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About the pencil case

Newsletter: September 2019

Dear Web friends,

Greetings again, and shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Well, why not?

For thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date…

I write as summer – beach gear and sun cream in hand – tiptoes quietly towards the exit. And I hope this finds you well as the mornings darken and chill.

In the UK, there is presently a storm over the proroguing of parliament to aid the passage of a no-deal Brexit. This news summary will be out of date by the end of the next sentence, so I’ll resist any attempts at topicality. Yesterday’s hysterical outrage can be dull. But once again, I’m reminded of the deep similarity between our polarised times and those of the English Civil War, which really began with Charles I proroguing parliament in 1629. Who knows what the future holds? But if you wish to read my account of those remarkable days, the key players and shocking outcomes, it’s there in my novel, The Soldier, The Gaoler, The Spy and Her Lover. If interested…

Meanwhile, I put down another piece of writing today. As you may remember, I have been working on a novel about Jesus and Mary Magdalene – or, in my work, Yeshua and Miriam. Told in the first person by these two figures, it’s an attempt to go behind the scenes of the gospels, to bring them to life. For me personally, it has also been about finding Jesus, who can at times appear a slightly disembodied figure in the gospels.

So a 50,000 word embryonic novel has just gone off to some readers and a possible agent. It has a beginning, middle and end; fresh scenes and development will appear if there is interest. It’s called Gospel, with the subtitle, Rumours of love... and it leaves me exhausted. A lightweight such as myself inhabiting the mind and heart of Jesus has been hugely demanding.

It also leaves me much closer to rage. Nothing has hit me as hard, while working on the book, as the intensity of conflict Jesus faced and the clean and cutting anger he accessed within himself. He really didn’t take any shit – from family, from Pharisee, from anyone. If I had been hoping to become calmer and more tolerant in my old age, smiling benignly at all, I’m afraid Jesus has blown that idea clean out of the water.

I hope one day to be able to offer this turbulent and beautiful gospel to you. So we’ll see where this path leads.

Concerning retreats: a brief tip-off that my Julian of Norwich retreat at Sheldon in October is full; but there are spaces on my Beautiful Life retreat at Llangasty, Brecon, in March 2020. If interested…

But mainly it’s now about your pencil case. For me, the beginning of September is still about going back to school – ‘Really, Simon?!’ – which mainly means a spanking new pencil case with sharp pencils (not for long), different coloured biros (they’ll soon be leaking), and a fancy new rubber (borrowed by someone on the first day of term and never returned).

It’s all too exciting. Wishing you good September adventures, with or without a new pencil case, and ever grateful for your company,

Simon x

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