I’d like to say that I haven’t had time to post anything here recently because I have been following my own advice and writing hard. I can’t say that in all honesty. I have done some work on the next part of what now looks like being a collection of modern fairy tales following ‘Wolf!’ (and perhaps including it). The second story is a modern twist on Cinderella. I have an outline for Hansel and Gretel and the other one (it’s looking like a four story book) is between the Pied Piper and Goldilocks and the Three Bears at the moment.

However, the real reason for my absence has been school holidays. As the ‘work at home parent’ it makes sense for me to be looking after the children. To be fair my thirteen year old daughter requires minimal intervention beyond me saying ‘No’ at various intervals in her conversation and the odd peace keeping foray between her and my six year old son. He, on the other hand requires more input. Sometimes, when I have an idea and sit down to scribble it down or type it up (write down, type up?…interesting), this can be a bit of a pain. On the other hand he is great fun and often provides a different perspective on the world.

Last week we went to feed the ducks at the pond in the local castle grounds. They didn’t want to play, so the fish got the bread and we went further afield. We ended up at the village where my daughter went to school. The school itself is now houses. This wasn’t the only change. The paper mill has shut, the railway line that still bisects the village main street has been shut and the four level crossings are all permanently open to traffic. The traffic lights on the bridge that gives entry to the village are even slower now however, as there has been a new housing estate built whose entrance is right next to the bridge. There is also another rail line that used to serve a naval arms store which is closed and overgrown. My son wanted to know all about this, but mostly about the railway lines and why and when and how they were shut. I told him but as I did I realised how quickly this had all happened. Six years ago it was all open, the school, the mill, railways, and the housing estate didn’t exist. To me this was a rapid change. To my son of course it is just how things are.

I expect some of this surprise on my part was just getting old. Things that seemed permanent when I was six had on reflection only happened recently. Television for a start. On the other hand I am convinced there is an increased pace of change, and not just in relation to communications. We seem to be moving to the US model: if a building last more than 25 years it acquires heritage status. Not many do.

The other thing my son’s presence helped me reflect on was related to this week’s Sins of Literature. This second programme looked at the supposed isolation of the writer and the balance between needing to be cooped up in a world of your own, writing your imaginative existence down, and experiencing sufficient of the world to have something to fire that imagination. My son certainly helps me maintain an involvement in the world, for which I am very grateful. It can be distracting when he wants to play at airports or drag me off on an afternoon’s walk but it is a rare day when this doesn’t afford me time to reflect or offer a useful insight into something I would have ignored from my lofty adult perspective.

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