Aged eight, sitting at the kitchen table helping my mum to make marmalade whilst Heseltine laid into Thatcher live on the radio. I remember my mum cheering along. I didn’t understand much of what was being said, but I had been brought up to despise Thatcher and, besides, Mum’s jubilation was infectious. The smell of marmalade being made isn’t something I come across very often these days, but when I do it takes me straight back.
I spent a lot of time wandering about the St Cross water meadows in Winchester as a teenager. It largely came to an end when I learnt to drive and could visit more exotic Hampshire locations, but I think you learn so much more about a place when you have to walk there and back again. The River Itchen is crystal clear and just about deep enough to swim in, as long as the swans don’t take a dislike to you.
I went to a sixth-form college which was only a five minute walk up the road, and where you only had to be present during lessons. I spent most of my time at home eating biscuits and watching day-time television. I really regret wasting all that time at such an important age. On the plus side I learnt a lot of interesting details about middle-aged ladies’ fashion.
My three-year-old daughter Polly is currently upstairs listening to Winnie the Pooh, although she may have dropped off to sleep by now. I bought her a toy megaphone a while ago and I’ll be washing up in the kitchen when a loud, distorted voice demanding ‘MORE YOGHURT PLEASE DADDY’ will float through the doorway. She’s also my strongest critic. ‘Stop singing now Daddy.’ ‘Don’t play music Daddy.’
I recently flew back from the States and didn’t move from my seat for seven hours. Instead I read Cormac McCarthy’s traumatic, powerful The Road cover to cover trying very hard not to weep audibly. To cheer myself up I read the excellent Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen. All in all not a bad flight. Apart from the food of course.
Published on 1 June 2009