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Thursday, 28 November 2013

A Thanksgiving Dinner in Kingston upon Hull

Quite suddenly, I find myself approaching the last hurdle – or final furlong, or home straight. Choose your metaphor. Fact is, as I may have mentioned earlier, I seem to have beaten a path to what looks like the climactic scene in this sci-fi book, I Know What You’re Thinking. It came slightly out of the blue, and stopped me in my tracks. As soon as I realised that, yes, I’d got the whole of Mankind in mortal danger from the mind-reading knavery of the scientists (in league with radical religious fundamentalists), and that salvation lay in the hands of my backwoods anarchists, lurking there on top of New Mexico’s Sandia Mountains, it was time to go back to the beginning and start tidying up.

That task is taken less time than I expected. It should be done by Monday, at which point the final polishing will begin. Then, during the second week in December, I have a six-day break at an artists’ and writers’ retreat in my old home town (Reigate, Surrey). With luck, I’ll be using that time to ponder the immediate future.

This afternoon I take off for Kingston upon Hull, Britain’s newly-designated City of Culture (2017). My old university department (American Studies) is marking its 50th anniversary with a Thanksgiving Dinner. I haven’t be  around the place since I stopped teaching part-time and became a full-time writer in about 1993-4. It’ll be good to catch up. Next morning, Friday, I’m off to London for the first of two half-day courses in electronic publishing.

We still await winter. It’s been a long and pretty mild autumn, for which we are all grateful. Last weekend we went over to the west side of the country to see friends. We managed one short hike around Arnside, just across the river Kent from Grange-over-Sands and Cartmel.

 
With the tide out (miles out) they were exercising horses on the sands. While there were still plenty of autumn leaves on the trees, it was interesting to observe that next year’s catkins were already there, waiting. It seems that, in the woods at least, there really is no dead time of year. We tend to talk of the countryside going to sleep in midwinter. In open country, that may be the case; in the woods, however, I suspect the flora just takes a short nap - in an old armchair, perhaps.