Tuesday, 29 September 2009

The end of waiting

So on Saturday I'm off to Cambridge, after what has definitely been the longest September in recent history. I got back from France on the 12th, and have spent the intervening weeks doing some university reading, seeing some friends, "getting things ready" - in other words, not doing very much. Now I'm about to go back into an intensely academic environment, and am wondering how it'll be. I'm hugely excited, of course, but writing an essay after an 18 month gap is going to be an interesting experience. On the plus side, the books on the course seem to be really interesting.

The thing that most struck me, as I started reading books for study again, is the sheer vastness of the knowledge and talent that's out there - in a sense it's very intimidating. You wonder how you can ever make a significant contribution to what has already been said or written. But it is also reassuring, to find that people think in ways similar to you, and come to the same conclusions. After a year (or more) out of this world, I'm quite looking forward to getting back in.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

I write, often,

and yet often have a sense of not saying anything important. I read what other people write, the magical things they do with words, and despair. Strong word, yeah, but it gets it. (I can't do it there's no way I can ever manage something like that why even bother). That's the sort of thing. But then I grandiosely imagine myself as the doctor in Camus' The Plague - and keep on at it anyway.

Started the week in Paris, a place I had never really seen beyond the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, etc etc etc. So I went for something else. Time with friends, for a start. Two startlingly different people, with different rhythms and tones. The first was a Sunday, languid speech and slow-moving grace. The next a Tuesday, crackling with the joy of things to be done, a face turned always towards you. Between them, a day spent finding new things - the impossible grandeur of Napoleon's tomb, the twisted streets conducting the laughter of students. This was the Left Bank, after all. Some clichés are more than clichés. I found the obscure medieval French book I needed.

There was glorious sunlight as well.

Friday, 4 September 2009

A late night

It's not my fault, I tell myself as I hold my glass of Poire Williams and stare at the bookcase. I can't choose what words remind me of. Like the fact that "cul sec" takes me back to that cramped Peruvian disco, the smile and the closeness which was oh so much much more than camaraderie I thought. Hands running across my forearms.

This a classic French family evening. Laughter in the car, a posh restaurant enjoyed without self-righteousness. The open, unpretentious way of these people. The realisation only now, as it always is, too late, that writing is all that makes me happy.