Wednesday 2 May 2012

The nine men's morris is filled up with mud ...

Crosser than a wet hen. That was me, last Wednesday, caught in a downpour on Sloper Road, on my way to the Archives. Too far along to go back to my favourite bus stop – the one I always shelter in when I get caught in a downpour on the way to the Archives (Can you see a pattern here?) I waded on, and arrived Very Wet Indeed.  

Then on Saturday/Sunday night, with the wind howling round the house and things falling over on the back yard, my writer’s imagination began to work overtime about what exactly was making that ominous crashing sound. In the daylight? Nothing I could see. Obviously not in my back yard. 

Then yesterday, on a quick train trip to London, seeing new ponds in the middle of fields – despite the drought.  

Weather is looming large in my mind – and I’m sure I’m not the only one. 

The waterlogged fields brought up that quotation from Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s part of a complex speech from Titania, claiming that the problems with the weather arise from a falling out between herself and Oberon, the fairy king. After the wettest UK April on record, and with the predictions for May not much better, I’m beginning to wonder if they are still arguing. What exactly is a Nine Man’s Morris? My ancient Signet version of the play confidently asserts that it is squares cut in turf for a game, played with nine counters, but I’ve heard that folklore experts cannot identify any such game ever being played. I don’t know what is right, but it is one of those quotations that always sums up horribly wet weather in my mind. I can just see the squares in the turf, slowly filling up, and oozing …
I seem to be a bit obsessed with Midsummer Night’s Dream at the moment, possibly because I am already beginning to be afraid that this is going to be yet another year when we don’t get a summer – although actually that is not true – we had that week. In March.
I know my dislike of cold and wet influences my writing – and reading – habits. I’ve just abandoned a book because the setting was unrelenting snow – the descriptions were excellent and it was making me too cold to read it. One of the pieces of advice sometimes given to writers is to make your characters uncomfortable. It’s supposed to make a book edgy, to have your protagonists physically miserable. I can’t do that. I’d much rather make them emotionally miserable, while the sun shines on them. I get more fun out of that, and keep my feet dry. Although I did give my hero, Devlin, his own personal rain cloud after he walked out on Kaz. (Bad decision, good reasons – at least he thought so.) It followed him around for quite a few chapters. I think of my books as holiday reading – which is why I like to set them in beautiful places, where the sun shines.
So – if you want something dark and sinister, to read on the beach …

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