Wednesday, 28 July 2010

A chapter in a Word Cloud

Wordle: The first chapter of my novelI just found out about Wordle. So here, as a word cloud, is the first chapter of a book I've been writing. It's only on its first draft, and I think I'm going to have to take out rather a lot of those rathers, but the character does say "rather" rather a lot. Or maybe that's just me. Anyway, I thought it was rather attractive, so here it is.

Monday, 19 July 2010

My sort of summer festival

I've been thinking about how fortunate I am to live in London. (I'm practising counting my blessings because I've seen how miserable people become when they forget, and just spend their waking hours listing their complaints.)
Then again, when I think about how much stamp duty I had to pay just for moving from one end of Ealing to another, just to get my documents stamped by the land registery people, I darned well deserve to take advantage of all the excellent things that London casually chucks in my direction.

Last weekend we trotted off to Somerset House. Its huge courtyard is home to summer festivals, and we usually come here for a gig or two every year. It's extraordinary to think that someone once had the cash to build it as his town house. On Saturday the entertainment extended to us was Neil Hannon, The Divine Comedy, with his grand piano. He was wonderful, although I did prefer the last gig there with the whole band, where we was looking at us instead of the keyboard. This is a festival with no mud, where you can drink Pimm's and bump into three completely different pairs of friends, none of whom knew that the others were coming, then go home on the tube. Am I sounding a bit smug? Tough.
We share our home with tourists, terrorists and the Heathrow flight path. Once in a while it's nice to have something that feels like our own village fete. Besides, if you don't live here you can always buy the album.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

This one is just right

Jam, in Falmouth, is the perfect cafe. That's it on the left. The coffee is unbeatable, the ice creams are irresistible; the furnishings are reassuringly worn and scattily selected.
There's even a dog, an adolescent black labroador, who is quite stupidly friendly.
You can sit down, or stroll around listening to excellent music, flicking through the second hand CDs for sale, or browse the small but impressive selection of books.
Jam is one of the reasons I agree to take the 97 hour train journey from Paddington to Cornwall at least once a year, to teach on Univerity College Falmouth's professional writing course.
It's not really 97 hours, it just feels like it, especially when the air conditioning is set to Arctic and the buffet closes at Exeter so a small man with a calculator can count what's left. No, I have no idea why he can't just sell it instead. You'd have thought it would save some bother along the way, but never mind. Just remember to pack a picnic box.
It's a shame (for me) that Jam is 300 miles from my house, but maybe one day I'll have one like that within walking distance. In the meantime, I aim to recreate the Jam atmosphere in my front room. It's great for working, having ideas, jotting down lines of dialogue, reading books and generally reassuring yourself that life really is worth the bother.
Please do go there, and feel free to recommend your own favourites.