Posted by: Linda Proud | July 28, 2007

28 July 2007

It was our wedding anniversary two days ago. I remembered it three days ago, at which point I told David that we had forgotten it. It’s been that kind of week. Hard to think that last Saturday was a nice, sunny day, the day after the storm, and we had no idea what was coming. Our only concern was that Art in Action should keep going, despite a boggy carpark. In 1947 Wolvercote was hit hard by the floods. This house was a sweetshop then, one of 13 shops in this small village. I wonder how much warning they had? Did they, like us, watch the levels on the meadow rise and rise, only to find that the water, when it comes, comes from the stream at the end of the road? Did they salvage any stock, or were they ruined? Did they cry, or were they too tired for that?

We’ve been miraculously spared, except for the allotment. I tried to get there yesterday but all three routes across the meadow are blocked by fast-flowing and very deep water. After a week of suspense – which is, in itself, disorientating and exhausting – I think it really hit me then, the loss and the impossibility of salvage. It’s debilitating to have to go and buy potatoes when only last week I thought I’d planted too many and was facing a glut. As a student of philosophy, I try to be philosophical: it’s all a passing show. Success and failure – treat the imposters both the same. I’m disappointing myself. But at leastI understand why melancholy is common among philosophers: it is unexpressed grief.

And then, when in the depths of the glums, one looks up to see the light catching the water, swans taking a free ride on the current, ducks colonising one of the islands, and beauty comes like a bright, golden blade to pierce the misery. For that moment, all is well and happy.

23 July 2007

In December, when I was just about to complete The Rebirth of Venus, we had to reorganise the house completely to accommodate my elderly mother. ‘While we’re at it. . .’ said David, and the next thing I knew was that my study was stripped out, my books put into store, and I was painting the walls while David took up the floorboards to do a bit of rewiring. I finally got back to work in mid-January having completely lost the thread. ‘No more upheavals,’ I told him. ‘Not ever, and certainly not this year.’ Now, on the day when I was printing the novel out ready to go to the proof-reader and typesetter, the police came round to tell us we were on high flood alert. As I write this, upstairs is as stuffed as it can be with things from downstairs. Through the window I keep an eye on the waters rising on the water meadow. Friday’s monsoon rains are due to surge down the Thames tomorrow morning. Meanwhile I think, I know, I’ll design a website. While David makes sandbags out of my popsocks, I take my own precautions and email the entire trilogy to my agent in California.

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