Well, I’m off, he said.

There, am all packed for my spontaneously booked weekend in Provence. During the odiferous ofsted period (see below) I threw my hands up in the air and cried Why am I doing this! What is this for? and I promptly went onto the web and  booked for Marseille; I half fancied Athens but I might do that later, and my Roman history is not strong enough to sustain a visit to the Eternal City: I would end up wandering round wondering when they were going to finish the demolition job.

I am taking Captain Toomey with me: my work during term time on Dragon’s Wood, has been desultory but it has never left my thoughts. Of late when re-reading I find the new chapters plodding, very plodding, in parts, so I am going to take action on an idea that came to me in Provence last summer. It is unexpected and dramatic and by god the book needs it.

So hopefully, this time tomorrow night I shall be in a bar in Marseille, perhaps just off the old port, writing this up on my iPad with perhaps a glass of wine, or pastis, by my side.

But I am also taking Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth. I am surprised I have not read it before though I was aware of it on the margins of my radar. You know the context, you know what is going to happen, and suddenly a phrase, a sentence, will leap out from the period prose and have tears running down your cheek … because you know what will happen.

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