December Reflections 1: on the table

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They’re not on the table any more. They have been for the last several months; now, with a week off work, I’ve finally got round to turning up and pinning the bottom 55cm of these curtains.

My mother made these to hang in the sitting room of the house where I grew up, a rambling Victorian pile in the depths of the Marches. Two pairs: one to close off the big bay (creating a fantastic den), and the other for the other window. I commandeered that second pair when I moved into an awful bedsit in Guildford; which was also a rambling Victorian pile.

The curtains cheered it up considerably, though they didn’t do much about the dodgy light fitting, the leaking wall, or the mice.

Now I’m adapting them to shut the draught out from two pairs of french windows. Our current flat is about a century newer, and has fewer pretensions of grandeur.

I’ve persuaded myself that I don’t need to cut anything off the bottom; a metre would, I think, be my cut-off (ha ha) point for that. If I ever find myself living in a decaying Victorian mansion again I’ll be grateful for those couple of feet. I’m still a bit worried that they’ll pull the whole curtain rail down, but I think that if there’s a serious danger of that happening then it’ll happen regardless of whether I cut anything off.

Also on the table, metaphorically speaking: a quilt for my godson – which is why Voyages of the Celtic Saints is there with a pencil marking the page with a picture of a Romano-Celtic trading ship, which I’ve adapted for the design. (He’s called Joseph. I’ve put the Glastonbury thorn in there, as well. And some saw-tooth. And a pyramid. And the whole thing is very bright, riffing off the ‘coat of many colours’ theme. I’m not sure which Biblical Joseph he’s named after.) Various pre-Christmas tasks, none of which I’ve really started yet, because it feels a bit early.

And, of course, A Spoke In The Wheel. I’ve finished the first draft and I’m keeping out of its way until January. It’s been an interesting experience, going from zero to 68,000 words in the course of a year, and I’m not sure that I would choose to repeat it. At times it’s felt a bit joyless, nose-to-the-grindstone, arse-in-chair, duty-writing. And that’s even with my fortnights of not-writing in between my fortnights of writing. The next one, I tell myself, I’ll do differently. No, I’m not sure how. Yes, there’ll be a next one. Probably the sequel to Speak Its Name, though I have a few other ideas bouncing around. Whatever it is, I won’t dive straight into it – or, if I do, I’ll give myself more meaningful breaks in the middle of it.

After I finished the first draft of A Spoke In The Wheel mid-way through November I turned my attention to some shorter, light-hearted, frivolous pieces – some of which you may see here at some point – and have enjoyed widening my focus. Because if I’m writing for fun, I want it actually to, you know, be fun.

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