There is nothing as dependable as nature. Each and every year, just doing its thing with no fuss or fanfare and with unerring timing. Almost digital. I once proposed a series of illustrated children’s books called His’tree Stories for Children. The idea being that there are trees alive today that King Henry VIII might have climbed and played in as a child – so the stories would be narrated by the ancient tree to kids under its canopy about the people who have gone before them. Sir Isaac Newton would have certainly featured, although I suspect apple trees do not have such longevity.
The life span of say an oak tree or any of any of the hard-woods like mahogany or ebony puts in to perspective our fleeting lives. Here today, gone tomorrow. I think the same whenever I fly over London and peer down at old mother Thames snaking its way through a city surviving everyone and everything around it.
The tree in my garden (a non-fruiting cherry) is a reliable piece of punctuation in my life. Every year it flowers and its abundant display is always very welcome – bursting in to colour as a spectacular demonstration of vibrancy and life.
But with it, heralds yet another passing year and this always demands a pause for some reflection about what has happened in the intervening year – good and bad.
Here are some shots of Paddy enjoying the delicate blossoms.
I remember our twins, Sam and Harry sitting in the same blossoms as they fell around them. Grabbing clumps of pink flowers and throwing them at each other and I expect eating them also. They couldn’t walk at the time and now they are both grown up. Harry is not here to see this year’s bloom – in New York with Tom. Sam is here in London but it must be said that he is much less beguiled by the cherry tree’s efforts this year. Although, maybe this is the year that he might help his old man with bagging up the spent blossoms and taking them to the dump? Mmm…
Nikki and I have no plans to move from this old house and I fully expect there will be grandkids ahead who will sit and enjoy the pink rain and maybe by then I will have written and published an entire series of His’tree books.
Like all my ventures, I had sky high hopes for this series. I even imagined that it could be used to revamp education and how history is taught. Kindling kids interest in this important subject from a young age! I employed an illustrator to draw how the tree might look with its eyes and mouth and children sitting in his gnarled branches, enchanted by the tales he had to tell. With an introductory letter and ten outlines of stories, I sent them off to an array of publishers and imagined the bidding war that was about to ensue – but never happened of course. Some wrote back saying no but most didn’t even reply. Or maybe they’re still considering it all these years later?
And unlike my Cherry tree which keeps on keeping on, I gave up on the idea, confining it to his’tree perhaps?
But nothing ventured, nothing gained – is a cliché that I call upon here because no effort is ever truly wasted. All endeavour serves a purpose, if only for the fleeting hope it creates but also how it informs subsequent projects and actions.
It ‘s always so much better for an individual to do something than nothing.
This summer I will publish my new novel – Made in England – written in lockdown when my diary emptied and my income hit zero – and whether it flies or bombs, its value can already be reckoned on. Filling my empty days and stretching my imagination and my writing abilities.
Listening to the audio version of Eclipsed – Tom and I chatted about crying on demand for the camera. Tom explained that it is better if an actor can summon these emotions rather than rely on onion essence to make the eyes weep. Doing Billy Elliot on stage was good training for this, when he had to read out the letter that his dead mum had written to him. And now on film sets, Tom has his techniques for finding sadness to release his tears – most recently in Spider-Man – No Way Home. On our recording, I joke that in future whenever he needs to feel pain and sorrow, he could always consult my book sales…
But I don’t mean this. Not really.
Made in England will be my 9th book – and every one of them has served an important purpose. I am better and happier for everything I have created, however successful or not they have been.
And although I look forward to my dependable Cherry tree doing its thing next year, it is important that I can look back on past endeavours since the last time it burst in to life.
Happy Easter to all my readers.
Members of my book club can expect to receive my new short story – LUCKY No.7 shortly after Easter – it is all ready and prepped (I think) and will be in the ether anon. You too can join this non-exclusive club by clicking here. All welcome.