Writing me Down

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Place Where I Write

(This is a tutorial exercise.)

A woodpigeon hoots on the roof and the cockerel crows repeatedly two doors down. Outside, the sun casts shadows across the ridges and furrows of the top field. A gathering of greenfinches alight on the rosebush outside my window, attracted by the sunflower seed that hangs on the bird table. They go wild for sunflower seed.

I write resting on a mahogany dining table that used to belong to Rick’s Gran. In front of me, an orange box file holds course materials. Beside it sits a white tin with a picture of two grouse that used to contain miniatures of ‘The Finest Scotch Whisky’. It now contains tiny round tins of coloured ink cartridges, and a few stamps. In front of me is my sketchbook, open at the page I painted this afternoon – a watercolour of my mug and a few notebooks. To my right, the same blue mug, a green stain curving around the inside from the peppermint tea. Next to me lies a printout of this exercise in black, magenta and blue ink. On the other side of the table is the vermilion-red and wine of the course textbook, and a jumble of pinks, greens and blues of my journal notebooks. Colourful notebooks inspire me to use them. I write in coloured inks, with a fountain pen crafted out of walnut. At the moment, the writing on the page in front of me is cyclamen-pink.

The dining table is in our lounge at the back of the house where the sun comes in for most of the day. Its warmth is comforting. I look at the back of a large green sofa, with a deep blue fleece blanket draped over the back like a discarded cloak. Beyond the sofa, over the redbrick fireplace, hangs a Kandinsky print with colourful circles in 3x4 boxes.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Freewriting (30 Jan 06)

Coffee, toast and three paracetamol did little to alleviate my pounding headache and feeling of nausea. I was struggling to remember the previous evening – had I really had that much to drink? It was only a few glasses of wine with friends – not exactly a night out on the town. I faintly remembered having a chat with Duncan – something about a seaside town. St. Ives – that was it. He was planning to move there, to become an artist.

I was surprised at the way that thought landed in my stomach, cold and hard like a whole tin of cold baked beans. I’d miss Duncan. Thinking over my first term, he’d always been around, his warm humour lightening the homesickness that I still felt. Duncan dropping out? It didn’t seem possible. He was easily the most talented artist among us. But it was a heavy financial commitment to make, studying for a Fine Art Degree. Most of us were struggling, and Duncan more than any of us I suspected.

I poured myself another coffee from the jug still hissing on the percolator, and went to sit in the shabby old armchair by the window. Very little light seemed to find its way into our second floor flat, but this was the lightest spot I could find. I curled up with my coffee and mused over the idea of Duncan moving to St. Ives. He had some wild plan of camping out in a draughty old barn and setting up his studio. How he would make a living, I couldn’t imagine. But he was good, no doubt about that. And he could paint the kind of stuff that sells.

A corner of a piece of paper caught my eye, sticking out of my bag from last night. I reached over and pulled at it. Out came a folded sheet of newspaper – the properties page. An advert was circled. It read ‘Flat to share, St. Ives’. Next to it, in smudgy pencil, was written ‘Helen. Come with me.’

The coffee stain spread unnoticed on the arm of the old chair, as the sounds of the street below receded behind the rushing that filled my ears.

Friday, February 03, 2006


cold nose and fingers
sky grey as the woodpigeon
huddles in stillness

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Thirsty Sparrow

Sparrow, pecking at the disc of ice in the bird bath. Flys away, thirsty. Guilt tugs at me. I take the kettle outside and pour water on the ice. It makes a hole in the middle that I can slip my fingers underneath, and pull the disc of ice out. I drop it onto the paving stones.

frozen mist drifts
white specks resting on the ice
of barren birdbath

small brown bird, hopeful
dips to drink from disc of ice
flys away thirsty