27 November 2001 handwritten notes, copied and ammended later

22 November, 13:35 Picnic lunch (a fresh prawn sandwich) by the second pond...

Strong northwest wind, yellow leaves, some moving, most already fallen, grey/white clouds, long straight streaks of vapour trails above this aerial commotion and unaffected by it. The lake water shimmers. One of the five swans disappeared two weeks ago...

I'm glad to be here, digesting my lunch in the open air, still thinking of the conference (on the prevention of terrorism) that I proposed yesterday, (it took most of the day)... but now it's falling away from me and is becoming part of my context, and that of the others who will see it and perhaps react, perhaps not, but nevertheless the world is different for that as well as for these fallen leaves, the food of new trees if this spot remains city forest for long enough... How long will that be?

'How long?' is the wrong question I think...

so I attend to the moment. (Full stop!) and I look about,

...the sunlight reflected from the lake dazzles me for a minute - but already a cloud moves between the sun and the water, extinguishing the dazzle. The winds grow stronger and more gusty, making the most beautiful indescribable... sweeping patterns of tiny wavelets on the water. I look up and see the clouds moving fast below others, which do not move.

A gull dives to the water and picks up a piece of bread and is immediately chased by other gulls.

Yellow leaves are blown off the trees as a tall woman with a long bent stick comes by. 'Cold, isn't it?' she says... then 'Nice, isn't it?' before she walks away.

Time for me to move on - I'm going to a meeting this afternoon, a very unusual thing for me to do now. A meeting of the Author's Licensing and Collecting Society, believe it or not.

At the meeting:

a talk by Dr Jim Parker, Registrar of the Public Lending Right (which distributes money to authors whose books are borrowed from public libraries):

This man has such a nice look of perhaps a sailorman, or a Scottish crofter - he has a look that is authentic and old (ancient, prehistoric perhaps) and yet somehow he is doing very modern work in accordwith all that inheritance, that humanity... (unlike the look of some of us who resemble or communicate only our nervous and limited modern roles, or offices as they were once called) ... his look, and wide awareness, is I believe a most important thing to preserve... beyond everything... against modern narrowness and superficiality. Fatal.)

At the meeting I couldn't resist speaking of the timeliness of Maureen Duffy and the other pioneers who insisted that this society excluded publishers, was for authors only - for now, post-internet, it is evident that there is a future for authors, or for electronic self-publishing, far beyond (in time and extent) the future of printed publication - with its economic print runs and commercial censorship...

One or two applauded this remark and several came to speak to me afterwards... Yes, I always feel so at home in public... it suits me, and me it!... and I look forward to the time when public life can include everyone and every word and action... and each one feels at ease with all the rest of us. Why not - in war or tenderness or any action?

A better world!

digital diary dates