Friday, 29 April 2016

The Writer's Friend

Every writer has ways of dealing with Writer’s Block – brisk walks, movies, anti-depressants, gin... I’ve had a dose of it recently and decided to try something different, so I invoked the ghost of Sybille Bedford.

(There is a patron saint of writers and journalists: St Francis de Sales – and that surname is French, it doesn’t mean he’s going to push your books – but religion isn’t for me. I prefer literary inspiration.)

Sybille, I said, I’ve chosen you because you’re one of my favourite writers, the sort of elegant autobiographical novelist I love. You were a great traveller too, and you wrote with such style and wit. And like me, you were a slow bloomer. Anyway, I felt you were a kindred spirit the moment I read ‘A Legacy’ and I’ve been your faithful admirer all these years, so help me out, send me a Sign!

The funny thing was that I felt a definite shift in the atmosphere straight away, although that could have been Professor Gloom shutting the front door several times to make sure he’d done it. (He is trying to reinstate his position as Head of Domestic Security after failing to lock the front door on two successive nights. And this not long after he had the entire staff of the Waterfront Hall searching for his house keys, which were safely in the door of our house all the time - on the outside.) Anyway, I was sure Sybille was going to come through, but to help things along I put a copy of ‘A Compass Error’ on my bedside table. And what do you know, in the middle of the night I heard a voice!

‘This is the BBC World Service” it said.

Well, it could have been Clementina the cat putting her paw on the radio remote, but it could have been a Sign.

The following night I was woken again, this time by loud noises and flashing lights.
Leaping out of bed I discovered that the TV in the second bedroom had been turned on. Again, it could have been Clementina, who I suspect is able to operate most of the machinery in this house, but when I tell you that the programme showing was Murder, She Wrote, you will understand that I think it was a message from Sybille. Maybe she was trying to tell me to branch into crime.

Or there could be somebody I don’t know about living in the attic…

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