Now that both of our university student children have come to live at home again during the Covid-19 crisis, I’ve given up my writing room (our middle reception room) to my daughter, currently revising for her final exams. I’ve decamped to the breakfast room, the room directly next to our kitchen, and I sometimes sit here, as I am now in fact, writing or reading while a meal is simmering on the next-door stove.
There are frequent interruptions: Andrew, my husband, coming into the kitchen from his office in a shed at the bottom of the garden, to make a cup of tea, a snack, use the loo, have a chat. “Hello! Nice to see you there! Oooh, looks interesting (peering over my shoulder). Looks serious. Oh, gosh, sorry! Am I interrupting??” etc. My son and daughter come through, at least one of them (son, usually) carrying a loud bluetooth speaker. They make and assemble snacks, go out to the garden or back to their rooms and, while passing, give me updates on what they’re doing: practising handstands, catching up on Vitamin D, making progress with a book. Through closed doors, inside the house, I hear them talking through the internet to their friends, the muffled voices of people I’ve never met.
Meanwhile, the food simmers away, onions soften, give out their sweetness, tomato sauce bubbles gently. In between the interruptions, daydreaming takes place. I read and re-read what I’ve written so far, I draft, re-draft, re-write. And, at the end of it all, a meal of sorts. If I’m lucky a few good lines, a few good sentences to add to the pot.