How to start this post - yes I know it is the first in many months - I could start by saying that Jerusalem Artichokes are the single most versatile vegetable on the plant (given half a chance they would run rampant and swallow the earth in a saga worthy of a Dr Who three-parter) or perhaps ask if anyone out there knows anything about Dahlias? I've been given two beautiful red plants to go in my new garden but know not what kind of soil or location they like.
Well that seems to have got me started.
I should really begin by mentioning AL Kennedy's book Day, which was published by Jonathan Cape in April. I read it back in December in proof format and thought it wonderful, honest, and achieved. It is a novel ambitious for the form and therefore not constricted. However not all those book reviewers out there have agreed with me, but I do urge you to read it. I like it because it is not strapped into a straight jacket - although the main character might think he should be - it is not linear in its narrative - I don't much like linear - and takes Kennedy's use of the second person to a new level. I was hyping it all last year before I read it and I can safely say that it lived up to expectations and also exceeded them.
Now the excuses: I know that saying that I've been busy since the end of Cheltenham Literature Festival last October is a very lame excuse, but I have been busy and somewhat computer-less since my two batteries for my laptop gave up the goat (I do mean goat not ghost), and the very old iMacs we had at work until last week were not capable of supporting any sort of browser without crashing. But we have lovely shiny new Mac Minis now with Firefox...
I left the festival in November last year. I enjoyed it immensely but my time was up. While I was sad to go it was, in hindsight, the right course of events. In January - I can't quite believe that six months have passed already - I started working for writernet and also as a teaching assistant/seminar leader in the School of English and Drama at Queen Mary, University of London.
Oh, and I brought a cottage in Suffolk - hence the red Dahlia's as a gift. I shall be spending my summer restoring it.
Book recommendation for July - aside from Day which you should buy today, on you way to the tube, bus, church, village hall, supermarket, farm shop, home etc - All Shall Be Well; And All Shall Be Well; And All Manner Of Things Shall Be Well by Tod Wodicka is published by Cape on the 12th July is wonderful and beautiful and has a lovely front cover which is not an abstract from a postmodern photograph.
Being back in London means that I get to go to the theatre without having to do battle with long armed torygraph readers and First Great Western, and I've seen some brilliant, refreshing and imaginative work including Katie Mitchell's productions Waves and Attempts On Her Life at the National Theatre and the National Theatre of Scotland's production of Anthony Neilson's The Wonderful World of Dissocia at the Royal Court ranking highly. I wasn't sure what to make of the ENO's Death in Venice, though - perhaps I was too distracted by the very uncomfortable balcony seats, next time I will stand.
I'm off now to do battle with One Railway - that unholy alliance of four train companies which serves East Anglia.