Wake up. This is essential. It’s a Saturday, traditionally a day of rest for many people, but for me there are only two types of day: the days when my PA, Rob Wilkins, is in; and those when he isn’t.
Generally speaking, I write every day of the week, subject to family considerations, and so today I am writing a first draft of a new book, which is fun, and so I lie in bed, cheered by the click of the kettle and ready for the first cup of tea of the day. Then into the bathroom, shower, trim moustache, and sort out the morning pills, mostly concerned with blood pressure, now quite under control.
Of the other three, one copes with the occasional bout of sciatica and the other two stand between me and the inexorable progress of Alzheimer’s.
And since I am a man in his 60s, some of the mental space at this time of day is directing venom against the drug companies that hermetically package their wares in plastic and metal laminations, which require weightlifter strengths and a safety net to disgorge them, instead of the little pillboxes that everybody could open without resorting to scissors.
I discuss plans for the day with Lyn, my wife, then attack The Times while finishing a bowl of the bowel-scouring muesli that, I am assured, must be doing me some good. Then out to feed the chickens and other creatures on a beautiful late autumn day.
Apart from the vegetable garden, which is sacrosanct, we run the property for the wildlife, by and large, which means we get hedgehogs and, in our barn, barn owls. Everything’s a bit scruffy, but such a wonderful day that you have to be glad to be born and don’t even mind other people having been born either.
And then, as PG Wodehouse might have said, it’s Ho! for the chapel, the grandiose name for my building that combines my study and library where the computers will get fired up and some writing will ensue.
Oddly enough, Saturdays and Sundays are good days for a writer like me; weekdays are so often punctuated with phone calls it’s easy to forget that you are supposed to be working on a book, and even though Snuff, my latest book, is out there and in the public domain, there is still some PR activity that I must attend to in the strange, postnatal world that an author slides into when the latest baby is snatched away.
Of course, the cure for this is to start writing something else, but for the sake of my health, and my eyesight, I periodically put on something warm and go outside to chop logs, which is very satisfying, with a nice little curry at lunchtime.
A walk in the afternoon, which is never predictable because here in the countryside you are bound to meet people you know, and the etiquette of the countryside means you should stop and chat.
After that, feed the chickens for the second time, do a bit of gardening while the light allows, possibly back up to the chapel to read the emails (and ignore them! This is the weekend for heavens sake!) and, eventually, back to the house for the rest of the evening.
We have a vast repository of old DVDs so if we’re not going out, or have other plans, we pick one we haven’t played for some time. The absolute rule, however, is that I must always catch the news at 10pm. I was a journalist once and the stain never leaves you.
The last act of the day is a kitchen full of cats clamouring to be fed and then upstairs, shower, then bed – a fourposter, sufficiently big that we both have room to stretch out. Wonderful. A quiet day this, with time to think and enjoy life. Nothing much has happened, and sometimes that’s a really good thing. I’m glad that there are days like this.
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