It’s really very cold here. For England. We are lucky: last year double glazing throughout. Still, with the heat on, it’s chilly. 

Snow coming, weather people say. 

In town, homeless people of all ages sit on layers of cardboard. It’s just unspeakable, really. We are ashamed, but do little. Thoughts which have a regular rhythm in my life — I must go and do something about all this — occur with more frequency now. Lately, most days. And before that, most weeks.

Writing exists for me and is possible no matter what. It doesn’t need trappings.

I love teaching. But there are other things that need doing.

*

In this brittle morning, Schubert popped through the cat flap with a tiny, tiny wren. We flung the cat into the bathroom, and while he scrabbled and scrabbled at the door, we shooed the little bird out. At one point it flew into me, the gentlest bump, before veering outside.
550px-winter_wren

(Photo by Steve Round, Cheshire, UK)

 

Hours later Schubert is still looking for it, roaming about. It’s the right decision, to protect what we can. But it’s not an entirely simple one.

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Underneath it all, JC Superstar is invading our lives. Last night: 45 minutes of semi-accompanied soundtrack playing. And the occasional air guitar.

Everything’s all right, yes everything’s alright.

you first bring a baby home from the hospital?

Is s/he still breathing? (You rush upstairs.)

Too hot/too cold? (You lay your finger on the back of the neck.)

Is that a chest infection? (You put your ear on his or her back.)

Tears of sadness or tears of pain? (You try a hug.)

Is this skin cancer? (No, it’s a freckle, said the doctor. This really happened with M!)

Etc.

*

The minute, close-examining-ness of it all. Each movement and thought seeming to affect the next, and those around it, laying chaos theory bare, and you are the only one who can see it. As if any moment, there could be the worst catastrophe you could ever imagine in your life until now.

*

Having a child with a chronic disease is a quite a bit like that. Like there’s always something just at the corner of your vision. You’re trying not to look at it, because it’s unlikely to be real. Unlikely to come true.

You just have to keep going. Like having a new baby. You have to realise that people do this every day. Every second of every day. You push away whatever wispy dark things that might make you stop in your tracks.

It’s okay.

Well, you know it really is, and you know it really isn’t. All at once, and all the time.

I just cannot resist. My muse Nancy sent this to me, and I have watched it — er, a lot — in the last 12 hours. I don’t care if it’s planned, choreographed, worked out. That it’s an advert. It’s still community art, and I love it.

Who hasn’t wanted to dance in a big open space like Liverpool Street Station? How perfect would that be?!

Check out this short film on the making of it too: you just have to, for the guy at the end who says something like ‘it was five minutes of love, man’… Just absolutely great.

Happy Monday.

Obama is inaugurated (twice!). I forced the children to sit, not so rapt it must be admitted, in front of the first actual ceremony. M later commented that it was kind of an amazing feeling to know that we had just witnessed history.

Thanks to wonderful Nancy, I am once again struck by just how charismatic our new 44th president is. I mean, can he dance, or what?! There is nothing, absolutely nothing, like a slow, circling dance with someone you either have been or are going to go to bed with. 

I’m sorry, I know we are talking about the President here. But this all just makes him real. Human, fallible. And equally — full of joy, laughter. And everything physical and complex. Someone, moreover, who knows this about himself, and about all of us. No cut-out cardboard. 

Hallelujah.

I HAVE MOVED

From January 2010, my new blog is Waving and Drowning

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Who am I?


A writer born in Texas, who grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia (yes, like the song), and who's been living in the UK since 1988. I've published two books (see below), and teach creative writing at the University of Kent. I'm married to a composer, and we have two young children. See About for my full profile.