Friday 28th September, no more of the torrential rain today, at least not so far. Rain-washed skies, silver and blue,and tarnished leaves on my little elm and the red maple looking likely to fall, leaving the trees bare by the end of October, how old fashioned. Cool air, very autumnal. Who knows? The vanished Arctic ice, the unprecedented high temperatures in the North Atlantic. . . Chaotic weather is just chaotic, innit? Another dose of the little ice age, or a C30 degrees heatwave all the way til Christmas. Could go either way.
Monday 24th Sept. Torrential rain. Peter gave me a lift down to the seafront where I joined the 38degrees team in the gauntlet of leafleting Lib Dem delegates must run to reach the safety of that forensic-looking tent sort of thing at the entrance to the Brighton Centre. Ours were about the Climate Change vote. When I shared this petition on facebook, someone called Steve Heynes (Hi Steve!) cmmented that it was a stupid waste of time, the Lib Dems will never do anything... Ah, now that's because (unless your dissing comment was a dedicated, sneaky climate-change denier activist ploy, in which case, apologies!) you're not an activist, Steve. If you were an activist, you'd know that this never say die chipping away, no matter how unpromising your entree, is the ONLY way anything ever changes. Okay, it may look silly but, who do you suggest we lobby on Climate Change issues? The Labour Party? You are having a laugh. Nice kids, those 38 degrees people. I enjoyed their company. The weather was atttroccious. I thought I might catch pneumonia, but didn't. Spent rest of day slogging on with my trenchant revision of Flowerdust, (1994) latest item on my backlist to get the Kindle treatment, & then I'm going to fool around with Divine Endurance (1984)to make these "companion volumes" actually line up together, for the first time in their lives. Then cooked miso soup with carrots, onions, mushrooms and bean-sprouts (Amy's dinner take note!) & went to see Tabu at the Dukes. Which Gabriel thought was absolutely wonderful, but we rated strange & interesting. Predictably, I liked the crocodile best. But also the old ladies, in the "40 years after" part. I could really read Pilar. So melancholy and so quietly, doggedly good.
Tuesday 25th Sept. Torrential rain. Spent the morning putting together a presentation on the story "Bricks, Sticks, Straw" I just wrote for Jonathan Strahan's Edge Of Infinity anthology. His pitch, my pitch. Process of elimination whereby I chose my near future solar system venue. The random elements that accrete around an idea. The websites: ESA, NASA, eLISA; Greek Mythology.... In the afternoon, a train ride to Canterbury West, a double rainbow and a single lapwing in the big stormcloud skies as we crossed the county boundary at Rye. More nice kids (not all actually kids, of course: but I'm very old!) at the "Tuesday evening reading series". Impressive turnout. I rather rattled off my favourite Stranded Space Explorer Classic Short Stories, so I'll repeat it here:
"Desertion" Clifford Simak, from his fix-up novel City; 1944. One man and his dog, on the hard core of Jupiter, transformed into life-forms that can gambol and play in this unforgiving corrosive hell. They love it, don't miss their old embodiment at all, and don't want to come home.
"Dark They Were And Golden Eyed". Ray Bradbury, 1949. Find it in the collection: A Medicine For Melancholy. Needs no introduction from me. Haunting, brilliant.
"Surface Tension" James Blish, 1952. Find it in the collection The Seedling Stars. Crash-landing explorers on a water-world tranform themselves (or something) into a microscopic race of water-breathers. Zillions of generations later, descendants find out who they were, and plan to go home. But that iron barrier, the surface tension that holds a raindrop together like, blocks them like a massive gravity well. . .
And one I forgot. Actually a slim novel, but We Who Are About To Joanna Russ has to get a mention, for her mordant, realist approach to the scenario. What do you do, when you're a bunch of clueless tourists, crash-landed on an alien planet far, far, far from any hope of rescue, and you have no resources, no skills, and anything that might be food or water is poison? You die, sillies. Get on with it.
I told Amy Sackville, Creative Writing Lecturer at Kent at Canterbury (whose debut novel, The Still Point, is a thing of beauty), what I was doing to Flowerdust , and my wicked plans for the already-filed Kindle version of Divine Endurance. You can go on rewriting what you wrote forever and ever, I said. And nobody can stop you. Imagine that. Could be I'm a corrupting influence: she seemed intrigued.
Wednesday 26th Sept. Torrential Rain. And so cold! The cats want the heating turned on, they keep crouching by the cold radiators, trying to make their point. Round two on the last chapters of Flowerdust. I lost on points, but I will beat this thing. Peter cooked masala cabbage and potato, tomato and onion tarkari. & we watched Stephanie Flanders's Masters of Money #2 Freidrich Heyek. Very light on content, this miniseries. Maynard Keynes moved in the Haighest of Bohemian circles (pictures of Charleston) and advised governments to spend their way out of a slump by throwing money at public works (pictures of dole queues,the Hoover Dam, and Obama's somewhat more modest solar-power field in Arizona). Heyek saw hyperinflation in Vienna when he was a child (pictures of jerky bourgeois toting sackfuls of notes to the baker's); collected gongs, and advised governments to let "the markets" do what they like! (pictures of Margaret Thatcher And The Miners). Plus a "surreal prize fight" that Was A Big Youtube Hit!, (that's as much as we ****ing plebs need to know on any subject, of course); yet more footage of Meryvn King looking dead shifty, & a coy reference to "human nature", to explain why neither high-concept plan really seems to have fixed things, much, ever.
But Miss, Miss, on what caluculations, what grounds, did these giants base their airy advice? There must be more to it than this. Show working out!
Wonder what she'll do with Karl Marx, the content king?
Thursday 27th Sept. Finished Flowerdust revision. Tnx God. If I'm caught changing a word of Escape Plans, Peter has orders to take me out and shoot me. (Unfortunately I know he hasn't got a gun. Oh, dear) Also buried one of my homemade crocus cages, which was fun. Do your worst, squirrels! & cooked Tuscan Bean Soup with bacon, & went out for a couple of pints, & watched Neil Jordan's 1999 version of Graham Greene's The End Of The Affair. About rain, and miracles. All shot in the most beautiful, cool and silvery light. Fine piece of work all round. & again Gabriel praised the doomed romance, while Peter and I twisted our heads around, meanly trying to spot modern slips in the Brighton shots. The trivial minds we have. It's a shame.
The keynote photo, again not a tree, is the temporary radio station at Writtle, Sunday 16th, which was a rather magical evening, and a rather magical construction. It was bloody cold, but there were bats, waterfowl, cheese, bread and wine, and I got to hear about David Toop's opera about Dora Maar, and to enjoy Mark Lackey's bizarre DJ set of songs from the shows. Anarchic bebop rap from Rosalind Russell, and the monster doing "Putting On The Ritz", from Young Frankenstein....