It’s all part of a normal cycle for me: a few weeks ago, fresh back from the Aegean sunshine, my carefully curated backlog exhausted, I was writing my posts on the hoof and fretting constantly over what to do when inspiration did not come to call. Today, I sit with a pile of essays in front of me, wondering if I should start to publish every day in order to get rid of them.
I won’t, of course, because I know that the days of nothing to report are just around the corner. It is, as I say, just part of the normal ebb and flow for me: sometimes I can write this hodgepodge in abundance – it just oozes out of me – whilst on others I can spend an evening staring at a semi-colon, trying to decide whether I can do without it. I am consistent only in my inconsistency. I think that the knowledge that there is ‘work’ in hand gives my head the latitude it needs to wander off in all the wrong directions. Torpor sets in and the cardigan comes out.
It is, for reasons I have not yet managed to identify, a quiet day on the building site behind me. All work appears to have halted and silence prevails. I swear I can hear birdsong. I am sure that if I were to half close my eyes, I would be able to see soldiers playing football in the mud and the puddles. I wonder, should the work actually stop today, how long would it take nature to reclaim the land: to subsume the proto-roads and infrastructures, to re-establish homes, not for humans, but for beasties of all types and sizes?
Idle speculation of course because, even now, I see herds of hi-viz approaching me from the left and a lorry (presumably a Brobdignagian tea-urn) disappearing to the right. A casual glance from the window finds me staring into the jaw of a giant digger.
Half a century, or more, ago I read a story in what well could have been ‘Amazing Tales’ or ‘Astounding Stories’ which, unusually, did not centre on the Aliens living, undetected, next door. It supposed that the Solar System was a molecule, each planet an atom, a tiny fragment of a reality that was infinitely bigger than our own – the Universe as a coffee table – and I can’t shake off the image of all the giant machinery around me as vast insects, themselves part of some huge colony, simultaneously building and pillaging.
At which point, doubt kicks in: do I mean pillaging? Wasn’t that a Viking thing alongside names like Bloodaxe and helmets with horns on? Always makes me wonder how primitive we English were back then that the Vikings could be regarded as civilising. We had plenty of Vikings around these parts and the influence still persists. I know that the suffix ‘by’ simply meant ‘village’ (hence Ingleby – the English village – and Normanby – the Norman village) and that Thorp(e) meant a village of lesser importance e.g. Thorpe-on-the-Hill, Thorpe-le-Fallows, Thorpe-near-the-Bus Stop and Thorpe-where-the-old-village-pub-is-now-an-Old Tyre Dump.
What I’m hoping, of course, is that they might dig up Viking remains behind me, a Viking village perhaps, fatefully named Colinby or Thorpe-on-the-Back Field, accompanied by pots of gold and enough ancient artefacts to keep Baldrick* happy for months – just long enough for a Preservation Order to be slapped on the whole shebang.
Fanciful? I guess so, but the thought has kept me occupied for a while – even if it does mean that another day has gone by with nothing for me to say…
*A hugely popular character from Rowan Atkinson’s ‘Blackadder’, played by Tony Robinson, who later hosted ‘Time Team’ in which all manner of things were dug up by a team of people with whom you would love to spend an evening in the pub, but probably, all things considered, would not want living next door.