I was going to title this piece, “ I gotta get out of this place” but a title like that seems a bit negative for what is essentially a fairly positive stream of consciousness writing inspired by nothing more than a slight change of scenery, a decent lunch and a glass of wine. It’s amazing how just a slight change of environment can inspire the creative process. Lovely though my little writing corner is in my new home, the problem still remains that there is only me in it. So what started out as going to the bank to pay in some literary ill-gotten gains, ended up as lunch in Piri-Piri, a wonderful little Portuguese tapas bar in the heart of Swindon.
After years of being tied down to the nine to five, the freedom to be able to have a long, lingering lunch and just people watch is something that I am still getting used to. It reminds me that writers need inspiration to spark their imagination and there is nothing better for this than hiding in plain view and watching the world go by. It makes me think of my heroes famed for their social skills as much as their literary output. It also reminds me that the likes of Hemingway only sat down to his Cognac and cigars after a day of wrangling alligators or hauling in a marlin, that Kerouac, Jack the lad himself had probably hitch-hiked across five states before cracking open a bottle of his namesake. What I’m trying to say is that although I have lunching and observing down to a fine art, it is the other activities of these writers that gave them something to write about. Maybe I need to find something more inspiring, more intense in experience before I get the hang of this writing process.
In the meantime, just being sat in a small café bar in a place as unimaginative as Swindon is a window on the world. There is something about being surrounded by conversation, music and food that has nothing to do with your first language to remind you that the world is a big place. It gives fuel to the wide-eyed child inside you experiencing your surroundings for the first time, a slight bewilderment but exciting all the same. Nigel Farage would turn in his grave. If only! Viewing the passers by and those sat in the greasy spoon cafés opposite is a depressing thing at times. Football shirted, shell suited, types who seem to have lost their spark who discuss soap operas whilst glancing through a copy of The Sun. And whilst I tuck into chilli spiced potato and succulent pork with olives, with a strong, aromatic coffee on the side, their chips and weak tea seems to be an act of deliberately missing the point.
A free glass of red wine is put my way, a thank you for a number reviews and mentions that I have worked into my writing for the local rag. And even that makes me think. If a few lines of positive prose can get you a free glass of wine, where could this take me if I really put my mind to it. Just this slight change of scenery has had me writing like a Benzedrine fuelled beatnik, proof indeed that just the slightest nudge out of the routine can be rewarding.
I finish my wine and head for home realising that one glass during the day seems to feel like four taken after dark. Still that seems very good value for money to me and on the writing side of things at least, surprisingly productive.