Material Remains

By Richard W H Bray

A small world fractured in the wake of an untimely death

Monday, 21 November 2016

whisky season

When the sun's out, and that's been rare these days, it always seems to be setting. Clinging close to the horizon, its light is sharper, deeper. It brings the fire out in the turning leaves. For reasons unknown to me, colder air seems cleaner, fresher, more nourishing. I like autumn. I like the coziness and security of a thick jumper. The refuge of a pub with a burning fire and the nourishment of a dark beer. Autumn and winter are whisky seasons, and often of an evening I'll find myself pouring a dram and opening up a blank document and typing away as the wind and rain whip against the windows. Some of that writing comes to nothing; as transient and temporary as the whisky in my glass. But occasionally there's something. The start of something, the middle of something, the end of something. Snippets of ideas that get saved, wee dram-sized sentences that need context; the company of other words. 

The last third of In Cathedral's Shadow was written in the autumn of 2006 (yeah, I can't believe it was that long ago either), in a big old house in the Scottish countryside. I was a lodger, staying with family friends. The house was cold; I remember typing away some days wearing gloves and a scarf, at least until I got the fire going properly. There was a cat, Bagel, that would keep me company on those cold days.  I blogged a lot more then, feeling that the effort of writing a novel needed its own chronicle. Somehow finding everyday life in the middle of nowhere fascinating enough to share with the world. Notebooks quickly filled up as well. I must have had a lot of words backed up, because they poured out that year. 

This autumn is a little different. I'm writing again, yes, a new book or two, depending on who I'm talking to. The cat that keeps me company is Pedey. He often jumps into my lap whilst I'm trying to type. This house is warmer and in West London, not West Lothian. There's still whisky though, and writing. I find it easier to stay inside and write when the rain is coming down and I can see my breath. The words don't come as easily now. My thoughts get crowded with the world around me, and London at my doorstep will always be a temptation. 

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