2015, goodbye. Thanks for my son’s 40th, my daughter’s wedding and graduation, and the publication of ‘Shadows of the Trees‘ and of my article in ‘Journeys and Destinations.’ I drove single-handedly to the west of Eire, to Suffolk, to Lancashire, Kent, Ewell, Staffordshire, Nottinghamshire, Dumfries, Crianlarich, the Isle of Lewis.
2016 is going to be quieter in terms of travel, but I’m hoping family and friends will take up the invitation to visit me instead. I have a new article on Tolkien to edit for submission, and work has started already on the third novel in the Skorn series. Look out in November for ‘The Dry Well.’
During my perfectly wonderful Christmas break, the phrase at the head of this post has been slightly on my mind, as someone on FaceBook asked me that shortly before I went away. I didn’t know something that the questioner felt everybody should surely know.
Two images arose to help me express what I was thinking and feeling about this, and about how wrong we are to assume that we all know what each other knows, or that people who don’t know what we know are somehow lacking. The first is that British Gas TV ad with peoples’ homes described and pictured as their ‘worlds’ – each family lives on a tiny planet just big enough for one house. The other image has to be the Venn diagram, which even my non-mathematical mind recalls as a series of overlapping circles denoting areas of commonality between individuals, groups, ideas, just about anything. This latter seems the better of the two to me, as it expresses the importance of sharing. The circle is an enclosing and protecting shape, but not necessarily exclusivist or solipsistic.
The answer to that original query, at its most basic, has to be;
I live on the same planet as you, but the two of us know different things about it. Some we both know, some only one or the other of us knows, and some neither of us knows.
In fact my rather flippant response when the question was put to me was ‘Skorn.’ I do spend a lot of time there considering it’s imaginary, but as one of the people who imagined it, I rather need to. However, that makes me guilty of assuming that ‘everyone knows’ what ‘the planet Skorn’ is.
If we are going to use the metaphor of planets to signify ‘areas of interest’ one of the important things is to remember that we all flit from planet to planet in the course of each day. In Staffordshire on my way North this month, I was invited onto the planet of one of the country’s most expert historians and modellers of buses. I would not seek to live there, but my learning and sharing time there was immense. Each of our friends, however close, travels daily across the faces of planets unknown to us, and where we would do well to sojourn for them for a time, now and then. It’s not about sharing only with people who live in the exact same planetary system as yourself. Take a rocket-trip now and then, and see the sea, the sky and the stars through other people’s eyes.
I’ll be off tomorrow heading north for my Christmas visit. Weather looks slightly more bearable for tomorrow, I’m going to be beating my way through rain and mist a bit later today to get the ancient mog to the cattery.
The thought of travelling north reminded me of yet another book I should have read but haven’t; The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
I must add it to a list. I’m not sure if the M6 is quite what Flanagan had in mind, though.
niðr ok norðr liggr Helvegr – downward and northwards runs the road to Hel.‘
The trees reflect my sister-in-law’s photographic genius rather than the scene outside my window. Here it is a little brighter than yesterday – indeed the cat has just been out for ten whole minutes, so it must be quite nice!
Why the fuss about the weather? It shows my preoccupations differ enormously from those big corporations who keep boasting online about how they are staying open to sell people things they don’t want or need right up until Christmas. (Employees getting double time? I do wonder.) Frankly I find my own interests narrowing just now – will I get everything into the boot, will the weather/roads be dreadful on my Christmas journeys, will the incredibly aged cat survive another stay at the cattery (the are wonderful and caring, but he is ridiculously old and frail.)
Yes I do want you all to buy my books and recommend them to your friends – here’s my Amazon Author page. But when I am away on any holiday, I do not take a device with me, do not check my emails, do not aggressively market my wares. OK, I’m getting on a bit, but however old or young you are, you need a break. Take one.
Today I want to sing the praises of two fellow-writers; Jan Hawke and Cyndi Barker-Botha. Jan’s novel, Milele Safari, is a powerful story set in the times of genocidal civil war; a disturbing read but a compelling one, tracing the stories of several people caught up in those times, and showing their gradual recovery of hope for their futures. The book is enjoying great success and can be purchased HERE; read the reviews and then try it for yourself.
Cyndi’s biographical work, To Trust, an African, is still being prepared for publication – it tells of the realities of life under Apartheid in South Africa. I’m so excited by this brilliant first book that I have taken the liberty of entering it on Good Reads in order to alert other readers to it. Follow THIS link to see my brief summary, and contact Cyndi here on LinkedIn to show you are waiting to read her work.