Masks, Ends and Beginnings

I am now able to blog under my own name – thank you, Jonathan. An embarrassment of subjects suggest themselves, but perhaps the first is that the Geordie Ambassador has started slapping concrete on the horrible garage and is making of it a curious, artisan baroque masterpiece. Once it’s all been limewashed it will look most remarkable, especially if I put a low-relief grotesque mask where he’s got a simple keystone. It would be nice to consult the interests of the house and decide who it should be a low-relief mask of, but carving in wet concrete is far from being a precise art, and I think it may be a great deal safer to concentrate on getting the eyes approximately level and so forth and decide who it looks like when it’s done.
Otherwise, this is a day of endings and beginnings. I am printing out the book which I have been working on for ten years in order to send it off to Oxford, which I have to say, is a very strange feeling. There’s 1,035 pages of doublespaced typescript, which is a pretty horrible thing to contemplate. The statistics for this book are gruesome, there are about two thousand footnotes, and since the research was done in sixty-four different countries, checking has been a nightmare. In the end you just have to get it out of the house and hope for the best.
I am also starting a new fiction project, so I have ceremonially got out a new notebook. These are pretty things, which come from Alberto Varese in Venice; nearly 300 blank pages of nice paper, with a hardback binding of handblocked paper. Like Colette, I rejoice in stationery; I like to find one particular kind of pen and buy lots of them (currently a Vision Elite Uniball is the preferred flavour, I am sorry to say). The Varese notebooks may look pretty affected but they are in fact strangely practical. They are big enough to keep all the manuscript notes for a book in one place (I do a lot of my writing straight onto the computer), small enough to fit in a biggish handbag, the pages never fall out, and because they are hardback, I can write in airport lounges, at bus stops and in the numerous other places where the twenty-first century likes to keep you hanging around for hours and hours – for instance, because I was carrying my notebook at the time, the fifth chapter of Astraea ended up being written during a very trying 30 hours which resulted from missing a plane in Sapporo. But above all, a really nice notebook is enticing, and makes you want to fill it. Given the intrinsic horribleness of forcing yourself to write anything at all substantial, fifteen quid or so for a Varese notebook is money well spent.

One Response to “Masks, Ends and Beginnings”

  1. jan foster Says:

    They don’t really get along, do they, cats and dogs? My sister-in-law has a new one, black labrador bitch 7 weeks old, utterly beguiling, not a mean bone in her, paddles around smiling, her heart on her sleeve. The Ku-cat, hitherto the cock o’ the north, regards her from on high; once an hour it hops down, snags her in the face, and bounds away. What does Ku think? The puppy is growing at a rate visible to the naked eye. Many of the problems of cats, I’m thinking, are attributable to this same failure to Plan Ahead.

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