14 December 2009
We buried Mum in a green-burial meadow which, once sown with trees, will one day become a forest. They let us choose which species was planted on her grave. Dad chose a hazel because nightingales nest in them and the nuts will attract squirrels.
So, her work complete and legend secure, Mum’s departed into memory and myth, leaving the family to find its way without her. Dad holds the fort, Ruth tussles with two demanding small people, and I enter my third and final winter of writing.
Each phase has felt different. First there was the harsh summer of 2007, when it was all sticks, stones and treading water against a rising tide of tasks and obligations. Then there were the dark early months of 2008, when the ideas began flowering on the page and the technical problems smoothed themselves away. That spring brought shed-based austerity and a Zen-like climax as my global musings plonked themselves one-by-one into place. My return to London, and dual life in the City, brought the satisfaction of a massive creative project knitting together, along with the protracted disorientation and frustration of two days on, five days off, and no breaks. Next was the hyper-intense August/September of 2009, as the final chapters polished up and Mum slid serenely to her end.
I finished chapter 10 (of 10) on Saturday, 17 October at 11 p.m. Technically there was quite a lot of copy editing to do, but it still brought an immediate sense of lightness, like a chrysalis cracking open. Now I’m bouncing the final sections off different brains and assessing the radar images which come back, each one of which fills out my understanding of how people respond to the product, and helps me map out the endgame.
This takes place at my desk, alone, head in hands, poring over text. Meanwhile, in the next room, the twanging sounds become less random and more deliberate. Tony has brought himself a shiny new black and silver Fender and is learning to play. He’s learning fast. Thus far he’s mastered ‘Jingle Bells’ and Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’, both of which he plucks out, brows furrowed, peering at sheet music, using only two guitar strings.
The whole project is 100 per cent rock. Tony is 100 per cent rock.
While Tony lives, rock can never die.
‘I hope it’s not the wine we’ve been drinking, but I get the feeling I might be getting gout in my right index finger’ – Tony ‘The Tiger’ Bowers, 3 November 2009, 22.45