The last month since leaving Canada has been a whirlwind back in London. And it’s been great to be back, mid-summer, with that cool airy sunshine that June in southern England carries with it, and which makes me glad to be home.
As usual I’ve been cramming writing in around work – this time back at the Foreign Office language school – where I’m refreshing my Bosnian en route back to Sarajevo. It’s great to see my old langauge teacher, Ana, who – for three hours a day – bends my mind around complex irregular case endings and idiomatic figures of speech, nearly all of which it turns out I’ve forgotten.
Writing-wise, it’s been a month of both finishing up and looking forward. After four years, and eight complete re-drafts, including two word-for-word complete redrafts with my playwriting group this past year, I have finished my stage play, The Claudius Principle. It’s been hard going in part because of my unabashed ambition for the piece, which is to dramatise what I think is our instinctive reaching for faith at moments of extreme crisis. That and-contructing – in almost a Cubist way, block by block, perspective by perspective – the key dramatic charge of Hamlet, namely Hamlet’s relationship with Claudius.
It’s fitting that both the first few and last drafts were written holed up in a tiny flat in the Lake District, which – probably of all places I know –seems to be the place from which I seem to work best as a writer. I think it’s both the natural beauty and the chance to re-charge steps from the front door – whether in an old pub, or running on the fells – that makes it really special. That and the light: light is important for a writer, I think: it makes you raise your eyes from the page to the window, and lose yourself in possibilities.
I’ve also been using the time to catch up with the poetry crowd, including a short gig at the Poetry Café in Covent Garden. Now that the play is done, I’m looking forward to turning back to poetry in the autumn, and to start thinking about the shape of a new collection, and what it might contain. I’m interested in the idea of three couples walking around a museum, but it’s early days, and not much is yet down on paper. I’m hoping to find inspiration in Vancouver, which is where I head next…