My oldest friend - by which I mean my friend of longest standing - and I went to see our teacher yesterday, who taught us in third year infants when we were aged six, and who was the best teacher I ever had. She is now nearly 89 years old and still lives in the house in which she was born. I worked out that it was probably 45 years since I'd been there last.
Also there was another teacher from the same school, in whose class I'd never been, although I remembered after a while that he had taught me one afternoon per week. I recall a session of origami once, at which, lacking concentration and finding aural instruction difficult to follow, I hadn't excelled. Also, that he started reading us 'Moonfleet' by J Meade Falkner, and by the time we'd got as far as the hero, John Trenchard, becoming trapped in the crypt and discovering the corpse of Blackbeard, his hair and finger nails still growing after death, half the class were gibbering wrecks and Mr Britton stopped. As is often the way, the unfinished story haunted me for decades, and a few New Years ago I resolved to finish it. And what an excellent yarn it is.
The evening before I went to a reading at the Bristol Poetry Institute. By some miracle, Ciaran Carson had managed to fly out of a snow-bound Belfast and arrive just in time for the performance of poems from 'In the Light Of', his reinterpretation of Arthur Rimbaud's 'Illuminations'. When he got out his tin whistle to bookend his set, I almost wept. A direct link back over 660 years to my fictional storyteller, Amyas, from my novel 'Dart'. Sometimes I can't quite believe how lucky I am.