Wednesday, 13 August 2014
The story so far
Dear Supporters, Subscribers, Friends & Family,
‘Sometimes I have thought it would have been better to have made this journey when I was 27 or 37 rather than 67. Now I am profoundly glad, not that I didn’t do it then, but that I’m doing it at this age. Every ripple, on the sea, every flicker of sunlight on the waves sparks another memory, another sense of sweetness, of pleasure of gladness of the past, generating an exquisite sense of the present.’
That was the last entry I made in my notebook before rupturing my Achilles tendon, leaving the beach at Maronti on Ischia. That’s enough of that, declared The Fates.
A ruptured Achilles tendon rather restricts your movements – my movements. Getting beyond the confines of my house becomes a major operation. The healing process seems intolerably slow. This treatment is going to continue for another couple of months at least. All for a bloody tendon! I ask you. I have been forbidden to fly because of the threat of DVT. And, to be honest, I don’t much feel like gallivanting much at the moment.
As a consequence, I won’t be able to recommence my odyssey through the islands this year. Even if the tendon healed at a record pace, I wouldn’t be able to mount a Vespa again until mid-September at the earliest. I’m afraid that would be too late to travel through the remaining islands, including the Eolian Islands, the Egadi, Ustica, Lampedusa, Pantelleria, the Tremeti and the islands of the Venetian lagoon at the pace I would wish in order the write the kind of book that would make you happy to have supported me.
That’s why I intend to pick up the narrative again in July next year, and carry on, as I would have done this year had I been able to, finishing in October 2015. Had things gone according to plan, that’s about the time you would have been expecting to receive your copies of A Summer in the Islands.
I very much hope that you will bear with me for another year, and continue your support. I know this is a good deal to ask, but if you believed in the book to begin with, please go on believing.
I will finish the journey. I will write the book. Such was the illumination and pleasure I enjoyed during the first weeks of travel that I couldn’t bear not to do so.
'Do you know, Matty,’ said my brother Tom, when he picked my up from Gatwick on my return, ‘it might be for the best. The trouble with your other books,’ he went on,’ is that they’re too damn cheerful. Now you’ve experienced a bit of pain and anguish, properly handled it could add a whole different dimension to the book, make it a better book.’
I goggled at him. Talk about clouds and silver linings. It wasn’t a message that made much sense to me at the time. Now that I’m into the second month of treatment, I’m not so sure.
To while away the time, I’m getting on with drafting the story so far. When I’m happy with a passage, I’ll post it in The Shed, so you can see how things are shaping up, and I’ll remind myself it wasn’t just a glorious dream.
Yours on the hop