No day is ever the same and nor are we. Contemplating daffodils does not bring oblivion. Beyond Sizergh gardens there are dark clouds gathering. Who are we, the English, the British? Can we summon the national myth a time of crisis?
Interviewed this morning by Andrew Marr, Hilary Mantel says she's lived in 1540 for the last eight years- as she's been writing The Mirror and the Light, the big book that concludes her trilogy. Big and breath-taking. 900 pages of brilliance.
Hilary Mantel's historical novel comes out this week. That's the good news.
Dominating the news agenda is the spread of Covid 19, the Corona virus. The UK Government has a six-point plan, we learn. China, the source of the outbreak, seems to have controlled its spread. There's was a robust response. The Chinese are used to a degree of state control that we, the British, have not experienced. So how will the British respond if personal freedoms are curtailed, for the greater good?
The outbreak in Italy gives cause for concern right now. Boccaccio's Decameron, 14th century, is a collection of stories told by Florentines who self-isolate during an outbreak of plague and keep their spirits up by telling stories. In our times we have Hilary Mantel to read. Or we may listen to The Mirror and the Light as book of the week on radio 4. All in awe of Mantel's achievement are like to listen (from 16th March) and to read.
On having her portrait painted Hilary Mantel said she didn't want to look as if she were ' just contemplating the daffodils..'
Being a naturalist isn't always comfortable, isn't just contemplating daffodils. It's about a willingness to raise one's head above the parapet. Like naturalist Chris Packham who is in the news this week for his opposition to HS2 and the environmental damage that development will bring.
5th March. Collected first 2 copies of The Mirror and the Light from the local Waterstones. For JIll and I, two writers. We'll enjoy talking-over Mantel's craft.