Agricultural Labourers, Vegetarian Long Distance Walkers and obscure South Coast Clergymen
I've written elsewhere on this site, among the Essays, of how I got my mojo working again (by which I mean the ability to write), concentrating on biographical subjects. There has been a worrying development of this. Having dramatised the early adulthood of the agricultural worker and author Fred Kitchen's life (see earlier in this News Section) I was commissioned by Radio 4 to complete the job and fill in the later years, 1940-69: 30 years of a man's life in 5 x15 minute episodes. It goes out on the week of April 13th, through the week in the post 'Woman's Hour' and post 'Front Row' slot. (follow 'read more' link)
And then, a week or two ago, in the post from the same director - David Hunter - a first hand diary account of a vegetarian's attempt on the record of the walk from Land's End to John O'Groats in 1905: 'Could you make anything of this?' I've just had a couple of days on it and think I can, though it's an odd hybrid of the factual and the fictional. I see an opportunity to tell in that same 15 Minute Drama slot something out of the ordinary, numinous, as well as a tale of blisters and poached eggs. And yesterday, Thursday, packing up my car by the Harbour at Folkestone, where I live, one of the fishermen, whom I know a bit, calls out to me - while gutting his catch at a great slab - 'What do you write?' So I told him. 'I've got this memoir of a Folkestone Vicar, long dead. It's very readable. I'll post it through your door.'
I used to write about (God help me) Shakespeare; Tolstoy; Flaubert; E.M. Forster; Edith Wharton; Thomas Hardy; Caravaggio and Vermeer even. Now it's agricultural labourers, vegetarian long distance walkers and (maybe) obscure Folkestone Vicars. What's going on? Well, not much, I suppose, is the answer. I distrust fanciful plots, sexy killers and Gillian Anderson as a police officer immaculate in crisp satin blouse. What I enjoy is the jog trot of day to day life and trying to capture it if I can. I'm clearly in my last - most down beat - phase...