In those happy bygone days when I was a smoker I would wake early, make myself a coffee, tuck myself up on the sofa with a book and read for an hour before breakfast: three fags.
The compulsion to write is paradoxically both a celebration of life, and a protest at its passing; not that I think about this when I'm actually at my desk with a pen in my hand.
Poetry, furnished with ordinary people like bus drivers and sad aunts, and written in a language that was playful, witty and brand new, had an energy that was irresistibly exciting; it was the poetic cousin to The Beatles.
It's time I admitted to myself the rather galling fact that much as I love the look of notebooks, that still-lingering promise my eight-year old self experienced, there is something about a notebook that imprisons me.
The inspiration here has involved a movement from poetry to prose. This is something that pleases me immensely; one genre fertilising another.
As writer in residence in a palliative care unit, Diana Hendry had to put into words the thoughts and feelings of the dying. Twenty years on, she reflects on what she learned from this experience, and wonders if attitudes to death have really changed all that much in the intervening time.
It isn't every ‘newly hatched’ reporter who gets to interview some of the most eminent figures in the cultural life of her times — but Diana Hendry did just that, compiling an impressive cuttings file that included interviews with Bertrand Russell, Sir Basil Spence, Stevie Smith, Brigid Brophy, L. S. Lowry, and Marlene Dietrich.