Walking home from work the other day across North Bridge I saw the sun gleaming on the roof of Waverley train station, and the castle on the hill silhouetted against that sky, and the spire of the Scott Monument to the right. Walter Scott, who I’ve never read, wrote the Waverley novels after which the station is named. Shall I read them, ever, I ask myself. So many more books. Such a profusion.
I’ve recently thought to add Ford Madox Ford to the list, after the wonderful (if mumbly) production of Parade’s End. If you haven’t watched it or had the chance to yet, I recommend you seek it out. Not something I’d ever really go for – a landowning Tory statistician trying to live honourably by his philandering wife, despite falling in love with a much more wholesome suffragette and facing the dismantling horrors of World War One. But it’s one of those rare examples of lush BBC drama brought convincingly to life with excellent actors. Little scene-chewing here, just subtle hand movements and flashing eyes and rich draping fabrics coupled with oddly stagey set pieces. Tom Stoppard wrote the script and apparently this is something of an achievement, given the source material’s anti-narrative, Modernist style. Which makes me want to read it all the more. That and FMF encouraged Jean Rhys (after or before their affair, I’m not sure). How does the one feed into and complicate the other?
So that’s the week, the last few weeks. Watching this drama of restraint and farce and dizzying luxury. Waiting and working and reading. And being disappointed and carrying my bags and planning. And being anxious about the future of my first book and my current manuscript. Taking long breaths out, stretching my arms in front of me and behind. Creeping inch by inch across the pages and hours. Do I make progress, or do I just hope I do?Time progresses, regardless. The sun burnishes the panels of glass and blackens the old stone buildings, the clouds in the sky arrange themselves like silks and wool. And it is beautiful, and I despite it all, have time to notice.