She's Leaving Home

          My wife goes away today, for a week in Ireland. I hesitate to call it a holiday. Both her parents are buried over there, so she’ll be visiting the grave and tending to that. Besides, she considers herself to be Irish, even though she was born here. For her, it is more like a homecoming. But there’s a race meeting and a hurling match, shopping trips to Dunne’s Stores, and cups of Bewlays coffee.

          Meanwhile, I’ve got a week to myself, but I rashly promised my wife that I’d decorate the bathroom. That got adjusted to the slightly easier hallway, but it’s still a week doing something I can’t stand and am honestly not very good at. It still means breathing in chemicals, crouching down on all fours, and trying not to get paint on the carpet. Dust, upheaval and being stuck indoors all day. Does anybody ever enjoy that?

          I’ve also got to talk to the cat, because that’s my wife does. The cat is passionately attached to her; if I don’t play it right, I’ll be savaged to death in my wife’s absence.

          On the other hand, I’m glad to be off work. I thought today would never come. I found myself getting tetchier and tetchier with the public. They deserve it, of course, but I’m supposed to be professionally detached.

          Writing-wise, I’ve been happier. I found out that Burialday are looking for horror stories for their forthcoming gothic blue book. They are especially keen to have stories featuring American supernatural folklore. So I started researching that, and two or three ideas started to come to me, strong ideas, stories which I can’t wait to tell. The ideas scare me slightly, in a good way. If I can’t find a way to get my sasquatch over to the UK then I will have to set my story in the USA, where I’ve never been.

          I’ve seen Hollywood films, of course; and human beings are fundamentally the same the world over. But can I, from the comfort of a chair in South London, write about, say, New York in such a way that a New Yorker won’t realize that I’ve never been there? Have never flown further west than Shannon airport.

          I’ve stopped being obsessed with this horror-film-for-radio which I was trying to come up with. I haven’t entirely given up on the project, although it bugs me. There’s a difference between writing prose and writing drama. A lot of what happens in an M.R. James story is physical, atmospheric.

          I’m going to watch a few horror films whilst my wife is away (one thing to comfort me during her absence: I’ve got sole possession of the remote control). I’m also going to catch the stage show of The Woman In Black at the Fortune Theatre- the fourth time I will have seen it. As good as the film version was, the stage version is a lot creepier. However blasé you are about horror films, this play will make you jump.

          I only hope I can fit in all the decorating which I promised…


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