Thursday, 3 April 2008

Wednesday, 2nd April 2008

Today I was so distracted and tired from Tuesday's web-wanderings in search of Gulf understanding, that for the first time this year, I don't seem to have taken a picture of my beech tree. I can't undertand how this could have happened and it's unsettling.
I spent another day, all day, working inside at my computer, save a stroll accross to the chantier for a cup of tea with the guys; another accross the field, with the help of a Romanian sheperd's stick to support my knee, to see a friend working outside in spring sun, loading a trailer with wood. Then back to the computer.
I envy these men.
By the evening I was spent and grey, tired but unable to sleep.
For the second day I have been at home but far away; I could be writing from a hotel and memories of laptops in hotels both frighten me and reassure me as I look out accross The Valley.


Dear Ian,

Finally caught up with your book on a lovely holiday in Switzerland - a great relief to be away from Iraq literature.Many congratulations - it's a real achievement; I think you've really captured the place and the people. I thought your relationship with Norman was done with real sensitivity and care and you handled difficult passages - like Knoxey's death - with real dexterity. It was funny too - Murray's sheep dip exposure had me pissing myself.

For what it's worth, I did prefer the passages in the book where you let the story tell itself - the more gentle, descriptive passages tended to work more for me, showing me more about the people's characters than times when I could feel your own voice coming through more strongly.

As to its drama potential. In all honesty, I would say not. For the simple reason that I can't see a terrestrial channel going for this. Channel 5 has no drama to speak of and Channel 4 want much more edgy material than this. ITV are looking for big, sexy stuff - mostly urban and rather modish - or costume drama. BBC-2 only does the occasional one off (which this is clearly not) and BBC-1 would, I suspect view this as too gentle, too lyrical. They did a far more populist, soapy version about a family moving to the country a few years back - and that tends to offer them an excuse to say 'no' to a similar idea. And, to be frank, I would worry about allowing them to get their teeth into this. You've written something very special to you and they would, without doubt, bastardise it to a point where it would leave you terribly upset. But as I say, I am confident they would not bite.

It's such an achievement to have written something so personal and so true to your own heart (and so well) and I really want to congratulate you.

Love to you all



02 April 2008 15:14

Subject: X [name of a village in the Cotswold]

Hi Ian,

Enjoying the book! Well-captured.

Its doing the rounds, as you might imagine.

All the best,

Y (fellow resident)

02 April 2008 15:41

Subject: Re. X [name of a village in the Cotswold]

Hey Y,

Thanks for the email but I don't think I ever said it was X [name of a village in the Cotswold]!

Are you sure you have the right village? Where exactly do you live?

Kind regards,


02 April 2008 15:59

Subject: Re. X [name of a village in the Cotswold]

Oops! Sorry, I meant to change the title. Really.

I live in X, have done for 6-7 years (arrived just after the weedkiller incident) and I believe you might have met my wife at some point on a farm walk. Of course and equally, I may have got the wrong chap ;)

All is well here, incidentally - the usual ups and downs.

Best, Y

02 April 2008 16:01

Subject: Re. X [name of a village in the Cotswold]

P.S. Will engage brain better with keyboard next time - getting over the flu. Apologies. [Y]


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