Cotswolds Conference Centre almost seems too comfortable for a Creative Writing course: warm rooms, free newspapers and constant coffee - don't real writers need an icy garret? or at least a draft and no choice of puddings. Apparently not; despite the indulgent surroundings of Farncombe Estate, my weekend group was brilliant, gelling easily and producing an inspiring range of styles and stories.
I drove home on a high, at least until the road disappeared in a sleet-storm that drowned out the radio and obliterated the landscape. It was as if all the local rivers, partially frozen, had reared up like pythons before shaking themselves back down to earth. Poor naked wretches that bide the pelting of this pitiless storm, How shall your houseless heads and raggedness, defend you? a mentalist monarch with realm-rage might well have wondered.
Rehearsals for my plays in the On the Edge programme at the Alma Tavern Theatre begin this week and director Pameli Benham invited me to come along for the thrill & privilege of witnessing my words brought alive by professionals. The actors, Meg Whelan and Kirsty Cox, are both fabulous, morphing into their roles before my eyes and turning Pameli's diningroom into a Greek island terrace even with no sunshine spot or potted geraniums. My response to this empathetic interpretation was an intense desire to rewrite the entire play - or rather, to edit ruthlessly. I started extracting lines like they were prickly pear splinters. Exposition - Out! Repetition - Out! Gratuitous - obvious - cliché - out, out, out !!! Best fun I've had with my boots on all winter.