. She loves him. She sees something else. Of course.
I am tired. Jaded from a lack of sleep. It is enough to tread water today. So be it. Amen