Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Jeanette Winterson

Jeanette Winterson is back at her monthly column.
Oh, I have missed her.
I am missing a lot of things of late. My body- brain and eyes – have not been cooperating. So I have missed writing very regularly here.

This seems to make me enjoy Jeanette’s words and world all the more. And I want to share a bit of them with you...

Now I am sitting in my cottage in the Cotswolds, with the kitchen door open onto the garden, watching the rain pour down. I love to have the back door open - feel oppressed when I am shut in. I don't know how my friends with smart but shut-in London flats cope with life. My hens get more fresh air than they do.

I suppose there is a big psychological difference between the urban beast and the country animal. When I have to go to London for work things or to the theatre or the opera, that's fine, but when very occasionally I have to spend leisure-time there, I find myself going mad. What is there to do in the city unless you make a list of plans?

In the country there is always something to do - in the garden, walking, little jobs with the radio on, and then a quick dash in for a cup of coffee, or a quick dash out for a walk. I need to have ordinary contemplative life - it is easy to calm down digging a vegetable bed, or clearing out the shed or going for a walk whatever the weather, all things that can be done without spending money or being run over…

I have just finished kitting out my studio, where I won't be making skulls. Downstairs, there is a reading room, and upstairs, there is a workroom, which has nothing in it but a simple trestle desk and a bed; I sometimes need to fall asleep when I am working.

It's a beautiful space, made of oak, with doors onto the garden, so that I get plenty of light. I can't explain why I can't work in a domestic space, and need a dedicated space, but that is how it is - even though I am no clutter-queen, and even though my house is always quiet and orderly.

In the early days I used to work in various sheds and houses lent to me by others, and then gradually I acquired extra space of my own. Now, moving permanently to the place that used to be my run-away hide-away, I have had to build another run-away-hide-away in the garden.

But I like it here very much; it is not grand, not making any statements, just the thing that modest places used to be when people could afford them. I am set alone in my wood, with a cuckoo in the mornings and owls in the evenings, and the tap-tap of woodpeckers. Not a single car has gone by since eight this morning, and that was the farmer's wife going to the farmer's market down the road.

I'm making asparagus soup for lunch, with a salad from the garden. Then a walk, then more work, then, as it is so wet and damp, I will do my favourite thing and light the fire and keep the back door open until it goes dark. Then bed. Not what you might call an exciting life - but I can do that in my head.

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