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... from ardnamurchan. the second one was taken at sanna bay which is a long way from anywhere and all the better for it. the third (of the smaller ben next to ben hiant) contains the very tiny silhouettes to two deer looking over the summit and very possibly saying to one another, dear god, how much noise can those two children make? let's bugger off. and the fourth shows, not a bath full of beer, but the colour of the loch-fed water supply which was, i have to say, surpisingly nice to drink (though not from the bath).
so, anyway, some background... i was being interviewed by claire armitstead at the edbookfest. during which she said that whilst reading the red house she kept thinking about those old tile puzzles, the ones you used to get in party bags c. 1975, a 3 x 3 grid containing eight tiles which you moved around to complete a picture, this being made possible by the missing square.
(i see mostly them online now - and there is one, a picture of a leopard, which is part of the basic mac dashboard package - but i'm never tempted to do them. it was the crappiness of the construction, the cheapness of the materials, the way the tiles got slightly stuck, which was an essential part of the appeal).
i felt a lurch when claire said this, a) because before writing the red house i'd given up on a novel called the missing square, the central image of which was precisely one of those tile puzzles, and whose organising conceit was that certain spaces or absences or holes may make a little world imperfect, but they are precisely what enables that little world to change and generate new images and meanings... b) stranger still, i suddenly realised that far from giving up on this image it had remained a model for the central structure of the red house, which is a story about the eight remaining members of a family and a ninth member (a stillborn daughter) who is still having a profound effect on the family despite, or because of, her absence.
just to prove how central the image of the tile puzzlewas to the missing square, i was trawling through the mac folder where i'd dumped everything associated with the abandonned novel, and stumbled on these covers ideas (the back cover image is a picture of me and my sister as children):
i'm doing 2 events at the edinburgh book festival this coming week. the first is an interview in the main theatre with claire armitstead at 4:30 on thursday 23rd, the second a solo talk, flying and swimming, in the spigelent on the friday at 9:00, which is 'free and drop-in', though it would be nice if you could be quiet about the dropping in (and out) since the talk is partly about silence and stillness. see you all there.
so... i did an interview for the sunday times 3 weeks ago. it was nominally about simon stephens' adptation of curious incident being on at the national theatre but it was intended for the news section, so we strayed inevitably into newsy territory. i can't remember the specific questions i was asked and i can't read the interview because it's behind the times paywall. but at one point i said that i'd written to my MP, nicola blackwood, several times in vain asking her why, in this time of recession, the poor and the disabled were suffering when the comfortable lives of wealthy people like myself like myself hadn't changed a jot.
as has become increasingly obvious over the recent months, there are plenty of wealthy people who think that they should pay less tax while benefits to the poor and disabled should be cut. and those people are, in my opinion, beyond contempt. but i didn't think my own opinion was quite that singular or newsworthy. nevertheless i've been inundated with requests for interviews. i'm turning them down because i seem to have been quoted in every national newspaper, and going into recording studios or sitting in front of a camera or talking to more journalists in order simply to repeat myself seems like unnecessary soapboxing (not to mention the fact that i'm looking after small children during the school holidays).
for the record, i also said (and because of the paywall i have no idea whether this was quoted in the original interview), 'the present government came to power with one of the weakest mandates in living memory yet their ministers are carrying out the most radical reforms in living memory, many of which involve slashing vital services upon which wealthy people like themselves have never depended, and which are hugely important to people with whom they have absiolutely no sympathy'.
also, for the record, all those on twitter and in the guardian comment columns who suggest that i simply send an extra cheque to the HMRC are missing the point. i am talking about a systemic, moral and political problem not personal feelings of guilt. and, in point of fact, i do send an extra cheque, but i send it to oxfam. some people think that's wrong, too, but you can't please everybody...
from amazon's books > fiction > romance > family sagas chart. runaway heiress *and* war and peace. it doesn't get much better than this.