Julia’s Diary

Thursday 7th Nov

—07/11/2002

Tonight Diamond Twig, the small press I co-run with Ellen Phethean, is launching an anthology of short stories called ‘Even The Ants Have Names’ down at Live Theatre. It’s a stunning collection of stories, featuring new writers such as Mary Lowe, Linda Leatherbarow, Sue Rickards, Betty Weiner and others. It’s a beautiful book too, in classic Diamond Twig style.

There have been far too many fireworks. It’s got out of hand. Also very passive, as at least with sparklers you can wave them around a bit. I think someone should invent a hat for dogs to wear at this time.

Tuesday 5th November

—05/11/2002

Not a nice day for dogs or sensitive children, but otherwise rather exciting. I have re-emerged from my operation at the Freeman. During the course of my stay there I was asked my date of birth nineteen times. It seems the operation went ok, although I feel like I’ve been in a fight. As usual there was a wartime spirit on the ward and I had some ferocious buddies there, sharing each others ups and downs. The tea trolley crashed into the ward at regular intervals, waking us all up. Everything was a faded yellow colour, including me. Actually, the nurses were amazing. They were so good looking and capable.They came whenever I rang my bell. I was told everything many times. When I got home I quite missed being told what to do. I longed for the sound of distant polishers, and regular administering of pain killers. The point of this operation is to make me feel better, and although I felt fine before I had it, I have been assured that I wouldn’t have done quite soon.

Thursday 24th October

—24/10/2002

I feel very untangled after Barcelona. We wandered up and down the Ramblas and read alot. It was so warm. My bones got warmed up! I finished Back When We Were Grown Ups by Ann Tyler. It’s a fantastic book, and I love the way she writes about the intimate details of people’s lives. Only a novel can show us these kinds of details. It’s also a book that makes you feel good about writing, as her books show you what good writing can do. Yesterday rehearsals started for Attachments, the short play that accompanies Sean O Brien’s ‘From The Underworld’ at Live Theatre this November. These plays were written specifically for actors Charlie Hardwick and Trevor Fox, who Sean and I admire hugely. Yesterday was the first day I’d heard them read the script together and it was really exciting.

Now I’m back to the Taxi Driver’s Daughter. I’m going away again soon to work on it away from everything as there’s too much going on around here!

Friday 18th October

—18/10/2002

I’m going to Barcelona! Feel very excited. Can’t wait to amble down the Ramblas, and eat Barcelona food in restaurants and do Barcelona type things. I need a holiday too.

I’m going to read Ann Tyler’s back When We Were Grown Ups on the plane. I love her work. No time to write this now..no doubt I’ll rabbit on when I get back.

Monday 14th October 2002

—14/10/2002

Since I started sitting in this room in Newcastle University they have nearly completed a whole building opposite. What an achievement. All over Newcastle we are watching buildings emerge. The new music centre down by the river looks like an alien’s head! There are hotels sprouting up everywhere for the tourists we are expecting. When I first came here there wasn’t a tourist in sight. I found it quite a relief, as I came from Winchester, where there were too many tourists. I was watching the film ‘Get Carter’ with my daughter, and it was all about that old Newcastle, with shabby bars and alleys, and concrete, and hard desolate landscapes. When I first got to Newcastle I went down by the quayside, with the bridges towering over your head, and the river full of rubbish, and it felt dangerous and brilliant at the same time.Like a dreamt up city. I knew I would never live anywhere else. I think alot of people feel like me at the moment…a kind of nostalgia for something that’s disappearing so fast we can hardly remember what it was, mixed with pride at the indisputable beautiful bridge and the sheer ambition of the city.

I went to my friend Tom Shakespeare’s wedding on Saturday. I have only been to three weddings in my life, but this was easily the best. It was a quaker do..which means that people stand up when moved to say things and there is no formality. It was extremely moving. It made the C of E look very pretentious and unimaginative. Tom was marrying a woman from Australia who was bravely moving from Melbourne to Hebburn. They looked so perfect for each other. Afterwards we drank champagne and danced. Small children raced about, as they always do at weddings, and older people shook their bodies vigourously. Usually I feel rather cynical at weddings, but I felt completely full of goodwill towards the human race.

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