Skip to main content

Comfortable is not always comforting...

New is the keyword of the week, even though I feel anything but as I continue through life as if wading through diluted treacle. My Mum was moved from the hospital today to a 'home' in East Manchester where I'm told she is being kept 'comfortable' - with the help of morphine. It's amazing how important that one word becomes when a close member of the family is sick. 'Comfortable' can put a million restless minds at peace. It conjures up images of a chintz armchair beside a fire, a cat sauntering by. But it isn't in this case, nor, I suspect in most cases where the patient is dying or badly hurt. It simply means they are sufficiently drugged up and not lucid enough to give too much of a shit either way. And, it has to be said, comfortable was not a word that often appeared in my Mum's vocabulary so I'm sure she wouldn't be placing as much value in the word than her children are and if she was more aware that she had ended up in a 'home' she'd be screaming blue murder for someone to get her out. And that's not so comforting.

Anyway, despite all of this the creative process is still hard at work - despite my sending a few text messages and them being misconstrued and subsequently questioning my entire texting ability, until my friend pointed out that texting is like reading the bible - it's always interpreted in the likeness of the person reading it! (Which is why I don't do religion but that's not just another topic, but an entire blog!) Maybe my inability to convey a clear text is also part of my 'suffering' a bit of writer's block recently - a bit of 'stuck-ism' (see treacle, above). Even so I have still forced, nay encouraged, myself to get to the library, to read and try and feed the old phrontistery which in turn produces words on the page. You know I had that problem in the Humanities reading room - where the issue staff seemed to know zilch of what the word actually means, well I gave a sharp swerve and instead entered the strange little reading room of Social Sciences (1st floor). And my, what a pleasant surprise. It's much smaller and narrower, more galley-like, and not much to look around at, but offering much more character - and more importantly - very friendly counter staff. I had a heavily pregnant woman guide me through the online periodicals section from the reference desk and, when I returned some books (there is no 'WAIT HERE UNTIL YOU ARE CALLED FORWARD SIGN') and automatically gave my desk number the woman behind the counter looked at me as though I were an alien but with a smile and said, 'you don't need to give numbers here love,' and that just about summed it all up. How different can two reading rooms be? The difference between social sciences and humanities, is what. Humanities = nasty, social sciences = good!

And returning to the whole 'creativity hits you out of nowhere' topic, whilst sitting on the bus today I had a spark of an idea - less a spark more of a fan in that an entire story fanned itself out in a way I haven't experienced for a while. At first I thought - ooh, great screenplay as I could see the entire story as though it were a world in a grain of sand (i.e. 90 minutes) but tonight I thought I'd best get it down as soon as and find myself beginning what I hope may be a new novel. No clues yet though. New things have to be protected at all costs.

Popular posts from this blog

Who was Mary Burns?

On 7th January 1863 Mary Burns was found dead from a suspected heart attack. She was 43 years old. Since her death Mary has received barely any attention despite the fact that she spent over twenty years as the common-law wife of Friedrich Engels, one of the world’s most influential thinkers and the co-founder of Marxism.

Born in 1822, Mary was the oldest surviving child of textile dyer and factory operative, Michael Burns, and Mary Conroy, Irish immigrants from Tipperary. Mary’s parents had married at St. Patrick’s in an area known casually as Irish Town, one of few Catholic churches in Manchester at that time. The year of Mary’s birth and her infancy were significant in that Manchester was still dealing with the aftermath of the event that became known as the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, a peaceful protest of the working-classes on the site of St. Peter’s Fields in which several people were killed and hundreds injured. The Massacre occurred when magistrates, alarmed at the size of t…

My PhD critical paper

I thought I'd upload the critical element of my PhD thesis. Hopefully, for those who are interested enough to read it, it will make sense despite the references to my creative work, which I can't upload as I'm seeking publication. And besides, at 68,000 words...

I'm also going to tweak section one of this three section critical paper with a view to journal publication because of the academic interest in the claims I make of Mary.

-Dedicated with love and respect to Dr Bruce Lloyd-

And in memory of my parents:
Thomas Valentine and Joan Theresa
Good people who taught me so much more than they realised


The biggest thank-you is due to Norma Clarke, Professor of English Literature and Creative Writing at Kingston University, who supervised this PhD. I never had cause to doubt my initial instincts as Norma proved to be the best mentor I could ever have wished for.

I would also like to acknowledge the generous studentship that I was fortunate to be awarded by Kingston Universi…

Midwinter Break - Bernard McLaverty

The only other book that I've read of Bernard MacLaverty was the sublime Grace Notes, published in 1997, and shortlisted for the Booker Prize of the same year. That prize was awarded to an author of another similar hiatus recently broken, Arundhati Roy, of the widely acclaimed The God of Small Things. I was certain, when buying the kindle version of Midwinter Break, that MacLaverty's first book in seventeen years (Cal, 2001, was his most recent) had made both the Booker Longlist and Shortlist - but having just double-checked - am disappointed and confused to find it had made neither. MacLaverty's prose style feels Yatesian, after the late Richard Yates, US author of Revolutionary Road, and TheEaster Parade
Midwinter Break, set in Amsterdam, is written in the same deliciously clear and poignant prose that so widely marked out Grace Notes. The husby and I have not long returned from a late summer break in that same fabulous city. With the visit to the Rijksmuseum still fre…