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Tuesday 16th March 2004


I have just come back from listening to the poet and novelist Anne Michaels read. It was very restful and pure as a reading. The audience sat quietly listening, not clapping between poems. Anne read in a soft, but perfectly audible voice. Sometimes poetry readings are a bit like Quaker meetings, like ministries. Poetry has never been a good seller, but it seems to me that dressing it up as something else doesn’t help much either. There were lots of people there, not coughing, not wriggling, just listening. The poems were very good, and everyone knew they were.

Otherwise, things have been quite uneventful on the health front. It’s like that with cancer…ages when nothing happens, then suddenly everyone is rushing you about sticking pins in you and asking you your date of birth and next of kin. It’s rather like publishing I suppose! I do feel rather tired, and I wonder if this is because I know I am supposed to be ill. I long to lie about in ordered, gentle rooms, but as I live with teenagers this is difficult.

I keep prodding my liver, trying to work out what is going on, but it feels the same as it always did.

Next week I am going away to a cottage in Yorkshire to work on the novel again. I long to get into that daily rhythm again. It’s rotten for children who have writer mothers, as they are always trying to disappear into made up worlds. Still, my youngest daughter was eighteen yesterday, so I can now say my children have both reached adulthood!

Otherwise, I have been writing manifestos about Newcastle, and imaginary repercussions of the manifesto. For example, how would our lives be changed if we all napped every afternoon? These and other works inspired by the Barcelona trip will be read at the Playhouse in Newcastle on April 30th.