I’ve finished my ‘popular’ book – for about the sixth time: I always think of something to add – and am waiting for my publisher to get back to me. Unfortunately she’s on holiday – how dare publishers take holidays! They should be on call to their authors every minute of every day!! – so I’m left in limbo for a week or two, suffering from the post-natal – or should it be post-coital? – depression that always afflicts me at this stage. Is the book as good as I thought it was when I was in the throes of creation? Or is it a load of crap? In particular, have I allowed my feelings about Brexit to undermine my scholarly objectivity? Or can I persuade readers that those feelings genuinely arise from the objective history I’ve tried to record in the book? And will this affect the publisher’s judgment of whether the completed work should be accepted into her stable? (Bloomsbury are mainly an ‘academic’ publisher; but they were pretty complimentary about the ‘proposal’.) I won’t know until Emily gets back from her – I’m sure fully deserved – holiday; refreshed and happy enough, I hope, to smile on my curious Patriot’s History.
What I need to do now is to free myself from the obsession with the book that has taken me over during the last six or eight months, and focus on something else. We’ve just acquired a new puppy (Irish Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier – our third of that breed) who is doing a good job of distracting me, mainly by licking my face and biting my toes. (She seems to be a foot-fetishist.) I wanted to call her Bobby, after the great Bobby Moore, but Kajsa wasn’t having any of that (I can see her point: the puppy is a bitch); so she’s now named Tjorven, after a character in a Swedish children’s book.
Apart from Tjorven, I’m trying to get back to reading novels, which I haven’t done for months, or even years. There’s a pile of them by my bedside. The one I’m into now is Richard Wright’s The Man Who Lived Under Ground; for which he couldn’t find a publisher while he was alive, but which has just been issued by the Library of America Press. I discovered Richard Wright many years ago, and read and hugely admired all his books. The Man Who Lived Under Ground is up there with the best of them; but – you should be warned – it’s not a cheerful read. I’m reminded of Dostoyevsky, and perhaps Kafka. Not the best cure for a post-natal (or coital) depression, perhaps, but I’m determined to finish it. And then perhaps Emily will cheer me up.
The thing that puts me off Brexit as a topic now is that it is not like the Trump years. They were terrible and intolerable; however, they came to an end – at least for the time being. Brexit lives on, like a disgusting disease that cannot be cured. All the dangerous pathogens that brought it about are still afloat and smirking. It is appropriate that the Trump phenomenon, Brexit and COVID should have arrived at roughly the same time. This is hardly an original insight, but the ideologies associated with Brexit and Trump have spread more like a virus than a proliferation of ideas.
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