Sunday, 2 March 2008

Housman's Bookshop

This week I joined a new writers' circle, which meets in the bowels of Housman's Bookshop in Central London. The place is unheated and unbelievably cold even in this rather mild winter. As we huddled around a single bar electric fire I was, I admit, re-connected to the pre-centrally heated days of my childhood. Yet, there is something very focussing about sitting in semi darkness, coat pulled around your shoulders, munching custard creams and reading a chapter from your novel. When I listed to the others' stories, focussing a hundred percent because after all, what else can you do in semi darkness, I found myself utterly captivated by the different worlds they led me into. Call me old fashioned, but I wondered whether we've lost something precious, sitting here in the 21st century, enjoying luxuries our ancestors would have associated with the idle rich. Maybe I've turned into my mother after all.