Just how grim can it get up north? (Actually, it's quite nice.) One woman's not-so-lonely journey into the Northern heartlands.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
At the window
The nights are dark here; darker yet when my husband is away. A short necklace of orange pinpricks breaks the darkness at the edge of the village across the fields and occasionally, a car's headlights will sweep down the lane, their hurrying beam broken by wintry hedges. If I crane my neck out of the study window, I can sometimes see a light from a friend's farmhouse along that lane. I like to see that homely light and think: "My friend lives there." But the brightest light around is the Longstone lighthouse of Grace Darling fame. Its white golden beam sweeps around and out to the shushing black sea and then around again every 30 seconds. When I have yawned enough at my desk to know that it is time for bed, I will check one last time on my sleeping and oblivious sons, pulling up feather-filled covers and kissing dangling feet. Then shucking off the day and its clothes on the landing, I will carefully lift the iron latch to my bedroom's wooden door, catch it with my finger, then drop it quietly back in place. I pause and listen with intent to see if the baby's sweet breath has caught in protest at my breaking and entering into her night. If she slumbers on, barefoot I edge around her cot to weedle my way through cold silk curtains, one naked shoulder and then the other. I lean my forearms on the horizontal bar of the sash window, then rest my warm head against my forearms and watch the beam slide round to me. I am wondering what I will do when we move into the village where I will have no lighthouse to bid goodnight. I am wondering whether its beam will miss me or slide by oblivious to my absence at the window. Miss me, I think.
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You see, you are already caught in the web of country living, if you think you're going to miss the lighthouse. I used to live on top of some cliffs, where across the small bay the lighthouse beamed. It was a security blanket to me. I even got used to the fog horn, also just across the small bay, (and I do mean small.)
Have you had any of your writing published? Stef Penney, won the Costa Book of the Year 2006 prize for her first novel, a historical drama set in Canada in the 1860s, never having been to Canada and doing all her research in the British Library. I think you could do something similar at home in Northumberland. You're probably already famous though.
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