Get thee to a nunnery, my dear husband

Click to follow
The Independent Online

About a year ago, my wife forced me out of the house.

About a year ago, my wife forced me out of the house.

"You'll never get that book written if you don't find a space somewhere and write it. Home is too full of distractions. Go and hire an empty office, and write it there. Why not find out where that convent was that that man who wrote that book had gone to ...?"

This was a reference to a talk I had heard at the Bath Literature Festival by Adam Sisman, who said he had forced himself to write his book on Boswell by renting space in a convent in Frome and going to work in a cell there. Most unlikely story, if you ask me. And I should never have mentioned it to my wife.

"I really think that if you found somewhere free of domestic complications, where you could do nothing but write ..."

What a truly terrible thought. But then she got wind of an artist friend of hers called Fiona who had acquired an old warehouse in Bradford-on-Avon, and was converting it into space for artists. And who had found artists for every space but one.

"Ideal!" said my wife. "Pop in there and get cracking on that book!"

And I did for a while, but even on the first day, I knew it was hopeless. Writers, on the whole, like to write in silence. Artists, on the whole, like to work surrounded by noise - music, talk, their own voices. And I was the only writer there - the rest were illustrators, cartoonists, designers, people who have no concept of silence at all, and who can apparently work without thinking.

What made it worse was that Bradford was beginning to be full of nice little cafés and bars in which a small café society was building up. Now a café society is a society of people who sit in cafés, chatting and sipping, when they should be in the studio doing some work. What a temptation for a writer. I had to beg my wife: "Please let me come home where I can get some work done ..."

It's not just the cafés. There are some great pubs in and around Bradford. And they are still arriving. On 9 September, in the Bath Chronicle , I read as follows: "Thirsty villagers have welcomed the end of a 10-year drought. Locals used to enjoy meeting up for a pint at the Cross Keys in the centre of the village, but for just over a decade it has been a pub with no beer. Now that has been remedied thanks to ... Nicky Robinson and Michael Moore ... Although the Cross Keys was derelict, vandalised, damp and without ceilings, they recognised its potential ... last night, locals crowded into the new-look pub ..."

Great, I thought. Must check it out. Wonder where this village is? But the Bath Chronicle never once mentioned the name of the village. Meanwhile, Nicky Robinson and Michael Moore must be tearing their hair out in frustration at having such great free publicity thrown away.

Couldn't happen in a national newspaper, could it? Well, think again. On 17 September, on page 13 of The Independent , there appeared a great photo of a man walking up a beach to a remarkable wooden structure on wheels. The caption read: "Robert Race, an artist, on Chesil Beach in Dorset with his Seaside Machine, made from debris and driftwood washed up on the shore."

That's it. No mention that it's a press photo for an exhibition of Mr Race's machines starting this Saturday. In Bradford-on-Avon. At 25 Silver Street. At "Ale and Porter Arts", the very premises where I signally failed to write my book, though it's coming along fine at home ...

A reader writes: Dear Mr Kington, Do you mean to say this whole article is just a plug for a show put on by a friend in Bradford?

Miles Kington writes: Certainly not. I'm trying to write the longest newspaper correction ever to a miscaptioned photo.

A reader writes: Oh. Fair enough. Carry on.

Miles Kington writes: It's OK. I've finished now.

Comments