Sunday, 8 November 2009

The pipes

clearing skies, temps 10

As I write the pipes are playing. I can hear them recede into the distance as an Armistice Day parade leaves from the church on the corner. It is so unspeakably moving to be here now. To see the crowds, to feel the sorrow. To read the Times and the announcements placed in memory...of men who died in Dieppe and Vimy and the Somme and in ships that went down and planes that never returned. And in Helmund and Basra. The new wars and the new names.

And to hear the eerie, beautiful pipes in this old city.

Very moving. Very humbling. I knew a few of you have a sorrow, a loss, I can't begin to imagine. I'm so sorry. I wonder if it is any consolation, any comfort, that so many people honour your loss? I wonder. I hope so.

The pipes have faded, the parade moved on.

I spent most of today editing Bury Your Dead...come to a sensitive part...needs thought...but also needs action. I find eventually I just need to dive in and see what happens. Make the changes...and trust I'll know when it is right and makes it better, or when it is wrong. Let's hope!

up to page 300 now. I think if I can do 50 pages a day now - this is the difficult, complex, patch - I'll be fine.

Michael went out this morning and picked up the Telegraph and the Sunday Times. We've settled in to a cup of tea and the sunday papers, in front of the fire. Michael was commenting that, this being Sunday, maybe we should go out for a Sunday Roast pub lunch. but I was working, and so he missed his roast. But when I'd gone as far as I could today I threw on my coat and went to the shops and picked up a roast and pudding. So tonight I will make him his Sunday Roast. Or burn down the flat trying. A small prayer might be in order.

I promised to tell you about the flat. It's on the British first floor, what we in Canada and the US would call the second floor. Basically one flight up. In this older and very classic architecture, the windows grow smaller as the floors go up - but the first floor windows in the Victorian/Edwardian buildings are enormous. Our flat has 18 foot ceilings. A beautiful bedroom at the back with ensuite bathroom. A tiny kitchen - barely more than a closet, but perfect for the likes of me. A quite lovely dining room painted ox-blood red...almost laquered. But the room that makes us gasp everyday is the drawing room. A living room to North americans. it's at the front of the flat...overlooking the garden square, and has huge floor to ceiling windows and a set of french doors opening onto a tiny balcony. there are massive bookcases and ancestral paintings and gorgeous urns and a cheery fireplace. How did we get so lucky???

We, of course, pretend to own it...and are constantly discussing how we would (will) redesign things when it is ours. We would not touch the front is splendid.

We've re-arranged a date with Mike and for dinner Wednesday to a Spanish/Moroccan restaurant near King's Cross. Tomorrow we'll see sister Carol and have lunch with Erkia, who owns the flat.

I'm trying to find a balance between writing/editing and enjoying London. So far so good. Off back to the Times...though since Mike works for the Guardian we tell him we read that all the time. Actually, the Guardian is a fabulous paper - and they have a great website.

Speak to you tomorrow!


whalewatcher said...

Good afternoon Louise,
Thanks for the update. The way you describe things is brilliant! I've told my British friend here about your descriptions and she said she felt like she was home so....high praise from a Brit.
I'm sure you'll know how to make the changes in your book when the time comes. So far your abilities have not failed you or us, your readers! But since you requested it consider a small prayer said; I've found it never hurts. ; -)
Keep enjoying!

Jeanine said...

I am dying here reading about your beautiful flat. I love reading descriptions of houses and cottages and apartments. I can just picture those 18' ceilings -- and that red laquered dining room -- and that breathtaking drawing room overlooking the garden square -- and the little balcony. I can understand why you and Michael love it so much. thank you for providing us with this lovely description.

Can't wait until Bury Your Dead comes out.

Enjoy your roast this evening! :-)

lil Gluckstern said...

I am finding myself looking forward to your posts. Truly, I am traveling along with you. Your description of the pipes is like their sound-haunting, and evocative. I'm not sure we are as good at doing this in the States. I too hope your roast turned out well. As for your flat, I sometimes think people who are open to experience, who "look," are often lucky enough to find the right place. Your flat sounds so lovely-I feel that you (and I) stepped into a novel! Good luck with bury your Dead-it seems a long time for us to wait for it. Have fun.


Bev Stephans said...

Dear Louise,

Your flat sounds lovely. I'm so happy for you that you have found the perfect pied a terre in London.

Aren't the pipes mournful? They seem to be the perfect music for the day as the dead are mourned.

Looking forward to your next post and of course, your next book.


P.S. How did the roast turn out?

Lee Ann said...

A friend in Scotland sent me video of the pipes today--it was lovely and comforting. It is good to know that these dead are not forgotten, even when we don't know their names.

Lee Ann
mother of US Army SPC Thomas Doerflinger, KIA 11/11/2004, Mosul, Iraq

Marjorie said...

Lee Ann, my sympathies and my heart go out to you and I will be thinking of you and your family on Veteran's Day on Wednesday.

--Marjorie from Connecticut

Shelagh said...

Lee Ann, I echo Marjorie's thoughts. God bless you and your family.


Louise Penny Author said...

Hi Lee Ann,

Yes, I was thinking of you, and Thomas, when I wrote that post, and heard the pipes. I was wondering...would you write another post? For November 11th? You can mail it to me beforehand and I will put it up.

If you'd rather not, I understand.

thank you.

Louise Penny Author said...

Hi all,

the roast was fabulous! We sat by candlelight in the dining room and ate, enjoying every bite. It came from Marks and Spencer's and simply needed to be placed in the oven. And the vegetables were already done and just needed to be microwaved. honestly, it could not have been easier or tastier.

Erkia is selling this flat - haven't the courage to ask for how much. perhaps if Michael got a paper-route and I did some catering... perhaps not.

Lee Ann said...

Oh my dear, how could anything stop me from writing about my boy? I'll try to send something by tomorrow. Thank you!

Lee Ann

Jo B. said...

Having been away from home for several days, it was wonderful to catch up with your blog! Definitely seemed a visit from a long lost friend!

Pipes always make me want to cry...perhaps it's the blood of my ancestors. Thanks for taking us along on your trip!