The other day, after posting about my birthplace and mentioning that I
haven’t been back for many years, but for me the word home will always mean the smell of salty wet sand on Harrison Drive beach when the tide is going out
I thought about it some more and realised that if somewhere can still pull on my homesick strings but I never go back in person, maybe it’s a somewhen that I hanker for.
Not my mid-to-late-teenage angst years, when the threat of adult responsibility sat uneasily on my slim shoulders. And not my childhood, although we did used to go to the beach often when we were kids.
The when I get homesick for is my early teens, which was a fragile but hopeful time of wistful yearning for future possibilities. Like the Irish Sea seen from Harrison Drive beach, it all lay stretched out ahead of me.
I was born in Wallasey, on the tip of the Wirral peninsula in northwest England. Couldn’t wait to leave the place and get away to sea at eighteen, but that had little to do with the town. It was only wanderlust. It wasn’t a bad place to grow up.
Haven’t been back for many years, but for me the word home will always mean the smell of salty wet sand on Harrison Drive beach when the tide is going out, and I returned to my birthplace in my novel Golden Triangle.
This poem won me first place in a competition. It’s called Another Tongue.
As summer flies south
he leaves the land a quiet place.
The brashest flash-in-the-pans have
faded into green manure and
left the stage clear
for mellow perennials
to get on with business.
Rose-hips ripen in the gentle light
and syrup of evening woodsmoke
heralds autumn, waiting in the wings
for his younger brother to depart.
How I love this season.
My earliest autumn memory
sees me putting away summer shorts
and dressing in tough shoes and businesslike denims,
before fashion claimed me,
before girls became more than a mild irritant;
sees me spending daylight fishing and tramping
in the living mossland that held
Wallasey apart from Wirral,
before the mossland was claimed
for the motorway and lost forever.
Forever? Not in this season.
Not while I smell the ancient
mud and vegetation that held
the saxon at bay for fourteen centuries,
until the motorway completed the invasion.
Waleas Eig: Island of Foreigners.
The silent black earth is not dead
but hidden under concrete, waiting.
While I still smell the earth in autumn
I remain a hidden foreigner in my land,
Tell us your favourite:
1. Geek event
3. Ensemble piece TV show
4. Indoor smell
5. Outdoor smell
Here are mine:
1. Curiosity landing on Mars last August. I stayed up all night and watched it live on NASA’s site.
2. Barefoot. Ideally on wet sand when the tide’s just gone out. Mmmm!
3. The Big Bang Theory. I love them. All of them. The show is a delight.
4. Fresh coffee brewing in the morning. My everyday favourite is Rich Italian Blend by Taylor’s of Harrogate.
5. Petrichor at midnight.
Yesterday was a Bank Holiday here in the UK. Many people took the public holiday and the weather was glorious.
I enjoyed a splendid day in my new wraparound shades down at the harbour with Heather, Ian and Seb (who is now toddling). We sat on a bench on the harbour wall and ate cod & chips and gorgeous Langage Farm ice cream. Seb had a sausage and a few chips and mugged us for our ice creams because we were eating them more sedately than he’d hoovered up his.
Ian and I leched at the millionaire boats and decided we’ll get one as soon as we win the lottery or I get my first seven figure book deal.
A woman whose toddler son and Seb made instant friends bent forward with her lad’s reins in hand and smiled at me. She was wearing a scoop neck white cotton top and no bra, and her breasts were beautiful. “Aren’t they lovely?” she said. “They are,” I said.
Back to Heather and Ian’s so Seb and I could have a nap, then home to discover my wife Janette had supervised Jackie and Ash in the pinkifying of my study. It said Old Rose on the paint tin, so Janette and I expected dusky pink. In the event, it’s shocking aciiid aciiid pink.
I can live with it. Got new shades.
I’ve been writing hell for leather for the past few weeks and aiming to submit my YA steampunk adventure A Flight of Thieves to a very short list of agents in early May.
This story still delights me. You know that thrill you get in your stomach when you’re doing exactly what you were put on this world to do, and you’re doing it well? That. Writing this book gives me a song in my heart.
I hit a problem scene over the weekend. That’s two in this story. I very much doubt there’ll be a third because the ending I plan to write is explosive. But this weekend’s problem scene reminded me that every book I’ve written has had at least one of them.
Oh, except for Beauty and the Bastard, which I wrote in a white hot fury when my wife was seriously ill and I thought I was losing her. No hiccups in that short book. Only screaming at heaven in anger and terror.
But all my other, longer books have given me a problem somewhere along the way. And it always happens in a transition scene. And in the past I’ve always paused before I tackled it. Sometimes for weeks. Often I’ve put it aside and worked on another story for a while.
I always return to the problem eventually, and now those scenes fit so seamlessly into the stories that I can’t even remember which ones they were. But at the time, each one caused me a mini-block.
This weekend I refused to let that happen. No surrender. I recognised the problem, remembered its historic effects, and I just knuckled down and wrote the bloody thing.
Sooner or later every story will throw me into a canyon. There are always route options for climbing out. The only option I will no longer entertain is sitting at the bottom and groaning about my bruises. Uh uh.