I haven't answered a question for a while, being the naughty writer type chap I am - it's part of the job description not to play by the rules! - so I thought this morning may be a good time to rectify that omission.
An email arrived a couple of weeks ago with the simple inquiry - what inspires me?
As with so many apparently straightforward questions, it's much more complex than it first sounds and there are a host of possible answers. But one has been nudging me to talk about it, so I'll choose that boisterous candidate.
A quick aside here - I suppose it was inevitable - I've never been materialistic, and have always been glad of that. I don't seek contentment in new cars and big foreign holidays, but tend to find tranquility and release in more modest manners.
Such it is with the answer to the question. What I've been much enjoying in recent days is the simple pleasure of the sky.
I mostly write in my study, a converted attic with a skylight which looks out over Exeter. And often, when I'm searching for inspiration, I find myself gazing to the heavens.
For all its many moods, the sky is always stirring. Be the great canopy filled with the fires of the autumnal sunsets we've enjoyed of late, the pure blue of the lost summer, the thousand shades of grey of the moody winter, or the racing clouds of classic October, there's always something to stare at and lose yourself in.
I wonder if it's a primeval thing, part of the root of so many beliefs that heaven lies in the sky, that so often causes us to look upwards when we find ourselves in times of need. But be that as it may, in moments of pause, thought, reflection and searching, it's often be the simple sky that comes to my aid.
Perhaps it's a fine example of the old saying that the best things in life are free? Which isn't to say I don't enjoy the sky most with the assistance of some material delights; a little background music, a pot of olives and a tin of beer being the commonest candidates. I'm no puritan, after all!
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