Vacation season so far slightly disastrous. A week in France. Hmm. Well ? on the "up" side there was one day when nobody vomited, wept, or screamed hysterically courtesy of the headache that accompanied the raging stomach bug. So that was good. Seven-year-old's vomitting into Tupperware box (luckily we had a lid) was so extreme we were forced to divert into the ER en route home. Finally, we arrived back in Northumberland on Sunday night, only for me to come down with the virus, bright and early Monday. That marks the end of vacations abroad until the children are teenagers and refuse to go with us.
I spent a week back working, including a pre-recorded appearance on the BBC's Steve Wright In the Afternoon, one of the UK's biggest radio shows, to talk about the book. Steve Wright was very nice, but I think I may have seemed utterly dippy on account of being in the grip of a protracted spell of insomnia. Arrived at London hotel around 1am, got to bed at 2am, got to sleep at 5am, woken up by hotel fire alarm 7.30am. Consequently so zombied out, I had to drink entire pot of Earl Grey tea with hotel breakfast, then staggered into a cafe for a double espresso and a cappuccino chaser, followed by a black coffee at the radio station. This was not a good move. I pogo'd into a place where I completely lost my short-term memory. That is to say I would answer a question and, seconds later, be entirely unable to remember both my answer and the question itself. Later, over lunch in a dark London basement restaurant with my agent, he said, "Pass me that bottle of water," pointing at a bottle slumped on the bench between me and the man sitting next to me. I shook my head slightly. I said to my agent: "That's his water." I thought: Why would you want to drink a stranger's water? My agent said: "It's our bottle of water." I leant across, turning myself away from our neighbours, and, sotto voce, said: "It's his water." I thought: Maybe we should up your percentage? My agent said: "It arrived on the table at the start of the meal and you put it on the bench. Can't you remember doing that? I am so not buying you any more coffee." That was the point I started worrying about what I might have said during the interview.
Third week, then ? a wet week in the Yorkshire Dales. We decided to swap houses with friends. It is quite strange living in someone else's family home when they are not there ? as if we woke up in someone else's life. Someone who travels more than we do (lots of mementoes from far away places), someone who is more musical than we are (three guitars and an electric piano), someone who doesn't watch as much TV as we do (no cable). I thought: Next time we do this, I am laying a false trail. I am hiding the widescreen TV and leaving lots of really heavyweight books on the state of the economy lying around the house. I am buying in health food that needs to be sprouted, and leaving a sex diary out in black leatherette all marked up with red asterisks and acronyms. That is, if I ever go away again, of course.
I would have been more relaxed had my insomnia still not been so bad. My husband has started to complain that at the point I wake up (which tends to be around 1.30 to 2am), I start to beat a tattoo on his head which I keep up till I drop off again about three hours later. I do not mean to beat a tattoo, I am merely thinking about everything I have to do and occasionally, I gesticulate. I need to turn off the narrative, but I wake up and the voice starts. Not voices. I do not hear voices. Just one voice ? my own, talking about what it is I should be doing or have been doing or have entirely forgotten to do. I am incredibly dull company and outrageously persistent, as dull company often proves to be.