Cloudburst got me…

padding down to the garage to collect the car. I waited it out in a driveway recess, a private gate and a sandstone house set back behind the trees. Corners unknown stand under the sky, a few steps can take us bang into another life. And I cling to my unexpected sights and discoveries in my travels, faces and signposts and shopfronts glimpsed over the decades and never forgotten. There is so much to witness and investigate, an endless bounty of sights. But in a moment the rain has moved on and so have I, resuming my plod to the oil-stained yard, the key-strewn bench and my tin-silk cocoon. I must stop driving and walk about more, kick up the pavement fragrance, eyes open to the world.

There’s a whiff…

of nuclear obliteration in the air again, a musty memory from the ‘8os I thought was gone for good. And there’s absence in the house, all the air currents and clicks and creaks of the house are changed, yet to settle. I have that sense of something momentous about to happen but it never comes, only the days padding by my desk chair, flicking me what-now glances as they lope along. So I try to work. The bull-man haunts me even on my river walks, I’ve been writing up dialogue and sketching him out, must close this week. Finish something and move on to the next, hope one of them sells and earns you a ticket onto the water.

I came across the tents…

on an early croissant run, I’d forgotten the fair was in town. Once a year the college closes the grand old street runnng into the centre, to demonstrate ownership and spin the bright lights as they’ve done for centuries. I pick my way through the cables and splatted candyfloss, treading carefully for my pastry shop. I should kick the habit but I’m weak. I like to eat bold from the bag, on the hoof, Belmondo quick-stepping down the alleyways in his mac, some backstreet business on the far side of the show that can’t wait. But I’m only making for the hatchback in a 30-minute bay, the roll home to the desk and more hours at the keys. I’m brushing the crumbs from my cuffs as I click through the gears.

There for the one o’clock gun…

and the funeral rites. In the evening we wander by the faithful hound amid the throng, find a show. The town struts in the glare of the sun but the heat mugs me, back at the hotel I’m too tired and too hot to sleep. I lie panting in the shadows tormented by visions of rising seas and cracked fields, riots and mobs and a lost political class all out of ideas. The night dies in the hours before dawn and the air blows in fresh from the firth. Before 8 I’m out on the cobbles, chasing up a coffee and a pastry. There’s so much to be done, so much to see. Step out and shrug the fear.

Dollars for delights…

short-lasting though they might be. The ceaseless in/out tidal slosh of earning afflicts most of us but in different ways and scale. Some commodities are equalizers, fit for all palates. Others are kept hidden and apart in the walled gardens of the rich. I’m out in the wider enclosure.

It doesn’t look far…

across to Samos but the sea has a life of its own. I watched it surge up on the west side of the island, biting at the shore. I’d want to stay close to land and I’d want those ranks of oars and fifty Argonauts – or an outboard or two – to keep me off the rocks. Even with the water blue as the cloudless sky it rages and churns. It’s calmer over at Faros where we’re staying, you can step over the pebbles and float out but where the island stops the wind bursts through and the sea comes bolting into the strait, slicing white along the peaks. I went walking the track between the thyme clumps on that headland, with the early morning sun lighting a path to shame Apollo. And my mind is full of dreams of gods and wine and boats.

The path to London…

crests Shotover Wood and we’re down into the next village to eat pancakes in a cafe terrace. There are homes and silent glades here I never guessed at, unseen views to the plain and the motorway embankment curling away to the Cut. We step off the track to let a rider pass. Tramp a few miles and you’re in another land, a stranger in your own town. How can I know the world and the people in it when I don’t even know what hides in this wood? When all of us are passing riders or walkers, not even a word exchanged.

I can walk ten miles…

but I suffer for it, knee feels strapped and bruised for days afterwards. Goes back to my meadow smash on the bike, the bollard looming out of the night at high speed and the bone-tingling crunch. Been semi-lame ever since. You take loping and shifting about for granted until it’s snatched away and I’ve grown cautious. Not for me the cat dance over the zinc roof, I shuffle and test every surface in my approach shoes. Reckless was better, I miss it. Reckless and you don’t even know it and when you do it’s gone.

If you want to build something…

get on with it, the days are ticking by. All the talk is fear but there are new building sites across the town and we’re not even in recession yet. I bought a monthly comic today and the guy at the till double-checked the price, “in case it’s gone up.” Prices are frothing but he’s driving an Audi TT. Maybe the crunch is coming but it’s not here yet. It’s fear of how bad it’ll be next year that’s in the news, keeps people watching the tv hosts shouting, keeps us comparing bills. I feel slapped in the face with the economics. I’d rather be talking with a friend about the comic I got, or Lermontov and how he puts the character right before you in a sentence or two, or that silhouette of a black hole. But the business of living has the gravitational edge, it’s hard to snap free. Meanwhile the concrete is drying out on the tower and the workers will be in soon to fit out. I’ll walk down there in a few months and they’ll have finished. Time to get tapping at my own chapters, fashion my own spire.

Nyx left me tulips…

in the fence bed, they weren’t there yesterday. Cat will likely deadhead them in a day or two, he likes to snip and eat grass and flowers. Tulips were out at Bowood House the day before, bold and white in every stone urn. I stared at them from the library, thinking it wouldn’t be bad to look up from the page and admire Capability’s handiwork. Then you could shuffle over the cobbles for a ride out along the lake or visit Byron hiding on the staircase in his Albanian bandit rig. The portrait is at the British Embassy in Athens, I’ll be out there in a few months, would the Ambassador grant a viewing? But I prefer the Oxford garden tulips. I’ll admire them until the cat comes stalking.