Last week of term. It’s been striking how many people we have encountered who are under the weather: I really do think that the absence of a summer combined with a frankly beastly autumn (alternately very cold and very wet) has made it appreciably harder for everyone to keep their stiff upper lip in place. Anyway, it’s nearly over, to the heartfelt relief of all.
Meanwhile, I have finished Draft #2 of the current novel. This has been a pretty unspeakable process — in mid September, i.e. a fortnight before the beginning of term, two different publishers told me they sort of quite liked it but would like it a whole lot better half as long again. Not the sort of thing one is usually told, and flattering in a way, but to be told it a fortnight before teaching starts has added a very special horror to the term. It is now three months later, I have written 50,000 words, and I have not skived or skimped a single lecture. If I wasn’t so tired I’d be feeling quite good about it.
The only other development, while I have been up to my ears in light fiction and not updating the blog, is an outbreak of what I am inclined to call quiet mutiny at floor level (though other explanations are possible). Miss Best Friend has decided she sleeps on beds. She is quite elderly now, and this has never, ever, been allowed. However, she has decided, as old dogs do, that on this issue we are quite simply wrong. She is perfectly aware we don’t want her to, but she doesn’t agree. Quite how she reconciles this with being a Good Old Thing and permanent occupation of the high moral ground, I am not quite sure, but some kind of labradoric casuistry has evidently taken place. I would feel more indulgent towards this foible if she were not quite so given to getting covered in lake-mud, which is not only adhesive, but also smelly. However, the Professor’s theory is that I am being inappropriately judgmental: the old creature has been reading Apollo (come to think of it, I have noticed a copy lying on the floor on the landing since yesterday) and has discovered Modern Art. Her praxis is situated, we think, somewhere between Tracey Emin and Joseph Beuys. Possibly she hopes to restore our fallen fortunes, but I think we will have to convince her that alas, people are beginning to find that sort of stuff a teensy bit dull. The old pudding will have to sharpen up her act. Anyone for Canine Expressionism?