Jun. 5th, 2017

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RIP Peter Sallis. Wallace couldn't have been anyone else, really. I knew him first as Cleggy on Last of the Summer Wine, which I liked as a kid, if only because it was better Sunday night viewing than Songs of Praise.

I lay awake for hours last night. Sometimes those nights are bearable: you can wander mentally, dream and think at once. I was turning over story-fragments, shards of things that were never really finished. I was thinking in the key of Pierrots and moons and how people can disappear in themselves and I found the ending for something: a narrator letting himself into the house of a man he once loved. The living room is dark but the man - an actor, a dancer, a mime, once - sits in the armchair, a slant of dark hair across his face, which like his hands is washed with silver light. The narrrator touches a hand: there is a slow pulse, but the skin's cold enough to bring frostbite; he looks away from the eyes, which seem whitewashed, to the TV that lights up the room. Only that is unplugged. There's silver in the skin. He walks out quietly. Working back from this is hard. I often find (this makes me sound more prolific than I am) the final scenes come to me first of all.

A wuthering day here. A Waterstones gift card got unearthed the other week (along with a knee-length battered-black velvet coat I am wearing a lot now), it turned out to be still valid and I used it to get Nina Allan's first novel The Race and China Mieville's little essay London's Overthrow,  what looks like a winter night walk across the capital, musings on the failures of capitalism,  illustrated by mobile phone pictures. A snack of a book is still food for thought. Nina Allan I've shared two or three anthologies with. If you're looking for a good British writer of SF or weird I recommend either her collection The Silver Wind or the novella The Harlequin. Currently on WG Sebald's The Emigrants, which feels like a seance of the dispossessed.


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