Sunday, January 20


IT WON’T SNOW. Everywhere else in this country is covered in snow but this town doesn’t show any signs of it, as if the weatherman has cut it right off the map. You see cars from other places driving down our roads and they have snow upon them – snow that has been nipped at by the wind or scraped off or cleared by numb hands – but our cars, the ones that rest here overnight, have nothing. Everything is waiting for the snow; the temperature, the wind, the grit – still, it does not come. Very often I run to the thermometer my father mounted in the garden and it tells me that it, too, is waiting for snow. Nothing. Sometimes a few flakes will fall but very quickly they get bored and disappear. At first I did not want the snow, but now that everywhere else has it I feel that we should have it. I see photographs in the newspaper of white landmarks across the land, yet I look out of my window and see nothing.
The cold is ferocious.
Outside, in the wind, the seawind, the cold is ferocious.
I was having trouble sleeping and, as per custom, my mind got to wandering. Face down on my thin pillow I was subject to thoughts that did not so much flow but rather leapt from one thing to another.
An idea came in my head.
It was not conceived and it did not gestate but arrived fully-formed. I was very happy for it, because it was an idea for a short story; I had not had an idea for a short story in months. My alarm would go off in four-and-a-half hours so I hurried up and wrote it down. In the morning I could decide whether it was any good or not. The train journey the next day gave me some time to think on it; I decided that it was good, and I could not wait to get home so that I could start on it.
By the time I got home and settled down to write – nothing. The day had burned me out. Exhaustion had pulled everything that I cherished out of me. If I was empty it was because the day, my job, public transport, a capital cityful of people had made me that way. Still, I opened some wine and sat down and I wrote; some minutes later the words came; everything seemed good. I am still writing – slowly, but I am writing. Above all, it feels good to have a purpose. It feels good to have something to come home to.
On Thursday, in a buttoned coat, I thought that the only things I missed about the Christmas break, that awful limbo between years, were the walks I went on with my mother. How pathetic of me to miss such things! Nonetheless it was true. The next day I was off work, eating some curry leftovers and she got home from work, her mind set on a walk, despite the torturous weather. ‘Can I come?’
‘When the weather’s like this, it’s good, because there’s no one else about.’
The wind was sharp and cut into our faces. My hand froze around my cigarette. My head ached from the wind. The waves smashed into the shore. The water was dark but was neither blue nor green or brown, choosing angrily to linger in the middle of them. Froth like the patterns of a lace curtain bubbled on top, until another wave came along and took everything out. There was crash upon crash and the most pleasant sound of all was that of small pebbles and sand striking the metal handrails, notes in the major key resonating all the way up the hollow pipes. Still, my head was numb. There wasn’t a soul about. I pulled my collar up to keep out the wind.

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