|Holywood, Costa del Down|
But April was a cruel month: journalist Lyra McKee shot dead; Mozambique, still reeling, hit by a second cyclone; Notre Dame charred and broken; floods in Zimbabwe and South Africa; Easter celebrants in Sri Lanka blown to bits; the latest dire warnings about the future of our planet...and here's something to put you off your dinner: if human children were given the same growth hormones used on chickens, they'd weigh 26 stone by the time they were 3 years old. If that doesn't stop you buying non organic/free-range, nothing will.
|The Writer's Friend|
Anyway, I've conducted a survey into what other writers do when the going gets tough and despair sets in. Some people scrub their kitchen floors or tidy cupboards; many of us go walking (which is cheap and healthy) and Kelly McCaughrain gardens - and makes plum gin for her friends. (I think more of you should do this.) I do jigsaws and play Scrabble. And it pains me to report that even here you're not safe from the censorious. I play online with my sister in Cape Town, and we are fiendishly competitive. So when she made a world-beating, 7-letter, triple-word score, I responded - in the private comment space, with 'Holy f...!' This was instantly translated into 'Hm, I don't think we'll send that word...' Censored on Scrabble, would you believe it? Well, all I can say is 'Holy ....'
I'm also indebted to the friend who sent me an article from last month's London Review of Books: Diana Stone's 'Nightmares in Harare'. Beautiful, heartbreaking, writing, and a timely reminder that there is always someone, somewhere, whose troubles are infinitely worse than yours. But we all have to keep going somehow, to remember that things do change, and believe that they will change again, even here. And last weekend they did, and brought us all a glimmer of hope for the future.