I’ve had quite a long period of not writing anything much. Lockdown certainly hasn’t helped. At the start, I thought it would be an opportunity, a catalyst for getting on with this novel that has already taken so much longer than any of the others, but that proved to be wrong. However, I do seem to be getting back into gear, so I thought I’d share this. It is actually quite a pivotal passage in terms of plot, but I don’t think it gives much away in isolation. In any case, if anyone reads this, they will most probably forget about it by the time I actually publish!
If I remember anything about those days, it was being there in early summer. I don’t know if I’m thinking of one time in particular or if this is a fusion of many different occasions, but it has crystalised in my mind. Laying on the tufted grass beneath tall, dark trees, the damp seeping through our clothes as the sun slid down. The little bursts of activity when someone would say something, or throw something. Then there’d be chasing and shouting. More laughing. We were like a family of sparrows in a hedge; rising, circling, settling again.
And then the darkness. The low, murmured conversations as groups and couples formed. Secrets and kisses exchanged under those trees as the light faded and the temperature fell. But then, suddenly, it would end. It would be too cold, or somebody would have to get the last bus back to their village and we’d all amble back to the lights and traffic, leaving the magic behind for another day.
You may not even remember me being there. I was one of the quiet ones, more likely to be watching than running around squealing and hoping to be caught. But you were often there and, if you were, I knew that. I knew that with a force I don’t mind admitting now, all this time later. If I was a watcher, it was you I was watching. It always had been.
The park appears quite often in this novel. It is a fictional fusion of many parks I have known over the years, but the passage above is based on my memories of Knole Park in Sevenoaks.