Started the day with a stone clear
. Was that really today? It feels like a lifetime ago. And it’s not like it was a busy day. I have been a bit lethargic for a few days now and got very little done. I’d love to think it’s because I have Covid (because that would be a good excuse and also it’s not at all unpleasant), but I think it’s just one of those occasional fallow periods I have where everything feels like too much effort.
There was some excitement in the house though as next door was having its trees pollarded and branches were crashing down in our garden. We’d forgotten to warn the kids and my youngest freaked out thinking that the men were baddies. They were in white coveralls and so my daughter thought they were storm troopers. Possibly the lame storm troopers who attack trees. There were tears and screams of fear, but I think we managed to convince them that they were safe. Probably scared for life now. Parenting fail from us.
I chatted to a journalist from the Times about my so-called cultural life. I didn’t tell her that it was mainly centred around playing games on my phone in the bath, but was fairly honest about my predilection for sci-fi and comedy above all else. I bigged up Terry Hall and Ben Folds too and discussed two times that I went on holiday on my own. Funnily enough the journalist had just yesterday returned from a solo holiday, so I didn’t look so tragic. Or we both did.
I walked the dog after dinner. It was my first properly dark dog walk of the winter, thanks to the clocks going back. I recalled how nervous I had felt on the early dog walks through the dark countryside - the darkness (even with a torch) is enveloping and there are weird noises and plenty of hiding places for ghosts and monsters. It used to freak me out a bit. I thought to myself how much more relaxed I was now and how the countryside felt like home.
Then I got to a long dirt track. I flashed my torch in one direction and was surprised to see a woman in a pink top with a couple of dogs heading towards me from the near distance. Just because I’d heard nothing. I was more concerned that I might have freaked her out by flashing a torch at her, so I turned in the opposite direction and walked onwards. I didn’t want to turn around and flash the torch at her again, but also felt a bit weird that I was being followed in the dark and also wanted to know how close she was in case the dogs started playing or fighting.
A few minutes later I stopped and casually managed to flash my torch backwards, but the trail was completely empty. Which again surprised me. She might have turned round to avoid the dogs barking at each other or she might have taken a left or right (but I’d heard no clang of gates and somehow doubted that she’d be heading up the hill.
There were explanations for her disappearance, but there was also doubt in my mind about them all. Had the woman appeared to be wearing slightly unfashionable clothes in that brief flash of torchlight? Had a woman walking her dogs in the 1970s mysteriously disappeared on this road?
It was crazy to be spooked by this, but I was a little bit. I then heard a horse cantering around the field next to me, but when I shone the torch in that direction, the field was empty.
Again quite a rubbish ghost, but my confidence in my night time coolness that I’d had just minutes before had evaporated. I got out on to the main road and felt safer under the glow of the street lights. But still checked behind me for ghosts.
I tried to do something constructive with my time and to get rid of the vast supplies of books in my garage. So in my continued commitment to make November a month for charity I have a lovely Christmas gift offer for you. If you would like a signed copy of Christmas Emergency Questions for you or a friend then please make a donation of at least £10 to SCOPE here
. £25 or more and get a handwritten and exclusive EQ. Free sheet of RHLSTP stickers whilst stocks last.
Will stick in a few extra surprises for higher donations.
If you can’t afford £10 then you can try a smaller amount and see what happens (I will send you a book anyway).
And then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
and tell me who you’d like it signed to and where you want it sent. There will be bonus gifts for higher donations too. All money to Scope. I am paying for postage (anywhere in the world).
This will be running til Christmas, so no rush to get your order in.