At first it felt quite easy, being back in England. Okay, I have seen the sun once in four days, but hey - it’s October. It’ll soon be May. And besides, I have tasted my first pint of Copper Dragon, a lovely pale, smooth bitter, and on Saturday when I meet my son for our first football game in six months we’ll sink a couple of pints of Guzzler, brewed in the walled city of York. Who needs the sun when you have all that golden colour shining in a glass?
The other challenging thing about being home is having to revert to my day job, the thing that pays the bills: ghosting for Mike Pannett, the ex-copper. I am picking up book 5 of our series (Now Then, Lad and the rest of them) at the halfway stage, six chapters in - which is where I let it last April. It is, I must admit, a little like going to the fridge and finding a curry you put away last week. Not very appetising until you’ve given it a little heat, perhaps a sprinkling of extra spice, and stirred it thoroughly. I have to add 40,000 words by the end of January and of course I expect to do it on time - but I’m having one hell of a job getting started.
A couple of things are getting in the way of my attempts to knuckle down to work. One is the blog. I keep looking to see whether anybody’s still reading it, and they are. Don’t ask me why, but I had 46 - that’s forty… hyphen.. six - hits from Latvia yesterday. I won’t even try to explain that. The other thing is that I’ve just re-entered orbit after six months of writing what I choose to write, for my own pleasure, and with no real worries about whether it’ll get published or not - other than online. And because I spotted it the other day on Facebook I have been looking at The Florida Review, published in Orlando. I may have mentioned that in 2004 I spent three months down there as Jack Kerouac Writer in Residence. They have the house that JK lived in during the time when On The Road was published. That’s where I resided - and discovered that Carolyn, a love of Kerouac’s and the widow of Neal Cassady (Dean Moriarty in the book), was (a) still alive and (b) living in the U.K. We have since become good friends; I stayed with her when I worked at Ascot races a number of times, and still visit her when I can. She’s in her late 80s now and is still called upon by a stream of fans, scholars, film-makers and so on - but very few friends. I think that’s where I come in. A few years ago I wrote a long piece chronicling my association with her. I’ve never sold it; haven’t even tried very hard, but I think it might be of interest to this quarterly review. Whatever, it’s gone, along with my $3 submission fee, and I won’t have to worry about it for some time. And that means… I have no excuses left for not starting work.
Give me another day or two and I will try to post a few pictures of home.