Monday, July 28, 2008

28th July 2008

A dear friend sent me a lovely email today.

She sent me a warm embrace, and all kinds of heartfelt wishes for my welfare, and I was very touched; and she also told me she was catching up with her tax return.

And I felt very envious.

Of all the detestable jobs in the universe, the tax return has to be one of the worst; but I was struggling, again, with the script I'm working on and a tax return seemed almost desirable. At least it's clearer.

I tried to explain to her, a bit self-pityingly, that i was writing a scene in which my main character visits her demented mother in a nursing home. And that meant I had be there, too, and feel the guilty exhaustion of the daughter, and the angry confusion of the mother, and this was all a bit upsetting.

And then, as it happened, it all started flowing, and I'd done it, and soon after that I was on another scene.

This time my main character and her husband are making love, and it flowed very easily, and even though i was inhabiting a very pleasant and lovely place, that was the scene that started me crying.

Because, I understood, the happiness the couple were feeling came from meories of the happiness me and Susie felt, and all the pleasure we felt in our sexual relationship, and it was just all reminding me how much i was missing it with her gone.

And that thought made me howl louder than ever.

And then suddenly it was gone. i realised I'd written the scene, it was a good one, and I suddenly felt incredibly happy.

At that moment I wouldn't have wanted to exchange my work for anything in the world.

I'd ended up on the sofa, more or less randomly, where I'd been jotting everything down, and I happened to look up.

And I saw a left over plastic pint glass left over from my daughter's party, which happened 4 weeks ago.

And I'd only just noticed it.

It is a real hazard of living so much in the imagination. The inner world takes up so much attention there seems very little left over to pay attention to the outer.

Susie was like that, too - we married very unwisely - which was why trying to live tidily, and sometimes even hygienically, was often a lost battle.

On Radio 3 this morning they told a story of Beethoven. He wrote a piece of music for some aristocrat who enjoyed it so much he gave the composer a horse as a token of his gratitude. Beethoven rode the horse a couple of times, and then promptly forgot about it. His servant had to buy the animal's provender, and groom it and take care of it; and he rented it out to make a little money to compensate.

The horse was quite a good little earner, and the servant didn't want to remind him of it. But he did run up a pretty huge bill for provender. And when he couldn't get any more on credity, he had to give Beethoven the bill and remind him of the existence of his horse.

I think Beethoven took it quite calmly. Probably, like me, he had money lying around in improbable places. He said: "Oh yes, the horse", gave the servant some money and then no doubt forgot all about it again. He was probably writing a symphony at the time.

And a play is quite trivial by comparison. But writing this has reminded me that the glass is still up on the bookshelf. I forgot all about it.



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