A few years ago, whilst walking beside the river with my sister, I said, ‘I’ve had enough of moving around. I think I could just stay here and put down some roots.’ Within a year I’d moved to Yorkshire – for love. Ah well, we all make mistakes.
I’m back now, though. And I finally made it to the local Literary Festival. Previously, I’ve either come to visit after it had finished or travelled back to Yorkshire before it started. I always managed to just miss it, but now, I’m a resident and this time I actually attended.
A couple of the writers I’d seen before at university but they’d be worth seeing again. And I would have seen them had I taken notice of the date and realised that the festival started on Friday. OK, so I missed a bit but Saturday saw me being thrown out of my sister’s car and told to go and enjoy myself. And I did. With my notebook and pen I sat in a marquee eating lunch and listening to a gypsy swing band. Around me eddied the well to do, middle class, retired folk that populate this area. Received pronunciation ebbed and flowed under the music and I tried to avoid eye contact with the band’s singer lest she saw my notebook and mistook me for the local press.
I couldn’t see any poverty-stricken, wannabe writers among the crowd who, like me, were unable to afford a second, exorbitantly priced, cup of coffee so I beat a retreat and left my table to the elderly couple who were eyeing up the empty chairs next to me. Out in the sunshine I amused myself by trying to divine who among the passersby might readers and who might be writers. A couple of middle-aged men with man bags intrigued me. Were there notebooks or reporter’s pads hiding in those bags? Sadly, I never found out but never mind, I was in a writerly place. I had bought a ticket to see a well-known author discuss her latest novel. All I had to do was breathe in and I would absorb literary inspiration.
I walked home to my village. Sister, kids and dog had gone to visit a friend and I was under no time pressure. Strolling along the beach to were our river meets the sea, I left the festival goers behind me and thought about the author I’d seen, about how she had entertained and inspired me, and about how every café in town was full. Coffee-less I turned up the river path and headed home. I got about ten yards when a park bench lured me to sit and dig out my notebook again. At last, my head was clear enough for me to commit to paper the opening lines of the short story I’ve built in my mind. Ignoring the walkers that eyed me curiously as they passed, I gazed at the view then began to write.
With my first two paragraphs down I moved on nodding and smiling at dog walkers and hikers and refreshing my soul in the green, in the bird song, in the light dancing on the water. By the time I got halfway home I was ready to stop again and scribble some more. This time, I sat longer. People passed and looked over at the middle-aged woman sitting on the fallen tree but none approached and that suited me fine. I was in my office and I was busy.
My new sense of tranquility came home with me. It followed me up the hill and right into the house where all was quiet. Everyone was out. There was no T.V or radio playing, no dog bouncing up and down like Zebedee on speed. Only the cats greeted me, and they did so silently. I hung my bag on its hook, tossed my notebook on my bed. I’d finished writing for now. My brain had received input, my heart was filled up – it was time to come back to the practical world. In the kitchen, I brought out the potato peeler. A nice veggie shepherd’s pie seemed like a good way to welcome the family when they came home.