Are there no limits to the hardships this intrepid Strictly Writer will endure to track down a post for this place? I tried to put together something a few days ago but, as so often, inspiration fled when I needed her most. So I've taken the iPad off to a spa hotel in the hope that these majestic trees and these pools and maybe "a complete detoxification treatment leaving the skin purified from pollution, beginning with a full body peel to encourage the elimination of toxins followed by soft warming flakes and feather brushes in a breeze across your skin, concluded with a fresh detoxifying gel wrap" will provide an environment conducive to writing. Not only this piece, of course. For the experiment to be chalked up as a success I must chuck out at least a couple of poems before we pack the massive suitcases. The plan is that Jess pampers herself while I scribble. We are justifying the obscene self indulgence with the excuse that we won't have a holiday this summer.
The assumption that a comfortable environment will bring forth peak performance has also struck the England rugby team, most of whom were either in the pools or showers with me yesterday. They are building a different set of muscles but I like to think we are essentially here for the same reason. Naked rugby players slapping each other playfully on the bottom is probably something to inspire my Strictly Writing colleagues more than me, but I did notice how unfeasibly tall they are - don't forget that detail, girls.
I remember when I was a younger and told myself I couldn't write because I couldn't afford a typewriter. At other times in life I didn't have somewhere quiet to stare at an empty page and didn't have the stomach to overcome my phobia of libraries. Now, for God's sake, I have a purpose-built summer house, several laptops and this tiny bundle of technology complete with waterproof roll-up rubber Bluetooth keyboard (on which the g and the h keys refuse to play even though I didn't take them into the jacuzzi with the England rugby team).
Despite all this writerly support, despite the dinner with the canapés first then the two amuse-bouches and the between-course snack, (we debated whether this was an intra- or an intercourse treat), despite the "pre-pudding" that nobody could justify, despite the writing technology and despite the eight swimming pools, I am still scared I won't find words today. It's a tough life. All I ask is that one little poem might come dropping out of the sky before Jess and I have to rub mud all over each other's body at four o'clock (after the "therapist" has explained the benefits of mineral rich clay ochres). It is seven in the morning now. I'm waiting. I'm still waiting.