The Puritan in me says writing and drinking
don't go together. The realist says look at Dylan Thomas.
A friend came for lunch on Sunday. His wife and young daughter are away in America for the year, leaving him in Paris. 'How's it feel?' I asked him. 'Terrific,' he beamed. 'After 36 years of continuous child-rearing, it's wonderful. I get to do what I like. If I want to get up at 5 in the morning, I can do it.'
The same man got hepatitis last year so had to stay off drink for 6 months. He was stunned to notice how clear his mind became. 'Did anyone else notice?' I asked. No-one did.
He was left with a strict choice. Clear and working brain, or a return to his moderate drinking. Drink won.Drink's
odd for me. I love it, especially wines of note, but more than two glasses affects me. I get jollier of course, but wake in the night and that's it. No more sleep. University essays were frequently done in those early hours that clung on to the night before. I presumed the quality dropped somewhat, but at least they were written.
Suddenly I wonder. Were those in fact my better pieces? I'm meant to be monklike
at the moment. My partner's away, I have a deadline looming, I'm writing about trench warfare, so go quiet
, immerse yourself Martin, and get on with it.
That worked fine yesterday daytime ... apart from a trip out to the local Sainsbury's
to stock up on wine at a sudden wondrous discount price, spending the loyalty points assembled over years. The evening was the Christmas Party of the Biographers' Club, in the Georgian Rooms at Fitzroy Square here in London. Champagne flowed. I flowed with it. Cheery stuff, champagne.
So I was up at two 0'clock of course. Awake for hours. I turned to yesterday's writing and hacked away at it. It seems I have nocturnal vision
when it comes to editing. A few sections shone. Much was turgid. Out went the turgid and on I wrote. Maybe this is the way. Plod through the day, drink at night, be lucid and brilliant in the aftermath.
It's worth a shot. As part of my monklike
routine I'm off to friend Emily Young's
opening of her new sculpture show tonight. Chicken and wine afterwards. And tomorrow King's University has a 'life writing' lecture in the evening, followed by a reception. My deadline looks attainable after all.