I've had an idea for a short story floating around my head for a while. Every time we get to this time of year, when the leaves are down and the sun is low, I feel guilty I haven't written it yet. It's basically the idea of the seasons being people, who are engaged in a perpetual turf war. Autumn is the guy with russet hair who turns up one chilly evening to kill Lady Summer. I had the vague idea that while the cycle happened the same every year, every Summer was different but Autumn was always the same - a weary, faded contract killer. The whole thing would be film noir meets Countryfile and in the wrong hands would be every bit as ridiculous as it sounds, so I've never quite had the gumption to write it down. That's why Autumn is left standing at the gate at the end of the garden, until he - and I - can pluck up the courage to go and meet the wan lady laid out on the pavilion...
I admit this is one of my blogs in which I curse my ability to actually put pen to paper, but it has a happy ending - honest. I know a lot of people think autumn is maudlin, but I have to admit it's my favourite time of year. I'm always a bit wary of saying that because it can look as if you're deliberately trying to be poetic and brooding. The view goes that those who like autumn are surely the very same group who sigh a lot and would, in bygone days, have been in need of "linctures". Which is piffle of course. One of my favourite writers of all, Ray Bradbury, loved autumn and there are few people who soak their prose with so much colour and genuine joy for living. If Mr Bradbury had been born in the Midlands rather than the Mid-West, he would have given such an account of the season: leaves swept like cinders into the gutter, nights that arrive at the door before you do, woodsmoke and wicked smiles...But I'm rambling, all you need to know is that I've never been bothered by October evenings. They're a good time to write, reflect, and plan!
I did plenty of all three when I took some time off recently and I came to the conclusion that actually things were rolling on nicely. Earlier this year - in the wake of the apparently apocalyptic election result - I set myself some goals. One was to play an active role in building a socialist democracy in the UK (because it's good to aim high, you know.) I can't claim credit for Jeremy Corbyn but I believe in a lot of what he says, so a good part of the next five years will probably involve me fighting his corner. And not just through annoying friends on Facebook with posts about renationalisation, I may dare to doorstep and attend rallies as the mood takes me. Another aim is to get back into journalism full-time, having realised that feeling compelled to leave a job I cared very deeply about was a pretty major cock-up. The road back won't be easy, not least because the newspaper trade feels about as safe as Pompeii on the day that Vesuvius developed indigestion. But it's something that matters and where I think I can matter, so it's worth a shot. And the fact is that in the space of six months I've launched my own digital newspaper, which as small as it is gives me every right to call myself a hack again. And that's a good start.
My third and final priority is of course finishing a bona-fide, honest to god novel. It's been on my to-do list so long that it once rubbed shoulders with "Marry Kirsty Williams" and "Earn enough money to buy a whole Edam." Now, I haven't seen Miss Williams since I was eight-years-old and I had the Edam thing sorted by the time I was a teenager, only to realise that no-one needs that much cheese. The writing remains though; the consistent thorn in my side. It's the one thing I long to do more of, but always find excuses not to. That said, it sits on the list all the same and maybe that's all that matters. If there's intent there's hope and a reason to feel cheerful.