Monday, 31 December 2012

luminous moss on a cotswold wall, the ups and downs of 2012, looking forward to 2013, happy new year!!!!

Saw this mossy Cotswold stone wall while walking between Windrush and Sherborne this afternoon. The moss glowed in the fading four o'clock light and cheered the otherwise muddy and waterlogged landscape.

Now, as the new year approaches, I think of the things that have happened in 2012.

There have been sadnesses. Dad dying, nearly a year ago now, was the worst. Over the last year, I've learnt things about him that I didn't know before--things that bring him alive as a person I wish I had known. Earlier in the week, I wrote about people failing to communicate. Despite all the education and the supposed erudition (so hard won), despite the advances in human understanding, we failed to say what we meant in his later years. I miss him very much.

The sale of family possessions not seen since 1978 was--well, not a sadness exactly, but something so bizarre and odd that normal phrases can barely convey my feelings about the experience. Of looking through the online catalogue and glimpsing childhood memories that were hidden in crates all that time, only to emerge and be destroyed as a collection of meanings and memories. I hope their new owners find happiness in these things.

Recently, a friendship changed suddenly due to misunderstandings. I hope that 2013 will see renewal.

But there have also been rather wonderful experiences in 2012. The trip to San Francisco in May, which had an unexpected, almost life-changing effect on me. To travel at last to a place I'd dreamt of going to when in my teens and to find it more real and more fascinating than I thought it ever could be.

Driving to the South of France in the late summer with J and T. Inland from the tourist beaches, high up in the chestnut woods in the medieval village, the pace of life was gorgeous and reviving. Lovely that our friends from the Alps were able to join us.

I've loved preparing the novel A Conscious Englishman by Margaret Keeping for publication in February 2013. The book is a fictional account of the last years of the First World War poet, Edward Thomas, and his work has a special significance to me. When I was just beginning to unravel the family mysteries back in the mid-nineties, I became pretty depressed and Thomas' poetry about the simple beauty and magic of the countryside sustained me, brought me back from gloominess, gave me hope. His poems and the complimentary paintings of John Nash were so important to me then.

I'm pleased to have started writing the 'proper' version of my third novel. It has taken many years to find the right path.

Writing an extended essay about my family's experiences over the past two decades last Easter was cathartic--the start of coming to terms with things and healing. Also, on the subject of non-fiction, attending talks at the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing has been inspirational.

I have loved working with my creative writing students and my lovely, supportive colleagues at the University.

A year of warmth and sadness. Of happiness, of pain, of keeping going. In many ways, a year like any other. I'm looking forward to 2013, though. I don't know why exactly but I am.

Happy New Year!!!!
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