I can't account for a fortnight passing since airport chaos gave me a bonus night in Barreiro. I'd promised Will Amado a short story about my experience there. But I haven't written, at all, since getting back to London.
It was a re-entry of shocks coming back to housemates and windy nights and silence in the dark street. I live in a loft and have always loved my windows to the sky, but they seemed weak after my sun-fixed windows tracking sunrise to sunset in Portugal.
There I'd stand on my balcony and watch as children walked home from school with grandparents, men stopped for coffee, or cerveja, women left my blue-fronted bakery with bags of pastries and fresh loaves. From my London back porch I see into the backs of other houses, and in summer I'm woken very early on Sunday mornings by little children screaming and parents laughing, letting them. Since coming back from Barreiro I've stood and looked and it's vacant. Even the foxes seem to have moved on.
Other things have interfered with writing as well - washing and "administration", stocking up on food and cooking it and serving portions to freeze. Donna Tartt commandeered a fair chunk, (and dare I say a wedge more than she needed?) and now here I am, Thursday 11pm, only just getting a writing itch back.
I blame Annie Dillard. Since starting 'The Maytrees' I've had word thoughts again. Phrase ideas. I thank Annie Dillard.
Tonight a friend who recently returned to Melbourne after 13 years in London sent me this photo and said she thought of me: a 50m outdoor pool with lap signs that have approx. lap times so everyone can go at their own pace. "You don't get that kind of pool etiquette in England!"
Yesterday I found out I've won a Mslexia Diary for my submission to the Spread The Word competition - "Tell us your favourite time of year to write, and why." My response (to be posted on their website soon) starts, "Is underwater a season? For me, that's where writing strikes."
I've got my swimming bag packed for the first time in weeks. Friday lunchtime I'll be in a 25m indoor pool where people swim in any lane they like. There's the occasional fit swimmer powering down lap after lap, overtaking when it's clear, but mostly it's a mix of cruisers, bursters who stop to rest a lot, kickers, headabovewaters, even walkers. A bit like us writers really. I'll be doing bits of all of those, and lines may come and go, an idea might strike. Or not. But I'll be back.