It might sound silly to say that at the age of 71, but it’s true.
Tomorrow, having got up and headed, with my big glass of Cole’s fizzy water (73 cents a bottle, and better than Perrier), to my computer to catch the overnight mail and the other-side-of-the-world tennis and cycling results, I can if I wish go and lie in the sun with a book. Or walk down the hill and paddle in the ocean. All day, if I want to. For the first time in many, many years.
Explanation. In 2007 I published the two-volume EMILY SOLDENE: IN SEARCH OF A SINGER. It had been a long time in the making, partly or largely because my days in the early 2000s were mostly spent caring for my dear dying Ian (1919-2006). But Emily had been long finished before she made her bow, and to fill the aching days I started on a new and vast project. VICTORIAN VOCALISTS. Biographies of.
And it grew. And it grew. And, like Topsy, it just grew. Until last year it reached the vast total of 900 lengthy articles. More megabytes than was decent. And I just pressed on. It was fascinating. It was also a reason to get up in the morning. I mean, no one could ever publish it. It would be ten large volumes …
So, I thought I would try to place it as a database. I didn’t want money, just that all this ground-breaking research and writing should be saved for the future and made generally available to those interested. Well, you would have thought I was a Greek bearing a gift. Academics and their institutions clearly feared I was taking ‘their’ ground (I only have an MA Hons, and wouldn’t accept a University post to save my virtue) and … well, you get the picture. No footnotes, no referencing, no index just … pages and pages of writing! Horror!
Anyway, I shrugged all that off and just carried on. And … well, there’s none who finds so well as he who no longer seeks ..
In October or November 2017 a selection of 100 of my articles will be published by Routledge of Oxford, England, under the good old title of VICTORIAN VOCALISTS. Big book. Very big book. And getting it ready for the press has been a major exercise.
The last seven weeks have been spent, along with Caroline my beloved editrice of forever, 10 hours a day proof-reading the endless pages … and today we finished. The final copy and its illustrations, captions and prelims went off to Routledge at dawn. It’s done. Finished.
So, tomorrow morning – after the fizzy water and the tennis – what do I do?
Well, I suspect that sooner or later I’ll start another. But tomorrow Paulie arrives from Berlin, and it’s ‘nephew’ Harry’s 21st, and ... so maybe not just yet. We’ll see how I like a life without work …
Not much, I think.