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late on Sunday night 18th January 2004


My friend Andrea Badenoch’s memorial yesterday was a wonderful tribute to her. As various people stood up and recalled different aspects of her life a picture emerged of the complex, enigmatic, gifted, unusual person that she was. Someone said how well she combined art and politics, neither deadening the other. Her son talked about her dancing in the front room, another friend talked of her winning a ‘Guess the weight of the tortoise’ competition at a local fete. There was music like The Tracks of My Tears, and Itchycoo Park, poems, silences and contributions from the many people who had travelled far to remember her. Andrea and I used to talk about funerals and memorials alot. I think she would have enjoyed this one, and the obituaries in the Independent and The Guardian. Although she has been ill for many months, I find I am missing her friendship properly now. She was great to talk to about writing, and she had fierce opinions. She would get furious about arts spending and fickle publishers. You could talk to her for hours, and she really listened. Linda France, the poet, said yesterday that when someone dies we lose the part of ourselves that we invested in them.

January can feel so quiet, dark and dangerous. Today I lay on the sofa and watched ‘The Night of The Hunter.’ Then I played old records (The Housemartins, Michelle Shocked) on an ancient gramaphone and ate ham sandwiches. At one point I went gliding round the supermarket and bought very bizarre and particular foods: prunes, fresh ginger, goats cheese, a dozen limes, coriander, olbas oil.

In the windswept muddy garden there are some dear green shoots poking out of the earth. Yesterday my daughter saw a large fox padding along the pavement outside our house. I can stare for hours at a crossword clue. It’s also that time when we all start sorting out cupboards. Last night I counted all the scrabble letters in four different scrabble sets. Sometimes it feels as if I am not living in a city at all, and that we are all living miles apart in a vast windy landscape. Still, tonight we had a great supper at my neighbours, with lots of other people from the street where I live. I am very lucky to live in a street of people who I would probably travel miles to meet, yet here they all are on the doorstep.

Last night I dreamt I was telling hilarious jokes. They were so easy to tell, I couldn’t believe it. Why would one dream of jokes in such a dark, generally unfunny month? Of course I can’t remember a single one now.