Update on the sequel to Click, Double-Click, aka The Seven Trials of Cameron-Strange. 65,000 words on the slate, maybe about 10,000 to go. To paraphrase Eric Morecombe, they are the right words, but they are not necessarily in the right order. I want to finish the draft by the end of the year, and hope to do so, if I’m spared unforeseen catastrophes, or, indeed, if I’m spared. Having done a solid chunk last week, I rewarded myself with some R & R this weekend to coincide with the onset of the festive season, and enjoyed various lunches, suppers, and parties in Glasgow, Stirling, and Aberdeen. If you spend your whole life in a garret you just get cabin fever. And besides, how can you write about life if you don’t live it? I think it was Doris Lessing who said that the difficult part of life for the writer was not the writing, but the living.
I met some wonderful people, but I suspect I wasn’t very good company. I might have had the glazed look of somebody suffering from what the psycho-geriatricians call “cocktail-proof dementia”, that is, the ability to conduct a conversation when you don’t have a clue what’s going on. So you interject at various points, “Is that so? My goodness! How extraordinary!” And all the time you are thinking, “How the hell is the troubled doc going to get himself out of the fix you’ve put him in? Of course, episode A actually needs to follow episode B, and he really doesn’t need to explain about such-and-such when the context makes it self-evident, and he really mustn’t chase Ms X because she’s professionally off limits …”
“…Sophie’s gap year helping Venezuelan street kids is going really well and Cameron is really looking forward to Brasenose…”
“Is that so? My goodness! How extraordinary!”
You slip out of the hubbub of the party for a moment to write in your notebook, “ACS – he’s like St Paul, twice shipwrecked…” You’re driving from Stirling to Aberdeen and you pull over to scribble down something you hear on the car radio: “Exploit malware – some sort of IT scam… what would ACS make of it?” You wake in the night with an idea that seems so crucial that you have to get up and write it down in case you forget it. Frankly you are living in an alternative universe and because that universe is of your own concoction and therefore capricious, are you not technically insane?
What can I tell you about Seven Trials? I like to think of a piece of music that suggests the mood of a book. The mood of Click, Double-Click was in the music of Sir James MacMillan. A Child’s Prayer would open a televised episode, and St Aloysius Pray for Us would close it.
Seven Trials has an epilogue. It is the epilogue of Arnold Bax’s Second Symphony. ACS’s beloved twin sister MacKenzie is the viola player in the Arnold Bax Quartet. MacKenzie knows that Bax is a composer of the highest order. Bax wrote seven symphonies. Four of them have epilogues – numbers 2, 3, 6, and 7. The epilogue of Bax’s Second Symphony says to us, quite clearly, this is not the end; this is merely a break, a moment of respite in a long saga. You may contrast this with the epilogue to the seventh symphony which, for all that it is understated, is one of the most – well – final farewells in all of music. But we have not yet come to that. It’s in the distance.
If Seven Trials is Bax 2, then ACS must come back. He comes back in Speedbird. I can only tell you one thing about Speedbird. The atmosphere of Speedbird is the atmosphere of Arvo Part’s In Memoriam Benjamin Britten.
So it goes on.