Two weeks into the New Year and I’m trying to remind my writer self, my Wandering Poet, of some responsible adult, routine-like habits. Most of these we have been following now for about six months. We start the week with an early morning hour’s walk in a nearby wood. Mondays are days for ‘laying track,’ that is writing anything and everything as compost for future work. Tuesdays are days for writing admin., drafting and practicalities. Pre-work Thursday mornings are a meeting time, initially intended for business-like brainstorming that has become a weekly log of watching Londoners in the coffee shops of the West End. There are the suited businessmen who eat polystyrene breakfasts at MacDonald’s, the tourists who stop in at Costa for lattes and the skinny jeans-wearing set who frequent a niche coffee joint in New Row (Where they don’t do Americanos.). And there are the smiles and welcoming banter of the waitress and proprietor of my current favourite spot, Scott’s.
Here I have found the soup-bowl sized Americanos to my liking. I go in quietly, avoiding unnecessary niceties. I have pages to write, the barber across the road to watch, hits from the nostalgic eighties radio show to note down. Jones Bootmaker across the street changes their enticing ‘Sale On’ window signage every two weeks and Flight Centre across from them only opens its office after I have set off for my day. When I am at Scott’s scribbling, Flight Centre’s lights are always off and nobody’s in.
Last weekend a friend passed on a clunky CD player; an old school kind with a tape deck. The gift came with a stack of decommissioned CD’s from a local library. I’ve moved through Brahms Symphony 3, 60-minutes of Mozart highlights, Beethoven Symphonies 1 and 6 (scratched) and tonight it is Berlioz.
Sitting on the floor next to my desk, back against the wall with laptop balanced on bent knees has been my favourite writing spot for the last while. Above me like two inspirational angels, the little girls light the lanterns in John Singer Sargent’s “Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose.” For wont of blue tac, I have used gold and silver star stickers to stick up the reproduction of this painting, torn from a promotional paper handed out in the City.
But tonight, in this spirit of being more grownup, I am sitting at my desk in my rented room. The hooded empty eye-socket of the desk-lamp stares at me. A year since moving in, it still needs a light-bulb. And you, my reader, need a poem:
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