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Friday, 7 October 2011

Back home

Somehow I can’t see me giving up on this blogging business that easily. I’ve got used to it. So now that I’m back in England I’m thinking I might post something every week or so and see whether anybody’s interested in reading about what happens next.

I had a last-minute scare as I left the red house. I was driving away when I glanced in the wing mirror and to my horror saw a veil of dark smoke drift across the front of the house. Slammed the brakes on, leapt out - and then realised it was just the customary cloud of exhaust that Mercy always leaves behind her.

I broke my journey in Chadron and had lunch with the Olde Main Madam. It was election day, and the town had an air of tension about it. I have since found out that the good guys carried the day: the Mayor and vice-Mayor have both been recalled. Jeannie emailed me to say that she opened up the bar and had a huge crowd in, with a lot of happy faces and some resounding cheers.

My journey home wasn’t as bad as I feared. After my flight from Rapid I had over three hours to wait at Minneapolis, but for once I got lucky. I found a book which had me riveted from page 1, all the way to Paris. It’s S.C. Gwynne’s Empire of the Summer Moon. It’s primarily about Quanah Parker, the Comanche leader. His mother,  captured by the Comanche as a nine-year-old, was the daughter of a notable early settler in Texas. As well as telling her remarkable story, and his, the book offers a general history of the Comanche people as well as some good material on Texas in the early days. It’s well researched, well written, and puts forward some stimulating views on our assumptions about Native peoples and their relationships with the Spanish, Mexican and Americans, which were nowhere near as simple as we like to think. I found it very easy to digest. I just hope I find time to polish off the last 80-100 pages now that I’m home. Come Monday I have to start writing seriously, and fast. I have a book to finish by the end of January.

In Paris I had a three-hour wait for the flight to Newcastle, and was looking forward to a nice French breakfast of coffee and croissants. I paid through the nose for both and in the case of the croissants didn’t mind at all: they were good. The coffee, however, was foul, the first bad one I’ve ever had over there.

I got to Newcastle at eleven, was met by A. and arrived home about noon. I kept busy - unpacking, checking on the vegetable garden, which has NOT been attacked by grasshoppers, and managed to stay awake the rest of the day. Went to bed early and leapt up when A’s alarm went off at six this morning, feeling pretty good.

Today I walked into Durham - it’s a shade over two miles the way I go, which is along disused, tree-lined railway lines. It’s about 35 degrees cooler than it was when I left Merriman, but the sun was shining brightly: perfect for a nice stroll.

Well, I’ve phoned everybody I need to talk to, and my office looks as though somebody’s just come back from a long trip abroad and dumped a suitcase-full of papers on the floor. Guess I’d better start sifting.

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