Late last November I started a fifth novel wondering - aged eighty - whether I'd finish it. I knew its clunky title, Hardship Hope, would need replacing.
In January, suddenly, I took my first singing lesson. The subsequent elation - endlessly documented - caused Hardship Hope to be sidelined at only 18,000 words. It was hard concentrating on mere words with Sarastro's bass lines running between my ears.
One aim has always been to sing a duet with a soprano. This requires preparation of a different order, as much technical as musical. I accept this and am "buckling down". In a more balanced state of mind I've resumed the novel.
I realised the title's dullness had held me back; it made the MS seem dull. The novel's now called Rictangular Glasses (the misspelling is intentional) and suddenly I have 23,805 words. A corner has been turned, a new chapter begun. The scene's no longer North Birmingham but a hotel in Mauritius:
Astonishing, given the heat, the number of orders for curry soup although she was fairly sure she knew the answer to that one. Today was Wednesday half-way through most bookings and many diners, bored senseless by the blandness of the so-called international cuisine, were probably desperate – as Lindsay had been – for food with any kind of zip. Even at this distance the disenchantment was palpable: cutlery immobilised above plates that offered nothing in the way of stimulation. Another half an hour and she could hop on her bike and meet Shakeel at the Magnetisme for some real food.
That done and I'm ready to tease out the musical sense of: "And all I meant to doo-oo..." with its A-sharp and B-natural, signifying a minor key and (for me) a non-intuitive passage. Renaissance Man in miniature.