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Monday 1st February

02/02/2004

Last week I tried to fly to Bristol, but spent an evening drifting around the departure lounge at Newcastle Airport, watching snow swirl around outside. I was going to do a thing for a programme called Off The Page, when R4 asks three writers to write short pieces and talk about a subject. We were doing the Great British Public. The airport was the perfect spot to watch the British complaining, being cheery, getting drunk, then finally, when the flight was cancelled, queuing for hours to re-arrange flights. The next day I sat in a recording studio here in Ncle and did the programme ‘down the line’ which is a bit scary as you can’t see who you’re talking to, and you have to interrupt in order to be heard, which didn’t feel very British. I wonder if it will be obvious when the programme goes out that I was sitting alone with headphones on?

I have been going down to an oak panelled archive to read through the data about the 1000 family study. There is so much to read! However, even in the most boring minutes you can see bits of humanity peeking through. There is something fascinating about it. Every so often there is some amazing bit of information…like the couple who kept their new false teeth on the dressing table, who put them on for the health visitor. There is something wonderful about sitting in libraries and archives, using a lead pencil (no biros) to make notes. It’s peaceful and simple. I am also co-writing a poem about lovely things, or things we have loved, with Linda France for Valentine’s Day. January is now over, thank god, and February seems quite tame in comparison. I am reading Rachel Cusk!

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