Day of the Triffid

When do I make the first of a series of videos for my new book? The day my hair looked like the stuffing from a 500-year-old rat-infested armchair salvaged from the Volga after an apocalyptic rainstorm, that’s when. It doesn’t usually look this bad – in fact, it was looking rather wonderful until my hairdresser, the Hieronymus Bosch of the Shears, decided to leave the salon for the bowels of hell, where she rightly belongs. I so wanted to film like one of those manicured authors with glistening tresses rather than, say, like a scarecrow during the pre-harvest burnings, but them’s the breaks. As Popeye said, “I yam what I yam and dat’s what I yam.”


… and a new story unfolds.

I was married for ten years, and my divorce came through this morning. A big day, then – a mountain: the day on which a terrible incision has, at long last, been sutured.

I loved my husband very much. I loved him for years, and through improbable complications. I am no longer in love with him and haven’t been in love with him for a long long time, but I am not sorry that we married. Even knowing how it ended, I would do it a thousand times over because my daughter was the flower of our union and also because I loved him. He made me happy and then he stopped making me happy, but that isn’t a crime. In the end, neither of us was able to bring out the best in the other. Not true love then, but love nonetheless.

When I wrote my vows, I was very specific.

“I vow,” I wrote, “to make you as completely happy as I can.”

“I vow,” I wrote, “to search for truth with you and through you.”

“I vow,” I wrote, “to honour you, and always to honour your memory.”

My consciousness of the limitations of our relationship in this document is obvious to me only now, but my understanding of the importance of honour in marriage was conscious even then.

Ten years ago, two people came together and now they have come apart. The unravelling of that love story is a narrative ordinary in its suffering and sorrow, but the conclusion, like the beginning, is infused only with light.

The shock of the new

I have a mobile phone. After decades of studiously avoiding the things, my oldest girlfriend bought me one for Christmas. It’s an elegant-looking object, with curious abilities – images that move as you move the screen, and so on. I have yet to register a number; I’m not sure I can handle the commitment. We address each other with masked interest and not a little trepidation. Can I handle it? Do I really need one? The really exciting news is that it also takes photographs, which means that I am – at long last – able to upload images to Instagram. This is mad fun, as I have always loved taking photographs. For about two and a half minutes in my youth, I was an actual photojournalist – no war zones, just authors coughing over vodka in dim rooms whilst pontificating about the death of art – but then my Nikon broke and I had no money to get a new one and so that all went to hell in a handbasket. Clearly not my destiny. It was easier to intently focus on my interviewee and get someone with significantly greater technical finesse and a refined eye to shoot the images. But now that I have an Instagram account, anything is possible. Who knows, I may even actually leave the house. Live on the wild side, carpe diem: all that. So do follow my account here. Oh, and I’ve updated my gallery, too. This year feels like a year of new beginnings, full and fresh and fragrant – and, like all roses, not without the occasional prick.